these sinister influences out of the way, we should have established the new Constitution. With it would have come many beneficent changes; but beyond all else it would have broken the backbone of the Boston oligarchy,— the stumbling block of all reform, and especially of all antislavery. I honor Palfrey much for his life, and for what at other tines he has done; but I hardly venture to believe that he can, by any future service, repair the wrong he has done to our cause. I have not been a party to any counsels of our friends since the election. My hope is that the Whigs may yet be defeated in their efforts to secure the control of the House, so that our friends may press their reforms with hope of success. My desire is for the plurality rule, that we may submit our cause directly to the people,—yea or nay.The Whigs were insolent in their success, altogether rejecting the genial and magnanimous tone which is becoming in a winning party.1 In their journals, in various meetings for mutual congratulations, and in private intercourse, they exulted in their triumph; vaunted their security in power for ten years to come; taunted their opponents with their decisive defeat; threw at them the epithets ‘backsliders and traitors,’ ‘ambitious and unprincipled demagogues,’ ‘dishonest,’ ‘profligate,’ ‘mischievous;’ satirized their leaders in doggerel verses, and subjected them to the annoyance of anonymous letters.2 But they visited their venom most of all on Wilson. His honest poverty, his rise from the humblest life, where a spirit less aspiring than his would have always remained, and his amiable temper were no protection against incessant contumely and derision; but to human foresight it did not then seem possible that this man was in little more than a twelvemonth to take his place by Sumner's side in the Senate, stand at the head of the committee on military affairs in that body during the Civil War, and rise to the second place in the gift of the American people.3 Not only the leading men in the State, but the undistinguished persons whose activity was local, were made to feel the pressure.
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3 The ‘Commonwealth,’ December 19, contrasted the temper of the Whigs in victory with the decent and even magnanimous treatment which they had received from the Democrats after the recent national election, and said: ‘The organs of the dominant majority in this State have shown more ill manners, more intolerance, more insolence, and more meanness towards their opponents than any party has ever manifested at any election in the country.’ This statement is easily verified by an examination of the Whig newspapers of the State in November and December, 1853; it is proved also by contemporaneous private letters and by the testimony of living persons. Wilson was accustomed to hard looks, but he encountered more now than he could bear with equanimity; and for some weeks after the election he sought unfrequented streets on his way from the station to his warehouse.
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