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[10] duty for the free States to separate from their guilty associates. This doctrine of the higher law was preached from the pulpits and disseminated in numerous publications throughout New England. At the first, it was regarded with contempt as the work of misguided fanatics. Ere long, however, it enlisted numerous and enthusiastic partisans. These were animated with indomitable zeal in a cause they deemed so holy. They constituted the movement party, and went ahead; because, whether from timidity or secret sympathy, the conservative masses failed in the beginning to resist its progress in an active and determined spirit.

The anti-slavery party in its career never stopped to reflect that slavery was a domestic institution, exclusively under the control of the sovereign States where it existed; and therefore, if sinful in itself, it was certainly not the sin of the people of New England. With equal justice might conscience have impelled citizens of Massachusetts to agitate for the suppression of slavery in Brazil as in South Carolina. In both cases they were destitute of all rightful power over the subject.

The Constitution having granted to Congress no power over slavery in the States, the abolitionists were obliged to resort to indirect means outside of the Constitution to accomplish their object. The most powerful of these was anti-slavery agitation: agitation for the double purpose of increasing the number of their partisans at home, and of exciting a spirit of discontent and resistance among the slaves of the South. This agitation was conducted by numerous anti-slavery societies scattered over the North. It was a new and important feature of their organization that women were admitted as members. Sensitive and enthusiastic in their nature against wrong, and believing slavery to be a mortal sin, they soon became public speakers, in spite of the injunctions of an inspired apostle; and their harangues were quite as violent and extreme as those of their fathers, husbands, and brothers. Their influence as mothers was thus secured and directed to the education of the rising generation in anti-slavery principles. Never was an organization planned and conducted with greater skill and foresight for the eventual accomplishment of its object.

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