language, was ‘to be let alone.’
With a prophetic vision, at so early a period as the 9th March, 1836, he employed the following language in the Senate: ‘Sir,’ said Mr.
B., ‘this question of domestic slavery is the weak point in our institutions.
Tariffs may be raised almost to prohibition, and then they may be reduced so as to yield no adequate protection to the manufacturer; our Union is sufficiently strong to endure the shock.
Fierce political storms may arise—the moral elements of the country may be convulsed by the struggles of ambitious men for the highest honors of the Government
—the sunshine does not more certainly succeed the storm, than that all will again be peace.
Touch this question of slavery seriously—let it once be made manifest to the people of the South
that they cannot live with us, except in a state of continual apprehension and alarm for their wives and their children, for all that is near and dear to them upon the earth—and the Union
is from that moment dissolved.
It does not then become a question of expediency, but of self-preservation.
It is a question brought home to the fireside, to the domestic circle of every white man in the Southern States
This day, this dark and gloomy day for the Republic
, will, I most devoutly trust and believe, never arrive.
Although, in Pennsylvania
, we are all opposed to slavery in the abstract, yet we will never violate the Constitutional compact which we have made with our sister States.
Their rights will be held sacred by us. Under the Constitution
it is their own question, and there let it remain.’1
A new source of anti-slavery agitation was about this time opened against the execution of the old Fugitive Slave Law, passed in February, 1793.
This was greatly increased by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States
, at the January term, 1842, in the case of Prigg vs
. the Commonwealth
It is true, the opinion of the Court
, delivered by Mr. Justice Story
, explicitly affirmed the Constitutional right of the master to recover his fugitive slave in any State to which he had fled.
It even went so far as to clothe the master himself ‘with full ’