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 The arrest of George Latimer as a slave, in Boston, and his illegal confinement in jail, in 1842, led to the passage of the law of 1843 for the ‘protection of personal liberty,’ prohibiting state officers from arresting or detaining persons claimed as slaves, and the use of the jails of the Commonwealth for their confinement. This law was strictly in accordance with the decision of the supreme judiciary, in the case of Prigg vs. The State of Pennsylvania, that the reclaiming of fugitives was a matter exclusively belonging to the general government; yet that the state officials might, if they saw fit, carry into effect the law of Congress on the subject, ‘unless prohibited by state legislation.’ It will be seen by the facts we have adduced that slavery in Massachusetts never had a legal existence. The ermine of the judiciary of the Puritan state has never been sullied by the admission of its detestable claims. It crept into the Commonwealth like other evils and vices, but never succeeded in clothing itself with the sanction and authority of law. It stood only upon its own execrable foundation of robbery and wrong. With a history like this to look back upon, is it strange that the people of Massachusetts at the present day are unwilling to see their time-honored defenses of personal freedom, the good old safeguards of Saxon liberty, overridden and swept away after the summary fashion of ‘the Fugitive Slave Bill;’ that they should loathe and scorn the task which that bill imposes upon them of aiding professional slave-hunters in seizing, fettering, and
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