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acteristic sentiment of his best period, the love of the Union. His voice like Clay's gave inspiration-it may well have been a decisive inspiration-to the cause which triumphed at Gettysburg and Appomattox. Whittier himself, in a later poem, recognized the patriotic service of the man whom, in the heat of conflict, he had so scathingly denounced.
Congress, and especially the Senate, was at this time full of brilliant men. Among the leaders of the extreme South were Mason of Virginia, Butler of South Carolina, Davis of Mississippi, and Soule of Louisiana. From this element came plentiful threats of disunion. But these threats were met with stern answers. When President Taylor heard of them the stout old soldier answered that such language was treasonable, and if necessary he would himself take command of the army that should put down rebellion. Disunion, he said, is treason; and to one questioning him, he answered with a soldier's oath that if anyone really attempted to carry it out, they should be dealt with by law as they deserved, and executed. Clay's language was no less explicit. When Senator Rhett in Charleston proposed to raise the flag of secession, and his colleague, Barnwell in the Senate, half indorsed his words, Clay said, with a lightning flash that thrilled the audience, that if Senator Rhett followed up that declaration by overt acts "he will be a traitor, and I hope he will meet the fate of a traitor!" Clay went on to say that if Kentucky should ever unfurl the banner of resistance unjustly against the Union, “never, never will I engage with her in such a cause!"
There was in Congress a new element, of the smallest in numbers, but with the promise and potency of a great future. Four days after Webster, Seward spoke in the Senate. He advocated the admission of California as a free State, with no additions or compromises. No equilibrium between free
dom and slavery was possible; if established to-day it would be destroyed to-morrow. The moral sentiment of the age would never permit the enforcement of a law requiring Northern freemen to return slaves to bondage. The entire public domain was by the Constitution devoted to union, justice, defense, welfare, and liberty; and it was devoted to the same noble ends by "a higher law than the Constitution." The extension of slavery ought to be barred by all legal means. Threats of disunion had no terrors for him. The question was "whether the Union shall stand, and slavery, under the steady, peaceful action of moral, social, and political causes, be removed by gradual voluntary effort and with compensation; or whether the Union shall be dissolved and civil war ensue, bringing on violent but complete and immediate emancipation."
Salmon P. Chase of Ohio spoke to similar effect. If, he said, the claims of freedom are sacrificed here by forms of legislation, "the people will unsettle your settlement." "It may be that you will succeed in burying the ordinance of freedom. But the people will write upon its tomb, 'I shall rise again.""
The disunionists found that they had little popular support behind them. A convention at Nashville, held to promote the interests of the South, refused to countenance any extreme measures. General Taylor steadily favored the admission of California as a free State, with no qualifications or accompaniments. Then, while the result in Congress hung doubtful, in the summer of 1850, President Taylor died. His successor, Vice-President Millard Fillmore of New York, was a man of fair ability and cautious or timid disposition; an opponent of Seward in the politics of their State. He favored the compromise, and called Webster to his cabinet. The administration's influence seemed to turn the scale, and Clay's series of measures were adopted
one by one. There was dissatisfaction at the South and indignation at the North. The territorial settlement was substantially in the North's favor. But the exasperating fact, and pregnant with consequences, was the Fugitive Slave law. Its provisions were intolerable to the popular conscience. All citizens were liable to be called to aid in the pursuit and arrest of a fugitive. He was to be tried before a United States commissioner, whose decision was final. A man accused of a crime punishable by a small fine or a brief imprisonment was entitled to a verdict from an impartial jury of twelve; but a man whose freedom for life was at stake was at the mercy of a single official.
Most of the Northern States sooner or later passed “Personal Liberty laws," which, without directly assuming to nullify the Federal statute, aimed to defeat its enforcement. They contained such provisions as the exemption of State officials and State buildings from service in the rendition of fugitives, and the right of alleged fugitives to be taken by habeas corpus before a State tribunal. So against the charge of inhumanity in the Fugitive Slave law, the South brought the counter-charge of evasion bordering on defiance of a Federal statute. Few renditions were attempted. Sometimes they were met by forcible resistance. An alleged fugitive, Jerry, was rescued by the populace in Syracuse. A negro, Shadrach, arrested as a fugitive in Boston in 1851, was set free and carried off by a mob. There was a spasm of excitement in Congress, but it was brief and resultless. Later, in 1854, when the anti-slavery tide was swiftly rising, came the rendition of Anthony Burns, who was taken through the streets of Boston under a strong guard of Federal troops and State militia, while the popular wrath and grief at the sight swelled the wave which the repeal of the Missouri compromise had started on its inevitable way.
A LULL AND A RETROSPECT
AFTER the half-year's debate over the compromise of 1850 came a time of political quiet. "The tumult and the shouting died." It seemed more than a temporary lull. In a great tide of material prosperity, the country easily forgot the slaves; if out of sight, they were, to most, out of mind. Webster's speech had a deep significance. He was identified in Massachusetts with the classes representing commercial prosperity, social prominence, and academic culture. In these classes, throughout the North, there was a general apathy as to slavery. The temper of the time was materialistic. There was indeed enough anti-slavery sentiment, stirred by the 7th of March speech and the Fugitive Slave law, to change the balance of power in Massachusetts politics. The Democrats and the Free Soilers made a coalition, and it triumphed over the Whigs. The Democrats took the State offices, with George S. Boutwell as Governor; and Charles Sumner-a scholar, an idealist, an impressive orator, and a pronounced anti-slavery man, though never an Abolitionist,-was sent to the Senate to reinforce Seward and Chase.
The Presidential election of 1852 came on. In the Whig convention Fillmore had some support, especially from the South; Webster had most of the Massachusetts votes and scarce any others; and choice was made of General Winfield Scott, in the hope of repeating the victory of 1848 with another hero of the Mexican war. It was to Webster a blow past retrieval; in bitterness of spirit he turned his
face to the wall, in his old home at Marshfield, and died. The Democratic convention hesitated between several Northern politicians of trustworthy subserviency to the South,Cass, Douglas, and Buchanan-and its choice fell upon Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire, an amiable man, of fair ability, but easy to manage; he, too, the winner of a trifle of military glory in the Mexican conquest. Both conventions professed entire content with the settlements of the compromise. The Free Soilers nominated John P. Hale of New Hampshire, and made their familiar declaration of principles. But they had lost their Democratic allies of four years earlier, and threw only 150,000 votes-less by 100,000 than at the previous election. The Whig party proved to be on the verge of dissolution. It had lost its hold on the "conscience vote" of the North, and was less trusted than its rival by the South. Pierce was chosen by a great majority; he carried every State except Vermont, Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Party politics were dull; commercial and material interests seemed wholly in the ascendant, and the antislavery cause was at a low ebb. But many things had happened in two decades, below the surface current of public events, and, just on the threshold of a new era, we may glance back over these twenty years. All the European world had been full of movement. France had passed through three revolutions. Germany, Austria, and Italy had undergone a political upheaval and subsidence; and the liberal reverses of 1848 were the precursors of national unity and constitutional freedom in the near future.
England had gone steadily on in the path of conservative progress; had widened its suffrage by the Reform Act of 1832; had relieved distress and disarmed discontent by the free trade policy of Sir Robert Peel; her factory legislation had met a crying need of the new industrial epoch, and