Resolutions of the anti-Nebraska convention
Transcription of Primary Source
…At half-past one, the Convention again assembled in the grove upon the Common, and was called to order by the President, Judge Morris...
While the committee on resolutions were preparing their report,
Mr. Boutelle, of Westboro’, being loudly called for, came forward and said, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen; the occasion which has called us together to-day, is one of no ordinary importance. It is the cause of liberty; and whenever a blow is struck at liberty, whether in our own State, or under the shadows of the Rocky mountains of the West, we should be recreant to our sacred duty, and to the principles bequeathed to us by our father, if we did not raise our voices, and bare our arms in its defence.
There are ordinary occasions, when we can afford to leave the affairs of government to the care of those who make it their especial business to manage those things, but there are times, and this is one of those times, when the people cannot remain quiescent, but are imperatively called upon to take the management of their political affairs into their own hands, and to tell the politicians who trade and traffic away our liberties, that their occupation is gone.
We used to hear, years ago, of a party for extending the area of freedom; where that party is now, I know not; but almost the only party that we hear anything of, in these times, is a party who are united heart and soul, for the extending of the area of slavery. For the last twenty years this party has been increasing in strength and influence, until at last, it has had the audacity and effrontery to perpetrate an act which has outraged every principle of equity and honor, and has robbed freedom of the heritage which was guarantied to her by the most solemn pledges of the nation. But while we feel our hearts swell with indignation, in contemplation of this act of base perfidy; and while we deplore the injuries which have been inflicted on freedom by this bet, we have reason to rejoice that the eyes of the northern people have been opened by it, to the true spirit of slavery; and woe betide us, if we do not now plant our heels upon its neck, and crush out its base life. In vain the moderate men of the South implore us to forbear, the age of compromises is past, and, unless we unite to maintain liberty and overthrow slavery, the age of freedom too is past.
Mr. Bontelle said the action of the party of freedom must be to restore to the Western territories the Magna Charta of liberty, of which they had been robbed; and the principle must be established, also, that henceforth and forever all the territory now appertaining to the United States, or which may in future appertain to them, must be consecrated to freedom. If, said he, the people of the North do their duty in this crisis, then will they be worthy of the eulogium passed by Lord Chatham on the barons who wrested Magna Charta from King John.
Mr. Bontelle closed a very eloquent address amongst the loud cheers of the Convention.
John L. Swift next addressed the Convention in a very eloquent and able speech, and was followed by Edward L. Keyes, of Dedham, in a speech replete with earnest an manly eloquence.
Hon. [Amand?] Walker being called upon, said we did not come here, I trust, to be excited on the question of slavery. We did not come here to say hard things even against slavery or slaveholders. We came here, as I take it, to see what is to be done at this crisis, to prevent the slave power from trampling out the liberties of this nation. If we do not meet the question of Freedom versus Slavery, now, we shall not be able, in my opinion, to meet it for 100 years. The crisis is imminent; and it will require the union and patriotism of every true man in the North, to prevent the South prostrating the nation at the footstool of slavery.
In the first place, men of all political parties at the North must consent to let by-gones be by-gones. If we do not consent to this, in the first place, we cannot have a basis upon which to build the creed of the new organization.
In the first place, we must have a party, that, to begin with, will rescue Massachusetts from the dominion of slavery. It must be enacted, that henceforth no man shall be taken from the soil of Massachusetts, on any pretence, without due process of law; that is, without a trial by jury. (Cheers.) If we have self-respect as a State, we shall never submit to anything less than this; we will never consent to concede to the slave power anything more.
Mr. Walker paid a well-merited tribute to the manly bearing of Mr. Sumner amongst the congregated slave propaganda at Washington; and said that the Northern people had only to confront the South as Mr. Sumner had confronted the slaveholders, and they would learn to respect us as they must respect him.
At the close of Mr. Walker’s remarks, Judge Morris, being compelled to retire, Mr. Allen, of West Roxbury, one of the Vice Presidents, took the Chair.
Mr. Seth Webb, Jr., of Dedham, from the Committee on Resolutions, then came forward and presented the following series of resolves, which were adopted nom con., amidst the loud plaudits of the Convention:
Resolved, That the unquestionable existence of a settled purpose on the part of the Slave power, to convert the Republic which our fathers founded on principles of justice and liberty, into a slaveholding despotism, whose vital and animating spirit shall be the preservation, propagation, and perpetuation of slavery, calls for the immediate union of all true men, into a party which shall make the question of freedom paramount to all other political questions.
Resolved, That in co-operation with the friends of freedom in other States, we hereby form ourselves into the Republican Party of Massachusetts, pledged to the accomplishment of the following purposes:
To bring the administration of the General Government back to the original principles of liberty:
To repeal the Fugitive Slave Law.
To restore the prohibition of Slavery in Kansas and Nebraska.
To prohibit Slavery in all the Territories.
To resist the acquisition of any more territory, unless Slavery therein shall be prohibited.
To refuse admission into the Union of any more Slave States.
To abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia.
To protect that Constitutional rights of all citizens going to other States.
Resolved, That Massachusetts has the Constitutional right, and it is her imperative duty, to enact laws which shall protect the personal freedom of all her citizens.
Resolved, That we recommend the assembly at some central and convenient place, of a National Convention, with a view to the adoption of effectual measures to resist the encroachments of the Slave power.
Resolved, That this Convention invites the Republicans of every town and city in the Commonwealth, to send delegates in the number of three times their representation in the General Court, to a State Convention to be held at ----------- on THURSDAY, the 10th of August, 1854, for the purpose of nominating candidates for the State offices, and forming a platform of State policy…
Exact Title: The Massachusetts Spy
Volume: Vol. LXXXIII, Iss. 29
Probable Date: July 26
Place of Publication: Worcester, Massachusetts
Catalog Number: American Antiquarian Society