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slightest degree touch upon the point decided.' The truth of the matter probably was, that the Supreme Court thought the judgment of the court below ought to be reversed; and was yet unwilling to meet the question, but was desirous to have it brought to the attention of the profession and the people through the medium of the reports.
* The point decided by the court was that “an indictment for harboring and secreting a slave is bad without an averment that the defendant knew the person harbored to be a slave.”
WOTES FOR HARRISON IN 1840–VIEWS OF POLITICAL PROBABILITIES —ACCESSION OF JOHN TYLER—MR. CHASE's IDEAS RESPECTING ANTISLAVERY ACTION.—ANTISLAVERY CONVENTION OF 1840– oRGANIZATION of THE LIBERTY PARTY IN oblo IN 1841—ITs ADDREss—MR. CHASE's HOPEs.
M”. CHASE voted the Whig ticket in 1840, because he believed, as he said, “in the sincere and elevated patriotism of General Harrison,” though, if his wishes had been as potential as they were sincere, Associate-Justice John McLean, of the Supreme Court of the United States, would have been opposed to Mr. Van Buren. On fundamental political principles, however, he was more nearly in accord with the Northern supporters of Mr. Van Buren than with the friends of General Harrison. But when Mr. Van Buren pledged himself to veto any act of Congress which might be passed for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and interposed against the self-liberated prisoners of the Amistad slave-ship, he found it impossible to give his support to the Democratic candidate. Nevertheless, he voted for General Harrison with many misgivings, though in the belief that Harrison was favorable to a general policy of emancipation, and would leave the question of slavery, so far as constitutionally within the control of Congress, to that disposal, without Executive interference. He thought he foresaw—dimly enough, however—a succession of events somewhat like this: a Whig President and the Whig party pro-slavery; the Democratic party antislavery and a Democratic President, and a restriction of slavery within the bounds of States where it existed by the local law, and a divorcement of the Federal Government from all responsibility on account of it. General Harrison was elected, and soon afterward made a visit in Virginia to his friends, which possibly somewhat af. fected his views concerning slavery. In his inaugural address he made a pledge, touching congressional action on slavery in the District of Columbia, substantially similar to that made by Mr. Van Buren before the election. This pledge was all the more significant, because a considerable meeting of his friends held in Cincinnati, not long before his inauguration, had taken strong grounds against the continuance of slavery in the District. In the call for this meeting and in its proceedings, Mr. Chase had taken an active part, and its resolutions expressed his earnest convictions. Still he did not surrender hope. But the death of General Harrison, and the accession of John Tyler, with his known and avowed views on slavery, left nothing to be expected from his Administration by those opposed to its nationalization and domination. Up to this time Mr. Chase had not regarded with favor the formation of a separate party on the basis of antislavery; indeed, he had regarded a third-party movement somewhat with disfavor, as in his judgment premature. But he now became thoroughly convinced that no firm and effectual resistance to the slave-domination was to be expected except by the creation of a party founded upon the ideas— 1. That, outside of slave States, slavery was prohibited by the Federal Constitution, and therefore should be restricted within the limits of those States whose constitutions sanctioned it ; and— 2. That the slave-interest dominated the administration of national affairs, and should be overthrown. Already in 1840 a convention of antislavery men, about one hundred and twenty in number, and coming together from five or six different States, had met at Albany, and put in nomination candidates for President and Vice-President: James G. Birney, of Ohio, for the former; and Thomas Earle, of Pennsylvania, for the latter office. This action did not meet the approval even of the whole body of the radical antislavery men of the
LIBERTY PARTY ORGANIZED IN OBLIO. 47
time, and led to some division among them, and failed to command their united support. Out of two million and a half votes cast at the election in November, 1840, Mr. Birney received less than seven thousand. His friends voted for him upon the general principle that it was wrong to vote for a slaveholder, or for any candidate who was not distinctly and unequivocally opposed to slavery. The support given to him could hardly be called political; it was more a moral and religious movement than otherwise, and much more spontaneous than organized, though doubtless it did express a conviction that some form of organization against slavery had become a political necessity. In that conviction Mr. Chase now joined. With a large faculty for organization, and all his life delighting in its exercise, he turned all his great energies in the direction of combining the antislavery elements into a single compact body for political action, upon the basis of a constitutional opposition to the slave-domination. His method was to organize first in the State, and then throughout the nation. Together with some other antislavery men of Ohio, who agreed with him alike in conviction of the necessity, the methods, and the basis of antislavery action, he called a State Convention to meet at Columbus on the 29th of December, 1841. The convention met accordingly, and was attended by over two hundred delegates from different parts of the State, chiefly farmers and artisans, some of them men of local influence, and in its whole constitution as respectable for intelligence and per-. sonal worth as any similar body ever convened in Ohio. Mr. Chase was its most active and important member, and, in fact, directed its action. He was the author of its resolutions and address to the people, in which—for the first time—the principles and policy of the Liberty party were distinctly stated as resting on recognized doctrines of constitutional construction and well-defined principles of national administration. “We have not committed ourselves to a course of political action,” said the address, “which separates us from the parties with which we have heretofore acted without reluctance and a struggle. Many of us have, until quite lately, indulged the idea that this separation was not absolutely necessary. Against hope
we have persevered in hope that deliverance to the people of this country from the manifold evils they suffer in consequence of the ascendency of slaveholding influence, in all the departments of our national Government, would arise from the action of one or the other of the political parties which now claim to divide the country. All such expectation, however, after having been repeatedly disappointed and repeatedly resumed, is now finally relinquished.” After stating the several causes which, in the judgment of the convention, made separate action indispensable, the address proceeded: “When our fathers assumed an independent rank among the nations, they announced their political creed to the world in the most solemn manner: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In this short and sublime declaration they embodied the fundamental principles on which they proposed to establish the free government of the United States. “Their creed is our creed. Their faith is our faith. All the objects which we seek to accomplish will be attained when the government which they bequeathed to us is restored to the control of the principles which they proclaimed. . . . . “By the convention which framed the [Federal] Constitution, the irreconcilable opposition of slavery to freedom, and of slave-labor to free labor, was well understood, and the solemn pledge given in the Declaration of Independence was freshly remembered. The soil wet with the blood of freedom's martyrs was hardly dry, and the echoes of devout thanksgiving for the great triumph of American liberty yet lingered throughout the land. “It was impossible that this convention could recognize the principle of slavery in the frame of the national Government. In the emphatic language of Mr. Madison, “they thought it wRONG to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man! Yet, as they had no power to change the personal relations of the inhabitants of any State to each other, but were charged with the duty of framing a general system of