Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 1.djvu/315
tious vanity of a few are, by their assaults on the Union, endeavoring to bring the people of Massachusetts. We dissolve the Union under the impulse of a blind, bigoted and one-sided zeal in the pursuit of our own opinions." But the New England republic which had been talked of for fifty years among the sagacious people of that section was not wholly impracticable. All that was lacking was the co-operation of the great part of New York, with the control of the Hudson, and the accession of Pennsyl vania, with the control of the Susquehanna.
The Northern States were inflamed by the leading op ponents of the compromise through special denunciations of the fugitive slave law. In the opinion of these agita tors, the entire compromise was tainted by the act which prescribed the mode by which an escaped slave might be recovered by his owner. The appeal to the human love of liberty, to natural pity for the distressed, to the lauda ble admiration of any one who makes a bold break for freedom, was not unavailing. Such discussion of the obnoxious, though most clearly legal, statute of all the compromise bills, led on to an antagonism of the whole settlement, and directly to strong denunciation, not only of the institution of slavery, but of the Southern people themselves, who were supposed to be profiting by "the sum of all villainies. Thus the wise plans of venerable statesmen, on whose names this generation look with a reverence which no later names inspire, were exposed to the hot fire of Northern as well as Southern assailants, resulting in the South in no hostile acts, but unfortu nately followed in Northern States by nullification laws such as they had once denounced.
For practical work against the efficiency of the fugitive slave law an organization was formed to encourage es capes and aid in the flight of negroes, through which relays conveyed the fleeing bondsmen to the land of British freedom in Canada. This lawless institution was petted by the name of the Underground Railroad, and