Northern Men Voting Against Law – Fugitive Slave Law

The name of the Northern men who voted for this cruel kidnapping law should not be forgotten. Until they repent, and do works meet for repentance, let their names stand high and conspicuous on the roll of infamy. Let the “slow-moving finger of scorn” point them out, when they walk among men, and the stings of shame, disappointment, and remorse continually visit them in secret, till they are forced to cry, “my punishment is greater than I can bear.” As to the Southern men who voted for the law, they only appeared in their legitimate character of oppressors of the poor—whom God will repay, in his own time. The thousand-tongued voices of their brother’s blood cry against them from the ground.

The following is the vote, in the Senate, on the engrossment of the bill:

Yeas: Atchison, Badger, Barnwell, Bell, Berrien, Butler, Davis, of Mississippi, Dawson, A.C. Dodge, of Iowa, Downs, Foote, Houston, Hunter, Jones, of Iowa, King, Mangum, Mason, Pearce, Rusk, Sebastian, Soulé, Spruance, Sturgeon, of Pennsylvania, Turney, Underwood, Wales, Yulee.—27.

Nays.: Baldwin, Bradbury, Chase, Cooper, Davis, of Massachusetts, Dayton, Henry Dodge, of Wisconsin, Greene, Smith, Upham, Walker, Winthrop.—12.

Absent, or not Voting: —Benton, Borland, Bright of Indiana, Clarke of Rhode Island, Clay, Cass of Michigan, Clemens, Dickinson of New York, Douglas of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Felch of Michigan, Hale of New Hampshire, Hamlin of Maine, Miller of New Jersey, Morton, Norris of New Hampshire, Phelps of Vermont, Pratt, Seward of New York, Shields of Illinois, Whitcomb of Indiana. [Fifteen Northern Senators absent from the vote.]

Final Passage

On the final passage of the Bill in the Senate, the yeas and nays were not taken. D.S. Dickinson of New York, who had been absent when the vote was taken on the engrossment, spoke in favor of the bill. Mr. Seward was said to be absent from the city, detained by ill health.

When the Bill came up in the House Of Representatives, (September 12th,) James Thompson of Pennsylvania, got the floor, doubtless by a previous understanding with the Speaker, and addressed the House in support of the Bill. He closed his remarks by moving the previous question! It was ordered, and thus all opportunity for reply, and for discussion of the Bill was cut off. The Bill was then passed to its third reading—equivalent to enactment—by a vote of 109 Yeas, to 75 Nays; as follows:


Maine: Thomas J.D. Fuller, of Calais; Elbridge Gerry, of Waterford; Nathaniel S. Littlefield, of Bridgton.
New Hampshire: Harry Hibbard, of Bath; Charles H. Peaslee, of Concord.
Massachusetts: Samuel A. Eliot, of Boston.
New York: Hiram Walden, of Waldensville.
New Jersey: Isaac Wildrick, of Blairstown.
Pennsylvania: —Milo M. Dimmick, of Stroudsburg; Job Mann, of Bedford; J.X. McLanahan, of Chambersburg; John Robbins, Jr., of Philadelphia; Thomas Ross, of Doylestown; James Thompson, of Erie.
Ohio: Moses Hoagland, of Millersburg; John K. Miller, of Mount Vernon; John L. Taylor, of Chillicothe.
Michigan: —Alexander W. Buell, of Detroit.
Indiana: —Nathaniel Albertson, of Greenville; William J. Brown, of Amity; Cyrus L. Dunham, of Salem; Willis A. Gorman, of Bloomington; Joseph E. McDonald, of Crawfordsville; Edward W. Mcgaughey, of Rockville.
Illinois: —William H. Bissell, of Belleville; Thomas L. Harris, of Petersburg; John A. MccLernand; William A. Richardson, of Quincy; Timothy R. Young, of Marshall.
Iowa: —Shepherd Leffler, of Burlington.
California: —Edward Gilbert.

All these Northern Traitors called themselves Democrats! save three— – Eliot of Massachusetts, Taylor of Ohio, and McGaughey of Indiana, who were Whigs.

Every Representative of a Slaveholding State, who voted at all, voted YEA. Their names are needless, and are omitted.


Maine: —Otis, Sawtelle, Stetson.
New Hampshire: —Amos Tuck.
Vermont.: Hebard, Henry, Meacham.
Massachusetts: —Allen, Duncan, Fowler, Mann.
Rhode Island: Dixon, King.
Connecticut: —Butler, Booth, Waldo.
New York: —Alexander, Bennett, Briggs, Burrows, Gott, Gould, Halloway, Jackson, John A. King, Preston King, Matteson, McKissock, Nelson, Putnam, Rumsey, Sackett, Schermerhorn, Schoolcraft, Thurman, Underhill, Silvester.
New Jersey: —Hay, King.
Pennsylvania: —Calvin, Chandler, Dickey, Freedley, Hampton, Howe, Moore, Pitman, Reed, Stevens.
Ohio: —Cable, Carter, Campbell, M.B. Corwin, Crowell, Disney, Evans, Giddings, Hunter, Morris, Root, Vinton, Whittlesey, Wood.
Michigan: —Bingham, Sprague.
Indiana: —Fitch, Harlan, Julian, Robinson.
Illinois: —Baker, Wentworth.
Wisconsin: —Cole, Doty, Durkee.
California: —Wright.

Absent or not Voting

Andrews, Ashmun (Mass.), Bokee, Brooks, Butler, Casey, Cleveland (Conn.), Clarke, Conger, Duer, Gilmore, Goodenow, Grinnell (Mass.), Levin, Nes, Newell, Ogle, Olds, Peck, Phoenix, Potter, Reynolds, Risley, Rockwell (Mass.), Rose, Schenck, Spaulding, Strong, Sweetser, Thompson (Iowa), Van Dyke, White, Wilmot (Penn.) [33—all Northern men.]

Fifteen Southern Representatives did not vote.

Daniel Webster was not a member of the Senate when the vote on the Fugitive Slave Bill was taken. He had been made Secretary of State, a short time previous. All, however, will remember the powerful aid which he gave to the new compromise measures, and among them to the Fugitive Slave Bill, in his notorious Seventh of March Speech, [1850.] A few extracts from that Speech will show how heavily the responsibility of the existence of this law rests upon Daniel Webster:

“I suppose there is to be found no injunction against that relation [Slavery] between man and man, in the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or of any of his Apostles.” Webster’s 7th March Speech, (Authorized Edition,) p. 9.

“One complaint of the South has, in my opinion, just foundation; and that is, that there has been found at the North, among individuals and among legislators, a disinclination to perform, fully, their Constitutional duties in regard to the return of persons bound to service, who have escaped into the free States. In that respect, it is my judgment that the South is right, and the North is wrong.” * * * * “My friend at the head of the Judiciary Committee [Mr. Mason of Virginia] has a bill on the subject now before the Senate, with some amendments to it, Which I Propose to Support, with all its Provisions, to the fullest extent.”—Idem. p. 29.

He proceeded to assure the Senate that the North would, on due consideration, fulfill “their constitutional obligations” “with alacrity.” “Therefore, I repeat, sir, that here is a ground of complaint against the North well founded, which ought to be removed, which it is now in the power of the different departments of this Government to remove; which calls for the enactment of proper laws authorizing the judicature of this Government, in the several States, to do all that is necessary for the recapture of fugitive slaves, and for the restoration of them to those who claim them Wherever I go, and whenever I speak on the subject, and when I speak here, I desire to speak to the whole North, I say that the South has been injured in this respect, and has a right to complain; and the North has been too careless of what, I think, the Constitution peremptorily and emphatically enjoins upon her as a duty.”—Idem. p. 30.

In a speech in the United States Senate, July 17, 1850, made with an evident view to calm that Northern feeling which had been aroused and excited by his 7th of March speech, beyond the power of priest or politician wholly to subdue, Mr. Webster said there were various misapprehensions respecting the working of the proposed Fugitive Slave Bill:

“The first of these misapprehensions,” he said, “is an exaggerated sense of the actual evil of the reclamation of fugitive slaves, felt by Massachusetts and the other New England States. What produced that? The cases do not exist. There has not been a case within the knowledge of this generation, in which a man has been taken back from Massachusetts into slavery by process of law, not one.” * * * * “Not only has there been no case, so far as I can learn, of the reclamation of a slave by his master, which ended in taking him back to slavery, in this generation, but I will add, that, as far as I have been able to go back in my researches, as far as I have been able to hear and learn, in all that region there has been no one case of false claim. * * * There is no danger of any such violation being perpetrated.” 1 Webster’s Speech on the Compromise Bill, in the United States Senate, 17th of July, 1850, edition of Gideon & Co., Washington, pp. 23-25.Citations:

  1. See also Mr. Webster’s letter to the Citizens of Newburyport, dated May 15th, 1850, wherein he urges the same point, with great pains of argument.

    With such words did Mr. Webster endeavor to allay Northern alarm, and to create the impression (which was created and which prevailed extensively with his friends) that the Fugitive Law was only a concession to Southern feeling, and that few or no attempts to enforce it were likely to be made.

    But when a few months had proved him a false prophet, and the Southern chase after fugitive men, women, and children had become hot and fierce, and in one or two instances the hunter had been foiled in his attempts and had lost his prey, Mr. Webster changed his tone, as follows:

    In May, 1851, at Syracuse, N.Y., he said: “Depend upon it, the Law [the Fugitive Slave Law] will be executed in its spirit and to its letter. It will be executed in all the great cities—here in Syracuse, in the midst of the next Anti-Slavery Convention, if the occasion shall arise.”

    Certainly, so far as in Mr. Webster lay, so far as was in the power of Mr. Fillmore, and the officers of the United States Government generally, and of the still larger crowd of expectants of office, nothing was left undone to introduce the tactics, discipline, and customs of the Southern plantation into our Northern cities and towns, in order to enforce the Fugitive Law.[]


American Anti-Slavery Society. The Fugitive Slave Law, and its Victims. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society. 1856.

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