Allen, Samuel C.
Autograph Letter Signed, Washington, D. C., February 2, 1818, to Hon. Samuel Lathrop, Boston, Massachusetts, Discussing Proposed Fugitive Slave Bill

quarto, two pages of four page bi-folium, old folds, some loss of text on second leaf, resulting from a hole where sealing wax was removed, else very good.

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Samuel Clesson Allen (1772-1842) Massachusetts Congressman, writes to Lathrop a member of the Massachusetts Senate to discuss a proposed bill concerning fugitive slaves introduced by Mr. Pindale of Virginia:

      "... containing some very extraordinary provisions for arresting fugitive slaves and transporting them from the state where they are found - the great feature in this bill which caused so much opposition was that it transferred the trial to the state where the alleged master or claimant stated himself to belong - It must be obvious that this, with its other provisions for the protection of such claimant agt all process from the state authorities, was intended to deprive the party seized of the benefit of the writ of Habeas corpus and De Hom. Repligiando - Mr. Mason of Boston just before the question was taken came out with a very extraordinary speech of considerable length which is partly sketched only in the paper I send you -

              In this speech has advocated the removal of the party seized to the slaveholding state - for the trial of the question affecting his liberty for life - And he supported the expediency of the provision by declaring that the witnesses would perjure themselves - and that the jurors and courts in Mass. particularly in Boston could not be relied on & that the slave would in 99 cases out of a hundred go clear - The reproach cast by Mr. Mason upon the integrity of the jurors and even upon the judges and the reflection cast upon the state of morals in Boston was heard with surprise and astonishment. The advocates of Bill considered it as a sacrifice to conciliate their favor toward the Mass. Claims ...I am sure from what I heard from several gentlemen on the other side of the House that the gun will kick the holder over - In regard to the Mass claims I consider that there is no chance to get anything but abuse on that subject from this Congress. ...

               The Southern & western members are greatly disappointed in this gentleman. They had regarded him as a wonderful genius when his speeches purporting to have been delivered in the Mass Senate were thundering thro' the columns of their papers - But now they see & hear - they are disgusted with his quaint manner, his vulgarisms and his unfortunate and abortive efforts at wit - ...

               Gentlemen it is presumed will not surrender their honor & their principles to purchase this payment- nor seek the favor of the majority by the abandonment of a great constitutional principle solemnly adopted by the authorities and sanctioned by the judgment of the greatest men of whom the state can boast. Besides nothing which the present Legislators can do will bind any future Executive in the discharge of his duties..."

 

Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, pp., 20, 304