Friday, January 05, 2007

Ableman v. Booth XII: "A More Dread Calamity"

Associate Justice Abram D. Smith closed his opinion with a paragraph that presumably summarizes the hopes and fears of many northerners. As you read it, remember that it was released on June 7, 1854, just one week after Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act on May 30:

“What, then, is to be done? Let the free states return to their duty, if they have departed from it, and be faithful to the compact, in the true spirit in which it was conceived and adopted. Let the slave states be content with such an execution of the compact as the framers of it contemplated. Let the federal government return to the exercise of the just powers conferred by the constitution, and few, very few, will be found to disturb the tranquility of the nation, or to oppose, by word or deed, the due execution of the laws. But until this is done, I solemnly believe that there will be no peace for the state or the nation, but that agitation, acrimony and hostility will mark our progress, even if we escape a more dread calamity, which I will not even mention.”

Earlier Posts:

Ableman v. Booth I
Ableman v. Booth II
Ableman v. Booth III
Ableman v. Booth IV
Ableman v. Booth V
Ableman v. Booth VI
Ableman v. Booth VII
Ableman v. Booth VIII
Ableman v. Booth IX
Ableman v. Booth X
Ableman v. Booth XI

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