Sunday, November 22, 2009

"I have not now occasion to add another word"

In his remarks of January 29, 1850, Henry Clay next turned to the issue of fugitive slaves. His seventh resolution provided:
7th. Resolved, That more effectual provisions ought to be made by law, according to the requirement of the Constitution, for the restitution and delivery of persons bound to service or labor in any State, who may escape into any other State or Territory in the Union.

Although the law that would eventually result would become flashpoint of conflict, Clay's statement in support of his resolution was exceedingly brief. The resolution related “to a subject embraced in a bill now under consideration by the Senate.” “I have not now occasion to add another word.”

About the illustration:
A sheet music cover illustrated with a portrait of prominent black abolitionist Frederick Douglass as a runaway slave. Douglass flees barefoot from two mounted pursuers who appear across the river behind him with their pack of dogs. Ahead, to the right, a signpost points toward New England. The cover's text states that "The Fugitive's Song" was "composed and respectfully dedicated, in token of confident esteem to Frederick Douglass. A graduate from the peculiar institution. For his fearless advocacy, signal ability and wonderful success in behalf of his brothers in bonds. (and to the fugitives from slavery in the) free states & Canadas by their friend Jesse Hutchinson Junr." As the illustration suggests, Douglass himself had escaped from slavery, fleeing in 1838 from Maryland to Massachusetts. He achieved considerable renown for his autobiography "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," first published in 1845. The Library's copy of "The Fugitive's Song" was deposited for copyright on July 23, 1845. An earlier abolitionist song composed by Hutchinson, "Get Off the Track!" (no. 1844-14), also used a cover illustration to amplify its message.

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