J. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) Currey.

Chicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) online

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try the case judicially and not ministerially. Then it was inoperative. Had it
not been so, it would have created excitement similar to that caused by the present

"Why should we be asked to give the institution of slavery peculiar privileges?
Let the proper law be passed, giving the alleged fugitive all the safeguards and
immunities provided by the common law, and I, for one will give it my conscien-
tious and honest sanction and support."

A series of resolutions milder in tone than those adopted Tuesday evening were
then prepared. Great excitement prevailed. Men were standing on chairs in
various parts of the house, endeavoring to catch the eye of the chairman. The
resolutions were put to vote and declared to be adopted amid great confusion. The
meeting broke up without a regular motion to adjourn.

Another meeting was held Saturday evening to give expression to the other side
of the question. The speeches were political and in praise of Senator Douglas. The
meeting gradually dissolved without adjournment.


Thus ended the most exciting week in the early history of Chicago. The sen-
timent of the people was not materially changed by the speeches of Senator Doug-
las and his friends, though their advice upon the observance of law and order was
followed. The feeling that "Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God" was shown
in one or two cases early in November, when Southern men came to Chicago in
search of fugitives. People thought less of resistance, except in particular cases,
and more of unceasing agitation for the repeal of the law and the exclusion of
slavery from the Territories. The closing scene of the drama was thus announced
in the Journal, Friday, November 29:

"The City Fathers meet tonight, as we learn, for the purpose of making a final
disposition of the fugitive slave law. It is to be presumed that they will com-
municate the result to Congress, either by telegraph or express, as it would be
calamitous for the wheels of government to stand still."


The Council minutes for November 29, 1S50, read as follows:

"The Council met pursuant to adjournment. The object of the meeting was
to consider the fugitive slave resolutions. The order offered by Alderman Hamil-
ton, to expunge from the records resolutions which had been tabled by his motion,
October 24, together with the substitute offered by Alderman Dodge for the original
preamble and resolutions were then taken up and the question in order being the
adoption, Alderman Dodge's substitute was approved by the following vote:

"Ayes Adams, Milliken, Loyd, Sherwood, Richards, Throop, Haines, Sher-
man, Foss, Dodge and Foster.

"Nays Page, Williams and Hamilton.

These substituted resolutions read:

"Whereas, The fugitive slave law recently passed by Congress is revolting to
our moral sense and an outrage upon our feelings of justice and humanity, because
it disregards all the securities which the Constitution and laws have thrown around
personal liberty, and its direct tendency is to alienate the people from their love
and reverence for the government and institutions of our country. Therefore

"Resolved, That as the Supreme Court of the United States has solemnly ad-
judged that state officers are under no obligations to fulfil duties imposed upon
them as such officers by an act of Congress, we do not, therefore, consider it our
duty to counsel the city officers of the city of Chicago, to aid or assist in the arrest
of fugitives from oppression, and by withholding such aid or assistance we do not
believe that our harbor appropriations will be withheld, our railroads injured, or
our commerce destroyed, or that treason could be committed against the Govern-

Alderman Hamilton introduced the following order:

"Ordered, That the clerk be directed and requested to expunge from the rec-
ords of the proceedings of the said Council the resolutions in reference to the act
of Congress at its last session, commonly known as the fugitive slave act." This
order was lost by a vote of nine to three, and thus the Common Council stood by its
earlier action by refusing to expunge the resolutions of October 2 1st from its
records, and passing others reiterating its sentiments.


The following brief summary of the events just narrated will be of interest:

September 18th, ISSO. Passage by Congress of the Fugitive Slave Law.

October 21st, (Monday). The Common Council of Chicago passes resolutions
denouncing the law.

October 22d, (Tuesday). Mass meeting of citizens strongly condemning the law.

October 23d, (Wednesday). Senator Douglas addresses a meeting of citizens,
and a reaction in sentiment takes place. Resolutions are adopted to support laws
passed by Congress, and repudiating the action of the Council.

October 24th, (Thursday). Adjourned meeting of the Council is held, and an

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effort made to expunge the former resolutions from the records. The order is
tabled, to be taken up November 29th.

October 25th, (Friday). Meeting of citizens in opposition to the Fugitive Slave
Law. Resolutions adopted condemning the law and refuting Douglas' arguments.

October 26th, (Saturday). Meeting of the adherents of Mr. Douglas. Speeches
made in praise of the senator.

November 29th. The Common Council meets to consider the Fugitive Slave
Law resolutions, and the pending order to expunge them from the records. The
Council refuses to pass the order to expunge, and adopts additional resolutions
confirming the former ones.



Online LibraryJ. Seymour (Josiah Seymour) CurreyChicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth (Volume v.1) → online text (page 59 of 59)