[Fugitive Slave Act:] The Great Union Meeting in Philadelphia, On the 21st of November, 1850. [caption title]

Rare tract in support of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, printing an address and a letter by George M. Dallas (1792–1864) of Philadelphia, late Vice President of the United States under slaveholding President James K. Polk.

Dallas declined to take a leadership position at a public meeting in Philadelphia in support of the Union, instead choosing to address that meeting in support of the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act and its expedience for the preservation of the Union.

...I say, that this Fugitive Slave Law, in its substance, in its details, in all its features and all its provisions, is in perfect harmony with the Constitution of our country. (loud and repeated cheers.) Not merely that:—it not only harmonizes with, but it springs directly from, and is now necessary to the maintenance of the Constitution, (renewed cheering.) ... Again, I say, this Fugitive Slave Bill, is just:—just to the fugitive, just to the claimant of his service, and just to the public. To the first, it affords the protection of legal forms and hearing… To the second, in pursuit of his private property, it strives to furnish immunity from lawless outrage by the presence and responsibility of public agents, and by penalties whose only aims are to enforce justice and to redress wrong. And to the third, to society at large, it is especially just, as it cannot but tend effectually to forestal and prevent the disorders and riotous excesses which bad men unhesitatingly provoke in their utter contempt for feeble laws. And finally, fellow-citizens, I say this law is an expedient one. After too tranquilly witnessing, for the last twenty years, the progress of an imported fanaticism, in its efforts to depreciate our Constitution and gradually to weaken the bonds of our Union, the critical moment has come, for deciding whether we will hold fast to the glorious government of our fathers, or immolate it at the shrine of reckless, senseless, remorseless abolition.” (pp5–6)

Dallas’s speech was also published within Proceedings of the Great Union Meeting Held in the Large Saloon of the Chinese Museum Philadelphia, on the 21st of November 1850…, but this latter title does not include his 2-page “Mr. Dallas’s Letter to the Committee, written several days before the Meeting” as found here.

Description: [Fugitive Slave Act:] The Great Union Meeting in Philadelphia, On the 21st of November, 1850. [caption title]

[Philadelphia: np, 1850]. 7, [1 (blank)] pages. 8½ x 5¼ inches. Removed; disbound. Some separation along spine; two horizontal folds and creasing; foxing; Good.


LCP Afro-Americana: 2898. OCLC: 3 copies under two accession numbers (Princeton, LCP, and Office of Commonwealth Librs. [PA])