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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
To E. S. Hamlin.
WASHINGTON CITY, Jany 15, 1851.
MY DEAR SIR, Why have von not written me these many days? I believe you are my debtor, but I shall stand on no formality.
It seems to me that there never was more pressing need of vigilant and decided action on the part of the friends of freedom. I am exceedingly anxious for the adoption of Sutliff's resolutions or their equivalents. We need the voice of Ohio here. If I were a free democrat in the Legislature I would not take a step, in cooperation with either of the old parties until I had obtained a clear expression either by legislation or resolution on the great questions of freedom - I mean of course after organization.
It is well understood here that a combined effort has been made to defeat the resolution [reelection] of Fremont in California. It seems that in the election of members of the Legislature men of southern proslavery sympathies [were nominated]. This would, had Fremont drawn the long term, secure Gwin's reelection, if he should take sides as he seems to have done with the proslavery men, or of someone who would take such side in his place. Some anticipate that the California Legislature will sanction slavery or propose amendments of the Constitution with that view. Col. Benton thinks, however, they will hardly dare to venture on this. Fremont is to be defeated, however, if possible, on account of his opposition to slavery, and the probability is that his defeat will be achieved. This is not very encouraging from California, and does not look much like a settlement of the slavery question.
Col. Benton's election will probably be determined one way or the other before this reaches you. To enable you to judge. however. what influences are at work to defeat him I will barely mention that I accidentally heard today one slaveholding democrat expressing to another, who was supposed to have much influence with the Missouri members, a strong wish that they would vote for the Whig candidate, if sound on the slavery question. The gentleman addressed appeared to acquiesce in this view.
Gen Cass has never denied Foote's statement in New York that he would willingly see Clay elected if such should be the result of the action of the Compromise Committee, and never will. He now however, it is understood, takes ground against the Union organization. There has been an attempt to get up a meeting of members of Congress independent of old party lines to denounce the Free Democracy. But as yet it is a failure.
I received a letter from Santa Fe today from an intelligent man. It is dated Nov. 29th. The writer says great efforts are made to create a proslavery sentiment and that the question of slavery or freedom in New Mexico hangs suspended upon the action of this administration.
Slaves are held in the territory now, and more will be introduced, if the organization of the Territorial Government encourages the hope that the holders will be undisturbed.
Under these circumstances let no friend of freedom fold his arms or think his work done. Especially let our friends in the Legislature be firm, vigilant & wary.
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