Intolerant Politics in New England
The American South of the 1850’s was a diverse, multicultural paradise compared to intolerant, racist, antebellum New England. The Hartford editor below feared the so-called “slave power” of the South, yet didn’t seem to grasp the source of its power not far away in Boston—which could have pulled the plug on African slavery if they desired.
Upon regaining their moral compass after years of sending captured Pequot Indians into West Indian slavery, and trading African slaves for watered-down rum, the New Englanders found slavery in the South reprehensible and vowed to stamp it out. The Joseph Hawley mentioned below would become a Northern major general and Lincoln proconsul at occupied Wilmington, North Carolina in February 1865, after subjugating the native Americans of that city and confiscating their property.  Hawley’s Republican party provided a new home for white supremacist, anti-Catholic, foreigner-hating Know Nothings, high-tariff Northern Whigs, and fanatic abolitionists who forgot that their fathers had brought the slaves here.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Wilmington, North Carolina

Intolerant Politics in New England:

[editor Thomas M. Day] first editorial, January 1, 1855, ran a full column…he proposed to “encourage every judicious effort to stay the encroachments of the slave power”; to uphold the prohibition of liquor; to help check the influence of immigrants at the polls; to support a high protective tariff; and to expect little good from President Pierce or his cabinet.
The editor praised the Native American party for going into political battle with the war-cry of “America for the Americans.” He praised the party’s twin aims: “a refusal to be governed by foreigners—a determination not to allow Romanism to decide our elections.”  He criticized other editors for not seeing that Irish and German immigrants could undermine the American labor market.
With even greater assurance he wrote: “We believe the Caucasian variety of the human species superior to the Negro variety; and we would breed the best stock….the Caucasian variety is intrinsically a better breed, of better brain, better moral traits, better capacity every way, than the Negro, or the Mongolian, or the Malay, or the Red American.”  The Native American motto “America for the Americans” had a different effect on some of the newspaper readers in the Courant’s distribution area. They believed the issues of freedom and human bondage to be far more profound than those of native birth, and they began to look about for a political organization to give force to their view.  Their search led directly to the founding of the present Republican party in Connecticut and to the establishment of a newspaper, the Hartford Evening Press, that was destined to merge with The Courant and to infuse new vitality into the old paper.
Day was still blustering at non-Americans when…on…February 3, 1856, Joseph R. Hawley, a local attorney who years later was to become one of the owners of The Courant, and John F. Morris, cashier of the Charter Oak Bank, met at the corner of Main and Asylum Streets in downtown Hartford. Both were deeply concerned about the possible spread of slavery into the territories of the West. Morris…abruptly asked: “Hawley, isn’t it time that a Republican organization was formed here?” “Yes it is,” Hawley replied, “full time and we must be about it.”
(Older Than the Nation, Life and Times of the Hartford Courant, John Bard McNulty, Pequot Press, 1964, pp. 69-71)