Needham Town Meeting Takes a Big Stand–in 1851

In April 1851, Needham Town Meeting took a stand against the Fugitive Slave Act, voting to enter the following statement into its record:

The town voted to accept the following Preamble and Resolution and that they be entered upon the records of Town,

Whereas the last Congress of the United States in September last, passed an act for the recovery of Fugative Slaves, usually called the Fugitive Slave Laws, which is in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of this State, which is also a flagrant Outrage on the rights, and liberties of the citizens of all the free States of the Union, in as much as it deprives Men of “certain inalienable rights (to wit) Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” also the denial of the right of trial by Jury which caused the Patriots of our town to shed their Blood and sacrifice their lives on the field of Lexington.

Therefore Resolved that we will on all suitable occassions express our hostility to the above named Law and

as citizens of a Republic, we feel called upon to use all constitutional and peaceable means in our power to cause its immediate and unconditional repeal.”

copy of the 1851 Town Meeting resolution (thanks to Ross Donald):