The Slavery Controversy
Michigan produced a small but vigorous cadre of antislavery leaders
who condemned the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The minority
status of such leaders was typical during the abolitionist movement.
They were not humanitarians; most were concerned mainly with the
growth of "the slave power." To curb the political clout of slave
holders, antislavery reformers asked Congress to curtail the
admission of slave states to the Union. Consequently, legislative
resolutions condemning slavery were designed mainly to slow its
expansion to the West.
Joint resolution respecting slavery in the territories. Approved February 4, 1857, Laws of Michigan.
Whereas, The people of this State did, at the late Presidential and State election, unequivocally condemn the fugitive slave law of 1850, and the principles and practical workings of the Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854; repudiating by a most distinct and emphatic utterance the repeal of the Missouri restriction, and the doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty;
And Whereas, The people have thus, by an overwhelming and unprecedented majority, endorsed the resolutions of instruction passed at the last session of this body;
And whereas, These instructions were utterly disregarded, notwithstanding the previous and oft-repeated avowal, on the part of our Senators of the doctrine of instructions;