As soon as the South Carolina legislature called a Secession convention, the North became thoroughly alarmed and sobered. So often had idle threats to secede been made, both in the North and in the South, the cry of "Wolf! Wolf !" had lost its terrors. But now at last the "wolf" was at the door and what was to be done? The obvious thing was to comply with the constitutional demands of the South, as Andrew Johnson and other Unionists insisted.
On December 17 Congress, by an almost unanimous vote, requested the abolition states to repudiate their Personal Liberty Laws. The offending states set about complying with this request and all of them, except possibly Massachusetts, would have repealed these unconstitutional statutes. But the concession came too late. Southern Senators like Davis and Iverson let it be known that the proposition would be rejected. "The progress of this revolution would not be stopped," they declared, "if every Personal Liberty Law were repealed tomorrow."1 Thurlow Weed, Republican Congressman from New York, and a partner of Senator Seward, proposed to go further. Weed offered resolutions, extending the Missouri compromise line to the Pacific and providing that compensation be paid to owners of run-away slaves by counties refusing to deliver up such fugitives to their masters. Crittenden, the patriarchal Senator from Kentucky, offered a famous resolution to amend the Constitution. The Crittenden Amendment, as it is known, would have prohibited slavery in existing states north of 36° 30′, and south of that line would have protected slavery irrevocably and without the possibility of repeal. The territory north or south of that line, not yet states, should be____________________