Fugitive Slave Law Analysis

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Emerson agrees with Tocqueville that American people tend to conform to the majority’s opinion too often. In particular, Emerson describes this trend in a political setting. After the passing of the Fugitive Slave Law, which called for men in northern states to essentially kidnap slaves and return them into southern servitude, Emerson began to criticize Daniel Webster and his followers. Emerson says that “under the shadow of [Webster’s] great name, inferior men sheltered themselves, threw their ballots for it, and made the law” (Emerson 74). The men who voted in favor of the law followed Webster’s opinion, rather than forming their own. This idea is in accordance with Tocqueville’s proposition that men are intellectually lazy, and that they will support an immoral opinion that is not their own because they trust others more than they do themselves. The individuals who supported the Fugitive Slave Law “had no opinions, they had no memory for what they had been saying like the Lord’s prayer, all their lifetime; they were only looking to what their great captain did, and if he jumped, they jumped” (Emerson 74). Since these men have grown accustomed to adopting the opinions of others, they lose sight of what they truly believe in, and they fail to consult their own moral sense. …show more content…
The reconnection of each individual to his moral sense is necessary to combat the effects of majority tyranny, but not sufficient to return American society to a morally upright position. In addition to this moral reconnection, good political leadership that consists of independent men consulting their own sense of morality, rather than the views of the majority, is necessary to overcome the blemish on American history that is

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