He was bitterly denounced by slaveholders and also by such non-slaveholders as disapproved of all antislavery agitation, and in January 1827 he was assaulted and seriously injured by a slave-trader, Austin Woolfolk, whom he had severely criticized in his paper.
The slaveholders in the United States favoured annexation of Texas, and pressed the claims due from Mexico to American citizens, partly perhaps with the aim of forcing war.
In 1834, in the Tennessee constitutional convention he endeavoured to limit the influence of the slaveholders by basing representation in the state legislature on the white population alone.
Though opposed to a monopoly of political power in the South by the great slaveholders, he deprecated anti-slavery agitation (even favouring denial of the right of petition on that subject) as threatening abolition or the dissolution of the Union, and went with his sectional leaders so far as to demand freedom of choice for the Territories, and protection for slavery where it existed - this even so late as 1860.
In the Senate Wade was from the first an uncompromising opponent of slavery, his bitter denunciations of that institution and of the slaveholders receiving added force from his rugged honesty and sincerity.
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