An ardent opponent of slavery, he became a Free Soiler, was a delegate to the National Convention which nominated John P. Hale for the presidency in 1852, and subsequently served as chairman of the State Committee, having at the same time editorial control of the Charter Oak, the party organ.
With ardent anti-slavery principles, he entered political life as a "Young Whig" opposed to the Mexican War; he became an active Free-Soiler in 1848, and in 1854 took part in the organization in Massachusetts of the new Republican party.
He served in the lower house of the state legislature in 1826-1828, and from December 1838 until March 1859 was a member of the national House of Representatives, first as a Whig, then as a Free-soiler, and finally as a Republican.
He served as a Free Soiler in the Massachusetts house of representatives from 1849 to 1853, and was speaker in 1851 and 1852; he was president of the state Constitutional Convention of 1853, and in the same year was elected to the national House of Representatives as a coalition candidate of Democrats and Free Soilers.
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