My most recent review of this is taken from A History of Worcester, Massachusetts (on Google books here; start on page 1448), though it is in all of Worcester's histories of the time.
Worcester often touts itself as the home of the first national women's rights convention, and so its place in suffrage is a bit known. What has somewhat gotten lost is its importance in the fight over the abolition of slavery.
In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law passed Congress as part of the Compromise of 1850 (the question of what to do with Kansas). This required those in free states to assist in the apprehension and return to slavery of those escaping it. Those not doing so could be jailed and fined. As home to many of the Free Soil party (those who wanted new states to come in as non-slaveholding), Worcester was loud in its offense.
In his inaugural address of the following year, Worcester Mayor Peter Bacon said the following in reference to the Fugitive Slave law:
If it be asked whether it is intended that the police shall, in its official capacity, aid in its enforcement, I answer No....and went on say that any officer so doing, he would recommend be removed from office.
Within three years this would be tested in a most public way.
The capture and return to slavery of Anthony Burns in Boston roused the city to indignation in May of 1854. Bells in the churches tolled and the flag on the Common was reversed and raised to half mast.
When it was learned that Asa Butman, the U.S. marshal who had apprehended Burns, was in Worcester in September, the Worcester Spy released the following:
LOOK OUT FOR KIDNAPPERS!
BUTMAN, THE KIDNAPPER OF THOMAS SIMS AND ANTHONY BURNS IS IN TOWN ACCOMPANIED BY ANOTHER OFFICER!!When the crowd of volunteers watching his movements grew, surrounding his hotel, and Butman was seen with a pistol in hand, someone swore out a complaint, he was arrested for carrying a dangerous weapon. Upon his giving bail, Butman was so concerned by the crowd that he voluntarily put himself back into custody. A number of abolitionist saw to it that he reached the train station safely; when it was found that he had missed the train, he was put in a carriage with a vow that he would not return to the city.
So far as anyone knows, he never did.