The eulogy of Sumner
This speech was delivered in the House of Representatives on April 28, 1874. Senator Charles Sumner
had died March 11, 1874, and the House
followed the Senate in paying respect to his memory by suspending business.
Lucius Q. C. Lamar
, was invited by the Massachusetts
delegation to second the resolution.
Only a perfunctory performance was expected, but as Lamar
proceeded the stillness of the House
and galleries became almost oppressive.
sat motionless with tears running down his cheeks.
Opponents in many a hot debate, Democrats and Republicans alike, were melted to tears.
When he closed, all seemed to hold their breath, as if to prolong the spell; then a burst of hearty and sympathetic applause broke from all over the House
and the galleries, such as had not been heard since the war. Of all the speeches delivered in both houses Lamar
's alone was sent to all parts of the country by telegraph.
The text here followed was from a copy in Lamar
's own handwriting.
: In rising to second the resolutions just offered, I desire to add a few remarks which have occurred to me as appropriate to the occasion.
I believe that they express a sentiment which pervades the hearts of all the people whose representatives are here assembled.
Strange as, in looking back upon the past, the assertion may seem, impossible as it would have been ten years ago to make it, it is not the less true that to-day Mississippi
regrets the death of Charles Sumner
, and sincerely unites in paying honors to his memory.
Not because of the splendor of his intellect, though in him was extinguished one of the brightest of the lights which have illustrated the councils of the government for nearly a quarter of a century; not because of the high culture, the elegant scholarship, and the varied learning which revealed themselves so clearly in all his public efforts as to justify the application to him of Johnson
's felicitous expression, ‘He touched nothing which he did not adorn;’ not this, though these are qualities by no means, it is to be feared, so common in public places as to make their disappearance, in even a single instance, a matter of indifference; but because of those peculiar and strongly marked moral traits of his character which gave the coloring to the whole tenor of his singularly dramatic public career; traits which made him for a long period to a large portion of his