A picture full of meaning to readers of Lamar's ‘eulogy’ |
Negroes at the ruins of the Richmond and Petersburg bridge at Richmond in April, 1865 Everyone knows that the care-free black people sitting before the unruffled pool are in some way connected with the wreck of war that looms behind. A viewpoint of this relation, as warmly human as it is broad and national, is taken by Lamar in his Eulogy of Sumner. Charles Sumner at the time of his death had for a generation been prominent in anti-slavery agitation. His oration in 1845 on The true grandeur of nations attracted attention even in England. With his election to the United States Senate, in 1851, at the age of forty, he stepped forward to a position of national leadership. Before and after the war few national figures aroused more opposition in the South than Charles Sumner. He created a storm in 1856 by his speech in the Senate on The crime against Kansas, in which he reflected on South Carolina and on Senator Butler from that State. Preston Brooks, a South Carolina Representative and a relative of Butler, found Sumner alone at his desk in the Senate Chamber, and beat him over the head with a cane until Sumner fell senseless to the floor, receiving spinal injuries from which he never entirely recovered. Sumner, when able some years later to return to his seat, continued his opposition to slavery, and was prominent in securing to the freedmen citizenship and the ballot. No later than 1874, true patriotism had succeeded passion so notably that Lamar's Eulogy was greeted with warm applause by representatives of all sections.