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[113] But in moving the reference of the petition to the Committee on the Judiciary, he remarked that he hoped he was not expecting too much if, at some fit moment, he should bespeak the clear and candid attention of the Senate, while he undertook to set forth frankly and fully, and with entire respect for that body, convictions deeply cherished in his own State, though disregarded in the Capital; convictions to which he was bound by every sentiment of the heart, by every fibre of his being, by all his devotion to country, by his love of God and man. ‘Upon these,’ he said, ‘I do not now enter; suffice it for the present for me to remark, that when I undertake that service, I believe I shall utter nothing which in any just sense can be called sectional; unless the Constitution is sectional, and unless the sentiments of the Fathers were sectional. It is my happiness to believe, and my hope to be able to show, that according to the true spirit of the Constitution, and the sentiments of the Fathers, Freedom, and not Slavery, is national; while Slavery, and not Freedom, is sectional.’

A vast majority of the Senate were determined that Mr. Sumner should not be allowed to deliver the speech which it was well known he had prepared. But he vigilantly watched his opportunity. It came at last on the 26th of August, 1852, and being by the Rules of the Senate entitled to the floor, he held it against all opposition for nearly four hours; during which he pronounced that immortal oration—as it would have been called by the Romans in the days of Cicero—which will forever be regarded as the most powerful defence of the eternal principles of Freedom ever uttered in that Senate House. It sounded like a voice from the dead—it stirred the whole Nation—it foretold the doom of American Slavery

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