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[101]

In March, 1833, a temperance society was formed in the college, which included members of the professional schools, as well as undergraduates. It was a period of special interest in this reform. The pledge of this society admitted the use of wines, excluding only that of spirituous liquors, and was binding only during the signer's connection with the college. The meeting for organization was held in a room in University Hall, which was used for commons.1 Sumner was chosen President; Abiel A. Livermore, of the Divinity School, Vice-President; and Samuel Osgood, of the Divinity School, Secretary. Among the members of the Executive Committee were Barzillai Frost, of the Divinity School, and Richard H. Dana, Jr., of the Sophomore Class. Public meetings were held in the City Hall, or one of the churches; at one of which Rev. John G. Palfrey delivered an impressive address, still well remembered for its effective reference to graduates of the college who had fallen victims to the vice. He then, for the first time, met Sumner, who presided; and was attracted by his manly presence and genial smile. In the autumn of 1833, Sumner invited George S. Hillard to repeat before the society a temperance lecture which he had delivered in other places.

Rev. A. A. Livermore, of Meadville, Penn., a living officer of the society, writes:—

A peculiar life-and-death earnestness characterized even then all that Sumner did and said. His voice had a trumpet tone, and he was a good leader to rally under; but temperance was not popular.

Rev. Dr. Osgood, of New York, also writes:—

Sumner was then a law-student, and I saw a good deal of him. He talked much of ethics and international law. He had great strength of conviction on ethical subjects and decided religious principle; yet he was little theological, much less ecclesiastical.

He was connected, at least during his first year in the Law School, with a debating society, and bore his part in discussions which related to the utility of trial by jury and of capital punishment, and the value of lyceums. He was not fluent in speech, but he prepared himself with care, as his minutes still preserved show.

One attraction at this time proved stronger with Sumner than

1 The first meeting was held March 6, and the officers were chosen March 14. ‘Mercantile Journal,’ March 16, 1833.

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