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[196] citizen living under any bad government, in whose reformation he ought to assist by speech and vote. The demand for the dissolution of the Union was calculated to array the conservative thought and the national sentiment of the country against the Anti-slavery movement,—potent allies, which he thought essential to its success. The philanthropist, the patriot whose heart yearned for a country wholly free, whatever were his political relations, might well have preferred so grave a calamity even as the severance of the Union to the perpetual existence of Slavery in any part of it. But to one with Sumner's hopeful views of human progress there was no such dread alternative; and he believed from the first in the sure triumph of Freedom under the Constitution, and by the power of the Union. Notwithstanding these differences in opinion and action, he had never any controversy with the ‘Abolitionists.’ They usually treated him with exceptional good — will and confidence; and if any dealt harshly with him, he made no public answer,— simply saying to any one who called his attention to their criticisms: ‘We are all striving for the same end,—they in their way, and I in mine; and I can have no controversy with them.’ His view of the policy of the ‘Abolitionists’ is shown in a letter he wrote April 9, 1850, in reply to a friend who justified his own opposition to the Anti-slavery movement by urging their violent language:—
I have read the “Liberator” more or less, since 1835. It was the first paper I ever subscribed for.1 I did it in the sincerity of my early opposition to Slavery. I have never been satisfied with its tone. I have been openly opposed to the doctrines on the Union and the Constitution which it has advocated for several years. It has seemed to me often vindictive, bitter, and unchristian. But let me say, frankly, that I have never seen any thing in that paper at any time so vindictive, bitter, and unchristian as your note. You beat Garrison.

Sumner, at this time, watched with genuine interest Dr. Howe's work for the blind; the movement for popular education which Horace Mann was directing; and the agitation for an improved prison discipline,—without, however, enlisting in any public debate on either topic.

1 His subscribing for the ‘Liberator’ at that early day was an exceptional case in his profession. Few lawyers read it, much less subscribed for it. Ellis Gray Loring and Samuel E. Sewall,—the latter still living,—were conspicuous instances of the few Antislavery lawyers of Boston who were in the period 1834-1840 actively engaged in practice.

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