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Chapter 26: the national election.—editing Vesey, Jr.—dangerous illness. 1844.—Age, 33.

The national election of 1844, in which the Whigs had counted with great confidence on the promotion of their favorite leader, Henry Clay, to the Presidency, ended, to their great disappointment, in the election of the Democratic candidate, James K. Polk. Sumner was not a partisan; and did not, by speech or pen, enter into the canvass. He desired however, as a citizen, the success of the Whigs, and without doubt voted for their candidates. With their peculiar policy relating to the tariff and a national bank, which drew to them more than to any party in our history capitalists, large manufacturers, men of acquired fortune, he expressed no sympathy. One of his type of mind would be inspired with party enthusiasm only where the primary convictions of right and duty were the basis of political doctrine and action.1 His letters to friends and his published communications on the ‘Right of Search’ and the ‘Creole’ case show that, among the political questions of the day, those relating to Slavery were then uppermost in his thoughts.

There were some points aside from their distinctive measures in which the Whigs came nearer to his views than their opponents. While at this time refusing as a national party to take an antislavery position, they were less than the Democrats under the control of the slaveholding interest; and they had less complicity in the pro-slavery schemes of that day, of which the annexation of Texas was the foremost. They therefore held a large body of men, who, like Sumner, already regarded the issues concerning the extension and perpetuity of American slavery as transcending any economic questions. They had some public men, distinguished for their opposition to Slavery, —John Quincy Adams and Joshua R. Giddings being the most

1 ‘I was a Whig because I thought this party represented the moral sentiments of the country,—that it was the party of Humanity.’ Speech, June 28, 1848.

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