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[356] apart from the human struggle which was going on about him. It is not at all likely that at this time he had any glimpse of the political upheaval which was at hand.

Sumner made his speech February 21.1 He declined at the outset to enter on the personalities with which Douglas opened the debate, being unwilling to divert attention from the great question at stake. He disposed, by a statement of points, of the pretence that the Compromise of 1850, either in purpose or effect, interfered with the prohibition of the Missouri Act. He put in the foreground the wrong and wickedness of slavery itself, and the national guilt involved in any measure which extended it; upheld the equality of rights asserted by the Declaration of Independence; repelled the delusive suggestion that the extension of slavery did not increase the number of slaves; and dissented kindly but strenuously from the part of Everett's speech which disparaged the importance of the prohibition on the assumption that physical causes of themselves stood in the way of slavery ever acquiring foothold or vigor in the territory.2 Arraigning the measure as a breach of faith, he gave a history of the Missouri Compromise, of the proceedings in Congress, and of the agitation in the country, showing how the prohibition itself was proposed by the South, which, having received the full consideration stipulated in its favor, now repudiated the bargain, and refused to perform the obligation which it had assumed. In this review he presented more clearly than had been done the character of the original transaction. The rest of the speech covered, to a considerable extent, ground he had heretofore traversed,—the antislavery policy of the Fathers, the power and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in the territories, and an exposure of the sophistries which were urged in behalf of the institution, or of concession to its demands.

Appealing for the maintenance of good faith, pledged in the Missouri Compact, he said:—

I appeal to senators about me not to disturb it. I appeal to the senators from Virginia to keep inviolate the compact made in their behalf by James Barbour and Charles Fenton Mercer. I appeal to the senators from South

1 Works, vol. III. pp. 285-332. Seward wrote, February 21: ‘Mr. Sumner's fame has gathered a bright array of ladies in the gallery, and we are waiting for him to begin.’ And on February 22: ‘Sumner's speech was very brilliant, magnificent, and effective; he came to dine with me after it.’ Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II p. 223.

2 Later in the speech he referred regretfully to Everett's suggestion that the antislavery agitation had aggravated the condition of the slave. Works, vol. III. p 329.

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