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[361] the right to hold slaves in the territory till its admission as a State, with no power in Congress or the territorial legislature to prohibit it. Douglas's measure, carried without unity of argument, settled nothing. Proposed with the pretence of establishing peace between the sections, it proved the opening of a controversy which was shortly to rage in Congress and in bloody strife in Kansas.

Sumner intended to speak again on the bill, but was dissuaded by Seward, whose influence with him was then considerable as to questions of time and occasion. Twice, however, during the last night of the debate he was on his feet,—once to deny the charge made by Norris of New Hampshire that he had counselled forcible resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act in his Faneuil Hall speech in 1850,1 and again to repel the insinuation of Douglas that he had come to the Senate by participation in a dishonorable combination.

Sumner wrote to Dr. Howe, Dec. 8, 1853:—

I am glad you are to influence the “Commnonwealth.” It will be a source of pleasure and confidence to me here to know that you are connected with it. Of all the papers which visit me at breakfast, I open that Boston sheet first; then comes the Evening Post of New York. This Congress is the worst— or rather promises to be the worst—since the Constitution was adopted; it is the “Devil's own.”

Again, Jan. 18, 1854:—

You observe that the Nebraska bill opens anew the whole slavery question. Cannot something be done to arouse our Legislature to resolutions affirming their original position in 1819? Here all is uncertain. I have a hope that it may be tabled at once. The threat is to push it to a vote without delay.

Again, February 13:—

Things begin to brighten. Houston to-morrow will take the true ground. This will strike terror into the doughfaces. My desire is to get as many to speak as possible on our side rather than speak myself. My turn will come, perhaps on the very day of your meeting, perhaps a little later.

To E. L. Pierce, March 9:—

I cannot forbear, even under the pressure of other things, thanking you for your sympathy, sent so promptly. I have been oppressed by the wicked—

1 This point of controversy was the subject of a letter from Sumner printed in the Washington ‘Union,’ March 15, 1854. Seward (‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 225) advised him not to notice that journal's attack.

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