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[368] the clergymen of New England. His constituents, as well as the clerical signers, were generally dissatisfied with his course in the debate. He appeared cautious not to identify himself with the assailed document, and anxious to disembarrass himself from responsibility for it. It was complained that he failed to speak with manly spirit and patriotic feeling, and to give his sanction to the petition as bearing the testimony of the morality and religion of New England against the Nebraska project.1

Pettit of Indiana followed Everett with an assault on the memorialists marked by his usual coarseness and indecency, and moved that it be referred to the chaplain of the Senate for examination and report. Douglas, taking the floor again, berated the clergy for introducing religious sanctions into their protest, and for appealing to the Supreme Being; while he discharged Everett, in view of his explanation and uniform conduct, of all blame in presenting it. Houston rising again, put the responsibility of the agitation on the repealers instead of upon the protesting clergymen, where it was being sought to place it. The memorialists were then defended by Seward and assailed by Badger. Everett remained silent after his first explanation. Sumner took no part in the debate. He had scruples against interfering with his colleague, to whose charge the memorial had been committed. He would, if he had spoken, have felt compelled to adopt a different tone; and he was careful, perhaps unduly so, not to court, even in appearance, comparisons and contrasts between Everett and himself as representatives of Massachusetts in the Senate. Houston also appealed to him to be silent, wishing himself to conduct the controversy with Douglas without any embarrassment from antislavery senators.

Sumner wrote to Mr. Dexter, March 17:—

I desire you to hear in mind that in committing the memorial to Mr. Everett he was marked as its guardian and defender in the Senate. Any interference from me, his colleague, particularly in a tone contrasting with his, might have seemed indelicate and unkind. There is another fact which I did

1 The ‘Congregationalist,’ March 24, April 28, May 12 and June 2, contains Mr. Dexter's report and statements; ‘Commonwealth’ March 15, 25, 31, and April 6; ‘National Era,’ March 23; ‘New Bedford Mercury,’ in March; ‘Boston Traveller,’ March 20. The ‘Evening Post,’ March 8. was severe in its criticisms upon Everett. See also dates of March 3, 4, 17; April 10, 11, 15; May 20, 23. The Springfield Republican, March 20 and May 20, noted the general dissatisfaction with him. The private correspondence of the time was emphatic in the same direction; but there is no occasion to repeat here the strong epithets which were then freely applied to Mr. Everett.

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