of a bill to repeal the Fugitive Slave bill. My first impression was to give this notice to-day; but I have concluded to wait the movement of the Boston petitioners, and to put myself in the position of carrying out their desires. I am glad you liked those few words of mine. I had intended to make an elaborate speech of a different kind, but the determination to close the debate that night induced me to change my purpose. The rulers of the country are the President, with Cushing, Davis, and Forney.1 Nobody else has influence. These are hot for Cuba and war. The howl of the press here against me has been the best homage I ever received. My opposition to all that iniquity is not merely by speech, but in every available way; and they know it. The threats to put a bullet through my head, and hang me, and mob me, have been frequent. I have always said, “Let them come they will find me at my post.”Hitherto Sumner's relations with the Southern senators had been those of mutual courtesy, and with some of them quite cordial. He was often engaged in friendly talks with Butler and Mason, who sat one before and the other behind him,2 though of late a growing reserve between him and them had been noticed.3 He had been scrupulous in observing the rules of decorum, and had given no occasion for a personal grievance, confining himself in the treatment of the slavery as well as other questions to a discussion of measures and policies, even in his main speech on the Nebraska bill, and abstaining from any impeachment of motives or any altercations with senators.4 This was the testimony of observers, even of those not sympathetic with his views. It will be remembered that during his first session he received in silence the epithets applied to him at the close of his speech against the Fugitive Slave Act. Except in one or two instances, he had been decently treated in debate; but his interchange of courtesies and pleasantries with most of the Southern senators was now to end. As he afterwards wrote: ‘From the Kansas and Nebraska bill came forth ’
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3 New York Tribune, June 28.
4 Douglas in debate, March 3, 1854, admitted Sumner's ‘bland manners and amiable deportment’ up to the time of the Nebraska contest. The ‘National Intelligencer,’ Oct. 5, 1854, while contending against his positions, wrote: ‘But we are bound to admit that in his most excited discourses in the Senate on this subject,—that is, on questions affecting these rights,—as well as in his general personal intercourse (so far as we are informed), he has not been in the habit of transgressing the bounds of parliamentary law or the requirements of courtesy and good breeding.’ A similar tribute was given in the New York Evening Post, June 1, and the Wheeling (Va.) Gazette, quoted in the ‘Commonwealth,’ September 4.
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