Custom allowed Rockwell
to answer or remain silent, as he saw fit; and not caring at that time to take definite ground on the point of inquiry, or to enter on a discussion of the general question, he kept his seat.1 Butler
then turning to Sumner
, demanded in an impetuous manner: ‘Will this honorable senator tell me that he will do it?’
instantly replied, ‘Does the honorable senator ask ,me
if I would personally join in sending a fellow-man into bondage?
Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?’
became at once very much excited, and was more than ever exasperated by Sumner
's ‘rhetoric,’ which he again fell upon with fresh epithets, and then restated the question: ‘I asked him whether he would execute the Constitution of the United States
without any fugitive-slave law, and he answered me, is he a dog—’ Sumner
here interrupted: ‘The senator asked me if I would help to reduce a fellow-man to bondage.
I answered him.’
resumed: ‘Then you would not obey the Constitution
Sir [turning to Sumner
], standing here before this tribunal, where you swore to support it, you rise and tell me that you regard it the office of a dog to enforce it. You stand in my presence as a coequal senator, and tell me that it is a dog's office to execute the Constitution of the United States
answered: ‘I recognize no such obligation.’
then finished by saying: ‘I know you do not. But nobody cares about your recognitions as an individual; but as a senator, and a constitutional representative, you stand differently related to this body.
But enough of this.’
followed, and spoke with the overbearing tone and manner habitual with him in such debates.
Rather absurdly he alleged that Sumner
had, ‘either ignorantly or corruptly,’ he did not know or care which, assailed ‘rudely, wantonly, grossly, the dignity of the Senate,’ by asserting that the Fugitive Slave
law denied to persons arrested under it the writ of habeas corpus
. He said that Sumner
in applying the term ‘slave-hunter’ to the claimant of Burns
had made use of vulgar language, which ‘betrayed the vulgarity of his associations at home,’ and asked whether it should ‘be tolerated in the American Senate,’ and charged him and his associates in that body with having ‘roused and inflamed the Boston
mob to the verge of treason, subjecting them ’