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‘ [381] to traitors' doom.’ Pettit of Indiana then began a ribald speech of which even his fellow-Democrats must have been ashamed. He defended his assertion that the Declaration of Independence is a ‘self-evident lie,’ and illustrated his notion of human equality by saying that Sumner could no more be the equal of Webster than ‘the jackal was the equal of the lion, or the buzzard the equal of the eagle.’ He thought that ‘in a moral point of view the senator from Massachusetts could not, in view of his declaration that day, find any one beneath himself.’ He kept on personally addressing Sumner, and the president twice interposed, requiring him to address the chair. He treated Sumner's reply to Butler as a repudiation of a senator's oath justifying expulsion; and what the latter as well as what Mason said in debate indicates that this measure was being seriously considered.

The debate went over to the 28th, when the assaults on Sumner were renewed. The pro-slavery party now showed increased venom; and Pettit, Mallory,1 and Clay of Alabama were prepared with the most opprobrious epithets. Pettit began the day with a personal explanation concerning the official report of the preceding debate; and on Sumner's stating that he himself had used the language there given, Pettit cried out, ‘Utterly false!’ when the president directed him to keep himself within the rules of order. Dixon made a prepared speech in defence of the law, which was earnest though not ill-tempered; but otherwise its supporters were intensely bitter and personal, and all their shafts were centred on Sumner. The grossness of Clay's epithets—of which ‘miscreant,’ ‘serpent,’ ‘spaniel,’ ‘a sneaking, sinuous, snake-like poltroon,’ acting ‘with unblushing presumption and insolence,’ and ‘meriting the nadir of social degradation,’ were some of the more decent—has never been exceeded in Congress; and he would have been stopped if a point of order had been raised.2

It would not have been human in Sumner to remain silent under the tirade of personality which was poured upon him, and at length he turned upon his assailants. He had been hitherto forbearing under severe provocation; but the time had

1 Afterwards Secretary of the Navy in the Confederate cabinet.

2 It should be noted that most of the senators kept aloof from the debate, and the offences against propriety were confined to four Southern senators and their ally from Indiana. Rusk of Texas did not find the debate ‘edifying,’ and the accord of others with his feeling may be implied from their silence.

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