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
The pro-slavery party now showed increased venom; and Pettit
were prepared with the most opprobrious epithets.
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.
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