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[394] to him a sympathetic and steadfast support. In sermons, religious newspapers, and by formal vote in their meetings, they bore witness to his fidelity to the sacred cause and his manly defence of their memorial. They, as well as laymen of like spirit, sent him letters full of personal tenderness, as also of political confidence, and invoked on him the divine favor in this life and a rich reward in the next. This force, attracted by no selfish ends, and unmoved by any carping criticisms on minute points, stood him in good stead through his career. What Everett had lost he had gained.

Any statement of Sumner's relations to public opinion would be incomplete which omitted the mention of another force, now as heretofore an important element in his political position New England, in her towns, has always had a large body of women who take an earnest and intelligent interest in political questions which have a moral aspect. These were not so much the highly intellectual and refined class found in a few favored places, but they embraced those who had been well educated in common schools, and had been inspired with moral and humane sentiments in churches and lyceums. They were fascinated by Sumner's literary style and elevated tone; and the charm was increased by his person and voice with those who had listened to his addresses and lectures. They had watched the tournament in the Senate, and felt the enthusiasm for him which chivalrous devotion always inspires with the sex. His speeches were more readable at firesides than those of other public men trained only in political debates; and in many a household the whole family gathered at evening to hear them read. As an incident of the times, it may be stated that on his return from Washington the women of Plymouth presented him, as a token of their respect for his manly and noble course, a seal ring, containing a stone from Plymouth Rock.1

Mrs. Seward wrote, June 10—

I read your speech on the final passage of the Nebraska bill with tears of gratitude that so much ability and eloquence were devoted to the advancement of truth and freedom. I must confess to some fears for your safety, but am glad to learn that the proscriptive spirit does not now as in times past pervade all classes at Washington. May our Heavenly Father still continue to guide and bless you!

1 The interest of clergymen and thoughtful women in Sumner at an earlier period has been referred to. Ante, p. 13.

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