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[413]

An incident occurred a few days later, just at the close of the session, which shows that Sumner had the respect of Butler, although they were no longer on speaking terms. An amendment to the appropriation bill was under discussion, which authorized the purchase of copies of the papers of General Nathaniel Greene to be edited by his grandson, George W. Greene, who has already been mentioned in this biography. Sumner spoke briefly in favor of the grant, and vouched for the qualifications of the editor. Butler thought the gentleman from Massachusetts a good indorser, and his authority as to the competency of the editor quite sufficient. Apparently fearing that some pleasantry of his concerning an interview between General Lafayette and a daughter of General Greene might prejudice the proposed grant, he at once wrote on a letter envelope a memorandum explaining his remarks, which he handed from his seat to Sumner. At the end of it he said:‘God forbid that I should say anything that would touch the reputation of General Greene's descendants!’

Sumner was happy to assist at this time in completing a transaction which resulted in the liberation of a family of slaves. Mr. Andrew, afterwards governor, as the friend of Seth Botts (or Henry Williams, his adopted name), a fugitive slave,1 had been interested for two years in procuring the freedom of Botts's wife and their three children (two girls and a boy), then held as slaves in Prince William County, Virginia, the title to whom had been finally determined after protracted litigation. He had raised the necessary funds to pay for them, and was in correspondence with the owner's attorney, Judge Christopher Neale, of Alexandria. Sumner assisted in the negotiation by conferences with Judge Neale, and subsequently when it was completed took charge of the negroes upon their arrival in Washington, and saw them to the station safely on their way to the North. He received the deed of them, and was thus for a few hours technically a slaveholder. The children were nearly white, and the eldest so Caucasian in color and features as to be called Ida May, after the heroine of a recent antislavery novel. Daguerreotypes of them, taken after their arrival in Boston, were distributed; and many were affected by the sight of slaves apparently white, who were unmoved at the

1 He had escaped from Judge Neale, of Alexandria, six years before, and had bought his freedom after his escape.

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