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[419]

My dear Albert,—Here I am now in this distant solitude, weary with a tramp of twenty-five miles beneath the ground; and I dedicate an early moment to you. I have been glad to hear of your studies and happiness. I doubt not you are laying up a goodly store for future use. Of course you will master the German, and I hope before you return you will do the same with the French. If you get nothing else, you will not have journeyed in vain; but to these I know you are adding experience, knowledge, and learning, all of which will enable you to enter upon life with commanding influence. On your return we will need all that you can contribute. The country is approaching a crisis on the slavery question, when freedom will triumph in the national government or the Union will be dissolved. At moments latterly I have thought that the North was at last ready for a rising, and that it would be united in the support of a truly Northern man for President. Perhaps the wish is father of this thought. It is evident that the Know Nothings cannot construct a national platform on which they can stand at the North and South; their failure will make way for a Northern combination. I have spoken much since the meeting of Congress, in Massachusetts and New York, and have everywhere found the people prepared as never before to welcome our great truth. Your sketch of Humboldt was admirable. I have already seen something of Kentucky; have enjoyed its magnificent farms, its thoroughbred cattle, its woodland pastures. I have seen a slave sold on the steps of the court house at Lexington, and have passed a day as a guest on an estate where there were one hundred slaves; so that I have been gaining experience! The more I think and see of slavery, the more indefensible does it seem. I hesitated between the journey I am now taking and one to Europe. For myself I have chosen wisely; but nevertheless I envy you the Rhine, Heidelberg, the Alps, and all that is before you.


In Kentucky and Tennessee Sumner had an opportunity to observe out-door political meetings, and to hear four stump speeches. He went by steamer down the Cumberland to the Ohio, and then on the Mississippi to St. Louis, where it is probable that he met his kinsman, Colonel E. V. Sumner, then commanding at that post. He continued his journey by steamboat up the Mississippi to St. Paul, stopping at points on the way.1 While driving at Davenport he met with an accident. The horse became unmanageable; he was thrown out, severely bruised, and narrowly escaped serious injury. Descending the river as far as Dubuque2 and going to Chicago, he went north to Milwaukee to seek Mr. Booth, who had recently contested the validity of the Fugitive Slave law, and with him went to Windsor to call on

1 He met in Iowa Governor James W. Grimes, afterwards senator, who thought that Sumner was not intellectually like Webster or Chase, but that ‘what is wonderful in a politician, he has a heart.’ Grimes's ‘Life,’ pp. 74, 75.

2 He met in Iowa Governor James W. Grimes, afterwards senator, who thought that Sumner was not intellectually like Webster or Chase, but that ‘what is wonderful in a politician, he has a heart.’ Grimes's ‘Life,’ pp. 74, 75.

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