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Chapter 40: outrages in Kansas.—speech on Kansas.—the Brooks assault.—1855-1856.

Congress met Dec. 3, 1855. The Republican senators now numbered nearly one fourth of the Senate, and their exelusion from committees was no longer attempted. Sumner, receiving thirty two votes, was again placed on the committee on pensions, of which the other members were Jones of Iowa (chairman), Clay of Alabama, Seward of New York, and Thompson of New Jersey. On Cass's motion he was appointed one of the two members of the committee on enrolled bills.1 He spoke at length against the proposition to originate appropriation bills in the Senate, contending that it contemplated a practice which according to the best interpretation was not allowed by the Constitution.2 In two speeches on the mode of abrogating treaties he maintained, that, as under the Constitution a treaty is the supreme law of the land, it could be abrogated only by act of Congress.3 the occasion which led him to introduce a resolution to this effect was President Pierce's notice to Denmark for terminating the treaty in relation to the Danish Sound dues given in pursuance of a resolution of the Senate. It was suspected at the time that Southern senators, who were urging the power of the Senate to abrogate the treaty, had in view the making of a precedent for the revocation of the treaty with Great Britain requiring a naval force on the coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave-trade. Sumner had already in executive session opposed successfully Slidell's proposition to abrogate this treaty. His speeches defeated the proposed action in

1 Greeley, writing in the ‘Tribune,’ Dec. 14, 1855, of Sumner as one ‘whose reputation as scholar, orator, and statesman is not confined to this hemisphere,’ said: ‘Mr. Sumner dangles at the tail of two unimportant committees. Such is slavery's confession that she feels the point of his spear,—a truth well known already to others, but never so plainly admitted till now.’

2 Feb. 7, 1856. Works, vol. IV. pp. 83-92. He stated the same view in debate, Feb. 10, 1865.

3 March 6 and May 8. Works, vol. IV. pp. 98-120.

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