previous next
[436] unworthy of a gentleman; and hence he thinks that the charge is not a libel. With that understanding of the character and duties of a gentleman, he may be right in saying that he does not regard it as a libel; but with my understanding of the duties of a gentleman and a senator, I regard it as a gross libel.

Sumner replied:—

Mr. President, I have no contest on this floor, or anywhere, with the senator from Illinois as to the character of a gentleman. Sir, this Senate shall decide whether the senator from Illinois is a proper judge in such a case. The senator has alluded to facts; I answer on facts. Look at the debates at that time; see what I said, and judge me by it. It is true, 1 asked for a delay in the discussion of that bill,—and on patriotic grounds, sincerely, because I desired it for a proper discussion of so great a question. It is not true that I left my seat to speak to the senator from Illinois on the subject, nor did a word fall from me in regard to it except in open debate on the floor, as is reported in the “Globe.” Now, as to the character of the address. The senator has chosen to revive that ancient matter. He had better go, perhaps, to the siege of Troy, and revive that again. I had supposed that tale had passed away; but it seems a “twice-told tale” may be brought forth here to serve the personal asperities of the senator from Illinois. I have no freshness of recollection of the peculiar language of the address. the senator seems to have quoted words or phrases from it; I know nothing of them. I leave that address, however, to take care of itself. It is on the records of the debates of this body; it is before the country.

This contest between the two senators is of interest in connection with what occurred two months later. The formal debate opened, March 20, on the two reports and on the two bills,—that of the committee, and the other moved by Seward as a substitute, which admitted Kansas as a State under the Topeka Constitution,1—and it continued for several months, with intervals for the consideration of ordinary business. Douglas led, March 20, in a speech which combined his conspicuous qualities,—unscrupulousness, audacity, and insolence. Again, as in his report, he held up the Emigrant Aid Company as the aggressor and instigator of the troubles in Kansas, and denounced the Free State settlers as ‘daring and defiant revolutionists.’2 In his references to Republican senators, he continued to speak of them as ‘black Republicans.’ He expressed the wish that the Government would put its power to a hitherto

1 Such a bill passed the House, July 3, by a vote of 99 to 97; but it was laid on the table in the Senate.

2 Also as ‘rebels’ and ‘revolutionists,’ April 10. Benjamin, May 2, called them ‘conspirators.’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Illinois (Illinois, United States) (4)
Kansas (Kansas, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
E. V. Sumner (1)
William H. Seward (1)
Douglas (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 20th (2)
July 3rd (1)
May 2nd (1)
April 10th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: