previous next
‘ [458] the theme, and improve the opportunity. The North now testifies through millions of throbbing hearts how it welcomes you as one of the illustrious few; and the South has testified through the mode of expression most natural to it its equal recognition.’ Miss Mattie Griffith, of Kentucky,1 the owner of inherited slaves, afterwards liberated, wrote from Philadelphia, June 8: ‘Afar off in Kentucky I learned to love your name and reverence your heroism. I used to hide away in the woods, or in still corners of the house, to read your speeches, every word of which was heavenly manna to my hungry soul! There was a life, a strain of soul and power in them that always moved me in the very source of thought and tears; and I bless you now for having aroused in me a sense of human justice, and a zeal for human rights.’

The speech was at once printed in the leading New York journals, and in those of other Northern cities. Large pamphlet editions were issued in Washington, New York, Boston, and San Francisco.2 Of the Washington edition nearly a quarter of a million of copies had been ordered in less than two months after the speech was made, and by that time a million of copies, it was estimated, had been issued in various forms.3 It became a Republican campaign document in the national election of 1856. It was translated into German and Welsh; and was reprinted in London in a volume edited by Nassau W. Senior, and including the latter's review of ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin.’ The extraordinary interest in the speech was, however, largely due to the event which followed it.

Sumner aroused the wrath of the pro-slavery party as no other man could have aroused it. He as well as other antislavery men in Congress, and more than most of them, had endured continuous insult, not only by vituperation in debate, but in gestures, scowls, supercilious tones, disorderly ejaculations, and disturbing conversations while they were holding the floor,—offensive conduct, of much of which there was no official record.4 Those who had sought to suppress free debate in this way had now found their superior. They were beaten not only in argument, but in sarcasm, invective, and prompt retort, in an encounter where the weapons were of their own choosing. Sumner's style was finished beyond that of his compeers, and

1 Later, Mrs. Albert G. Browne. Jr.

2 Boston Telegraph, June 25, 1856.

3 New York Evening Post, July 9.

4 New York Tribune, May 30.

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.
San Francisco (California, United States) (1)

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.
Charles Sumner (2)
Welsh (1)
Nassau W. Senior (1)
Mattie Griffith (1)
Albert G. Browne (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.
June 25th, 1856 AD (1)
1856 AD (1)
July 9th (1)
June 8th (1)
May 30th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: