townsmen, who represented all that was best in the American
They came not only from those who had been in accord with him before, but as well from others who confessed a change of heart as they meditated on the outrage in its personal and public aspects,—from obscure persons, whom he would never see, but who testified the inspiration they had—drawn from his character and career; from women who placed him in their affection and admiration by the side of husband or son; from clergymen like Wayland
(father and son), Beecher
, Francis, Lowell
, and others less known to fame, but not less devoted ministers at the altars of patriotism and religion.1
A few extracts must suffice to show the spirit of the mass of letters.
wrote, May 23: ‘How I wish I could have been near when the dastardly ruffian struck you down.
One arm at least would have been prompt in your succor and defence.
God bless you!
and God grant that Northern endurance may at length have an end!’
wrote, May 24, of the universal indignation awakened by the assassin-like assault, and expressed anxiety to hear of Sumner
's escape from permanent injury, speaking of the speech as ‘a great and eloquent vindication of our cause.’
R. H. Dana, Jr.
, wrote, May 27: ‘I think of you every hour of every day; you haunt me. Mrs. Dana
cannot sleep because of you, and my children cry tears of anger and pity.
Except for your physical suffering it is all right.
It is one of the drops that make our cup run over. . . . You have both the wreath of civic victory and the crown of martyrdom.’
having written to Sumner
, May 21: ‘God bless you for the brave words you spoke the other day, and have always spoken!’
wrote two days later to John P. Hale
: ‘How much is the noble fellow wounded?
Give him my most sympathizing regards and love.
I wish I could have taken the blows on my head.’
assured him of his deep sympathies, with wishes for a speedy restoration, though careful to withhold an approval of his speech beyond a general concurrence in its argument.
The event drew from Prescott
expressions of sympathy and affection, and awakened in him almost his first interest