He was placed on the committee on territories, of which Douglas
named him for the committee on foreign affairs; but Seward
desired that place, and moved in the Senate the adoption of the list, which was carried against the opposition of all the Republican
senators except himself.1
Two days later Sumner
arrived in New York, where be was for the night the guest of John Jay
, and where several friends, including Mr. and Mrs. Fremont
, gathered in the evening to pay their respects to him. The next day, March 7, at noon, he sailed for France
in the steamship Fulton.
As the vessel left the pier, a large body of personal and political friends cheered him, and the Young Men
's Republican Club of the city fired in his honor a salute of thirty-one guns.2
His last words as he parted from the country concerned the cause which lay deeply on his heart, and were contained in two letters,—one to the governor of Vermont
from Mr. Jay
's house, and the other to a friend of Kansas
from the steamer just before it parted from the pilot.3
That very morning (just seven years from Webster
's speech) the newspapers announced the decision in the case of Dred Scott
given by the Supreme Court of the United States
the day before,—a decision which denied to the negro national citizenship, and to Congress its immemorial power to prohibit slavery in the national territory.
Twenty years before, Sumner
sailed from New York on a sailing vessel on his first European
journey,—then a youth of twenty-six, now a man of forty-six.
Then he went to observe countries and institutions, and to see mankind; now he was to make a weary search for health, constantly receding as he seemed about to grasp it. Behind him, however, was a faithful people, who, through years of waiting, never for a moment thought of placing another in his vacant seat.
Massachusetts, in which the spirit of ‘76 manifested itself more powerfully every day, was determined that the 22d of May should not be forgotten.
It chose no new senator, but waited patiently, year after year, until the martyr of liberty and of fearless speech could again resume his seat.4