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[603] he spoke against the commitment of Thaddeus Hyatt for contempt in refusing to answer certain questions put by the committee,—contending that the Senate's jurisdiction in compelling witnesses to attend and testify was limited to certain well defined cases, and did not extend to inquiries which were merely in aid of legislation.1 Later he commented on the action of the committee in its attempt to compel the attendance of Frank B. Sanborn as a witness.2 In his style of treating the Hyatt and Sanborn cases he showed his readiness to meet old antagonists. Mason, with characteristic assumption, took exception to his language as unusual in circles in which he himself moved, but showed no disposition for any personal contest. The Virginia senator reported a resolution for returning to Sumner, who had presented them, certain petitions of free colored men, and the latter prepared notes of a speech on this proposed violation of the right of petition; but the resolution did not come up for debate.3 Sumner paid a brief tribute to a deceased member of the House, John Schwarz, who had left the Democratic party on account of its course on the Lecompton question.4

The coming Presidential election now absorbed the public mind, and was the ever-recurring topic of debate in Congress. The Democratic national convention, meeting in Charleston, S. C., in April, adjourned, after a session marked by tumult and passion, to meet at Baltimore in June, where it nominated Douglas as President, after the withdrawal of Southern delegations, and of Northern delegates like B. F. Butler and Caleb Cushing, both of Massachusetts, who were in sympathy with them.5 These seceders, who, disciples of Calhoun, (lid not think Douglas Southern and pro-slavery enough in his position, put John C. Breckinridge (afterwards a general in the Confederate army) in nomination. In May, a remnant of conservative Whigs, known as the Constitutional Union party, nominated John Bell for

1 March 12 and June 15, 1860. (Works, vol. IV. pp. 426-440.) The Republican senators were divided as to the question of the Senate's jurisdiction. Generally those from New England agreed with Sumner, but Fessenden disagreed with them; Seward (lid not vote. Samuel E. Sewall and John A. Andrew were Hyatt's counsel. Andrew testified before the committee, and his manly bearing attracted public attention.

2 April 10, 13, and 16, 1860. Works, vol. IV. pp. 445-451.

3 Works, vol. v. pp. 176-187. His effort to obtain a reference of antislavery petitions failed April 18, 1860. Works, vol. IV. pp. 452-454.

4 Works, vol. v. pp. 188, 189.

5 In the Charleston convention Butler voted for Jefferson Davis for President, and was the Breckinridge candidate for governor of Massachusetts, in the autumn.

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