Whigs from other States; but they held Winthrop
responsible for breaking the unity of the Massachusetts
delegation and impairing the position of the State
on a question involving moral more even than political issues.
On the other hand, the Whig
politicians and capitalists, whose interest in the slavery question was only politic and conventional, came at once to his support when his vote was the subject of criticism.
They did not, however, assume to defend it as required by patriotism and public duty, for that line of defence would reflect on his colleagues; but they confined themselves to the apology that it was given under peculiar and difficult circumstances, which justified an honest difference of opinion.
The reserve of the journals was broken by a very earnest leader from C. F. Adams
in the ‘Whig,’ in which he treated Winthrop
's vote as ‘a positive sanction of the worst acts of the Administration,’ and charged, using the interrogatory form, that he had ‘set his name in perpetual attestation of a falsehood.’
He wrote thus: ‘According to the best estimate we can form of political morality, if he could expunge the record of it by the sacrifice of the memory of all his preceding brilliant career, he would make a bargain.’1
When this was written Sumner
had not taken his pen, and nothing which he afterwards wrote exceeded in substance the measure of Adams
's severe condemnation of the vote.
The ‘Advertiser’ then broke the silence it had maintained, and replied to the ‘Whig.’2
Withholding a decision between the opposing votes of Winthrop
and his colleagues, it treated the question as a difficult and embarrassing one, on which his vote ought not to be the subject of criticism among Whigs.
It regarded the bill as a measure of national defence, a vote for which should be deemed a support of its practical provisions without involving an approval of its preamble and declarations.
did not enter as a volunteer into the controversy concerning Winthrop
; he came to it after it had been opened by Adams
, and then only at the request of friends, who knew how deeply he felt upon the subject, and desired him to take a part in the discussion.
He was reluctant to become a critic of Winthrop
's vote; he respected the latter's personal character and attainments, had approved generally his public course, and