All this misery has the sanction of your vote, Mr. Winthrop. Every soldier is nerved partly by you. Away beyond the current of the Rio Grande, on a foreign soil, your name will be invoked as a supporter of the war. Surely this is no common act. It cannot be forgotten on earth; it must be remebered in heaven. Blood! blood! is on the hands of the representative from Boston. Not all great Neptune's ocean can wash them clean.1Mr. Winthrop replied, August 17, in a letter which ended the correspondence. In his view, Sumner's articles not only arraigned his acts, but were ‘full of insinuations as to his motives and imputations on his integrity,’ and ‘proceeded upon the offensive assumption that under some influence of ambition or moral cowardice he had knowingly and deliberately committed an unworthy and wicked act.’ Without entering on a justification of his vote, he claimed that in the perplexity of the case it was honestly and conscientiously given; and he asked no man to defend it, or to agree with him in opinion. He refused to maintain relations of social intercourse with one who had grossly assailed his public morality, and declined all further communication with Sumner while matters stood as they did between them, saying also, ‘my hand is not at the service of any one who has denounced it with such ferocity, as being stained with blood.’2 This mode of treating Sumner was from this time adopted by Winthrop's particular friends and supporters. Public men, while bearing in good temper assaults from the other side, are sensitive to criticisms from the ranks of their own party; and Winthrop could not be expected to remain on intimate and confidential terms with a political associate who publicly condemned his official action as contrary to justice and the moral law. But certainly Sumner had as yet done nothing to justify a formal proclamation of personal non-intercourse; he had violated no confidence, broken no ancient ties of friendship, nor turned against a benefactor. His sole favors from Winthrop were the courtesies bestowed on himself and
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
1 Gladstone's speeches on Beaconsfield's Eastern policy abound in denunciations as strong as any applied by Sumner to Winthrop's vote, and provoked the retort that he was ‘a sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity.’ Nevertheless, Gladstone moved in Parliament a national monument to Beaconsfield.
2 Mr. Winthrop published in 1852 this letter in a note to the first volume of his ‘Addresses and Speeches,’ pp. 770-773. In an introduction he called attention to Sumner's prolonged silence on the slavery question during the session of Congress then going on, the first session in which Sumner served. Before the volume reached the public, Sumner had broken the silence, Aug. 26, 18.52, in his speech on the Fugitive Slave Act.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.