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[148] no surprise to the Speaker. Palfrey, against whom a great clamor arose among the partisan Whigs of Boston, 1 justified his vote in a formal statement two years later.2 When Winthrop was a candidate for re-election in December, 1849, the Free Soil members, then increased to nine, again set up their objections to him, and refused to vote for him,3—expressing their readiness, however, to vote for Thaddeus Stevens, or some other Whig of positive antislavery position. The result was the election of Howell Cobb of Georgia, a pro-slavery Democrat, on the sixty-third ballot, by a plurality vote, which it had been agreed should be decisive.4 The spectacle of this small band of Free Soilers, immovable in spite of frowns and odious epithets from all sides, and threats from Southern members suggestive of disunion and violence, was an exhibition of moral power which did not fail to impress the country.5

Sumner wrote to Palfrey, December 10, from the United States Circuit Court room in Boston:—

The papers bark, people talk, but they cannot rail away the value of your act. I admire your courage, firmness, and conscience. Your single vote struck a strong blow for freedom. It was strong in itself,—stronger in the assurance of what you would do hereafter. The ‘Atlas’ and “Advertiser” May utter their maledictions, but good men cannot fail to sympathize with you. Richard Fletcher came to in here in court yesterday, and expressed his warm admiration of your course. He said you ought to be defended, and that he would write an article on the subject; he admired a man who followed his own conscience rather than the lead of party. Edward Brooks last evening expressed to me his warm sympathy with you. S. C. Phillips, as you May imagine, appreciates your noble position. I regret very much that Mr. Adams and Mr. King did not stand with you.

Sumner defended Palfrey's vote in two articles contributed to the ‘Courier.’6 They were respectful and temperate in tone,

1 Longfellow wrote in his diary, Dec. 12, 1847: ‘Sumner joined us at dinner. We talked over Palfrey's vote against Winthrop, which is making a tempest in the Boston tea-pot. The act partakes somewhat of the heroic.’ Longfellow's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 101.

2 A Letter to a Friend, 1850, pp. 12, 13.

3 Charles Allen's Speech in the House, Dec. 13, 1849. Julian's ‘Political Recollections,’ p. 77.

4 Some of the Southern Whigs, holding advanced pro-slavery positions, as Stephens and Toombs, who had supported Winthrop two years before, now voted for an independent candidate of their own kind. In the interval they had been drawing nearer to South Carolina disunionism. Stephens had, perhaps, a personal reason, not having been assigned to the place on committees which he desired. ‘A. H. Stephens's Life,’ by Johnston and Browne, pp. 220, 221, 237, 238.

5 Von Hoist, vol. III. pp. 469, 474.

6 Dec. 23, 1847, ‘Honor to John Gorham Palfrey.’ Jan. 6, 1848, ‘Mr. Palfrey and Mr. Winthrop.’ They were signed with a *, but they were known to be Sumner's at the time, with no purpose on his part to conceal the authorship.

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