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[149] and altogether free from any personal criticisms or suggestions which could be deemed offensive; and it shows the heated and overbearing temper of the Whig leaders of the period that they called out the epithets which the Whig organ applied to the author. They expressly disclaimed any imputation as to Winthrop's motives, or any intention to institute a comparison between him and Palfrey in that regard, and even admitted an honest difference of opinion between the divisions of the Whig party to which they respectively belonged. The two men represented, he argued, two opposite systems of policy, and were radically separated in their respective methods of opposing slavery and the war. Palfrey, as he contended, was in favor of determined action, even to the hazard of party success, against the institution of slavery wherever it was within national jurisdiction, and therefore involving national responsibility, and supported the policy of refusing supplies for the war, and of withdrawing our troops from Mexico; while Winthrop, on the other hand, giving undue heed to the importance of maintaining the unity of the Whig party, had inadequately represented the sentiments of Massachusetts on the slavery question, as declared in the resolves of the Legislature, and had hesitated to grapple with the monster evil. He had voted for the original war bill; had avowed his readiness to vote reasonable supplies for carrying on the war; and had maintained, in his speech on the tariff, June 25, 1846, the necessity of an ample revenue as essential to its vigorous and successful prosecution. In the same communications Sumner defended Palfrey's vote to retain the postmaster of the House, who was a Democrat,—a vote which was violently assailed by Whig partisans; and in this part of his argument he anticipated the civil service reform,1 which he was to be the first to bring forward in Congress,2 and which has found favor in recent times.

1 He said: ‘He [Mr. Palfrey as Secretary of the Commonwealth] declined to use his influence in dismissing from office under him any persons who were faithful in the discharge of their duties merely on grounds of a difference of political opinions. This rule certainly commends itself to all whose sense of justice is not entirely benumbed by party. It ought to win the applause especially of the Whigs, representing, as they profess, the better sentiments of the community, and sharply condemning that system which is maintained by the cohesive attraction of public plunder. It is proper that with a change of policy, as indicated by a change of parties, the important functionaries, who may impress their peculiar opinions upon the country, should be changed. But it is not just or proper that the humbler office-holders, who cannot in any way influence those matters on which parties hinge, should be driven with every political change from the duties to which they have just become accustomed, and in this way, perhaps, be deprived of their daily bread.’

2 April 30, 1861. Works, vol. VIII. pp. 452-457.

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