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[153] the “Atlas” assailed Sumner, in successive articles, with coarse personalities.1 G. T. Curtis entered into the controversy on the same side and with the same spirit, assuming a supercilious tone, and threatening him with the loss of private and public confidence.2 It is hardly needful to say that the style of writing about him kept up for some weeks did not contribute to Sumner's peace of mind. Adams regretted the necessity for the controversy, and wrote to Giddings, Feb. 17, 1848: “I deeply regret all this business, because it will make permanent enmities here, to last us all through life. Winthrop's ambition has pushed him into it, and the folly of his friends has done the rest; they chose to irritate and to defy us.” 3

Winthrop, after this heated discussion, looked with less favor than ever on the antislavery leaders of Massachusetts, and treated them sharply on different occasions, calling those in and near his district (Sumner, Adams, and Palfrey) “a little nest of vipers.” He continued to diverge more and more from them,-- withholding his vote on measures for prohibiting slavery in the territories, because untimely, in his opinion; giving his adhesion to President Taylor's policy of non-interference;4 and even sanctioning the view that an expansion of slave territory, as it does not increase the number of slaves, does not of itself strengthen the institution.5

The controversy of a year and a half, in which the two names had been pitted against each other, wore upon Sumner. The burden of the controversy had been left on him by those who had urged him to it. He might expect harsh words from intemperate partisans; but he was misjudged by fairer men, some of whom ascribed his pertinacity to animosity or ambition. They wished Winthrop had given a different vote; but they thought the question a complex one, and calling for charitable construction

1 Dec. 30, 1847; Jan. 3, 27, 29, Feb. 3, March 17, 1848.

2 Boston Advertiser, Feb. 17, 1848. Sumner had been of service, two years before, in composing a difficulty between Mr. Curtis and W. W. Story, a relative, for which B. R. Curtis wrote Sumner, May 24, 1846, thanking him “for disinterested, judicious, and kind exertions in this unhappy affair.”

3 Giddings's “Life,” by Julian, p. 228.

4 Feb. 21 and May 8, 1850. “Addresses and speeches,” vol. i. pp. 630-647, 654-692. Wilson considered this “a new policy and new departure.” ( “Rise and Fall of the Slave power,” vol. II. p. 230.) See Theodore Parker on “The Slave power in America,” May 29, 1850. Parker's Works, vol. v. (Trubner's ed.) pp. 123, 124. Winthrop was criticised by Root, Dec. 3, 1849, and by Cleveland, April 19, 1850.

5 Addresses and Speeches, vol. i. pp. 686-688. The unsoundness of this view has been often shown. Von Hoist, vol. III. p. 480; Sumner's Speech on the Nebraska Bill, Feb. 21, 1854; Works, vol. III. p. 294; J. E. Cairnes on “The Slave power.”

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