previous next
[173] remaining without weariness to the end. Contemporary witnesses are emphatic as to ‘the beauty, eloquence, and convincing argument of the speech,’1 and the long and repeated demonstrations of applause, which at the close, as at Faneuil Hall, rose to ‘the highest pitch of enthusiasm, with deafening and tumultuous shouts, and cheer upon cheer, as if they would never stop.’ The Whig newspapers referred to him as ‘the Demosthenes’ of his party,—a title which gives an idea of the impression he made on those who were not inclined to give him more than his due. He was altogether the most popular speaker in the canvass in Massachusetts, and voters of all parties were charmed if not convinced.2 It may be noted that at Chelsea he preceded by one evening Abraham Lincoln, who, then the only Whig member of Congress from Illinois, had been brought by his party to the State.3 Only at one place where Sumner spoke was the meeting disturbed,—at Lyceum Hall, Cambridge, in the midst of the associations of his youth; where the students, some Southern, and others reflecting the sentiments of the ruling class in Boston, interrupted him with hisses and coarse exclamations.4 He bore the rudeness well, till at length he singled out the leader of the disturbance, who had made himself conspicuous by loud expressions of contempt at the speaker's comments on Taylor, and said: ‘The young man who hisses will regret it ere his hair turns gray. He can be no son of New England; her soil would spurn him.’ That rebuke restored quiet, and afterwards the speaker and those in accord with him had it all their own way. Henry w. Muzzey, who was present, wrote: ‘I heard ’

1 Boston Republican, November 1.

2 One of the audience at Faneuil Hall wrote that it was spoken of at the time as ‘the greatest speech of the campaign.’ Boston ‘Chronotype,’ November 1.

3 Mr. Lincoln spoke first at Worcester on the evening before the Whig State convention, and a liberal summary of his speech, chiefly directed against the Free Soilers, appeared in the Boston Advertiser, September 14. He was in or near Boston a week. speaking twice in the city (once in company with Seward at Faneuil Hall), and also at Dedham, Dorchester, Cambridge, and Lowell. His speech was not on a high level, and gave no promise of leadership in the antislavery conflict. Seward's more serious treatment of the slavery question on the evening they spoke together started a train of reflections in the mind of the future President. (Seward's Life, vol. II p 80 ) The stress of Lincoln's argument was on the point that the Free Soilers were a party of one idea or principle, good enough in itself, but not broad enough to found a party on,—an objection urged with equal force against the Republicans, who twelve years later made him President. By a curious turn of politics, the men whom he came to Massachusetts to oppose—Sumner, Adams, Wilson, Andrew, Dana, and Burhngame—became his supporters in the election of 1860 and during his Presidency; while the foremost of the Whig leaders whom he came to assist were opponents of his election or of his Administration.

4 Longfellow's Life, vol. II. p. 127.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 1st (2)
1860 AD (1)
September 14th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: