previous next
‘ [174] Mr. Sumner speak several times during that campaign, and nowhere was he more effective and powerful than on the occasion referred to at Cambridge.’

The speech had a more important relation to Sumner's future career than appeared at the time. It brought him into connection with persons in all sections of the State who were shortly to attain and hold for a long period a large influence in its politics. It tested his capacity for the political forum, showing that his power was not confined to elaborate discourses on literary and moral themes, but embraced as well a vigorous discussion of men and measures before miscellaneous audiences. It centred on him the enthusiasm of the young men of the State, who had in large numbers joined with great earnestness and vigor in the new movement. It placed him without question as an orator at the head of his party in the State, and opened the way to the honors and responsibilities which awaited him.1

Longfellow's diary illustrates Sumner's tone of mind at this time:—

June 24, 1848. Dined in town. Saw Sumner surrounded by his captains, Adams, Allen, and Phillips They are in great fervor touching their Anti-Taylor-and-Cass meeting in Worcester.

Sept. 3. Sumner full of zeal for the Barnburners. But he shrinks a little from the career just opening before him. After dinner we called on Palfrey.

Sept. 17. Sumner passed the afternoon with us. After tea I walked halfway into town with him. He looks somewhat worn. Nothing but politics now. Oh, where are those genial days when literature was the theme of our conversation .

Oct. 22. Sumner stands now, as he himself feels, at just the most critical point of his life. Shall he plunge irrevocably into politics or not? That is the question; and it is already answered. He inevitably will do so, and after many defeats will be very distinguished as a leader. Let me cast his horoscope: Member of Congress, perhaps; minister to England, certainly. From politics as a career he still shrinks back. When he has once burned his ships there will be no retreat. He already holds in his hands the lighted torch.

Oct. 26. Sumner made a Free Soil speech [in Cambridge]. Ah me! in such an assembly! It was like one of Beethoven's symphonies played

1 The writer is not to be understood as saying that Sumner produced conviction with more minds than some other speakers,—notably Charles Allen, S. C. Phillips, and R. H. Dana, Jr. Other speakers who rendered conspicuous service in the campaign were Samuel and E. R. Hoar. father and son. Charles Allen, of Worcester, by his personal influence and force of character and his favorable situation in a community removed from the influence of Boston capital, perhaps brought more votes to the party than any one of the leaders See, for sketches of the Free Soil leaders, Boston ‘Republican,’ Oct. 31, 1849.

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Worcester (Massachusetts, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George Sumner (9)
Charles Allen (3)
Oct (2)
Stephen C. Phillips (1)
John Gorham Palfrey (1)
Longfellow (1)
E. Rockwood Hoar (1)
Richard Henry Dana (1)
Boston (1)
C. F. Adams (1)
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.
September (2)
October 31st, 1849 AD (1)
June 24th, 1848 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: