idead, abolition agitator,’ and treated his election as ‘a lost cause.’
was several times waited upon by the dissenting Democrats,—committees, or individual representatives,—and asked for assurances that he would not agitate the slavery question in the Senate, or that at least he would put other questions before it; but he refused steadily to give any assurance of the kind, replying simply that he did not seek the office, and that if it came to him it must find him an absolutely independent man.1
he declined to have any political conversation while the canvass was pending.
Some Democratic representatives who were still voting against him found themselves in a false position, and sought an excuse for escaping from it. They would have been content with some slight withdrawal or modification of his views which might serve as an apology for a transfer of their votes; but Sumner
would not give it. He wrote to John Bigelow
, Jan. 11, 1851:—
Whatever may be the result of our proceedings, I am desirous that you should know my position.
I have never directly or indirectly suggested a desire for the place, or even a willingness to take it. I shall not generally be believed if I say I do not desire it. My aims and visions are in other directions,—in more quiet fields.
To sundry committees of Hunker Democrats, who have approached me to obtain pledges and promises with regard to my future course in the State, or in the Senate if I should go there, I have replied that the office must seek me, and not I the office, and that it must find me an absolutely independent man. The Hunkers, Whigs, and Democrats are sweating blood to-day.
You perceive that all the Hunker press, representing Cassism and Websterism, are using every effort to break up our combination.
Again, January 21:—
You are right in auguring ill from the Fabian strategy.
When the balloting was postponed for three days, I thought our friends had lost the chances.
My own opinion now is that they are lost beyond recovery; but others do not share this.
The pressure from Washington has been prodigious.
Webster and Cass have both done all they could.
Of course, Boston Whiggery is aroused against me. There were for several days uneasy stomachs at the chances of my success. . . . It is very evident that a slight word of promise or yielding to the hunkers would have secured my election,—it would now if I would give it; but this is impossible.
The charge used with most effect against me is that I am a “disunionist;” but the authors of this know its falsehood,—it