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[249]

Craigie House, Cambridge, April 25, 1851.
my dear Wilson,—I have this moment read your remarks of last night, which I think peculiarly happy. You touched the right chord. I hope not to seem cold or churlish in thus withdrawing from all the public manifestations of triumph to which our friends are prompted. In doing so I follow the line of reserve which you know I have kept to throughout the contest, and my best judgment at the moment satisfies me that I am right. You who have seen me familiarly and daily from the beginning to the end will understand me, and, it need be, can satisfy those who, taking counsel of their exultation, would have me mingle in the display. But I shrink from imposing anything more upon you. To your ability, energy, determination, and fidelity our cause owes its present success. For weal or woe, you must take the responsibility of having placed me in the Senate of the United States. I am prompted also to add that, while you have done all this, I have never heard from you a single suggestion of a selfish character, looking in any way to any good to yourself. Your labors have been as disinterested as they have been effective. This consideration increases my personal esteem and gratitude.

I trust that you will see that Mr. B's resolves1 are passed at once as they are, and the bill as soon as possible. Delay will be the tactics of the enemy.

Sincerely yours,


The joy of the Free Soilers over the result was only equalled by the wrath and bitterness of the partisan Whigs, particularly those of the Webster type. They hated Sumner as few men have been hated, and he was now to fill the high place which their idol had filled so long. They associated his name with all that was plebeian, ignominious, and revolutionary; and they had heaped on him and his coadjutors every odious epithet. Seldom has insolence met with so signal a rebuke. These unworthy sentiments were not, however, common to all the Whigs, and from some came public or private assurances of confidence in his high character and aims. The New York Tribune recognized in his election the absence of self-seeking and embarrassing pledges, and foresaw that his action, dictated by an earnest and deliberate conviction, would be that of a statesman looking to universal and permanent ends,—never of a partisan looking to the distribution of the spoils.2 The antislavery people through the free States received the tidings with profound gratitude. Their leaders—Chase, Giddings, Seward, the Jays, Whittier, Bryant, Parker,3 and many more—

1 J. T. Buckingham's, on slavery.

2 April 25.

3 Parker's letter is printed in his ‘Life’ by Weiss, vol. II. pp. 111, 112.

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