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Chapter 36: first session in Congress.—welcome to Kossuth.—public lands in the West.—the Fugitive Slave Law.—1851-1852.

Sumner left Boston for Washington Nov. 25, 1851. He had three partings which touched his heart,—with his mother and sister at the family home, and with Howe and Longfellow. Howe wrote to him: ‘You are now to be lost to us; and though when here I do not see much of you, still it makes me sad to think I shall no longer have the power when I have the will to get near you for comfort and sympathy when I am sad. God bless and keep you!’ Longfellow wrote in his diary, November 23:—

Sumner takes his last dinner with us. In a few days he will he gone to Washington for the winter. We shall miss him much. He passed the night here as in the days of long ago. We sat up late talking.

Again, November 30:—

We had a solitary dinner, missing Sumner very much. He is now in Washington, and it will be many days before we hear again his footsteps in the hall, or see his manly, friendly face by daylight or lamplight.

He wrote to Sumner, December 25:—

Your farewell note came safe and sad; and on Sunday no well-known footstep in the hall, nor sound of cane laid upon the table. We ate our dinner somewhat silently by ourselves, and talked of you far off, looking at your empty chair. . . . As I stand here by my desk and cast a glance out of the window, and then at the gate, I almost expect to see you with one foot on the stone step and one hand on the fence holding final discourse with Worcester.


In New York Sumner made a few calls, among them one on Joshua Leavitt, at the office of the ‘Independent,’ where he met for the first time Rev. J. P. Thompson.2 John Bigelow came

1 Author of the ‘Dictionary of the English Language,’—a neighbor of Longfellow, and a good friend of Sumner.

2 ‘Some Glimpses of Senator Sumner,’ by J. P. Thompson, D. D. New York Independent, April 30, 1874.

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