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[260] service as ‘his oldest personal friend in the body.’ The other senators who took the oath at the same time were Hamilton Fish of New York, Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio, James of Rhode Island, and Geyer of Missouri. Later in the day Mallory of Florida was sworn. Sumner had selected a seat on the Democratic side of the chamber,—one recently occupied by Jefferson Davis, who had resigned,—by the side of Chase, and in close proximity to the senators from Virginia and South Carolina.1 He had only two political associates,—Chase of Ohio and Hale of New Hampshire; the former chosen by a combination of Free Soilers and Democrats, and the latter by a combination of antislavery men and Whigs. From John Davis, his own colleague, he could expect nothing but personal civility. In sentiment, if not often in action, he could count on a certain measure of sympathy from Seward, who was, however, politic and bent on maintaining his position as a Whig leader,2 and from Wade, who was sincere in his antislavery convictions as well as fearless, but who failed in steadiness and adequate preparation for the contests of the Senate. Hamlin, of maine, was now opposed to any scheme for the extension of slavery, but was unhappily constrained by his position as a supporter of the Democratic party, then controlled by the slaveholding interest. Chase and Sumner were well known to each other before, both in correspondence and personal interviews, and their relations were to continue most intimate and confidential until the former's term expired in 1855.

In point of ability and character the Senate was not then at its best.3 It had seen better days, and was again to see better

1 Butler's seat was immediately before Sumner's, and Mason's immediately behind Chase's. The line of division as to politics between the two sides of the chamber was not rigid. The ‘Congressional Globe’ reported a list of senators which allowed only two classes, and placed Sumner with the Whigs.

2 C. F. Adams, as appears by his letters to Sumner, Dec. 22, 1852, and Jan. 23, 1853, took an unfavorable view of Seward at this period, regarding him as ‘too much of a Jesuit,’ and as having ‘imbibed the poisonous nourishment of New York politics until he has lost the consciousness of the necessity of directness in really great movements of moral reform.’ Nevertheless, Sumner and Seward as fellow-senators were always cordial to each other. Political literature was a topic of their conversation, and Sumner's marks are found in Seward's books. Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 204.

3 In an article on wade's retirement, March 4, 1869,—the date when Sumner became ‘Father of the Senate,’—the New York Tribune described the Senate as it was when he entered it, and ascribed to the three Free Soilers only a foresight into the real question of the future. Schouler, the correspondent of the BostonAtlas,’ Dec. 5, 1851, mentioned the incidents of the first day of the session, and particularly Clay's presence. The Senate was sometimes called ‘a bear garden.’ The scene between Benton and Foote was then freshly in mind.

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