and John Quincy Adams
Public men in Washington
were then under less restraint than now in their habits.
They could not forego tobacco even during the sessions, and whiskey and brandy were sold in the restaurants of the Capitol
,— a practice which assisted vulgarity at all times, but particularly in exciting debates and in sessions prolonged into the late hours, and which will account for some of the indecent and unparliamentary language used in replies to antislavery speeches.
To avoid overdrawing the picture, it should be said that here and there in the Senate were men of blameless lives and unfailing courtesy, such as Foot of Vermont
of North Carolina
In character, presence, and style of debate Chase
were the peers of any who have ever held seats in that body.
Four men had recently passed from it who would have given dignity and renown to any parliamentary assembly.
, the least distinguished of the four, after thirty years of service, had been thrown out by the intense pro-slavery party of Missouri
, made up of Whigs and Democrats, as a punishment for his resistance to the Compromise policy.2 Calhoun
had died a senator during the preceding Congress.
had passed from the body to Fillmore
was still a senator, but was enfeebled by age and by disease, which had been aggravated by his severe labors in support of the Compromise of 1850.
He was in the Senate for the last time on the day that Sumner
took his seat; it was observed how sadly clanged he was from the last session as he came with tottering steps into the chamber.
He spoke twice on a point of procedure,3
and at the adjournment on that day left the Capitol
to return no more to it. It was significant that the very day when the representative of Compromise passed forever from the Senate, it was entered by an equally determined champion of freedom, who would admit no concession wherever its sacred interests were at stake.
Such was the body which Sumner
with his high idea of the dignity which became a senator now entered.
Being a new