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[276] next State election, have been placed by Sumner's side in the Senate. Sumner's tribute, though brief, was complete,—touching on all points of Rantoul's varied character as lawyer, publicist, reformer, and statesman, and also on the charm of his private life. A slight, almost covert, allusion to his efforts against slavery caused irritation among Southern senators, which was assigned by Mr. Davis, his colleague in the Senate, as a reason for his own silence on the occasion. The inscription on Rantoul's monument in the burial-ground at Beverly was from Sumner's hand.

During the session Sumner was occupied with efforts to procure the pardon of Drayton and Sayres, master and mate of the schooner Pearl, convicted in the District of Columbia for promoting the escape of seventy-six slaves whom they were carrying down the Potomac, when they were overtaken and brought back. Their heroic act greatly inflamed the slaveholding population; and their trial, in which they were defended by Horace Mann, excited general interest1 They received a heavy sentence in fines, which they were unable to pay; and after a confinement of four years, a petition in their behalf, signed by leading Abolitionists, was forwarded to Sumner for presentation in the Senate. There was little faith that their release could be obtained, or a less sensational mode of appeal would have been resorted to. Sumner felt that the thing to be done was to get the unfortunate men out of prison; and hopeful that there was a chance for them, he went to work quietly in the only way which promised any success, instead of making a demonstration in the Senate which would have prolonged their misery. He regarded them not as tools to be handled for political effect, but as captives to be liberated, and felt it to be his duty to use the most appropriate means for a specific and practical end. He therefore took the responsibility, with the approval of the prisoners, whom he visited in the jail, and of their counsel, of withholding the petition,2 and appealed directly to President Fillmore for a pardon,

1 Ante, p. 156.

2 Drayton, in his ‘Personal Memoir,’ p. 115. says: ‘Mr. Sumner, the Free Democratic senator from Massachusetts, had visited me in prison shortly after his arrival in Washington, and had evinced from the beginning a sincere and active sympathy for me. Some complaints were made against him in some antislavery papers because he did not present to the Senate some petitions in my behalf which had been forwarded to his care. But Mr. Sumner was of opinion, and I entirely agreed with him, that if the object was to obtain my discharge from prison, that object was to be accomplished, not by agitating the matter in the Senate, but by private appeals to the equity and the conscience of the President; nor did he think, nor did I either, that my interests ought to be sacrificed for the opportunity to make an antislavery speech. There is reason in everything; and I thought, and he thought too, that I had been made enough of a martyr of already.’

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