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[286] resolution offered at the Dedham meeting declaring your course inexplicable. I opposed it; went over your whole reform life. A man of more rightful expectations than any of his age in New England spoke .hat peace address July 4. Perhaps he did not know then all he was sacrificing; the proof of his true devotion was, that, finding the sacrifice possibly greater than he anticipated, he stood by his position,—never retreated an inch; on the contrary, advanced to the prison discipline struggle, and to a more prominent and radical position on antislavery, etc. Such a man has earned the right to be trusted, even while we do not understand his whole ground or all his reasons. Some men—the more radical among his party, I think—expect more from him than he has ever promised; but I believe Charles Sumner will fulfil every promise he has ever made, every expectation he has ever given any one ground for entertaining. I think his course at washington impolitic and wrong;1 but that matters not. He has used, I doubt not, his best discretion, and the best advice at hand. He has his way of doing things; he did not suit us wholly while here; it's no surprise to me that his course should not wholly suit us now. I shall trust him at least till the end of the session, and listen then to his explanations. . . . If you shall always have ten such friends as I have been, your political life will be a happy one, and your fame (were it Sodom) as a fulfiller of all your pledges will be saved.


Those of Sumner's constituents who knew him best, and had learned the policy upon which he was acting, were satisfied with the integrity of his purpose, and if questioning the wisdom of his delay were content to leave the decision with him; but their intimate knowledge of his character and their private information could not reach the mass of earnest men in his party.

John A. Andrew, writing June 2 in reference to Mr. Winthrop's taunt, said:—

When by the circumstances a speech is an act for liberty, then I trust that you will make it. But when by speaking you feel that you would only drown your own testimony by the sound of your own voice, then it is not such as I am who desire you to break your silence.

Joshua Leavitt wrote from New York, June 11:—

I like your course, and especially that it is yours, and not any other man's. I told you at the outset to take time, act deliberately, so as to have nothing to take back, and not be in a hurry, and let croakers croak.

1 Sumner felt hurt at this phrase in the speech; but Phillips claimed that being addressed to dissatisfied persons it was in the connection judicious, and not open to objection as unfriendly.

2 Theodore Parker, though deeply regretting that Sumner delayed his speech so long, nevertheless expressed publicly no distrust of him, and made an apology for his silence at a meeting, July 5, in Abington. His very cordial and frank letters to Sumner himself rather imply a fear that his fibre was not quite so strong as it should be, and needed to be stiffened.

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