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[306] they exempted him from such a suspicion.1 He was not sincerer in conviction or firmer in purpose than Giddings; but far more than that veteran of the House he could by his wide range of thought and research, and by his confessed powers as an orator, force the attention and respect of a hostile assembly.

Sumner continued at his desk after his speech till the session of the day closed. He spoke briefly in favor of an allowance to the widow of A. J. Downing, the rural architect, partly for arrears of his salary as superintendent of the public grounds in Washington. Clemens, who had not yet recovered his calmness, said that Sumner's support of the appropriation ‘satisfied him that he was entirely right in opposing it;’ and a little later he referred to the other senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Davis), ‘who has the fortune to be a gentleman, which his colleague has not.’ There were cries of ‘Order,’ and the president said, ‘The senator must not indulge in such language.’ Clemens proceeded, but for the rest of the day observed the rules.

Sumner's first note of congratulation was from Mrs. Fish, wife of the senator from New York, whose husband, as shown by his vote, had not been persuaded by the speech:—

Permit me, my dear Mr. Sumner, to add my humble tribute of admiration to the congratulations you are receiving from your friends upon the successful defence of freedom made by you this morning. . . . You can afford to look quietly on and let the excitement pass by; the truths brought forward by you to-day must and will make a lasting impression even here, where prejudice holds the common mind fast bound in ignorance and error.

Mrs. Seward wrote from Auburn, N. Y., September 18:—

I have read with great pleasure your eloquent and convincing argument against the Fugitive Slave bill. This fearless defence of freedom must silence those cavillers who doubted your sincerity.2 It is a noble plea for a righteous cause. Hoping and believing—yea, through faith knowing, because His Word bath told us so—that the truth will ultimately triumph, since its abandonment by a majority of the Whig party I have been watching with increased interest the course of those who have not bowed the knee to Baal. May God prosper their efforts! I am truly glad to see that Mrs. Fish has become so warm a convert to principles which have as yet failed to win her husband.

1 General William Preston of Kentucky, who entered Congress in December, 1852, late in his life, told the writer that the South felt that Sumner was the only Northern man who would never under any circumstances swerve from his position, and the only one whose conversation outside of the Senate corresponded fully to his declarations in it. This statement is introduced here, not as a correct estimate of other Northern leaders, but as the Southern view of them.

2 An allusion to criticisms on Sumner for his delay in speaking.

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