of John Davis
's term, and to elect three or four members of Congress.
Besides the pro-slavery position of the national Democratic party, certain local difficulties—some blunders of the State
administration, Governor Boutwell
's appointment of Cushing
as judge of the Supreme Court, and most of all the passage of the Maine Liquor
law at the last session, a movement in which the Free Soilers
took the lead—proved disastrous to the coalition.
Even these disadvantages might not have been fatal if Robert Rantoul, Jr.
, had lived, whose name as candidate for senator to be chosen by the next Legislature would have given vigor and inspiration to the Free Soilers
and liberal Democrats.
As it was, the Legislature was lost by about ten majority, and with it the State
offices and senator, although Horace Mann
as candidate for governor received nine thousand more votes than were given to Hale
The Maine Law defeated the coalition candidates for the Legislature in the large towns; and that measure, many times since a fatal stumbling-block, would have wrecked the coalition spite of even greater efforts to save it. Banks
, a Democrat, and DeWitt
, a Free Soiler, were chosen to Congress; while Weston
, one Free Soiler and one Democrat, each came within two hundred votes of an election, Wilson
within one hundred, and Adams
fell behind his Whig competitor only four hundred.1
The Free Soil leaders felt much aggrieved by Sumner
's abstinence from the campaign, and smarting under defeat when success was so near, some of them attributed to him the disaster.
His course was the subject of comment in two or three journals,2
and was the occasion of hard words at the party headquarters.
All this was freely communicated to him by Dr. Howe
and others; and indeed Sumner
deserved the criticism.
One who accepts office from a party, and is in harmony with its policy, owes to it in all exigent seasons the support of his voice and name.
If at a critical moment his ability, eloquence, character, and official prestige are thought necessary to save it, they should be available for the purpose.
The full reason for Sumner
's reserve does not appear even now.