The limitation proposed seems adequate to all exigencies, while the general rule will be publicity. Executive sessions with closed doors, shrouded from the public gaze and public intrusion, constitute an exceptional part of our system, too much in harmony with the proceedings of other governments less liberal in character. The genius of our institutions requires publicity. The ancient Roman, who bade his architect so to construct his house that his guests and all that he did could be seen by the world, is a fit model for the American people.He steadily adhered to the views then expressed, and late in his service in the Senate made his protest against secrecy in the deliberations of that body.1 Sumner came slowly into the general debates of the Senate, and he lacked at this time the facility for them which he afterwards acquired. His friends at home were troubled at his abstinence from them, and thought he should make himself felt in matters of business. Particularly they regretted that he did not improve the opportunity afforded by a debate on the Monroe doctrine as applied to the acquisition of Cuba, then as always coveted by the pro-slavery and filibustering spirit. His friends in the Senate also were solicitous for greater activity on his part in matters outside of the slavery question. Seward wrote, May 19, 1853: ‘I trust that you will seize some practical questions, and vindicate, as you can, the claim disallowed to us all of competency to general affairs of government. Do this, and defy the malice of the disappointed.’ Chase, when governor of Ohio, wrote, March 18, 1856: ‘I wish you would take my old advice, to take off your coat and go into the every-day fight. You would easily gain for yourself a reputation in this necessary part of senatorial duty as great as you have gained by your elaborate efforts as an orator and logician.’ Sumner's hesitation in this respect gradually passed away, but not fully until his party came into power in 1861. He wrote John Bigelow, Dec. 13, 1852:—
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1 March 17, 1870. Works, vol. XIII. pp 339, 340. See vol. IV. p. 76.
2 The eulogies in the Senate on Mr. Webster were delivered by John Davis, Butler, Seward, and Stockton; Sumner did not speak. He wrote later to Mr. Bigelow: ‘The brave Southern voices failed on the Webster day. Badger skulked in the lobby; Clemens and Mason were both silent.’
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