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[521]

Sumner was kindly to old friends who did not follow him at this time; but it was a grief to him that he could not draw George William Curtis to his side. One evening in the spring of 1872, when Curtis was at his house and was about leaving, Sumner said to him, as if pleading for his support: ‘When Brooks struck me down, Douglas stood by; now when Grant strikes, you stand by.’ The tears fell as he spoke these friendly but reproachful words.1 Henderson, former senator from Missouri, was witness of the scene.2

Sumner's relations with his colleague Wilson were strained at this time, though with no open breach. He felt the need of the latter's sympathy and support, and knew well enough how much he was weakened in his position by the divided representation of the State. Wilson was at heart no believer in General Grant as a civilian, but he was anxious for party unity, and was at the time aspiring to the second place in the national service. Though not sympathetic with all of Sumner's ideas, he had profound faith in the rectitude of his purposes and a genuine affection for him. He had done more than any man in 1851 to place Sumner in the Senate, and four years later the senior senator welcomed the junior to his side. Though greatly unlike each other in training, manners, and ways of living, they had been in general accord on public measures, and their relations had been singularly free from personal questions. Their different courses at this time, though embarrassing, were not likely to lead to any permanent estrangement. Shortly after the close of the French arms debate they had a free conversation with each other, in which Sumner told his colleague that their political paths would shortly diverge, but he hoped they would still remain friends; and he begged him to intercede with Grant to withdraw as a candidate for the sake of harmony. Two days later Wilson wrote Sumner a pathetic letter, reciprocating the hope for continued relations of friendship, and expressing pain at Sumner's separation from the party,—an event which he had feared for months, and done his best to avert. He referred to his own many hours of sadness as he contemplated the calamity, during which he had almost wished himself out of public life, and added that there had been no time for twenty years when he

1 Curtis, in his eulogy, June 9, 1874, describes Sumner's emotions in 1872, as revealed in intimate intercourse with him.

2 General Henderson supported, with reluctance, General Grant at this time, but was afterwards a strenuous opponent of the attempt to give him a third term.

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