a period of transition, and to be discontinued when the exigency had passed.1
He discountenanced a notion quite popular at the time, that rebels at the close of the war were to be tried for treason and hung.
‘People talk,’ said he, ‘flippantly of the gallows as the certain doom of the rebels.
This is a mistake.
For weal or woe, the gallows is out of the question.
It is not possible as a punishment for this rebellion.’2
In the midst of all the passions of war Sumner
maintained his serenity of mind.
Looking forward to a time when soldiers now in hostile ranks would serve under the same colors, he offered a resolution, May 8, 1862, as pertinent to an inquiry of General McClellan
, declaring it inexpedient that the names of victories obtained over our fellow-citizens should be placed on the regimental colors of the United States
His colleague Wilson
, as if to make a point, offered five days later a resolution of opposite tenor; but General Scott
, the highest military authority then living, recorded his contemporaneous judgment in favor of Sumner
's proposition, pronouncing it ‘noble, and from the right quarter.’4
Three years later he took ground against placing in the Capitol
‘any picture of a victory in battle with our own fellow-citizens.’5
This, too, encountered the opposition of his colleague as well as that of Howe
, but his action was approved by General Robert Anderson
; and again, as before, military authority was with him, and not with his civilian critics.
In harmony with his action on these points was his treatment of the question of retaliation, to be referred to hereafter.
shortly before his death remarked concerning Sumner
, that though ‘the protagonist’ in Congress against slavery, he was the only Republican statesman who adhered to broad and liberal views, and pointed as an instance to the distinction between him and his colleagues in his view of the proper use of battle-flags.6