Chapter 59: cordiality of senators.—last appeal for the Civil-rights bill. —death of Agassiz.—guest of the New England Society in New York.—the nomination of Caleb Cushing as chief-justice.—an appointment for the Boston custom-house.— the rescinding of the legislative censure.—last effort in debate.—last day in the senate.—illness, death, funeral, and memorial tributes.—Dec. 1, 1873—March 11, 1874.
received cordial salutations from senators of both parties as he entered the Senate clamber, Dec. 1, 1873.
The Republican majority, classifying him as a member of the opposition, placed him low down on two committees,—that of privileges and elections, of which Morton
was chairman; and that of education and labor, of which Flanagan
, though suffering a permanent disability, made it a point to attend on the first day, with the hope of harmonizing the relations of the majority and the dissenters of 1872;1
but this well-meant effort found no encouragement with the set then dominant in the Senate and assuming to represent the Administration.
Still, outside of a small number,—like Conkling
, and Carpenter
,—the feeling towards Sumner
was in every way kindly and considerate.
Even with Edmunds
, who had been among the leaders in promoting his removal from the foreign relations committee, he had resumed friendly intercourse.
It is Mr. Edmunds
's recollection and opinion that during the session ‘the cordiality between Sumner
and the body of the Republicans was almost completely restored, and that had he lived everything would soon have been perfectly friendly, co-operative, and harmonious.’2
This is doubtless a correct view; but while he lived he remained entirely silent as to his political relations.
He had too much self-respect while disowned by Republican senators to
seem to solicit their favor by announcing himself, uninvited, as of their number.3
Immediately after the prayer on the first day, Sumner
put on the calendar a list of eight measures, all but one of which he had brought forward before, some of then several times: (1) The civil-rights bill; (2) Equal rights in the schools of the District of Columbia; (3) Compound-interest notes as a substitute for legal-tender notes in the national currency, with the view to restore specie payments, which he explained and defended at some length a few days later;4
(4) Payment for French spoliations; (5) Election of President
by direct vote of the people;5
(6) Limitation of the office of President to a single term;6
(7) International arbitration;7
(8) The protection of children kidnapped in Italy
and brought to the United States
This starting of a series of favorite measures showed the zest with which he returned to activity in the Senate, and his confidence in his ability to maintain them during the session.8
In the evening of that day he responded from the steps of his house to a serenade by the colored people.9
On the first day of the session, and again after the holiday recess, Sumner
made an earnest effort to have his civil-rights bill, now number one on the calendar, taken up;10
, who was in favor of some measure of the kind, as well as Morrill
and Ferry of Connecticut
, both of whom believed such legislation unconstitutional, insisted, against Sumner
's protest, on a reference to the judiciary committee,—a reference which they thought all the more desirable by reason of a recent decision of the Supreme Court in
the New Orleans Slaughter-house
objected that such action on a bill already fully considered would as before end in an adverse report, and only serve the purpose of delay; but he yielded the point on the assurance that the committee would promptly consider and report upon the bill.
In the debate he traced the history of the measure in the Senate for nearly four years,—from its introduction by himself, May 13, 1870, to Jan. 27, 1874, the day when he made what was to be his last appeal.
It is evident from the tone of Republican senators in the debate on the reference, as also from their action at a later day, that they were generally well disposed towards him personally, and desirous to go as far in supporting the measure he had so much at heart as their views of expediency and constitutional limitations admitted.
The subsequent history of Sumner
's bill may be properly given in this connection.
It came back from the judiciary committee, April 14,12
when he was no longer in the Senate, and was taken up for debate on the 29th.
It had not been substantially abridged or weakened, but was left to apply to inns, public conveyances, theatres, and other places of public amusement, common schools, public institutions of learning, cemeteries supported wholly or in part by taxation, and to grand and petit jurors.
It did not, however, interfere with churches.
, who had charge of the bill, said in opening the debate:—
Would that the author of the measure were here to present and defend it!
To our view it would have been becoming that he, who was in the forum the leader of the grandest victory of the nineteenth century in the western hemisphere,—the victory of freedom over slavery,—should have completed the work he so efficiently aided.
But it was otherwise decreed.
There was a full debate, in which party lines were drawn,— Republicans defending and Democrats opposing the bill.
It passed by a vote of twenty-nine to sixteen, after a night session, at nearly seven o'clock on the morning of May 23.
voted against it on account of the provision concerning juries, but Morrill
and Ferry did not vote.
, and Edmunds
led in the debate in favor of the bill.
did not reach a vote upon the Senate bill during
this or the next session; but in February, 1875, a new bill, originating in the House
and omitting the provisions as to schools13
and cemeteries, was carried through both houses and approved by the President
This Act was in 1883 adjudged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.14
The opinion of the court was to this effect: (1) That the thirteenth amendment prohibits only slavery, with its incidents, elements, and badges, among which discriminations on account of race and color in inns, places of amusement, and public conveyances are not included; (2) The fourteenth amendment—which forbids the abridgment of the privileges and immunities of citizens, the deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, and the denial of the equal protection of the laws—is directed only against State laws and proceedings, and not against individual acts which are not done under their authority.
It does not extend the power of Congress to the domain of private rights, which still remains with the States; it authorizes legislation corrective of State action, but not primary and direct legislation.
Mr. Justice Harlan
, of Kentucky
, in a dissenting opinion, treated the argument of the court as ‘proceeding on narrow and artificial grounds, and sacrificing the substance and spirit of the amendments by a subtle and ingenious verbal criticism.’
It is clear that Sumner
would not have been content with this judicial limitation of their scope.
The result, however, justified his solicitude at the time they were under consideration in Congress, when he insisted on more specific and comprehensive provisions.
mourned the death of Agassiz
, which took place two weeks after the session began.
Their friendship was formed in 1846, when the naturalist arrived in the country, and it had been of late years more intimate than ever.
had been tenderly affected by Agassiz
's refusal to have his name count against his friend in the San Domingo
, in her reply to Sumner
's letter of condolence, recalled his letter of congratulation on their engagement twenty years before.
wrote to the Duchess
, Dec. 16, 1873:—
I am sure that you and the duke will grieve at the loss of Agassiz,15 who died as he was beginning a serious answer to the new doctrine of evolution.
He had written a first article on primitive types to appear in the January number of the Atlantic Monthly, to be followed by others, and by a course of lectures this winter in Washington.
I think you will like his first article, unhappily his last.
I have found him latterly singularly gentle and genial, and determined in the controversy before him to avoid all personalities, confining himself to a rigorous scientific treatment.
I am sure this is the tone of the article already written, which he sent me in the proof-sheets.
I passed my last Sunday afternoon with him before leaving for Washington.
I feel his death much, for he had become very affectionate and interesting with me. Rarely have I known so much head and heart together; his nature was large and winning.
How much he was in science you know as well as we do. Everywhere and in everything his death creates an immense void.
He has been blessed by a wife of rare devotion and intelligence.
His last article was written out by her three times, each copy being interlined with his corrections.
His English style was excellent and very flowing.
Few will feel his death more than Longfellow; they were much attached to each other.
I always like young Englishmen,—as Lord Roseberry, Mr. Rutson, and Mr. Acland, who have been here some time, and were not displeased with Boston.
Together they give freshness to our dull routine, and let in a breath of English air. I was sorry to hear of the death of Mr. Baring, whom I always liked.
His pictures were charming.
had been several times urged to be the guest of the New England
Society in New York at its commemorative dinner, December 22, the most attractive festivity which the country annually presents; but a fixed rule had kept him hitherto from any divergence from public duty during the session of Congress.
He was, however, now relieved from active responsibility,—a senator still disowned as a political associate,—and he felt more at liberty to waive the rigid rule to which he had uniformly adhered.
He accepted the invitation which this time came with strong, friendly pressure from the president of the society, Mr. E. C. Cowdin
The dinner was served at Delmonico's, with two hundred and fifty New England
men filling the seats at the tables, and General Sherman
, Henry Ward Beecher
, L. P. Morton
, and Mr. Havemeyer
, the mayor, prominent among the invited guests.
was delayed on the train, and entered the hall half an hour after the banquet had begun.
He was most warmly welcomed as he passed up to the president's table, at whose right he was placed as the principal guest.
When he rose to answer to a toast ‘to the Senate of the United States,’ the members stood up in mass, cheering loudly and waving handkerchiefs.16
At several points he was interrupted with applause, and at the end ‘the
audience gave cheer upon cheer.’
These demonstrations were not merely formal and customary, but they were sincere expressions of respect and gratitude.17 Sumner
himself saw how genuine they were, and was deeply moved.
In the few weeks of life that remained they were a solace, and a sign to him of the final judgment of mankind on his career.
He lodged at Mr. Cowdin
's during his four days in the city.
In conversation with the family he recurred several times to the warmth and enthusiasm of his reception.
Indeed, the exhilaration of spirits which came from his visit had, as his physician observed, a visible effect on his health for weeks to come.
He exposure, however, resulted in a hard cough, which kept him awake at night and brought his host to his chamber with the offer of remedies.
He wrote from Washington
, December 26, to Mr. Cowdin
: ‘Major Poore
dined with me last evening, and I dine to-night at the French
legation; so that I shall be kept in the line of French souvenirs, so pleasant in your beautiful home.
looks more like a village than ever before.
My protracted visit has made me feel the grandeur of New York, to say nothing of the elegant hospitality there.’
wrote to F. W. Bird
, December 26:—
I note and value your warning.
My case is less menacing than the Vice-President's. I have latterly done my eleven hours work a day. Wilson's work on his book will bring death or worse.
I agree with you on the bankrupt law. Mr. Tremain18 has lost as a legislator by the ill-considered haste with which, without the support of the committee, He rushed through the repeal.
Baez has19 from the beginning been a mercenary, looking out for himself, and a usurper sustained for years by the navy of the United States, illicitly employed at immense cost.
Read my sketch of him, and see how it is verified
by the result.
Howe's first mistake was that he did not follow the example of Agassiz, who refused to be seduced into any co-operation against a friend.
The vacancy in the office of chief-justice was filled at this session.
The President first offered the place to Mr. Conkling
, among whose qualifications, whatever they were, the judicial temper was not one.
Fortunately, he declined it; then George H. Williams
was nominated, whose name was withdrawn when it was found impossible to secure a confirmation.
A greater surprise was then in store,—the immediate nomination of Caleb Cushing
, who, having been appointed and confirmed as minister to Spain
, was about to set sail.
This third name struck the Senate and the country with amazement, and a confirmation was at once found to be impossible.
alone appeared to approve it, and not more than half-a-dozen Republican senators seemed disposed to listen to his persuasions.
The senators were at a loss to understand upon what principle the President
proceeded in making the several nominations, and he in his turn was quite unable to understand what kind of a man they thought suited to the office.
He yielded, however, to the request of a Republican caucus for the withdrawal of Mr. Cushing
's name, recalling it five days after it had been sent in. The nominee had run a most eccentric political career,—first a Whig and then a Democrat; a partisan of pro-slavery doctrines; president of the Democratic convention at Charleston
in 1860; a supporter of Breckinridge
's candidacy the same year, and the author of an inflammatory speech after Mr. Lincoln
's election, which was calculated to encourage Southern resistance.20
He addressed, March 21, 1861, a letter to Jefferson Davis
in favor of a clerk about to join the rebellion,21
similar in purport to the one given by Jesse D. Bright
which caused his expulsion from the Senate.
His personal as well as political relations with the secessionists ended, however, with the breaking out of the rebellion, and from that time he was not obstructive to the government.
He sought at the outset a place in the military service, but found an impediment in Governor Andrew
, who thought his record stood in the way of an appointment.
Later, his ability as a publicist was brought to the aid of the government at Washington
in important matters, and before the arbitrators at Geneva
with the Republican party by his votes in the national elections of 1864, 1868, and 1872, and also approved the constitutional amendments and the measures of reconstruction.22
His loyalty had been recently assumed by his confirmation as minister to Spain
Withal, he was genial, and opened generously his stores of knowledge to all who sought them.
Nothing in his life commended him to lawyers, as he had done almost everything but practise law. He was a judge of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts
for only a few months, appointed by Governor Boutwell
and confirmed by a majority of one, which was obtained only after considerable pressure on the council.
men, on whom Sumner
most relied for advice, were all against Mr. Cushing
's appointment,—among them F. W. Bird
, Dr. S. G. Howe
, Wendell Phillips
, and George F. Hoar
, who signified in letters to the senator their earnest opposition to a confirmation.
lawyer, P. W. Chandler
, alone took a different view.
, as soon as the nomination was made, decided to support it by speech as well as vote; and this decision was almost as much a surprise as the President
's action in making it. He knew all the points against Cushing
as well as the others, and some of them were more likely to stand with him as vital objections than with most men. No two men could have been further apart than the two had been before the Civil War
in their ideas of the Constitution
and of political duty; but Sumner
was catholic in his views of men, was disposed to credit their sincerity when they changed for the better, and bore no personal grudges, as others in his place might have borne against Cushing
, who had been for three months an impediment to his first election.24 Cushing
had, in profession at least, come to adopt Sumner
's views of the new order of things, and Sumner
believed fully in the genuineness of his conversion.
Indeed, his sincerity at this point of his career was as credible as at any other.
He was by
training and habit of mind a Federalist, and he would not have been troubled with the scruples of a strict constructionist in giving a wide scope to the Constitution
Of the validity of the civil-rights legislation he had, as it appears, assured the senator, even before the suggestion of his name for chief-justice.
The two were in accord on foreign questions, particularly those pending with Great Britain
Identity of tastes in literature, a common interest in the history and present systems of Europe
, and genial companionship at Washington
were doubtless influences which helped to make it easy for the senator to look at Cushing
in the best light.
While it was a choice which he would not himself have made in the first instance, it was on the whole a better one than any other he thought the President
likely to make.25
There was a sense of relief when the President
made his fourth attempt to appoint a chief-justice in the nomination of M. R. Waite
of Toledo, Ohio
, who, though without a national reputation as a jurist, except in his part as one of the counsel at Geneva
, was credited by those who knew him best as well equipped by study and practice, distinguished for the integrity of his mind and character, and possessing in a marked degree the judicial temper.
The appointment was not thought at the time to promise a career equal to that of the great jurists who had before filled the office, but all felt that it avoided the risks involved in the previous selections.
The result more than justified this expectation.
held the office for fourteen years, and left a name which bears well a comparison with those of his predecessors.
was confirmed by a unanimous vote in executive session.
supported the nomination in debate; and besides them, Sumner
alone took part in it. Without dwelling on the nominee whom, as he remarked, he had heard well spoken of, he passed to consider the greatness of the office, the qualities it called for, the duty of those who assisted in filling it, and the careers and services of former chief-justices.
It was a field in which he was at home.
He had been from his youth familiar with the characteristics and work of great judges; he had been drawn as a pupil to the subject by Story
's recollections and descriptions; he had seen Marshall
preside with his associates, and been admitted to their mess-room;26
fresh in professional enthusiasm he had become the intimate friend of the most distinguished English judges, and had been a careful observer of French tribunals.
It was easy for him to dwell for a half hour or more on a theme which had interested him for a lifetime; and the Senate always listened well—better than ever—when he was on a topic aside from the beaten track of political controversy.
The speech made a great impression on the senators, and they freely spoke of it as the most interesting which he ever made.27
One of the clerks of the body has written that ‘it was by far the most learned and interesting of any which I heard delivered by Mr. Sumner
during the eight years I was connected with the Senate.
I deplore and shall never cease to regret that it was never written out by the senator.’
's name is not recorded on the vote.
As he was at the time still excluded from Republican counsels, he exercised the privilege of declining responsibility for appointments made by the Administration.28
After all, in accepting the President
's second nomination, though to the surprise of Antislavery coadjutors, Sumner
was right from his standpoint.
The civil-rights measure, which he had supremely at heart, would have been safer with Cushing
than it proved to be with the jurist finally appointed, who joined with his associates in holding such legislation unconstitutional.
wrote to F. W. Bird
, Jan. 15, 1874:—
I should never have nominated or recommended Cushing as chief-justice; but I was called to consider, his name being before the Senate, if I could vote for his rejection.
Now, I know him well, having seen him for the last ten years constantly; and I know his positions on questions in which I am deeply interested.
I trust him absolutely, and believe, if the occasion had occurred, he would have vindicated our ideas judicially far better than any probable nominee of Grant.
I do not write in the dark, for I have talked with him on these questions and have seen his sympathy with me. You know that I do not cherish old differences and animosities.
How many have I seen advanced to
the front who were once bitterly the other way!
Knowing Cushing as I did, would it not have been mean and craven for me to turn against him, or to skulk in silence?
This is not my way with friends.
Such is not my idea of friendship.
But no earthly friendship could make me put in jeopardy our cause.
1 confess that I am glad of the sensibility shown for the safeguards of reconstruction.
Thank W. S. Robinson; but what shall we do with other possible nominees?
Who will vouch for B. R. C.? And who will vouch for some accepted Republicans with whom technicality is a peril to principle29
While abstaining at this time from personal questions, Sumner
in February spoke and voted against the confirmation of W. A. Simmons
as collector of the port of Boston
, doing so in conformity with the general opinion of the merchants and the best people.
had presented the name to the President
The nominee belonged to a type of men then much in favor,—like Babcock
's secretary), Murphy
(collector of the port of New York), and A. R. Shepherd
(governor of the District of Columbia). The protests against the nomination from merchants and members of Congress were of no avail,30
and the President
refused to substitute another name.
The Senate committee (Boutwell
chairman) reported adversely to a confirmation.
It was, however, supported in debate by Conkling
; but even with their aid it would have failed except for the strenuous efforts of General Butler
, whose influence was more effective with the set then controlling the Senate than any public man who was not a member of that body.
Two years later, by a similar intervention, he obtained from the same body the rejection of R. H. Dana, Jr.
, as minister to England
's career in office was such that President Hayes
refused to give him a second term; and his later connection with a department of the municipal administration of Boston
appears in court records.
The Massachusetts Legislature, by large majorities in both houses, rescinded and annulled in February, 1874, the resolution of censure which in 1872 had been passed on Sumner
for his bill against continuing the names of battles with fellow-citizens in the Army Register
, or placing them on the regimental colors of the United States
The rescinding resolution was supported
in the Senate by Dr. George B. Loring
, the president, H. S. Washburn
, and Gen. N. P. Banks
As its passage was assured from the outset, it encountered only a feeble resistance and created little excitement.32 Gov. W. B. Washburn
, who was heartily in sympathy with it, deputed J. B. Smith
, a member of the committee which reported it, and Sumner
's colored friend, to take it in person to Washington
delivered the copies on March 6.
The next day General Butler
presented one in the House
; but Mr. Boutwell
being ill, its presentation in the Senate was delayed till the 10th.
Less than two years thus intervened between the swift censure and the sober recantation, making a passage of history which will remain a perpetual lesson for commonwealths and statesmen.
The revocation of the censure contributed largely to the senator's cheerful mood of mind during the last month of his life.33
he received many letters and calls of congratulation.
wrote, February 17:—
The record of the Bay State is now clear.
The folly of the extra session of 1872 is wiped out thoroughly.
I am especially pleased, as like Senator Benton on a former occasion, “solitary and alone I set the ball in notion.”
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe
wrote after the senator's death:
How glad I am that the injustice was repaired in Mr. Sumner's lifetime!
The offence he gave was only a consistent carrying out of his peace principles and of the policy of amnesty and forgiveness now becoming general, but which in the first heat of wrath New England could not accept.
In a few years everybody will feel how grand and noble was the spirit of the very thing, especially from one whom the South had so deeply injured.
It was the forgiveness of the martyr and Christian.
Henry L. Pierce
, recently mayor of Boston
, took his seat as a member of the House
at the beginning of the session in December, 1873.
He was a Free Soiler of 1848, and had been Sumner
's earnest supporter during his service in the Senate.
The senator welcomed to the capital one in whose friendship and discretion he confided absolutely, and had him frequently to dine en famille
. Early in February Mr. Pierce
gave a dinner at Wormley
's to the Massachusetts
delegation, at which Sumner
In February the senator prepared a revised edition of his speeches on civil rights, with the view of strengthening public opinion in favor of his bill.
He also continued the editing of his Works;34
and expressing to Longfellow
his impatience at the slow progress of proof-readers and printers, the latter answered, January 30: ‘I do not wonder that you are worn out with tedious delays; but do not despair.
Persevere to the end of this good work, if it is to have any end. The work itself is a noble monument to your life and labors in the cause of truth and right.’
He was from the beginning of the session revising, out of order, his ‘Prophetic Voices concerning America
for a separate volume commemorative of the centennial year of Independence; and this work was on his mind during his last day in the Senate.
It was fitting that his thoughts should be to the end on the future of the country, and the part that was to be hers in the destiny of mankind.36
Among sympathetic friends from Massachusetts
who called on Sumner
during this session were GovernorClaflin
and Mrs. Claflin
, engaged to deliver lectures in Washington
, came late in February, and again early in March.
On Monday evening, March 2, they parted an hour after midnight. Sumner
clung to Phillips
, and would not let him leave sooner.
The latter reminded him that he was to have a foot-bath, and Sumner
said: ‘Well, I will take it if you won't go.’
They talked of old times, and of common friends at home.
Within a week after, F. W. Bird
, ever faithful and true to him, passed some hours with him. J. B. Smith
was the senator's guest from the 6th to the 8th,—introduced by him one day on the floor of the Senate, and dining with him at Mr. Hooper
's on Sunday.
The senator's views of the President
underwent no modification, and he held to those he had expressed in 1872, never qualifying them in any respect; but he refrained after the election of that year, except in one or two confidential letters or a casual remark to an intimate friend, from any recurrence to the subject.
E. R. Hoar
said in the House
, April 27, 1874: ‘I saw him frequently and familiarly during the last four months of his life, and wish to give my testimony to the gentleness and kindliness
of his temper during all that time, and to the fact that he uttered no word of harshness or censure in my hearing concerning any human being.’37
To E. L. Pierce
, who on grounds of expediency had advised reserve as to the President
, even in conversation, and also only brief remarks in presenting the rescinding resolution, if it was to be presented by himself, he answered, March 5:—
Your brother Henry will assure you that I am not unreasonable or impracticable.
For a year and several months I have said nothing of the President,—not a word.38 While an invalid last winter I was confirmed in this rule, which I have followed since.
Therefore, anything attributed to me is an invention.
Should the Massachusetts resolutions reach me, I shall present them in words as few as those you select; and to this conclusion I came sometime ago. Certainly, I shall say nothing controversial.
I am now opposing the monstrosity of a world's fair linked with the commemoration of the national natal day. I have spoken once, and shall speak again briefly, perhaps in a few minutes.
's health during the early weeks of the session did not fall below what he had enjoyed at home during the summer
The severe cold which he contracted in New York in December lasted through January, and then disappeared.
Shortly after his return from that city the pains on the heart recurred; but after two nights they left him, and he did not have recourse to the former remedies.
Otherwise he had only slight reminders of the angina
, and this after ascending the staircase to the Senate chamber
At the beginning of March He was waked by it one night, and suffered for an hour or more, until relieved by medicine; but for the week following he was very cheerful and free from pain.
From the beginning of the session he kept well up to his former standard of work,—eleven hours a day, retiring at midnight. The debate on the bill for the centennial exhibition
, to be held in 1876 under the direction of a private corporation, with aid from the national and State governments, was the last one in which the senator participated.
He was in favor of a national commemoration of the centenary of American independence,—the beginning, as he called it, ‘not only of the American
republic, but of republican institutions on earth;’ but he insisted that
it should be a national rather than an international affair.
He regarded with favor an exhibition of American progress as a part of the commemoration, but he was averse to the idea of converting it into a world's fair, which in his judgment, besides being premature so soon after that recently held in Vienna
, could only succeed under the direct patronage and supervision of the United States government.
He followed the bill closely, and on two different days (February 27, and Friday, March 6) spoke at length39
in favor of further consideration and another reference to a committee.
The Senate agreed with him, and voted the reference March 6.
He was on that day full of spirit and earnestness.
His contention with the Pennsylvania
) was sharp; though friendly.
Flanagan of Texas
however, who followed him, and closed the debate on Friday, reminded him of his recent divergence from his party, and his failure ‘to pull his State from her solid moorings.’
's remarks on that day were his last words in the Senate.41
On the night of Sunday the 8th his malady, which had been quiet for months, returned with its former severity.42
The angina pectoris
attacked him as soon as he retired at midnight, and kept him awake for four hours,—the physicians43
being obliged to resort to the former remedies.
The Senate had adjourned from the 6th to Monday the 9th, when there was an adjournment, after a session of a few moments only, in recognition of Ex-President Fillmore
That evening he talked freely to a visitor44
affairs and friends, of English politics and the new Germany
; read aloud in deep rich tones of tender melody Milton
's sonnet on the massacre of the Waldenses; and showed the parchment copy of the rescinding resolution of the Massachusetts Legislature, which had been sent him by the governor.
In referring to an intended speech in favor of a
speedy return to specie payments, he emphasized as at other times his weariness.
Later, during the same evening, the pains on the chest returned to some extent, and his physician being sent for he slept after the usual remedies, and felt on awaking less of reaction than usually followed them.
Mr. A. B. Johnson
, who had been his guest for some days, said:—
At breakfast [Tuesday] he was more than usually genial.
It was his custom to occupy himself with his mail on its arrival, but this morning it filed to come for nearly an hour after its usual time.
Of all the breakfasts we had together for the past years, I remember none so pleasant.
Waiting for the mail, his conversation was naturally desultory.
It touched on many topics; he spoke of many persons, of various events, and always in a kindly, genial, pleasant tone.
He was greatly wrought up on the last two days of his going to the Senate by the report that Baez
, who was already in New York, was to receive a complimentary dinner in Boston
He wrote letters to F. W. Bird
, Governor Claflin
, and E. L. Pierce
, expressing indignation that a testimony of honor to the Dominican adventurer was possible.
These were his last letters; and when they were received, the hand that traced them was lifeless.
The dinner, for which arrangements had been made, did not take place.45
Though his physician was reluctant to have him leave the house on Tuesday, the 10th, he went to the Senate, fearing that his absence would start a report of his illness in the news-papers, and wishing particularly to be present on that day, as Mr. Boutwell
, not yet fully recovered, was to come to the Senate for the express purpose of presenting the rescinding resolution.
He was in his seat when, during the morning hour, about 12.30 P. M., his colleague presented it.46
Though senators and spectators turned their eyes to him, he seemed unconcerned; but he was so only in appearance, for the occasion was to him an event, and deeply moved him. This was the last matter in the proceedings of the Senate to which he gave attention.
He received at once congratulations from senators on this testimony of his State.
He went to the seat of Mr. Boutwell
, who had risen to
return home, and with an affectionate manner,—putting his arm around his colleague's neck,—expressed concern for his health, and walking with him to the door of the chamber bade him ‘Good-by.’
Soon after, or perhaps somewhat earlier in the day, he had an interview with Charles Kingsley
(they had not met before), whose daughter, with him at the time, wrote that notwithstanding former differences on American matters, ‘the moment the two came face to face all mistrust vanished, as each instinctively recognized the manly honesty of the other, and they had a long and friendly talk.’47
He conversed at his seat with H. L. Pierce
, who had come from the House
to advise with him in relation to the scandals growing out of the conduct of informers in New York and Boston
, then undergoing investigation; and he invited Mr. Pierce
to dine with him at six.
He received Mr. John W. Candler
in the Senate chamber
, and sitting on the sofa spoke with him of the rumored dinner to Baez
; and Mr. Candler
assured him that it was not to take place.
He mentioned his own weakness, and his fear of another attack of his malady, and said he should have to put matters already in his charge into Schurz
He took a vacant seat next to that of Mr. Sargent
, senator from California
, and spoke with him in relation to the centennial exhibition
bill, in opposing which they had co-operated, showing some sensitiveness as to anonymous letters he had received upbraiding his action upon it. he expressed his gratification at the recent action of the Massachusetts Legislature, and at the kindness that had cheered him on his last visit to the State
Taking a seat next to that of Mr. Ferry
, senator from Connecticut
, he mentioned to him symptoms of his malady which he had experienced during Sunday and Monday nights, and compared his own case with that of Mr. Ferry
, who had suffered from a spinal affection,—complaining also of severe pain while they were conversing.
He expressed to Mr. Schurz
the fear that he should not be able to
support him by a speech on finance as he had hoped.
He conversed at his seat with Mr. Spofford
, the librarian, who came to consult him on the authorship of Hargrave
's ‘Argument in the Case of James Somersett
, a Negro,’ etc.,—a book with which he had been long familiar.48
While in the Senate he felt again, at times severely, the pains in his side, referring to them in conversation as they came, and also in a letter, written the same day, to Dr. Brown
To one or more with whom he spoke he said, ‘I am tired, tired.’
The employees in the Senate chamber
observed signs of illness in his face and manner, and unusual glances as he finally left the chamber, suggesting the possible thought in his mind that he might not see again that familiar scene.49
He left for his home, as had been arranged, at 4.30 P. M. with Mr. Hooper
, whose carriage had come at that time.
Just before six Mr. Pierce
and Mr. B. P. Poore
in his study.
He spoke of the rumored dinner to Baez
, and walked the room reprobating the idea.
He had been writing letters, and when he had sealed the last one, they went below to the dining-room.
The dinner was plain, and host and guests sat about two hours at the table, during which the conversation turned to the investigations already referred to, and the public sentiment in Boston
— from which Mr. Pierce
had just returned—as to the collector of the port recently appointed.
The two friends, to whom the senator seemed in his usual health, noted a peculiar tenderness and gentleness in his manner.
He referred, as Mr. Poore
rose to leave, to his recent attack of the angina
on the two previous lights, and the physician's opinion that his malady was not heart disease, but an affection of the spinal cord resulting from old injuries, and communicating with the heart through the net-work of nerves.
remained behind a few minutes after Mr. Poore
Half an hour after Mr. Pierce
left, the servants below heard a noise as from a fall; and one of them going to the senator's chamber found him supporting himself partly on the lounge, and apparently suffering severe pain.50 Dr. J. T. Johnson
was at once sent for, and he, followed immediately by his brother, A. B. Johnson
reached the chamber at nine, or shortly after.
The doctor found him lying across the bed, groaning, and in great agony.
Morphine was administered hypodermically, and a quarter of an hour later the continued pain made another resort to it necessary.
The sufferer said, presently: ‘There, now I have turned the corner; the pain is decreasing.
I shall sleep.’
He then fell asleep, and those present retired to the adjoining room,—the study.
The physician, who had been with him in several attacks, had seen none so agonizing as this.
Twenty minutes later He awoke with another paroxysm.
The morphine and other remedies for deadening pain and keeping up vitality were again applied.
The narcotics produced a stupor, after which intervals of full consciousness were infrequent and brief.
In the mean time disconnected expressions came from the sufferer, among which, ‘my book, my unfinished book!’
references to the uncompleted edition of his Works, were distinguished.
He said: ‘Doctor
, this thing must kill me yet, and it might as well be now; for life at this price is not worth the having.’
At twenty minutes past ten, after the third attempt to relieve the pain, his pulse was found to be weak, wavering, and slow; and it was apparent that, though it might be prolonged for hours, the final struggle had come.
His friends, Wormley
and H. L. Pierce
, who lived near by, were notified of his condition, and came at once to the house.
A messenger was despatched for other professional aid, and Dr. W. P. Johnston
From that time to the end there was little change, save in the still weakening pulse, the diminishing sight, and the increasing coldness of the limbs.
The heart beat now and then with a certain force, but for the last six hours of life there was no pulsation at the wrist.
At intervals the sufferer came out of the stupor, and spoke briefly, but intelligibly.
When the pain had gone, an awful sense of weariness remained, which he implored the physician to relieve.
Friends at the bedside heard the words ‘tired,’ ‘weary.’
In the morning (Wednesday), before sunrise, a telegram was sent to Dr. Brown
, then in New York, summoning him to Washington
; and at nine Dr. Barnes
, then surgeon-general, and Dr. Lincoln
came for a consultation, but it was of no avail.
E. R. and G. F. Hoar
and Mr. Schurz
heard in the morning of their friend's condition, and came at once.
At the bedside, serving as friendly nurses, were Wormley
and G. T. Downing
, both of the race whose champion he had been; and bending over him was his
faithful secretary, Johnson
, who was with him to the last.
At hand through the day, except in brief absences, and often in his room, were H. L. Pierce
, Judge Hoar
, and Poore
Many waited in the study,—among whom were observed Mr. Blaine
), Senators Morrill
, Montgomery Blair
, and Frederick Douglass
; and in the same room the chaplain of the Senate read passages from the fourteenth chapter of Saint John
's Gospel, and offered a prayer.
and the two colored friends, who were raising him and changing his position, the senator expressed regret for the trouble he was giving them, saying to his secretary, ‘You must be very tired; but you can soon rest.’
To Judge Hoar
who, while chafing his hands, said, ‘I am trying to warm you,’ he answered, ‘You never will.’
To several persons he spoke anxiously, in very few words, of his civil-rights bill.
It was the one thought, and the last public thought, bearing heavily on his conscious or half-conscious mind.
To Judge Hoar
He said three times, varying the words somewhat, in the tone of earnest entreaty, ‘You must take care of the civil-rights bill,—my bill, the civil-rights bill,—don't let it fail!’
and the judge assured him that all that was possible should be done to carry out his desire.
Shortly after noon Schurz
said to him, ‘Do you know me?’
‘Yes,’ he replied, opening his eyes; ‘but I do not see you.’
The weariness continued, and again the words, ‘Oh, so tired!
oh, so weary!’
passed his lips.
At two he revived, and Dr. Johnson
and some friends, who had been constant in their presence in the same or the adjoining room, left on some brief errands, expecting to see him again.
Half an hour later he asked for morphine to relieve the weariness and give him rest; but Dr. Lincoln
, who had been left in charge, did not think best to apply it. Shortly after, when the end was very near, he said to Judge Hoar
, a near neighbor and relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson
, tell Emerson
how much love and revere him.’
The judge signified that he would give the message,51
adding, ‘He said of you once, that he never knew so white a soul.’52
Almost directly some one said, ‘Mr. Hooper
has come to see you.’
The dying man beckoned him to a seat, and said, ‘Sit down.’
These were his last words.
then fell asleep, and woke a few minutes later, only to pass through one more convulsion.
He died thirteen minutes before three.
and Dr. Lincoln
were supporting him in the final moment.
was holding his right hand, and Judge Hoar
, who having gone out had returned just in time, took his left.
There was only a single gasp, a sign from the physician that all was over, and a brief stillness broken by Judge Hoar
who still held the dead senator's hand, saying, as he laid it down (Schurz
entering at the moment), ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
enter thou into the joy of thy Lord
The tidings of Sumner
's illness, announced on Wednesday morning, with the certainty of death at hand, was a shock to his associates in public life who had seen him in his seat the day before.
The Senate, meeting at noon, adjourned on Sherman
's motion immediately after the prayer, which referred to the senator as yesterday in the chamber with all the presence of his manly form, now prostrate and lying close to the edge of the dark river.
continued its business, which was interrupted by the reading of telegrams stating his condition; and when the one announcing his death came, it adjourned.
In both houses members lingered in conversation on the event.
All that was possible was done to pay respect to his memory.
The nation, by the action of the two houses the next day, took charge of the body to bear it to Massachusetts
, and as soon as that duty was performed they adjourned.
referred to ‘the vacant chair long Held by a senator of distinguished eminence, and one of the most illustrious of Americans
,’ and ‘joined in sincerity and respect’ to pay tribute to ‘the long and remarkable life now closed.’53 Anthony
, always most happy on such occasions, said:—
It is an event which needs not to be announced, for its dark shadow rests gloomily upon this chamber, and not only upon the Senate and the capital, but upon the whole country; and the intelligence of which, borne on the mysterious wires that underlie the seas, has been already carried to the remotest lands, and has aroused profoundest sympathy wherever humanity weeps for a friend, wherever liberty deplores an advocate.
The oldest member of this body in continuous service, he who yesterday was the oldest, beloved for the graces and the virtues of his personal character, admired for his genius and his accomplishments, reverenced for the fidelity with which he adhered to his convictions, illustrious for his services to the republic and to the world, has
crossed the dark river that divides us from the undiscovered country.
Charles Sumner died yesterday.
To-day, in humble submission to the divine will, we meet to express our respect for his character, our veneration for his memory.
To-morrow, with solemn steps and with sorrowing hearts, we shall bear him to the Massachusetts which he served so faithfully, and which loved him so well; and to her soil, precious with the dust of patriotism and of valor, of letters and of art, of statesmanship and of eloquence, we shall commit the body of one who is worthy to rest by the side of the noblest and the best of those who, in the centuries of her history, have made her the model of a free commonwealth.
But the great deeds which illustrated his life shall not be buried with him; and never shall the earth cover the immortal principles to which he devoted every energy of his soul, the consummation and vindication of which, as his highest reward, a gracious God permitted him to witness.
, speaking in the House
, with deep emotion said :—
Wherever the news of the event spreads through this broad land, not only in this city among his associates in the public councils, not only in the old Commonwealth of which he was the pride and ornament, but in many quiet homes, in many a cabin of the poor and lowly, there is to-day inexpressible tenderness and profound sorrow.
There are many of us who have known and loved the great senator whom this event unfits for public duties, or for any thoughts other than those of that pure life, that faithful public service, that assured immortality.
The country was startled by the intelligence.
In the cities on Wednesday frequent bulletins made known the senator's condition.
Merchants paused in the rush of traffic to contemplate the impending event.
No death, except that of Lincoln
,—it was a common remark at the time,—had for a long period so touched the popular heart.
For days and weeks the press teemed with narratives of his life and delineations of his character.
's journal) recorded the titles, ‘Honored statesman, true patriot, generous friend;’54
and recurring to the theme on the day of the funeral, said: ‘He was no master in the arts of the cunning demagogue.
He never for himself asked the vote of a single person or solicited an office.’
The New York Tribune began its leader with the sentence, ‘The most dignified and illustrious name which the Senate has in recent years borne upon its rolls has disappeared from them forever.’
In its fuller estimate it said: ‘His dignity and impressive courtesy sat well upon a princely frame. . . . To the
most elegant accomplishments he added the sternest purity of purpose and the highest conception of moral duty.
Indeed, a somewhat familiar phrase, current during his lifetime, is none the less true because he is dead,— “There is but one Charles Sumner
’ The Evening Post of the same city said: ‘One of the great spirits of the republic, if not already gone, is passing away. . His name is woven with the same immortal wreath which binds the brow of the redeemed and regenerated republic.’
The ‘Independent’ said: ‘History will select for peculiar honor her few grand names; and above the long, low level of shifty statesmen the form of Charles Sumner
will long rise grand and solitary, like Teneriffe
seen from the sea.’
Henry Ward Beecher
, in the ‘Christian Union,’ wrote: ‘It is not too much to say that in the death of Charles Sumner
the nation has lost a statesman of a type in which he had no peer. . . The negro race will deplore the loss of their mightiest and faithfulest champion; and all the friends of justice and equality will lament the death of a leader whose flaming torch was carried high above all obscuring vapors, leading them ever in the sure path of victory.’55
The Springfield Republican began its leader with the words: ‘The noblest head in America
has fallen, and the most accomplished and illustrious of our statesmen is no more.’
The Baltimore American wrote: ‘The foremost statesman of America
has dropped suddenly from the ranks of his associates.’
These expressions typify the general estimate.
His career was likewise the theme of foreign journals.56
The Massachusetts Legislature adjourned upon the announcement of the event, and the flags on public buildings were placed at half-mast.
The governor the next day, by a message, recognized the death, ‘from the burden of a disease long and heroically borne,’ of ‘the great orator, scholar, statesman, philanthropist, the champion of universal freedom and the equality of man, . . . whose voice was that of an honest man, whose endeavors were those of an upright statesman, whose moral integrity stands out
a sublime figure in these later years.’
The leading members of both houses paid tender tributes to his memory,57
and The State assumed The charge of the burial.
The Legislature of New York adopted appropriate resolutions; and various public bodies, municipal councils and associations, commercial, historical, and literary, joined in similar testimonies.58
The citizens of Boston
met in Faneuil Hall (the mayor in the chair) while the remains were on The way from Washington
, and listened to eulogies.
There were gathered on the platform, as speakers or spectators, all that was most distinguished in the noble city for public spirit, philanthropy, scholarship, and eloquence.59
That historic hall was the fitting place for the commemoration of one who had so often pleaded there for causes of humanity and patriotism.
It deserves also a record that the African race in different parts of the country testified by formal action its gratitude to its faithful tribune.
On Friday, a day rare even for March in its bleakness, the funeral services were held in the Senate chamber
The procession, moving from the senator's home in the morning, was led by a body of colored people on foot, at the head of whom was Frederick Douglass
The immediate guard in charge from the police of the Capitol
was made up in part of that race.
The body lay for some hours in the rotunda, where thousands, only a part of those who pressed for admission, took their last view of it. It was then borne to the Senate chamber
, where it was awaited by the President
and Cabinet, the justices of the Supreme Court, The diplomatic corps, the high officers of the army and navy, with General Sherman
at their head, and the members of both houses.60
Prayers were offered by the chaplains; and in the absence of Vice-President Wilson
(in the chair) intrusted the remains of the deceased senator to the sergeant-at-arms and The Senate committee, to be conveyed under their charge to Massachusetts
The Senate adjourned, not to meet till the day after the burial.
The vacant seat, to which all eyes turned, was draped, and on the desk in front was a vase of flowers.
Among the abundant floral tributes was a cross from the President
The special train bearing the remains, the committees of Congress, the Massachusetts
delegation, and certain intimate friends of the deceased, leaving Washington
at 3 P. M., arrived in New York late in the evening.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia
and the City Hall of New York were tendered by the authorities of those cities as places of temporary deposit, where the people might pay honor to the dead statesman; but the arrangements did not admit of these pauses on the way. The committee and their sacred charge were for the night at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and the next morning the journey was resumed.
A delegation from the New York Chamber
of Commerce—Messrs. Low
, and Field
—now joined the procession.
The governor of Connecticut
sent a staff officer to accompany it through The State.
The arrival at the Springfield station
, which was draped with mourning emblems, was signalled by minute guns and the tolling of bells, and the train was met by a committee of the Legislature of Massachusetts
Here and at Worcester
and other stations the people gathered as the train passed.
It reached Boston
early in the evening, where a multitude of people awaited its arrival.
The body was taken to the State House
and placed on a dais in the rotunda in sight of the memorials of Washington
and the flags of Massachusetts
In the dimly lighted hall Senator Anthony
addressed the governor:—
May it please your Excellency, we are commanded by the Senate of the United States to render back to you your illustrious dead.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago you dedicated to the public service a man who was even then greatly distinguished.
He remained in it, quickening its patriotism, informing its councils, and leading in its deliberations, until having survived in continuous service all his original associates, he has closed his earthly career.
With reverent hands we bring to you his mortal part that it may be committed to the soil of the renowned Commonwealth which gave him birth.
Take it; it is yours.
The part which we do not return to you is not wholly yours to receive, nor altogether ours to give.
It belongs to the country, to mankind, to freedom, to civilization, to humanity.
We come to you with the emblems
of mourning which faintly typify the sorrow that dwells in the breasts which they cover.
So much we must concede to the infirmity of human nature.
But in the view of reason and philosophy, is it not rather a .matter of high exultation that a life so pure in its personal qualities, so high in its public aims, so fortunate in the fruition of noble effort, has closed safely, without a stain, before age had impaired its intellectual vigor, before time had dimmed the lustre of its genius?
May it please your Excellency, our mission is accomplished.
We commit to you the body of Charles Sumner.
His undying fame the Muse of History has already taken in her keeping.
On Sunday, as the body lay guarded by colored soldiers, thousands of citizens passed through the State House
In the churches, not only in New England
but elsewhere in the country, the character of Sumner
was the theme of the sermon.
On Monday, the day of the funeral, business was suspended in Boston
Mourning drapery and inscriptions of honor to the dead were displayed on stores and dwellings and public buildings, bells were tolled, and the flags in the harbor were at half-mast.61
The trains brought from the country throngs of citizens who passed through the State House
or stood in mass in the neighborhood.
Never in Boston
, noted for good taste, never perhaps in the country, had there been an equal display of floral emblems like those which decorated the capitol
where the remains lay instate, and King's Chapel
where the last rites were performed.
Hayti, whose minister had come from Washington
on the errand, sent her offering in gratitude for the senator's early espousal of her right to a place among nations, and for his chivalrous maintenance of her cause at a later period.
On the afternoon of Monday the body was removed to the church where the Sumner family had worshipped.
A dense mass of people stood about the State House
, in the vacant spaces around it, on The Common near by, and at The church.
The services were brief, impressive, and faultless in taste.
The clergyman, Rev. Henry W. Foote
, read selections from Scripture which fitted most aptly the life and character of the dead man. The long procession passed down Beacon
and through Charles streets on its way to Mr. Auburn
, witnessed by great numbers who rendered freely the tribute of reverence and love which in other days had been withheld.
Such honors Boston
paid to her son, who had done his duty to country and mankind, as well when she frowned as when she approved.
In death he was borne through
scenes familiar to his life,—through the streets of his native city, over the Cambridge bridge
pressed so often by his feet, by the college he loved, by the homes of Story and Longfellow
, along the shaded road he had so often trod with classmates and teachers, to that final resting-place of Boston
's cherished dead, whose consecration he had witnessed in youth, there to renew companionship with Ashmun
, Story, Greenleaf
, and Everett
, and to await The coining of Hillard
Here, beneath a stalwart oak, close by parents, brothers, and sisters, in the presence of classmates, friends, and of a sorrowing multitude, late in the afternoon when darkness was setting in, the ‘Integer Vitae’ and ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God’ were sung; the words of comfort, ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord
,’ were spoken, and the benediction given.62
No one of kin was there; and it fell to him who writes these lines to direct the closing of the grave, and to remain till the undertaker's work was done.
Congress set apart April 27 as a day for eulogies upon the deceased senator.63
His personal qualities, his character as a public man, and his place in history were reviewed in both houses by those who had known him well in personal relations or had watched closely his career.
His limitations were stated to be ‘a predominance of the ideal over the practical,’ too great persistency in pressing his favorite measures, his indisposition to yield minor points for the sake of common action, and the habit of exacting the full measure of what he believed to be wise and just,—a catalogue of qualities which may be virtues or blemishes, according to the critic's point of view.
From every quarter came testimony to his kindness in personal intercourse; his cordial greeting and genial smile; his freedom from personal hatred and revenge; the amenities of his home where he carefully and skilfully suppressed topics of difference; his scrupulous observance of the rules and courtesies of the Senate; his fidelity and courage; the rectitude and elevation of his purpose; and the absolute purity of his private and public life.
A colored member recalled the warm and friendly grasp of his hand and the welcome he always gave.
All accorded him the foremost place in the history of his country as ‘the undoubted leader of the political opposition to slavery.’
In the Senate, Morrill of Vermont
gave him the title of ‘the model senator.’
Sargent of California
testified to ‘his courage, his manliness, his singleness of purpose, his high achievement,’ and to his influence as ‘the chief inspiring cause and guiding spirit’ in the Antislavery revolution.
Pratt of Indiana
dwelt upon ‘the purity and simplicity of his character,’ his courtesy and kindness to all who approached him, his lofty and transparent character, and his position for twenty-two years as a living power ill Congress, where he had influenced, in perhaps larger degree than any other, the opinions of men. Thurman
, the Democratic
leader, avowing his fixed disagreement with him on the questions which had divided parties, recognized his fidelity to his lofty ideal, the charm of his personal intercourse, the absence of offensive egotism in his manner, his habit of discussing in private political questions with opponents without loss of temper or want of respect for their views, and said:—
And when we add that in the conversation of the deceased there never was anything low or vulgar, but on the contrary, intellect, refinement, and taste marked all that was said, we contemplate a character whose amiability, high breeding, and politeness will ever command our respect and admiration. . . I speak over his grave my belief that he was great in intellect, profound in learning, sincere in his convictions, true in his friendships, urbane and amiable in his intercourse, and wholly unassailable by corruption.
, wiser in his judgment of contemporary public men than perhaps any one of our time, speaking with discriminating judgment, and bearing witness ‘to the purity of Sumner
's motives and the lofty purpose of his warfare,’ at last acknowledged by old antagonists as well as coadjutors, said:—
The heat of recent contests in this body, unavoidable where debate is free, and where honest opinions boldly expressed necessarily produce some strife and personal feeling,—this was passing away, and Charles Sumner was by the judgment of his associates here, by the confidence of his constituents, by the general voice of the people, the foremost man in the civil service of the United States.
This eminence is assigned him for unblemished honor, for high intellectual capacity improved by careful study and long experience, and for public services rendered here with unwavering fidelity and industry, with conscientious consistency, contributing in a large degree to the liberty of millions of slaves, and to the advancement of the power, position, and prosperity of the whole country.
We ought not to exalt the dead with false eulogy; but I feel after long association with Mr. Sumner in the public service, continued since December, 1855, sometimes disagreeing with him and conscious of his imperfections, that I would not do justice to his memory did I not place his name and fame above that of all in civil life who survive him. . . . . He was profoundly
versed in the science of government.
It is a common error that he confined his attention to The slavery question; far from it. No one in this Senate was so familiar as he with all the laws and usages that govern our intercourse with foreign nations.
He was deeply interested in questions affecting the internal improvement of the country, and of late years has carefully studied all financial questions, and has contributed to their solution.
In the House
the eulogies, cordial and affectionate like those of the Senate, were from Dawes
and the brothers Hoar
of South Carolina
, and notably Lamar
, a former Confederate officer.64 Nesmith
, a Democrat, who had served with him in the Senate and was rarely in accord with him in that body, closed his eulogy thus:—
His chair in the Senate, to which all eyes were turned whenever any great question agitated that grave body, will never be filled by a public servant more pure in his natives, more elevated and courageous in his action, or truer to his convictions.
Let us keep his virtues in remembrance.
May his monument be of spotless marble, for it cannot be purer or whiter than his life.
, the Vice-President
, visiting the Capitol
a few days after his former colleague's death, referred in a company of intimate friends to the sense of a great loss which was felt there, and said: ‘Taking Sumner
altogether, he was the greatest man in the Senate while I was a member of that body.
Other men exceeded him in some particular thing, as Fessenden
in a debate or an argument on a law question; but taking him “by and large,” he was the greatest man in the Senate in my time.’
The city of Boston
and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
, with due ceremonies, commemorated The senator; and on these occasions Carl Schurz
and George William Curtis
were the orators.65 Whittier
embalmed him in verse.
The people placed a monument over his grave at Mt. Auburn
, and his statue in the Public Garden
He coveted, though it never tempted him, the favor of mankind in his own day and thereafter; and well he might be content with the final judgment.
Even when burdened by undeserved reproach, assured of what it would be, he wrote to a friend a year before his death:—
Meanwhile I sometimes meditate on life and its hardships, and the inconstancy of men,—never forgetting the true.
There is one satisfaction which
cannot be taken from me: I have tried to do my duty and to advance humanity, keeping Massachusetts foremost in what is just and magnanimous.
When I am dead, this will not be denied.
's will, written in autograph and signed the day before he left for Europe
in 1672, after certain personal legacies, mostly tokens of friendship, bequeathed his pictures and engravings to the Art Museum of Boston
, his books and autographs to Harvard College,66
and divided his remaining estate between his surviving sister and his Alma Mater
, prescribing that the half for the college should be for the benefit of the library, and applied to the purchase of books relating to politics and the fine arts, and adding this explanation:—
This bequest is made in filial regard for the college.
In selecting especially the library, I am governed by the consideration that all my life I have been a user of books; and having few of my own, I have relied on the libraries of friends and on public libraries; so that what I now do is only a return for what I have freely received.
Two of Sumner
's literary executors, Messrs. Balch
, requested their other associate, Mr. Longfellow
, to write the senator's life, but failing physical power compelled him to decline.
The three then united in inviting successively Motley
, and Curtis
to be the biographer; but the three former declined on account of inadequate health, and the fourth on account of the pressure of other work already in hand.
Finally, at the request of Mr. Longfellow
and Mr. Balch
, their other associate undertook the duty which he had desired to have fall to better hands.
He confesses, in these final words, his debt of gratitude to many who have aided him in his task; but most of all to the late George William Curtis
, scholar, gentleman, and patriot, worthy to be placed with Sumner
among the supporters of truth, liberty, and good government, who for ten years or more preceding his last illness, which ended Aug. 31, 1892, was always ready with counsels and friendly offices, even to the reading of the entire manuscript.