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Chapter 39: the debate on Toucey's bill.—vindication of the antislavery enterprise.—first visit to the West.—defence of foreign-born citizens.—1854-1855.

The second session of the Thirty-third Congress, which began in December, 1854, and ended in March, 1855, was, excepting a single day, undisturbed by excitement. There was a disposition on both sides to avoid a renewal of the discussion on slavery, which had absorbed the preceding session, and to attend rather to the ordinary public business. Sumner offered at different times resolutions on several subjects,—as the exemption of sailors from an enforced contribution of hospital money,1 the amendment of the laws concerning the fisheries, and mediation in the Eastern war between Great Britain, France, and Turkey on the one side, and Russia on the other. He spoke against the exclusion of Massachusetts soldiers, whom the governor refused in the War of 1812 to place in the service of the United States, from the provisions of the bounty-land bill for the benefit of soldiers serving against Great Britain. He made a brief speech upon a bill introduced by himself to secure to seamen in case of wreck the wages already earned, although the vessel might not have earned freight.2 The speech illustrated the hardships involved in the application of a technical rule of maritime law.

An indictment against Theodore Parker was pending in the United States Circuit Court, Boston, in the winter of 1854– 1855, in which he was charged with resisting the process for the rendition of Anthony Burns, the alleged act of resistance being a speech he had delivered in Faneuil Hall. It was expected that the trial would take place before Judge B. R. Curtis. [410] Sumner was leased that his friend was to have an opportunity, in a personal defence, to maintain before a high tribunal the antislavery cause, and reversing positions, to put the pro-slavery prosecutors on trial. He gave Parker suggestions for his argument, and pointed out historical analogies. Had it proceeded to a final issue, it would have been a cause celebre; but unhappily the indictment was quashed on a technicality, and the prosecution went no further. Those who started it were quite content with its failure at this stage, for they shrunk from facing an adversary so intrepid and so well armed. Sumner wrote to Parker:—

I am glad you have been indicted,—pardon me!—for the sake of our cause and your own fame. Of course you will defend yourself, and answer the whilom speaker3 at Faneuil Hall face to face. . . . Upon the whole, I regard your indictment as a call to a new parish, with B. R. Curtis and B. F. Hallett4 as deacons, and a pulpit higher than the Strasburg steeple. .. Of course you must speak for yourself before Pontius Pilate. I think you should make the closing speech, and review the whole movement in Boston which culminated in your indictment, and arraign the intent and action, of course touching upon the courts. The opening counsel might argue the constitutionality of the Act, though I hesitate to give the judges another opportunity to drive a nail into our coffin. Whoever you have to speak, at any stage, should be able to do something historical, for the time will belong to History. God send you a good deliverance!

Near the end of the session the truce on the slavery question was suddenly broken. At noon, February 23, Toucey of Connecticut, a Democratic Compromise senator, called up a bill reported by the judiciary committee less than a week before, which provided for the transfer to the federal courts of suits pending in State courts against federal officers and other persons for acts done under any law or color of any law of the United States. The bill, with no express mention of fugitiveslave cases, was well understood to be designed to protect persons assisting in the execution of the Fugitive Slave Act from suits for damages in State courts, particularly by withdrawing the cases to more friendly tribunals, in order to counteract the effect of the personal liberty laws of the States. The spirit of the federal courts at the North was at the time pro-slavery, [411] and the judges and marshals were supporters of the Fugitive Slave law; and this was regarded as a favorite jurisdiction for the defence of persons who in their zeal for the reclamation of slaves had exceeded their authority or violated State regulations. The motion to take the bill up prevailed against Chase's plea for further time. The day was Friday, set apart for private bills,—‘our day of justice,’ as Sumner called it. Toucey made a brief statement of its provisions, without any allusion to its specific purpose. There was an evident reluctance to enter upon a full discussion of its purport, and it seemed likely to pass without question. Chase, however, who was familiar with points of practice and jurisdiction, took the floor, and began his remarks with a comment on the favor and precedence always accorded in the Senate to every proposition which was supposed to favor the interests of slavery. He objected to the bill as a novelty in our judicial system, an invasion of State rights, and a step, or rather a stride, towards despotism. His clear exposition brought the whole question before the Senate, and the debate at once took a wide range, covering the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, the significance of the recent defeats of the Administration, the political associations of senators, and other features of the conflict between freedom and slavery. Wade spoke at length, discursively and somewhat loosely, but with great energy. He upbraided the Compromise senators for continually reviving, by new measures and harangues, the agitation which they had undertaken to suppress, and pointed to the spirit of resistance in the free States awakened by the aggressions of slavery. This reference to the Northern uprising called up Douglas, who spoke with the audacity which never failed him, and ascribed the Democratic defeats to the secret Know Nothing order. Fessenden, the master of an incisive style, contested Douglas's assumption as to the significance of the elections. Benjamin and Bayard spoke for the South. Butler betrayed the frequency with which he had partaken of his usual refreshment. He was called to order by Sumner for accusing Wade of falsehood; and though the point was then decided in his favor, he was shortly after declared out of order by the chair. The evening had now come, and the chandeliers were lighted. Gillette, the new antislavery senator from Connecticut, who had been waiting for an opportunity to deliver a speech on slavery in the District of [412] Columbia, took a manuscript from his desk and occupied an hour or more in reading it. All were amused when Jones of Tennessee treated Gillette's prepared speech as proof that the antislavery senators knew of the contest in advance, and had conspired to bring it on. Pettit declaimed with his habitual vulgarity on the inferiority of the African race. Wilson made his first antislavery speech in the Senate; and being the first senator elected by the Know Nothings, his remarks attracted unusual attention, and he was closely questioned by the Compromise senators. Thus the evening went on. It was eleven when Seward rose. He spoke in his characteristic style, and made the most impressive speech in the debate. With great emphasis he disavowed all connection with the secret order and all sympathy with its principles and methods.5 Then followed Bayard, and at last Sumner, who denounced the bill as ‘an effort to bolster up the Fugitive Slave Act,’—a measure which was ‘conceived in defiance of the Constitution,’ and was ‘a barefaced subversion of every principle of humanity and justice;’ and he closed his speech with a motion for its repeal, which obtained nine votes.6 Butler could not refrain from renewing to Sumner his old questions about constitutional obligations, and being baffled, said he would ‘not take advantage of the infirmity of a man who did not know half his time what he was about.’ As Sumner was scrupulously correct in his habits, and as Butler often and at the very time appeared to have been drinking to excess, the remark provoked general merriment. Sumner's answers were to the effect that he would not himself recommend, or take part in. any State action for the rendition of fugitive slaves. The debate ended at midnight, and the Senate then adjourned after a continuous session of thirteen hours.7 [413]

An incident occurred a few days later, just at the close of the session, which shows that Sumner had the respect of Butler, although they were no longer on speaking terms. An amendment to the appropriation bill was under discussion, which authorized the purchase of copies of the papers of General Nathaniel Greene to be edited by his grandson, George W. Greene, who has already been mentioned in this biography. Sumner spoke briefly in favor of the grant, and vouched for the qualifications of the editor. Butler thought the gentleman from Massachusetts a good indorser, and his authority as to the competency of the editor quite sufficient. Apparently fearing that some pleasantry of his concerning an interview between General Lafayette and a daughter of General Greene might prejudice the proposed grant, he at once wrote on a letter envelope a memorandum explaining his remarks, which he handed from his seat to Sumner. At the end of it he said:‘God forbid that I should say anything that would touch the reputation of General Greene's descendants!’

Sumner was happy to assist at this time in completing a transaction which resulted in the liberation of a family of slaves. Mr. Andrew, afterwards governor, as the friend of Seth Botts (or Henry Williams, his adopted name), a fugitive slave,8 had been interested for two years in procuring the freedom of Botts's wife and their three children (two girls and a boy), then held as slaves in Prince William County, Virginia, the title to whom had been finally determined after protracted litigation. He had raised the necessary funds to pay for them, and was in correspondence with the owner's attorney, Judge Christopher Neale, of Alexandria. Sumner assisted in the negotiation by conferences with Judge Neale, and subsequently when it was completed took charge of the negroes upon their arrival in Washington, and saw them to the station safely on their way to the North. He received the deed of them, and was thus for a few hours technically a slaveholder. The children were nearly white, and the eldest so Caucasian in color and features as to be called Ida May, after the heroine of a recent antislavery novel. Daguerreotypes of them, taken after their arrival in Boston, were distributed; and many were affected by the sight of slaves apparently white, who were unmoved at the [414] contemplation of negroes in bondage.9 Sumner, in sending a daguerreotype of one of the children to Boston, suggested that it be exhibited, as an illustration of slavery, among members of the Legislature, where bills for the protection of personal liberty were pending. He wrote: ‘Let a hard-hearted Hunker look at it and be softened! Such is slavery! There it is Should such things be allowed to continue in Washington, under the shadow of the Capitol?’ Mr. Andrew wrote, March 10:

After all the negotiation with the two contending parties in their behalf, and all the anxieties, disappointments, and delays of two or three years of effort, with the husband and father constantly calling on me, and relying on my encouragement and aid in raising his funds, keeping up his hopes, and looking out for the protection of his family in any way I could, you may be assured that I contemplated the happy and complete establishment of this poor family restored to each other, not now as slaves, but in full freedom and peace, with more thankfulness than I can tell. For all your constant kindness to them while in Washington, and your attention and aid to me, I need not say that I am heartily grateful.

In January, 1855, Sumner was made an honorary member of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics' Association. The election was one of the indications of the gradual change of public sentiment. A friend, A. G. Browne, wrote:—

My belief is that one short year since, had your name been proposed, so strong were the prejudices against you, that I fear you could not have been voted in. The fear of such a result deterred me from proposing your name.

Lydia Maria Child wrote, February 12, with thanks for flowerseeds which had come by post, and added:—

But far above all things do I thank you for the true nobility of talent and character which you manifest in your public career. You once wrote to me that my writings had done somewhat to interest you on the subject of slavery. I lay that up as a precious reward for my efforts. Wentworth Higginson says the same. In desponding states of mind, when my writings seem to me so very imperfect, and all the efforts of my life so miserably fragmentary, a pleasant voice sings in the inner chamber of my soul, ‘But you have not lived in vain; Charles Sumner and Wentworth Higginson are working gloriously for humanity, each in his own way, and they both say you have done something to urge them onward.’

As soon as Sumner arrived home from Washington, at the close of the session in March, 1855, he began the preparation [415] of an address on ‘The necessity, practicability, and dignity of the Antislavery enterprise, with glances at the special duties of the North.’10 This address concluded, March 29, the antislavery course11 in Tremont Temple, which he had been, on account of a cold, prevented from opening in the previous November. The public interest in the address was so keen that he repeated it in the same hall the next evening. Afterwards he delivered it during the same and the next month in several towns and cities of Massachusetts and New York.12 At Auburn he was the guest of Mr. Seward, who introduced him to the audience with generous praise.13 Such was the interest in the address and in the orator which prevailed in New York city that under the pressure of the public demand he gave it in the Metropolitan Theatre, May 9, and repeated it in Niblo's Theatre and in Brooklyn. He had not spoken before in the metropolis, and the halls where he spoke were crowded with enthusiastic audiences. He was introduced on the different evenings by William Jay, Henry Ward Beecher, and Joseph Blunt. An invitation to speak in Philadelphia was pressed on him, but he declined it. Similar invitations came during the summer from most of the free States. The address was warmly praised in the newspapers, and it was printed in full in the New York Tribune and the ‘National Era.’ As Sumner came, later on, to care chiefly for the effect of his popular addresses as they were read by the public, he never after appeared to so much advantage on the platform as in the delivery of this address. It treated the antislavery movement largely and comprehensively in its moral and political aspects, laying emphasis on the practical duties which it imposed, and answering the objections and sophistries urged against it.14 In passages it is [416] eloquent, and the tone of the whole impressive. It was at once instructive, persuasive, and inspiring. The fair-minded listener, spite of adverse preconceptions, could not but confess as well the practical aims as the sublimity of the cause. This address, and the senator's speech, five years later, on ‘the Barbarism of Slavery,’ make together the most complete forensic argument for the antislavery enterprise which was made during the entire contest.

Mrs. Seward, who never failed in affectionate interest, in sending to him some poetry written in an Auburn paper concerning his antislavery address, wrote, April 29:—

Once more let me entreat you to take care of your health. Great powers are given for beneficent purposes; but the highest mental endowments avail little comparatively without physical strength. Do not think me importunate.

George William Curtis, who was present at the delivery of the address (probably at Providence), and now heard Sumner for the first time, wrote, April 6:—

There is but one opinion of your address. It will be a sword in the hands of all who heard it for their future battles in the cause.

Rev. Convers Francis wrote, April 2:—

Thanks to you—most hearty thanks—for that masterly lecture of last Thursday evening. It is not easy to tell you how much I, in common with the great multitude, was enlightened and gratified. No one left the house that evening, I venture to say, without a conviction, never to be removed from his mind, that the antislavery enterprise was most truly necessary, practicable, and dignified. Coming out I met Mr. Garrison, who said, “Well, Mr. Sumner has given us a true, old-fashioned antislavery discourse.”

Rev. C. E. Stowe wrote, April 9:—

You are happy in having stood for the cause at the lowest point of depression and in the imminent deadly breach. The Lord give you many days and the strength corresponding!

Oliver Johnson wrote from New York, July 9:—

People here have not forgotten the triumph of last May. You made a deeper impression in this city, I believe, than it was ever the good fortune of any other antislavery speaker to make,—an impression that will last till the final jubilee. Oh, how I wish we might hope that you might strike another blow for us the next session!


Sumner wrote to John Jay, March 3:—

I send you a copy of a bill15 now pending in Massachusetts, out of which you may draw ideas for your bill. Let me refer you also to the Michigan law; also to those of Connecticut and Vermont. In my speech the other night you will find these laws briefly vindicated. I am glad you have your hand on this work. Now is the day and now is the hour. The free States must be put in battle array, from which they will never retreat. I know you will do your part of the work.

Late in May Sumner left Boston on a journey to the West, his first visit to a section of the country which he had greatly desired to see. At Yellow Springs, Ohio, he called on Horace Mann, then president of Antioch College. At Cincinnati he was glad to meet Chase, then preparing for the State election, in which he was to be the Republican candidate for governor. The two friends drove to the beautiful suburbs and to the cemetery at Clifton, destined to be the last resting-place of one of them. At Lexington, Ky., Sumner visited the home and grave of Henry Clay. He was Cassius M. Clay's guest at White Hall, in Madison County, in company with whom he examined the former's breeds of cattle, sheep, and horses, for which that State is famous. They drove together over fine roads to the well-equipped farm of Mr. Clay's brother, Brutus J., near Paris. This was the first and only time in his life that Sumner could freely inspect the condition of slaves on a plantation. Thirty years later, Mr. Clay gave the following account of the visit:

Mr. Sumner's acquaintance I first made, I believe, in 1853, at the banquet given to John P. Hale in Boston. Subsequently I invited him to visit me in Kentucky at my present home in Madison County, which he did. I was a breeder of pure-blooded short-horns and Southdown sheep, in seeing which he seemed much interested. The Kentucky trees and landscape grounds about my house (thirty acres), with every indigenous tree of my own State and some exotic evergreens, seemed also to please him. In these things, however, he did not seem to be permanently concerned, as his conversation returned to politics and literature. After spending a few days with me I took him through Lexington, when having shown him some noted places we went on in my buggy over fine macadam roads, through Paris to the stock farm of my brother Brutus J. Clay, four miles from that town. the had the finest farm in the State, in its proportions and natural soil, but mostly noted for its superior culture and equipments. It was. outside of the cultivated fields, a natural park of great trees and blue-grass sward, without weeds. In addition to shorthorns and Southdown sheep, he bred horses, mostly the English Cleveland bays, the well-known coach-horse. In these horses Mr. Sumner was more [418] interested than in the other stock,—lingering long and asking many questions about them; for with these he was of course more familiar. That surprised me the more because at Dr. E . Warfield's, where we spent, a few hours, he seemed but little interested in race-horses, though many of them fine ones and of the Lexington strain. But I had taken him to my brother's purposely, where I could take the liberty of showing him how the slaves fared. Here the negro cabins were built of hewn logs and pointed with lime, generally one room below and one above, though some of them had made additions themselves in a rude way. Each cottage was fenced with posts and rails, a yard in front, and a stall garden in the rear. The winter wood was piled conveniently in Summer, and all things were very snug and comfortable,— at all of which Mr. Sumner seemed somewhat surprised. As he and I were alone, he asked freely many questions, which I frankly answered. He however made but little comment; but when a small boy ran ahead and opened the gates for us with a broad grin upon his face, Mr. Sumner remarked, “Poor boy!” and threw him a piece if silver coin; from which I inferred that his thoughts were, “What is all this physical comfort? The child and others are still slaves.” Mr. Sumner and I divided on the reconstruction measures, which were discussed as early as 1862-1863; but I cannot fail to do justice to a bold and philanthropic statestman, whom the followers on power failed to appreciate as he deserved.

Sumner went by rail from Lexington to Frankfort and then to Louisville, where he renewed with Mr.Preston and Mrs. William Preston the pleasant relations he had begun with them in Washington. He was taken by Mr. Preston to drive on the Indiana as well as the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.16 He went from Louisville to the Mammoth Cave and to Nashville,—most, if not all, of the way by stage-coach. The hotel accommodations on this part of the route were very primitive. He was obliged to share his room with strangers, but he successfully resisted a landlord's pressure to put one into his bed. At Bowling Green he called on Judge Underwood, a public man of liberal views, with whom in the Senate he had maintained friendly intercourse. At Nashville he visited the home and grave of Andrew Jackson. From Mammoth Cave he wrote, June 18, to Albert G. Browne, Jr.,17 a youth studying in Berlin, son of an old friend:— [419]

My dear Albert,—Here I am now in this distant solitude, weary with a tramp of twenty-five miles beneath the ground; and I dedicate an early moment to you. I have been glad to hear of your studies and happiness. I doubt not you are laying up a goodly store for future use. Of course you will master the German, and I hope before you return you will do the same with the French. If you get nothing else, you will not have journeyed in vain; but to these I know you are adding experience, knowledge, and learning, all of which will enable you to enter upon life with commanding influence. On your return we will need all that you can contribute. The country is approaching a crisis on the slavery question, when freedom will triumph in the national government or the Union will be dissolved. At moments latterly I have thought that the North was at last ready for a rising, and that it would be united in the support of a truly Northern man for President. Perhaps the wish is father of this thought. It is evident that the Know Nothings cannot construct a national platform on which they can stand at the North and South; their failure will make way for a Northern combination. I have spoken much since the meeting of Congress, in Massachusetts and New York, and have everywhere found the people prepared as never before to welcome our great truth. Your sketch of Humboldt was admirable. I have already seen something of Kentucky; have enjoyed its magnificent farms, its thoroughbred cattle, its woodland pastures. I have seen a slave sold on the steps of the court house at Lexington, and have passed a day as a guest on an estate where there were one hundred slaves; so that I have been gaining experience! The more I think and see of slavery, the more indefensible does it seem. I hesitated between the journey I am now taking and one to Europe. For myself I have chosen wisely; but nevertheless I envy you the Rhine, Heidelberg, the Alps, and all that is before you.

In Kentucky and Tennessee Sumner had an opportunity to observe out-door political meetings, and to hear four stump speeches. He went by steamer down the Cumberland to the Ohio, and then on the Mississippi to St. Louis, where it is probable that he met his kinsman, Colonel E. V. Sumner, then commanding at that post. He continued his journey by steamboat up the Mississippi to St. Paul, stopping at points on the way.18 While driving at Davenport he met with an accident. The horse became unmanageable; he was thrown out, severely bruised, and narrowly escaped serious injury. Descending the river as far as Dubuque19 and going to Chicago, he went north to Milwaukee to seek Mr. Booth, who had recently contested the validity of the Fugitive Slave law, and with him went to Windsor to call on [420] Mr. Durkee, the newly chosen Republican senator from Wisconsin, whom they did not find at home. Sumner then journeyed as far as the capital, Madison, and thence returned to Chicago. At the end of July he was at Detroit, whence he made a tour on the lakes, going as far as Lake Superior.20 On board a steamer, August 11, he wrote a letter denouncing Judge Kane's imprisonment of Passamore Williamson, the friend of fugitive slaves, on the charge of contempt of court.21 On his rapid return home he made brief pauses at Saratoga, Lake George, the White Mountains (where he ascended Mount Washington), and Portland, and was in Boston September 6,—having in his absence, as he wrote, ‘traversed eleven free States and three slave States.’ The journey was followed by his usual visit to his brother Albert at Newport. In a speech made a few weeks after his return, he spoke of certain incidents witnessed by him in the slave States,22 which were not calculated to shake his original convictions.23

He wrote to William Jay, October 7:—

My longing is for concord among men of all parties, in order to give solidity to our position. For this I am willing to abandon everything except the essential principle. Others many have the offices if the principle can be maintained. I suppose Banks will be the Northern candidate for Speaker; he has a genius for the place as marked as Bryant in poetry. You will observe an advantage which the South will have in the next House from the experience of Stephens and Cobb, re-elected from Georgia, and the whole late delegation of Virginia, while most of our Northern men will be fresh. We seem to approach success; but I shall not be disappointed if we are again baffled. Our cause is so great that it can triumph only slowly; but its triumph is sure.

To John Jay, October 18:—

The K. N.'s here behave badly. Our contest seems to be with them. What a fall is that of John Van Buren! The ghost of 1848 must rise before him sometimes.

In the summer and autumn there was another effort in Massachusetts to combine all who were opposed to the aggressions of [421] slavery under the name of the Republican party; and for a time it bid fair to succeed. Its candidate for governor was Julius Rockwell, recently Sumner's Whig colleague in the Senate. The antislavery members of the Know Nothing order joined in it, as well as a considerable body of voters hitherto Whigs. A Whig editor, Samuel Bowles, hitherto not friendly to Sumner, urged him to take a very active part in the election, writing to him as follows, October 13:—

You can do more than any other man to shape the result aright. Your position, your character, your eloquence, the moral power your efforts always carry, lead all parties to listen with respect and favor. I feel as if you could decide the result. The field is well arranged, the lines fairly drawn, the issues plain, strong, and direct, the trenches are built, the walls erected; but we need a captain whose moral power has not been weakened by participation in the preliminaries of the campaign, who has not suffered himself to be debauched by the local politics of the last twelve months. You are such a man; and with you now actively in the field until the election, our cause and our candidates will surely triumph.

Late in the canvass Sumner spoke at nine important places,— first at Fall River, where his audience was two thousand; the next evening at New Bedford; and November 2 at Faneuil Hall.24 At Springfield25 he spoke in the largest hall of the city, which was crowded to its full capacity, with several hundred seeking admission without avail. The Springfield Republican, hitherto not partial in his favor, wrote, October 27:—

The outbursts of applause by which Mr. Sumner was frequently interrupted told the irrepressible enthusiasm of the audience, and their hearty indorsement of the sentiments of the speaker; and we may say without exaggeration that a better or more cheering demonstration was never made in Springfield. Nearly or quite twelve hundred persons were present during the whole evening, and hundreds on hundreds went away unable to get in.

Sumner began his address,26 which occupied two hours and a quarter in the delivery, with a treatment of the issues growing [422] out of the slavery question, including recent outrages in Kansas, and then discussed the relations of parties, insisting upon the necessity of a political organization (tile Republican party) based only upon opposition to slavery. The stress of his argument was on this point. At the same time he took occasion to reject the irrational methods of the Know Nothings,—those of secrecy,— and to condemn the religious and class prejudices against foreignborn citizens, out of which the order had sprung. His tribute to distinguished persons who have served other countries than their own was often quoted at the time, and is a good specimen of his style:—

It is proposed to attaint men for religion, and also for birth. If this object can prevail, vain are the triumphs of civil freedom in its many hard-fought fields, vain is that religious toleration which we profess. The fires of Smithfield the tortures of the Inquisition, the proscriptions of Non-Conformists, may all be revived. Mainly to escape these outrages, dictated by a dominant religious sect, was our country early settled,—in one place by Pilgrims, who sought independence; in another by Puritans, who disowned bishops; it another by Episcopalians, who take their name from bishops; in another by Quakers, who set at nought all forms; and in yet another by Catholics, who look to the Pope as spiritual father. Slowly among the struggling sects was evolved that great idea of the equality of all men before the law, without regard to religious belief; nor can any party now organize a proscription merely for religious belief without calling in question this well-established principle.

But Catholics are mostly foreigners, and on this account are condemned. Let us see if there be any reason in this and here indulge me with one word on foreigners. . . . . All will admit that any influence which they bring, hostile to our institutions, calculated to substitute priestcraft for religion, and bigotry for Christianity, must be deprecated and opposed. All will admit, too, that there must be some assurance of their purpose to become not merely consumers of the fruits of our soil, but useful, loyal, and permanent members of our community, upholders of the general welfare. With this simple explanation, I cannot place any cheek upon the welcome to foreigners. There are our broad lauds, stretching towards the setting sun; Jet them come and take them. Ourselves children of the Pilgrims of a former generation, let us not turn from the Pilgrims of the present. Let the home founded by our emigrant fathers continue open in its many mansions to the emigrants of to-day.

The history of our country, in its humblest as well as most exalted spheres, testifies to the merit of foreigners. Their strong arms have helped furrow our broad territory with canals, and stretch in every direction the iron rail. They fill our workshops, navigate our ships, and even till our fields. Go where you will among the hardy sons of toil on land or sea, and there you find industrious and faithful foreigners bending their muscles to the work. At the bar and in the high places of commerce you find them. Enter the retreats of learning, and there too you find them, shedding upon our country [423] the glory of science. Nor can any reflection be cast upon foreigners coining for hospitality now which will not glance at once upon the distinguished living and the illustrious dead,—upon the Irish Montgomery, who perished for us at the gates of Quebec; upon Pulaski the Pole, who perished for us at Savannah; upon De Kalb and Steuben, the generous Germans, who aided our weakness by their military experience; upon Paul Jones, the Scotchman, who lent his unsurpassed courage to the infant thunders of our navy; also upon those great European liberators, Kosciusko of Poland and Lafayette of France, each of whom paid his earliest vows to liberty in our cause. Nor should this list be confined to military characters, so long as we gratefully cherish the name of Alexander Hamilton, who was born in the West Indies, and the name of Albert Gallatin, who was born in Switzerland, and never, to the close of his octogenarian career, lost the French accent of his boyhood,—both of whom rendered civic services to be commemorated among the victories of peace27. . . .A party which, beginning in secrecy, interferes with religious belief, and founds a discrimination on the accident of birth, is not the party for us.

Most public men in Sumner's position, with his term nearly expired, and the native-American sentiment still active in the State, would have kept aloof from a controversy with the Know Nothings at this time; but Sumner, in his loyalty to his convictions, took no account of considerations which affected only his personal fortunes. He believed it the duty of a public man to withstand a popular frenzy, not to pay court to it. He knew well in this instance the risk he took, but courage was a quality which never failed him in presence of a duty. This part of his address might have made more difficult his re-election by the Legislature chosen a year later but for an unforeseen event which was to unite the people of the State in his support.

The native-American sentiment and old Whig prejudices were still obstructions to the union of all opposed to slavery; and the American, or Know Nothing, party taking the same position as the Republican on the slavery question, prevailed at the election, and their candidate for governor, Henry J. Gardner, received a large plurality. The Boston Whigs (the remnant of the party long dominant in the State) again resisted the fusion, and gave a third of the fourteen thousand votes which were received by the Whig candidate, Samuel H. Walley, who was supported in speeches or letters by Choate, Winthrop, Hillard, Stevenson, F. C. Gray, and N. Appleton,—names already familiar to these pages. Their newspaper organ, the ‘Advertiser,’ with unchanged proprietorship, [424] appealed to old prejudices, and rallied Whig voters with the charge that the Republican party was a geographical and sectional party, with aims and tendencies hostile to the Union and the Constitution. So virulent was its partisanship that on the morning after the election it counted triumphantly, using capitals, the aggregate vote of Know Nothings, Democrats, and Whigs as ‘the majority against nullification,’—thus treating the Republicans as ‘nullifiers’28

Gillette, the antislavery senator from Connecticut, whose brief term had expired, wrote, December 5, from Hartford, that he ‘regretted leaving the Senate only for losing the pleasure of being associated with my dear friend [Sumner], who is much in my thoughts. God gird him for the coming fight!’

Rev. Charles Lowell, father of the poet, wrote, October 30:

I cannot forbear saying how much comfort it gives me that you are able to say and do so much for the cause of truth and righteousness and mercy; and it is my earnest hope and prayer that you may long be honored as the instrument in the hands of Providence for the promotion of this great and good work.

Seward wrote, November 9:—

I see that Massachusetts and New York have gone together into the meshes of this impudent and corrupt secret combination.29 But it is quite enough for me that in both States we have kept our own great cause free from pollution by it. . . . I have read your speech. It is a noble one, me judice; and what it failed to do in the recent canvass, it will do in the next.

An intrigue for electing prematurely Sumner's successor by the Legislature of 1856, in which the Know Nothings had a majority, was started early that year; but it found favor with only a few persons, and was dropped.30 the uniform practice, as well as constitutional objections, stood in the way. The duty properly belonged to the Legislature to be chosen in November, 1856.

1 He renewed this proposition Feb. 2, 1860.

2 Works, vol. III. pp. 520-526. He renewed this effort at later sessions,—Jan. 17, 1860; and again April 15, 1872, when he presented the resolutions of the Legislature of Massachusetts in favor of the bill.

3 An allusion to an encounter between B. R. Curtis and Parker in November, 1850, in Faneuil Hall, when the latter offered to answer a question put by the former to the latter, who was not supposed to be present.

4 United States District Attorney.

5 Seward had just been re-elected senator against the opposition of Compromise Democrats and Know Nothings.

6 Works, vol. III. pp. 529-547. Fessenden, Seward, and even Cooper, now voted with Sumner, but Fish and Hamlin were still silent. Sumner had in this vote a new ally in his colleague, Wilson.

7 The writer was present in the gallery during the debate. Wilson beckoned to him from his seat shortly before speaking, and they conferred in the lobby as to the effect of his proposed speech on his Know Nothing connections, which at the time he was loath to disturb. Two friends of the Massachusetts senators, F. W. Bird and H. L. Pierce, entered the Senate gallery while Wilson was speaking. They and the writer after the adjournment walked down the steps of the Capitol in company with Seward, who was enjoying a cigar after the long confinement; and the three congratulated him heartily for his decisive expressions against the Know Nothing order. Mr. Bird's description of the debate is printed in the Boston ‘Telegraph,’ Feb. 28, 1855. Other descriptions were by William S. Thayer in the New York Evening Post, and E. L. Pierce in the Detroit ‘Advertiser.’

8 He had escaped from Judge Neale, of Alexandria, six years before, and had bought his freedom after his escape.

9 Two of the children sat on the platform in Tremont Temple when Sumner delivered his lecture March 29.

10 Works, vol IV. pp. 1-51. The title recalls that of Dr. Wayland's sermon on ‘The Moral Dignity of the Missionary Enterprise

11 Sumner was present, March 23, at Wilson's lecture in the same course, which was interrupted by the latter's illness.

12 Woburn, Lowell, Worcester, New Bedford, Lynn, and other places in Massachusetts; also in Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, and Auburn, For notices of the address and the reception it met, see Boston ‘Telegraph,’ March 30, 1855, ‘Atlas,’ March 30.

13 Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 250. Mr. Seward, supposing Sumner was about to visit the West, wrote March 26, and pleasantly besought a sojourn in Auburn. ‘Pray stop and spend a week, or some days or a (lay with us. Mrs. Seward would command, Mrs. Worden enjoins, and I solicit that pleasure’

14 Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge, D. D., of Kentucky, in a public letter to Sumner, June 11, 1855, made the lecture the subject of elaborate criticism, the spirit of which is in contrast with that divine's support of emancipation in Kentucky at an earlier day, as well as with his patriotism in the Civil War.

15 To protect personal liberty.

16 Preston, who was then running for Congress against Humphrey Marshall, the Know Nothing candidate, stated to the writer that Sumner said during the drive that ‘the American people would never formulate such nonsense as Know Nothingism.’

17 1835-1891. Browne was a youth of fine promise. which was fulfilled by performance. He was private secretary of Governor Andrew during the Civil War, and aided greatly in the despatch of public business at that period. He became reporter of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, an was afterwards of the editorial corps of the New York Evening Post and New York Herald. He married Mattie Griffith of Kentucky,—a noble woman, who had emancipated her inherited slaves.

18 He met in Iowa Governor James W. Grimes, afterwards senator, who thought that Sumner was not intellectually like Webster or Chase, but that ‘what is wonderful in a politician, he has a heart.’ Grimes's ‘Life,’ pp. 74, 75.

19 He met in Iowa Governor James W. Grimes, afterwards senator, who thought that Sumner was not intellectually like Webster or Chase, but that ‘what is wonderful in a politician, he has a heart.’ Grimes's ‘Life,’ pp. 74, 75.

20 He wrote, August 6 from Lake Superior, to his classmate, Dr. J. W. Bemis, regretting that he had been unable to attend the meeting of his class at Cambridge on their twenty-fifth year from graduation.

21 Works, vol. IV. pp. 52-57. Mr. Conger, M. C., of Michigan, was a fellow-passenger, and in his eulogy in the House, April 27, 1874, stated the circumstances under which this letter was written.

22 At Lexington, Ky.

23 Works, vol. IV. p. 64. The Boston Post accused Sumner of expressing in Kentucky opinions on slavery different from those he expressed in Massachusetts,—a charge to which he replied by letter to that journal, Nov. 16, 1855.

24 Other places where he spoke were Springfield, Worcester, Fitchburg, Lynn, Lowell, and Salem.

25 The Boston ‘Telegraph,’ October 29, gives extracts from newspapers showing Sumner's success at New Bedford, Springfield, and Worcester. The local paper at Lowell gave a similar description.

26 Works, vol. IV. pp. 62-82. The speech was published in full in the Boston ‘Telegraph,’ November 3. the parts omitted in the Works are largely a repetition of matter contained in former speeches. Dana wrote in his diary, November 4: ‘Sumner made a noble speech at Faneuil Hall, Friday night, before a crowded assembly, at which I presided.’ Adams's ‘Biography’ of Dana, vol. i. p. 348.

27 The omitted passage gives instances in which other countries have been served by foreigners.

28 In 1856 this journal was unfriendly to the election of a Republican Speaker, and opposed the Republican party as ‘sectional’ (July 24) till a short time before the election, when it announced its support of Fremont.

29 The Know Nothing or American party.

30 It was noted in the newspapers. Boston Advertiser, March 10, 1856, and ‘Telegraph,’ March 15.

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