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.
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
, 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
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.
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
, 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,
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.
, 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.
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.
, the master of an incisive style, contested Douglas
's assumption as to the significance of the elections.
Benjamin and Bayard
spoke for the South
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.
, the new antislavery senator from Connecticut
, who had been waiting for an opportunity to deliver a speech on slavery in the District
, took a manuscript from his desk and occupied an hour or more in reading it. All were amused when Jones
'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.
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
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.’
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.
'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
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.
spoke briefly in favor of the grant, and vouched for the qualifications of the editor.
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
was happy to assist at this time in completing a transaction which resulted in the liberation of a family of slaves.
, 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
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
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
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
The election was one of the indications of the gradual change of public sentiment.
A friend, A. G. Browne
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
of an address on ‘The necessity, practicability, and dignity of the Antislavery enterprise, with glances at the special duties of the North
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
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.’
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
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.
, 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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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.
went by rail from Lexington
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
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.
he visited the home and grave of Andrew Jackson
From Mammoth Cave
he wrote, June 18, to Albert G. Browne, Jr.
a youth studying in Berlin
, son of an old friend:—
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
, the newly chosen Republican senator from Wisconsin
, whom they did not find at home.
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
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
there was another effort in Massachusetts
to combine all who were opposed to the aggressions of
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
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.
began his address,26
which occupied two hours and a quarter in the delivery, with a treatment of the issues growing
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
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
, F. C. Gray
, and N. Appleton
,—names already familiar to these pages.
Their newspaper organ, the ‘Advertiser,’ with unchanged proprietorship,
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
, 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.
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.