Chapter 43: return to the Senate.—‘the barbarism of slavery.’—Popular welcomes.—Lincoln's election.—1859-1860.
took his seat at the beginning of the session, Dec. 5, 1859 (the first session of the Thirty-sixth Congress), the Senate now occupying the new chamber in the extension of the
, of which it had taken possession in the spring.
Three years and a half had passed since he withdrew from active duty.
During that period Buchanan
had succeeded Pierce
,—a change of administration, but not of policy; the Supreme Court had proclaimed, in the Dred Scott
case, the sanctity of slavery in the national territory, beyond the power of the inhabitants as well as of Congress to exclude and prohibit it; Kansas
, after alternating seasons of disturbance and peace, had been finally rescued by her Free State settlers, who, predominating largely in numbers and waiving their plan of abstention, now held the legislature, thus acquiring the sanction of legitimacy; the Lecompton constitution, when again submitted under the so—called ‘English bill,’ had been rejected by the people, notwithstanding the inducements offered in it for an accepting vote; the Territory
was now waiting for admission as a free State under a constitution duly formed and approved by the people, still kept out by a pro-slavery majority in the Senate;1 Douglas
had rent in twain the Democratic party by his stand for popular sovereignty in the session of 1857-1858, against the Lecompton constitution when it was submitted to Congress,—doing, from whatever motives, the one good service to his country which marks his public career, and paying the penalty in his removal from his place at the head of the committee on territories and his rejection by the pro-slavery party as a candidate for the Presidency; Minnesota
had been added to the sisterhood of States, forever destroying the balance between freedom and slavery in the Senate; the memorable debate in Illinois
had taken place, in
which, though the former prevailed by a meagre majority, the moral victory remained with his antagonist; the people of the free States were advancing, though with unsteady steps, to a union against slavery,—the Democratic Administration
losing the House of Representatives in the election of 1854, regaining it in that of 1856, and losing it again in that of 1858; Americanism and other issues of temporary and local interest were disappearing, and the Republican party was uniting into one force the liberty-loving voters of the free States, with the probability of success in 1860; the pro-slavery party, with the co-operation of Buchanan
, had been conspiring to strengthen itself by the acquisition of Cuba
; the threats of disunion, once idle words, or words uttered in order to force into submission a timorous North, had come to express a definite and organized purpose;2
and the pro-slavery agitators, having renounced hope of another slave State in the West
and of dominion in the Union
, were now busy with preparations for secession and armed revolt.3
Another and more eventful period was at hand.
The new Capitol
, with its ampler dome, and its extended wings covering the representatives of States and people, prefigured by no mean symbol the country which was to be renovated and glorified by the final conflict between freedom and slavery.
The Senate had greatly changed since Sumner
left it in 1856, mostly in the retirement of Northern members who had voted for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
; but the change there did not adequately betoken the revolution in popular sentiment.
He was now one of twenty-four Republicans, instead of one of three Free Soilers, as when he first entered the Senate.
On the other side were thirty-seven Democrats and two Americans
, with two vacancies in the representation of Democratic States.
He was assigned to the committee on foreign relations, the place to which he naturally belonged from the first, with Seward
as his only Republican associate; the other members were Mason
, and Crittenden
, with only the last of whom had he any personal relations.
He was welcomed by the Republican
senators; but there was no change for the
better on the part of the Democratic
senators, Northern or Southern.
Notwithstanding what he had passed through, they withheld all expression of sympathy or welcome.
, however, who, absent in Europe
when the session began, did not take his seat till after the holiday recess, had hardly a more friendly reception.4
The bitterness of the two sections had increased since Sumner
's last participation in the business of the Senate.
Their recognition of each other was no longer social, but only formal and official.
The amenities of life were suspended; and foreign ministers were obliged to invite their guests by sections.5 Sumner
saw in this non-intercourse signs of the rupture which was to come within a twelvemonth.
He wrote to David L. Child
, Jan. 16, 1860—
All things here show how politics and society are barbarized by slavery.
There is now little intercourse between the two sides.
So far as I am concerned, tant mieux. This is one of the signs that the bonds of union are weakening; indeed, I should not be astonished if the Gulf States went off, a Gulf squadron, and hoisted the black flag.
Abstaining from general society
, then much broken up by sectional heats, he dined often with the family of C. F. Adams
, now serving his first session in Congress.
He was frequently at the table of Lord Lyons,6
now British minister, with whom he remained in agreeable intercourse while the latter continued at Washington
He became intimate with Rodolph Schleiden
minister from the Hanseatic towns
from 1853 to 1864, well versed in European
affairs, and a shrewd observer of public men and passing events.
The two bachelors dined together at least once a week, either at Schleiden
's apartment or at a restaurant.8
Their topics were American and foreign politics, as well as literature and art. Sumner
always valued the observations of an impartial spectator of our affairs, and none more than those of
, slight as was the sympathy of that minister with the antislavery movement.
contributed to the New York Tribune9
at this time a paper introducing Macaulay
's article, written when a youth, on slavery in the West Indies
, which appeared in tile Edinburgh Review
in 1825, and had been overlooked or designedly omitted in the collected edition of his Essays.
The paper contained a reference to his recent intercourse with the historian, who had died a few weeks before.10
For once Sumner
came home for the Christmas and New Year holidays.11
On his return, while at Mr. Furness
's in Philadelphia
, he called with Mr. Allibone
on an old friend, Henry D. Gilpin
, an invalid with but few days in store, cheering him with a report of the kind inquiries made concerning him by the Grotes and other English friends.
He declined at the time two invitations in New York city,—one to address the New England
Society, dressed by Mr. Evarts
; and the other to speak in the Academy of Music, given by Greeley
, C. A. Dana
, H. C. Bowen
, and Oliver Johnson
Warned by physicians and friends to enter slowly into the excitement of debate,12
he took little part in the proceedings of the Senate for three months, although tempted by the ever-recurring discussions on slavery.
The investigation by Mason
's committee of John Brown
's invasion of Virginia
drew him into debate March 12, 1860, when
he spoke against the commitment of Thaddeus Hyatt
for contempt in refusing to answer certain questions put by the committee,—contending that the Senate's jurisdiction in compelling witnesses to attend and testify was limited to certain well defined cases, and did not extend to inquiries which were merely in aid of legislation.13
Later he commented on the action of the committee in its attempt to compel the attendance of Frank B. Sanborn
as a witness.14
In his style of treating the Hyatt and Sanborn cases he showed his readiness to meet old antagonists.
, with characteristic assumption, took exception to his language as unusual in circles in which he himself moved, but showed no disposition for any personal contest.
The Virginia senator reported a resolution for returning to Sumner
, who had presented them, certain petitions of free colored men, and the latter prepared notes of a speech on this proposed violation of the right of petition; but the resolution did not come up for debate.15 Sumner
paid a brief tribute to a deceased member of the House
, John Schwarz
, who had left the Democratic party on account of its course on the Lecompton question.16
The coming Presidential election now absorbed the public mind, and was the ever-recurring topic of debate in Congress.
The Democratic national convention, meeting in Charleston, S. C.
, in April, adjourned, after a session marked by tumult and passion, to meet at Baltimore
in June, where it nominated Douglas
, after the withdrawal of Southern delegations, and of Northern delegates like B. F. Butler
and Caleb Cushing
, both of Massachusetts
, who were in sympathy with them.17
These seceders, who, disciples of Calhoun
, (lid not think Douglas Southern and pro-slavery enough in his position, put John C. Breckinridge
(afterwards a general in the Confederate army) in nomination.
In May, a remnant of conservative Whigs, known as the Constitutional Union party, nominated John Bell
and Edward Everett
The Republicans met at Chicago
, May 16, and passing by Seward
, the leading candidate, nominated Abraham Lincoln
, who was supposed more likely than any one to command the support of New Jersey
, and Illinois
,—States which they failed to carry in 1856.
Their declaration of principles challenged the heresies of their adversaries by proclaiming freedom as ‘the normal condition’ of all the Territories
, by ‘denying the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any Territory of the United States
,’ and by affirming, on Giddings
's motion, the maintenance of the principles of the Declaration of Independence
as ‘essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions.’
maintained, as was his habit, reserve as to the question of candidate, writing to E. L. Pierce
, April 20:—
I enjoyed your brother's speech and your article,—both excellent.
I can trust you at Chicago, for I know that you are true and earnest.
Should Seward be rejected there, I fear it will cause him a pang.
Douglas will not be put up at Charleston.
I long for Hunter.
Then will the question be fairly in issue,—on one side slavery, just, divine, permanent; on the other, unjust, barbarous, and to be abolished.
And again, May 4, he wrote to Mr. Pierce
, who sought his advice as a delegate elected to the Republican convention from C. F. Adams
's district, as follows:—
The Democratic party is a wreck bumping on the rocks, and must go to pieces.
This gives to us assurance of success.
If any have inclined to a candidate who did not completely represent our principles, he can find no excuse now.18 We can elect any man the convention at Chicago choose to nominate.
You know that I always keep aloof from personal questions.
I see no reason now to abandon my old rule.
I have absolute faith in your devotion to the cause, and do not doubt your firmness.
These may be needed.
Could I talk with you I should review the field with some detail.
I have had much pleasure in seeing Chase here.
He has noble faculties nobly dedicated.
God bless you!
In a letter to V. Fell
, 111., he wrote, March 27:
Among Republicans 1 hope no man will be accepted who is not emphatically, heart and soul, life and conversation, a representative man. Such a man must have been an old and constant servant of the cause.
Just before the convention met, Seward
went home to Auburn
, confident of his nomination and election.
him as he left the Senate chamber
and wrote to him, after the result at Chicago
, a letter of sympathy, to which Seward
replied in language showing how deeply he felt his disappointment.20
To his own household he confessed ‘his deposition as a leader, in the hour of organization for decisive battle,’ to be a ‘humiliation.’21
A few days after the convention he returned to Washington
His loss of the nomination bore an important relation to his whole subsequent career, during which he was found almost always, at critical moments, out of harmony with his party and with the antislavery cause, in the maintenance of which he had hitherto won his best fame.
appears to have had in mind, even before he became senator, a comprehensive treatment of American slavery, and a thorough exposition of its antagonism to Christianity and civilization, unembarrassed by the discussion of any pending measure.
He was prompted to meet the general issue at this time by the bolder attitude of Southern members of Congress during the session,—like Hammond
of South Carolina
and Jefferson Davis
,—who had not hesitated to defend the institution as a normal condition of society, beneficial to both races, even ennobling to the white race, and the just basis of republican government; presenting an attitude altogether changed from that of Southern statesmen at the close of the last and during the first third of the present century, who confined themselves to apologies and regrets.
was then the Democratic
leader of the Senate, and his resolutions, which he introduced February 2, affirming the sanctity of slave property in the territories, were passed May 24 and 25 by a vote of two to one; his resolution approving the fugitive-slave acts, and denouncing the personal liberty laws of the States, being passed by a vote of thirty-six to six,—all having been previously approved by a caucus of the Democratic
defended at length, May 15 and 16, against Davis
, his ‘popular sovereignty’ idea and his political position; but intense as was the undercurrent of his personal feeling towards the Southern
leaders who were wrecking his plans of ambition, his gentle and conciliatory manner towards them was in contrast with his former treatment of antislavery senators like Chase
in the Kansas
The debate at this stage had in view the disruption of the Democratic party at Charleston
on the issue of Douglas
thought the time had come to meet in the Senate these audacious assumptions once for all, and to treat with absolute plainness and directness of language the principle, motive, and character of slavery, and its baleful effects as seen in the practices of slaveholders and the habits of slave society,—each statement to be supported by facts, the whole to be an argument which would defy answer at the time, or in any future discussion in Congress or elsewhere.24
It was in his mind to show to the country and mankind that what the pro-slavery party vaunted as the finest product of civilization was none other than essential barbarism.
No such speech had as yet been made by any statesman; no one in Congress, not even Sumner
himself, had hitherto attempted more than to treat the institution as related to a pending measure, or incidentally to emphasize one or more of its features.
An assault on American slavery all along the lines in the Senate, where it was most strongly intrenched, required courage and rare equipment at all points in moral and political philosophy, in history and law. Such a treatment of the subject was, however, not at the time agreeable to Republican politicians; they feared, sincerely enough, that it would repel voters in doubtful States, who, though not yet antislavery by conviction, were, on the break — up of the Whig
parties, inclined to vote for Mr. Lincoln
as the only way of defeating their old opponents, the Democrats.
Others of conservative temper thought it would irritate Southern men without converting them, and perhaps drive them to unite their distracted voters or to resist the government in case of Republican success.
Some who doubted the policy of the speech admitted Sumner
's right to make it, in view of what he had suffered from the barbarism of
slavery,—making a similar apology for a speech in the House
by Owen Lovejoy
, brother of the abolitionist killed at Alton
had his own view of the historic conflict.
To him it was ‘no holiday contest,’ but ‘a solemn battle between right and wrong, between good and evil,’ in which the deepest emotions of human nature were marshalled; in which courage, pertinacity, and devotion on the one side must be confronted by like courage, pertinacity, and devotion on the other.
To him the transcendent issue was between slavery and freedom; and whether settled in debate or civil war, it was not to be put aside by any considerations of fear or policy.
Always, until the last slave became a freeman, he insisted that this issue should be supreme and constantly present in the public mind.
began to gather the materials for his speech soon after the holidays, and gave it the title of ‘The Barbarism of Slavery.’26
bill for the admission of Kansas
, with a constitution prohibiting slavery, which had been framed by a territorial convention and ratified by the people, was pending in the Senate, where its defeat was assured by the determination of the Administration senators not to allow the increase of the Republican
electoral vote which would result from its passage.
The senators availed themselves of the debate on this bill to make political speeches which attracted attention only from the public interest in the speakers themselves.
The day set apart for Sumner
was Monday, June 4.27
He entered the chamber a few moments before the time assigned for the Kansas
He had with him his speech in print, thinking it best to rely on his notes and avoid the strain of trusting only to the memory.
The audience in the galleries was not large, as the interest in the debate on slavery had been transferred from Congress to the country.28
, during the morning
hour called Fitzpatrick
to the chair.
, as soon as the Kansas
bill was called up, took the floor and proceeded with his speech, reading from the printed slips with his usual fulness of voice, strong and resonant, but without any attempt at oratorical effect.
His mind was not on senators and visitors present, but on the millions who were to be reached by the printed speech.
At the beginning, in a passage listened to with impressive silence, he spoke of his long absence from the Senate in search of health, of his gratitude to the Supreme Being
for his restoration, and of the tombs29
which had opened in the interval of four years since his last speech in the Senate on the same theme.
He avowed his purpose to expose with all plainness the character of slavery, putting his argument not merely on the political grounds to which some had seen fit by express disclaimer to limit their contention, but as well on all others,—social, economical, and moral,—justifying himself in this respect by the habitual assumption of the defenders of slavery, who now more than ever, even in the Senate, maintained its conformity with reason, religion, and patriotism.
‘There is,’ said he, ‘austere work to be done, and freedom cannot consent to fling away any of her weapons. . Idolatry has been exposed in the presence of idolaters, and hypocrisy chastised in the presence of Scribes and Pharisees.’
He then proceeded with his argument, which in form was more like a tract than a forensic effort.
He showed the barbarism of slavery in five essential elements,—its conversion of a human being into a chattel or piece of property, to be the subject of ownership and alienation; its abrogation of marriage, and of the parental relation; its exclusion of slaves from knowledge, under severe and inhuman penalties; and, finally, its appropriation of their labor,—these all being, not abuses as often claimed, but elements of the system necessary for the one main purpose of compelling the labor of fellow-men without wages.
He showed how the American
system rejected the alleviations of other systems of slavery.
Then followed a review of the practical results of slavery, as shown in the tardy growth of the slave States, their inferiority in production, in education, in invention, in internal improvements, in institutions of learning and charity, in the manifold appliances of civilization,—all attested by figures.
The character of slavery was exhibited in
its effect on slave-masters, begetting violent passions, and extinguishing the nobler and gentler instincts of humanity, particularly in their quick resort to violence, both against slaves and the friends of slaves,—an effect of the institution which had been often noted by philosophic writers and confessed by slaveholders themselves.
Further proof was given by the slave codes, which, whatever might be the eminence of individual virtue, were faithful witnesses of the average condition of society; by advertisements for runaway slaves, suggestive of cruelty and lust, and admitted even into reputable journals; by the three congenial agents of slavery,—‘the slave-overseer, the slavebreeder, and the slave-hunter;’ the treatment of the friends of slaves, even when, like Samuel Hoar
, they bore the commission of States; the duels and street-fights common where slavery exists; the frequent resort of slaveholding members of Congress to violence,—using pistols on the floor and challenging to the duel, with their defence of such methods in cool harangues.
He treated the sophistries of the advocates of slavery, which had been reaffirmed during the session with greater audacity than ever before, that slaves were property which the masters had the right under the Constitution
to carry to and hold in the Territories
, with no power in Congress or the people thereof to interfere; and that the slavery of the African race was justified, as Jefferson Davis
had maintained, by its inferiority and by the curse of Ham
. Again, as in previous speeches, he held up the Constitution
as pure from all recognition of property in man, and instinct with liberty, neither carrying slavery into the Territories
of its own force, nor authorizing any power, national or local, to establish it in them.
He rejected as unworthy of serious consideration ‘the popular sovereignty’ dogma of Douglas
, that it was the right of the people of a Territory ‘to vote slavery up or to vote it down,’—calling it ‘a delusive phrase,’ ‘a plausible nickname,’ ‘a device of politicians,’ and bidding him, as its boldest defender if not inventor, when encountering the ingratitude of those he had served, to
remember Milo's end,
Wedged in that timber which he strove to rend.
More than once on this occasion, as on others, Sumner
recognized the distinction between the enormity of the system and
the character and responsibility of individual slaveholders; but he did not emphasize it. In private life no one was more charitable than he in judgments of persons; and when slavery fell with the Civil War
, no one desired more than he that the passions of the conflict should cease altogether,—but he did not regard this as a fit time to weaken his argument by disclaimers and qualifications.
In his ‘sacred animosity,’—a phrase of his own,—he was justified by the example of prophets, Christian fathers, and the reformers of the sixteenth century.30
There was now no disposition among the Southern
men, at least among members of Congress, to resort again to violence; but there appeared to be an understanding on the part of the Democratic
senators to treat Sumner
's speech with contempt or offensive indifference.
Some kept away from their seats; others rose to leave as he began; coming in later, they talked audibly with one another, gathering in groups; they were noisy in the space outside the desks, or in adjacent rooms, and indulged in derisive laughter.
stopped, signifying that he was disturbed; and Fitzpatrick
, still in the chair, called for order, but in a tone and manner that showed his sympathy with the disorderly senators.
This air of indifference was observed by some of the spectators to be unreal.31
The most offensive figure of all was Wigfall
, ill-favored by nature and not improved by art, who kept walking about, and doing his best to disconcert the speaker by looks and attitudes.
, as usual, listened with respect, and maintained the decorum which becomes a senator.
, who thought to avert the dread issue by compromise, sat in front of Sumner
, with eyes steadily fixed on him, and anxious countenance, as if imploring him to desist, and not make a peaceful settlement between North and South impossible.32
The Republican senators, generally in their seats, listened with respect; but excepting perhaps Preston
, all, or nearly all, would have preferred that the speech should not have been made at that time.33
Chestnut of South Carolina
with an outbreak of coarseness and brutality, which began with a sneer at his sufferings, and ended with a disclaimer of any intended violence to him, which would only make him still more an idol at the North
's only rejoinder was that he should print Chestnut
's speech as another illustration of his argument.
‘I hope he will do it,’ said Hammond
Other senators were silent, and the Senate adjourned.
The Kansas bill was laid aside the next day after brief speeches on the boundaries of the proposed State, and one by Wigfall
on the general question, without reply or allusion to the speech of the day before.
's was the last speech on American slavery made in Congress.35
It was fitting that he should close the debate.
During the speech, which lasted four hours, Sumner
's voice lost nothing in power, and he was not conscious of weariness at the end. The Senate adjourning a few moments after he closed, he walked to his lodgings along Pennsylvania Avenue, a full mile, with friends, who insisted on accompanying him,—Wilson and Burlingame
walking, one on each side, and E. L. Pierce
following a step behind.36
There was talk of violence in barrooms and similar resorts in Washington
, but the only overt act was the intrusion of a Southern man four days after into Sumner
's lodgings, who was offensive in speech and manner, and signified his purpose to come again.
's friends,— among them Wilson
, and A. B. Johnson
, --took precautions, though not at Sumner
's instance, and even
against his protest.37
He notified Wilson
of what had occurred, but he called upon no one to defend him, and took no part in the arrangements made by others for his protection.
He particularly chafed at the guarding of his apartment at night by friends who persisted in remaining in it. The time for violence in Congress, however, had passed.
The advanced Southern men of the South Carolina
type, who conceived and executed the previous assault, were now busy with plots for secession and rebellion, and contemplated without passion a speech which, as they hoped, would help to make their cause the cause of all slaveholders whose system, habits, and methods it had assailed.
's speech drew public attention more than any made in Congress or elsewhere during the year.
It was printed entire in the leading newspapers of the great cities East and West, and was issued in several pamphlet editions, one of which had the sanction of the National Republican committee.38
Whether regarded as timely or not, it was accepted as an exhaustive exposition of American slavery altogether unmatched in our history.
The antislavery people, those who had been Abolitionists or Free Soilers, read the speech with profound satisfaction, welcoming, it as the most masterly and comprehensive statement of their cause ever made,39
and approving most of all its moral inspiration and its arraignment of slavery on fundamental grounds of reason, humanity, and religion, which certain Republican leaders were taking pains to avoid; and they counted on it as likely to be a potent force in securing the fruits of Republican success in the election.
In hundreds of letters coming day after day from all parts of the free States, they expressed to the author their satisfaction that he was again in the Senate, with full vigor and unterrified spirit, where he had put the great cause in the foreground by a statement as timely as it was thorough; and with tender devotion, even with religious pathos, they told of their confidence in his character, their interest in his career, their admiration of his courage, their gratitude to God for his
recovery from the assassin's blow.
In no statesman's correspondence have there ever been such tributes from the heart.40
As in the Senate, so also among Republican politicians, there was anxiety as to the effect of the speech on voters who without antislavery convictions were likely to act with the Republicans in the election at hand.
Some journals professed to fear that it would hinder the admission of Kansas
as a free State,41
— an event altogether impossible with the Senate constituted as it then was. Others thought it better to limit the argument to an exposition of the constitutional heresies of the pro-slavery party.42
These Republican criticisms were, however, confined chiefly to the commercial centres of the Eastern States
; elsewhere the Republican
journals justified the speech as required by the turn which the Southern
leaders had given to the discussion.43
A reception awaited the speech in England
similar to that which it had met here.
The London Times, already strongly pro-slavery, condemned it; while antislavery journals, as the ‘Daily News,’ the ‘Morning Star,’ and the ‘Morning Advertiser
,’ as fully approved.44
Punch gave it a hearty assent, and
in public letters expressed her cordial sympathy with its scope and spirit.45
As the agitation went on in the summer
,—the profoundest and most universal in our history,—the people of the free States, it was found, were feeling and thinking as Sumner
thought and felt; and the discussion broadened beyond the precise point in issue,—the extension of slavery into the Territories
,—and embraced the character and history of slavery and the supremacy of the slave-power in the national government.
It came to pass that Sumner
's speech was read beyond that of any other statesman; and the call for his voice in different States was most urgent, even from politicians skilled in feeling the public pulse and concerned chiefly for an immediate effect.
It was seen that he had awakened the enthusiasm of the antislavery men by his effectual resistance to the tendency to lower the standard of principle for the sake of success, and by lifting the cause far above ordinary politics, where others had been too apt to place it.46
Shortly after the session closed he stood before an immense audience in the city of New York
, where he was received and successively interrupted with bursts of applause accorded to no orator in the campaign except perhaps to Mr. Seward
, during the latter's remarkable progress in the West
The Republican managers of the State
, Simeon Draper
, and D. C. Littlejohn
,—the general committee of the party as well as local committees, pleaded with him to speak in its leading cities.47
Similar applications, pressed with great urgency, were made from Illinois
by E. B. Washburne
, N. B. Judd
, I. N. Arnold
, Herman Kreissman
, and Owen Lovejoy
; from Maine
by Mr. Hamlin
, the candidate for Vice-President
, and Mr. Fessenden
the senator; and from Ohio
by the State
His colleague, Wilson
, who was omnipresent in the campaign, and intensely alive to all its necessities, besought him to speak several times in the States of New Jersey
and New York, as also in the two congressional districts of Boston
, where the union of all the opponents of the Republicans had put in peril the election of two members of the
The appeals from other States laid emphasis on the belief that no other speaker could arouse so well the antislavery men to put forth their utmost efforts.
After all, Sumner
, as it proved, was wiser in his instincts than others in their political craft.
No good cause ever suffers from courage in its defence.
He who makes it grander in the eyes of men does more for it than the most dexterous management can accomplish.
The gathering hosts of freemen craved inspiration, and they found it in Sumner
His prophet-like voice was needed to steady a movement which was in no small danger of shipwreck.
Six months had hardly passed before certain Republican leaders became compromisers with slavery; and it was not their steadfastness or wisdom, but the madness of the South
, which saved the country from the calamity of an antislavery triumph being converted into a new surrender to the slave-power.
Immediately after his speech Sumner
accepted the invitation of the Young Men
's Republican Union of the city of New York
, given some months before, to deliver an address at Cooper Institute.
He had withheld an answer until he should have tested his strength in the Senate.
He lingered after the close of the session (June 28) a few days at Washington
, and on his way homeward delivered the address July 11, taking for his topic ‘The Origin, Necessity, and Permanence of the Republican Party.’48
His last previous appearance before a popular audience was in 1855, when he spoke on a kindred topic, ‘The Necessity, Practicability, and Dignity of the Antislavery Enterprise
The address, opening with a contrast between John C. Calhoun
and John Quincy Adams
as historical representatives of opposite principles and policies, was in the line of his recent speech in the Senate, and reaffirmed the same positions in more popular form, with less amplification and citation of authorities and statistics.
It was already in type before delivery, and so well fixed in his memory that he had no occasion to recur to the manuscript.
There was a prodigious desire to hear him. Since he had last spoken in the city, he had become associated with an extraordinary event in the history of American slavery; and recent criticisms of his speech in the Senate had intensified the popular interest.
Cooper Institute was crowded with all that was best in the life
of New York,49
the stage being occupied by distinguished citizens, and ladies filling one section reserved for them.
There was not a vacant place in the vast hall,—the scene presented being so different from ordinary political meetings in the city in the quality of the audience as to suggest to an eye-witness that it was more like a great concert or festival.
The enthusiasm as he came upon the platform was universal and intense, and so prolonged that the managers were obliged for some moments to delay the proceedings.
It continued to the end, breaking out from time to time in loud applause followed by perfect silence.
His voice, it was observed, was heard in the most distant part of the hall, showing the fulness of his renewed strength.
The accounts in unsympathetic as well as friendly journals united in describing a scene which has had few parallels in the history of the city.50
The Republican journals of the city which had taken exception to the timeliness of Sumner
's speech in the Senate refrained from any similar comments on his New York address (although the speech and the address were of like purport), and the notices in their columns contained only praise.
the reception which the speech had met with from the people, and the extraordinary welcome accorded to its author at Cooper Institute, had cleared the vision of the critics.
The address reached the American
public through various channels,—a full report in the four morning journals of the city and in newspapers of other cities, a pamphlet edition of fifty thousand copies issued by the association at whose instance it was delivered, and an edition of ten thousand copies issued by the Republican State committee of New York.
promptly wrote from Auburn
: ‘Your speech in every part is noble and great.
Even you never spoke so well.’
This and Sumner
's later address at Worcester
he called ‘masterpieces.’51
, as usual, was more sensitive than he need to have been to the criticisms of old friends like Greeley
, and to the want of response from others; and in a letter to
, June 11, he mentioned how much he missed Horace Mann
, William Jay
, and Theodore Parker
, all recently deceased, of whose sympathy he was always assured.
But the popular approval he received was all he could desire.
He wrote, September 2, to R. Schleiden
: ‘Meanwhile the good cause advances.
stands better, fairer, and squarer than ever before.’
was not altogether sure when the session began how much he could bear.
He wrote to Whittier
, Dec. 12, 1859:—
At last I am well again, with only the natural solicitude as to the effect of work, and the constant pressure of affairs on a system which is not yet hardened and annealed.
My physician enjoins for the present caution and a gradual resumption of my old activities.
But his speech in the Senate in the June following, and his address at Cooper Institute the next month, gave assurance of established vitality and endurance.
He wrote, August 6, 1860, to Dr. Brown
The speech in the Senate will be evidence to you of the completeness of my convalescence.
Besides the delivery, which occupied between four and five hours, there was much labor of preparation.
All this I went through without one touch of my old perverse complaints; and then a short time afterwards I addressed three thousand people in New York for two hours without any sensation beyond that of simple fatigue.
I think you will agree that the experiment has at last been most successfully made, and my cure completely established. Sumner
spoke at the Republican
State convention in Worcester
, August 29.52
It was his first appearance in such a body since he was present at the same place six years before, as well as his first opportunity to meet the people of the Commonwealth
since his return to his duties.
Hearty cheers greeted him as he entered Mechanics' Hall, and enthusiastic shouts, continuing for some minutes, hailed him as he took the platform.
The chief feature of his address was a description of the different parties, and an exposure of the ‘popular sovereignty dodge’ which Douglas
had espoused, without however being loyal to it when pressed by his Southern allies.
In this as in other speeches during the campaign he expressed cordial trust in Mr. Lincoln
He was happy to witness in the same convention the first nomination of John A. Andrew
for governor, with whom
he had been in confidential relations both as antislavery men and lawyers at No. 4 Court Street.
He addressed two mass meetings in the open air,—one, September 18, at Myrick
's station, in the southern part of the State
, where he considered briefly the traditions of Massachusetts
as devoted to education and freedom, closing with a warm tribute to Mr. Andrew
an another, October 11, at Framingham
where he treated the successive threats of disunion which had come from the slave States whenever their purposes were opposed,—maintaining that the people should stand firmly by the cause of freedom against such menaces, whether uttered at the South
or repeated at the North
In October, from their home, illuminated for the occasion, he witnessed, with his mother beside him, a. long procession of Republican ‘Wide-Awakes,’55
which, as it passed down Hancock Street, saluted them with repeated cheers.
Later in the campaign he delivered in Fitchburg
, and repeated in Worcester
, a speech on the ‘popular sovereignty’ dogma,—a doctrine which admitted the right of the settlers of a territory to establish slavery in it, and showed how such a doctrine, if adopted early in our history, would have largely increased the number of slave States.56
Started by Cass
as a device for evading the issue in Congress between freedom and slavery, it had been substantially adopted by Eli Thayer
, the Republican
member of Congress for the Worcester District
, now seeking a re-election as an independent candidate against Mr. Bailey
, who had been nominated by the Republicans.
The contest promised to be a close one, and Sumner
's speech was thought by those most intimately concerned to have insured Mr. Thayer
One journal in Boston
printed an edition of twelve thousand copies for distribution in the district.
received grateful notes from Mr. Bailey
, and also from Mr. Dawes
, who was to be his successor in the Senate.
R. H. Dana, Jr.
, thought the speech ‘excellent, temperate in personam
, and strong in rem
On the Saturday
before the election he spoke briefly at Salem
for the re-election of John B. Alley
and on the evening before the election he took the chair at Faneuil Hall, where in a brief speech he recognized in a Republican victory a radical change
in our history, making ‘not only a new President
, but a new government,’58
and commended for support the two candidates for Congress from Boston
,—Burlingame and Alexander H. Rice
, the former of whom, however, failed of an election.59
On all these occasions he was received with every mark of popular affection and confidence.
's activity in the canvass of 1860 was confined to Massachusetts
, and he withstood solicitations to speak elsewhere.60
His thoughts were fully before the public in his speech in the Senate and his address at Cooper Institute; and, as already indicated, he had come to value far more the effect of an argument on the public mind as widely distributed in the public journals than as delivered from the platform before a limited number of people.
He wrote to a friend in New York, just before delivering his address in that city, ‘My hope is through the press to speak to the whole country.’
received in Massachusetts
one hundred and six thousand votes; Douglas
, thirty-four thousand; Bell
, twenty-two thousand; and Breckinridge
, six thousand.
In the electoral colleges Lincoln
received one hundred and eighty votes; Breckinridge
, seventy-two; Bell
, thirty-nine; and Douglas
in the South
were divided between Douglas
In the North
the rump of the Whig
party—those antipathetic to antislavery sentiments—supported Bell
; and their leaders in Massachusetts
were chiefly the old opponents of the Conscience Whigs
, G. T. Curtis
, and Hillard
The Whig conservatism of Boston
had been broken up; but a remnant of five thousand votes was given in the city for Bell
, principally cast by voters having a mercantile interest or connection, while the masses gave nearly ten thousand votes for Lincoln
, and divided five thousand between the two Democratic candidates, Douglas
prepared in the autumn, as a lyceum lecture, a tribute to Lafayette
, in which, with a view to arrest a tendency to compromise which he foresaw was at hand, he brought into prominence Lafayette
's constant testimony against American slavery, and his fidelity to liberty from youth to age. It contains eloquent passages, and the whole is marked by a cadence and resonance of style, and a sympathy with noble lives, which recall his earlier commemoration of Channing
It was delivered once before the election in Boston
October 1, and after the election at Concord
, where he was Emerson
's guest, and also at Providence
; and on each of these three occasions he was waited upon after his return from the hall by companies of ‘Wide-Awakes,’ to whom he replied with counsels for moderation in victory, and also for firm resistance to menaces of disunion.63
Leaving home for Washington
November 27, Sumner
stopped in New York to repeat his lecture at Cooper Institute, where, with Mr. Bryant
in the chair, it was received with the same favor as his address in the summer at the same place.64
Near the end of December, during the recess of Congress, he repeated it in Philadelphlia.65
It was his first public appearance in that city, and nothing could exceed his welcome as expressed in a packed house and most enthusiastic reception.
Among pleasant incidents of the summer
were visits for the day to Mr.Adams
and Mrs. Adams
, and a visit to John M. Forbes
took part in the festivities in honor of the Prince
, who was in Boston
in October, being present at the collation at the State House
, a musical jubilee at the Music Hall
, and a reception at Harvard College, and also being selected by General Bruce
as one of the party to accompany the prince to Portland
on his day of sailing.66
He was pleased to find his brother George, now in full sympathy with his own views, at last taking part in public work, speaking for the first time in a political campaign.
One day he sought Mount Auburn
, lately unfamiliar to him, and wrote to William Story, August 10:—
Yesterday I was at Mount Auburn, especially to see the statues in the chapel.
I had not been there for years.
I was pleased with them all; but yours [of Judge Story] seemed to me more beautiful than ever, both as portrait and as art. I doubt if there be a finer statue in existence.
The grounds about are well filled with marbles and stones, such as they are; but the chief ornament was the trees and shrubbery, which were beautiful.
By the side of your family were flowers showing constant care.
A note to Dr. Palfrey
, October 14, relates to a book included in his diversions:—
I have just read the most masterly, learned, profound, and multum in parvo survey of the reign of Charles II., by Buckle.
I think it cannot fail to interest you. Here are Evelyn, Pepys, Macaulay, and one hundred others, all in their essence.
End of vol.