Chapter 43: return to the Senate.—‘the barbarism of slavery.’—Popular welcomes.—Lincoln's election.—1859-1860.

Sumner 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

Capitol, 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 and Oregon had been added to the sisterhood of States, forever destroying the balance between freedom and slavery in the Senate; the memorable debate in Illinois between Douglas and Lincoln had taken place, in [600] 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 and Douglas, 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, Douglas, Slidell, Polk, 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 [601] 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. Seward, 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,7 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 [602] Mr. Schleiden, slight as was the sympathy of that minister with the antislavery movement.

Sumner 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 [603] 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. Mason, 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 as President, 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 for [604] President and Edward Everett for Vice-President. 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, Pennsylvania, Indiana, 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.’ Sumner 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, Bloomington, 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. Sumner accompanied [605] him as he left the Senate chamber,19 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.22 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.

Sumner 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, Hunter and Mason of Virginia, Brown and Jefferson Davis of Mississippi,—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. Davis 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 senators.23 [606] Douglas 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 and Sumner in the Kansas contest. The debate at this stage had in view the disruption of the Democratic party at Charleston on the issue of Douglas's candidacy.

Sumner 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 and American 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 [607] slavery,—making a similar apology for a speech in the House by Owen Lovejoy, brother of the abolitionist killed at Alton.25 But Sumner 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.

Sumner began to gather the materials for his speech soon after the holidays, and gave it the title of ‘The Barbarism of Slavery.’26 The House 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 bill. 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 The Vice-President, Breckinridge, during the morning [608] hour called Fitzpatrick of Alabama to the chair. Sumner, 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 [609] 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 [610] 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. Once Sumner 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 of Texas, 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. Hunter, as usual, listened with respect, and maintained the decorum which becomes a senator. Crittenden, 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 [611] King, all, or nearly all, would have preferred that the speech should not have been made at that time.33 Chestnut of South Carolina followed Sumner 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.34 Sumner'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. Sumner'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. Sumner's friends,— among them Wilson, Burlingame, Sherman, and A. B. Johnson, --took precautions, though not at Sumner's instance, and even [612] 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.

Sumner'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 [613] 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 [614] Miss Martineau in public letters expressed her cordial sympathy with its scope and spirit.45

As the agitation went on in the summer and autumn,—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,—Thurlow Weed, 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 committee. 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 [615] House. 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's leadership. 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 [616] 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. Seward 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

Sumner, as usual, was more sensitive than he need to have been to the criticisms of old friends like Greeley and Bryant, and to the want of response from others; and in a letter to [617] Gerrit Smith, 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. Massachusetts stands better, fairer, and squarer than ever before.’ Sumner 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-Sequard:—

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's character. He was happy to witness in the same convention the first nomination of John A. Andrew for governor, with whom [618] 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;53 an another, October 11, at Framingham,54 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 and Douglas 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's defeat. One journal in Boston printed an edition of twelve thousand copies for distribution in the district. Sumner 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 to Congress;57 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 [619] 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.

Sumner'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.’

Lincoln 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, twelve. The Unionists in the South were divided between Douglas and Bell. In the North the rump of the Whig party—those antipathetic to antislavery sentiments—supported Bell and Everett; and their leaders in Massachusetts were chiefly the old opponents of the Conscience Whigs,—Winthrop, Eliot, Stevenson, G. T. Curtis, Walley, and Hillard.61 The Whig conservatism of Boston had been broken up; but a remnant of five thousand votes was given in the city for Bell and Everett, 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 and Breckinridge. [620]

Sumner 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 and Story.62 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 Lowell; 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 and autumn were visits for the day to Mr.Adams and Mrs. Adams at Quincy, and a visit to John M. Forbes at Naushon. Sumner took part in the festivities in honor of the Prince of Wales, 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 [621] 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. III.

1 Admitted in January, 1861, on the withdrawal of senators from seceding States.

2 Von Hoist, vol. VI. pp. 177-179, 193-197, 324, 328.

3 As to the military preparations at the South, see speeches of Miles in the House, Jan. 6, 1860; Van Wyck, March 7; and Mason in the Senate, March 1. Von Hoist, vol. VII. pp. 111-114, 366 note. Nicolay and Hay's ‘Life of Lincoln,’ vol. II. pp. 300, 333.

4 As to the military preparations at the South, see speeches of Miles in the House, Jan. 6, 1860; Van Wyck, March 7; and Mason in the Senate, March 1. Von Hoist, vol. VII. pp. 111-114, 366 note. Nicolay and Hay's ‘Life of Lincoln,’ vol. II. pp. 300, 333.

5 Sumner wrote to Whittier, Jan. 27, 1860: ‘Society is dislocated; the diplomats cannot give a dinner without studying their lists as a protocol.’

6 1817-1887. He was in Washington from 1858 to 1865.

7 Mr. Schleiden has for several years lived in Freiburg in Baden, where the writer had the pleasure of meeting him in 1889.

8 Among entertainments given by Mr. Schleiden was a dinner, two days before Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, to the diplomatic corps, when Seward and Sumner had seats together at the table.

9 March 3, 1860. Works, vol. IV. pp. 417-423.

10 The Duke of Argyll, whose home at Kensington was very near Macaulay's, wrote Sumner an account of the historian's last days; the duchess added a note, recalling how heartily he grasped Sumner's hand at their last meeting at Argyll Lodge. Motley wrote Sumner, Jan. 2, 1860: ‘Do you remember the breakfast at Holly Lodge? This was the last time we had any of us the pleasure of meeting Macaulay, I believe. I am sure it was the last time that I saw him, and I am not likely to forget it very soon. Do you remember how gay and amusing he was after breakfast, in his library,—repeating ballads from Mother Goose, and quoting stanzas from Dante's Inferno in the same breath, and fighting Monckton Milnes about German poetry? Well, in that very room, and in the very arm-chair in which he then sat, he breathed his last, on Wednesday evening last, 28 December.’

11 While at home he was presented by James Freeman Clarke, George W. Bond. and others with an interesting souvenir,—a dessert service of knives and forks once belonging to Lajos Batthyanyi, the Hungarian patriot.

12 Among bills and resolutions offered by him, not elsewhere noted, were these: for the substitution of simple declarations for custom-house oaths (Works, vol. IV. p. 441): for the promotion of the safety of passengers on steamers between New York and San Francisco (Works, vol. IV. p. 455); for limiting the liability of shipowners; for preventing violence and crime on board of the merchant marine; for abolishing the discrimination between citizens and foreigners in office-fees on the issue of patents; for preventing the abuse of seamen's protections; for raising to a higher grade the mission to Sardinia, the last being reported by him from his committee.

13 March 12 and June 15, 1860. (Works, vol. IV. pp. 426-440.) The Republican senators were divided as to the question of the Senate's jurisdiction. Generally those from New England agreed with Sumner, but Fessenden disagreed with them; Seward (lid not vote. Samuel E. Sewall and John A. Andrew were Hyatt's counsel. Andrew testified before the committee, and his manly bearing attracted public attention.

14 April 10, 13, and 16, 1860. Works, vol. IV. pp. 445-451.

15 Works, vol. v. pp. 176-187. His effort to obtain a reference of antislavery petitions failed April 18, 1860. Works, vol. IV. pp. 452-454.

16 Works, vol. v. pp. 188, 189.

17 In the Charleston convention Butler voted for Jefferson Davis for President, and was the Breckinridge candidate for governor of Massachusetts, in the autumn.

18 Von Holst, vol. VII. p. 170.

19 Wilson's ‘Rise and Fall of the Slave Power,’ vol. II. p. 695.

20 C. F. Adams replied to the writer's request for his opinion as to the candidate, stating that he preferred another nomination than that of Seward, who was his first choice, if the latter was found after conference not likely to carry the doubtful Northern States. This letter should be compared with some passages of its author's eulogy on Seward at Albany in April, 1873. See Von Holst, vol. VII. p. 163.

21 Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 454.

22 Just after the writer's return from Chicago, he dined at Adams's in company with Seward and Sumner, and at Seward's in company with Sumner. The dinner at Adams's is noted in Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 456.

23 Douglas was kept from the Senate by illness on the days of voting. His ally, Pugh, voted with the Democratic senators for all but the territorial resolution.

24 He had emphasized the importance of such a full development of the subject in Congress before he had any expectation of being a senator. Ante, pp. 157, 212; Dr. H. I. Bowditch's letter to Sumner, June 26, 1860.

25 John Bigelow of the ‘Evening Post,’ who was more in sympathy with Sumner's views than his associates Bryant and Godwin, wrote, June 27, that while appreciating ‘the doubt whether such a speech might not inflame the hostility of the enemies of freedom more than the enthusiasm of its friends,’ he did not think a different treatment of the subject could reasonably be expected from its author.

26 Works, vol. v. pp. 1-174.

27 Green of Missouri, to whom the floor had been previously assigned, gracefully yielded it to him.

28 The account of the scene is compiled from letters to newspapers. Boston Traveller, June 9, by E. L. Pierce; Boston Journal, June 6, by B. P. Poore; BostonAtlas and Bee,’ June 11, by James Parker; New York Independent, June 14, by D. W. Bartlett; New York Tribune, June 5; New York Evening Post, June 5 and 7; Chautauqua (N. Y.) Democrat, June 13; Iowa City Republican, June 20. W. M. Dickson, of the Cincinnati bar, gave a vivid description of the scene, several years later, in a letter to the writer, and afterwards published it in the Cincinnati Commercial, Nov. 28, 1877.

29 An allusion to the death of Brooks and Butler.

30 Milton justified ‘a sanctified bitterness against the enemies of truth.’ Whittier wrote of the speech: ‘There is something really awful in its Rhadamanthine severity of justice; but it was needed.’ Felton, on the other hand, in a friendly letter to Sumner, took exception to it as harsh and too sweeping in its treatment of slaveholding society.

31 In this description Mr. Dickson's account is followed; but perhaps in some passages it may be colored too highly.

32 Of Southern members of the House who occupied vacant seats of senators were Curry of Alabama and Lamar of Mississippi, who were both thought by spectators to be enjoying ‘the classic and scholarly feast before them.’ Keitt, the accomplice of Brooks, sat awhile near Senator Hammond. Near Sumner sat Wilson (his colleague), Burlingame, and Lovejoy, and Senators Bingham and Preston King,—all ready to protect him. Seward and C. F. Adams were present a part of the time.

33 Few of them followed a custom among senators to subscribe for copies of the speech to be franked to their constituents. Seward, without expressly objecting to the speech, called it ‘elaborate, unsparing, and denunciatory.’ (Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 457.) His last adjective was misplaced.

34 Von Holst (vol. VII. p. 203) says: ‘No sooner was the speech ended than Chestnut gave an astounding illustration of the demoniacal power of the barbarism just alluded to. His reply occupied scarcely two minutes; but so enormous an amount of brutality and venomous vulgarity was condensed into the few sentences he uttered that the annals of Congress, rich as they are in such material, has nothing to match them.’

35 Two or three speeches of the ‘campaign’ style in the House, made within a week, do not seem to call for a qualification of this general statement. The character of slavery as an institution also came up incidentally in debates concerning emancipation during the Civil War.

36 Wilson was armed, as the writer observed at his room in the morning, and probably Burlingame was armed. Francis P. Blair, Sr., invited Sumner to be his guest at Silver Springs, but Sumner declined, wishing to be near the Capitol. At a reception the same evening at Mr. Blair's the speech was the principal topic of conversation.

37 Works, vol. v. pp. 127-129; Scribner's ‘Magazine,’ August, 1874, pp. 483-486; ‘Recollections of Charles Sumner,’ by A. B. Johnson; New York Evening Post. June 11; New York Herald, June 11; New York Tribune, June 11. The ‘Tribune's’ correspondent, June 5, thought that only prudence restrained the Southern party, as the speech was more severe than the one made in 1856.

38 Three years later an edition was issued with a dedication to young men, written by Sumner. Works, vol. VII. pp. 322-324.

39 New York Independent, June 14.

40 As many as two hundred and fifty approving letters came to Sumner within a month, and were placed among his files, from some of which extracts are given in notes to the speech. (Works, vol. v. pp. 146-174.) Among the writers were S. P. Chase, J. R. Giddings, Carl Schurz, George W. Julian, John Jay, William Curtis Noyes, Hiram Barney, Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, Gerrit Smith, Rev. George B. Cheever, Prof. Benjamin Silliman. J. Miller McKim, Frederick Douglass, John G. Whittier, Josiah Quincy (the elder), Rev. R. S. Storrs (the elder), Rev. John Pierpont, Rev. Henry M. Dexter, Prof. William S. Tyler, John A. Andrew, Francis W. Bird, Henry L. Pierce, Amasa Walker, Lydia Maria Child, Henry I. Bowditch, Neal Dow, and Chief-Justice John Appleton. The Legislature of Massachusetts, then in session, formally approved the speech in a resolution, in promoting the passage of which two members of the HouseJ. Q. A. Griffin and H. L. Pierce—took the lead.

41 New York Times, June 6; New York Tribune, June 5; New York Evening Post, June 5. This last journal qualified its criticism two days after, and afterwards (May 1, 1812, and again April 8, 1865) thought Sumner justified by what had occurred during the Civil War. The New York Tribune printed the speech in its weekly issue, read chiefly in the country, but withheld it from the daily. The New York Herald, June 5, 6, 7, 1860, made it conspicuous by sensational headings and comments, with the apparent purpose of inflaming the Southern mind and drawing away conservative people from the Republicans.

42 Boston Advertiser, June 6.

43 John Wentworth, of Chicago, treated it in his journal as ‘the embodiment of Republicanism.’

44 The Duke and Duchess of Argyll approved it, the former ‘not thinking it a bit too strong.’ The duchess reported Tennyson as warmly approving it, and saying, ‘I thought the most eloquent thing in the speech was the unspoken thing,—the silence about his own story.’

45 Miss Martineau's letters appeared in the New York ‘Antislavery Standard.’

46 Works, vol. v. p. 173. Candidates for Congress in close districts sought his approval; and he wrote some letters in their support, one being for James M. Ashley, who was running in Ohio in the Toledo district.

47 He was assured by Mr. Littlejohn that his name would bring thirty thousand people to the mass meeting at Owego.

48 Works, vol. v. pp. 191-229.

49 Notwithstanding a fee charged for admission as a contribution to political expenses, three thousand persons were present.

50 New York Herald, July 12; New York Tribune, July 12; New York Evening Post, July 12; New York Times, July 12. Works, vol. v. pp. 191-193.

51 Descriptions of Sumner as an orator, stating his peculiarities, were given by Theodore Tilton in the New York Independent, July 19, and by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe in the New York Tribune, November 16.

52 Works, vol. v. pp. 240-268.

53 Works, vol. v. pp. 273-287.

54 Works, vol. v. pp. 29.3-308.

55 These companies are described in Works, vol. v. p. 344.

56 Works, vol. v. pp. 309-337.

57 Atlas and Bee, November 6.

58 Works, vol. v. pp. 338-347; Atlas and Bee, November 6.

59 Mr. Burlingame's defeat, which Sumner deeply regretted (Works, vol. v. pp. 348, 349), led to a new career,—his appointment by Mr. Lincoln as Minister to China, and his subsequent diplomatic service for the Chinese Empire, in which he died, Feb. 23, 1870, at St. Petersburg, at the age of forty-nine.

60 Letters declining to speak at meetings are found in Works, vol. v. pp. 190, 230, 231, 234, 269, 271.

61 Some of these leaders are described in the New York Tribune; September 17, and the BostonAtlas and Bee,’ September 28. Felton, at this time President of Harvard College, and George Ticknor voted for Bell and Everett.

62 1 Works, vol. v. p. 369-429. The lecture was printed at New York in pamphlet from a reporter's notes, without the author's revision. It was rewritten and repeated in 1870 at many places in the Western as well as Eastern States.

63 Works, vol. v. pp. 344-347, 350-356. The lecture was repeated the same autumn at other places,—as Foxborough and Woonsocket, R. I., and New Haven, Conn.

64 The passage which held up Lafayette as steadfast against compromise was greeted with nine cheers. Weed's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 308.

65 After accepting the invitation, he refused to appear in consequence of a caution from the managers to avoid the slavery question ‘in the present excited state of the public mind’ but he reconsidered his refusal on the caution being withdrawn. (Works, vol. v. pp. 430-432.) A special police force was on hand to prevent disturbance.

66 Sumner contributed articles to the Boston Transcript, October 15 and 16, on the Duke of Kent's visit to Boston in 1794, and on the Prince of Wales and his suite.

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