OCR Interpretation

Chicago daily tribune. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.) 1872-1963, May 02, 1874, Image 3

Image and text provided by Library of Congress, Washington, DC

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84031492/1874-05-02/ed-1/seq-3/

What is OCR?

Thumbnail for 3

A Magnificent Tribute -to. tbo
Memory of the Massachu
setts Senator,
The Career of the Great Cham
pion of Freedom.
Analysis of His Character, and Sum
mary of His Work.
FnU Text of tUo Oration Delivered
at Boston ou Wednesday
When tho nows went forth, “Charles Sumner
Is dead," a tromorof strange emotion was felt all
over (Ireland. It was as if a magnificent star, a
star unlike all others, which tho living genera
tion had boon wont to behold fixed and immova
ble above thotr heads, had all at once disappear
ed from tho sky, and tho people stared into tho
froat void darkened by tbo sudden absence of
tho familiar light.
On tho IClh of March a funeral procession
passed through tho streets of Boston. Uncount
ed thousands of men, women, and children had
assembled to boo it. No uncommon pageant had
attracted them; no military parade with glitter
ing uniforms and gay banners; no pompous ar
ray of dignitaries In official robes; nothing but
carriages, and a hcarso with a coffin, and in it
the corpse of Charles Sumner. But tboro they
stood, —& multitude immeasurable to tho eye,
rich and poor, white and black, old and young,—
In grave and mournful silence, to bid a last sad
farewell to him who was being borne' to his
grave. And every breeze from every point of
tho compass came loaded with a sigh of sorrow.
Indeed, thoro tf as not a city or town In this groat
Republic which would not have surrounded that
funoralprocossion with tho samo spectacle of a
profound universal sense of groat bereavement.
Was it love; was it gratitude for tho services
rendered to tho people ; was It tho baillod ex
pectation of greater service still to come ; was it
admiration of bis talents or bis virtues, that in
spired so general an emotion of sorrow ?
Ho had stood aloof from tho multitude ; tbo
friendship of his heart had been given to
but few; to tbo many ho had appeared
distant, self-satisfied, and cold. His public
life hod boon full of bitter conflicts. No man
had aroused against himself fiercer animosities.
Although warmly recognized by many, the pub
lic services of no man had been more acrimo
niously questioned by opponents. No statesman’s
motives, qualifies of heart and mind, wisdom and
character, except his integrity, had boon tho sub
ject of more heated controversy; and yet, when
sudden death snatched him from ns, friend and
foe bowed their heads alike. Every patriotic
citizen felt poorer than tbo day before. Every
true American heart trembled with tho appre
hension that tho Republic bad lout something it
could ill spare. Even from far distant lauds,
across tho ocoan| voices came, mingling their
sympathetic grief with our own.
When you, Mr. Mayor, in the name of tho City
Government of Boston, invited me to interpret
that which millions think and fool, I thanked
you for the proud privilege you hod conferred
upon mo, and tho invitation appealed so irresist
ibly to my friendship for tho man we had lost,
that I could not decline it. And yet, tho thought
struck mo that you might have prepared a great
er triumph to his memory had you summoned,
not mo, his friend, bat ono of those who had
stood against him in the struggles of his life, to
bear testimony to Charles SumnorM virtues.
Thoro are many among them to-day,'to whoso
sense of justice you might have safely confided
tho office, which to mo is a task of lovo.
Hero I boo his friends around mo, tho friends
of his youth, of hia manhood, of his advancing
ago; among them, men whoso illustrious names
aro household words, as far os tho English
tongue is spoken, and far boyond. I saw them
standing round his open grave when it received
the fiowor-dookod coffin, mute sadness heavily
clouding their brows. I understood their griof,
for nobody oould sharo it moro than I.
In such a presence, tbo temptation is great to
seek that consolation for our loss which bereaved
friendship finds in tho exaltation of its bereave
ment. But not to you or mo belongs his mem
ory now that ho is gono. His deeds, his ex
ample, and his fame, ho loft aa a legacy to tho
American people and to mankind; and it is my
offico to speak of this inheritance. I cannot
speak of it without affection. I. shall endeavor
to do it with justice. *
Among tho public characters of America,
Charles Sumner stands peculiar aud unique. His
Senatorial career is a conspicuous ipart of our
political liistory. But, in order to appreciate tho
man ia tbo career, wo must look at tho story of
his Ufa.
Tho American people take pride In saying that
almost ail their groat historic characters wore
solf-mado men, who, without tho advantage of
wealth and early opportunities, won their educa
tion, raised themselves to usefulness and dis
tinction, and achieved their greatness through
a rugged, baud-to-haud struggle with adverse
fortune. It is indeed so. A log cabin; a ragged
Uttlo boy walking barefooted to a lowly country
school-house, or somot mos no school-house at
all; a lad, after a day's hard toU ou tho
farm or in tho workshop, poring greedily,
sometimes stealthily, over a volume of
poetry, or history, or travels; a forlorn
looking youth, with elbows out, applying at a
lawyers oflico for an opportunity to study ; then
tbo young man, a successful practitioner, at
tracting the notice of his neighbors; then a
member of a State Legislature, a Representa
tive iu Congress, a Senator, maybe a Cabinet
Minister, or oven President. Such are tho pic
tures presented by many a proud American bi-
Suy. Aud it is natural that tho American
o should bo proud of it, for such a biogra
phy condenses only iu tho compass of o single
life the groat story of tho American nation, os,
feebleness and misery of early sottlo
mon.u rn tho bleak solitude, it advanced co tho
subjugation of tbo hostile forces of Naturo ;
plunged into an ardent struggle with dangers
and difficulties ouly known to itself, gathering
strength from every conflict aud experience from
every trial; with undaunted pluck widening tho
range of its experiments and creative action, un
til at lost it stands as one of tho greatest Powers
cf tho earth. The people arc fond of seeing
their image reflected in the lives of their fore
most, representative men.
But not such a life was that of Charles Bum
cor. Ho was descended from goad old Kentish
yeomanry stock, men stalwart of frame, stout of
heart, who used to stand iu front of tho fierce
battles of Old England; and tbo first of the
name wbo came to America bad certainly not
boon exempt from tbo rough struggles of tho
oarly settlements. But already, from the year
1723, a long lino nf Sumners appears on tho rec
ords of Harvard College, and it is evident that
tbo love of study had long been hereditary in
tho family. Charles Pinckney Sumner, tho Sen
ator's father, was a graduate of Harvard, a law
yer by profession, for fourteen years High
Sheriff of Suffolk County. His literary tastes
and acquirements, and his stately politeness, are
still remembered. Ho was altogether a man of
high respectability. Ho was not rich, but in
good circumstances, and well able to give his
children good opportunities to study, without
working for their daily broad.
Charles Bumucr was born in Boston, on tho
Bth of January, 1811. At tho ago of 10 ho had
received his rudimentary training; at 15, after
having gone through tho Boston Latin School,
be entered Harvard College, and plunged at
once with fervor into tho classics, polite liter
ature, oud history. Graduated In 1830, ho
entered tho Cambridge Law School. Now life
began to open to him. Judge Htory, his most
distinguished teacher, soon recognized in him a
Bman of uncommon stamp; and an in
i friendship sprang up between teacher
sod pupil, which was severed only by death.
ilo began to distinguish lilmi-olf, not only by
tbo most arduous industry and application, push
ing Ul HMftiofaea beyond teit-books*—
Indeed, text-books novor satisfied, him,‘-but by
a striking oaßomcßa ami faculty to master tbo
original principles of tbo science, and to t'xea
them through its development. Ills producV.’o
labor began ; and I And It stated that already
thou, while ho was yet a pupil, his essays, pub
lished in the American Jurist and tho Boston
law Quarterly, were “ always characterized by
breadth of view and accuracy of lo&rnlug, and
sometimes by remarkably subtle and ingenious
Leaving tbo Law School,, ho entered tho office
of a lawyer la Boston, to acquire a knowledge
of practice, never much to his taste. Then ho
visited Washington for tho first time,—litilo
dreaming what a tboatro of action, struggle,
triumph, and suffering, tho National Olty was
to become for him : for then ho oamo only an a
studious, deeply Interested looker-on, who mere
ly desired to form tho acquaintance of tho Jus
tices and practicing lawyora at tho bar of tho
Supremo Court, lie was received with marked
kindness by Chief Justice Marshall, and in later
years ho lovod to toll his friends how ho had sat
at tho foot of that great magistrate, and learned
thoro what a Judge should bo.
Having boon admitted to tho Burin Worcoalor,
in 1884, 28 years old, ho opened an office in Bos
ton ; was soon appointed lloporter of the
United States Circuit Court; published throe
volumes containing Judge Story’s Decisions,
known as “Sumner’s Reports;" took Judge
Story’s place from time to lime as lecturer iu
tho Harvard Law School,—also, Prof. Groan
loaf’s, who was absent; and edited, during tho
years 1885 and 1830, Andrew Dunlap’s Treatise
on Admiralty Practice. Beyond this, his studios,
arduous, incessant, and thorough, ranged far
and wide. Truly a studious and laborious young
man, who took the business of life earnestly iu
hand, determined to know something, and to bo
useful to his time and country.
But what ho had loamed and could learn at
homo did not satisfy his craving. In 1837 ho
wont to Europe, armed with a letter from Judge
Story’s baud to tho law magnates of England, to
whom his patron introduced him aa “ a young
lawyer, giving promise of tho most eminent
distinction in his profession, with truly extraor
dinary attainments, literary and judicial, and a
goutlomau of tho highest purity and propriety
of character." That was not a more compliment
ary introduction; it was tho oouscieuilous tes
timony of a great Judge, who woll know his re
sponsibility, and who afterwards, when his death
approached, adding to that testimony, was fre
quently board to say, “I shall die content, as
far as my Professorship is concerned, if Charles
Sumner is to succeed mo."
In Euglaud, young Sumner, only fooling him
self standing on tho threshold of lifo, was re
ceived like a roan of already achieved distinc
tion. Every circle of a society ordinarily so
exclusive was open to him. Oftou, by invita
tion, ho sat with tho Judges in Westminster
Hall. Renowned statesmen introduced him on
tho floor of tho Houses of Parliament. Eagerly
ho followed tho debates, and studied tho princi
ples and practice of Parliamentary law on its
maternal soil, where from tho first seed-corn it
has grown up into a magnificent tree, in whoso
shadow a great people can dwell in soouro enjoy
ment of tholr rights. Solontifio associations
received him ns a welcome guest, aud tho
learned and groat willingly opoued to his win
ning presence their stores of knowledge and
In Frauco he listened to tho eminent men of
tho Law School in Paris, at tho Sorbonno and
the College do Franco, and with many of the
statesmen of that country ho maintained in
structive intercourse. In Italy bo gave himself
up to tho ebarms of art, pootry, bistory, aud
classical literature. In Germany ho enjoyed
the conversation of Humboldt, of Ranke (he
historian, of Ritter tho geographer, and of tho
groat jurists, Savigny, Tlubaut, and' Miller
Two years after his return, the Quarterly J?e
cieto said of his visit to Euglaud: “Ho presents
iu his own person a decisive proof that an
American gentleman, without official rank or
wide-spread reputation, by mere dintof courtesy,
candor, an entfro absence of pretension, au ap
preciating spirit, and a oulturod mind, may be
received on a perfect footing of equality iu tho
boat circles, social, political, and Intellectual."
It must have boon true, for it came
from a quarter not given to tho habit
of flattering Americans beyond their de
serts. Aud Charles Sumner was not tho Senator
of power and famo; he was only tho young son
of a lato Sheriff of Suffolk County in Massaclm
sotte, who bod neither riobos nor station, but
who possessed that most winning charm of
youth,—purity of soul, modesty of conduct, cul
ture of mind, au earnest (hirst of knowledge,
and a brow bearing tho stomp of noble man
hood, and tho promise of futuro'aohiovemonts.
Ho returned to his native shores in 1840, him
self like a hcavily-frcightod ship, bearing a rich
cargo of treasures collected in foreign lands.
Ho resumed the practice of law in Boston ; but,
as I find it stated, “not with remarkable suc
cess in a financial point of view." That I readily
believe. Tho financial point of view was novor
to him a fruitful sourco of inspiration. Again
he devoted himself to the moro congenial task
of teaching at tho Cambridge Law School,
and of editing an American edition of
“Yesoy's Reports," in twouiy volumes, with
elaborate notes contributed by himself.
But now tho timo bad come whoa a now field
of action was to open iteoif to Him. On tbo 4th
of July, 1845, bo delivered boforo tbo city au
thorities of Boston, an address on “ Tbo Truo
Grandeur of Nations,” Bo far bo bad boon only
a student.—a deop and arduous one,—and a
writer and a teacher; but nothing more. On
that day bis public career commenced. And bis
first public address disclosed at onco tbo peculiar
impulse and inspirations of bio heart, and tho
tendencies of his mind. It was a plea for uni
versal peace,—a poetic rhapsody on tho wrongs
and horrors of war, and tho beauties of concord:
not, indeed, without solid argument, but that
argument clothed in all tho gorgoousnoss of his
torical illustration, classic Imagery, and fervid
effusion, rising high above tho level of existing
conditions, and picturing au ideal future, —the
universal reign of justjoo and charity,—not far
off to bis own imagination, but far beyond
tbo conceptions of living society: but to that so
ciety bo addressed tbo urgent summons to go
forth at onco in pursuit of this ideal consumma
tion; to transform all swords into plowshares,
and all war-ships into peaceful merchantmen,
without.delay; believing that thus tbo nation
would rise to a greatness never known boforo,
which it could accomplish if it ouly willed it.
And this speech ho delivered while tbo citizen
soldiery of Boston In festive array wore stand
ing before him, and while tho very air wao
stirred by tbo premonitory muttoriugs of an ap
proaching war.
Tbo whole man revealed himself in that ut
toinnco; a soul full of tbo native instinct of
justice; an overpowering souse of right and
wrong, which made him look at tbo problems
of human society from tho lofty piano
of an idoal morality, which fixed for him,
high beyond tbo existing condition of things,
tho aims for which ho must strive, aud
inspired and fired his ardent naturo for tho
struggle. His education had singularly favored
and developed that ideal tendency, It was not
that of tbo self-made man iu tho common ac
ceptation of the word. Tho distracting strug
gles for existence, tho small harrassiag cares of
ovory-day life, had remained foreign to him.
Bis education was that of tho favorod few. JIo
found all tho avenues of knowledge wide opon
to him. All that his country could give ho had:
tbo most renowned schools; tho living Instruc
tion of tho roost elevated personal associations.
It was tho education of tho typical youug En
glish gentleman. Like tbo English gentleman,
also, ho traveled abroad to widen his mental ho
rizon. Aud, again, all tho foreign countries
could give ho had,—tho instruction of groat law
yers and men of science, tho teaching and exam
ple of statesmen, tho clmrmiug atmosphere of
poetry and art which graces and elevates tho
soul. Ho had also learned to work, to work
hard and with a purpose; and at 84, when he
first appeared conspicuously boforo tho people,
bo could already point to many volumes contain
ing tho results of his labor.
But bis principal work bad boon an eager ac
cumulation of knowledge in bis own mum,—nn
accumulation most extraordinary in its scope
and variety. His natural inclination to search
for fundamental principles and truths had been
favored by bis opportunities, aud all his indus
try in collecting knowledge became subservient
to tho building up of his ideals. Having not
boon tossed and jostled through tho school of
want aud adversity, ho lacked what that school
is host apt to develop,-keen, practical Instincts,
sharpened by early struggles, and that sober ap
preciation or the realities and possibilities of tho
times which is forced upon men by a hard con
tact with the world. Ho judged Hfo from tho
stillness of tho student’s closet and from his in
tercourse with tho refined and elevated, aud ho
acquired Utile of thoso experiences of lire which
might have dampened his zeal In working for his
ideal aims, and staggered his faith In tholr reali
zation. His mind loved to movo and operate
In tho realm of ideas, not of things; in foot, it
could scarcely have done otherwise. Thus na
ture and education made him an idealist; and,
indeed, ho stands there as the most pronounced
idealist among tho public men of America.
Be was an ardent friend of liberty,—not like
one of thoso who have themselves suffered op
pression oud felt tho galling weight of chains ;
nor like those who, in the common walks of life,
have experienced tho comfort of wide elbow
room and the quickening aud encouraging influ
ence of free Institutions for tho practical work of
Ufa* But W UUu Ulwty \to* U3 ideal god4oeß|
A HIS. UUIUAUU UAir.i liUuUi.Jl,! HATUKUA*, SlAi lb/4.
olothod In sublime attributes of surpassing
beauty and bouollconoo, giving to ovary human
being his otonml rights, showering around her
tho treasures of her blessings, and lifting up tho
lowly to au ideal existence. In the samo ethereal
light stood In his mind tho llepublio, his coun
try, tho law, tho future organization of the groat
family of peonies, That idealism was sustained
and quickened, not rooroly by his vast learning
and olasaiQnl inspirations, but by that rare atm
exquisite purity of life, and high moral sensitive
ness, which bo had preserved intact and fresh
through ail tho temptations of his youth, and
which remained Intact and fresh down to his last
Such was tho man when. In tho exuberant
vigor of manhood, ho entered public life. Until
that time ho had entertained no aspirations for
a political career. When discussing with a friend
in bis youth—now a man of famo—what tho
futuro might have In store for them, ha said :
“You may bo a Senator someday; but nothing
would mako mo happier than to ho President of
Harvard College." And in Inter yearn ho public
ly declared: “With tho ample opportunities of
private life I was content. Kb tombstone
for mo could hoar a fairer inscription than
this: 'Hero lios one who, without the
honors or emoluments of nubile station,
did something for his follow-mon.’’’ It
was tho scholar who spoke, and no doubt bo
spoke sincerely. But ho found tho Blavory ques
tion in bis path; or, rather, tho Slavery question
seized upon him. Tho advocato of universal
peace, of tho eternal reign of justice and oharity,
oould not fail to see in Blavory tho embodiment
of universal war of man against man, of abso
lute injustice and oppression. Little- knowing
whoro tho- first ward would carry him, ho soon
found himself iu tbo midst of tho struggle.
Tho idealist found a living quostiou to deal
with, which, like a Hash of lightning, struck
Into tho very depth of his soul, and sot it ou
fire. Tho whole order of his nature broke out
iu the enthusiasm of tho Autl-Blavory man. In
a series of glowing addresses and letters ho at
tacked the great wrong. Ho protested against
tho Mexican War; ho assailed with powerful
strokes tho Fugitive Slave law; ho attempted
to draw the Whig parly into a decided Anti-
Blavory policy; and, when that failed, ho broke
through his party affiliations, and joined tho
small baud of Froo-Sotlors. Ho was an Aboli
tionist by nature, but not ono of those who re
jected tbo Constitution as a covouant with
Slavery. His legal miud found in tho Constitu
tion no express recognition’of Blavory, aud ho
consistently construed It as a warraut of free
dom. This placed him in tho ranks of those who
were called •* Political Abolitionists,”
Ho did not think of tho sacrifices which this
obodionco to his moral impulses might cost him.
For, at that time, Abolitionism was by no means
a fashionable thing. An Anti-Slavery man was
thou, oven in Boston, positively the horror of a
largo portion of pollto society. To mako Antl-
Slavoty speeches was looked upon, not only as
an Inconalary, but a vulgar occupation. Aud
that tho highly-refined Bumuor, who was so
learned and able; who had soon tho world aud
mixed with tho highest social clrolos in Europe;
who know tho classics byhoart, and could deliver
judgment on a picture or a statue like a veteran
connoisseur; who wan a favorite with the
wealthy and powerful, aud oould, in his aspira
tions for an easy and fitting position in life, count
upon their whole iulluonco, if ho only would not
do anything foolish, —that such a man should go
among tho Abolitionists and not only sympathize
with them, but work with them, aud expose him
self to tho chance of being dragged through tho
streets by vulgar hands with a rope around his
nook, like William Lloyd Qarrisou,—that was a
thing at which tbo polite society of that day
would revolt, and which no man could undertake
without danger of being severely dropped. But
that was tho thiug which tho refined Bumucr
actually did, probably without giving a moment’s
thought to tho possible consequences. Ho wont
oven so far as openly to defy that dictatorship
which tho groat Daniel Webster bad for so many
years been exercising over tho political miud of
Massachusetts, aud which then was about to ex
ert its power iu favor of a compromise with
But times were changing, and, only six years
after the delivery of his fust popular address, ho
was elected to the Senate of the United States
by a combination of Democrats andFroo Sailors.
Charles Sumner entered the Senate on the Ist
day of December. 1851. He entered as the suc
cessor of Daniel Webster, who had boon ap-
£ olntcd Secretary of State. On the same Ist of
locombor Henry Clay spoko his Inst word in the
Senate, and thou loft the Chamber, never to re
turn. A striking and most significant coinci
dent : Henry Olay disappeared from public lifo 5
Dauiol Wobstor loft the Senate, drawing near his
end; Charles Sumner stopped upon kho econo.
The close of one and the beginning of another
epoch iu the history of the groat American Re
public wore portrayed in the oxit and entry of
,thoso man. Clay and Webster had appeared in
the councils of tho nation in tho oariy part of
this century. Tho Republic was still in its
oblidhood, —in almost every respect still an un
tested experiment, au unsolved problem.
Slowly and painfully had it struggled through
the brat conflicts of constitutional theories,
and acquired only an uncertain dogroo of
national consistency. Thoro wore tho some
what unruly democracies of tho States, with
their fresh revolutionary romiuisoouocs, their
instincts of entirely independent sovereignty,
and their now and then seemingly divergent in
terests ; and the task of binding them firmly to
gether in the bonds of common aspirations, of
national spirit and tho authority of national law,
had, indeed, fairly progressed, but was far from
being entirely accomplished. The United States,
not yet compacted by tbo moans of rapid locomo
tion which to-day make ovorv inhabitant of tho
land a neighbor of tho National Capital, wore
then still a straggling Confederacy; and tho
members of that Confederacy had, siuco tho tri
umphant issuo of tho Devolution, more common
memories of severe trials, sufferings, embar
rassments, dangers, and anxieties together, than
of ohooriug successes and of assured prosperity
and well-being.
Tbo great Powers of the Old World, fiercely
oontouding among themselves for tho mastery,
trampled, without remorse, upou tho neutral
rights of tho young and fcoulo Republic. A war
was impending with one of thoro, bringing on
disastrous reverses, and sproadingalarm ami dis
content over tho land. A dark cloud of financial
difficulty hung over tho nation. And tho danger
from abroad and embarrassments at homo wore
heightened by a restless party spirit, which
former disagreements had left behind them, and
which every newly-arising question seemed to
embitter. Tho outlook was dark and uncertain.
It was under such oircum&trncos that Henry
Clay first, and Daniel Webster shortly aftwjilmj
stopped upon tho scene, and at once tooKtheir
station iu tho foremost rank of public men.
Tho problems to bo solved by the statesmen of
that period wore of au eminently practical na
ture. They had to establish tho position of tho
young Republic among tho powers of tho earth ;
to her rights as a neutral respected; to
soouro tho safety of her maritime interests.
They had to provide for national defense. -They
had to sot tho Interior household of tho
Republic in working order. They . had
to find remedies for a burdensome
Imblio debt and a disordered currency. They
iad to invent and originate policies to bring to
light the resources of tho laud, sleeping un
known in tho virgin soil; to open and mako ac
cessible to tho husbandman tho wild acres yet
untouched; to protect tho frontier-settlor
against the Inroads of tho savago ; to call Into
full activity tho agricultural, commercial, aud in
dustrial energies of the people ; to develop and
extend the prosperity of the nation so as to
make oven the discontented cease to doubt that
tho National Union was, and should bo nqaiu
taiuod as, a blessing to all.
Thus wo flud tho statesmanship of thoso times
busily occupied with pruotical detail, of foreign
policy, national defense, financial policy, tariffs,
banks, organization of governmental depart
ments, land policy, Indian policy, internal Im
provements, settlements of disputes and difficul
ties among the States, contrivances of expedi
ency of all sorts to put the Government firmly
upou its foot, and to sot and keep in orderly mo
tion tho working of tho political machinery, to
build up, and strengthen, and soouro tho frame
work iu which tno mighty developments of tho
futuro woro to tako place.
Suoh a task, sometimes small In Its details,
hut difficult and grand iu (is comprehensiveness,
required that creative, constructive, organizing
kind of statesmanship, which, to largo and en
lightened views of tho aims and ends of politi
cal organization and of tho wants of society,
must add a practical knowledge of dot&Us, a
skillful handling of existing material, a just un
derstanding of causes aud effects, tho ability to
compose distracting oonUiels aud to bring tha
social forces into fruitful co-operation.
On this field of aotion Olay ami Webster stood
In tbo front rank of an illustrious array of con
temporaries i. Olay, tbe originator of measures
and policies, with bis invoutlvo and organising
mlnil, not nob in profound ideas or in knowl
edge gathered by book-study, but learning ns bo
wont | quick in tbo perception of existing wants
and difficulties, and of tbo moans within roach to
satisfy tbo quo and ovoroomo tbo olbor ; and a
born captain also,—a commander of mon, who
appeared os if riding through tbo struggles of
those days mounted on a splendidly-caparisoned
chargor, sword In baud, ana with waving bolmot
plumo, loading tbo front: a fiery and truly mag
netic soul, overawing with bis frown, enchant
ing with bis smilo, nourishing tbe weapon of
•loqueuo# Uke a wizard's wand, overwhelming
oppoßillon, and kindling and fanning the flatno
of enthusiasm; a raarslmlor of parties, whoso
very piosonco and voice, llko a signal blast,
orontod and wielded organisation.
And by hia side Daniel Webster, with that aw
ful vaatnosa of brain, a tremendous storobouso
of thought and kupwlodgo, which gave forth
its troaauroa with ponderous majesty of utter
ance { bo not an originator of measures and
policies, but a mighty advocate, the greatest ad
vocate this country over know,—a king in tho
realm of Intellect, and tho solemn embodiment
of authority,—a huge Allan, who carried tho
Constitution on Ida shoulders. Ho could havo
carried thoro tho whole moral grandeur of tho
nation, had ho never compromised hia own.
Snob men filled the stage during that period
of construction and conservative national or
ganisation, devoting tho best efforts of their
statesmanship. tho statesmanship of tho po
litical mind, to tho purpose of roislug their
country to greatness m wealth and power, of
making the people prond of their common na
tionality, and of imbedding tho Union in tho
contentment of prosperity, In enlightened
patriotism, national law, and constitutional
principle. And. when they drew near their end,
they could boast of many a grand achievement!
—not indeed exclusively their own, for other
powerful minds had their share In tho work.
The United States stood there among Dio groat
Powers of tho earth, strong and respected. Tho
Republic had no foreign foe to fear; its growth
in population and wealth, in popular intelligence
and progressive civilization, tho wonder of tho
world. Thoro was no visible limit to Us devel
opment } there seemed to bo no danger to Us in
But, among the problems which tho statesmen
of that period had grappled with, thoro was one
which had eluded their grasp. Many a conflict
of opinion and interest they had succeeded in
settling, either by positive decision, or by Ju
dicious composition. But one conflict had stub
bornly baffled tho statesmanship of expedients,
for it was more than a moro conflict of opinion
and interest. It was a conflict grounded deep
in tho moral nature of men,—tho Slavery ques
Many a time bad It appeared on tho surface
during tho period I havo described, threatening
to overthrow all that bad boon ingeniously built
up, and to break asunder all that bad boon labo
riously cemented together. In tholr anxiety to
avert every danger threatening tho Union, they
attempted to repress tho Slavery question by
compromise, and, apparently, with success, at
least for a while. But, however firmly those
compromises scorned to stand, thoro was a force
of nature at work which, hue a restless flood,
silently, but unceasingly and irresistibly, washed
tboir foundation away, until at lost tho towering
structure toppled down.
Tho Anti-Slavery movement is now one of tho
groat chapters of our past history. Tho passions
of tho struggle having been buried in thousands
of gravos, and tho victory of Universal Freedom
standing as firm and unquestionable as tho eter
nal hills, wo may now look back upon that his
tory with an impartial eye. It may be hoped
that oven tho people of tbo South, If they do not
yet appreciate tuo spirit which created and
guided tho Anti-Slavery movement, will uot
much longer misunderstand it. Indeed, they
grievously misunderstood it at tho time. They
looked upon it as tbo offspring of a wanton do
siro to moddto with other people's affairs; or as
tho product of hypocritical selfishness assuming
tho mask and cant of philanthropy, merely to
rob tho South and to enrich Now England; or os
an insidious contrivance of crimiu&lly-roekless
political ambition, striving to grasp and monop
olize power at a risk of destroying a part of the
country, or oven tho whole. It was. perhaps,
not unnatural that those interested m Slavery
should have thought so; but from this great
error arose tboir fatal miscalculation os to tho
strength of tho Anti-Slavery cause.
No idea over agitated the popular mind to
whoso origin calculating selfishness was moro
foreign. Even tho groat uprising which brought
about tho War of Independence was loss free
from selfish motives, for it sprang from resist
ance to a tyrannical abuse of tbo taxing power.
Then tho people rose against that oppression
which touched their property; tho Anti-Slavery
movement originated In an impulse ohly moral.
It was tho irresistible breaking out of a trouble
of conscience,—a trouble of cousoienco which
had already disturbed the men who mode tho
American Republic. It found a voice in tboir
anxious admonitions, tboir gloomy prophecies,
their scrupulous caro to oxclado from the Con
stitution all forms of expression which might
havo appeared to sanction the idea of property
in man. It found a voice in tho fierce struggles
which resulted in tho Missouri Compromise. It
was repressed for a time by my material inter
est, by tho greed of gain, when tho peculiar
product of slave-labor became one of the prin
cipal staples of tho country and amino of wealth.
But tbo trouble of conscience raised Its voice
again, shrill and defiant os when your own John
Quincy Adams stood in tho halls of Congress,
and when devoted advocates of the rights of
man began and carried on, id tho face of rldioulo
and brutal persecution, an agitation seemingly
.hopeless. It cried out again and again, until at
last tones and echoes grow louder than all the
noises that wore to drown it.
Tho Anti-Slavery movement found arrayed
against itself all tho influences, all tho agencies,
all tbo arguments, which ordinarily control tho
actions of moo, Commerce said: Do not dis
turb Slavery, for Us products fill our ships, and
nro one of tho principal moans of our exchanges.
Industry said : Do not disturb Slavery, for it
foods our machinery and gives us markets. Tho
grood of wealth said : Do not disturb Slavery,
for it is an iuoxhaustiblo fountain of riches.
Political ambition said : Do not disturb Slavery,
for it furnishes us combinations and compro
mises to keep parlies alive, and to mako power
tho price of shrewd management. An anxious
statesmanship said : Do not disturb Slavery, for
you might break to pieces tho Union of those
There never was a more formidable combina
tion of interests and Influences than that which
confronted tbo Anti-Slavery movement in its
earlier stages. And wbat was its answer ?
14 Whether all you say he true or false, It matters
not, but slavery is wrong,” Slavery is wrong I
That one word was enough. It stoqd there like
a huge rook in the sea. shivering to spray the
waves dashing upon it. Interest, greed, argu
ment, vituperation, calumny, ridicule, persecu
tion, patriotic appeal, —it was all m vain.
Amidst all tho storm and assault, that one word
stood there unmoved, intact, and impregnable:
Slavery is wrong.
Such was tho vital spirit of tho Anti-Slavery
movement in its early development. Such a
spirit alone could luspiro'tbat religious devotion
which gavo to tho believer all tho stubborh
energy of fanaticism; it alone could kindle that
deep enthusiasm which makes men willing to
risk and sacrifice everything for a groat cause;
it alone could keep alive that unconquerable
faith in tho certainty of ultimate success which
boldly attempted to overcome seeming Impossi
bilities, It was indeed a groat spirit. As against
difficulties which throw pusillanimity into de
spair, it painfully struggled into light, often
hafilod, and as often pressing forward with de
votion always fresh: nourished by nothing bat a
profound sense of right; encouraged by nothing
but tho cheering sympathy of liberty-loving
mankind tho world over, and by tho hopo that
some day tho conscience of tho American people
would bo quickened by a full understanding of
tho dangers which tho existence of the great
wrong would bring upon tho llopubilc. No
scramble for tbo spoils of office then, no expec
tation of a speedy conquest of power,—nothing
but that conviction, that enthusiasm, that faith
pi tho breasts of a small hand of men, and the
prospect of now uncertain struggles and trials.
At tho time when Mr. Sumner entered the
Senate, tho hope of final victory appeared as dis
tant as over; hut it only appeared so. The
statesmen of the past period had just succeeded
m building up that compromise which admitted
California as a free State, and imposed upon the
Hopublio tho Fugitive Slave law. That compro
mise, like all its predecessors, was considered
and called a final settlement. Tho two groat
political parties accepted it os such, lu what
ever they might differ,'as to this they solemnly
proclaimed their agreement. Fidelity to it
was looked upon as a tost of true
patriotism, aud as a qualification neces
sary for tho possession of political power.
Opposition to it was denounced as factious,
uupatriotlo, revolutionary domagogism, little
short of treason. An overwhelming majority of
tho American people acquiesced in it. Material
lutorost looked upon it with satisfaction, as a
promise of repose; timid aud sanguine patriots
greeted it as a new bond of Union; politicians
ailed it as an assurance that the fight for the
publio blunder might ho oarrrioa on without the
disturbing intrusion of a moral principle in
politics.' Dut, deep down! men's conscience,
like a volcanic fire, was restless, ready for a now
outbreak as soon as tho thin crust of compromise
should oraok. And just then the day was fast
approaching when tho moral idea, which so far
had only broken out sporadically, aud moved
small numbers of men to open action, should re
ceive a reinforcement strong enough to trans
form a forlorn hope into an army of irresistible
strength. One of those eternal laws which gov
ern the development of human affairs assorted
Itself,—tho law that » groat wrong, which has
boon maintained in defiance of tho moral sense
of mankind, must finally, by tbo very moans and
measures necessary for. Us sustenance, render
itself so insupportable os to insure its downfall
and destruction.
So it «as with Blayery. X candidly acquit tbs
American Slave-Power of wilful and wanton ag
gression upon tho liberties and general interests
of the American people. If Slavery was to bo
kept alive at all, its supporters oonld not act
otherwise than they (lid. Slavery could not
thrive and live In on atmosphere of free inquiry
and uuliatnmolod discussion. Therefore, free
Inquiry and discussion touching Slavery hod to
bo suppressed. Slavery could not bo secure if
slaves, escaping merely across a Btato-llno,
thereby escaped tho grasp of their masters.
Hence an effective Fugitive Slave law was im
peratively demanded. Slavery could not protect
its interests in tho Union unless its power bal
anced that of the Free States in tbo National
Councils. Therefore, by colonization or con
quest tho number of Slave States had to bo aug
mented ; bonce tbo annexation of Texas, Mexi
cali War, and intrigues for tho acquisition of
Cuba. Slavery could not maintain Its equilib
rium of power if It permitted Itself to bo exclud
ed from tho National Territories. Hence tho
breaking down of tbo Missouri Compromise and
the usurpation in Kansan.
Thus Slavery was pushed on and on by the In
exorable logic of its existence; tho slave-masters
wore only the slaves of tho necessities of Slavery,
and all tboir Booming exactions amt usurpations
wore merely a struggle for Us lifo. Many of their
demands had boon satisfied, on tho part of tbo
North, by submission or compromise. Tho
Northern people, although with reluctant con
science, had acquiesced in tho contrivance of
SoliUclaus, for tho sake of peace. But when tho
lavo-Powor wont so far as to demand for Slavery
the groat domain of tho nation which had boon
hold sooted for freedom forever, then tho people
of tho North suddenly understood that the ne
cessities of Slavery demanded what they could
not yield. Thou tuo conscience of tho masses
was relieved of the doubts and fears which hod
hold it so long in chock; their moral impulses
were quickened by practical perceptions; tho
moral idea became a practical force, and tho final
struggle began. It was made inevitable by the
necessities of Slavery; it was indeed an irrepress
ible conflict. '
Those things wore impending when Henry
Olay and Daniel Webster, tbo architects of tho
last compromise, loft tho Senate. Had they, with
all tboir far-seeing statesmanship, never under
stood this logic of things ? When they mado
their compromise, did they only desire to post
pone the final struggle until they should bo
gone, so that they might nob witness tho terrible
concussion ? Or had tholr groat and manifold
achievements with tbo statesmanship of organ
ization and expediency so deluded their minds
that they really hoped a compromise which only
ignored, bat did not settle, tho groat moral ques
tion, could furnish an enduring basis for future
developments ? One thing they and tboir con
temporaries had indeed accomplished; under
their c'aro tho Republic had grown so groat and
strong, its vitality had become so tough, that it
could endure tho final struggle without falling
to pieces under its shocks. Whatever their er
rors, tholr delusions, and, perhaps, their misgiv
ings, may have been, this they had accompllsh
and then they loft tho last compromise tottering
behind them, and turned their faces to tho wall
and died. And with them stopped into the back
ground tho statesmanship or organization, ex
pedients, and compromises; ana to tbo front
oamo. ready for .action, tho moral idea which was
to figut out tbo groat conflict, and to open a now
epoch of American history,
That was the historic significance of tho re
markable scone which showed us Henry Olay
walking oat of tho Senate-Chamber, never to
return, when Charles Sumner sat down there atf
tbo successor of Daniel Webster. No man could,
in his whole being, have more strikingly portray
ed that contrast, when Charles Sumner bad boon
elected to tbo Senate, Theodore Parker said to
him, in a letter of congratulation: “ You told
mo once that you wore in morals, not In politics.
Now I hope you will show that you are still in
morals, although in politics. I hopo you will bo
tho Senator with a conscience.'* That hopo was
gratified. Ho always remained in morals while
in politics. Ho never was anything else but the
Senator with a conscience. Charles Sumocr
entered tbo Senate not as a moro advocate,
but as the very embodiment of tho moral idea.
From this fountain flowed bis highest aspira
tions. Thoro hod boon groat Anti-Slavery men in
the Senate before him; they wore thoro with him,
—men like Seward and Chase. But they had boon
trained m a different school. Tholr minds had
ranged over other political fields. They under
stood politics; ho did not. He knew but one
political object; to combat and overthrow tho
&roat wrong of Slavery; to servo tho ideal of tho
borty and equality of men ; and to establish tho
universal reign of “ peace, justice, and charity."
He brought to the Senate a studious mind, vast
learning, groat legal attainments, a powerful elo
quence, a strong and ardent nature; and all this
bo vowed to one service. With all this ho was
uot a moro expounder of a policy; he was a wor
shiper, sincere and devout, at tbo shrine of his
ideal. In uo public man had tho moral idea of
the Anti-Slavery movement such overruling
strength. Ho mado everything yield to it. Ho
did not possess it; it possessed him. That was
tho secret of his peculiar power.
He introduced himself into tho debates of the
Senate—tho Slavery question having boon
silenced forever, as politicians then thought—by
several speeches on other subjects,—the recep
tion of Kossuth, the Laud Foltoy, Ocean Post
age;, but they wore not remarkable, and attract
ed but little attention.
mb. buukeh’s attack on the fugitive slave
At last ho availed himself of an Appropriation
bill to attack tbe Fugitive Slave law, aud at once
a spirit broke forth in that first word on tho
great question which startled every listener.
Thus bo opened tho argument:
Painfully convinced of tho unutterable wrong and
woo of Slavery,—profoundly believing that, according
to tho truo spirit of tho Constitution aud tho senti
ments of tho fathers, it can find no place under our
Notional Government,—l could not allow this session
to roach 1U close without making or seizing an oppor
tunity to doclaro mysolf openly against tho usurpation,
injustice, and cruelty of tuo Lite Intolerant enactment
for tbo recovery of fugitive slaves.
Thou this significant declaration:
‘Whatever I am or may be, I freely offer to this
cause. I havo never boon $ politician. Tho slave of
principles, I cull no patty master. I3y sentiment, edu
cation, aud conviction, 1 a friend of Human Itigbts in
their utmost expansion, I have ever most sincerely
embraced tbo Democratic idea—not, indeed, as repre
sented or professed by any party, but according to Us
real significance, as transfigured in tho Declaration of
Independence, and in the injunctions of Christianity,
lu this idea I sou no narrow advantage merely for in
dividuals or chases, but tho sovereignty of tho people,
and tho greatest happiness of all secured by
A vast array of historical research and of logoi
argument was thou called up to prove tho aoo
tionalißtn of slavery, tho nationalism of Free
dom, and tho uuconstltutiouality of tho Fugitive
Blavo act, followed by this bold declaration:
“ By the Supremo Law, which commauds mo to
do no injustice; by tho comprehensive Christian
Law of Brotherhood; by tho Constitution 1
havo sworn to support, I am bound to disoboy
this law." And tuo speech closed with this sol
onm quotation: "Beware of tho groaus of
wounuod souls, einco the inward soro will at
lougth break out. Oppress not to tho uttermost
a single heart; for a solitary sigh has powor to
overturn a whole world."
Tho amendment to tbo appropriation bill
moved by Hr. Sunnier received only four votes
of fifty-ouo. Dut every hearer had boon struck
by the words spoken as something different
from tho tone of other Anti-Slavery speeches
delivered in those halls. Southern Senators,
startled at tho peculiarity of tho speech, called
it, in reply, 44 tuo most extraordinary language
•they had over listened to." Mr. Ohaso, support
ing Sumner In debate, spoke of it 44 os marking
a now ora in American history, when tho Anti-
Slavory idea ceased to stand on tho defensive
and was boldly advancing to tho attack." In
deed, it had that significance. There stood up
iu tho Senate a man who was no politician ; hut
who, on tho highest field of politics, with a con
centrated intensity of fooling and purpoeo never
before witnessed there, gave expression to a
moral impulse, wblob, although sleeping perhaps
for a time, certainly existed iu tho popular con
science, and which, ouoo becomeapoliiical'forco,
could not fail to produce a groat revolution.
Charles Sumner possessed all tho instincts,
tho courage, tho firmness, and the faith, of tho
devotee of a great idea, lu tho Senate he was a
member of a feeble minority,—so feeble, in
deed, as to bo to' tho ruling power a more sub
ject of derision, and, for tho*first throe years of
bis service, without organized popular support.
The slaveholders had boon accustomed to put
the metal of their Northern opponents to a va-'
rioty .of tests. Mnuy a hot Anti-Slavery zeal
had cooled under tho social blandishments with
which the South know so well to impregnate
the atmosphere of tho National Capital, and
many a high courage had given way before tho
haughty assumption aud fierce menace of South
era men In Congress. Mr. Sumner had to pass
that ordeal. Ho was at tlrkt petted and fiatterod
by Southern society ; hut, fond as ho was of the
charms of social intercourse, aud accessible to
demonstrative appreciation, no blandishments
cobli touch his convictions of duty. And, wliou
tiie advocates of Slavery turnon upon him with
auger and menace, he hurled at them with
prouder defiance his auswor, repeating itself iu
endless variations: "You must yield, for you
ore wrong."
The slave power had bo frequently succeeded
in making the North yield to its demands, oven
after the most formidable domonstrutlous of re*
luotwico, (hat it had become a serious question
whether there existed any such thing as Northern
iirmuess. Hut it did exist, aud la Charles Sum*
nor It had developed Its bqvoiohl political typo.
Tho Blrongor tlio assault, tho higher roao in him
tho power of resistance. lu him lived that spirit
which nob only would not yield, bub turn upon
tho assailant. The Southern force, which ho*
liovod itnolf Irresistible, found itself striking
against a body which was immovable. To think
of yielding to any demand of Slavery, of malting
a compromise with it, in however tempting a
form, was, to his nature, an absolute impossi
£lr. Sumner's courage wan of a peculiar kind,
lie attacked tho Slave Vowor in the most mi
snaring manner, when its supporters were most
violent lu resenting opposition, and when that
violence was always apt to proceed from words
to blows. Onoday, while Sumner was deliver*
Ing ono of his severest speeches, Stephen A.
Douglas, walking up and dowu behind tho Freni
dent's ohalr in tho old Sonoto-Qbambor, and
listening to him, remarked to a friends "Do
you hoar that man ? Ho may bo a fool, but I
toll you that man has pluck. Nobody can deny
that, and I wonder whether ho knows himself
what ho is doing? I am not euro whether I
should have tho courago to Bay those things to
tho men who aro scowling around him."
Of all mou lu tho Sonatb-Obarabor, Sumnor
was probably least awaro that tho thing ho did
required pluck. Ho simply did what ho folt It
, his duty to his cause to do. It was to him a
matter of course. He was lino a Boldior who,
when he has tomarchunou tho enemy’s batteries,
does not say to himself, " Now 1 am going to
perform an act of horolsm," hut who simply
obeys an impulse of duty, and marches forward
without thinking of tbo bullets that fly around
his head. A thought of tho boldnoes of what ho
*has done may then ocour to him afterwards,
when ho is told of It. This was ono of tho stnk*
ing peculiarities of Mr. Sumner’s character, ns
all those know who know him wall. Neither was
ho conscious of tho stinging forco of tho lan
guage ho frequently employed. Ho simply uttered
what he folt to bo tmo, in language fitting tho
strength of his convictions. Two Indignation of
hie moral boobo at what ho folt to bo wrong was
so doop and sincere that ho thought everybody
must find tho extreme severity of his expressions
na natural as they came to his own mind. And
ho was not unfroquontly surprised, greatly suv*
prised, when others found hia language offen
As ho possessed tho firmness and courago, so
ho possessed tho-faith, of tho dovotoo. Prom
tho beginning. and through all tho vicissitudes,
of tho Anti-slavory movement, hia heart was
profoundly assured that his generation would so*
Slavery entirely extinguished.
While travolingiu Franco to rostoro his health,
after having boon beaten dowu on tho floor of
tbo Sonata, ho visited Alexis do Tocquevillo, tho
celebrated author of "Democracy iu America."
Tocquevillo expressed his anxiety about thoissuo
of the Anti-Slavery movement, which then had
suffered defeat by tho election of Buchanan.
“ There cau he no doubt about tho result," said
Sumner. " Slavery will soon succumb and dis
appear." " Disappear 1 In what way, and how
soon?" askedTocquovillo. "lu what manner I
cannot say," replied Sumnor. "How soon I
cannot say. But it will bo soon: I feel it; I
know it. Itcannotbo otherwise. That was all
tbo rogaon ho gavo. "Mr, Sumnor is a remark
able man," said Do Tocquevillo afterwards to a
friend of miuo. "Ho says that Slavery will
soon entirely disappear in tbo Unitod States.
Ho does not know how, ho does not know when;
but ho fools it, ho is perfectly sure of it. Tho
man speaks liko a prophot." And so It was.
What appeared a perplexing puzzle to othor
man’s minds was perfectly door to him. His
method of reasoning was simple; it was tho
reasoning of religious faith. Slavery is wrong,
—therefore it must and will perish; Freedom is
right,—therefore it must and will prevail. And
by no powor of resistance, by no difficulty, by
no disappointment, by no dofoat, could that
faith bo shaken. For his cause, so tgreat and
just, he thought nothing impossible, everything
certain. And ho was unablo to understand how
others could fail to share his faith.
In ono sonso lie was no party-loader. Ho pos
sessed none of tho instinct or experience of tho
politician, nor that sagacity of mind which ap
preciates and measures tho importance of chang
ing circumstances, or tho possibilities and op
portunities of tbo day. He lacked, entirely, tho
genius of organization. Ho never understood,
nor did bo value, tho art of strengthening his
following by timely concession, or prudent reti
cence, or advantageous combination and alli
ance. Ho know nothing of management and
party-manonvro. Indeed, not unfroquoutly ho
alarmed many devoted friends of his cause by
bold declarations, for which, they thought, tbo
public mind was not prepared, and by tuo unre
served avowal and straightforward advocacy of
ultimate objects, which, they thought, might
safely bo loft to tbo natural development of
events. Ho was not seldom accused of doing
things calculated to frighten tbo people and to
disorganize tho Ami-Slavery forces.
Such was his unequivocal declaration, in h!s
first groat Anti-Slavery speech in the Senate,
that ho hold himself hound, by every conviction
of Justice, right, and duty, to disobey tho Fugi
tive Slave law, and his ringiug answer to tho
question put by Senator Butler, of South Caro
lina, whether, without the Fugitive Slave law, bo
would, under tho Constitution, consider it his
duty to aid tho surrender of fugitive slaves. "Is
thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?"
Such was his speech on tho “ Barbarism of
Slavery," delivered on a bill to admit Kansas im
mediately under a free Stato Constitution ; a
speech so unsparing and vehement in tbo denun
ciation of Slavery In all its political,
moral, and social aspects, and so direct
in Its prediction of tho comploto anni
hilation of Slavery, that it was said such
a speech would scarcely aid tho admission of
Kansas. Such was his unbending and open
resistance to any plan of compromise calculated
to preserve Slavery, when, after Hr. Lincoln’s
election, tho Rebellion llrst raised its head, and
a largo number of Northern people, oven Anti-
Slavery men, frightened by tho threatening pros
pect of oivil war, oast blindly about for a plan of
adjustment, while really no* adjustment was
possible. Such was, early In the War, and during
tbo most doubtful hours, his declaration, laid
before the Senate In a series of resolutions, that
tho Slates in rebellion had destroyed themselves
as such by tho very not of rebellion; that Slavery,
as a creation of State law, had perished with the
States, and that General Emancipation must
immediately follow,—thus putting tho programme
of Emancipation boldlyln the foreground, at a
time when many thought, that tho cry of Uuion
alone, Union with or without Slavery, could
hold together tho Union forces. Such was his
declaration, demanding Negro Suffrage even be
fore tbo closo of tbo War. while tho public
opinion at tho North, whoso aid the Government
needed, still recoiled from such a measure.
Thus ho was apt to go rough-shod over tho
oousldoratious of management, deemed impor
tant by his 00-workors. I believe bo never con
sulted with his friends around him before doing
those things, and, when they afterwards remon
strated with him, ho ingenuously asked: "Isit
not right and true, what 1 have said ? And, if it
is right and true, must I not say it ? "
And yet, although bo had no organizing mind,
and despised management, ho was a loader. Ho
was a loader os tho embodiment of the moral
idea, with all its uncompromising firmness, its
unflagging faith, its daring devotion. Aid in
this sense ho could bo a loader only, because ho
was no politician. Ho forced others to follow,
Because ho was himself impracticable. Simply
obeying his moral impulse, ho said things which,
in the highest legislative body of tho Republic,
nobody oiso would say; and ho proved that they
could bo said, and yet tho world move on. With
his wealth of learning and legal ability, ho fur
nished an arsenal of arguments, convincing
more timid souls that what ho said could bo sus
tained in repeating. And presently the politi
cians felt encouraged to follow in tho direction
whoro tho idealist had driven a stake ahead.
Nay, ho forced them to follow'; for they know
that tho idealist, whom they could not venture
to disown, would not fall baok at their bidding.
Such was his leadership in tho struggle with
Nor was that leadership interrupted when, on
tho 22d of Hay, 1850, Preston Brooks, of South
Carolina, maddened by an arraignment of his
Stato and its Senator, oamo upon Charles Sum
ner in the Senate, struck him down with heavy
blows, and loft him on tho ground blooding ami
insensible. Far throe years Sumner’s voice was
not hoard, but his blood marked the vantage
ground from which his party could not recede ;
and his Senatorial ohair,.kont empty for him by
tho noblo people of Massachusetts, stood there
in most eloquent silence, confirming, seating, in
flaming ail he had said with terrible illustration,
—a guido-poat to tho onward march of Freedom.
When, In 1801, tbo Republican party bad
taken tho reins of Government in baud, bis pe
culiar leadership entered upon a now field of
action. No sooner was tho victory of tbo AntU
Slavery cause In tbo election ascertained, .than
the Rebellion raised its bead. South Carolina
opened tbo Bocobshloii movement. The
portentous shadow of an approaching Civil War
spread over tbo land. A tremor lluttorod through
tho hearts ovon'of strong men In the North,—a
vague fear such as is produced by tho first
rumbling of an'earthquake. Could not a bloody
ooulliot bo averted ? A fresh clamor for com
promise arose. Uvea Republicans in Congress
began to waver. Tbo proposed compromise in
volved now aud oxinoss constitutional
recognitions of tbo existence and rights of
Slavery, aud guamteos against interference
with it by constitutional amendment or na
tional law. Tho pressure from the country, oven
from Massachusetts, in favor of the scheme, wrn
extraordinary, hut a majority of tbo Anti-Slavuy
men In tbo Senate—ln tholr front Mr. Sumner—
stood firm, fooling that a oompromiKO, giving
express constitutional sanction and an indoilnilo
loose of Ufo to Slavery. would ho a surromlor,
and knowing, also, that oven bv tbo olfcr of such
a surrondor, accession and Civil War would still
bo insisted on by tho Southern loaders. Tho
history of those days, as wo know it, confliins
the accuracy of that judgment. Tho War was
Inevitable. Thus tho Anti-Slavery cause escaped
a useless humiliation, and retained Intact Its
moral forco for future notion.
Hut now tho time had oomo when tho Anti-
Slavery movement, no longer a more opposition
to tbo demands of tho Blavo-Fowor, was to pro*
coed to positive action. Tbo War hod scarcoli
commenced in oarnast when Mr. Spinuor urgoo
General Emancipation. Only tho groat ideal ob*
Ject of tbo liberty of all mou could give sanclioc
to a war in tho oyos of tho dovotco of universal
ponce. To tho ond of stamping upon tho War
tbo character of a War of Emancipation, nil hiu
energies wore bout. Ills unreserved and em
phatic utterances alarmed tbo politicians. Our
armies suffered disaster upon disaster in tho
Hold. Tbo managing mind insisted that caro
must bo taken, by nourishing tho popular enthu
siasm for tbo integrity of tho Union, —tbo strict
ly national idea alone,—to unlto all tbo social
and political olomouts of tho Norrh for tho strug
gle ; and that so bold a measure ns Immediate
Emancipation might reanimate old dissensions,
and put hearty co-f poratiou in Joopardv.
But Mr. Sumner’s convictions could not bo ro
• pressed. In a bold doeroo of Universal Liberty
no saw only a now sourco of inspiration and
strength. Nor was his impulsive instinct un
supported by good reason. The distraction pro
duced iu tho North by au Emancipation measure
could only bo of short duration. Tbo moral
spirit could uot fall to gain tbo upper hand.
But, iu another direction, a bold and uno-
Sulvocal Autl-aiiwory policy could not foil to pro
uco most salutary effects. Ono of tho dangers
threatening us was foreign interference.
No European Powers gavo us their ex
pressed sympathy except Germany and
Bussia. Tho governing classes of En
gland, with conspicuous individual excep
tions, always gratefully to ho romomborod, woro
ill-disposed towards tho Union cause. Tho per
manent disruption of tho llopublio was loudly
predicted, as if it woro doshod, and intervention
—an intorvoutiou which could bo only m favor
of tho South—was opouly spoken of. Tho Em
peror of tho French, who availed him self of our
embarrassments to execute his ambitious designs
iu Mexico, was animated by sontimonts no loss
hostile. It appeared as If only a plausible op
f ortunity had boon wanting to bring foreign in
orvontlon upon our heads. A threatening
spirit, disarmed only by timely prudence, bad
manifested itself In tho Trout case. It soomod
doubtful whether tbo roost skillful diplomacy,
uualdod by a stronger forco, would bo able to
avort tho danger.
But tho greatest strength of tho Anll-Slavory
cause had always boon iu tho conscience of man
kind. Thcro was our natural ally. Tbo cauno
of Slavery, as such, could havo no opou sympa
thy among tho nations of Europo. It stood con
demned by tho moral sentiment of tbo clvilizod
world. How could any European Government,
in tho faco of that universal sentiment, under
take opouly to interfere against a Power waging
war against Slavery? Surely that could uot bo
thought of.
But had tho Government of tho United States
distinctly professed that it was waging war
against Slavery, and for Freedom? Had it uot
been officially declared that tho War for tbo
Union would not alter tho condition of a single
human being iu America? Why then uot arrest
tho uaoloss effusion of blood; why not, by inter
vention, stop a destructive war, m which, con
fessedly, Slavery and Freedom woro uot at
stake? Such woro tho arguments of aur ene
mies in Europo; and they woro not without
It was obvious that nothing but a measure
impressing boyoud dispute upon our war a de
cided Anti-Slavery character. making it in pro
fession wnat it was inevitably destined to bo in
fact, a War of Emancipation,—could enlist on
our side the enlightened public opinion of tbo
Old World so strong as to restrain tbo hostile
spirit of foreign Governments. No European
Government could well venture to iutorforo
against those who had convinood the world that
they woro lighting to give freedom to tho slaves
of North America.
Thus tho moral Instinct did not err. Tho
Emancipation policy was not only tho policy of
principle, but also the policy of safety. Mr.
manner urged it with impetuous and unflagging
zeal. In tbo Senate ho found but little encour
agement. Tbo rosolutlous ho introduced in
February, 18G2, declaring Stato suicide as tbo
consequence of Rebellion, and tho extinction ol
Slavery in tho insurrectionary States as tho eon*
sequence of Stato suicide, woro looked upon aa
an ul-timed and hazardous demonstration, dis*
turbing all Ideas of management.
To tlio I resident, then, he devoted Ina efforts.
Nothing cud ho more interesting—nay, touching
—thanlho peculiar relations that sprung up bo*
tween Abraham Lincoln and Charles fcJumuer.
No two mou could bo more alike as to tholi
their moral impulses and ultimate aims ; no two
men more unlike in their methods of reasoning
and their judgment of moans.
Abraham Lincoln was a true child of tha
people. There was in his heart an inexhaustible
fountain of tenderness, and from it sprung that
longing to bo true, lust, and merciful to all,
which made the people love him. In tho deep,
largo humanity of his soul had grown his moral
and political principles, to which ho clung with
the fidelity of an honest nature, and which ha
defended with tho strength of a vigorous mind.
But ho had not grown great in any high school
of statesmanship. Ho had, from'tho humblest
beginnings, slowly and laboriously worked
himself up. or rather ho had gradually
risen up without being aware of it, and sud
denly bo found himslf in tbo foremost rank of
tho distinguished mou of tho laud. In his youth
aud early manhood ho had achieved no striking
successes that might have imparted to him that
ovorwconiug self-appreciation which so frequent
ly loads self-made men to overestimate their
faculties, and to ignore the limits of their
strength. Ho was not a learned man, but ho
had learned oud meditated enough to fool how
much thoro was still for him to loaru. Hie
marvelous success iu bis riper years tott intact
tho inborn modesty of his nature. Ho was ab
solutely without pretension. His simplicity,
which by its genuineness extorted respect and
affection, was wonderfully persuasive, aud some
times deeply pathetic aud strikingly brilliant.
His natural gifts woro groat; ho possessed a
clear aud penetrating miud; but, in forming
his opinions on subjects of importance, ho
was so careful, conscientious, aud diffi
dent, that ho would always hoar aud probe what
opponents had to say, before ho became firmly
satisfied of tho justness of his own conclusions,
—not as if bo had been easily controlled aud led
by other men, for. bo had a will of his own,—but
his mental operations woro slow and hesitating,
and inapt to ooncoivo quick resolutions. Ho
looked self-reliance. Nobody felt more than he
tho awful weight of his responsibilities, lie
was not one of those bold reformers who will
defy tho opposition of tho world, and undertake
to impoao their opinions aud will upou a re
luctant ago. With careful consideration of tho
possibilities of tho hour, ho advanced slowly,
but. whou he had so advanced, ho planted his
foot with firmness, and no power was strong
enough to force him to a backward stop. And
every day of groat responsibility enlarged tho
horizon of his mind, and overy day ho grasped
the holm of affairs with a steadier hand.
It was to such a mao that Sumuor, during tbo
most doubtful dny» at tho beginning of tbo War,
addressed bis appeals for immediate Kmaucipa
tion,—appeals impetuous aud impatiout, ns they
coulduprlng only from bis ardent and overruling
convictions. Tbo President at first passively re
sisted tbo vehement counsel of tbo Senator, but
bo bado tho couasolor welcome. It was Mr.
Lincoln's constant endeavor to surround himself
with tbo best and ablest men of tbo country.
Not only did tho first names of tbo Republican
party appear in bis Cabinet, but ovory able man
in Congress was always invited as an advisor,
wbotbor bis views agreed with those of tbo Presi
dent or not. But Mr. Sumuor bo treated as a
favorite counselor, almost like a Minister of
State, outside of tbo Cabinet.
There wore statesmen around tbo President
who woro also politicians, understanding tbo ait
of management. Mr. Lincoln appreciated tbo
value of their advice as to wlmt was prudent and
practicable. But bo know also bow to dleorim
inato. In Mr. Sumuor bo saw a counsellor who
was no politician, but who stood before him as
tho true roprosoutatlyo of tbo moral earnest
ness and tbo groat inspirations of tbolr common
cause. From him bo board what was right, and
necessary, and • inevitable. By the former be
was tola what, in their opinion, could pru
dently and safely bo done. Having
beard them both, Abraham Lincoln conn
soled with himself, and formed bid
resolution. Thus Mr. Lincoln, while scarcely
ever fully and speedily following Sumner’s ad
vice, never ceased to ask for It, for' bo know its
fliguiliounoo. And Sumner, while almost always 1
dissatisfied with Lincoln’s cautious hesitation
never grow weary in giving bis advice, for bd
never distrusted Lincoln's fidelity. Ahvavi
agreed as to tbo ultimate end, they almost al
ways differed os to times aud means j but, while
differing, they firmly trusted,' for they under
stood on* -**>•—•. J .
jror? an af-

xml | txt