In accordance with directions from his physician, Mr. Sumner acknowledged these demonstrations only by a wave of the hand. On reaching Newton Street, on Blackstone Square, a long line of beautiful young ladies was ranged upon the pavement on the south side, each holding a bouquet, to present to Senator Sumner. Previously, however, a very interesting scene took place.
Pierce, Mrs. Goodwin, Mrs. Henry Keyes, and Miss Mary Pierce—each dressed in white, with wreaths on their heads, and wearing elegant sashes—came forward, and presented Mr. Sumner splendid bouquets, which action seemed to give him much gratification. But the receipt of another from the hands of a lovely child, carried up to the Senator in the arms of a gentleman, and a similar act in Shawmut Avenue, were peculiarly grateful to him. No previous or subsequent circumstances during the day seemed to give Mr. Sumner such true delight as these kindnesses. On proceeding forward, the ladies showered their bouquets upon him from sidewalks and windows along the street, until the carriage was pretty nigh full.
As the floral burden accumulated, he laughed the more heartily, and spoke his gratitude to every one of the fair donors his voice could reach.
All along Newton Street, and the west side of Blackstone Square, the procession was cheered in the most enthusiastic manner. Ladies crowded almost every window, and the scene was the most brilliant along the route. As the procession reached the Boston Female Orphan Asylum on Washington Street, the inmates of that institution were seen ranged in front of the building, waving their handkerchiefs, and displaying on a white banner a beautiful wreath of evergreen intermingled with flowers, with the motto,—.
This was the only point on the route of the procession where Mr. Sumner rose to his feet. Here the kindness of these orphaned ones so touched his feelings, that he could not help acknowledging it in this way. Attached to several of the bouquets thrown to Mr. Sumner were appropriate and expressive mottoes. The principal of them were as follows. At the corner of Washington and Newton Streets, over Washington, there was a fine display of flags and streamers.
From the house of Mr. Nickerson, fronting on Franklin Square, was a splendid triumphal arch, between two elm-trees, flags and streamers surrounding the word—. Newton Street had a large number of flags, the union jack displayed alternately with the national ensign on staffs projecting from Franklin Square.
The entire street was strewed with evergreens. It was a beautiful display. Andrews were splendidly decorated with festoons and flags. Between them, floating above Newton Street, was the following:—. The house of E. Dudley, at the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Waltham Street, made a fine appearance. Besides flags and festoons, was the following, wreathed in black:—. Sargent, was the following significant motto:—.
The house of Dr. Parks, No. The following was inscribed upon the building:—. There were many other similar decorations. If longer time had been given, the demonstration would have been other than it was. The scene at the State House was beyond description. The area in front, the long range of steps leading to the Capitol, the Capitol itself, the streets in the vicinity, the houses even to the roofs, were packed with human beings.
The assembled thousands greeted him with long continued cheering. Sumner arrived in front of the Capitol, where a platform had been erected. Sumner was then introduced by Professor Huntington in an eloquent speech, as follows. It is needless to recount here his services to our Commonwealth, to the whole Republic, to the principles of a pure and just nationality, to elegant learning, to Christian statesmanship, to the liberties and the rights of man. These are all safely recorded in the imperishable history of the country and the race. How deeply they are written in the hearts of his fellow-citizens let this vast and enthusiastic concourse bear witness.
He returns to his friends; but his friends are wherever justice is revered. He returns to his neighbors; but he has a neighbor in every victim of wrong throughout the world. He returns to the State that entrusted her interests to his charge, having proclaimed—according to the spirit of her own institutions and her people—the doctrine of the Brotherhood of all States, in the bonds of universal Peace.
He stands at the door of her Capitol, and in the presence of her Chief Magistrate,—stands here her faithful steward, her eloquent and fearless advocate, her honored guest, her beloved son! The Chief Marshal of the procession announces that no political mottoes will be admitted into the ranks. By the same sense of propriety I am admonished that no political phrases are appropriate here. I cordially add my tribute, humble, save what my official station imparts to it, to crown the just and welcome offering. She will stand by you to-morrow [ enthusiastic cheers ]; and she will stand by you in her defence forever.
Every thrilling breast and kindling countenance around you in this immense throng welcomes you,—Boston welcomes you,—Massachusetts welcomes you. The duty of the day over, let us, one and all, leave our distinguished friend to the undisturbed quiet of his own home, to the fond caress of one whose ear is at this moment bent in anxious watching for the earliest warning of his approach, that he may there recover, not only from his past illness, but from the present excitement and the fatigues of travel.
At present our kindest attentions will consist in scrupulously avoiding exacting intrusions. Three times three cheers were then given for Mr.
Senator Schurz [Re: Charles Sumner Eulogy]
Sumner, who attempted to reply; but his voice was more feeble than in replying to Mr. He spoke, with great difficulty, as follows. It is a pleasure to be once more among the scenes of home; to look upon familiar objects,—the State House, the Common, and well-known streets. It is more pleasant still to behold the countenances of friends.
And all this pleasure, Sir, is enhanced by the welcome which you now give me, in behalf of the beloved Commonwealth which for five years I have served, honestly, earnestly, and constantly, in an important field of duty, to which I was introduced by an unsought suffrage. Sir, I thank you for this welcome. I thank, also, the distinguished gentlemen who have honored this occasion by their presence. I thank, too, these swelling multitudes who contribute to me the strength and succor of their sympathies; and my soul overflows especially to the young men of Boston, out of whose hearts, as from an exuberant fountain, this broad-spreading hospitality took its rise.
My earnest desire, often expressed, has been, that I might be allowed to return home quietly, without show or demonstration of any kind. And this longing was enforced by my physical condition, which, though vastly improved at this time, and advancing surely towards complete health, is still exposed to the peril of relapse, or at least to the arrest of those kindly processes of Nature essential to the restoration of a shattered system. But the spontaneous kindness of this reception makes me forget my weakness, makes me forget my desire for repose.
I thank you, Sir, for the suggestion of seclusion, and the security which that suggestion promises to afford. Something more, Sir, I would say, but I am admonished that voice and strength will not permit. With your permission, therefore, I will hand the reporters what I should be glad to say, that it may be printed. More than five months have passed since I was disabled from the performance of my public duties.
During this weary period I have been constrained to repeat daily the lesson of renunciation,—confined at first to my bed, and then only slowly regaining the power even to walk. But, beyond the constant, irrepressible grief which must well up in the breast of every patriot, as he discerns the present condition of his country, my chief sorrow has been caused by the necessity, to which I was doomed, of renouncing all part in the contest for human rights, which, beginning in Congress, has since enveloped the whole land.
The Grecian chief, grievously ill of a wound from the [Pg 33] stealthy bite of a snake, and left behind while his companions sailed to the siege of Troy, did not repine more at his enforced seclusion. From day to day and week to week I vainly sought that health which we value most when lost, and which perpetually eluded my pursuit. For health I strove, for health I prayed.
With uncertain steps I sought it at the seashore and I sought it on the mountain-top. I listened to the admonitions of medical skill, and I courted all the bracing influences of Nature, while time passed without the accustomed healing on its wings. I had confidently hoped to be restored so as to take my seat in the Senate, and to be heard there again, long before the session closed. But Congress adjourned, leaving me still an invalid. My next hope was, that I might be permitted to appear before the people during the present canvass, and with heart and voice plead the great cause now in issue.
Here again I have been disappointed, and the thread of my disability is not yet spun to the end. Even now, though happily lifted from long prostration, and beginning to assume many of the conditions of health, I am constrained to confess that I am an invalid,—cheered, however, by the assurance that I shall soon be permitted, with unimpaired vigor, to resume all the responsibilities of my position. Too much have I said about myself; but you will pardon it to the occasion, which, being personal in [Pg 34] character, invites these personal confessions. With more pleasure I turn to other things.
I should feel that I failed in one of those duties which the heart prompts and the judgment confirms, if I allowed this first opportunity to pass without sincerest acknowledgment to my able, generous, and faithful colleague, Mr. Together we labored in mutual trust, honorably leaning upon each other.
By my disability he was left sole representative of Massachusetts on the floor of the Senate, throughout months of heated contest, involving her good name and most cherished sentiments. All who watched the currents of debate, even as imperfectly as I did in my retirement, know with what readiness, courage, and power he acted,—showing himself, by extraordinary energies, equal to the extraordinary occasion.
But it is my especial happiness to recognize his unfailing sympathies for myself, and his manly assumption of all the responsibilities of the hour. I am not here to indulge in eulogy, nor to open any merit-roll of service; but the same feeling which prompts these acknowledgments to my colleague embraces also the Commonwealth from whom we have received our trust.
To Massachusetts, mother of us all,—great in resources, great in children,—I now pledge anew my devotion. Never before did she inspire equal pride and affection; for never before was she so completely possessed by those sentiments which, when manifest in Commonwealth or citizen, invest the character with its highest charm, so that what is sown a natural body is raised a spiritual body. Wealth has its splendor, and the intellect has its glory; but there is a grandeur in such service which is above all that these can supply.
For this she has already the regard of good men, and will have the immortal life of history. For this she has also the reproach and contumely always throughout the ages poured upon those who have striven for justice on earth. Not now for the first time in human struggles has Truth, when most dishonored, seemed most radiant, gathering glory even out of obloquy.
Massachusetts is not without encouragement [Pg 36] in her own history. She has seen her ports closed by arbitrary power,—has seen her name made a byword of reproach,—has seen her cherished leaders, Hancock and Adams, excepted from all pardon by the crown; but then, when most dishonored, did Massachusetts deserve most, for then was she doing most for the cause of all. And now, when Massachusetts is engaged in a greater cause than that of our fathers, how serenely can she turn from the scoff and jeer of heartless men!
Her only disgrace will be in disloyalty to the truth which is to make her free. Worse to bear—oh, far worse! It is hard to see the scholarship which has been drawn from her cisterns, and the riches accumulated under her hospitable shelter, now employed to weaken and discredit that cause which is above riches or scholarship. It is hard, while fellow-citizens in Kansas plead for deliverance from a cruel Usurpation, and while the whole country, including our own soil, is trodden down by a domineering and brutal Despotism, to behold sons of Massachusetts in sympathy, open or disguised, with the vulgar enemy, quickening everywhere the lash of the taskmaster, and helping forward the Satanic carnival, when Slavery shall be fastened not only upon prostrate Kansas, but upon all the Territories of the Republic,—when Cuba shall be torn from a friendly power by dishonest force,—and when the slave-trade itself, with all its crime, its woe, and its shame, shall be opened anew under the American flag.
Alas, that any child of Massachusetts, in wickedness of heart, or in weakness of principle, or under the delusion of partisan prejudice, should join in these things! With such I [Pg 37] have no word of controversy at this hour. But, leaving them now, in my weakness, I trust not to seem too severe, if I covet for the occasion something of the divine power.
Gladly from these do I turn to another character, yet happily spared to Massachusetts, whose heart beats strong with the best blood of the Revolution, and with the best sentiments by which that blood was enriched. His undaunted soul, lifted already to glimpses of another life, may shame the feebler spirits of a later generation. There is one other personage, at a distant period, who, with precisely the same burden of winters, asserted the same supremacy of powers. Mark was displayed before him. Mark, while a sublimer cause is ours than the cause of the Crusaders; for our task is not to ransom an empty sepulchre, but to rescue the Saviour himself, in the bodies of his innumerable children,—not to dislodge the Infidel from a distant foreign soil, but to displace him from the very Jerusalem of our Liberties.
May it please your Excellency, I forbear to proceed further. With thanks for this welcome, accept also my new vows of duty. In all simplicity let me say that I seek nothing but the triumph of Truth. To this I offer my best efforts, careless of office or honor. Show me that I am wrong, and I stop at once; but in the complete conviction of right I shall persevere against all temptations, against all odds, against all perils, against all threats,—knowing well, that, whatever [Pg 39] may be my fate, the Right will surely prevail. Terrestrial place is determined by celestial observation.
- Small Beneath the Sky: A Prairie Memoir;
- Still The Enemy!
- 2 editions.
Only by watching the stars can the mariner safely pursue his course; and it is only by obeying those lofty principles which are above men and human passion that we can make our way safely through the duties of life. In such obedience I hope to live, while, as a servant of Massachusetts, I avoid no labor, shrink from no exposure, and complain of no hardship. On arriving there, he was again welcomed with unbounded enthusiasm by a large crowd assembled in the street and on the sidewalks, the windows being filled on both sides up and down the street.
The crowd cheered vociferously for Mr. Sumner, his mother, the Governor, Hon. Josiah Quincy, Hon. Banks, and Hon. Anson Burlingame. Sumner and his mother appeared at the window and bowed their acknowledgments, which called forth general and enthusiastic plaudits. The multitude then, giving three parting cheers for the distinguished Senator, separated, and the ceremonies of reception terminated.
Many of the business firms closed their stores during the afternoon. The paper agreeing to do so was headed by A. To these Legislatures I look at this exigency for something worthy of the cause which is now in jeopardy. They have the power, and this is the very moment to exert it. God bless the State which begins! Surely liberty in Kansas, involving our own liberty also, is worthy of every effort.
To its security every citizen should contribute according to his means; and I know no better rule for the State Legislatures than for the citizen. These Legislatures should all contribute according to their means,—the more, the better. And such contributions, like every other charity, will be twice blessed. Letter to a Banquet at Faneuil Hall, November 24, Hancock Street , Monday Evening, November 24, Burlingame; but my careful physician does not allow me yet to take part in the excitement of a public meeting, and I yield to his prescription.
My best wishes attend your distinguished guest to-night and always. His recent triumph is the occasion of special joy, not only in Massachusetts, but everywhere throughout the free North. Many who voted against him must, in their better moments, condemn themselves,—as much as they have been condemned by others. If not entirely dead to generous impulses, they must be glad that they failed. If not entirely insensible to appearances, they must look with regret at the means employed to accomplish the end proposed.
If not entirely indifferent to principles, they must look with amazement at the unprecedented, incongruous, and eccentric political conglomerate of which they constituted a part. It was natural that the propagandists of Slavery, acting under dictation from Washington, should vote against Mr. It was natural that others, [Pg 42] who allow themselves to be controlled by the rancors and jealousies of party, should do likewise. But it was hard that this blow at Freedom should be attempted in the name of Trade, and that merchants of Boston should be rallied against a candidate who had done so much to make Boston respectable.
And yet this extraordinary conduct is not without parallel in history. Such examples teach us not to be disappointed, when this interest is invoked against our efforts. But I rejoice to know that in Boston there are honorable exceptions, and, if anything be expected from me to-night, let it be a tribute to one of these. I propose the following toast. The Merchants of Boston. Letter to a Committee at Worcester, November 24, MY DEAR SIR,—Not willingly do I give up the opportunity of uniting with the gallant Republicans of Worcester in celebrating our recent victories; but my health, though vastly improved, has limitations which I cannot with prudence neglect, and these forbid the indulgence to which you kindly invite me.
Please tender to the Republicans my cordial congratulations. Clearly do I see the beginning of the end. If toasts are in order at your festival, let me propose the following. The late Presidential Election. Much remains to be done. Indeed, I think that no effort can be safely relaxed, until the Territory is admitted into the Union as a Free State. The Slave Oligarchy has not yet abandoned its darling idea of a new Slave State, and this can be defeated only by vigilance.
The lull which seems now to prevail does not persuade me to repose. Too much is at stake. Besides, I have read the fable of the cat in the meal. Of course, emigrants who love Freedom, and, if need be, are willing to die in her cause, must be encouraged to plant themselves in the Territory.
Charles Sumner Eulogy
But we who stay at home must contribute to their comfort and protection, and, since this can be done most effectively through State Legislatures, these must be enlisted. The name of a State Legislature will be a tower of strength. Massachusetts, which, throughout our history, has led in every liberal movement, must lead now by a generous appropriation, which, if not needed, may not be used, but which, in any alternative, will be an irresistible token of her sincerity, an example to other [Pg 45] States, and a fountain of encouragement to distant fellow-citizens.
I cannot believe that Massachusetts will hesitate. Her people have already opened their hearts to Kansas, and the public treasury should be opened as wide as their hearts. Accept my thanks for the good you have done and the good you are still doing, and believe me, my dear Sir, with much regard,. Letter to the Legislature of Massachusetts, January 22, In the winter of , the American party having the control of the Legislature of Massachusetts, members of this party were reported as entering into a plan to choose a Senator in place of Mr.
Sumner at the expiration of his term, March 4, , thus anticipating the action of the Legislature to be chosen in the autumn following. The plan was discussed in newspapers and in contemporary letters. It excited the anxiety of Mr. The discussion of the question was arrested by the event which soon followed, turning all eyes to him, and making him more than ever the representative of Massachusetts. It came together January 7, , when, even before the message of the Governor, it was insisted that the election should be proceeded with, and January 9th was fixed upon for this purpose.
On that day, in pursuance of an order of the House, the Clerk called the roll of members, when each responded viva voce with the name of the person for whom he voted, as follows. Charles Sumner , of Boston, having received the entire vote of the Senate, in concurrence with the House, is elected United States Senator from this State for the term of six years from the fourth of March next.
Now he receives nearly all the votes, on the first ballot, taken on the third day of the session, every member speaking aloud his vote. Then he received only the exact number necessary for a choice,—one more than half the whole number; and the election was not effected until the twenty-sixth ballot, taken on the one hundred and fourteenth day of the session April 24, , and the votes were thrown in sealed envelopes.
Then he was the candidate of a party which threw 27, votes in the State, at the preceding popular election, or about one fifth of the whole number. Now he is the candidate of a party which threw , votes in the State, at the last popular election, or about two thirds of the whole number. Then he was chosen to a body where he could expect to find but two or three associates sympathizing with his sentiments. Now he is a member of a party which has a majority in the lower House of Congress, and numbers a quarter of the members even of the Senate of the United States. Truly, tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
It is not too much to say that Mr. Sumner is at this moment the most popular man in the State, the opinions of which he so truly represents. Nor will it do to attribute this general love, honor, and sympathy entirely to the felonious assault made upon Mr. Had he been less true to the cause committed to his keeping, had he trimmed and temporized, and spoken softly when he should have spoken sharply, he would have been safe from the bludgeon of the bully, and might have won the smiles instead of the expectorations of a certain servile Senator.
The people of Massachusetts have estimated Mr. Few public men have had such large opportunities, few public men have so nobly improved them. On the 23d of January, , Hon. Charles A. Phelps, Speaker of the House of Representatives, laid before the House the following letter, which was read, and, on motion of Hon.
Charles Hale, of Boston, entered at large upon the Journal. Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives ,—. I have been officially notified that the people of Massachusetts, by concurrent votes of both branches of the Legislature, have charged me with the duty of representing them in the Senate of the United States for another term of six years, on the expiration of that which I now have the honor to hold. This renewed trust I accept with gratitude enhanced by the peculiar circumstances under which it is bestowed.
But far beyond every personal gratification is the delight of knowing, by this sign, that the people of Massachusetts, forgetting ancient party hates, have at last come together in fraternal support of a sacred cause, compared with which the fate of any public servant is of small account. When first selected for this eminent trust, I was a stranger to all official life. Untried in public affairs, I was taken up, and placed, without effort of my own, and even without antecedent aspiration, in the station where, after an experience of nearly six years, you now, with spontaneous unanimity, bid me remain.
The duties of a public servant are not always conspicuous. Much of his time is absorbed in cares which, if not obscure, are little calculated to attract public attention. Massachusetts justly expects that no such interests shall be neglected. But, by solemn resolutions of her Legislature, by the votes of her people, and by the voice of her history, Massachusetts especially enjoins upon her representatives to see, that, at all hazards, and whatever else may suffer, Freedom shall prevail.
I cannot neglect this injunction. Alike by sympathy with the slave and by determination to save ourselves from wretched thraldom, we are all summoned to the effort now organized for the emancipation of the National Government from a degrading influence, hostile to civilization, which, wherever it shows itself, even at a distance, is brutal, vulgar, and mean, constituting an unnatural tyranny, calculated to arouse the generous indignation of good men. Of course, no person, unless ready to say in his heart that there is no God, can doubt the certain result.
But this result, like every great good, can be accomplished only by well-directed effort. I know something of the labor and trial which such service imposes; I also know something of the satisfaction it affords, giving to all who truly espouse it a better joy than anything in office or honor. In the weary prostration of months, from which I have now happily risen, the sharpest pang came out of my enforced separation from the cause which was so dear to me; and now my content is in the assurance that to this service I may dedicate the vigorous health which, through medical care and the kindly ministrations of Nature, I am permitted to expect.
In this well-founded assurance, I welcome the [Pg 50] trust which has been again conferred upon me, while I once more bespeak the candid judgment of my fellow-citizens, and once more invoke the guardianship of a benignant Providence. The following tribute, taken from contemporary newspapers, attests a feeling much above that of ordinary politics, and therefore illustrates this record.
Ryland Fletcher, Governor of Vermont, March 7, The Legislature of Vermont, at its recent session, passed a series of joint resolutions, highly complimentary, and indorsing Mr. On receiving a copy, Mr. Sumner wrote the following reply. SIR,—At the last moment before leaving for foreign lands in quest of that vigorous health which for nearly ten months has been taken from me, I have received notice of the resolutions adopted by the Legislature of Vermont, and approved by your Excellency, which give the official sanction of a generous, virtuous, and intelligent State to my speech in the Senate on the 19th and 20th of May last, exposing the Crime against Kansas.
Such a token is precious to me in every respect,—not only because it assures me of the personal sympathy of the people of Vermont, declared through their representatives, but because it attests their interest in that cause which is more important than any person. I cannot accept this public approval of my speech without seizing the occasion to express a heartfelt joy that I was permitted to make it, and also my humble [Pg 53] determination, with returning strength, to do something that shall still further unmask the portentous Barbarism which has fastened on our Republic, and installed itself in all the high places of power.
Much must still be done, or the night of Slavery will settle down on that beautiful Territory. Surely the Legislature of Massachusetts will feel the inspiration of a great cause, and pledge itself by a generous appropriation to its support. I hear of constitutional impediments, but I believe that all such will be found to have bottom in the lukewarm hearts of objectors rather than in the Constitution. There are some who think that anything for Slavery is constitutional, but nothing for Freedom.
With me the opposite rule prevails, and I venture to say that any other rule must bring discredit upon a country calling itself a Commonwealth. I trust, also, that the people of Kansas will stand firm, and that, if need be, they will know how to die for Freedom. They have it in Kansas, for there is to be fought the great battle between Freedom and Slavery,—by the ballot-box , I trust; but I do not forget that all who destroy the ballot-box madly invoke the cartridge-box.
With a farewell to my country, as I seek a foreign [Pg 55] land, hoping for health long deferred, I give my last thoughts to suffering Kansas, with devout prayers that the ruffian Usurpation which now treads her down may be peaceably overthrown, and that she may be lifted into the enjoyment of freedom and repose. Letter to the American Merchants at Paris, April 20, GENTLEMEN,—I have been honored by your communication of the 28th April, where, after referring to my services as Senator of the United States, in language generous beyond the ordinary experience of political life, you are pleased to invite me, in the name of the American merchants residing in Paris, to a public dinner, at such time as may be most convenient to myself.
The voice of hospitality is pleasant in a strange land. But the hospitality which you offer is enhanced by the character and number of those who unite in it, among whom I recognize well-known names, intimately associated with the commerce of my country in one of its most important outposts. There is one aspect in which your invitation is especially grateful.
It is this. If I have been able to do anything not unworthy of your approbation, it is because I never failed, whether in majorities or minorities, against all obloquy, and at every hazard, to uphold those principles of Liberty which, just in proportion as they prevail under our Constitution, make us an example to the nations. And since my public course cannot be unknown to you, I am permitted to infer that the public testimony with which you now honor me is offered in some measure to those principles,—dearer to me than any personal distinction,—with which I am proud to know that my name is associated.
The invitation you send me, coming from such a source, couched in terms so flattering, and possessing such an import, presents a temptation difficult to resist. But I [Pg 58] am admonished by the state of my health, which is yet far from its natural vigor, that I must not listen to it, except to express my gratitude. In making this excuse, let me fortify myself by the confession that I left home mainly to withdraw from the excitements of public life, and particularly from all public speaking, in the assurance that by such withdrawal, accompanied by that relaxation which is found in change of pursuit, my convalescence would be completed.
The good physician under whose advice I have acted would not admit that by crossing the sea I had been able at once to alter all the conditions under which his advice was given. I cannot turn coldly from the opportunity you offer me. My heart overflows with best wishes for yourselves individually, and also for the commerce which you conduct, mingled with aspirations that your influence may always add to the welfare and just renown of our country.
As American merchants at Paris, you are representatives of the United States on a foreign mission, without diplomatic salary or diplomatic privilege. But it belongs to the felicity of your position that what you do well for yourselves will be well for your country, and, more than any diplomacy, will contribute to strengthen the friendly ties of two powerful nations. The vigilant spirit of Slavery did not fail to note this correspondence. Here is a specimen. If they were sordid and self-seeking adventurers, in pursuit of political capital, rather than the honorable rewards of a liberal and enlightened trade, one could understand, or rather would not marvel at, this pseudo-patriotic partisanship, this unfraternal display of their sectional colors in a foreign land.
Thus was the invalid in search of health pursued by the same malign spirit from which he had originally suffered. Letter to a Friend, dated Heidelberg, September 11, During this time I have been travelling away from news, and am now famished. On arrival at Antwerp, I trust to find letters at last.
I have been ransacking Switzerland; I have visited most of its lakes, and crossed several of its mountains, mule-back. My strength has not allowed me to venture upon any of those foot expeditions, the charm of Swiss travel, by which you reach places out of the way; but I have seen much, and have gained health constantly. I have crossed the Alps by the St.
Gothard, and then recrossed by the Grand St. Bernard, passing a night with the monks and dogs. I have spent a day at the foot of Mont Blanc, and another on the wonderful Lake Leman. I have been in the Pyrenees, in the Alps, in the Channel Isles. You will next hear of me in the Highlands of Scotland. I see our politics now in distant perspective, and I am more than ever satisfied that our course is right.
It is Slavery which degrades our country, and prevents [Pg 61] its example from being all-conquering. In fighting our battle at home we fight the battle of Freedom everywhere. Be assured, I shall return, not only with renewed strength, but with renewed determination to give myself to our great cause. Two years have now passed, since, when in the enjoyment of perfect health, I was suddenly made an invalid. Throughout this protracted period, amidst various vicissitudes of convalescence, I seemed to be slowly regaining the health that had been taken from me, until I was encouraged to believe myself on the verge of perfect recovery.
But injuries so grave as those originally received are not readily repaired; and a recent relapse painfully admonishes me, that, although enjoying many of the conditions of prosperous convalescence, I am not yet beyond the necessity of caution. This has been confirmed by the physicians in Boston and Philadelphia most familiar with my case, who, in concurrence with counsels previously given by medical authorities in Europe, have enjoined travel as best calculated to promote restoration.
Anxious to spare no effort for this end, so long deferred, I to-day sail for France. To the generous people of Massachusetts, who have honored me with an important trust, and cheered me by so much sympathy, I wish to express the thanks [Pg 63] which now palpitate in my bosom, while I say to them all collectively, as I would say to a friend, Farewell!
These valedictory words would be imperfect, if I did not seize this occasion to declare, what I have often said less publicly, that, had I foreseen originally the duration of my disability, I should at once have resigned my seat in the Senate, making way for a servant more fortunate in the precious advantages of health. I did not do so, because, like other invalids, I lived in the belief that I was soon to be well, and was reluctant to renounce the opportunity of again exposing the hideous Barbarism of Slavery, now more than ever transfused into the National Government, infecting its whole policy and degrading its whole character.
Besides, I was often assured, and encouraged to feel, that to every sincere lover of civilization my vacant chair was a perpetual speech. MY DEAR SIR,—I have fresh occasion to be unhappy that I am still an invalid, because it prevents me from joining in the well-deserved honors which our countrymen here are about to offer you. As I would not be thought indifferent to the occasion, I seize the moment to express in this informal manner my humble gratitude for the great discovery with which your name will be forever associated.
I write to you frankly, and with a still cordial memory of that distant day, when, in the company of a friend who is no longer on earth, I first had the happiness of taking you by the hand. Look at the map of Europe, and you will find, nestling in the mountains of Savoy, between Switzerland and France, the little village of Aix, generally known as Aix-les-Bains, from the baths which give it fame. There I am now. The country about is most beautiful, the people simple and kind. My life is devoted to health. I wish that I could say that I am not still an invalid; yet, except when attacked by the pain on my chest, I am now comfortable, and enjoy my baths, my walks, and the repose and incognito which I find here.
I begin the day with douches , hot and cold,—and when thoroughly exhausted, am wrapped in sheet and blanket, and conveyed to my hotel, and laid on my bed. After my walk, I find myself obliged again to take to my bed for two hours before dinner. But this whole treatment is in pleasant contrast with the protracted suffering from fire which made the summer a torment.
And yet I fear that I must return to that treatment. It is with a pang unspeakable that I find myself thus arrested in the labors of life and in the duties of my position. This is harder to bear than the fire. I do not hear of friends engaged in active service—like Trumbull in Illinois—without a feeling of envy. This meeting was at the City Assembly Rooms, and was addressed by Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, Hon. Charles King, Rev. Bellows, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Hon. Joseph Hoxie, and Professor O. According to the New York Tribune , the letter of Mr.
If I do not attend the meeting at New York, according to the invitation with which I am honored, it is because other duties here keep me away. To the cause of Human Freedom everywhere I am bound by all ties, whether of feeling or principle. To Italy also—venerable, yet ever young, with that fatal gift of beauty which from all time she has worn—I confess a sentiment of love and reverence; I am sorrowful in her sorrow, and happy in her happiness.
Surely, by her past history, and all that she has done for human improvement, we are her debtors. Without Italian genius what now were modern civilization? There is no art, or science, or activity, or grace, in which she has not excelled or led the way. If I went [Pg 68] into detail, I must mention not only sculpture, painting, engraving, and music, but also astronomy, navigation, bookkeeping, and jurisprudence; and I must present an array of great names, such as no other country can boast.
To the political skeptics and infidels who affect to doubt the capacity for freedom of this illustrious people I would say, that Italy, in modern times, was the earliest home of political science, and the earliest author of some of those political truths which have since passed into principles. Besides, divided into separate, sovereign States, with separate systems of legislation, her condition is coincident with our own, to the extent of possessing those local facilities for self-government which are our boast. And then there is the spirit of her sons, as shown in recent efforts, giving assurance of courage, and of that rarer wisdom which knows how to guide and temper courage, both of which shone so conspicuous in the Venetian Manin, worthy compeer of our own Washington.
Allow me to add, that I confidently look to the day when we may welcome into the fellowship of nations a community new in external form, but old in constituent parts,—separate in local governments, but bound in perfect union, with one national flag, one national coin, and one national principle, giving to all the strength of unity,— E Pluribus Unum ,—and constituting the United States of Italy. And may God speed this good time! But other duties will keep me away. I do not know for which he is to be most honored. Sumner now introduces is a proof how badly off the party must be for weapons, when they rake them up from the dead magazines of another generation, and written by a youth a little over twenty years of age; or Mr.
Sumner has not yet recovered his usual strength of mind, since the injury he received a few years ago at the Capitol. And what does his article amount to? That the British planters in the West Indies treated their slaves very badly, which may or may not be true. But from the abuse of the institution in one place he argues against the policy of its continued existence in any other part of the world. He might as well conclude, that, because many of the English are cruel to their horses, and that it was necessary to pass an Act of Parliament for their protection, therefore horses ought to be emancipated in the United States, and let loose through the country.
An argument from the abuse to the disuse of anything is the poorest kind of logic. Such was the tone of discussion on the eve of the Presidential election destined to decide the fate of American Slavery. SIR,—I ask attention to an eloquent and characteristic article on Slavery, by Macaulay, never yet printed in our country with his name. It is, indeed, the earliest contribution [Pg 72] of the illustrious writer to that Review, of which he became a chief support and ornament. As such, it belongs to the curiosities of literature, even if it did not possess intrinsic interest from subject and style.
Never has Slavery inspired speaker or writer to more complete and scornful condemnation. Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur. Every line bears upon the slave-drivers of our country, with greater force even than upon the slave-drivers of the West Indies; for audacity here goes further than it was ever pushed in the British dominions. It is interesting to find how exact the parallel becomes. In the picture of illiberal men conspiring to support Slavery Macaulay seems to delineate us.
Tories and Radicals, prebendaries and field-preachers, are to be found in their ranks. The only requisites for one who aspires to enlist are a front of brass and a tongue of venom. Aiming to exhibit Slavery in its laws, without dwelling on the accumulated instances of cruelty, he puts the case on the strongest ground; and here his unimpeachable witness is the statute-book itself.
But this same argument bears with equal force upon our Slavery; so that, in reading his indignant exposure of the West India jurisprudence, we see rising before us the kindred enormities of our own Slave States, and acknowledge the truth of his generous words. Every argument which you can urge in support of your own claims might be employed, with far greater justice, in favor of the emancipation of your bondsmen.
When that event shall have taken place, your demand will deserve consideration. At present, what you require under the name of Freedom is nothing but unlimited power to oppress. It is the freedom of Nero. The threats of disunion, coming from slave-drivers, are also foreshown, and treated with the scorn they merit. You will rebel! Are you, in point of fact, at this moment able to protect yourselves against your slaves without our assistance? If you can [Pg 74] still rise up and lie down in security,—if you can still eat the bread of the fatherless and grind the faces of the poor,—if you can still hold your petty Parliaments, and say your little speeches, and move your little motions,—if you can still outrage and insult the Parliament and people of England,—to what do you owe it?
The sensitiveness of slave property—the same in our Slave States as in the British West Indies—is aptly described in the remark, that a pamphlet of Mr. Stephen or a speech of Mr.
Brougham is sufficient to excite all the slaves in the colonies to rebel. And it is shown that in a servile war the master must be loser; for his enemies are his chattels. Whether the slave conquer or fall, he is alike lost to the owner. In the mean time, the soil lies uncultivated, the machinery is destroyed. And when the possessions of the planter are restored to him, they have been changed into a desert. Here also is an exhibition of the incompatibility between Slavery and Christianity, which ought to be read in every Southern pulpit:—.
They are not considered by the law as human beings. They know, though their misinformed friends in England do not know, that Christianity and Slavery cannot long exist together. Such is the philippic against Slavery by the first writer of the English language in our day, and one of the first in all times. As testimony to a sacred cause, it is priceless; as a contribution to literature, it cannot be forgotten. That this blame may not fall upon the author himself, it is important to know that the American collection was made without any list supplied by him. In the modesty of his nature, he regarded his contributions to Reviews as fugitive pieces, which he abandoned to the world, without caring to gather them together.
It will be for posterity to rejudge this judgment. In this statement, I rely upon personal recollection of conversations with him. More than twenty years ago—as also more recently—I was in the habit of meeting the great writer in the society of London; and I remember well how, on one of these occasions, when told that an American bookseller proposed to publish a collection of his articles, he very positively protested [Pg 76] against it, and refused to furnish a list.
Nor is it out of place to add here, that, while his wonderful conversation left on the mind an ineffaceable impression of eloquence and fulness, perhaps without parallel, it also showed a character of singular integrity. This article is not alone in attesting his sympathy with the Antislavery cause. The first public appearance of Macaulay, while yet a very young man, was at an Antislavery meeting; and one of his most stinging speeches, at the maturity of his powers, in the House of Commons, bore testimony to the depth and constancy of this sentiment.
The services of the father, as friend of the slave, have been aptly commemorated by a cenotaph in Westminster Abbey, situated in the nave, on the left side of the great door as you enter, and close to the imposing monument of Fox. In all that multitude of monuments to the illustrious dead, if we except the line of kings, there is but one other instance of father and son enshrined in the Abbey, and that is Lord Chatham and William Pitt, whose monuments are also distant from each other by more than the whole length of the nave. Such is the conspicuous fellowship of the two Pitts and the Macaulays, father and son, although most unlike in circumstances of life and the services which have secured this common foothold of immortality.
In each case, the father, even with the fame of Lord Chatham, has new glory from the son. The resting-places of the two Pitts are known at once on entering the Abbey. Hereafter, the stranger, who has stood with grateful admiration before the grave of the younger Macaulay, will seek with reverent step the simple tribute to his father, the Abolitionist,—mindful that the love of Human Freedom in which the son was cradled and schooled gave to his character some of its best features, and to his career of authorship its earliest triumph.
My purpose is simply to introduce this new-found testimony against Slavery, and not to dwell on the life or character of the author. If I followed a hint from him, the way would be open. Nobody can forget that in one of his most magnificent essays he has availed himself of the interest, transient it may have been, created by a newly discovered prose work of Milton, and has reminded his readers that the dexterous Capuchins never choose to preach on the life and miracles of a Saint till they have awakened the devotional feelings of their auditors by exhibiting some relic of him,—a thread of his garment, a lock of his hair, or a drop of his blood.
Here, indeed, is a relic of Macaulay; but I venture no further. Absence, and not indifference, is my excuse for not associating myself at first with this purpose. Though tardily, I do it now most sincerely, and with my whole heart. I send you for it one hundred dollars; but you will please not to measure my interest in this tribute to a public benefactor by the sum which I contribute.
Were I able, it would be ten times as large. If each person in Massachusetts who has been benefited by the vast and generous labors of Horace Mann,—each person who hates Intemperance, and who hates Slavery,—each person who loves Education, and who loves humane efforts for the prisoner, the poor, and the insane,—should contribute a mite only, then his statue would be of gold. Why not at once appeal to good men, and insist upon organization throughout the Commonwealth, reaching into every School District, so that all may have an opportunity to contribute?
Pray do this, and if [Pg 79] I can serve you any way about it, command me, and believe me,. Seward, who is not a Massachusetts man, asks me to put his name down for fifty dollars. I enclose his subscription. On his return to the Senate, at the opening of Congress, December 5, , Mr. Though warned to enter slowly into the full responsibilities of his position, he was constantly moved by incidents arising from this agitation.
On the first day of the session, Mr. Mason as chairman, and, in the course of its duties, summoned John Brown, Jr. Sanborn and James Redpath, of Massachusetts, who severally failed to appear. Thaddeus Hyatt, of New York, appeared, but refused to testify. Thereupon Mr. Mason reported from his committee the following resolution. We are to pass on the liberty of a citizen. Pardon me, if I say that such a question cannot at any time be trivial.
But it has an unaccustomed magnitude on this occasion, because the case is novel in this body; so that what you now do, besides involving the liberty of the gentleman at the bar, will establish [Pg 82] a precedent, which, in itself, will be a law for other cases hereafter. Now, if it be conceded that the Senate is invested with all the large powers claimed by the Houses of Parliament, then I cannot doubt its power in the present case, although I might well question the expediency of exercising it.
But this is notoriously untrue. Instead of authority in all possible cases, it has authority only in certain specific cases. If the Senate can summon witnesses to its bar, and compel them to testify, under pains and penalties, it must be by virtue of powers delegated in the Constitution,—I do not say by express grant, but at least by positive intendment.
I say positive intendment; for nothing is to be presumed against liberty. There are certain cases in which the power is clear: first, and most conspicuously, in the trial of impeachments; secondly, in determining the elections, returns, and qualifications of its members; and, thirdly, in punishing its members for disorderly behavior. All these proceedings are judicial, as well as political, in character, and carry with them, as a natural incident, the power to compel witnesses to testify. Beyond these three cases, which stand on the express words of the Constitution, there are two other cases, [Pg 83] quasi-judicial in character, which, though not supported by express words of the Constitution, have grown out of necessity and reason, amounting to positive intendment, and are sanctioned by precedents.
I refer, first, to the inquiry into an alleged violation of the privileges of this body, as where a copy of a treaty was furtively obtained and published; and, secondly, to the inquiry into conduct of servants of the Senate, like that now proceeding with regard to the Printer, on the motion of the Senator from New York [Mr.
EULOGY FOR CHARLES SUMNER
King ]. If I were asked to indicate the principle on which these two cases stood, I should say it was that just and universal right of self-defence inherent in every parliamentary body, as in every court, and also in every individual, but which is limited closely by the simple necessities of the case. Such are the five cases in which this extraordinary power has been heretofore exercised: the first three standing on the text of the Constitution, and the other two on the right of self-defence necessarily inherent in the Senate; all five sanctioned by precedents of this body; all five judicial in character; all five judicial also in purpose and intent; and all five agreeing in this final particular, that they have no legislative purpose or intent.
Beyond these cases there is no precedent for the exercise by the Senate of the power in question. It is now proposed to add a new case, most clearly without any support in the Constitution, without any support in the right of self-defence inherent in the Senate, and without any support in the precedents of the Senate. And this committee, after several weeks of session, now invokes the power of the Senate to compel the witness to testify. The chairman of the committee, the Senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason ], who calls for the imprisonment of an American citizen, has shown no authority for such an exercise of power in the Constitution, or in the admitted right of self-defence, or in the precedents of the Senate.
He cannot show any such authority. It does not exist. Surely, where the Constitution, and reason, and precedent, all three, are silent, we might well hesitate to exercise a power so transcendent. But I shall not stop here. I go further, and point out two specific defects in the resolution of the Senate. The inquiry which it institutes is clearly judicial in character,—without, however, any judicial purpose, or looking to any judicial end.
The committee is essentially a Tribunal, with power of denunciation, but without power of punishment,—sitting with closed doors, having the secrecy of the Inquisition or the Star Chamber, or, if you please, the Grand Jury,—with power to investigate facts involving the guilt of absent persons, and to denounce fellow-citizens as felons and traitors. If such a power is lodged anywhere outside of judicial tribunals, it must be in the House of Representatives, as the Grand Inquest of the Nation, with its power to impeach all civil officers, from the President down; but it cannot be in the Senate.
Let me cite an illustration. If the Senate of the United States have power to make the present inquiry, then, on any occasion of alleged crime, of whatever nature, whether of treason or murder or riot, it may rush to the assistance of the grand juries of the District, or, still further, it may rush to the assistance of the grand juries of Virginia; in short, it will be an inquest of commanding character, and with far-reaching, all-pervading process, supplementary and ancillary to the local inquest,—or, rather, so transcendent in powers, that by its side the local inquest will be dwarfed into insignificance.
This [Pg 86] cannot be proper or constitutional. But, assuming that the resolution is defective so far as it constitutes an inquest into crime, it may be said that the witness should be compelled to answer the other parts. Available Indexes Full-text Catalog Full view only. Advanced full-text search Advanced catalog search Search tips. Search HathiTrust. Tools Cite this Export citation file. Similar Items A memorial of Charles Sumner Author Massachusetts.
Obituary for Charles Sumner Hunt
General Court. Joint Special Committee on Sumner Memorial. Published A memorial of Charles Sumner Author Bryant, John E. Author Sumner, Charles, Author Foote, Henry Wilder, Author Bartol, C. Cyrus Augustus , Author Cornell, William Mason, , Published