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MUSIC HALL, APRIL 29, 1874. 

Stekeotyped and Pkijited by Raud, Aveky, & Co. 

Charles Sumner's Writings. 

Prophetic Voices Concerning America. By Hon. Charles Sumner. With portrait. 
Crown 8vo. Cloth. $2.00. 

Upon this work of the departed statesman, we have no comment to make 
beyond saying it is valuable and charming. Its brief, clear biographical sketches 
of character are full of felicitous judgiueut. Its tone throughout, as might be 
expected, is noble and inspiring. The style is unexpectedly simple and direct. — 
Boston Advertiser. 

Charles Sumner's Complete Works. Crown 8vo. Per vol., Cloth. S3 00; Half-calf, 
$5.00. Sold only by sub-scription. Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, now ready, and 
the work to be completed at an early day. 

The original prospectus was issued when the distinguished orator and statesman 
was in the midst of his honorable career, and had apparently before liim all the 
evening of his life, for the revision of his orations, speeches, and addresses. 
Notwithstanding his impaired health, he had labored with assiduity to arrange 
and perfect them; and before his death nine volumes had been published, and the 
tenth was given to the printers. Materials for two or more volumes, carefully 
prepared by himself, are now in the hands of friends who are fully acquainted 
with his opinions, and familiar with his intellectual methods. 

Not ordinary addresses: they remind us rather of the orations of Demosthenes, 
— of times when men of note, endowed with the highest understanding, gave 
full vent to the feelings that possessed them, and stirred their country with a 
fervid eloquence which was all the more impressive because it related to the 
political circumstances in which their country was placed. — Edinburgh Juumal. 

Apart from their great merit in a literary and .scholastic point of view, and 
as exhaustive arguments upon questions of the liighest import, they have a 
certain historic value which will increase with the lapse of time. Whoever 
wishes to understand the legislation and political and moral jtrogress of the coun- 
try for the last quarter of a centiu-y, must study these remarkable speeches.— 
John G. Whittier. 

LEE AND SHEPARD, Publishers, Nos. 41-45, Franklin St. 

Butler and Fleetwood, General Agents, No. 47, Franklin St., 


^^^Ag'ents of experience a7td capacity wanied throughout tlie United States. 


When the news went forth, " Charles Sumner is 
dead," a tremor of strange emotion was felt all over 
the land. It .was as if a magnificent star, — a star 
unlike all others, — which the living generation had 
been wont to behold fixed and immovable above their 
heads, had all at once disappeared from the sky ; and 
the people stared into the great void darkened by 
the sudden absence of the familiar light. 

On the 16th of March a funeral procession passed 
through the streets of Boston. Uncounted thousands 
of men, women, and children had assembled to see 
it pass. No uncommon pageant had attracted them ; 
no military parade with glittering uniforms and gay 
banners ; no pompous array of dignitaries in official 
robes ; nothing but carriages, and a hearse with a 
coffin, and in it the corpse of Charles Sumner. But 
there they stood — a multitude immeasurable to the 
eye, rich and poor, white and l)lack, 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 the compass 


came loaded with a sigli of sorrow. Indeed, there 
was not a city or town in this great Republic which 
would not have surrounded that funeral procession 
with the same spectacle of a profound and universal 
sense of great bereavement. 

Was it love, was it gratitude for the services 
rendered to the people, was it the baffled expectation 
of greater service still to come, was it admiration of 
his talents, or his virtues, that inspired so general an 
emotion of sorrow ? 

He had stood aloof from the multitude. The 
friendship of his heart had been given to but few : to 
the many he had appeared distant, self-satisfied, and 
cold. His public life had been full of bitter conflicts. 
No man had aroused against himself fiercer animosi- 
ties. Although warmly recognized by many, the pub- 
lic services of no man had been more acrimoniously 
questioned by opponents. No statesman's motives, 
qualities of heart and mind, wisdom and character, 
except his integrity, had been the subject of more 
heated controversy ; and yet, when sudden death 
snatched him from us, friend and foe bowed their 
heads alike. 

Every patriotic citizen felt poorer than the day 
before. Every true American heart trembled with 
the apprehension that the Republic had lost something 
it could ill spare. 

Even from far distant lands, across the ocean, 
voices came, mingling their sympathetic grief witli 
our own. 

When you, Mr. Mayor, in the name of the City 
Government of Boston, invited me to interpret that 


■whic'li millions think and feel, I thanked you for the 
proud privilege 3'ou had conferred upon me ; and the 
invitation appealed so irresistibly to my friendship 
for the man we had lost, that I could not decline it. 

And yet the thought struck me that you might 
have prepared a greater triumph to his memory, had 
you summoned, not me, his friend, but one of those 
who had stood against him in the struggles of his 
life, to bear testimony to Charles Sumner's virtues. 

There are many among them to-day to whose 
sense of justice you might have safely confided the 
office, which to me is a task of love. 

Here I see his friends around me, — the friends of 
his 3'outh, of his manhood, of his advancing age ; 
among them, men whose illustrious names are house- 
hold words as far as the English tongue is spoken, 
and far beyond. I saw them standing round his 
open grave when it received the flower-decked 
coffin, mute sadness heavily clouding their brows. I 
understood their grief; for nobody could share it 
more than I. 

In such a presence, the temptation is great to seek 
that consolation for our loss which bereaved friend- 
ship finds in the exaltation of its bereavement. But 
not to you or me belonged this man while he lived : 
not to you or me belongs his memory now that he 
is gone. His deeds, his example, and his fame, he 
left as a legacy to the American people and to man- 
kind ; and it is my office to speak of this inheritance. 
I cannot speak of it without affection. I shall 
endeavor to do it with justice. 

Among the public characters of America, Charles 


Sumner stands peculiar and unique. His senatorial 
career is a conspicuous part of our political history. 
But, in order to appreciate the man in the career, we 
must look at the story of his life. 

The American people take pride in saying that 
almost all their great historic characters were self- 
made men, who, without the advantages of wealth 
and early opportunities, won their education, raised 
themselves to usefulness and distinction, and 
achieved their greatness through a rugged hand-to- 
hand struggle with adverse fortune. It is indeed so. 
A log-cabin ; a ragged little boy walking barefooted 
to a lowly country schoolhouse, or sometimes no 
schoolhouse at all ; a lad, after a day's hard toil 
on the farm or in the workshop, poring greedily, 
sometimes steathily, over a volume of poetry, or 
history, or travels ; a forlorn-looking youth, with 
elbows out, applying at a lawyer's office for an op- 
portunity to study ; then the young man a successful 
practitioner attracting the notice of his neighbors ; 
then a member of a State Legislature, a representa- 
tive in Congress, a senator, maybe a cabinet min- 
ister, or even president, — such are the pictures pre- 
sented by many a proud American biography. 

And it is natural that the American people should 
be proud of it ; for such a biography condenses in 
the compass of a single life the great story of the 
American nation, as, from the feebleness and misery 
of early settlements in the bleak solitude, it advanced 
to the subjugation of the hostile forces of Nature ; 
plunged into an arduous struggle with dangers and 
difficulties only known to itself, gathering strength 


from every conflict, and experience from every trial ; 
with undaunted pluck widening the range of its 
experiments and creative action, until at last it stands 
there as one of the greatest powers of the earth. The 
people are fond of seeing their image reflected in the 
lives of their foremost representative men. 

But not such a hfe was that of Charles Sumner. 
He was descended from good old Kentish yeomanry 
stock, men stalwart of frame, stout of heart, who 
used to stand in the front of the fierce battles of Old 
England; and the first of the name who came to 
America had certainly not been exempt from the 
rough struggles of the early settlements. But al- 
ready from the year 1723 a long line of Sumners 
appears on the records of Harvard College ; and it is 
evident that the love of study had long been heredi- 
tary in the family. Charles Pinckney Sumner, the 
senator'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. He 
was altogether a man of high respectability. 

He was not rich, but in good circumstances, and 
well able to give his children the best opportunities 
to study, without working for their daily bread. 

Charles Sumner was born in Boston, on the 6th of 
January, 1811. At the age of ten, he had received 
his rudimentary training; at fifteen, after having 
gone through the Boston Latin School, he entered 
Harvard College, and plunged at once with fervor 
into the classics, polite literature, and history. Gradu- 
ated in 1830, he entered the Cambridge Law School. 


Now life began to open to him. Judge Story, his 
most distinguished teacher, soon recognized in him 
a young man of uncommon stamp ; and an intimate 
friendship sprang up between teacher and pupil, 
which was severed only by death. 

He began to distinguish himself, not only by the 
most arduous industry and application, — pushing his 
researches far beyond the text-books ; indeed, text- 
books never satisfied him, — but by a striking eager- 
ness and faculty to master the original principles of 
the science, and to trace them through its develop- 

His productive labor began ; and I find it stated, 
that already then, while he was yet a pupil, his 
essays, published in " The American Jurist," were 
''always characterized by breadth of view, and accu- 
racy of learning, and sometimes by remarkably subtle 
and ingenious investigations." 

Leaving the Law School, he entered the office of a 
lawyer in Boston, to acquire a knowledge of practice, 
never much to his taste. Then he visited Wash- 
ington for the first time, little dreaming what a 
theatre of action, struggle, triumph, and suffering, 
the national city was to become for him ; for then he 
came only as a studious, deeply-interested looker-on, 
who merely desired to form the acquaintance of the 
justices and practising lawj^ers at the bar of the 
Supreme Court. He was received with marked kind- 
ness by Chief-Justice Marshall ; and in later years 
he loved to tell his friends how he had sat at the 
feet of that great magistrate, and learned there what 
a judge should be. 


Having been admitted to the bar in Worcester in 
1834, when twenty-three years old, he opened an 
office in Boston ; was soon appointed reporter of the 
United States Circuit Court ; published three vol- 
umes containing Judge Story's decisions, known as 
" Sumner's Reports ; " took Judge Story's place from 
time to time as lecturer in the Harvard Law School, 
also Prof. Greenleaf s, who was absent ; and edited, 
during the years 1835 and 1836, "Andrew Dunlap's 
Treatise on Admiralty Practice." Beyond this, his 
studies, arduous, incessant, and thorough, ranged far 
and wide. 

Truly a studious and laborious young man, who 
took the business of life earnestly in hand, deter- 
mined to know something, and to be useful to his 
time and country. 

But what he had learned and could learn at home 
did not satisfy his craving. In 1837 he went to 
Europe, armed with a letter from Judge Story's hand 
to the law-magnates of England, to whom his patron 
introduced him as " a young lawyer, giving promise 
of the most eminent distinction in his profession, 
with truly extraordinary attainments, literary and 
judicial, and a gentleman of the highest purity and 
propriety of character." 

That was not a mere complimentary introduction : 
it was the conscientious testimony of a great judge, 
who well knew his responsibility, and who after- 
wards, when his death approached, adding to that 
testimony, was frequently heard to say, " I shall die 
content, as far as my professorship is concerned, if 
Charles Sumner is to succeed me." 


In England, young Snmner, only feeling himself 
standing on the threshold of life, was received like a 
man of already achieved distinction. Every circle 
of a society ordinarily so exclusive was open to him. 
Often, by invitation, he sat with the judges in West- 
minster Hall. Renowned statesmen introduced him 
on the floor of the Houses of Parliament. Eagerly 
he followed the debates, and studied the principles 
and practice of parliamentary law on its maternal 
soil, where, from the first seed-corn, it had grown up 
into a magnificent tree, in whose shadow a great 
people can dwell in secure enjoyment of their rights. 
Scientific associations received him as a welcome 
guest ; and the learned and great willingly opened to 
his winning presence their stores of knowledge and 

In France he listened to the eminent men of the 
Law School in Paris, at the Sorbonne, and the College 
de France ; and with many of the statesmen of that 
country he maintained instructive intercourse. In 
Italy he gave himself up to the charms of art, poetry, 
history, and classical literature. In Germany he en- 
joyed the conversation of Humboldt, of Ranke the 
historian, of Ritter the geographer, and of the great 
jurists, Savigny, Thibaut, and Mittormaier. 

Two years after his return, " The London Quarter- 
ly Review " said of his visit to England, " He pre- 
sents in his own person a decisive proof that an 
American gentleman without official rank or wide- 
spread reputation, by mere dint of courtesy, candor, 
an entire absence of pretension, an appreciating spirit, 
and a cultured mind, may be received on a perfect 


footing of equality in the best circles, social, politi- 
cal, and intellectual." 

It must have been true ; for it came from a quarter 
not given to the habit of flattering Americans beyond 
their deserts. And Charles Sumner was not then the 
senator of power and fame : he was only the young 
son of a late sheriff of Suffolk Count}', in Massachu- 
setts, who had neither riches nor station, but who 
possessed that most winning charm of youth, — purity 
of soul, modesty of conduct, culture of mind, an 
earnest thirst of knowledge, and a brow bearing the 
stamp of noble manhood, and the promise of future 

He returned to his native shores in 1840, himself 
like a. heavily freighted ship, bearing a rich cargo of 
treasures collected in foreign lands. 

He resumed the practice of law in Boston, but, 
as I find it stated, " not with remarkable success in 
a financial point of view." That I readily believe. 
The financial point of view was never to him a 
fruitful source of inspiration. Again he devoted 
himself to the more congenial task of teaching at 
the Cambridge Law School, and of editing an Amer- 
ican edition of " Vesey's Reports," in twenty vol- 
umes, with elaborate notes contributed by himself. 

But now the time had come when a new field of 
action was to open itself to him. On the 4th of July, 
1845, he delivered before the City Authorities of 
Boston an address on " The True Grandeur of Na- 
tions." So far he had been only a student, — a deep 
and arduous one, — and a writer and a teacher, but 
nothing more. On that day his public career com- 


menced ; and his first public address disclosed at 
once the peculiar impulse and inspirations of his 
heart, and the tendencies of his mind. It was a 
plea for universal peace, a poetic rhapsody on the 
wrongs and horrors of war, and the beauties of 
concord ; not, indeed, without solid argument, but 
that argument clothed in all the gorgeousness of 
historical illustration, classic imagery, and fervid 
effusion, rising high above the level of existing con- 
ditions, and picturing an ideal future, — the universal 
reign of justice and charity, — not far off to his own 
imagination, but far beyond the conceptions of living 
society ; but to that society he addressed the urgent 
summons to go forth at once in pursuit of this ideal 
consummation, to transform all swords into plough- 
shares, and all war-ships into peaceful merchantmen, 
without delay ; believing that thus the nation would 
rise to a greatness never known before, which it 
could accomplish if it only willed it. 

And this speech he dehvered while the citizen 
soldiery of Boston, in festive array, were standing 
before him, and while the very air was stirred by 
the premonitory mutterings of an approaching war. 

The whole man revealed himself in that utterance, 
— a soul full of the native instinct of justice, an 
overpowering sense of right and wrong, which made 
him look at the problems of human society from the 
lofty plane of an ideal morality, which fixed for him, 
high beyond the existing condition of things, the 
aims for which he must strive, and inspired and 
fired his ardent nature for the struggle. His educa- 
tion had singularly favored and developed that ideal 


tendency. It was not that of the self-made man, in 
the common acceptation of the word. The distract- 
ing struggles for existence, the small, harassing cares 
of every-day life, had remained foreign to him. His 
education was that of the favored few. He found 
all the avenues of knowledge wide open to him. 
All that his country could give he had, — the most 
renowned schools, the living instruction of the most 
elevating personal associations. It was the education 
of the typical young English gentleman. Like the 
English gentleman, also, he travelled abroad to 
widen his mental horizon. And again : all that for- 
eign countries could give he had, — the instruction 
of great lawyers and men of science, the teachings 
and example of statesmen, the charming atmosphere 
of poetry and art, which graces and elevates the soul. 
He had also learned to work, to work hard and with 
a purpose ; and at thirty-four, when he first appeared 
conspicuously before the people, he could already 
point to many results of his labor. 

But his principal work had been an eager accumu- 
lation of knowledge in his own mind, — an accu- 
mulation most extraordinary in its scope and variety. 
His natural inclination to search for fundamental 
principles and truths had been favored by his oppor- 
tunities ; and all his industry in collecting knowledge 
became subservient to the building-up of his ideals. 
Having not been tossed and jostled through the 
school of want and adversity, he lacked what that 
school is best apt to develop, — keen, practical in- 
stincts, sharpened l_iy early struggles, and that sober 
appreciation of the realities and possibilities of the 


times which is forced upon men by a hard contact 
with the workl. He judged hfe from the stilhiess 
of the student's closet, and from his intercourse with 
the refined and elevated ; and he acquired little of 
those experiences which might have dampened his 
zeal in working for his ideal aims, and staggered his 
faith in their realization. His mind loved to move 
and operate in the realm of ideas, not of things ; in 
fact, it could scarcely have done otherwise. Thus 
nature and education made him an idealist ; and, 
indeed, he stands as the most pronounced idealist 
among the public men of America. 

He was an ardent friend of liberty, not like one 
of those who have themselves suffered oppression, 
and felt the galling weight of chains ; nor like those, 
who, in the common walks of life, have experienced 
the comfort of wide elbow-room, and the quickening 
and encouraging influence of free institutions for the 
practical work of society. But to him Liberty Atas 
the ideal goddess, clothed in sublime attributes of 
surpassing beauty and beneficence, giving to every 
human being his eternal rights, showering around 
her the treasures of her blessings, and lifting up the 
lowly to an ideal existence. 

In the same ethereal light stood, in his mind, the 
republic, his country, the law, the future organiza- 
tion of the great family of nations. 

That idealism was sustained and quickened, not 
merely by his vast learning and classical inspirations, 
but by that rare and exquisite purity of life, and high 
moral sensitiveness, which he had preserved intact 
and fresh through all the temptations of his youth. 


and whicli remained intact and fresh down to his 
last day. 

Such was the man, when, in the exuberant vigor 
of manhood, he entered public life. Until that time 
he had entertained no aspirations for a political 
career. When discussing with a friend of his youth 
— now a man of fame — what the future might 
have in store for them, he said, " You may be a sen- 
ator of the United States some day ; but nothing 
would make me happier than to be president of Har- 
vard College." 

And in later years he publicly declared, " With 
the ample oj)portunities of private life I was con- 
tent. No tombstone for me could bear a fairer 
inscription than this : ' Here lies one who, without 
the honors or emoluments of public station, did 
something for his fellow-men.' " It was the scholar 
who spoke, and no doubt he spoke sincerely. But 
he found the slavery question in his patii ; or, rather, 
the slavery question seized upon him. The advocate 
of universal peace, of the eternal reign of justice 
and charity, could not fail to see in slavery the em- 
bodiment of universal war of man against man, of 
absolute injustice and oppression. Little knowing 
where the first word would carry him, he soon found 
himself in the midst of the strusfsfle. 

The idealist found a living question to deal with, 
which, like a flash of lightning, struck into the 
very depth of his soul, and set it on fire. The 
whole ardor of his nature broke out in the enthusi- 
asm of the antislavery man. In a series of glow- 
ing addresses and letters he attacked the oTeat 


wrong. He protested against the Mexican war ; he 
assailed with powerful strokes the Fugitive Slave 
Law ; he attempted to draw the Whig party into a 
decided antislavery policy ; and, when that failed, 
he broke through his party affiliations, and joined 
the small band of Freesoilers. He was an aboli- 
tionist by nature, but not one of those who rejected 
the Constitution as a covenant with slavery. His 
legal mind found in the Constitution no express 
recognition of slavery ; and he consistently construed 
it as a warrant of freedom. This placed him in the 
ranks of those who were called " political abolition- 

He did not think of the sacrifices which this 
obedience to his moral impulses might cost him ; 
for at that time abolitionism was by no means a 
fashionable thing. An antislavery man was then, 
even in Boston, positively the horror of a large 
portion of polite society. To make antislavery 
speeches was looked upon, not only as an incendiary, 
but a vulgar occupation. And that the highly re- 
fined Sumner, who was so learned and able; who 
had seen the world, and mixed with the highest 
social circles in Europe ; who knew the classics by 
heart, and could deliver judgment on a picture or a 
statue like a veteran connoisseur ; who was a favor- 
ite with the wealthy and powerful, and could, in his 
aspirations for an easy and fitting position in life, 
count upon their whole influence, if he only would 
not do any thing foolish, — that such a man should 
go among the abolitionists, and not only sympathize 
with them, but work with them, and expose himself 


to the chance of being dragged through the streets 
by vulgar hands with a rope round his neck, like 
William Lloyd Garrison, — that was a thing at 
which the polite society of that day would revolt, 
and which no man could undertake without danger 
of being severely dropped. But that was the thing 
which the refined Sumner actually did, probabl}^ 
\s'ithout giving a moment's thought to the possible 

He went even so far as openly to defy that dicta- 
torship which Daniel Webster had for so many jeavs 
been exercising over the political mind of Massachu- 
setts, and which then was about to exert its power 
in favor of a compromise with slavery. 

But times were changing ; and, only six years after 
the delivery of his first popular address, he was 
elected to the Senate of the United States by a 
combination of Democrats and Freesoilers. 

Charles Sumner entered the Senate on the first day 
of December, 1851. He entered as the successor of 
Daniel Webster, who had been appointed Secretary 
of State. On that same 1st of December, Henry 
Clay spoke his last word in the Senate, and then 
left the chamber never to return. 

A striking and most significant coincidence, — 
Henry Clay disappeared from public life ; Daniel 
Webster left the Senate, drawing near his end ; 
Charles Sumner stejjped upon the scene. The close 
of one and the setting-in of another epoch in the 
history of the American Republic were portrayed in 
the exit and entry of these men. 

Clay and Webster had appeared in the councils of 




the nation in the early part of this century. The 
Republic was then still in its childhood, — in almost 
every respect still an untested experiment, an un- 
solved problem. Slowly and painfully had it strug- 
gled throucrh the first conflicts of constitutional 
theories, and acquired only an uncertain degree of 
national consistency. There were the somewhat 
unruly democracies of the States, Avith their fresh 
Revolutionary reminiscences, their instincts of en- 
tirely independent sovereignty, and their now and 
then seemingly divergent interests ; and the task of 
binding them firmly together in the bonds of com- 
mon aspirations, of national spirit, and the authority 
of national law, had, indeed, fairly progressed, but 
was far from being entirely accomplished. The 
United States, not yet compacted by the means of 
rapid locomotion which to-day make every inhabit- 
ant of the land a neighbor of the national capital, 
Avere then still a straggling confederacy ; and the 
members of that confederacy had, since the trium- 
phant issue of the Revolution, more common mem- 
ories of severe trials, sufferings, embarrassments, 
dangers, and anxieties together, than of cheering 
successes and of assured prosperity and well-being. 

The great powers of the Old World, fiercely con- 
tending among themselves for the mastery, tram- 
pled, without remorse, upon the neutral rights of 
the young and feeble Republic. A war was impend- 
ing with one of them, bringing on disastrous re- 
verses, and spreading alarm and discontent over the 
land. A dark cloud of financial difficulty hung 
over the nation ; and the chmger from abroad and 


embarrassments at home were heightened by a rest- 
less party spirit, which former disagreements had 
left behind them, and which every newly-arising 
question seemed to imbitter. The outlook was 
dark and uncertain. It was under such circum- 
stances that Henry Clay first, and Daniel Webster 
shortly after him, stepped upon the scene, and at 
once took their statioii in the foremost rank of pub- 
lic men. 

The problems to be solved by the statesmen of 
that period were of an eminently practical nature. 
They had to establish the position of the young- 
Republic among the powers of the earth, to make 
her rights as a neutral respected, to secure the 
safety of her maritime interests. They had to pro- 
vide for national defence. They had to set the 
interior household of the Republic in working order. 
They had to find remedies for a burdensome pub- 
lic debt and a disordered currency. They had to 
invent and originate policies ; to bring to light 
the resources of the land, sleeping unknown in the 
virgin soil ; to oj)en and make accessible to the 
husbandman the wild acres yet untouched ; to pro- 
tect the frontier settler against the inroads of the 
savage ; to call into full activity the agricultural, 
commercial, and industrial energies of the people ; 
to develop and extend the prosperity of the nation 
so as to make even the discontented cease to doubt 
that the national union was, and should be main- 
tained as, a blessing to all. 

Thus we find the statesmanship of those times 
busily occupied with practical detail of foreign policy, 


national defence, financial policy, tariffs, banks, 
organization of governmental departments, land 
policy, Indian policy, internal improvements, settle- 
ments of disputes and difficulties among the States, 
contrivances of expediency of all sorts to put the 
government firmly upon its feet, and to set and keep 
in orderly motion the working of the political ma- 
chinery, to build up and strengthen and secure the 
framework in which the mighty developments of the 
future were to take place. 

Such a task, sometimes small in its details, but 
difficult and grand in its comprehensiveness, required 
that creative, organizing, building kind of statesman- 
ship, which, to large and enlightened views of the 
aims and ends of political organization and of the 
wants of society, must add a practical knowledge of 
details, a skilful handling of existing material, a just 
understanding of causes and effects, the ability to 
compose distracting conflicts, and to bring the social 
forces into fruitful co-operation. 

On this field of action Clay and Webster stood in 
the front rank of an illustrious array of contempora- 
ries, — Clay, the originator of measures and policies, 
with his inventive an,., organizing mind, not rich in 
profound ideas, or in knowledge gathered by book 
study, but learning as he went ; quick in the percep- 
tion of existing wants and difficulties, and of the 
means within reach to satisfy the one, and overcome 
the other ; and a born captain also ; a commander 
of men, who appeared as if riding through the strug- 
gles of those days mounted on a splendidly capari- 
soned charger, sword in hand, and with waving 


helmet and plume, leading the front ; a fiery and 
truly magnetic soul, overawing with his frown, en- 
chanting with his smile, flourishing the weapon of 
eloquence like a wizard's wand, overwhelming oppo- 
sition, and kindling and fanning the flame of enthu- 
siasm ; a marshaller of parties, whose very presence 
and voice, like a signal blast, created and wielded 

And by his side Daniel Webster, with that awful 
vastness of brain, a tremendous storehouse of thought 
and knowledge, which gave forth its treasures with 
ponderous majesty of utterance ; he not an originator 
of measures and policies, but a mighty advocate, — the 
greatest advocate this country ever knew ; a king 
in the realm of intellect, and the solemn embodiment 
of authority ; a huge Atlas, who carried the Consti- 
tution on his shoulders. He could have carried there 
the whole moral grandeur of the nation, had he 
never compromised his own. 

Such men filled the stage during that period of 
construction and conservative national organization, 
devoting the best efforts of their statemanship, the 
statesmanship of the political mind, to the purpose 
of raising their country to greatness in wealth and 
power, of making the people proud of their common 
nationality, and of embedding the Union in the con- 
tentment 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 ex- 
clusively their own ; for other powerful minds had 
their share in the work. The United States stood 


there, among the great powers of the earth, strong 
and respected. The Repubhc had no foreign foe to 
fear ; its growth in population and wealth, in popu- 
lar intelligence and progressive civilization, the won- 
der of the world. There was no visible limit to its 
development: there seemed to be no danger to its 

But, among the problems which the statesmen of 
that period had grappled with, there 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 judicious composition. But 
one conflict had stubbornly baffled the statesmanship 
of expedients ; for it was more than a mere conflict 
of opinion and interest. It was a conflict grounded 
deep in the moral nature of men, — the slavery ques- 

Many a time had it appeared on the surface during 
the period I have described, threatening to overflow 
all that had been ingeniously built up, and to break 
asunder all that had been laboriously cemented to- 
gether. In their anxiety to avert every danger 
threatening the Union, they attempted to repress the 
slavery question by compromise, and apparently 
with success, at least for a while. 

But, however firmly those compromises seemed to 
stand, there was a force of nature at work, which, 
like a restless flood, silently, but unceasingly and 
irresistibly, washed their foundation away, until at 
last the towering structure toppled down. 

The antislavery movement is now one of the great 
chapters of our past history. The passions of the 


struggle having been buried in thousands of graves, 
and the victory of universal freedom standing as 
firm and unquestionable as the eternal hills, we may 
now look back upon that history with an impartial 
eye. It may be hoped that even the people of the 
South, if they do not yet appreciate the spirit which 
created and guided the antislavery movement, will 
not much longer misunderstand it. Indeed, they 
grievously misunderstood it at the time. They 
looked upon it as the offspring of a wanton desire to 
meddle with other people's affairs ; or as the product 
of hypocritical selfishness assuming the mask and 
cant of iDhilanthropy, merely to rob the South, and to 
enrich New England ; or as an insidious contrivalQce 
of criminally reckless political ambition, striving to 
grasp and monopolize power at the risk of destroy- 
ing a part of the country, or even the whole. 

It was, perhaps, not unnatural that those interest- 
ed in slavery should have thought so ; but from this 
great error arose their fatal miscalculation as to the 
peculiar strength of the antislavery cause. 

No idea ever agitated the popular mind to whose 
origin calculating selfishness was more foreign. 
Even the great uprising which brought about the 
War of Independence was less free from selfish 
motives ; for it sprang from resistance to a tyrannical 
abuse of the taxing power. Then the people rose 
against that oppression which touched their property : 
the antislavery movement originated in an impulse 
purely moral. 

It was the irresistible breaking-out of a trouble of 
conscience, — a trouble of conscience which had 


alread}^ disturbed the men who made the American 
Republic. It found a voice in their anxious admo- 
nitions, their gloomy prophecies, their scrupulous 
care to exclude from the Constitution all forms of 
expression which might have appeared to- sanction 
the idea of property in man. 

It found a voice in the fierce struggles which re- 
sulted in the Missouri Compromise. It was repressed 
for a time by material interest, by the greed of gain, 
when the peculiar product of slave labor became one 
of the principal staples of the country, and a mine of 
wealth. But the trouble of conscience raised its 
voice again, shrill and defiant as when your own 
John Quincy Adams stood in the halls of Congress, 
and when devoted advocates of the rights of man 
began and carried on, in the face of ridicule and 
brutal persecution, an agitation seemingly hopeless. 
It cried out again and again, until at last its tones 
and echoes grew louder than all the noises that were 
to drown it. 

The antislavery movement found arrayed against 
itself all the influences, all the agencies, all the argu- 
ments, which ordinarily control the actions of men. 

Commerce said, Do not disturb slavery ; for its 
products fill our ships, and are one of the principal 
means of our exchanges. Industry said. Do not dis- 
turb slavery ; for it feeds our machinery, and gives us 
markets. The greed of wealth said. Do not disturb 
slavery ; for it is an inexhaustible fountain of riches. 
PoUtical ambition said, Do not disturb slavery ; for it 
furnishes us combinations and compromises to keep 
parties alive, and to make power the price of shrewd 


management. An anxious statesmanship said, Do 
not disturb slavery ; for you might break to pieces the 
union of these States. 

There never was a more formidable combination 
of interests and influences than that which confronted 
the antislavery movement in its earlier stages. And 
what was its answer ? " Whether all you say be true 
or false, it matters not ; but slavery is wrong." 

Slaver}^ is wrong. That one word was enough. 
It stood there like a huge rock in the sea, shivering 
to sjjray the waves dashing upon it. Interest, greed, 
argument, vituperation, calumny, ridicule, persecu- 
tion, patriotic appeal, — it was all in vain. Amidst 
all the storm and assault, that one word stood there 
unmoved, intact, and impregnable, — slavery is wrong. 

Such was the vital spirit of the antislavery move- 
ment in its early development. Such a spirit alone 
could inspire that religious devotion which gave to 
the believer all the stubborn energy of fanaticism ; it 
alone could kindle that deep enthusiasm which made 
men willing to risk and sacrifice every thing for a 
great cause ; it alone could keep alive that uncon- 
querable faith in the certainty of ultimate success 
which boldly attempted to overcome seeming impos- 

It was indeed a great spirit, as, against difficulties 
which threw jjusillanimity into despair, it painfully 
struggled into light ; often baffled, and as often press- 
ing forward with devotion always fresh ; nourished 
by nothing but a profound sense of right ; encour- 
aged by nothing but the cheering sympathy of liberty- 
loving mankind the world over, and by the hope that 


some day the conscience of tlie American people 
would be quickened by a full understanding of the 
dangers which the existence of the great wrong 
would bring upon the RejDublic. No scramble for the 
spoils of office then, no expectation of a speedy con- 
quest of power, nothing but that conviction, that 
enthusiasm, that faith in the breasts of a small band 
of men, and the prospect of new uncertain struggles 
and trials. 

At the time when Mr. Sumner entered the Senate, 
the hope of final victory appeared as distant as ever; 
but it only appeared so. The statesmen of the past 
period had just succeeded in building up that com- 
promise which admitted California as a free State, 
and imposed upon the Republic the Fugitive Slave 
Law. That compromise, like all its predecessors, was 
considered and called a final settlement. The two 
great political parties accepted it as such. In what- 
ever they might differ, as to this they solemnly pro- 
claimed their agreement. Fidelity to it was looked 
upon as a test of true pa,triotism, and as a qualifica- 
tion necessary for the possession of political power. 
Opposition to it Avas denounced as factious, unpatri- 
otic, revolutionary demagogism, little short of trea- 
son. An overwhelming majority of the American 
people acquiesced in it. Material interest looked 
upon it with satisfaction, as a promise of repose ; 
timid and sanguine patriots greeted it as a new bond 
of union ; politicians hailed it as an assurance that 
the fight for the j)ublic plunder might be carried on 
without the disturbing intrusion of a moral principle 
in politics. But, deep down, men's conscience, like 


a volcanic fire, was restless, ready for a new outbreak 
as soon as the thin crust of compromise should crack. 
And just then the day was fast approaching when 
the moral idea, which so far had only broken out 
sporadically, and moved small numbers of men to 
open action, should receive a re-enforcement strong 
enough to transform a forlorn hope into an army of 
irresistible strength. One of those eternal laws 
which govern tlie development of human affairs 
asserted itself, — the law that a great wrong, which 
has been maintained in defiance of the moral sense 
of mankind, must finall}^ by the very means and 
measures necessary for its sustenance, render itself 
so insupportable as to insure its downfall and destruc- 

So it was with slavery. I candidly acquit the 
American slave-power of wilful and wanton aggres- 
sion upon the liberties and general interests of the 
American people. If slavery was to be kept alive at 
all, its supporters could not act otherwise than they 
did. , 

Slavery could not live and thrive in an atmosphere 
of free inquiry and untrammelled discussion : there- 
fore free inquiry and discussion touching sla^^er}^ had 
to be suppressed. 

Slavery could not be secure, if slaves, escaping 
merely across a State lin,e, thereby escaped the grasp 
of their masters: hence an effective fugitive slave 
law was imperatively demanded. 

Slavery could not protect its interests in the Union, 
unless its power balanced that of the free States in 
the national councils : therefore, by colonization or 


conquest, the number of slave States had to be aug- 
mented. Hence the annexation of Texas, the Mexi- 
can war, and intrigues for the acquisition of Cuba. 

Slavery could not maintain the equilibrium of 
power, if it permitted itself to be excluded from the 
national Territories : hence the breaking-down of 
the Missouri Compromise, and the usurpation in 

Thus slavery was pushed on and on by the inexor- 
able logic of its existence. The slave masters were 
only the slaves of the necessities of slavery ; and all 
their seeming exactions and usurpations were merely 
a struggle for its life. 

Many of their demands had been satisfied, on the 
part of the North, by submission or compromise. 
The Northern people, although with reluctant con- 
science, had acquiesced in the contrivances of poli- 
ticians for the sake of peace. But when the 
slave-power went so far as to demand for slavery the 
great domain of the nation which had been held 
sacred to freedom forever, then the people of the 
North suddenly understood that the necessities of 
slavery demanded what they could not yield. Then 
the conscience of the masses was relieved of the 
doubts and fears which had held it so long in check ; 
their moral impulses were quickened by practical 
perceptions ; the moral idea became a practical force ; 
and the final struggle began. It was made inevita- 
ble by the necessities of slavery : it was indeed an 
irrepressible conflict. 

These things were impending when Henry Clay 
and Daniel Webster, the architects of the last com- 


promise, left the Senate. Had they, with all their 
far-seeing statesmanship, never nnderstoocl this logic 
of things ? When they made their compromises, did 
they only desire to postpone the final struggle until 
they should be gone, so that they might not witness 
the terrible concussion? Or had their great and 
manifold achievements with the statesmanship of 
organization and expediency so deluded their minds, 
that they really hoped a compromise which only 
ignored, but did not settle, the great moral question, 
could furnish an enduring basis for future develop- 
ments ? 

One thing they and their contemporaries had in- 
deed accomplished : under their care the Republic had 
grown so great and strong, its vitality had become so 
tough, that it could endure the final struggle without 
falling to pieces under its shocks. 

Whatever their errors, their delusions, and, per- 
haps, their misgivings may have been, this they had 
accomplished; and then they left the last compro- 
mise tottering behind them, and turned their faces to 
the wall, and died. 

And with them stepped into the background the 
statesmanship of organization, expedients, and com- 
promises ; and to the front came, ready for action, 
the moral idea which was to fight out the great con- 
flict, and to open a new epoch of American history. 

That was the historic significance of the remarka- 
ble scene which showed us Henry Clay walking out 
of the senate-chamber, never to return, when Charles 
Sumner sat down there as the successor of Daniel 



No man could, in his whole being, have more 
strikingiy portrayed that contrast. When Charles 
Sumner had been elected to the Senate, Theodore 
Parker said to him, in a letter of congratulation, " You 
told me once that you were in morals, not in poli- 
tics. Now I hope you will show that you are still in 
morals, although in politics. I hope you will be the 
senator with a conscience." That hope was grati- 
fied. He always remained in morals while in 
politics. He never was any thing else but the 
senator with a conscience. Charles Sumner entered 
the Senate not as a mere advocate, but as the very 
embodiment of the moral idea. From this fountain 
flowed his highest aspirations. There had been 
great antislavery men in the Senate before him ; 
they were there with him, — men like Seward and 
Chase ; but they had been trained in a different 
school. Their minds had ranged over other political 
fields. They understood politics. He did not. He 
knew but one political object, — to combat and 
overthrow the great wrong of slavery, to serve the 
ideal of the liberty and equality of men, and to 
establish the universal reign of " peace, justice, and 
charity." He brought to the Senate a studious 
mind, vast learning, great legal attainments, a power- 
ful eloquence, a strong and ardent nature ; and all 
this he vowed to one service. With all this he was 
not a mere expounder of a policy : he was a wor- 
shipper, sincere and devout, at the shrine of his ideal. 
In no public man had the moral idea of the anti- 
slavery movement more overruling strength. He 
made every thing yield to it. He did not possess it : 


it possessed liira. That was the secret of his pecu- 
liar power. 

He introduced himself into the debates of the 
Senate, — the slavery question having been silenced 
forever, as politicians then thought, — by several 
speeches on other subjects, — the reception of Kos- 
suth, the Land Policy, Ocean Postage; but they 
were not remarkable, and attracted but little atten- 

At last he availed himself of an appropriation bill 
to attack the Fugitive Slave Law ; and at once a 
spirit broke forth in that first word on the great 
question, which startled every listener. 

Thus he opened the argument : — 

" Painfully convinced of the unutterable wrong 
and woe of slaver}^, profoundly believing, that, 
according to the true spirit of the Constitution and 
the sentiments of the fathers, it can find no place 
under our National Government, I could not allow 
this session to reach its close without making or 
seizing an opportunity to declare myself openly 
against the usurpation, injustice, and cruelty of the 
late intolerant enactment for the recovery of fugitive 

Then this significant declaration : — 

" Whatever I am or may be, I freely offer to this 
cause. I have never been a politician. The slave 
of principles, I call no party master. By sentiment, 
education, and conviction, a friend of human 
rights in their utmost expansion, I have ever most 
sincerely embraced the democratic idea, not, in- 
deed, as represented or professed by any party, but 


according to its real significance, as transfigured in 
the Declaration of Independence and in the injunc- 
tions of Christianity. In this idea I see no narrow 
advantage merely for individuals or classes, but the 
sovereignty of the people, and the greatest happi- 
ness of all secured by equal laws." 

A vast array of historical research and of legal 
argument was then called up to prove the section- 
alism of slavery, the nationalism of freedom, and 
the unconstitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Act, fol- 
lowed by this bold declaration , " By the supreme 
law, which commands me to do no injustice, by the 
comprehensive Christian law of brotherhood, by 
the Constitution I have sworn to support, I am 
bound to disobey this law." And the speech closed 
with this solemn quotation : " Beware of the groans 
of wounded souls, since the inward sore will at 
length break out. Oppress not to the utmost a 
single heart ; for a solitary sigh has power to over- 
turn a whole world." 

The amendment to the appropriation bill moved 
by Mr. Sumner received only four votes of fifty-one. 
But every hearer had been struck by the words 
spoken as something different from the tone of other 
antislavery speeches delivered in those halls. 
Southern senators, startled at the peculiarity of the 
speech, called it, in reply, " the most extraordinary 
language they had ever listened to." Mr. Chase, 
supporting Sumner in debate, spoke of it " as mark- 
ing a new era in American history, when the anti- 
slavery idea ceased to stand on the defensive, and was 
boldly advancing to the attack." 


Indeed, it had that significance. There stood up 
in the Senate a man who was no politician, but who, 
on the highest field of politics, with a concentrated 
intensity of feeling and purpose never before wit- 
nessed there, gave expression to a moral impulse, 
which, although sleeping perhaps for a time, certain- 
ly existed in the popular conscience, and which, once 
become a political force, could not fail to produce a 
great revolution. 

Charles Sumner possessed all the instincts, the 
courage, the firmness, and the faith of the devotee of 
a great idea. In the Senate he was a member of a 
feeble minority, so feeble, indeed, as to be to the rul- 
ing power a mere subject of derision, and for the 
first three years of his service without organized 
popular support. The slaveholders had been accus- 
tomed to put the metal of their Northern ojDponents 
to a variety of tests. Many a hot antislavery zeal 
had cooled under the social blandishments with which 
the South knew so well how to impregnate the at- 
mosphere of the national capital ; and many a high 
courage had given way before the haughty assump- 
tion and fierce menace of Southern men in Congress. 
Mr. Sumner had to pass that ordeal. He was at first 
petted and flattered by Southern society ; but fond 
as he was of the charms of social intercourse, and 
accessible to demonstrative appreciation, no blandish- 
ments could touch his convictions of duty. 

And, when the advocates of slavery turned upon 
him with anger and menace, he hurled at them with 
prouder defiance his answer, repeating itself in 
endless variations : " You must yield ; for you are 


The slave-power had so frequently succeeded in 
making the Xorth yield to its demands, even after 
the most formidable demonstrations of reluctance, 
that it had become a serious question whether there 
existed any such thing as Northern firmness. But it 
did exist ; and in Charles Sumner it had developed 
its severest political type. The stronger the assault, 
the higher rose in him the power of resistance. In 
him lived that spirit wliich not only would not yield, 
but would turn upon the assailant. The Southern 
force, which believed itself irresistible, found itself 
striking against a body which was immovable. To 
think of yielding to any demand of slavery, of mak- 
ing a compromise with it, in however tempting a 
form, Avas to his nature an absolute impossibility. 

Mr. Sumner's courage was of a peculiar kind. He 
attacked the slave-power in the most unsparing man- 
ner, when its supporters were most violent in resent- 
ing opposition, and Avhen that violence was always 
apt to proceed from words to blows. One day, while 
Sumner was delivering one of Ihs severest speeches, 
Stephen A. Douglas, Avalking up and down behind 
the president's chair in the old senate-chamber, and 
listening to him, remarked to a friend, '' Do you 
hear that man ? He may be a fool ; but I tell you 
that man has pluck. I wonder whether he knows 
himself what he is doing. I am not sure whether I 
should have the courage to say those things to the 
men who are scowling around him." 

Of all men in the senate-chamber, Sumner was, 
probably least aware that the thing he did required 
pluck. He simply did what he felt it his duty to his 


cause to do. It was to him a matter of course. He 
was like a soldier, who, when he has to march upon 
the enemj^'s batteries, does not say to himself, " Now 
I am going to perform an act of heroism," but who 
simply obeys an impulse of duty, and marches for- 
Avard without thinking of the bullets that fly around 
his head. A thought of the boldness of what he 
has done may then occur to him afterwards, when he 
is told of it. This was one of the striking peculi- 
arities of Mr. Sumner's character, as all those know 
who knew him well. 

Neither was he conscious of the stinging force of 
the language he frequently employed. He simplj- 
uttered what he felt to be true, in lan^uao-e fittincr 
the strength of his convictions. The indignation of 
his moral sense at what he felt to be wrong was so 
deep and sincere, that he thought everybody must 
find the extreme severity of his expressions as natu- 
ral as they came to his own mind ; and he was not 
unfrequently surprised, greatly surprised, when others 
found his lanfjuao'e offensive. 

As he possessed the firmness and courage, so he 
possessed the faith, of the devotee. From the begin- 
ning, and through all the vicissitudes, of the anti- 
slavery movement, liis heart was profoundly assured 
that his generation would see slavery entirely ex- 

While travelling in France to restore his health, 
after having been beaten down on the floor of the 
Senate, he, visited Alexis de Tocqueville, the cele- 
brated author of " Democracy in America." Tocque- 
ville expressed his anxiety about the issue of the 


antislavery movement, which then had suffered de- 
feat by the election of Buchanan. " There can be 
no doubt about the result,"' said Sumner. ''• Slavery 
will soon succumb and disappear." — " Disappear ! In 
what way, and how soon ? " ashed Tocqueville. " In 
what manner, I cannot say," rephed Sumner ; " how 
soon I cannot say : but it will be soon, I feel it ; I 
know it; it cannot be otherwise." That was all 
the reason he gave. "Mr. Sumner is a remarkable 
man," said De Tocqueville afterwards to a friend of 
mine. " He says that slavery will soon entu'ely dis- 
appear in the United States. ■ He does not know 
how, he does not know when ; but he feels it, he is 
perfectly sure of it. The man speaks like a prophet." 
And so it was. 

What appeared a perplexing puzzle to other men's 
minds was perfectly clear to him. His method of 
reasoning Avas simple : it was the reasoning of reli- 
gious faith. Slavery is wrong; therefore it must 
and will perish : freedom is right ; therefore it must 
and will prevail. And by no power of resistance, 
by no difficulty, by no disappointment, by no defeat, 
could that faith be shaken. For his cause, so great 
and just, he thought nothing impossible, every thing 
certain ; and he was unable to understand how 
others could fail to share his faith. 

In one sense he was no party leader. He possessed 
none of the instinct or experience of the pohtician, 
nor that sagacity of mind which appreciates and 
measures the importance of changing circumstances, 
or the possibilities and opportunities of the day. He 
lacked entirely the genius of organization. He 


never understood, nor did lie value, the art of 
strengthening his following by timely concession, or 
prudent reticence, or advantageous combination and 
alliance. He knew nothing of management and 
party manoeuvre. Indeed, not uufrequently he 
alarmed many devoted friends of his cause by bold 
declarations, for which they thought the public 
mind was not prepared, and by the unreserved 
avowal, and straightforward advocacy, of ultimate 
objects, which they thought might safely be left to 
the natural development of events. He was not 
seldom accused of doing things calculated to frighten 
the people, and to disorganize the antislavery forces. 

Such was his unequivocal declaration in his first 
great antislavery speech in the Senate, — that he held 
himself bound by every conviction of justice, right, 
and duty, to disobey the Fugitive Slave Law ; and his 
ringing answer to the question put by Senator Butler 
of South Carolina, Whether, without the Fugitive 
Slave Law, he would, under the Constitution, con- 
sider it his duty to aid the surrender of fugitive 
slaves : "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this 
thing ? " 

Such was his speech on the " Barbarism of Slave- 
ry," delivered on a bill to admit Kansas immediately 
under a free State Constitution, — a speech so un- 
sparing and vehement in the denunciation of slavery 
in all its political, moral, and social aspects, and so 
direct in its prediction of the complete annihilation 
of slavery, that it was said such a speech would 
scarcely aid the admission of Kansas. 

Such was his unbending and open resistance to 



any jDlan of compromise calculated to i^reserve 
slaveiy, when, upon Mr. Lincoln's election, the Re- 
bellion first raised its head, and a large number of 
Northern people, even antislavery men, frightened 
by the threatening prospect of civil war, cast 
blindly about for a plan of adjustment, while really 
no adjustment was possible. 

Such was, early in the war, and during its most 
doubtful hours, his declaration, laid before the 
Senate in a series of resolutions, that the States in 
rebellion had destroyed themselves as such by the 
very act of rebellion ; that slavery, as a creation of 
State law, had perished with the States, and that 
general emancipation must immediately follow ; thus 
putting the programme of emancipation boldly in 
the foreground, at a time when many thought that 
the cry of union alone — union with or without 
slavery — could hold together the Union forces. 

Such was his declaration, demanding negro suf- 
frage even before the close of the war, while the 
public opinion at the North, whose aid the govern- 
ment needed, still recoiled from such a measure. 

Thus he was apt to go rough-shod over the con- 
siderations of management deemed important by his 
co-workers. I believe he never consulted with his 
friends around him, before doing those things ; and, 
when they afterwards remonstrated with him, he 
ingenuously asked, " Is it not right and true, what I 
have said ? And, if it is right and true, must I not 
say it ? " 

And yet, although he had no organizing mind, and 
despised management, he was a leader. He was a 


leader as the embodiment of the moral idea, with all 
its uncompromising firmness, its unflagging faith, its 
daring devotion. And in this sense he could be a 
leader, only because he was no politician. He forced 
others to follow, because he was himself impractica- 
ble. Simply obeying his moral impulse, he dared to 
say things, which, in the highest legislative body of 
the Republic, nobody else would sa}' ; and he proved 
that they could be said, and yet the world would 
move on. "With his wealth of learning and his legal 
ability, he furnished an arsenal of arguments, con- 
vincing more timid souls that what he said could be 
sustained in repeating. And presently the politi- 
cians felt encouraged to follow in the direction 
where the idealist had driven a stake ahead. Nay, 
he forced them to follow ; for they knew that the 
idealist, whom the}^ could not venture to disown, 
would not faU back at their bidding. Such was his 
leadership in the struggle with slavery. 

Nor was that leadership interrupted, when, on the 
22d of May, 1856, Preston Brooks of South Caro- 
lina, maddened by an arraignment of his State and 
its senator, came upon Charles Sumner in the Senate, 
struck him down with heavj^ blows, and left him on 
the ground bleeding and insensible. For three 
years Sumner's voice was not heard ; but his Idood 
marked the vantage-ground from which his party 
could not recede ; and his senatorial chair, kept empty 
for him by the noble people of Massachusetts, stood 
there in most eloquent silence, confirming, sealing, 
inflaming, all he had said with terrible illustration, — 
a guide-post to the onward march of freedom. 


When, in 1861, the Repubhcan party had taken 
the reins of government in hand, his peculiar leader- 
ship entered upon a new field of action. No sooner 
was the victory of the antislavery cause in the 
election ascertained, than the Rebellion raised its 
head. South Carolina ojDenecl the secession move- 
ment. The portentous shadow of an approaching 
civil war spread over the land. A tremor fluttered 
through the hearts even of strong men in the North, 
— a vague fear such as is produced by the first 
rumbling of an earthquake. Could not a bloody 
conflict be averted ? A fresh clamor for compromise 
arose. Even Republicans in Congress began to 
waver. The jDroposed compromise involved new 
and express constitutional recognitions of the ex- 
istence and rights of slavery, and guaranties against 
interference with it by constitutional amendment or 
national law. The pressure from the country, even 
from Massachusetts, in favor of the scheme, was ex- 
traordinary ; but a majority of the antislavery men in 
the Senate, in their front Mr. Sumner, stood firm, feel- 
ing that a compromise giving express constitutionul 
sanction, and an indefinite lease of life, to slavery, 
would be a surrender, and knowing, also, that, even 
by the offer of such a surrender, secession and civil 
war Avoulcl still be insisted on by the Southern 
leaders. The history of those days as we now know 
it confirms the accuracy of that judgment. The 
war was inevitable. Thus the antislavery cause 
escaped a useless humiliation, and retained intact its 
moral force for future action. 

But now the time had come when the antislavery 


movement, no longer a mere opposition to the 
demands of the slave-power, was to proceed to 
positive action. The war had scarcely commenced 
in earnest, when Mr. Sumner urged general emanci- 
pation. Only the great ideal object of the liberty 
of all men could give sanction to a war in the eyes 
of the devotee of universal peace. To the end 
of stamping upon the war the character of a war of 
emancipation, all his energies were bent. His unre- 
served and emphatic utterances alarmed the politi- 
cians. Our armies suffered disaster upon disaster 
in the field. The managing mind insisted that care 
must be taken, by nourishing the popular enthusiasm 
for the integrity of the Union, — the strictly national 
idea alone, — to unite all the social and political ele- 
ments of the North for the struggle ; and that so 
bold a measure as immediate emancipation might re- 
animate old dissensions, and put hearty co-operation 
in jeopardy. 

But Mr. Sumner's convictions could not be re- 
pressed. In a bold decree of universal liberty he 
saw only a new source of inspiration and strength. 
Nor was his impulsive instinct unsupported by good 
reason. The distraction produced in the North by 
an emancipation measure could only be of short 
duration. The moral sj)irit was certain, ultimately, 
to gain the upper hand. 

But in another direction a bold and unequivocal 
antislavery policy could not fail to produce most 
salutary effects. One of the dangers threatening us 
was foreign interference. No European powers gave 
us their expressed sympathy, except Germany and 



Russia. The governing classes of England, with 
conspicuous individual exceptions, always gratefully 
to be remembered, were ill disposed towards the 
Union cause. The permanent disruption of the 
Republic was loudly predicted, as if it were desired ; 
and intervention, an intervention which could be 
only in favor of the South, was openly spoken of. 
The Emperor of the French, who availed himself 
of our embarrassments to execute his ambitious 
designs in Mexico, was animated by sentiments no 
less hostile. It appeared as if only a plausible op- 
portunity had been wanting to bring foreign inter- 
vention upon our heads. A threatening spirit, dis- 
armed -only by timely prudence, had manifested 
itself in the Trent case. It seemed doubtful 
whether the most skilful diplomacy, unaided by a 
stronger force, would be able to avert the danger. 

But the greatest strength of the antislavery cause 
had always been in the conscience of mankind. 
There was our natural ally. The cause of slavery 
as such could have no open sympath}^ among the 
nations of Europe. It stood condemned by the 
moral sentiment of the civilized world. How could 
any European government, in the face of that uni- 
versal sentiment, undertake openly to interfere 
against a power waging war against slavery ? 
Surely that could not be thought of. 

But had the government of the United States dis- 
tinctly professed that it was waging war against 
slavery, and for freedom ? Had it not been officially 
declared that the war for the Union would not alter 
the condition of a single human being in America? 


Why, then, not arrest the useless effusion of blood ; 
"why not, by intervention, stop a destructive war, in 
"which, confessedl}^ slavery and freedom were not at 
stake ? Such were the arguments of our enemies in 
Europe ; and they were not without color. 

It was obvious that nothing but a measure im- 
pressing beyond dispute upon our war a decided 
antislavery character, making it in profession what 
it was inevitably destined to be in fact, — a war of 
emancipation, — could enlist on our side the enlight- 
ened public opinion of the Old World so strongly as 
to restrain the hostile spirit of foreign governments. 
No European government could well venture to 
interfere against those who had convinced the world 
that they were fighting to give freedom to the slaves 
of North America. 

Thus the moral instinct did not err. The eman- 
cipation policy was not only the polic}^ of principle, 
but also the policy of safety. Mr. Sumner urged it 
with impetuous and unflagging zeal. In the Senate 
he found but little encouragement. The resolutions 
he introduced in February, 1862, declaring State 
suicide as the consequence of Rebellion, and the ex- 
tinction of slavery in the insurrectionary States as 
the consequence of State suicide, were looked upon 
as an ill-timed and hazardous demonstration, disturb- 
ing all ideas of management. 

To the President, then, he devoted his efforts. 
Nothing could be more interesting, nay, touching, 
than the peeuliai' relations that sprung up between 
Abraham Lincoln and Charles Sumner. No two 
men could be more alike as to their moral impulses 


and ultimate aims ; no two men more unlike in their 
methods of reasoning and their judgment of means. 

Abraham Lincoln was a true child of the people. 
There was in his heart an inexhaustible fountain 
of tenderness ; and from it sprung that longing to be 
true, just, and merciful to all, which made the people 
love him. In the deep, large humanity of his soul 
had grown his moral and political principles, to 
which he clung with the fidelity of an honest nature, 
and which he defended with the strength of a vigor- 
ous mind. 

But he had not grown great in any high school of 
statesmanship. He had, from the humblest begin- 
nings, slowly and laboriously worked himself up, 
or rather he had gradually risen up without Ijeing 
aware of it ; and suddenly he found himself in the 
foremost rank of the distinguished men of the land. 
In his youth and early manhood he had achieved no 
striking successes that might have imparted to him 
that overweening self-appreciation which so fre- 
quently leads self-made men to overestimate their 
faculties, and to ignore the limits of their strength. 
He was not a learned man ; but he had learned and 
meditated enough to feel how much there was still 
for him to learn. His marvellous success in his 
riper years left intact the inborn modesty of his 
nature. He was absolutely without pretension. 
His simplicity, which by its genuineness extorted 
respect and affection, was wonderfully persuasive, 
and sometimes deeply pathetic and strikingly 

His natural gifts were great. He possessed a clear 


and penetrating mind ; but, in forming his opinions 
on subjects of importance, he was so careful, con- 
scientious, and diffident, that he would always hear 
and probe what opponents had to say, before he 
became firmly satisfied of the justness of his own 
conclusions, — not as if he had been easily con- 
trolled and led by other men, for he had a will of 
his own, — but his mental oj)erations were slow and 
hesitating, and inapt to conceive quick resolutions. 
He lacked self-reliance. Nobody felt more than he 
the awful weight of his responsibilities. He was 
not one of those bold reformers who will defy the 
opposition of the world, and undertake to impose 
their opinions and will upon a reluctant age. With 
careful consideration of the possibilities of the hour, 
he advanced slowly ; but, when he had so advanced, 
he planted his foot with firmness, and no power was 
strong enough to force him to a backward step. 
And every day of great responsibility enlarged the 
horizon of his mind, and every clay he grasped the 
helm of affairs with a steadier hand. 

It was to such a man that Sumner, during the 
most doubtful days at the beginning of the war, ad- 
dressed his appeals for immediate emancipation, — 
appeals impetuous and impatient as they could spring 
only from his ardent and overruling convictions. 

The President at first passively resisted the vehe- 
ment counsel of the senator ; but he bade the couii- 
sellor welcome. It was Mr. Lincoln's constant 
endeavor to surround himself with the best and 
ablest men of the country. Not only did the first 
names of the Republican party appear in his cabinet, 


but every able man in Congress was alwaj^s invited 
as an adviser, whether his views agreed with those 
of the President, or not. But -Mr. Sumner he treated 
as a favorite counsellor, almost like a Minister of 
State, outside of the ca1)inet. 

There were statesmen around the President who 
were also politicians, understanding the art of man- 
agement. Mr. Lincoln appreciated the value of their 
advice as to what was prudent and practicable ; but 
he knew also how to discriminate. In Mr. Sumner 
he saw a counsellor who was no politician, but who 
stood before him as the true representative of the 
.moral earnestness, of the great inspirations, of their 
common cause. From him he heard what was right 
and necessary and inevitaljle. Bv the former he was 
told Avhat, in their opinion, could prudently and 
safely be done. Having heard them both, Abraham 
Lincoln counselled with himself, and formed his res- 
olution. Thus Mr. Lincoln, while scarcely ever fully 
and speedily following Sumner's advice, never ceased 
to ask for it; for he knew its significance. And 
Sumner, while almost always dissatisfied with Lin- 
coln's cautious hesitation, never grew weary in giving 
his advice ; for he never distrusted Lincoln's fidelity. 
Always agreed as to the ultimate end, they almost 
always differed as to times and means ; but, while 
differing, they firmly trusted, for they understood 
one another. 

And thus their mutual respect grew into an affec- 
tionate friendship, which no clash of disagreeing 
opinions could break. Sumner- loved to tell his 
friends, after Lincoln's death, — and I heard him re- 


late it often, never without an expression of tender- 
ness, — how, at one time, those who disliked and 
feared his intimac}" with the President, and desired 
to see it disrupted, thought it was irreparably broken. 
It was at the close of Lincoln's first administration, in 
1865, when the President had proposed certain meas- 
ures of reconstruction touching the State of Louisiana. 
The end of the session of Congress was near at 
hand ; and the success of the bill depended on a vote 
of the Senate before the hour of adjournment on the 
4th of March. Mr. Lincoln had the measure very 
much at heart. But Sumner opposed it, because it 
did not contain sufficient guaranties for the rio-hts of 
the colored people ; and by a parliamentary manoeuvre, 
simply consuming time until the adjournment came, 
he. with two or three other senators, succeeded, in 
defeating it. Lincoln was reported to be deeply 
chagrined at Sumner's action ; and the newspapers 
already announced that the breach between Lincoln 
and Sumner was complete, and could not be healed. 
But those who said so did not know the men. On 
the night of the 6th of March, two daj^s after Lin- 
coln's second inauguration, the customary inaugura- 
tion ball was to take place. Sumner did not think 
of attending it. But towards evening he received a 
card from the President, which read thus : " Dear 
Mr. Sumner, unless you send me word to the con- 
trary, I shall this evening call with my carriage at 
your house to take you with me to the inauguration 
ball. Sincerely yours, Abraham Lincoln." Mr. 
Sumner, deeply touched, at once made up his mind 
to go to an inauguration ball for the first time. Soon 


the carriage arrived, the President invited Sumner to 
take a seat in it with him ; and Sumner found there 
Mrs. Lincoln and Mr. Colfax, the speaker of the 
House of Representatives. Arrived at the ball-room, 
the President asked Mr. Sumner to offer his arm to 
Mrs. Lincoln ; and the astonished spectators, Avho had 
been made to believe that the breach between Lincoln 
and Sumner was irreparable, beheld the President's 
wife on the arm of the senator, and the senator, on 
that occasion of state, invited to take the seat of 
honor by the President's side. Not a word passed 
between them about their disagreement. 

The world became convinced that such a friend- 
ship between such men could not be broken by a 
mere honest difference of opinion. Abraham Lin- 
coln, a man of sincere and profound convictions 
himself, esteemed and honored sincere and profound 
convictions in others. It was thus that Abraham 
Lincoln composed liis quarrels with his friends ; and 
at his bedside, when he died, there was no mourner 
more deeply afflicted than Charles Sumner. 

Let me return to the year 1862. Long, incessant, 
and arduous was Sumner's labor for emancipation. 
At last the great Proclamation, which sealed the 
fate of slavery, came ; and no man had done more to 
bring it forth than he. 

Still Charles Sumner thought his work far from 
accomplished. During the three years of war that 
followed, so full of vicissitudes, alarms, and anxi- 
eties, he stood in the Senate and in the President's 
closet as the ever-watchful sentinel of freedom and 
equal rights. No occasion eluded his grasp to push 


on the destruction of slavery, not only by sweeping 
decrees, but in detail, by pursuing it, as with a 
probing-iron, into every nook and corner of its ex- 
' istence. It was his sleepless care that every blow 
struck at the Rebellion should surely and heavily 
tell against slavery, and that every drop of Ameri- 
can blood that was shed should surely be conse- 
crated to human freedom. He could not rest until 
assurance was made doubly sure, and I doubt 
whether our legislative history shows an example of 
equal watchfulness, fidelity, and devotion to a great 
object. Such was the character of Mr. Sumner's 
legislative activity during the war. 

As the Rebellion succumbed, new problems arose. 
To set upon their feet again States disorganized by 
insurrection and civil war ; to remodel a society 
which had been lifted out of its ancient hinges by 
the sudden change of its system of labor; to pro- 
tect the emancipated slaves against the old preten- 
sion of absolute control on the part of their former 
masters ; to guard society against the possible trans- 
gressions of a large multitude long held in slavery 
and ignorance, and now suddenly set free ; so to 
lodge political power in this inflammable state of 
things as to prevent violent re-actions and hostile 
collisions ; to lead social forces so discordant into 
orderly and fruitful co-operation, and to infuse into 
communities but recently rent by the most violent 
passions a new spirit of lojal attachment to a com- 
mon nationality, — this was certainly one of the 
most perplexing tasks ever imposed upon the states- 
manship of any time and any country. 


But to Mr. Sumner's miud the problem of recon- 
struction did not appear perplexing at all. Believ- 
ing, as lie always did, that the democratic idea, as 
he found it defined in the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, "Human rights in their utmost expansion," 
contained an ultimatel}^ certain solution of all diffi- 
culties, he saw the j)rincipal aim to be reached by 
any reconstruction policy in the investment of the 
emancipated slaves with all the rights and privileges 
of American citizenship. The complexity of the 
problem, the hazardous character of the experiment, 
never troubled him. And as, early in the war, he 
had for himself laid down the theory, that, by the 
very act of Rebellion, the insurrectionary States had 
destroyed themselves as such, so he argued now, 
with assured consistency, that those States had 
relapsed into a territorial condition ; that the Na- 
tional Government had to fill the void by creations 
of its own ; and that in doing so the establishment of 
universal suffrage there was an unavoidable necessi- 
ty. Thus he marched forward to the realization of 
his ideal, on the straightest line, and with the firm- 
ness of profound conviction. 

In the discussions which followed, he had the 
advantage of a man who knows exactly what he 
wants, and who is imperturbably, religiously, con- 
vinced that he is right. But his constitutional 
theory, as well as the measures he proposed, found 
little favor in Congress. The public mind strug- 
gled long against the results he had pointed out as 
inevitable. The whole power of President John- 
son's administration was employed to lead the 


development of things in another direction. But 
tlirough all the vacillations of public opinion, 
tlirough all the perplexities in which Congress 
entangled itself, the very necessity of things 
seemed to press toward the ends which Sumner, and 
those who thought like him, had advocated from the 

At last Mr. Sumner saw the fondest dreams of 
his life soon realized. Slavery was forever blotted 
out in this Republic by the 13th Amendment to the 
Constitution. By the 14th the emancipated slaves 
were secured in their rights of citizenship before the 
law ; and the 15th guaranteed to them the right to 

It was indeed a most astonishing, a marvellous 
consummation. What, ten years before, not even the 
most sanguine would have ventured to anticipate, 
what only the profound faith of the devotee could 
believe possible, was done. And no man had a 
better right than Charles Sumner to claim for him- 
self a pre-eminent share in that great consumma- 
tion. He had, indeed, not been the originator of 
most of the practical measures of legislation by 
which such results were reached. He had even 
combated some of them as in conflict with his 
theories. He did not possess the peculiar ability of 
constructing policies in detail, of taking account of 
existing circumstances, and advantage of opportuni- 
ties. But he had resolutely marched ahead of pub- 
lic opinion in marking the ends to be reached. 
Nobody had done more to inspire and strengthen the 
mo]-al spirit of the antislavery cause. He stood 


foremost among the propelling, driving forces which 
pushed on the great work with undaunted courage, 
untiring effort, irresistible energy, and religious de- 
votion. No man's singleness of purpose, fidelity 
and faith, surpassed his ; and when, by future genera- 
tions, the names are called which are inseparably 
united with the deliverance of the American Repub- 
lic from slavery, no name will be called before his 

While the championship of human rights is his 
first title to fame, I should be unjust to his merit, 
did I omit to mention the services he rendered on 
another field of action. When, in 1861, the seces- 
sion* of the Southern States left the antislavery 
party in the majority in the Senate of the United 
States, Charles Sumner was placed as chairman at the 
head of the Committee on Foreign Relations. It was 
a high distinction ; and no selection could have been 
more fortunate. Without belittling others, it may be 
said, that, of the many able men then and since in the 
Senate, Mr. Sumner was by far the fittest for that 
responsible position. He had ever since his college 
days made international law a special and favorite 
study, and was perfectly familiar with its principles, 
the history of its development, and its literature. 
Nothing of importance had ever been published on 
that subject, in any language, that had escaped his 
attention. His knowledge of history was uncom- 
monly extensive and accurate : all the leading in- 
ternational law cases, with their incidents in detail, 
their theories and settlements, he had at his fingers' 
ends ; and to his last day he remained indefatigable 


in inquiry. Moreover, he had seen the workl : he 
had studied the institutions and policies of foreign 
countries on their own soil, aided by his personal 
intercourse with many of their leading statesmen, 
not a few of whom remained in friendly correspond- 
ence with him ever since their first acquaintance. 

No j)ul)lic man had a higher appreciation of the 
position, dignity, and interests of his own country ; 
and no one was less liable than he to be carried 
away, or driven to hasty and ill-considered steps, by 
excited popular clamor. He was ever strenuous in 
asserting our own rights, while his sense of justice 
did not permit him to be regardless of the rights of 
other nations. His abhorrence of the barbarities of 
war, and his ardent love of peace, led him earnestly 
to seek for every international difference a peace- 
able solution ; and, where no settlement could be 
reached by the direct negotiations of diplomacy, the 
idea of arbitration was always uppermost in his 
mind. He desired to raise the Republic to the high 
office of a missionary of peace and civilization in the 
world. He was, therefore, not only an uncommonh' 
well-informed, enlightened, and experienced, but 
also an eminently conservative, cautious, and safe 
counsellor ; and the few instances in which he 
appeared more impulsive than prudent will, upon 
candid investigation, not impugn this statement. I 
am far from claiming for him absolute correctness of 
view, and infallibility of judgment in every case; 
but, taking his whole career together, it may well be 
doubted, whether, in the whole history of the 
Republic, the Senate of the United States ever j)os- 



sessed a chairman of the Committee on Foreign 
Relations Avho united in himself in snch complete- 
ness the qualifications necessary and desirable for 
the important and delicate duties of that position. 
This may sound like the extravagant praise of a 
personal friend ; but it is the sober opinion of men 
most competent to judge, that it does not go beyond 
his merits. 

His qualities were soon put to the test. Early in 
the war one of the gallant captains of our navy 
arrested the British mail steamer " Trent," running 
from one neutral port to another, on the high seas, 
and took from her by force Mason and Slidell — two 
emissaries of the Confederate Government — and 
their despatches. The people of the North loudly 
applauded the act. The Secretary of the Navy ap- 
proved it. The House of Representatives com- 
mended it in resolutions. Even in the Senate a 
majority seemed inclined to stand by it. The Brit- 
ish Government, in a threatening tone, demanded 
the instant restitution of the prisoners, and an apol- 
ogy. The people of the North responded Avith a 
shout of indignation at British insolence. The 
excitement seemed irrepressible. Those in quest of 
popularity saw a chance to win it easily l>y bellicose 

But among those who felt the weight of respon- 
sibility more moderate counsels prevailed. The 
Government wisely resolved to surrender the pris- 
oners ; and peace with Great Britain was preserved. 

It was Mr. Sumner who threw himself into the 
breach against the violent drift of public opinion. 


In a speech in the Senate, no less remarkable for 
patriotic spirit than legal learning and ingenious 
and. irresistible argument, he justified the surrender 
of the prisoners, not on the ground that during our 
struggle with the Rebellion we were not in a condi- 
tion to go to war with Great Britain, but on the 
higher ground that the surrender, demanded by 
Great Britain in violation of her own traditional 
pretensions as to the rights of belligerents, was in 
perfect accord with American precedent and the 
advanced principles of our government concerning 
the rights of neutrals ; and that this very act, there- 
fore, would for all time constitute an additional and 
most conspicuous precedent, to aid in the establish- 
ment of more humane rules for the protection of the 
rights of neutrals, and the mitigation of the injus- 
tice and barbarity attending maritime war. 

The success of this argument was complete. It 
turned the tide of public opinion. It convinced the 
American people that this was not an act of pusil- 
lanimity, but of justice ; not a humiliation of the 
Republic, but a noble vindication of her time-honored 
principles, and a service rendered to the cause of 

Other complications followed. The interference 
of European powers in Mexico came. Excited de- 
mands for intervention on our part were made in the 
Senate ; and Mr. Sumner, trusting that the victory 
of the Union over the Rebellion would bring on the 
deliverance of Mexico in its train, with signal mod- 
eration and tact prevented the agitation of so dan- 
gerous a policy. It is needless to mention the many 


subsequent instances in which his wisdom and skill 
rendered the Republic similar service. 

Only one of his acts provoked comment in foreign 
countries calculated to impair the high esteem in 
which his name was universally held there. It was 
his speech on the " Alabama " case, preceding the 
rejection by the Senate of the Clarendon-Johnson 
treaty. He was accused of having jaelded to a 
vulgar impulse of demagogism in flattering and ex- 
citing, by unfair statements and extravagant de- 
mands, the grudge the American people might bear 
to England. No accusation could possibly be more 
unjust I and I know whereof I speak. Mr. Sumner 
loved England, had loved her as long as he lived, 
from a feeling of consanguinity, for the treasures 
of literature she had given to the world, for the ser- 
vices she had rendered to human freedom, for the 
blows she had struck at slavery, for the sturdy work 
she had done for the cause of progress and civiliza- 
tion, for the many dear friends he had among her 
citizens. • Such was his impulse; and no man was 
more incapable of pandering to a vulgar prejudice. 

I will not deny, that, as to our differences with 
Great Britain, he was not entirely free from personal 
feeling. That the England he loved so well — the 
England of Clarkson and Wilberforce, of Cobden 
and Bright ; the England to whom he had looked as 
the champion of the antislavery cause in the world — 
should make such hot haste to recognize, nay, as he 
termed it, to set up on the seas as a belligerent, that 
rebellion, whose avowed object it was to found an 
empire of slavery, and to aid that rebellion by every 


means short of open war against the Union, — that 
was a shock to his feelings which he felt like a be- 
trayal of friendship. And yet, while that feeling 
apiDeared in the warmth of his language, it did not 
dictate his policy. I will not discuss here the cor- 
rectness of his opinions as to what he styled the pre- 
cipitate and unjustifiable recognition of Southern 
belligerency, or his theory of consequential damages. 
What he desired to accomplish was, not to extort 
from England a large sum of money, but to put our 
grievance in the strongest light ; to convince Eng- 
land of the great wrong she had inflicted upon us, 
and thus to prepare a composition, which, consist- 
ing more in the settlement of great principles, and 
rules of international law to govern the future inter- 
course of nations, than in the payment of large dam- 
ages, would remove all questions of difference, and 
serve to restore and confirm a friendship which ought 
never to have been interrupted. 

When, finally, the treaty of Washington was nego- 
tiated by the Joint High Commission, Mr. Sumner, 
although thinking that more might have been accom- 
plished, did not only not oppose that treaty, but 
actively aided in securing for it the consent of the 
Senate. Nothing would have been more painful to 
him than a continuance of unfriendly relations with 
Great Britain. Had there been danger of war, no 
man's voice would liave pleaded with more fervor to 
avert such a calamity. He gave ample proof that he 
did not desire any personal opinions to stand in the 
way of a settlement ; and if that settlement, which he 
willingly supported, did not in every respect satisfy 


him, it was because he desired to put the future rela- 
tions of the two countries upon a still safer and more 
enduring basis. 

No statesman ever took part in the direction of 
our foreign affairs who so completely identified him- 
self with the most advanced humane and progres- 
sive principles. Ever jealous of the honor of his 
country, he sought to elevate that honor by a policy 
scrupulously just to the strong, and generous to the 
weak. A profound lover of peace, he faithfully ad- 
vocated arbitration as a substitute for war. The 
barbarities of war he constantly labored to mitigate. 
In the hottest days of our civil conflict he protested 
against the issue of letters of marque and reprisal. 
I-Ie never lost an opportunity to condemn privateer- 
ing as a barbarous practice ; and he even went so far 
as to designate the system of ^jrize-money as incon- 
sistent with our enlightened civilization. In some 
respects, his principles were in advance of our time ; 
but surely the day will come when this Republic, 
marching in the front of progress, will adopt them as 
lier own, and remember their champion with pride. 

I now apf>roach the last period of his life, which 
brought to him new and bitter struggles. 

The work of reconstruction completed, he felt that 
three objects still demanded new efforts. One was, 
that the colored race should be protected by national 
legislation against degrading discrimination in the 
enjoyment of facilities of education, travel, and pleas- 
ure, such as stand under the control of law ; and 
this object he embodied in his civil-rights bill, of 
which he was the mover and especial champion. 


The second was, that generous reconciliation should 
wipe out the lingering animosities of past conflicts, 
and re-unite in new bonds of brotherhood all those 
who had been divided. And the third was, that the 
government should be restored to the purity and 
high tone of its earlier days, and that from its new 
birth the Republic should issue with a new lustre of 
moral greatness, to lead its children to a higher per- 
fection of manhood, and to be a sliining example and 
beacon-light to all the nations of the earth. 

This accomplished, he often said to his friends he 
would be content to lie down and die. But death 
overtook him before he was thus content ; and before 
death came he was destined to taste more of the bit- 
terness of life. 

His civil-rights bill he pressed with unflagging 
perseverance against an opposition which stood upon 
the ground that the objects his measure contem- 
plated belonged, under the Constitution, to the juris- 
diction of the States ; that the colored people, armed 
with the ballot, possessed the necessary means to 
provide for their own security ; and that the progres- 
sive development of public sentiment would afford to 
them greater protection than could be given by 
national legislation of questionable constitutionality. 

The pursuit of the other objects brought upon him 
experiences of a painful nature. I have to speak of 
his disagreement with the administration of President 
Grant and with his party. Nothing could be far- 
ther from my desire than to re-open, on a solemn 
occasion like this, those bitter conflicts which are 
still so fresh in our minds, and to assail any living 


man in the name of the dead. Were it my purpose 
to attack, I should do so in my own name, and 
choose the place where I can be answered, — not 
this. But I have a duty to perform : it is to set forth 
in the light of truth the motives of the dead before 
the living. I knew Charles Sumner's motives well. 
We stood together, shoulder to shoulder, in many a 
hard contest. We were friends ; and between us 
passed those confidences which only intimate friend- 
ship knows : therefore I can truly say that I knew 
his motives well. 

The civil war had greally changed the country, 
and left many problems behind it, requiring again 
that building, organizing, constructive kind of states- 
manship Avhich I descril)ed as presiding over the 
Republic in its earlier history. For a solution of 
many of those problems, Mr. Sumner's mind was 
little fitted ; and he naturally turned to those which 
appealed to his moral nature. No great civil war 
has ever passed over any country, especially a repulj- 
lic, without producing widespread and dangerous 
demoralization and corruption, not onlj^ in the gov- 
ernment, but among the people. In such times the 
sordid instincts of human nature develop themselves 
to unusual recklessness under the guise of patriot- 
ism. The ascendency of no political party in a 
republic has ever been long maintained without 
tempting many of its members to avail themselves, for 
their selfish advantage, of the opportunities of power 
and party protection, and without attracting a horde 
of camp foUoAvers, professing principle, but meaning 
spoil. It has always been so ; and the American 
Republic has not escaped the exjoerience. 


Neither Mr. Sumuer nor many others could in our 
circumstances close their eyes to this fact. He rec- 
ognized the danger early ; and already, in 1864, he 
introduced in the Senate a bill for the reform of the 
civil service, crude in its detail, but embodying cor- 
rect principles. Thus he may be said to have been 
the earliest pioneer of the civil service reform 

The evil grew under President Johnson's adminis- 
tration ; and ever since it has been cropping out, 
not only drawn to light by the efforts of the opposi- 
tion, but voluntarily and involuntarily, by members 
of the ruling party itself. There were in it many 
men who confessed to themselves the urgent neces- 
sity of meeting the growing danger. 

Mr. Sumner could not be silent. He cherished in 
his mind a high ideal of what this Republic and its 
government should be, — a government composed of 
the best and wisest of the land, animated by none 
but the highest and most patriotic aspirations, yield- 
ing to no selfish impulse, noble in its tone and char- 
acter, setting its face sternly against all wrong and 
injustice, presenting in its whole being to the Ameri- 
can people a shining example of purity and lofty 
public spirit. Mr. Sumner was proud of his country : 
there was no prouder American in the land. He 
felt in himself the whole dignity of the Republic. 
And when he saw any thing that lowered the dignity 
of the Republic and the character of its government, 
he felt it as he would have felt a personal offence. 
He criticised it, he denounced it, he remonstrated 
against it ; for he could not do otherwise. He did so 



frequently, and without hesitation and reserve, when 
Mr. Lincoln was president: he continued to do so 
ever since, the more loudly, the more difficult it was 
to make himself heard. It was his nature : he felt 
it to be his right as a citizen : he esteemed it his duty 
as a senator. 

That, and no other, was the motive which impelled 
him. The rupture with the administration was 
brought on by his opposition to the Santo Domingo 
Treaty. In the reasons upon which that opposition 
was based, I know that personal feeling had no share. 
They were patriotic reasons, publicly and candidly 
expressed ; and it seems they were appreciated by a 
very large portion of the American people. It has 
been said that he provoked the resentment of the 
President by first promising to support that treaty, 
and then opposing it, thus rendering himself guilty 
of an act of duplicity. He has publicly denied the 
justice of the charge, and stated the facts as they 
stood in his memory. I am willing to make the full- 
est allowance for the possibility of a misapprehension 
of words. But I affirm, also, that no living man 
Avho knew Mr. Sumner well will hesitate a moment 
to pronounce the charge of duplicity as founded on 
the most radical of misapprehensions. An act of 
duplicity on his part was simply a moral impossibil- 
ity : it was absolutel}^ foreign to his nature. What- 
ever may have been the defects of his character, he 
never knowingly deceived a human being. There 
was in him not the faintest shadow of dissimulation, 
disguise, or trickery. Not one of his words ever had 
the purpose of a double meaning ; not one of his acts, 


a hidden aim. His likes and dislikes, his approval 
and disapproval, as soon as they were clear to his 
own consciousness, appeared before the world in the 
open light of noonday. His frankness was so un- 
bounded, his candor so entire, his ingenuousness so 
childlike, that he lacked even the discretion of ordi- 
nary prudence. He was almost incapable of moder- 
ating his feelings, of toning down his meaning in the 
exjDression. When he might have gained a point by 
indirection, he would not have done so, because he 
could not. He was one of those, who, when they 
attack, attack always in front and in broad daylight. 
The night surprise and the flank march were abso- 
lutely foreign to his tactics, because they were in- 
compatible with his nature. I have known many 
men in my life, but never one who was less capable 
of a perfidious act or an artful profession. 

Call him a vain, an impracticable, an imperious 
man, if you will ; but American history does not 
mention the name of one, of whom, Avith greater 
justice, it can be said that he was a true man. 

The same candor and jiurity of motives which 
prompted and characterized his opposition to the 
Santo Domingo scheme i^rorapted and characterized 
the attacks upon the administration Avhich followed. 
The charges he made, and the arguments with which 
he supported them, I feel not called upon to enumer- 
ate. Whether and how far they were correct or 
erroneous, just or unjust, important or unimportant, 
the judgment of history will determine. May that 
judgment be just and fair to us all ! But this I can 
affirm to-day, for I know it : Charles Sumner never 


made a charge which he did not himself firmly, re- 
ligiously believe to be true. Neither did he condemn 
those he attacked for any thing he did not firmly, 
religiously believe to be wrong. And while attacking 
those in power for what he considered wrong, he was 
always ready to support them in all he considered 
right. After all he has said of the President, he 
would to-day, if he lived, conscientiously, cordially, 
joyously aid in sustaining the President's recent veto 
on an act of financial legislation which threatened to 
inflict a deep injury on the character, as well as the 
true interests, of the American people. 

But at the time of which I speak, all he said was 
so deeply grounded in his feeling and conscience, 
that it was for him difficult to understand how others 
could form different conclusions. When, shortly 
before the National Republican Convention of 1872, 
he had delivered in the Senate that fierce Philippic 
for which he has been censured so much, he turned 
to me with the question. Whether I did not think 
that the statements and arguments he had produced 
would certainly exercise a decisive influence on the 
action of that convention. I replied that I thought 
it would not. He was greatly astonished, — not as 
if he indulged in the delusion that his personal word 
would have such authoritative weight ; but it seemed 
impossible to him that opinions which in him had 
risen to the full strength of overruling conviction, 
that a feeling of duty which in him had grown so 
solemn and irresistible as to inspire him to any risk 
and sacrifice, ever so painful, should fall powerless at 
the feet of a party which so long had followed in- 


spirations kindred to his own. Such was the ingen- 
iioiisnoss of his nature, such his faith in the recti- 
tude of his own cause. The result of his effort is a 
matter of histor}'. After the Pliiladelphia conven- 
tion, and not until then, he resolved to oppose his 
party, and to join a movement which was doomed to 
defeat. He obeyed his sense of right and duty at a 
terrible sacrifice. 

He had been one of the great chiefs of his party ; 
by many regarded as the greatest. He had stood in 
the Senate as a mighty monument of the struggles 
and victories of the antislavery cause. He had been 
a martyr of his earnestness. By all Republicans he 
had been looked up to with respect, by many with 
veneration. He had been the idol of the people of 
his State. All this was suddenly changed. Already, 
at the time of his opposition to the Santo Domingo 
scheme, he had been deprived of his place at the 
head of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 
which he had held so long, and with so much honor 
to the Republic and to himself. But few know how 
shar]3 a pang it gave to his heart, this removal, which 
he felt as the wanton degradation of a faithful ser- 
vant who was conscious of only doing his dut}^ 

But, Avhen he had pronounced against the candi- 
dates of his party, Avorse experiences were for him 
in store. Journals which for years had been full 
of his praise now assailed him with remorseless 
ridicule and vituperation, questioning even his past 
services, and calling him a traitor. Men who had 
been proud of his acquaintance turned away their 
heads Avhen they met him in the street. Former 



flatterers eagerly covered his name with slander. 
Many of those who had been his associates in the 
struggle for freedom sullenly withdrew from him 
their friendship. Even some men of the colored 
race, for whose elevation he had labored with a 
fidelity and devotion equalled by few, and surpassed 
by none, joined in the chorus of denunciation. Oh, 
how keenly he felt it I And as if the cruel mahce 
of ingratitude, and the unsparing persecution of 
infuriated partisanship, had not been enough, another 
enemy came upon him, threatening his very life. It 
was a new attack of that disease, which for many 
years, from time to time, had prostrated him with the 
acutest suffering, and which shortly should lay him 
low. It admonished him that every word he spoke 
might be his last. He found himself forced to leave 
the field of a contest in which not only his prin- 
ciples of right, but even his good name, earned by 
so many years of faithful effort, was at stake. He 
possessed no longer the elastic spirit of youth ; and 
the prospect of new struggles had ceased to. charm 
him. His hair had grown gray with years ; and he 
had reached that age when a statesman begins to 
love the thought of reposing his head upon the 
pillow of assured public esteem. Even the sweet 
comfort of that sanctuary was denied him, in which 
the voice of wife and child would have said, " Rest 
here ; for, whatever the world may say, we know 
that you are good and faithful and noble." Only the 
friends of his youth, who knew him best, surrounded 
him with never-flagging confidence and love, and 
those of his companions-in-arms, who knew him 


also, and who were true to him, as they were true to 
theu- common cause. Thus he stood in the presi- 
dential campaign of 1872. 

It is at such a moment of bitter ordeal that an 
honest pubHc man feels the impulse of retiring 
within himself to examine with scrupulous care 
the quahty of his own motives, anxiously to inquire 
whether he is really right in his opinions and objects 
when so many old friends say that he is wrong, and 
then, after such a review at the hand of conscience 
and duty, to form anew his conclusions without bias, 
and to proclaim them without fear. This he did. 

He had desired, and, as he wrote, he had confi- 
dently hoped, on returning home from Washington, 
to meet his fellow-citizens in Faneuil HaU, that 
venerable forum, and to speak once more on great 
questions involving the welfare of the country ; but 
recurring symptoms of a painful character warned 
him against such an attempt. The speech he had 
intended to pronounce, but could not, he left in a 
written form for publication, and went to Europe, 
seeking rest, uncertain whether he would ever 
return alive. In it he reiterated all the reasons 
which had forced him to oppose the administration 
and the candidates of his party. They were 
unchanged. Then followed an earnest and pathetic 
plea for universal peace and reconciliation. He 
showed how necessary the revival of fraternal feeling 
was, not onl}^ for the prosperity and physical well- 
being, but for the moral elevation, of the American 
people, and for the safety and greatness of the Re- 
public. He gave words to his profound sympathy 


with the Southern States in their misfortunes. In- 
dignantly he declared, that " second only to the 
widespread devastations of war were the robberies 
to which those States had been subjected, under an 
administration calling itself republican, and with 
local governments deriving their animating impulse 
from the party in power ; and that the people in 
those communities would have been less than men, 
if, sinking under the intolerable burden, they did 
not turn for help to a new party, promising honesty 
and reform." 

He recalled the reiterated expression he had given 
to his sentiments ever since the breaking-out of the 
war, and closed the recital with these words : " Such 
is the simple and harmonious record, showing how, 
from the beginning, I was devoted to peace, how 
constantly I longed for reconciliation, how, with 
every measure of equal rights, this longing found ut- 
terance, how it became an essential part of my life, 
how I discarded all idea of vengeance and punish- 
ment, how reconstruction was to my mind a transi- 
tion period, and how earnestly I looked forward to 
the day, when, after the recognition of equal rights, 
the Republic should again be one in reality as in 
name. If there are any who ever maintained a 
policy of hate, I never was so minded ; and now, in 
protesting against any such policy, I act only in 
obedience to the irresistible promptings of my soul." 

And well might he speak thus. Let the people of 
the South hear what I say. They were wont to see in 
him only the implacable assailant of that peculiar insti- 
tution wliich was so closely interwoven with all their 


traditions and habits of life, that they regarded it as 
the very basis of their social and moral existence, as 
the source of their prosperity and greatness ; the un- 
sparing enemy of the Rebellion, whose success was 
to realize the fondest dreams of their ambition ; the 
never-resting advocate of the grant of suffrage to 
the colored people, which they thought to be de- 
signed for their own degradation. Thus they had 
persuaded themselves that Charles Sumner was to 
them a relentless foe. 

They did not kno.w, as others knew, that he whom 
they cursed as their persecutor had a heart beating 
warmly and tenderl}^ for all the human kind ; that the 
efforts of his life were unceasingly devoted to those 
whom he thought most in need of aid ; that in the 
slave he saw only the human soul, with its eternal 
title to the same right and dignity which he liim- 
self enjoyed ; that he assailed the slavemaster only 
as the oppressor who denied that right ; and that the 
former oppressor, ceasing to be such, and being 
oppressed himself, could surely count upon the ful- 
ness of his active sympathy freely given in the spirit 
of equal justice ; that it was the religion of his life 
to protect the weak and oppressed against the strong, 
no matter who were the weak and oppressed, no 
matter who were the strong. They knew not, that, 
while fiercely combating a wrong, there was not in 
his heart a spark of hatred even for the wrong-doer 
who hated him. They knew not how well he de- 
served the high homage involuntarily paid to him by 
a cartoon during the late presidential compaign, — a 
cartoon, designed to be malicious, which represented 


Charles Sumner strewing flowers on the grave of 
Preston Brooks. They foresaw not, that, to welcome 
them back to the full brotherhood of the American 
people, he would expose himself to a blow, wound- 
ing him as cruelly as that which years ago levelled 
him to the ground in the senate-chamber. And this 
new blow he received for them. The people of the 
South ignored this long. Now that he is gone, let 
them never forget it. 

From Europe Mr. Sumner returned late in the fall 
of 1872, much strengthened, but far from being well. 
At the opening of the session he re-introduced two 
measures, which, as he thought, should complete the 
record of his political life. One was his civil-rights 
bill, which had failed in the last Congress; and 
the other, a resolution providing that the names of 
the battles won over fellow-citizens in the war of the 
RebeUion should be removed from the regimental 
colors of the army, and from the army register. It 
was in substance only a repetition of a resolution 
which he had introduced ten years- before, in 1862, 
during the war, when the first names of victories 
were put on American battle-flags. This resolution 
called forth a new storm against him. It was de- 
nounced as an insult to the heroic soldiers of the 
Union, and a degradation of their victories and well- 
earned laurels. It was condemned as an unpatriotic 

Charles Sumner insult the soldiers who had spilled 
their blood in a war for human rights! Charles 
Sumner degrade victories, and depreciate laurels, won 
for the cause of universal freedom! — how strange 
an imputation ! 


Let the dead man have a hearing. This was his 
thought : No civilized nation, from the republics of 
antiquity down to our days, ever thought it wise 
or patriotic to preserve in conspicuous and dura- 
ble form the mementos of victories won over fellow- 
citizens in civil war. Why not? Because every 
citizen should feel himself with all others as the 
child of a common country, and not as a defeated 
foe. All civilized governments of our days have 
instinctively followed the same dictate of wisdom 
and patriotism. The Irishman, when fighting for 
old England at Waterloo, was not to behold on the 
red cross floating above him the name of the Boyne. 
The Scotch Highlander, when standing in the 
trenches of Sevastopol, was not by the colors of his 
regiment to be reminded of Culloden. No French 
soldier at Austerlitz or Solferino had to read upon 
the tricolor any reminiscence of the Vendee. No 
Hungarian at Sadowa was taunted by any Austrian 
banner with the surrender of Villages. No German 
regiment from Saxony or Hanover, charging under 
the iron hail of Gravelotte, was made to remember 
by words written on a Prussian standard that the 
l)lack eagle had conquered them at Koniggratz and 
Langensalza. Should the son of South Carolina, 
when at some future day defending the Republic 
against some foreign foe, be reminded by an inscrip- 
tion on the colors floating over him, that under this 
flag the gun was fired that killed his father at 
Gettysburg? Should this great and enlightened 
Republic, proud of standing in the front of human 
progress, be less wise, less large-hearted, than the 


ancients were two thousand years ago, and the kingly 
governments of Europe are to-day"^ Let the battle- 
flags of the hrave volunteers, which they brought 
home from the war with the glorious record of their 
victories, be preserved intact as a proud ornament of 
our State Houses and armories ; but let the colors 
of the army, under which the sons of all the States 
are to meet and mingle in common patriotism, speak 
of nothing but union, — not a union of conquerors 
and conquered, but a union which is the mother of 
all, equally tender to all, knowing of nothing but 
equality, peace, and love among her children. Do 
you want conspicuous mementos of your victories ? 
They are written upon the dusky brow of every 
freeman who was once a slave ; they are written on 
the gate-posts of a restored union ; and the most glori- 
ous of all will be written on the faces of a contented 
people, re-united in common national pride. 

Such were the sentiments which inspired that 
resolution. Such were the sentiments which called 
forth a storm of obloquy. Such were the senti- 
ments for which the Legislature of Massachusetts 
passed a solemn resolution of censure upon Charles 
Sumner, — Massachusetts, his own Massachusetts, 
whom he loved so ardently with a filial love, of 
whom he was so proud, who had honored him so 
much in days gone by, and whom he had so long and 
so faithfully labored to serve and to honor. Oh ! 
those were evil days, that winter ; days sad and dark, 
when he sat there in his lonesome chamber, unable 
to leave it, the world moving around him, and in it 
so much that Avas hostile, and he — prostrated by 


the tormenting disease, which had returned with 
fresh violence — unable to defend himself, and 
with this l:itter arrow in his heart. Why was not 
that resolution held up to scorn and vituperation as 
an insult to the brave, and an unpatriotic act ? Why 
was he not attacked and condemned for it when he 
first offered it, ten years before, and when he was in 
the fulness of manhood and power ? If not then, why 
now? Why now? I shall never forget the melancholy 
hours I sat with him, seeking to lift him up with cheer- 
ing words, and he — his frame for hours racked with 
excruciating pain, and then exhausted with suffer- 
ing — gloomily brooding over the thought that he 
might die so. 

How thankful I am, how thankful every human 
soul in Massachusetts, how thanliful every American 
must be, that he did not die then ! — and, indeed, 
more than once death seemed to be knocking at his 
door — how thankful that he was spared to see the 
da}-, when the people, by striking developments, Avere 
convinced that those who had acted as he did had 
after all not been impelled by mere whims of vanity, 
or reckless ambition, or sinister designs, but had 
good and patriotic reasons for what the}^ did ; when 
the heart of Massachusetts came back to him full of 
the old love and confidence, assuring him that he 
would again be her chosen son for her representative 
seat in the House of States ; when the lawgivers 
of the old Commonwealth, obeying an irresistible 
impulse of justice, wiped away from the records of 
the legislature, and from the fair name of the State, 
that resolution of censure which had stuno: Jiim so 


deeply ; and when returning vigor lifted him up, 
and a new sunburst of hope illumined his life ! How 
thankful we all are that he lived that one year 
longer ! 

And yet (have you thought of it ?) if he had died 
in those dark days, when so many cLuids hung over 
him, would not then the much vilified man have 
been the same Charles Sumner, whose death but one 
year later afflicted millions of hearts with a pang of 
])ereavement, whose praise is now on every lip for 
the purity of his life, for his fidelity to great princi- 
ples, and for the loftiness of his patriotism ? Was he 
not a year ago the same, — the same in purpose, the 
same in principle, the same in character? What had 
he done then that so many who praise him to-day 
should have then disowned him ? See what he had 
done. He had simply been true to his convictions 
of duty. He had approved and urged what he 
thought right ; he had attacked and opposed what lie 
thought wrong. To his convictions of duty he had 
sacrificed political associations most dear to him, the 
security of his position of which he was proud. For 
his convictions of duty he had stood up against those 
more powerful than he ; he had exposed himself to 
reproach, obloquy, . and persecution. Had he not 
done so, he would not have been the man you j^raise 
to-day ; and yet for doing so he was cried down but 
yesterday. He had lived up to the great word he 
spoke when he entered the Senate, — " The slave of 
principle, I call no party master." That declaration 
was greeted with applause ; and when, true to his 
word, he refused to call a party master, the act was 
covered witli rex)roach. 


The spirit impelling him to do so was the same 
conscience which urged him to break away from the 
powerful party which controlled his State in the days 
of Daniel Webster, and to join a feeble minority, 
which stood np for freedom ; to throw away the 
favor, and def}^ the power, of the wealthy and refined, 
in order to plead the cause of the down-trodden and 
degraded; to stand up against the slave power in 
Congress with a courage never surpassed ; to attack 
the prejudice of birth and religion, and to plead fear- 
lessly for the rights of the foreign-ljorn citizen at a 
time when the Know-Nothing movement was control- 
ling his State and might have defeated his own re- 
election to the Senate ; to advocate emancipation 
when others trembled with fear ; to march ahead of 
his followers, when they were afraid to follow ; to 
rise up alone for what he thought right, when others 
would not rise with him. It was that brave spirit 
which does every thing, defies every thing, risks 
every thing, sacrifices every thing — comfort, socie- 
ty, party, popular support, station of honor, pros- 
pects — for sense of right, and conviction of duty. 
That is it for which you lionored him long, for which 
you reproached him yesterday, and for Avhich you 
honor him again to-day, and will honor him forever. 

Ah, what a lesson is this for the American people ! 
— a lesson learned so often, and, alas! forgotten al- 
most as often as it is learned. Is it well to discourage, 
to proscribe, in your public men, that independent 
spirit which will boldly assert a conscientious sense 
of duty, even against the behests of power or party ? 
Is it well to teach them that they must serve the 


command and interest of part}^, even at the price of 
conscience, or tliey must be crushed under its heel, 
whatever their past service, whatever their ability, 
whfitever their character, may be ? Is it well to 
make them believe that he Avho dares to be himself 
must be hunted as a political outlaw, who will find 
justice only when he is dead? That would have 
been the sad moral of his death, had Charles Sum- 
ner died a year ago. 

Let the American people never forget that it has 
always been the independent spirit, the all-defying 
sense of duty, which broke the Avay for every great 
progressive movement since mankind has a history ; 
which gave the American Colonies their sovereignty, 
and made this great Republic; which defied the 
power of slavery, and made this a Rej)ublic of free- 
men ; and which (who knows ?) may again be 
needed some day to defy the power of ignorance, to 
arrest the inroads of corruption, or to break the 
subtle tyranny of organization in order to preserve 
this as a republic. And therefore let no man under-i 
stand me as offering what I have said about Mr. 
Sumner's course during the last period pf his life 
as an apology for what he did. He was right before 
his own conscience, and needs no apology. Woe to 
the Republic Avhen it looks in vain for the men who 
seek the truth without prejudice, and speak the truth 
without fear, as they understand it, no matter 
whether the Avorld be willing to listen or not ! Alas 
for the generation that would put such men into 
their graves with the jooor boon of an apology for 
what was in them noblest and best ! Who will not 


agree, that had power or partisan spirit, which per- 
secuted him because he followed higher aims than 
party interest, ever succeeded in subjugating and 
moulding him after its fashion, against his conscience, 
against his conviction of duty, against his sense of 
right, he would have sunk into his grave a miserable 
ruin of his great self, wrecked in his moral nature, 
deserving only a tear of pity ? For he was great and 
useful only because he dared to be himself all the 
days of his hfe ; and for this you have, when he 
died, put the laurel upon his brow. 

From the coffin which hides his body, Charles 
Sumner now rises up before our ej-es an historic 
character. Let us look at him once more. His life 
lies before us like an open book which contains no 
double meanings, no crooked passages, no mysteries, 
no concealments. It is clear as crystal. 

Even his M-armest friend will not see in it the 
model of perfect statesmanship ; not that eagle 
glance, which from a lofty eminence, at one sweep 
surveys the whole field on which by labor, thought, 
strife, accommodation, impulse, 'restraint, slow and 
rapid movement, the destinies of a nation are worked 
out, and which, while surveying the whole, yet 
observes and penetrates the fitness and working of 
every detail of the great machinery ; not that ever 
calm and steady and self-controlling good sense, 
which judges existing things just as they are, and 
existing forces just as to Avhat they can accomplish, 
and while instructing, concihating, persuading, and 
moulding those forces, and guiding them on toward 
an ideal end, correctly estimates comparative good 


and comparative evil, and impels or restrains as that 
estimate may command. That is the true genius of 
statesmanship, fitting all times, all circumstances, 
and all great objects to be reached by political action. 
Mr. Sumner's natural abilities were not of the 
very first order ; but they were supplemented by ac- 
quired abilities of most remarkable i30wer. His 
mind was not apt to invent and create by inspiration : 
it produced by study and work. Neither had his 
mind superior constructive capacity. When he de- 
sired to originate a measure of legislation, he scarce- 
ly ever elaborated its practical detail : he usually 
threw his idea into the form of a resolution, or a bill, 
giving in the main his purpose only ; and then he ad- 
vanced to the discussion of the principles involved. 
It was difficult for him to look at a question or prob- 
lem from more than one point of view, and to com- 
prehend its different bearings, its complex relations 
'with other questions or problems ; and to that one 
point of view he was apt to subject all other consid- 
erations. He not only thought, but he did not hesi- 
tate to say, that all construction of the Constitution 
must be subservient to the supreme duty of giving 
the amplest protection to the natural rights of man 
by direct national legislation. He was not free from 
that dangerous tendency to forget the limits which 
l)Ound the legitimate range of legislative and govern- 
mental action. On economical questions his views 
were enlightened and thoroughly consistent. He had 
studied such subjects more than is commonly sup- 
posed. It was one of his last regrets that his health 
did not permit him to make a speech in favor of an 


early resumption of specie payments. On matters of 
international law and foreign affairs he was the rec- 
ognized authority of the Senate. 

But some of his very shortcomings served to in- 
crease that peculiar power which he exerted in his 
time. His public life was thrown into a period of a 
revolutionary character, when one great end was the 
self-imposed subject of a universal struggle, — a strug- 
gle which was not made, not manufactured by the 
design of men, but had grown from the natural con- 
flict of existing things, and grew irresistibly on and 
on, until it enveloped all the thought of the nation ; 
and that one great end appealing more than to the 
practical sense, to the moral impulses, of men, making 
of them the fighting force. There Mr. Sumner found 
his place, and there he grew great ; for that moral im- 
pulse was stronger in him than in most of the world 
around him ; and it was in him not a mere crude, un- 
tutored force of nature, but educated and elevated by 
thought and study ; and it found in his brain and 
heart an armory of strong weapons given to but few, 
— vast information, legal learning, industry, elo- 
quence, undaunted courage, an independent and iron 
will, profound convictions, unbounded devotion, and 
sublune faith. It found there also a keen and just in- 
stinct as to the objects which must be reached, and the 
forces which must be set in motion and driven on to 
reach them. Thus keeping the end steadily, obsti- 
nately, intensely, in view, he marched ahead of his fol- 
lowers, never disturbed by their anxieties and fears, 
showing them that what was necessary was possible, 
and forcing them to follow him, — a great moving 
power, such as the struggle required. 


Nor can it be said that this impatient, irrepressible 
propulsion was against all prudence and sound 
judgment ; for it must not be forgotten, that, when 
Mr. Sumner stepped into the front, the policy of 
compromise Avas exhausted, the time of composition 
and expedient was past. Things had gone so far, 
that the idea of reaching the end which ultimately 
must be reached, b}^ mutual concession and a grad- 
ual and peaceable process, was utterly hopeless. 
The conflicting forces could not be reconciled : the 
final struggle was indeed irrepressible and inevitable ; 
and all that could then be done was to gather up all 
the existing forces for one supreme effort, and to 
take care that the final struggle should bring forth 
the necessary results. 

Thus the instinct, and the obstinate, concentrated, 
irresistible moving power which Mr. Sumner pos- 
tiessed, were an essential part of the true statesman- 
ship of the revolutionary period. Had he lived 
before or after this great period, in quiet ordinary 
times, he would perhaps never have gone into public 
life, or never risen in it to conspicuous significance. 
But all he was by nature, by acquirement, by 
ability, by moral impulse, made him one of the 
heroes of that great struggle against slavery, and in 
some respects the first. And then, when the victory 
was won, the same moral nature, the same sense of 
justice, the same enlightened mind, impelled him to 
plead the cause of peace, reconciliation, and brother- 
hood, through equal rights and even justice, thus 
completing the fulness of his ideal. On the pedes- 
tal of his time he stands one of the greatest of 


What a peculiar power of fascination there was in 
him as a public man ! It acted much through his 
eloquence, but not through his eloquence alone. 
His speech was not a graceful Aoav of melodious 
periods, now drawing on the listener with the 
persuasive tone of confidential conversation, then 
carrying him along with a more rapid rush of 
thought and language, and at last lifting him up 
with the peals of reason in passion. His arguments 
marched forth at once in grave and stately array ; 
his sentences, like rows of massive doric columns, 
unrelieved by pleasing variety, severe and imposing. 
His orations, especially those pronounced in the 
Senate before the war, contain many passages of 
grandest beauty. There was nothing kindly per- 
suasive in his utterance : his reasoning appeared in 
the form of consecutive assertion, not seldom strictly 
logical and irresistibly strong. His mighty appeals 
were always addressed to the noblest instincts of 
human nature. His speech was never enlivened by 
any thing like wit or humor : they were foreign to 
his nature. He has never been guilty of a flash of 
irony or sarcasm. His weapon was not the foil, but 
the battle-axe. 

He has often been accused of being uncharitable 
to opponents in debate, and of wounding their 
feelings with uncalled for harshness of language. 
He was guilty of that ; but no man was less con- 
scious of the stinging force of his language than he. 
He was often sorry for the effect his thrusts had pro- 
duced ; but being always so firmly and honestly per- 
suaded of the correctness of his own opinions, that 


lie could scarcely ever appreciate the position of an 
opponent, he fell into the same fault again. Not 
seldom he appeared haughty in his assumptions of 
authority ; but it was the imperiousness of profound 
conviction, wliich, while sometimes exasperating his 
hearers, yet scarcely ever failed to exercise over 
them a certain sway. His fancy Avas not fertile, his 
figures mostly labored and stiff. In his later years, 
his vast learning began to become an encumbering 
burden to his eloquence. The mass of quoted say- 
ings and historical illustrations, not seldom accumu- 
lated beyond measure, and grotesquely grouped, 
sometimes threatened to suffocate the original 
thought, and to oppress the hearer. But even then 
his words scarcely ever failed to chain the attention 
of the audience ; and I have more than once seen the 
Senate attentively listening while he read from 
printed slips the most elaborate disquisition, which, 
if attempted by any one of his colleagues, would at 
once have emptied the floor and galleries. But 
there were always moments recalling to our mind 
the days of his freshest vigor, when he stood in the 
midst of the great struggle, lifting up the youth of 
the country with heart-stirring appeals, and with the 
lion-like thunder of his voice shaking the senate- 

Still there was another source from which that 
fascination sprung. Behind all he said and did there 
stood a grand manhood, Avhich never failed to make 
itself felt. What a figure he was ! with his tall and 
stalwart frame, his manly face, topped with his 
shaggy locks, his noble bearing, — the finest type of 


an American senatorship, the tallest oak of the forest. 
And how small they appeared by his side! — the 
common run of politicians, who spend their days with 
the laying of pipe, and the setting-up of j^ins, and 
the pulling of wires ; who barter an office to secure 
this vote, and i:)rocure a contract to get that ; Avho 
stand always with their ears to the wind to hear how 
the administration sneezes, and what their constitu- 
ents whisper, in mortal trepidation lest they fail in 
being all things to everybody. How he towered 
above Ihem ! — he whose aims were always the highest 
and noblest ; whose very presence made you forget 
the vulgarities of political life ; who dared to differ 
with any man ever so powerful, any multitude ever 
so numerous ; who regarded j)arty as nothing but a 
means for great ends, and for those ends defied its 
power ; to whom the arts of demagogism were so 
contemptible, that he would rather have sunk into 
obscurity and oblivion than descend to them ; to 
whom the dignity of his office was so sacred, that he 
would not even ask for it for fear of darkening its 

Honor to the people of Massachusetts, who for 
twenty -three years kept in the Senate, and would have 
kept him there ever so long, had he lived, a man who 
never, even to them, conceded a single iota of his 
convictions in order to remain there ! And what a 
life was his I — a life so wholly devoted to what was 
good and pure. There he stood in the midst of the 
grasping materialism of our times, around him the 
eager chase for the almighty dollar, no thought of 
opportunity ever entering the smallest corner of his 


mind, and disturbing his high endeavors ; with a 
virtue which the possession of power could not even 
tempt, much less debauch ; from whose presence the 
very thought of corruption instinctively shrunk 
back ; a life so spotless, an integrity so intact, a 
character so high, that the most daring eagerness of 
calumny, the most wanton audacity of insinuation, 
standing on tiptoe, could not touch the soles of his 

They say that he indulged in overAveening self- 
appreciation. Ay, he did have a magnificent pride, 
a lofty self-esteem. Why should he not? Let 
wretches despise themselves, for they have good 
reason to do so ; not he. But in liis self-esteem 
there was nothing small and mean : no man lived to 
whose very nature envy and petty jealousy were 
more foreign. Conscious of his own merit, he never 
depreciated the merit of others ; nay, he not only 
recognized it, but he expressed that recognition with 
that cordial spontaneity which can only flow from a 
sincere and generous heart. His pride of self was 
like his pride of country. He was the proudest 
American ; he was the proudest New-Englander ; 
and yet he was the most cosmopolitan American I 
have ever seen. There was in him not the faintest 
shadow of that narrow prejudice which looks 
askance at what has grown in foreign lands. His 
generous heart and his enlightened mind were too 
generous and too enlightened not to give the fullest 
measure of appreciation to all that was good and 
worthy, from whatever quarter of the globe it came. 
And now his home. There are those around me 


who have breathed the air of his house in Washing- 
ton, that atmosphere of refinement, taste, scholai;- 
ship, art, friendship, and warm-hearted hospitality ; 
who have seen those rooms covered and filled with 
his pictures, his engravings, his statues, his bronzes, 
his books and rare manuscripts, — the collections of a 
lifetime, the image of the richness of his mind, the 
comfort and consolation of his solitude. They have 
beheld his childlike smile of satisfaction when he 
unlocked the most precious of his treasures and told 
their stories. 

They remember the conversations at his hospitable 
board, genially insphed and directed by him, on art 
and books and inventions and great times and great 
men, Avhen suddenly sometimes, by accident, a new 
mine of curious knowledge disclosed itself in him, 
which his friends had never known he possessed ; or 
when a sunburst of the affectionate gentleness of his 
soul warmed all hearts around him. They remem- 
ber his craving for friendship, as it spoke through 
the far outstretched hand when you arrived, and the 
glad exclamation, " I am so happy you came ! " and 
the beseeching, almost despondent tone when you 
departed, " Do not leave me yet ; do stay a while 
longer, I want so much to speak with you ! " It is 
all gone now. He could not stay himself ; and he 
has left his friends behind, feeling more deeply than 
ever that no man could know him well but to love 

Now we have laid him into his grave in the 
motherly soil of Massachusetts, which was so dear 
to him. He is at rest now, — the stalwart, brave old 


champion, whose face and bearing were so austere, 
and whose heart was so full of tenderness ; who 
began his career with ' a pathetic plea for universal 
peace and charity, and Avhose whole life was an 
arduous, incessant, never-resting struggle, which 
left him all covered with scars. And we can do 
nothing for him but commemorate his lofty ideals 
of liberty, and equality, and justice, and reconcili- 
ation, and purity, and the earnestness and courage, 
and touching fidelity, with which he fought for 
them, so genuine in his sincerity, so single minded 
in his zeal, so heroic in his devotion ! 

Oh that we could but for one short hour call him 
up from his coffin to let him see, with the SEime eyes 
Avhich saw so much hostility, that those who stood 
against him in the struggles of his life are his ene- 
mies no longer! that we could show him the fruit 
of the conflicts and sufferings of his last three years, 
and that he liad not struggled and suffered in vain ! 
We would bring before him, not only those Avho 
from offended partisan zeal assailed him, and who 
now with sorrowful hearts praise the j)urity of his 
patriotism ; but we would bring to him that man of 
the South, a slaveholder, and a leader of secession in 
his time, the echo of whose words spoken in the 
name of the South, in the halls of the national 
Capitol we heard but yesterday, — words of respect, 
of gratitude, of tenderness. That man of the South 
should then do what he deplored not to have done 
while he lived : he should lay his hand upon the 
shoulders of the old friend of the human kind, and 
say to him, " Is it you whom I hated, and who, as I 


thought, hated me ? I have learned now the great- 
ness and magnanimity of your soul, and here I offer 
you my hand and heart." 

Could he but see this with those eyes, so weary 
of contention and strife, how contentedly would he 
close them again, having beheld the greatness of his 

People of Massachusetts, he was the son of your 
soil, in which he now sleeps ; but he is not all your 
own. He belongs to all of us in the North and in 
the South, — to the blacks he helped to make free, 
and to the whites he strove to make brothers again. 
On the grave of him whom so many thought to be 
their enemy, and found to be their friend, let the 
hands be clasped which so bitterly warred against 
each other. Upon that grave let the youth of 
America be taught, by the story of his life, that not 
only genius, power, and success, but, more than these, 
patriotic devotion and virtue, make the greatness of 
the citizen. If this lesson bo understood and fol- 
lowed, more than Charles Sumner's living word 
could have done for the glory of Ameiica will then 
1)6 done by the insiDiration of his great example. 
And it will truly be said, that although his body lies 
mouldering in the earth, yet in the assured rights of 
all, in the brotherhood of a re-united peo[)k', and in 
a purified republic, he still lives, and will live 


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