Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Sumner, Charles
|←Summers, Thomas Osmond||Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
|Sumner, Charles Allen→|
|Edition of 1900. Written by George William Curtis. See also Charles Sumner on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer. The figure of Sumner's tomb in Mt. Auburn cemetery is omitted.|
SUMNER, Charles, statesman, b. in Boston, Mass., 6 Jan., 1811; d. in Washington, D. C.. 11 March, 1874. The family is English, and William Sumner, from whom Charles was descended in the seventh generation, came to America about 1635 with his wife and three sons, and settled in Dorchester, Mass. The Sumners were generally farmers. Job, grandfather of Charles, entered Harvard in 1774, but in the next year he joined the Revolutionary army, and served with distinction during the war. He was not graduated, but he received in 1785 an honorary degree from the college. He died in 1789, aged thirty-three. Charles Pinckney Sumner (b. 1776, d. 1839), father of Charles, was graduated at Harvard in 1796. He was a lawyer and was sheriff of Suffolk county from 1825 until a few days before his death. In 1810 he married Relief Jacob, of Hanover, N. H., and they had nine children, of whom Charles and Matilda were the eldest and twins. Matilda died in 1832. Sheriff Sumner was an upright, grave, formal man, of the old Puritan type, fond of literature and public life. His anti-slavery convictions were very strong, and he foretold a violent end to slavery in this country. In his family he was austere, and, as his income was small, strict economy was indispensable. Charles was a quiet boy, early matured, and soon showed the bent of his mind by the purchase for a few cents of a Latin grammar and “Liber Primus” from a comrade at school. In his eleventh year he was placed at the Latin-school where Wendell Phillips, Robert C. Winthrop, James Freeman Clarke, and other boys, afterward distinguished men, were pupils. Sumner excelled in the classics, in general information, and in writing essays, but he was not especially distinguished. Just as he left the Latin-school for college he heard President John Quincy Adams speak in Faneuil hall, and at about the same time he heard Daniel Webster's eulogy upon Adams and Jefferson. It was in a New England essentially unchanged from the older, but refined and softened, that Sumner grew up. At the age of fifteen he was reserved and thoughtful, caring little for sports, slender, tall, and awkward. His thirst for knowledge of every kind, with singular ability and rapidity in acquiring it, was already remarkable. He had made a compend of English history in eighty-six pages of a copy-book, and had read Gibbon's history.
In September, 1826, he began his studies at Harvard. In the classics and history and forensics, and in belles-lettres, he was among the best scholars. But he failed entirely in mathematics. His memory was extraordinary and his reading extensive. Without dissipation of any kind and without sensitiveness to humor, generous in his judgment of his comrades, devoted to his books, and going little into society, he was a general favorite, although his college life gave no especial promise of a distinguished career. In his junior year he made his first journey from home, in a pedestrian tour with some classmates to Lake Champlain, returning by the Hudson river and the city of New York. In 1830 he was graduated, and devoted himself for a year to a wide range of reading and study in the Latin classics and in general literature. He resolutely grappled with mathematics to repair the defect in his education in that branch of study, wrote a prize essay on commerce, and listened carefully to the Boston orators, Webster, Everett, Choate, and Channing. No day, no hour, no opportunity, was lost by him in the pursuit of knowledge. His first interest in public questions was awakened by the anti-Masonic movement, which he held to be a “great and good cause,” two adjectives that were always associated in his estimate of causes and of men. Mindful of Dr. Johnson's maxim, he diligently maintained his friendships by correspondence and intercourse. On 1 Sept., 1831, he entered Harvard law-school, of which Judge Joseph Story was the chief professor. Story had been a friend of Sumner's father, and his friendly regard for the son soon ripened into an affection and confidence that never ceased. Sumner was now six feet and two inches in height, but weighing only 120 pounds, and not personally attractive. He was never ill, and was an untiring walker; his voice was strong and clear, his smile quick and sincere, his laugh loud, and his intellectual industry and his memory were extraordinary. He began the study of law with the utmost enthusiasm, giving himself a wide range, keeping careful notes of the moot-court cases, writing for the “American Jurist,” and preparing a catalogue of the library of the Law-school. He joined the temperance society of the professional schools and the college. His acquirements were already large, but he was free from vanity. His mental habit was so serious that, while his talk was interesting, he was totally disconcerted by a jest or gay repartee. He had apparently no ambition except to learn as much as he could, and his life then, as always, was pure in word and deed.
The agitation of the question of slavery had already begun. “The Liberator” was established by Mr. Garrison in Boston on 1 Jan.. 1831. The “nullification movement” in South Carolina occurred while Sumner was at the Law-school. He praised President Jackson's proclamation, and saw civil war impending; but he wrote to a friend in 1832: “Politics I begin to loathe; they are for a day, but the law is for all time.” He entered the law-office of Benjamin Rand, in Boston, in January, 1834, wrote copiously for the “Jurist.” and went to Washington for the first time in April. The favor of Judge Story opened to Sumner the pleasantest houses at the capital, and his professional and general accomplishments secured an ever-widening welcome. But Washington only deepened his love for the law and his aversion to politics. In September, 1834, he was admitted to the bar. During the month that he passed in Washington, Sumner described his first impression of the unfortunate race to whose welfare his life was to be devoted: “For the first time I saw slaves [on the journey through Maryland], and my worst preconception of their appearance and ignorance did not fall as low as their actual stupidity. They appear to be nothing more than moving masses of flesh, unendowed with anything of intelligence above the brutes. I have now an idea of the blight upon that part of our country in which they live.” Anticipating hearing Calhoun, he says: “He will be the last man I shall ever hear speak in Washington.” In 1835 he was appointed by Judge Story a commissioner of the circuit court of the United States and reporter of Story's judicial opinions, and he began to teach in the Law-school during the judge's absence. This service he continued in 1836-'7, and he aided in preparing a digest of the decisions of the supreme court of Maine. He wrote upon literary and legal topics, he lectured and edited and pleaded, and he was much overworked in making a bare livelihood. In 1835 his interest in the slavery question deepened. The first newspaper for which he subscribed was “The Liberator,” and he writes to Dr. Francis Lieber, then professor in the college at Columbia, S. C.: “What think you of it? [slavery] Should it longer exist? Is not emancipation practicable? We are becoming Abolitionists, at the north, fast.” The next year, 1836, his “blood boils” at an indignity offered by a slavemaster to the Boston counsel of a fugitive slave. Sumner now saw much of Channing, by whose wisdom and devotion to freedom he was deeply influenced. His articles in the “Jurist” had opened correspondence with many eminent European publicists. His friends at home were chiefly among scholars, and already Longfellow was one of his intimate companions. In the summer of 1830 he made a journey to Canada, and in December, 1837, he sailed for France.
He carried letters from distinguished Americans to distinguished Europeans, and his extraordinary diligence in study and his marvellous memory had equipped him for turning every opportunity to the best account. During his absence he kept a careful diary and wrote long letters, many of which are printed in the memoir by Edward L. Pierce, and there is no more graphic and interesting picture than they present of the social and professional life at that time of the countries he visited. Sumner remained in Paris for five months, and carefully improved every hour. He attended 150 university lectures by the most renowned professors. He walked the hospitals with the great surgeons. He frequented the courts and theatres and operas and libraries and museums. He was a guest in the most famous salons, and he saw and noted everything, not as a loiterer, but as a student. On 31 May, 1838, he arrived in England, where he remained for ten months. No American had ever been so universally received and liked, and Carlyle characteristically described him as “Popularity Sumner.” He saw and studied England in every aspect, and in April, 1839, went to Italy and devoted himself to the study of its language, history. and literature, with which, however, he was already familiar. In Rome, where he remained for some months, he met the sculptor Thomas Crawford, whom he warmly befriended. Early in October, 1839, he left Italy for Germany, in the middle of March, 1840, he was again in England, and in May, 1840, he returned to America.
He showed as yet no sign of political ambition. The “hard-cider campaign” of 1840, the contest between Harrison and Van Buren, began immediately after his return. He voted for Harrison, but without especial interest in the measures of the Whig party. In announcing to a brother, then in Europe, the result of the election, he wrote: “I take very little interest in politics.” The murder of Lovejoy in November, 1837, and the meeting in Faneuil hall, where Wendell Phillips made his memorable speech, and the local disturbances that attended the progress of the anti-slavery agitation throughout the northern states, had plainly revealed the political situation. But Sumner's letters during the year after his return from Europe do not show that the question of slavery had especially impressed him, while his friends were in the most socially delightful circles of conservative Boston. But in 1841 the assertion by Great Britain, of a right to stop any suspected slaver to ascertain her right to carry the American flag, produced great excitement. Sumner at once showed his concern for freedom and his interest in great questions of law by maintaining in two elaborate articles, published in a Boston newspaper early in 1843, the right and the justice of such an inquiry. Kent, Story, Choate, and Theodore Sedgwick approved his position. This was his first appearance in the anti-slavery controversy. In 1842 Daniel Webster, as secretary of state, wrote his letter upon the case of the “Creole,” contending that the slaves who had risen against the ship's officers should not be liberated by the British authorities at Nassau. Sumner strongly condemned the letter, and took active part in the discussion. He contended that the slaves were manumitted by the common law upon passing beyond the domain of the local law of slavery; and if this were not so, the piracy charged was an offence under the local statute and not under the law of nations, and no government could be summoned to surrender offenders against the municipal law of other governments. In April, 1842, he writes: “The question of slavery is getting to be the absorbing one among us, and growing out of this is that other of the Union.” He adjured Longfellow to write verses that should move the whole land against the iniquity. But his social relations were still undisturbed, and his unbounded admiration of Webster showed his generous mind. “With the moral devotion of Channing,” he said of Webster, “he would be a prophet.”
In July, 1843, Sumner published in the “North American Review” an article defending Com. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie for his action in the case of the “Somers” mutiny, when a son of John C. Spencer, secretary of war, was executed. He published also a paper upon the political relations of slavery, justifying the moral agitation of the question. In this year he contributed largely to the “Law Reporter,” and taught for the last time in the Law-school. In the election of 1844 Sumner took no part. He had no special sympathy with Whig views of the tariff and the bank, and already slavery seemed to him to be the chief public question. He was a Whig, as he said in 1848, because it seemed to him the party of humanity, and John Quincy Adams was the statesman whom he most admired. He was overwhelmed with professional work, which brought on a serious illness. But his activity was unabated, and he was elected a member of various learned societies. His letters during 1844 show his profound interest in the slavery question. He speaks of the “trocious immorality of John Tyler in seeking to absorb Texas,” and “the disgusting vindication of slavery” by Calhoun, which he regrets that he is too busy to answer. In 1845 he was deeply interested in the question of popular education, and was one of the intimate advisers of Horace Mann. Prison-discipline was another question that commanded his warmest interest, and his first public speech was made upon this subject at a meeting of the Prison-discipline society, in May, 1845. This was followed, on 4 July, by the annual oration before the civil authorities of Boston, upon “The True Grandeur of Nations.” The oration was a plea for peace and a vehement denunciation of war, delivered, in commemoration of an armed revolutionary contest, to an audience largely military and in military array. This discourse was the prototype of all Sumner's speeches. It was an elaborate treatise, full of learning and precedent and historical illustration, of forcible argument and powerful moral appeal. The effect was immediate and striking. There were great indignation and warm protest on the one hand, and upon the other sincere congratulation and high compliment. Sumner's view of the absolute wrong and iniquity of war under all circumstances was somewhat modified subsequently; but the great purpose of a peaceful solution of international disputes he never relinquished. The oration revealed to the country an orator hitherto unknown even to himself and his friends. It showed a moral conviction, intrepidity, and independence, and a relentless vigor of statement, which were worthy of the best traditions of New England. Just four months later, on 4 Nov., 1845, Sumner made in Faneuil hall his first anti-slavery speech, at a meeting of which Charles Francis Adams was chairman, to protest against the admission of Texas. This first speech had all the characteristics of the last important speech he ever made. It was brief, but sternly bold, uncompromising, aggressive, and placed Sumner at once in the van of the political anti-slavery movement. He was not an Abolitionist in the Garrisonian sense. He held that slavery was sectional, not national; that the constitution was meant to be a bond of national liberty as well as union, and nowhere countenanced the theory that there could be property in men; that it was to be judicially interpreted always in the interest of freedom; and that, by rigorous legal restriction and the moral force of public opinion, slavery would be forced to disappear. This was subsequently the ground held by the Republican party. Sumner added to his reputation by an elaborate oration at Cambridge, in August, 1846, upon “The Scholar, the Jurist, the Artist, the Philanthropist,” of which the illustrations were his personal friends, then recently dead, John Pickering, Judge Story, Washington Allston, and Dr. Channing. The reference to Channing gave him the opportunity, which he improved, to urge the duty of anti-slavery action. It was the first time that the burning question of the hour had been discussed in the scholastic seclusion of the university.
In September, 1846, at the Whig state convention held in Faneuil hall, Sumner spoke upon the “Anti-Slavery Duties of the Whig Party,” concluding with an impassioned appeal to Mr. Webster to lead the Whigs as an anti-slavery party. He sent the speech to Mr. Webster, who, in replying coolly, politely regretted that they differed in regard to political duty. In October, Sumner wrote a public letter to Robert C. Winthrop, representative in congress from Boston, censuring him severely for his vote in support of the Mexican war. He wrote as a Whig constituent of Mr. Winthrop's, and during his absence from Boston he was nominated for congress, against Mr. Winthrop, by a meeting of Whigs, including Charles Francis Adams and John A. Andrew. But he immediately and peremptorily declined, and he warmly supported Dr. Samuel G. Howe, who was nominated in his place. During this period, when “Conscience Whigs” were separating from “Cotton Whigs,” Sumner was untiring in his public activity. He spoke often, and he argued before the supreme court of the state the invalidity of enlistments for the Mexican war, and delivered a lecture upon “White Slavery in the Barbary States,” which was elaborated into a pamphlet, and was a valuable historical study of the subject. In June, 1847, a speech upon prison-discipline showed his interest in the question to be unabated. On 29 Sept., 1847, he spoke for the last time as a Whig, in the State convention at Springfield, in support of a resolution that Massachusetts Whigs would support only an anti-slavery man for the presidency. The resolution was lost, and upon the Whig nomination of Gen. Zachary Taylor, 1 June, 1848, a convention of anti-slavery men of both parties was called at Worcester on 28 June, at which Sumner, Charles Francis Adams, Samuel Hoar (who presided), and his son, E. Rockwood Hoar, with many other well-known Whigs, withdrew from the Whig party and organized the Free-soil party. “If two evils are presented to me,” said Sumner in his speech, alluding to Cass and Taylor, “I will take neither.” Sumner was chairman of the Free-soil state committee, which conducted the campaign in Massachusetts for Van Buren and Adams, nominated at the Buffalo convention. In October, 1848, he was nominated for congress in the Boston district, receiving 2,336 votes against 1,460 for the Democratic candidate. But Mr. Winthrop received 7,726, and was elected. In May, 1849, he renewed his plea for peace in an exhaustive address before the American peace society on “The War System of the Commonwealth of Nations,” and on 5 Nov., 1850, his speech, after the passage of the Fugitive-slave law, was like a war-cry for the Free-soil party, and was said to have made him senator. In the election of members of the legislature the Free-soilers and Democrats united, and at a caucus of members of the Free-soil party Sumner was unanimously selected as their candidate for U. S. senator. He was more acceptable to the Democrats because he had never been an extreme Whig, and the Democratic caucus, with almost equal unanimity, made him its candidate. The legislature then chose George S. Boutwell governor, Henry W. Cushman lieutenant-governor, and Robert Rantoul, Jr., senator for the short term. These were all Democrats. The house of representatives voted, on 14 Jan., 1851, for senator, casting 381 votes, with 191 necessary to a choice. Sumner received 186, Robert C. Winthrop 167, scattering 28, blanks 3. On 22 Jan., of 38 votes in the senate, Sumner received 23, Winthrop 14, and H. W. Bishop 1, and Sumner was chosen by the senate. The contest in the house continued for three months. Sumner was entreated to modify some expressions in his last speech; but he refused, saying that he did not desire the office, and on 22 Feb. he asked Henry Wilson, president of the senate, and the Free-soil members, to abandon him whenever they could elect another candidate. On 24 April, Sumner was elected senator by 193 votes, precisely the necessary number of the votes cast.
When he took his seat in the senate he was as distinctively the uncompromising representative of freedom and the north as Calhoun had been of slavery and the south. But it was not until 26 Aug., 1852, just after the Democratic and Whig national conventions had acquiesced in the compromises of 1850, that Sumner delivered his first important speech, “Freedom National, Slavery Sectional.” It treated the relations of the national government to slavery, and the true nature of the constitutional provision in regard to fugitives. The speech made a profound impression. The general view was accepted at once by the anti-slavery party as sound. The argument seemed to the anti-slavery sentiment to be unanswerable. Seward and Chase both described it as “great,” and it was evident that another warrior thoroughly equipped was now to be encountered by the slave power. On 23 Jan., 1854. Stephen A. Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska bill, by which the Missouri compromise was repealed, and on 21 Feb., 1854, Sumner opposed it in a speech characteristically comprehensive and exhaustive, reviewing the history of the restriction of slavery. On the eve of the passage of the bill he made a solemn and impressive protest, and his reply to assailants, 28 June, 1854, stung his opponents to madness. He was now the most unsparing, the most feared, and the most hated opponent of slavery in congress. On 17 March, 1856, Mr. Douglas introduced a bill for the admission of Kansas as a state. On 19 and 20 May, Sumner delivered a speech on the “Crime against Kansas,” which again aroused the country, and in which he spoke, in reference to the slave and free-soil factions in Kansas, of “the fury of the propagandists and the calm determination of their opponents,” who through the whole country were “marshalling hostile divisions, and foreshadowing a conflict which, unless happily averted by freedom, will become war — fratricidal, parricidal war.” It provoked the bitterest rejoinders in the senate, to which Sumner replied contemptuously. In his speech he had sharply censured Senator Butler, of South Carolina, and Senator Douglas, and two days after the delivery of the speech, as Sumner was sitting after the adjournment writing at his desk alone in the senate-chamber, Preston Smith Brooks, a relative of Butler's and a representative from South Carolina, entered the chamber, and, after speaking a few words to Sumner, struck him violently upon the head with a bludgeon, and while Sumner was trying in vain to extricate himself from the desk and seize his assailant, the blows continued until he sank bloody and senseless to the floor. This event startled the country as a presage of civil war. The excitement was universal and profound. The house of representatives refused to give the two-third vote necessary to expel Brooks, but he resigned and appealed to his constituents, and was unanimously re-elected. Sumner was long incapacitated for public service. On 3 Nov., 1856, he returned to Boston to vote, and was received with acclamation by the people and with the highest honor by the state and city authorities. On 13 Jan., 1857, he was re-elected senator, receiving all but ten votes, and on 7 March, 1857, he sailed for Europe, where he submitted to the severest medical treatment. With characteristic energy and industry, in the intervals of suffering, he devoted himself to a thorough study of the art and history of engraving.
For nearly four years he was absent from his seat in the senate, which he resumed on 5 Dec., 1859, at the opening of the session. He was still feeble, and took no part in debate until the middle of March, and on 4 June, 1860, on the question of admitting Kansas as a free state, he delivered a speech upon “The Barbarism of Slavery,” which showed his powers untouched and his ardor unquenched. Mr. Lincoln had been nominated for the presidency, and Sumner's speech was the last comprehensive word in the parliamentary debate of freedom and slavery. The controversy could now be settled only by arms. This conviction was undoubtedly the explanation of the angry silence with which the speech was heard in the senate by the friends of slavery. During the winter of secession that followed the election Sumner devoted himself to the prevention of any form of compromise, believing that it would be only a base and fatal surrender of constitutional principles. He made no speeches during the session. By the withdrawal of southern senators the senate was left with a Republican majority, and in the reconstruction of committees on 8 March, 1861. Sumner was made chairman of the committee on foreign affairs. For this place he was peculiarly fitted. His knowledge of international law, of the history of other states, and of their current politics, was comprehensive and exact, and during the intense excitement arising from the seizure of the “Trent” he rendered the country a signal service in placing the surrender of Slidell and Mason upon the true ground. (See Mason, James Murray.) While there was universal acquiescence in the decision of the government to surrender the commissioners, there was not universal satisfaction and pride until on 9 Jan., 1862, Sumner, in one of his ablest speeches, showed incontestably that our own principles, constantly maintained by us, required the surrender. One of the chief dangers throughout the civil war was the possible action of foreign powers, and especially of England, where iron-clad rams were being built for the Confederacy, and on 10 Sept., 1863, Sumner delivered in New York a speech upon “Our Foreign Relations,” which left nothing unsaid. Happily, on 8 Sept., Lord Russell had informed the American minister, Charles Francis Adams, that the rams would not be permitted to leave English ports.
Throughout the war, both in congress and upon the platform, Sumner was very urgent for emancipation, and when the war ended he was equally anxious to secure entire equality of rights for the new citizens. But while firm upon this point, and favoring the temporary exclusion of recent Confederates from political power, he opposed the proposition to change the jury law for the trial of Jefferson Davis, and disclaimed every feeling of vengeance. He was strong in his opposition to President Andrew Johnson and his policy. But the great measure of the Johnson administration, the acquisition of Alaska by treaty, was supported by Sumner in a speech on 9 April, 1867, which is an exhaustive history of Russian America. He voted affirmatively upon all the articles of impeachment of President Johnson, which in a long opinion he declared to be one of the last great battles with slavery.
Early in the administration of President Grant, 10 April, 1869, Sumner opposed the Johnson-Clarendon treaty with England, as affording no means of adequate settlement of our British claims. In this speech he asserted the claim for indirect or consequential damages, which afterward was proposed as part of the American case at the Geneva arbitration, but was discarded. In his messsage of 5 Dec., 1870, President Grant, regretting the failure of the treaty to acquire Santo Domingo, strongly urged its acquisition. Sumner strenuously opposed the project on the ground that it was not the wish of the “black republic.” and that Baez, with whom, as president of the Dominican republic, the negotiation had been irregularly conducted, was an adventurer, held in his place by an unconstitutional use of the navy of the United States. Sumner's opposition led to a personal rupture with the president and the secretary of state, and to alienation from the Republican senators, in consequence of which, on 10 March, 1871, he was removed, by the Republican majority of the senate, from the chairmanship of the committee on foreign affairs. He was assigned the chairmanship of the committee on privileges and elections; but, upon his own motion, his name was stricken out. On 24 March he introduced resolutions, which he advocated in a powerful speech, severely arraigning the president for his course in regard to Santo Domingo. In December, 1871, he refused again to serve as chairman of the committee on privileges and elections. Early in 1872 he introduced a supplementary civil-rights bill, which, since January, 1870, he had vainly sought to bring before the senate. It was intended to secure complete equality for colored citizens in every relation that law could effect; but it was thought to be unwise and impracticable by other Republican senators, and as drawn by Sumner it was not supported by them. He introduced, 13 Feb., 1872, resolutions of inquiry, aimed at the administration, into the sale of arms to France during the German war. An acrimonious debate arose, during which Sumner's course was sharply criticised by some of his party colleagues, and he and Senators Trumbull, Schurz, and Fenton were known as anti-Grant Republicans.
Sumner was urged to attend the Liberal or anti-Grant Republican convention, to be held at Cincinnati, 1 May, which nominated Horace Greeley for the presidency, and the chairmanship and authority to write the platform were offered to him as inducements. But he declined, and in the senate, 31 May, declaring himself a Republican of the straitest sect, he denounced Grantism as not Republicanism in a speech implying that he could not support Grant as the presidential candidate of the party. The Republican convention, 5 June, unanimously renominated Grant, and the Democratic convention, 9 June, adopted the Cincinnati platform and candidates. In reply to a request for advice from the colored citizens of Washington, 29 July, Sumner, in a long letter, advised the support of Greeley, on the general ground that principles must be preferred to party. In a sharp letter to Speaker Blaine, 5 Aug., he set forth the reasons of the course he had taken.
But the strain of the situation was too severe. His physicians ordered him to seek recreation in Europe, and he sailed early in September, leaving the manuscript of a speech he had proposed to deliver in Faneuil hall at a meeting of Liberal Republicans. He opposed the election of Grant upon the ground that he was unfaithful to the constitution and to Republican principles, and otherwise unfitted for the presidency; and he supported Greeley as an original and unswerving Republican, nominated by Republicans, whose adoption as a candidate by the Democratic party proved the honest acquiescence of that party in the great results of the civil war. He returned from Europe in time for the opening of the session, 2 Dec., 1872. The Republican majority omitted him altogether in the arrangement of the committees, leaving him tn be placed by the Democratic minority. But Sumner declined to serve upon any committee, and did not attend the Republican caucus. On the first day of the session he introduced a bill forbidding the names of battles with fellow-citizens to be continued in the army register or placed on the regimental colors of the United States. From this time he took no party part and made no political speech, pleading only for equality of civil rights for colored citizens. At the next session, 1 Dec., 1873, he was placed on several committees, not as chairman, but as one of the minority, and he did not refuse to serve, but attended no meetings. During this session the cordial relations between Sumner and the Republicans were almost wholly restored, and in Massachusetts the Republican feeling for him was very friendly. Again, promptly but vainly, 2 Dec., 1873, he asked consideration of the civil-rights bill. On 27 Jan., 1874, he made for the bill a last brief appeal, and on 11 March, 1874, after a short illness, he died. The bill that was his last effort to serve the race to whose welfare his public life had been devoted was reported, 14 April, 1874, substantially as originally drawn, and passed the senate, 22 May. But it failed in the house, and the civil-rights bill, approved 1 March, 1875, was a law of less scope than his, and has been declared unconstitutional by the supreme court.
Sumner's death was universally lamented. One of the warmest and most striking eulogies was that of Lucius Q. C. Lamar, then a representative in congress from Mississippi, who had been a sincere disciple of Calhoun and a Confederate officer, but who recognized in Sumner a kindred earnestness and fidelity. The later differences with his party were forgotten when Sumner died, and only his great service to the country in the most perilous hour, and his uncompromising devotion to the enslaved race, were proudly and enthusiastically remembered. Among American statesmen his life especially illustrates the truth he early expressed, that politics is but the application of moral principles to public affairs. Throughout his public career he was the distinctive representative of the moral conviction and political purpose of New England. His ample learning and various accomplishments were rivalled among American public men only by those of John Quincy Adams, and during all the fury of political passion in which he lived there was never a whisper or suspicion of his political honesty or his personal integrity. He was fortunate in the peculiar adaptation of his qualities to his time. His profound conviction, supreme conscientiousness, indomitable will, affluent resources, and inability to compromise, his legal training, serious temper, and untiring energy, were indispensable in the final stages of the slavery controversy, and he had them all in the highest degree. “There is no other side,” he said to a friend with fervor, and Cromwell's Ironsides did not ride into the fight more absolutely persuaded that they were doing the will of God than Charles Sumner. For ordinary political contests he had no taste, and at another time and under other circumstances he would probably have been an all-accomplished scholar or learned judge, unknown in political life. Of few men could it be said more truly than of him that he never lost a day. He knew most of the famous men and women of his time, and he was familiar with the contemporaneous political, literary, and artistic movement in every country. In public life he was often accounted a man of one idea; but his speeches upon the “Trent” case, the Russian treaty, and our foreign relations showed the fulness of his knowledge and the variety of his interest. He was dogmatic, often irritable with resolute opposition to his views, and of generous self-esteem, but he was of such child-like simplicity and kindliness that the poisonous sting of vanity and malice was wanting. During the difference between Sumner and his fellow-Republicans in the senate, one of them said that he had no enemy but himself, and Sumner refused to speak to him for the rest of the session. But the next autumn his friend stepped into an omnibus in New York in which Sumner was sitting, and, entirely forgetting the breach, greeted him with the old warmth. Sumner responded as warmly, and at once the old intimacy was completely restored. From envy or any form of ill-nature he was wholly free. No man was more constant and unsparing in the warfare with slavery and in the demand of equality for the colored race; but no soldier ever fought with less personal animosity. He was absolutely fearless. During the heat of the controversy in congress his life was undoubtedly in danger, and he was urged to carry a pistol for his defence. He laughed, and said that he had never fired a pistol in his life, and, in case of extremity, before he could possibly get it out of his pocket he would be shot. But the danger was so real that, unknown to himself, he was for a long time under the constant protection of armed friends in Washington. The savage assault of Brooks undoubtedly shortened Sumner's life, but to a friend who asked him how he felt toward his assailant, he answered: “As to a brick that should fall upon my head from a chimney. He was the unconscious agent of a malign power.” Personally, in his later years, Sumner was of commanding presence, very tall, and of a stalwart frame. His voice was full, deep, and resonant, his elocution declamatory, stately, and earnest. His later speeches in the senate he read from printed slips, but his speech upon Alaska, which occupied three hours in the delivery, was spoken from notes written upon a single sheet of paper, and it was subsequently written out. Few of the bills drawn by him became laws, but he influenced profoundly legislation upon subjects in which he was most interested. He was four times successively elected to the senate, and when he died he was the senior senator of the United States in consecutive service. In October, 1866, when he was fifty-five years old, Sumner married Mrs. Alice Mason Hooper, of Boston, daughter-in-law of his friend, Samuel Hooper, representative in congress. The union was very brief, and in September, 1867, Mr. and Mrs. Sumner, for reasons that were never divulged, were separated, and they were ultimately divorced. Of the “Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner,” written by his friend and literary executor, Edward L. Pierce, two volumes, covering the period to 1845, have been published (Boston, 1877). His complete works in fifteen volumes are also published (Boston, 1870-'83). The notes by himself and his executors supply a chronology of his public career. There are several portraits of Sumner. A crayon drawing by Eastman Johnson (1846) hung in Longfellow's study, and is engraved in Pierce's memoir. A large daguerreotype (1853) is also engraved in the memoir. A crayon by William W. Story (1854) for Lord Morpeth is now at Castle Howard, Yorkshire. An oil portrait by Moses Wight (1856) is in the Boston public library, another by Morrison (1856) in the library of Harvard college. A portrait by Edgar Parker was painted several years before his death. There is a photograph in the “Memorial History of Boston”; a photograph (1869) engraved in his works; another (1871) engraved in the city memorial volume of Sumner; a full-length portrait by Henry Ulke (1873) for the Haytian government — copy presented to the state of Massachusetts by James Wormely (1884), now in the State library; a photograph (1873), the last likeness ever taken, engraved in the state memorial volume; Thomas Crawford's bust (1874) in the Boston art museum; Martin Milmore's bust (1874) in the state-house, a copy of which is in the Metropolitan art museum, New York; a bronze statue by Thomas Ball (1878) in the Public garden, Boston; and a statuette in plaster by Miss Whitney (1877), an admirable likeness. The illustration on page 747 represents Mr. Sumner's tomb in Mt. Auburn cemetery, near Boston. — His brother, George, political economist, b. in Boston, Mass., 5 Feb., 1817: d. there, 6 Oct., 1863, studied at the universities of Heidelberg and Berlin, and travelled through Europe, Asia, and Africa, devoting himself to the study of the customs and institutions of various countries, and especially to comparative jurisprudence, international law, economic subjects, and philanthropic organizations. After his return to the United States he associated himself with Dr. Samuel G. Howe in the effort to establish schools for idiots. He lectured extensively on philanthropic subjects, and contributed to the “North American” and the “Democratic” reviews and to French and German periodicals. Alexander von Humboldt praised the accuracy of his research, and Alexis de Tocqueville spoke of him as knowing European politics better than any European with whom he was acquainted. His essay on the education of the feeble-minded was translated into French and Italian. He delivered an address at Cambridge in 1845 entitled “emoirs of the Pilgrims at Leyden,” which was published in the “Collections” of the Massachusetts historical society. His advocacy of the system of solitary confinement in prisons led to its adoption in French penitentiaries, which furnished the subject for a pamphlet entitled “The Pennsylvania System of Prison Discipline Triumphant in France” (Philadelphia, 1847) and an “Address on the Progress of Reform in France.” An oration before the authorities of Boston was also published (Boston, 1859), and in the American edition of Alphonse M. L. de Lamartine's “History of the Girondists” he printed a reply to the author's strictures on American institutions.