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MR. SUMNER. Is that brow beating ? No, Sir; it is only undertaking to decide the conduct of an individual Senator with regard to an important public measure. The question between the Senator from Illinois and myself is simply this: he wishes to pass the measure, and I do not wish to pass it. He thinks the measure innocent; I think it dangerous, and, thinking it dangerous, I am justified in opposing it, and in employing all the means to be found in our arsenal. But, Sir, I mean to employ them properly and in a parliamentary way. In no other way can I act in this Chamber.
The Senator is entirely mistaken, if he supposes that this measure can be passed to-night. I tell him it can
Parliamentary Law is against him; and the importance of the question justifies a resort to every instrument that Parliamentary Law supplies. The Senator knows it well. I need not even suggest it.
And now, Sir, I have to counsel the Senator, - perhaps he would say that I am taking too great a liberty, and even dictating, – but I would first advise the Senator to look at the clock. He will see that on this evening of Saturday it is twenty-five minutes of eleven, that it is approaching Sunday. Then let him remember that we have been here all day, and ask himself whether, all things considered, it is advisable to press such a revolutionary measure after this protracted session, and at this late hour. I think his better judgment will come to the conclusion that it is not. At any rate, should he not come to that conclusion, I think he will make a mistake, and all his efforts will be fruitless. There is a certain character of Antiquity who was found sowing salt in the sand by the sea-shore, and ploughing
it in. The Senator will be engaged in an occupation just about as profitable.
Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, then moved a call of the Senate, which being ruled out of order, as never entertained by the Senate, Mr. Sumner moved an adjournment, which was lost, Yeas 8, Nays 19. In the desultory debate that ensued, Mr. Doolittle, of Wisconsin, criticized Mr. Sumner, who replied. Mr. Hendricks, of Indiana, followed, and, in the course of his remarks, said : “ The question is, What is to be done with the four million negroes, when they are set free? There are Senators upon the Republican side who feel that it is a very troublesome question. That is the trouble here to-night. .... The Senator from Massachusetts is determined that none of these States shall ever be heard in the Halls of Congress, until the men who speak from those States speak the voice of the negroes as well as of the white
Other Senators say that shall not be. We Democrats are a unit upon that question." On motion of Mr. Lane, of Kansas, the Senate adjourned shortly before midnight, leaving the resolution pending.
February 27th, the resolution came up in regular order, when Mr. Sherman moved to proceed with the Internal Revenue Bill, and then called attention to the Indian Appropriation Bill, the Civil Appropriation Bill, the Tariff Bill, also the Army and Navy Appropriation Bills, all of which must be considered before March 4th, when the session closed. In the debate that followed, Mr. Sumner said :
MR. PRESIDENT, -- I remember that good fortune last summer threw me in the path of a distinguished gentleman just returned from Louisiana. I think he had been present at the sittings of the Convention whose work finds such an advocate in my friend from Illinois ; at any rate, he had been in New Orleans at the time, in the discharge of important public duties. In reply to an inquiry with regard to that Convention, he said compendiously, that it was “nothing but a stupendous hoax," — yes, Sir, nothing but a stupendous hoax, and the product of that Convention
Here Mr. Sumner was called to order by Mr. Sherman, for discussing the merits of the measure, when only the order of business was in
question. He was also interrupted by Mr. Grimes, of Iowa, who said, that, if the Senate would give him a committee, he would show fraudulent voting.
MR. SUMNER. I doubt not that my friend from Iowa is right; but I am aware that it is not proper to discuss the merits of the question on this preliminary motion, and I shall not. I was simply characterizing it, and I was going on to say that in my opinion the resolution the Senator from Illinois so earnestly presses upon the Senate, when we consider its origin and character, is itself very little different from “a stupendous hoax.” I say nothing about the Convention, for I was not there, I did not see it. On that point I simply cite the testimony of another. But the resolution of the Senator is before us; we are familiar with its nature. Every moment gives new glimpses of the violence and fraud with which it is associated. Perhaps the expression I have quoted is hardly grave enough in speaking of such a matter, where, in forming the Constitution of a State, military power and injustice to a whole race have been enlisted in defiance of the selfevident truths of the Declaration of Independence. The United States are bound by the Constitution to "guaranty to every State in this Union a republican form of government." Being called to perform this guaranty, you are asked to recognize an oligarchy of the skin, and on this very question the Senate is now called to vote.
The pretended State Government in Louisiana is utterly indefensible, whether you look at its origin or its character. To describe it, I must use plain language. It is a mere seven-months' abortion, begotten by the bayonet in criminal conjunction with the spirit
of caste, and born before its time, rickety, unformed, unfinished, — whose continued existence will be a burden, a reproach, and a wrong. That is the whole case; and yet the Senator from Illinois now presses it upon the Senate, to the exclusion of the important public business of the country. For instance,
Here Mr. Sherman insisted on confining the debate to the pending motion. The vote was then taken, and resulted, - Yeas 34, Nays 12 ; so the resolution for the admission of Louisiana was postponed, never to be resumed.
During the next Congress, Mr. Sumner urged a bill for the organization of Louisiana, with safeguards for Equal Rights, including suffrage without distinction of color ; but the Senate was not inclined to consider it.
The failure of the Louisiana resolution attracted attention at the time. Some journals spoke of Mr. Sumner's course with severity; others were rejoiced at the result. The New York Herald said :
“The factious opposition of Mr. Sumner has probably defeated the recognition of the new government of Louisiana by the Senate at the present session, .. although probably two thirds of the Senate are in favor of recognition."
One journal said, in figurative language, that Mr. Sumner had “kicked the pet scheme of the President down the marble steps of the Senate Chamber," and that, as a consequence, the intimate relations which he had sustained with the President must cease.
President Lincoln was too good a man to be influenced by an honest opposition on political grounds. A few days later, Mr. Sumner received from him the following note.
“ EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, March 5, 1865. ** Hox. C. SUMNER
“My dear Sir, — I should be sed for you to accompany us to-morrow evening, at ten o'clock, on a visit of half an hour to the Inaugural Ball. I enclose a ticket. Our carriage will call for you at half past nine.
“ Yours truly,
“ A. LINCOLN."
At the appointed time the carriage was at Mr. Sumner's lodgings. During the ball he was with the Presidential party, which gave occasion to coinment; the New York Herald remarking, “It was presumed that
the President had indorsed his Reconstruction theories." There is reason to believe that he had not ; but he recognized the right of Mr. Sumner to his own individual judgment.
The following extract from the letter of a newspaper correspondent at Washington illustrates the course of the President towards Mr. Suinner.
“Mrs. Lincoln went down the Potomac this morning for City Point and Richmond, escorted by Mr. Sumner, who remains in Washington to exert his influence in the right direction in closing up the war. Nor let any man suppose that Mr. Sumner's influence is slight over this Administration, when Congress is in session. I know of no man who has more. The President disagrees entirely with Mr. Sumner in his views respecting Reconstruction. He was almost indignant at the Senator's course towards Louisiana, adverting to it over and over again in the presence of strangers. But still he respects Mr. Sumner, confers with him, and perhaps fears him. Besides, the Senator has great influence with Mr. Stanton and Mr. Welles. Mr. Sumner is a clever diplomatist, and has always been friendly with Mr. Lincoln. So long as 'peace negotiations' are talked of, Mr. Sumner will not leave Washington but for a day or two, I presume.”
The effort of Mr. Sumner on the Louisiana question found a warm and cordial response, as amply appears from letters at the time.
Wendell Phillips wrote from Boston :
“ Though I have but half an hour at home, I cannot let it pass without thanking you for your gallant fight against Louisiana. Your tireless patience in carrying in detail one point after another of the enemy's defences, all winter long, has not passed without our grateful admiration; the masterly strategy of the last week is the grand and fitting climax, — all the more grateful, because we had been told you felt the resistance so hopeless as to fear you must succumb to the dictation of the Cabinet. We have watched your white plume with fearful delight. Could we only hope this defeat would be final, our joy would be unmixed. At any rate, the effort will bear fruit thousand-fold."
Hon. Francis W. Bird wrote from Boston :
hank you most heartily for your gallant fight against Louisiana. I hope it will be powerful to the end. I can see it was against fearful odds, and all the more splendid."
Dr. Estes Howe wrote from Cambridge :
"I don't trouble you much with letters, but I must thank and congratulate you most warmly on your splendid fight and great victory in the Bogus Louisiana struggle. Some weak-kneed Republicans who rejoice at the result