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his singularly dramatic public career; traits which made him for a long period to a large portion of his countrymen the object of as deep and passionate hostility as to another he was one of enthusiastic admiration, and which are not the less the cause that now unites all these parties, ever so widely differing, in a common sorrow to-day over his lifeless remains.
It is of these high moral qualities I wish to speak; for these have been the traits which in after years, as I have considered the acts and utterances of this remarkable man, fastened most strongly my attention, and impressed themselves most forcibly upon my imagination, my sensibilities, my heart. I leave to others to speak of his intellectual superiority, of those rare gifts with which nature had so lavishly endowed him, and of the power to use them which he had acquired by education. I say nothing of his vast and varied stores of historical knowl. edge, or of the wide extent of his reading in the elegant literature of the ancient and modern time, or of his wonderful power of retaining what he had read, or of his readiness in drawing upon these fertile resources to illustrate his own arguments. I say nothing of his eloquence as an orator, of his skill as a logician, or of his powers of fascination in the unrestrained freedom of the social circle, which last it was my misfortune not to have experienced. These, indeed, were the qualities which gave him eminence not only in our country, but throughout the world, and which have made the name of Charles Sumner an integral part of our nation's glory. They were the qualities which gave to those moral traits of which I have spoken the power to impress themselves upon the history of the age and of civilization itself, and without which those traits, however intensely developed, would have exerted no influence beyond the personal circle immediately surrounding their possessor. More eloquent tongues than mine will do them justice. Let me speak of the characteristics which brought the illustrious Senator who has just passed away into direct and bitter antagonism for years with my own State and her sister States of the South.
Charles Sumner was born with an instinctive love of freedom, and was educated from his earliest infancy to the belief that freedom is the natural and indefeasible right of
every intelligent being having the outward form of man. In him, in fact, this creed seems to have been something more than a doctrine imbibed from teachers, or a result of education. To him it was a grand intuitive truth, inscribed in blazing letters upon the tablet of his inner consciousness, to deny which would have been for him to deny that he himself existed. And along with this all-controlling love of freedom he possessed a moral sensibility keenly intense and vivid, a conscientiousness which would never permit him to swerve by the breadth of a hair from what he pictured to himself as the path of duty. Thus were combined in him the characteristics which have in all ages given to religion her martyrs, and to patriotism her self-sacrificing heroes.
To a man thoroughly permeated and imbued with such a creed, and animated and constantly actuated by such a spirit of devotion, to behold a human being or a race of human beings restrained of their natural right to liberty for no crime by him or them committed, was to feel all the belligerent instincts of his nature roused to combat. The fact was to him a wrong which no logic could justify. It mattered not how humble in the scale of rational existence the subject of this restraint might be, how dark his skin, or how dense his ignorance. Behind all that lay for him the great principle that liberty is the birthright of all humanity, and that every individual of every race who has a soul to save is entitled to the freedom which may enable him to work out his salvation. It mattered not that the slave might be contented with his lot; that his actual condition might be immeasurably more desirable than that from which it had transplanted him; that it gave him physical comfort, mental and moral elevation, and religious culture not possessed by his race in any other condition; that the bonds had not been placed upon his hands by the living generation; that the mixed social system of which he formed an element had been regarded by the fathers of the Republic, and by the ablest statesmen who had risen up after them, as too complicated to be broken up without danger to society itself or even to civilization; or, finally, that the actual state of things had been recognized and explicitly sanctioned by the very organic law of the Republic. Weighty as these conditions might be,
formidable as were the difficulties in the way of the practical enforcement of his great principle, he held none the less that it must sooner or later be enforced though institutions and constitutions should have to give way alike before it.
But here let me do this great man the justice which, amid the excitement of the struggle between the sections -now past-I may have been disposed to deny him. In this fiery zeal and this earnest warfare against the wrong, as he viewed it, there entered no enduring personal animosity toward the men whose lot it was to be born to the system which he denounced.
It has been the kindness of the sympathy which in these later years he has displayed toward the impoverished and suffering people of the Southern States that has unveiled to me the generous and tender heart which beat beneath the bosom of the zealot, and has forced me to yield him the tribute of my respect-I might even say of my admiration. Nor in the manifestation of this has there been anything which a proud and sensitive people, smarting under a sense of recent discomfiture and present suffering, might not frankly accept, or which would give them just cause to suspect its sincerity. For though he raised his voice, as soon as he believed the momentous issues of this great military conflict were decided, in behalf of amnesty to the vanquished, and though he stood forward, ready to welcome back as brothers, and to re-establish in their rights as citizens, those whose valor had nearly riven asunder the Union which he loved; yet he always insisted that the most ample protection and the largest safeguards should be thrown around the liberties of the newly enfranchised African race. Though he knew very well that of his conquered fellow citizens of the South by far the larger portion, even those who most heartily acquiesced in and desired the abolition of slavery, seriously questioned the expediency of investing, in a single day, and without any preliminary tutelage, so vast a body of inexperienced and uninstructed men with the full rights of freemen and voters, he would tolerate no half-way measures upon a point to him so vital.
Indeed, immediately after the war, while other minds were occupying themselves with different theories of re
construction, he did not hesitate to impress most emphatically upon the administration, not only in public, but in the confidence of private intercourse, his uncompromising resolution to oppose to the last any and every scheme which should fail to provide the surest guarantees for the personal freedom and political rights of the race which he had undertaken to protect. Whether his measures to secure this result showed him to be a practical statesman or a theoretical enthusiast, is a question on which any decision we may pronounce to-day must await the inevitable revision of posterity. The spirit of magnanimity, therefore, which breathes in his utterances and manifests itself in all his acts affecting the South during the last two years of his life, was as evidently honest as it was grateful to the feelings of those toward whom it was displayed.
It was certainly a gracious act toward the Souththough unhappily it jarred upon the sensibilities of the people of the other extreme of the Union, and estranged from him the great body of his political friends—to propose to erase from the banners of the national army the mementoes of the bloody internecine struggle, which might be regarded as assailing the pride or wounding the sensibilities of the Southern people. That proposal will never be forgotten by that people so long as the name of Charles Sumner lives in the memory of man. But, while it touched the heart of the South, and elicited her profound gratitude, her people would not have asked of the North such an act of self-renunciation. Conscious that they themselves were animated by devotion to constitutional liberty, and that the brightest pages of history are replete with evidences of the depth and sincerity of that devotion, they cannot but cherish the recollections of sacrifice endured, the battles fought, and the victories won in defence of their hapless cause. And respecting, as all true and brave men must respect, the martial spirit with which the men of the North vindicated the integrity of the Union, and their devotion to the principles of human freedom, they do not ask, they do not wish the North to strike the mementoes of her heroism and victory from either records or monuments or battle-fags. They would rather that both sections should gather up the glories won
by each section, not envious, but proud of each other, and regard them a common heritage of American valor.
Let us hope that future generations, when they remember the deeds of heroism and devotion done on both sides, will speak, not of Northern prowess and Southern courage, but of the heroism, fortitude, and courage of Americans in a war of ideas; a war in which each section signalized its consecration to the principles, as each understood them, of American liberty and of the Constitution received from their fathers.
It was my misfortune, perhaps my fault, personally never to have known this eminent philanthropist and statesman. The impulse was often strong upon me to go to him and offer him my hand, and my heart with it, and to express to him my thanks for his kind and considerate course toward the people with whom I am identified. If I did not yield to that impulse it was because the thought occurred that other days were coming in which such a demonstration might be more opportune, and less liable to misconstruction. Suddenly and without premonition a day has come at last to which, for such a purpose, there is no to-morrow. My regret is therefore intensified by the thought that I failed to speak to him out of the fulness of my heart while there was yet time. How often it is that death thus brings unavailingly back to our remembrance opportunities unimproved, in which generous overtures, prompted by the heart, remain unoffered, frank avowals which rose to the lips remain unspoken, and the injustice and wrong of bitter resentment remain unrepaired!
Charles Sumner, in life, believed that all occasion for strife and distrust between the North and the South had passed away, and that there no longer remained any cause for continued estrangement between these two sections of our common country. Are there not many of us who believe the same thing? Is not that the common sentiment -or if it is not, ought it not to be-of the great mass of our people, North and South ? Bound to each other by a common Constitution, destined to live together under a common Government, forming unitedly but a single member of the great family of nations, shall we not now at last endeavor to grow toward each other once