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Theirs is a brightness which, breaking through all clouds, will shine forth with ever-increasing splendor.
I have often thought, that if I were a preacher, if I had the honor to occupy the pulpit so grandly filled by my friend near me, (gracefully inclining toward Mr. Beecher,) one of my sermons should be from the text, 'A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."1 Nor do I know a better illustration of these words than the influence exerted by our Pilgrims. That small band, with the lesson of self-sacrifice, of just and equal laws, of the government of a majority, of unshrinking loyalty to principle, is now leavening this whole continent, and in the fulness of time will leaven the world. (Great applause.) By their example republican institutions have been commended; and in proportion as we imitate them will these institutions be assured. (Applause.)
Liberty, which we so much covet, is not a solitary plant. Always by its side is Justice. (Applause.) Yet Justice is nothing but Right applied to human affairs. Do not forget, I entreat you, that with the highest morality is the highest liberty. A great poet, in one of his inspired sonnets, speaking of this priceless possession, has said,
"For who loves that must first be wise and good." 2
Therefore do the Pilgrims in their beautiful example teach liberty, teach republican institutions, as at an earlier day Socrates and Plato, in their lessons of wisdom, taught liberty and helped the idea of the republic. If republican government has thus far failed in any
1 Galatians, v. 9.
2 Milton, Sonnet XII.
experiment, as, perhaps, somewhere in Spanish America, it is because these lessons have been wanting; there have been no Pilgrims to teach the Moral Law.
Mr. President, with these thoughts, which I imperfectly express, I confess my obligations to the forefathers of New England, and offer to them the homage of a grateful heart. But not in thanksgiving only would I celebrate their memory. I would, if I could, make their example a universal lesson, and stamp it upon the land. (Applause.) The conscience which directed them should be the guide for our public councils; the just and equal laws which they required should be ordained by us; and the hospitality to Truth which was their rule should be ours. Nor would I forget their courage and steadfastness. Had they turned back or wavered, I know not what would have been the record of this continent, but I see clearly that a great example would have been lost. (Applause.) Had Columbus yielded to his mutinous crew and returned to Spain without his great discovery, had Washington shrunk away disheartened by British power and the snows of New Jersey, these great instances would have been wanting for the encouragement of men. But our Pilgrims belong to the same heroic company, and their example is not less precious. (Applause.)
Only a short time after the landing on Plymouth Rock, the great republican poet, John Milton, wrote his "Comus," so wonderful for beauty and truth. His nature was more refined than that of the Pilgrims; and yet it requires little effort of imagination to catch from one of them, or at least from their beloved pastor, the exquisite, almost angelic words at the close:
"Mortals, that would follow me,
Or if Virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her."
At the conclusion of Senator Sumner's speech," says the report, "the audience rose and gave cheer upon cheer."
SUPPLEMENTARY CIVIL-RIGHTS BILL:
THE LAST APPEAL.
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, JANUARY 27, 1874.
THE Supplementary Civil-Rights Bill, introduced by Mr. Sumner on the first day of the Session, having now come up for consideration, and the question being on a motion by Mr. Ferry, of Connecticut, to refer it to the Committee on the Judiciary, Mr. Sumner said :—
R. PRESIDENT,- There is a very good reason,
a very strong reason, why this bill should not be referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and it is found in the history of the bill. I have in my hand a memorandum, which has been kindly prepared for me at the desk, disclosing details which Senators ought to bear in mind before they vote. By the Journals of the Senate it appears that as long ago as May 13, 1870,
"Mr. Sumner asked, and by unanimous consent obtained, leave to bring in a bill supplementary to an Act entitled 'An Act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish the means of their vindication,' passed April 9, 1866; which was read the first and second times, by unanimous consent, referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and ordered to be printed."
The next appearance of the bill is July 7th, of that year, when, according to the Journal, "Mr. Trumbull,
from the Committee on the Judiciary," with a large number of other bills reported this to the Senate, with a recommendation "that they ought not to pass." The record says that
"The Senate proceeded to consider the said bills as in Committee of the Whole; and no amendment being made, they were severally reported to the Senate.
"On motion by Mr. Trumbull,
"Ordered, That the said bills be postponed indefinitely."
You will observe, Sir, the bill was treated in the lump with others, at the close of the session; and you have here the report of the very committee to which it is now proposed to refer it.
The next appearance of the bill is January 20, 1871, and the entry is as follows:
"Mr. Sumner asked, and by unanimous consent obtained, leave to bring in a bill supplementary to an Act entitled 'An Act to protect all persons in the United States in their civil rights, and furnish the means of their vindication,' passed April 9, 1866; which was read the first and second times, by unanimous consent, referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and ordered to be printed.”
February 15, 1871, "Mr. Trumbull, from the Committee on the Judiciary, to whom were referred the following bills [the present with others], reported them severally without amendment, and that they ought not to pass."
There was no action of the Senate at the time; for you will bear in mind the lateness of the day in the session; and Senators cannot have forgotten the pressure of business at that time. That was sufficient reason