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  • Mike Martinez

Congressional Lions: Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner was an erudite, haughty senator from Massachusetts, a man confident in his superior intellect and legislative acumen. He also enjoyed physical advantages: Sumner was uncommonly tall—six feet, four inches—and his deep, mellifluous voice commanded respect, enthralling audiences whenever he spoke. Owing to his inflammatory rhetoric and his unwillingness to moderate his message, he became one of the most high-profile Radical Republicans of his era. During a lengthy career of almost a quarter century, he led the antislavery forces in the United States Senate, often cajoling his colleagues as well as presidents to ensure that the United States lived up to its promises of equal opportunity under the law. A deeply polarizing figure, he was at the center of virtually every major national initiative from the early 1850s until the mid-1870s. I discuss his life and career in my upcoming book, Congressional Lions.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 7, 1811. His father, Charles Pinckney Sumner, was a free-thinking abolitionist and integrationist who instilled his strong values into his son. The elder Sumner was a self-made man who rose from poverty to become a lawyer and clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and later a county sheriff. Despite his status as a lawyer and public man, Charles P. Sumner was not wealthy. He and his wife, a former seamstress, never forgot their humble origins.

What the Sumner family lacked in material goods they compensated for in ambition. They enrolled their son in the legendary Boston Latin School, renowned as the oldest public school in the United States as well as the academy of choice for the Boston Brahmin. From there, Sumner went on to Harvard University, graduating in 1830. He also finished Harvard Law School, where he was a protégé of the great jurist Joseph Story, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

He spent his early career as a Boston lawyer, but he was much more than that. He contributed essays to law journals. He lectured at Harvard Law School. He befriended artists, poets, and leaders from all walks of life and in all fields of endeavor. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, he lent his voice as both a lawyer and a much-sought-after speaker to the abolitionist cause. He even helped to organize the Free Soil Party, a short-lived anti-slavery third party that tried to bring advocates together under the slogan “free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men.”

When Free Soilers and Democrats gained control of the Massachusetts legislature in 1851, Sumner was their choice for a seat in the United States Senate. Because the learned attorney was an outspoken critic of slavery, he had made many political enemies, even among northerners who did not own slaves. Northern Democrats balked at the choice, fearing that Sumner would be a divisive force. Already the nation was plagued by debates over bondage and repeated threats of secession uttered by southern extremists. It took three months of wrangling before Sumner eked out a one-vote victory in the state legislature in April 1851.

Sumner became an outspoken advocate of emancipation, and his speeches thrilled northern audiences even as they enraged southerners. His most famous antebellum speech occurred on May 19-20, 1856, concerning a bloody dispute between proslavery and antislavery forces in the Kansas Territory. Pacing in the well of the Senate, he delivered a five-hour oration over the course of two days. He included the usual florid language and classical allusions, showing off his superb education, but Sumner also provided blistering personal attacks that enraged southerners. Addressing Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas, a short, plump man, Sumner dismissed him as a “noise-some, squat, and nameless animal” who was “not a proper model for an American senator.”

He saved special vituperation for South Carolina Senator Andrew P. Butler, who was absent from the chamber that day. Butler had embraced the South’s code of chivalry and honor, but Sumner saw nothing honorable in owning another human being against his will. He ridiculed Butler for the man’s blatant hypocrisy, casting slavery as a harlot and Butler as her john.

Two days after the Massachusetts senator had concluded his speech, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina, Butler’s cousin, charged into the Senate chamber and sought out Sumner, who was working at his desk.“Mr. Sumner,” he said, clearly outraged, “I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine.” In the normal course of events, the two men might have exchanged heated insults, but Brooks was not content to engage in verbal repartee. He had considered challenging Sumner to a duel, but dueling implied that the men possessed similar sensibilities. Brooks did not believe that the Massachusetts legislator was a man of honor, and so dueling was not a suitable means of resolving their differences.

Brandishing a gold-handled cane, Brooks repeatedly smacked Sumner on the head with the weapon. The senator was attempting to stand up when the first blow struck, forcing him back into his seat. Brooks raised his weapon and brought it down, again and again. Sumner, now bloodied, struggled to avoid the beating, but to no avail, for the desk was bolted to the floor.

The incident galvanized citizens North and South, albeit for different reasons. Northerners were infuriated that a senator could be physically assaulted on the floor of the Senate and the assailant could stroll out of the chamber with impunity. Southern men applauded Brooks’ actions, viewing them as completely justified. Sumner had insulted Butler’s honor, and he had to pay a price for his insolence. The Massachusetts senator, grievously injured, did not return to the Senate until 1859.

He returned in time to witness the last gasps of the antebellum era. In December 1860, after the moderate Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln had won the presidency but before he was inaugurated, South Carolina announced that it had seceded from the Union despite the best efforts of elected officials seeking a compromise. Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed the Palmetto state in the ensuring weeks and months.

Lincoln and the moderate faction of the Republican party considered secession a calamity. They hoped to restore relations with the South as soon as practicable. Sumner and the radical wing of the Republicans did not share this assessment. In one sense, they were pleased that the gloves were off, and the fight could be joined without worrying about the delicate sensibilities of southern fire-eaters. Following secession, it was time to remake the South before the section was allowed to reenter the Union. It was time to eradicate slavery as an institution.

The day after Lincoln became president, Sumner ascended to the pinnacle of his legislative influence by becoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As a committee chair, he wielded enormous power, which he intended to use to good effect. Never a man to shy away from offering an opinion, solicited or not, Sumner frequently visited the executive mansion to advise the president on prosecuting the war that erupted in April 1861. He insisted that freeing the slaves must become a priority. Lincoln patiently listened, but it was clear that he, unlike Sumner, did not view emancipation as a suitable wartime goal. Believing that southerners would be more likely to seek a rapprochement if the institution were left alone, the president counseled caution and incremental steps.

Nothing upset Sumner more than the Lincoln administration’s ineptitude in fighting the war and in eradicating slavery, which he expressed repeatedly in public speeches and private conversations. In 1861, Lincoln refused to pledge that he would emancipate the slaves as a goal of the war, even as Sumner delivered speeches expressly stating that the institution must be attacked. Some historians have suggested that Sumner and the other Radicals created the political opportunity for Lincoln eventually to issue his emancipation proclamation. By continually threatening and cajoling the president, they carved out an extreme position, allowing the president to move toward emancipation, but making it appear that his evolution was moderate. Whether this was Sumner’s goal all along or merely the way events played out is open to debate.

The senator was not always critical of the administration. He occasionally helped to provide solutions to seemingly intractable problems. One such occasion was the Trent Affair in November 1861. A Union ship had stopped a British steamer, the RMS Trent, and discovered two Confederate emissaries, James M. Mason and John Slidell, on their way to Europe. The captain detained them. By removing the two men from a British vessel, the Union commander had created an international crisis. England threatened war, and even went so far as to dispatch troops to the U.S.-Canadian border. Instead of worsening the crisis with his usual fiery rhetoric, Sumner agreed with Lincoln that the preferred course was to release Mason and Slidell as well as apologize to the British government. To that end, Sumner suppressed debate in the Senate to save the administration from humiliation. The senator even read letters from British leaders to Lincoln’s cabinet members to demonstrate the possibility of armed conflict lest the Americans back down. “One war at a time,” Lincoln argued, and with Sumner’s help, he received his wish. The crisis ended with little more than a brief loss of face.

As the war entered its second year, Sumner was not as accommodating to the administration as he had been during the Trent affair. The senator continually pushed a reluctant president to issue an emancipation proclamation, but he initially gave Lincoln the benefit of the doubt. Writing to Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew early in the new year, Sumner confessed that Lincoln was gradually coming around to the Radicals’ position. “He tells me that I am ahead of him only a month or six weeks,” Sumner observed. It was perhaps a bit longer than that, but the president, in his own clumsy, plodding manner, came around. When Lincoln finally announced that he would issue an emancipation proclamation later that year, Sumner was elated. Because it only freed slaves in the rebellious states, however, the proclamation did not extend as far as he wanted, but the senator recognized that the measure was a first step toward universal emancipation. He continued to press the administration to move further toward freedom for all slaves.

As part of his effort to eradicate slavery, Sumner supported the creation of the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission, established by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton early in 1863, to investigate the condition of slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, the senator’s friend, served as a commission member. The commissioners and their staffs interviewed freed slaves and field commanders in the Union army to discern their needs as bondmen transitioned from slavery to freedom. The commission’s recommendations led to the creation of an agency eventually known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, or the Freedmen’s Bureau.

It was an election year, and battlefield reversals plagued the Lincoln administration. During the summer of 1864, virtually everyone, including the president, wondered if Lincoln could eke out a victory in the fall. Several Radicals, Sumner among them, sought to remove Lincoln from the ticket and find a suitable replacement, perhaps General Ulysses S. Grant. “It may be that Mr. Lincoln will see that we shall all be stronger and more unified under another candidate,” Sumner mused. “But if he does not see it so, our duty is nevertheless clear to unite in the opposition to the common enemy.”

The common enemy in 1864 was not only the southern rebels on the battlefield, but the Democrats at the ballot box. Lincoln refused to withdraw his name from consideration as the Republican presidential nominee in 1864. When his generals experienced victories in the fall, his political fortunes improved enough that he handily won a second term in November 1864. Like him or not, Lincoln would remain president, and the Radicals would have to live with his administration for the foreseeable future.

What no one foresaw during the first months of 1865 was the president’s assassination. April initially brought wonderful news: Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his army in Virginia. Although other Confederate forces remained in the field, Lee was an important symbol of the southern war effort. With his surrender, it was a matter of time—a short time, measured perhaps in days or weeks—before the rest of the Confederates laid down their arms. On the eve of this penultimate triumph, Lincoln was felled by an assassin’s bullet.

Sumner joined his fellow Radicals in mourning the loss of the old man. For all of his weaknesses and vacillation, Lincoln had been more or less a reliable ally. After Lincoln’s passing, no one knew what to make of the new man in the executive office. Andrew Johnson was a southerner and a Democrat, which made him suspect. Yet he had remained loyal to the Union, hence his reward of the largely symbolic position of vice president. Now he would be called upon to lead the nation through a period of reconstruction. Sumner was determined to see that the epoch was not restoration of the Union as it was before the commencement of hostilities, but a reworking of the fundamental compact between government and its citizens, especially its black citizens.

Reconstruction policies must be implemented with an iron hand. The Radicals had viewed Lincoln as too kindly and wishy-washy to handle the difficult tasks associated with bringing the rebellious states back into the fold. Now there was a new captain at the helm. They harbored high hopes. Johnson spoke the right words—he promised to punish the rebels for their treason—but would he follow through on his promises of retribution?

Johnson disappointed them almost immediately. His amnesty proclamation of May 29, 1865, was too lenient and forgiving. Worse was yet to come. As already recounted in this chapter, the new president constantly opposed the Radicals on their Reconstruction initiatives. Johnson possessed none of Lincoln’s virtues as a compassionate, wily leader, and all of his vices. He was too conciliatory to the South, and too indifferent to the plight of the freedmen. The president vetoed civil rights bills that would have protected blacks from southern intransigence and vengeance, ostensibly because, in his view, the federal government should not demonstrate favoritism to any group of people, regardless of how much they required assistance. The Radicals believed that his motives were not as pure as he claimed. Andrew Johnson was an unmitigated racist, a petty man who cared for nothing so much as his own position. He was stubborn and mean-spirited. Lincoln had been an imperfect vessel, but this new fellow was downright incompetent and obstructionist.

Sumner argued that the Reconstruction era provided an unprecedented chance to remake American society into a more perfect Union, a place where men and women, regardless of race, creed, or color, could enjoy the blessings of liberty. Johnson stood in the way of this goal, threatening to undermine the continued health of the republic. If elected leaders squandered this golden opportunity, they would be damned for eternity. The enormous expenditure of blood and treasure must not have been in vain.

Thaddeus Stevens argued that the southern states should be treated as conquered provinces, but Sumner was not prepared to go quite so far. He believed, however, that the states had committed felo de se, or state suicide. Accordingly, the preferred method for reconstituting the Union was to treat the seceding states as territories. Congress clearly had authority to prepare territories for statehood. By imposing stringent requirements such as literacy tests for whites to vote and allowing former slaves to vote without preconditions, Congress could ensure that southern whites would not simply take over control of state governments and treat blacks as second-class citizens. In light of the segregationist regime that reigned in the South for almost a century following the end of the Reconstruction era, Sumner’s plan was thoughtful and prescient. Whatever its virtues, however, Sumner’s scheme was politically dead-on-arrival owing to President Johnson’s opposition and, later, the weariness of the northern public. The time, effort, and funding necessary to impose harsh and ongoing Reconstruction terms on the South were too much for most Americans to bear after a bloody civil war and years of postwar rebuilding.

When the United States House of Representatives filed articles of impeachment against Johnson, Sumner supported the effort. He was enough of a constitutional scholar to recognize that the Tenure of Office Act—the narrow and questionable legal grounds upon which the impeachment charges rested—was a suspect vehicle for removing a president, no matter how odious the man, but he believed that Johnson had violated his oath, nonetheless. Sumner explained that he would vote in favor of each article of impeachment, finding Johnson “Guilty of all, and infinitely more.” Despite his willingness to remove the offending president from office, the vote failed in the Senate and Johnson served out his term.

With the death of Thaddeus Stevens shortly after the impeachment vote as well as Ben Wade’s loss in the 1868 election, Sumner remained the leading Radical in Congress. He continued the fight for black equality, although he met with decidedly less success than he had in earlier years. As southerners “redeemed” their state governments by assuming control from departing Union troops and civilian governors, unreconstructed rebels enacted black codes to disenfranchise the freedmen. Sumner believed that segregation was simply a continuation of slavery in a slightly diluted form, and he believed that the federal government must actively intervene to force states to comply with Civil War-era laws. Unfortunately for black Americans, Sumner’s ability to counteract southern hostility toward the freedmen diminished as the 1870s dawned.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sumner had been involved in most major political affairs, especially on the international front, for a decade. During Reconstruction, he pressed American claims against Great Britain for damages resulting from that country’s recognition of the rights of belligerents for the Southern Confederacy during the war. He supported Secretary of State Seward’s plan to annex and buy Alaska from Russia in 1867, speaking passionately about the issue from the Senate floor. His support was instrumental in the successful negotiations.

Sumner welcomed the departure of the hated Andrew Johnson from office in 1869. His successor, Ulysses S. Grant, was a Union war hero, and Sumner could expect good relations with a new officer in the executive mansion. Yet the two men never warmed to one another. In fact, Sumner and the new president had a falling out over Grant’s decision to annex the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo.

Previous administrations had pondered whether the island should be annexed. Aside from the advantages associated with extending a regime’s territorial reach, Santo Domingo might prove to be an ideal place to send “the entire colored population of the United States, should it choose to emigrate.” Grant seized upon a long-standing effort to deport and colonize U.S. blacks and thereby solve the racial unrest that occurred during Reconstruction. Exploiting Santo Domingo’s mineral resources was an ancillary, but important, benefit as well.

The administration’s scheme was politically clumsy: Grant did not publicly talk up the plan, nor did he work out the logistical details involved with annexation. He directed his private secretary, Orville E. Babcock, to explore annexation, but the resultant draft treaty was ill-conceived and self-serving. Moreover, Sumner took umbrage at the plan, believing it was a corrupt, imperialist pretext to exploit the nearby island of Haiti. In his customary fashion, Sumner passionately spoke out in the Senate. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, his opposition was crucial. On June 30, 1870, the Senate voted 28-28 against ratification. A two-thirds vote was required for passage. The Massachusetts senator had ensured that the president’s scheme would fail.

Grant felt betrayed. He had visited Sumner earlier in the year to discuss the treaty, and he believed that they had reached an accommodation. For his part, Sumner insisted that he had agreed to provide “friendly consideration” to the treaty, but he had never assured the president of his support. The president was determined to hurt the Massachusetts senator. Along with his secretary of state, Hamilton Fish, Grant pressured his Senate allies to punish Sumner, and punish him they did. When the 42nd Congress convened on March 4, 1871, Republicans loyal to the president engineered a vote to strip Sumner of his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It was the final act that destroyed relations between the two men.

Still reeling from his losses, Sumner was convinced that Ulysses S. Grant was thoroughly corrupt and could not be trusted to carry through with the multitude of promises the federal government had made to the freedmen regarding Reconstruction. When the president stood for reelection in 1872, the senator was determined to see the man defeated. He joined a burgeoning movement known as the Liberal Republicans, a faction leading a mutiny against Grant’s wing of the party.

The Liberal Republicans of 1872 believed that the mainstream Republican Party was so riddled with corruption that it was time to clean ranks. Grant must be deposed. Many Liberal Republicans also contended that the narrow goals of Reconstruction had been achieved; therefore, it was time to address other problems facing the nation. Although he probably did not believe that Reconstruction was entirely accomplished, Charles Sumner nonetheless joined the Liberal Republicans as a means of denying Grant a second term. So intense was his hatred for the president that Sumner was prepared to join a coalition opposed to further national reconstruction as the price to pay for opposing Ulysses S. Grant.

Sumner was joined by a host of Republican luminaries. Horace Greeley, the influential but erratic editor of the New York Tribune; Charles Francis Adams, a writer and diplomat as well as the product of an illustrious family that had produced two U.S. presidents; Carl Schurz, a prominent German-American journalist from Missouri; David Davis, a Lincoln appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court; and George W. Julian, a former congressman from Indiana and outspoken Radical Republican, were all converts, although Sumner and Julian cared more for the anti-Grant position than for the Liberal Republican ideology. They were hardly united, though, agreeing only on a platform that urged “the immediate and absolute removal of all disabilities imposed on account of the rebellion.” The Liberals supported “a thorough reform of the civil service as one of the most pressing necessities of the hour.” The sort of corruption evinced by the Grant administration could be avoided only by replacing the spoils system with a merit-based civil service.

Horace Greeley became the Liberal Republican presidential nominee in 1872, but he proved to be a breathtakingly poor choice. He was a brilliant newspaperman and relentless self-promoter, but he also was an unquestionably odd character. Greeley held strange views on spiritualism and vegetarianism and, to make matters worse, loved to talk about them on the campaign trail. Most presidential aspirants of the era were expected to leave the day-to-day jockeying for votes to their surrogates—it was considered unseemly for a major party candidate to beg citizens for votes—but Greely ignored the prevailing custom. He hit the trial repeatedly. For all of his experience as a prominent public figure, however, he was an uninspiring orator with a propensity for speaking out of turn. By the end of the campaign, he had become a figure of enormous ridicule for his opponents, political cartoonists, and the citizenry alike. As one commentator put it, “no two men could look each other in the face and say ‘Greeley’ without laughing.”

Although Grant suffered from the fissure within his party, he nonetheless defeated Greeley handily. After the election results were tallied, Grant had captured 3,598,235 popular votes, or 55.6 percent, to Greeley’s 2,834,761 popular votes, or 43.8 percent. The Electoral College awarded Grant 286 votes to 66 for Greeley. Twenty-four days after the election—but before the electors had met to cast their ballots—Greeley unexpectedly died. Consequently, his 66 electoral votes were distributed to other candidates. Reflecting on the outcome, an Ohio Republican summed up the situation well. “That Grant is an Ass, no man can deny, but better an Ass than a mischievous Idiot.”

Charles Sumner had surrendered a great deal to join the Liberal Republicans. For more than two decades he had been an unflinching champion of abolitionism and equal rights for freedmen. Now, as his health declined and his influence waned, he appeared to have joined forces with congressional moderates who were willing to ease up on the South. It is difficult to imagine Old Thaddeus Stevens, had he lived into the 1870s, deciding that Reconstruction was nearing its end without guaranteeing full legal and political rights for black Americans, but Sumner had never been quite the firebrand his House colleague had been. Whether Sumner genuinely believed that the South was more or less ready for self-rule or he expediently betrayed his political principles to displace Grant is not clear. The latter seems to be the likeliest explanation. In any case, he gambled that he and the Liberals could unseat Grant, and he lost his bet.

In his dotage, Sumner appeared more forgiving of the South than he had been before and during the war. Perhaps he was growing soft in his old age. Maybe he no longer possessed the will to fight. He may have experienced an epiphany that led to a change of heart. In any case, he claimed that he had never felt hostility toward the southern people, only against slavery and the mistreatment of blacks. A month after the 1872 presidential election, as if to demonstrate his change of heart, the senator introduced a Senate resolution determining that Civil War battle names should not appear as “battle honors” on the regimental flags of the Union army. He had offered similar resolutions in the past because, he said, he wanted to let old wounds heal. Constantly refighting the war in the public arena—“waving the bloody shirt,” as some northerners called it—would never lead to sectional reconciliation. Sumner’s resolution did not pass, but it did anger Union veterans and many northerners who had suffered losses during the war. That the old champion of the North—the man who had almost been beaten to death by a southern “gentleman”—would sponsor such a resolution was especially galling. Perhaps the old man had outlived his usefulness and was suffering delusions owing to his famous head injury. Outraged members of the Massachusetts legislature censured Sumner for giving “an insult to the loyal soldiery of the nation” and as “meeting the unqualified condemnation of the people of the Commonwealth,” although the censure later was rescinded.

By the 1870s, it was clear that Charles Sumner’s time had come and gone, but he had one more legislative battle to wage. On May 13, 1870, he and John Mercer Langston, a well-known black activist from Howard University who later served as United States Minister to Haiti as well as a congressman from Virginia, drafted a bill to be introduced into the 41st Congress. Congressman Benjamin F. Butler, a former Union general and another prominent Radical Republican, co-sponsored the legislation. The measure was designed to guarantee that every American would be provided with equal treatment in “public accommodations” such as inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and places of public amusement regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Congress enacted the measure the year following Sumner’s death as the Civil Rights Act of 1875. It was the last major civil rights statute enacted by the United States Congress until 1957.

Alas, the law was honored more in breach than in practice. By the 1880s, as southern states enacted a series of segregation statutes, a group of black Americans filed suit, arguing that the new state laws violated the Civil Rights Act of 1875. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court rendered a decision in a series of consolidated cases known as the Civil Rights Cases of 1883. To the dismay of many blacks, but to no one’s surprise, the justices ruled that the first two sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were unconstitutional because they vested the federal government with too much authority over state rights. In essence, the court eviscerated the statute without expressly overruling every provision. Charles Sumner’s last legislative initiative was as dead as he was.

He did not live to see the statute enacted. Sumner’s health had been failing. On March 11, 1874, the senator suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 63 years old when he died.

“Sumner displayed a heroism and devotion to principle which has seldom been equaled,” a New York Times editorial observed. Indulging in hyperbole, the writer continued: “Almost single-handed, he battled manfully with the most reckless political power the world has ever known throughout many stormy years; and, as the nation well knows, his efforts were closed by his being struck down by Preston S. Brooks on the floor of the Senate on May 22, 1856. It cannot be doubted that he has died from the effects of that blow.” In conclusion, the editorial provided a fitting epitaph: “There are not too many like him in any age or country….”

Despite memories of Sumner’s derogatory remarks about Andrew Butler as well as Preston Brooks’ attack almost 18 years earlier, some southerners understood that it made for good politics to let bygones be bygones, at least in public. One such southerner was Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar II of Mississippi, who had recently been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as the first Mississippi Democrat elected to Congress since the Civil War. On April 27, 1874, Congressman Lamar stood on the House floor to eulogize Sumner. It was an extraordinary public act of reconciliation, although arguably not sincerely offered. Lamar and his southern colleagues understood that it was good politics to lionize a dead adversary. With a wink and a nod, they could mollify northerners even as though enacted Jim Crow laws to keep blacks in their place.

Lamar’s eulogy would have been unthinkable only a few years earlier. For some ex-Confederates, it was unthinkable at the time. Lamar said that Sumner “believed that all occasion for strife and distrust between North and South had passed away,” and the departed Massachusetts man was correct. It was time to mend fences. “My countrymen,” Lamar exclaimed. “Know one another, and you will love one another!”

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