Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
SUMNER, Charles, was born at Boston, Mass., Jan. 6, 1811, and died at Washington, D. C., March 11, 1874. He was graduated at Harvard in 1830, studied law with Story, whose decisions he afterward reported, was admitted to the bar in 1834, and was for the next three years to lecturer in the Harvard law school. In 1837-40 he was absent in Europe and on his return resumed practice. He had always been an anti-slavery whig, but in 1848 became a free soiler; and a coalition of democrats and free-soilers, in 1851, sent him to the United States senate, where he remained until his death. (See
—From this time he was an outspoken antagonist of the administration, his finest speeches being made in February, 1872, on the government's sale of arms during the Franco-German war, and in May, 1872, or the president's abuse of the appointing power. In December, 1874, he introduced a resolution to remove from the army register and flags the names of battles with fellow-citizens. For this his state legislature censured him by resolution, but the resolution was rescinded before his death. (See
—See Lester's Life of Sumner; Harsha's Life of Sumner; Pierce's Memorial and Letters of Sumner; and Sumner's Orations and Speeches(1850), Speeches and Addresses(1856), and complete Works(1875), the first four volumes including the years 1845-60, and the last eight the years 1860-68; The most celebrated of his anti-slavery speeches are, "The Crime against Kansas" (4:127), and "The Barbarism of Slavery," (5:1).
Return to top