Sumner – Tactless and Hypocritical
Beyond Lincoln, responsibility for the death of over a million Americans and desolation of the American South can laid at the feet of ideological fanatics like Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. His incessant insults against Americans in the South reached their climax in his attack upon Senator Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina. Senator Cass of Michigan delivered the official rebuke to Sumner, stating that “such a speech
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Sumner – Tactless and Hypocritical:
“Of all the earnest, high-minded men and women who helped to drive a wedge between the North and the South during the years between the Mexican War and the Civil War, no one was more bent on forcing the issue than the famous senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner. [An advocate of pacifism], In the first important speech of his life, a patriotic address delivered in Tremont Temple on July 4, 1845, he had astounded his audience, accustomed to a conventional recital of the stirring deeds of the Revolution, by denouncing in scathing terms the misguided patriotism which glorified deeds of war.
Sumner drove his point home by comparing the cost to the nation of the Ohio, a ship-of-the-line then lying in Boston Harbor, with the annual expenditure of Harvard College. It was not a tactful speech considering that the officers of the Ohio had been specially invited to grace the occasion, but then Charles Sumner was not a tactful man.
His lack of tact was as notorious as his lack of humor or his unconscious arrogance. Unlike most of the political figures of his generation, he was very much at home in Europe. Sometimes he wearied his friends at home by telling them of all the distinguished people he had met abroad in the course of his travels and yet, beneath the European veneer, there was a moral fervor about Sumner, a “sacred animosity” against evil, to quote his own words, that stamped him unmistakably as a New Englander.
In 1849, as Chairman of the Peace Committee of the United States, he had issued an address recommending that an American delegation attend the Second General Peace Congress to be held in Frankfort. Representatives of the leading nations of Europe were to present plans for the revision of international law and for the establishment of a World Court. Sumner, who was known as one who believed that war was an outdated method of settling disputes, was chosen as one of the delegates to the Congress, but at the last moment he declined.
[T]here was something ironic in the fact that the champion of arbitration in 1850 stood out resolutely against sending any delegates from Massachusetts to [former President John Tyler’s] Peace Convention held in Washington on the eve of the war [in 1861]. In his frantic search for a compromise, Senator [John J.] Crittenden found no one more stubborn, more determined not to yield an inch, than Senator Sumner. [Sumner]…insisted that concessions [to the South] would settle nothing. “Nothing,” said Sumner, “can be settled which is not right. Nothing can be settled which is against freedom. Nothing can be settled which is against divine law.”
(No Compromise!, Arnold Whitridge, Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960, pp. 120-126