Charles Sumner

Charles Sumner (January 6, 1811 – March 11, 1874) was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction, working to control the ex-Confederates and guarantee equal rights to the Freedmen. Sumner believed that African Americans needed to be literate before being allowed suffrage.

Sumner changed his political party several times, gaining fame as a Republican. One of the most learned statesmen of the era, he specialized in foreign affairs, working closely with Abraham Lincoln to keep the British and the French from intervening on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War. He devoted his enormous energies to the destruction of what he considered the Slave Power, that is the efforts of slave owners to take control of the federal government and ensure the survival and expansion of slavery. In 1856, a South Carolina Congressman nearly killed Sumner on the Senate floor two days after Sumner delivered an intensely anti-slavery speech called "The Crime against Kansas". In the speech, Sumner had characterized the attacker's uncle, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, as a pimp for slavery. After three years of medical treatment, Sumner returned to the Senate as the war began. He became the chief Senate spokesman on foreign affairs, and a leader of the Radical Republicans who sought to destroy slavery and radically transform the South.

As the chief Radical leader in the Senate during Reconstruction, 1865–1871, Sumner fought hard to provide equal civil and voting rights for the freedmen on the grounds that "consent of the governed" was a basic principle of American republicanism, and to block ex-Confederates from power so they would not reverse the North's victory in the Civil War. Sumner, teaming with House leader Thaddeus Stevens, defeated Andrew Johnson's reconstruction plans and imposed Radical views on the South. Athough Sumner forcefully advocated the annexation of Alaska in the Senate, he was against the annexation of the Santo Domingo. After leading Senators to defeat President Ulysses S. Grant's Santo Domingo Treaty in 1870, Sumner broke with Grant and was determined to defeat any treaty or legislation that Grant supported. In 1871, President Grant and his Secretary of State Hamilton Fish retaliated, knowing that Senator Sumner was an obstructionist; through Grant's Senate supporters, Sumner’s committee chairmanship power base was taken away. Sumner in turn concluded that Grant was a corrupt despot and the success of Reconstruction policies called for new national leadership. Sumner bitterly opposed Grant's reelection by supporting the Liberal Republican candidate Horace Greeley in 1872 and lost his power inside the Republican Party. Less than two years later, he died in office.

Read more about Charles Sumner:  Early Life, Education, and Law Career, Travels in Europe, Early Political Career, Historical Interpretations, Marriage, Memorials

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Roberts V. Boston - Overview
... The defendant's attorney was Peleg Chandler and the plaintiff's attorneys were Charles Sumner and Robert Morris, one of the country's first African-American lawyers, and the judge was Lemuel Shaw ... Charles Sumner argued the psychological trauma the girl would feel having to go to an all black, run down school and having to walk so far as a mere four year old, but despite his best ... the same issue up to the state legislature with the help of his lawyer Charles Sumner and in 1855, the state of Massachusetts banned segregated schools in the entire state ...
Charles Sumner House
... Charles Sumner House is a National Historic Landmark at 20 Hancock Street on Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts that was home to abolitionist U.S ... Senator Charles Sumner ...
Charles Sumner - Memorials
... The following are named after Charles Sumner Charles Sumner Elementary School in Roslindale, Massachusetts Charles Sumner School and museum in Washington, DC Sumner ... Board of Education and is on the National Register of Historic Places Sumner Academy of Arts Science in Kansas City, Kansas Charles Sumner House, Sumner's home in Boston Sumner County, Kansas Sumner, Iowa Sumner ...
David Herbert Donald - Works
... Pulitzer Prize-winning biographies of politician Charles Sumner and writer Thomas Wolfe ... Lincoln scholar gave his words authority, said Donald's biography of Charles Sumner portrayed, "Sumner as a man with acute psychological inadequacies” and exposed ... If it does not make Sumner attractive certainly makes him understandable." Donald argues that the American Civil War was a needless war caused or hastened by the fanaticism of ...

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