Charles Sumner to Henry I. Bowditch
[page one-document]

    Senate Chamber

        21st May '68

My dear Dr,

    I am in my seat

always, not having

been out of it five

minutes during this weary

session; but I have nev-

er heard any proposition to

admit new senators

in order to influence

the conviction of a wicked

Presdt; nor do I know

any thing of any attempt

to dragoon senators,

who have voted for the criminal after de-

[page two-document]

ceiving their associates

as is the case with

some, if not all.1

    Some strange stories

have reached Boston.

There are also pain-

ful reports that come

from there. We are

told that what is

called "the legal mind"

of Mass. is for ac-

quittal. Give me a

lawyer to betray a

great cause. It was

so on the Fugitive Slave

[page three-document]

Bill. All the Lawyers

sustained it, includ-

ing even the Supreme

Ct of Mass. Shameful

record! There is a

record of equal shame

preparing for those who,

in the same spirit,

on technicalities &

quibbles, sustain the


    I have written to you

more fully than to any

one else on this subject.

You were in the old

warfare with Slavery, &

I have only to say now, that

[page four-document]

impeacht was one of

our great battles with

the Slave Power. If it

has been lost, it has

been through the same

men, who in times

past have cost Liberty

so much.

    Bribery,2 & personal vin-

dictiveness towards Mr Wade

have been the decisive

influences – with very little

of sound law or sound


        Ever Yours,

         Charles Sumner

Source: Boston Public Library.  Not to be copied, quoted or used in any manner without written permission from the Boston Public Library.

1. On May 16, 1868, the Senate acquitted Johnson 35-19 (with seven Republicans voting for the acquittal) of charges advanced in Article 11 (Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2d sess., supp., 412) and then adjourned so that Republicans could attend their convention in Chicago on May 20-21.  The Senate voted on two more major articles when it reconvened on May 26. Henry I. Bowditch (1808-92; a former abolitionist and professor at Harvard Medical School) wrote to Sumner on May 18, asking, "Do the leaders of the Republican Party mean to annihilate it? If so they cannot do a better thing than to attempt to dragoon Senators into voting for the conviction of a President."  Bowditch informed Sumner that most Bostonians favored conviction but not by any "underhand dealing, as adjournment to admit Southern Senators–or by browbeating & calling actual Senators bad names" (Beverly Palmer, ed., Papers of Charles Sumner, 42: 090).

2. On May 16, the House of Representatives approved a motion to investigate charges of corruption in the Senate's vote on impeachment (Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2d sess., 2503-5).


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