Charles Sumner to Francis W. Bird

[page one-document]

        Senate Chamber –

                28th May '68

            My dear Bird,

    The platform is

good minus the second

article, which is foolish

& contemptible. The Dem-

ocrats will have a

great opportunity in ex-

posing its Janus-faced


    I have to-day filed

my Opinion on Im-

peachment.2 Having op-

[page two-document]

posed this system of filing,

invented for our betray-

al, as an apology for

delay & an opportunity of

self-vindication for the

traitors, I came reluc-

tantly & tardily into the

idea. When I saw some

of the enemy Opinions,

I felt that I too must


    My Opinion occupies

17 columns of the

Globe. I intend it

as a supplement  to

my speech on the Bar-

barism of Slavery. This I

[page three-document]

told Chase on the day of the vote. I have

made it thorough.

     Major Poor says that the interest

in impeachment is gone, so that even

the Journal will not print my Opinion.3

In other days any thing of mine was

printed. I doubt if I have ever done

any thing so important. From beginning

to end I vindicate impeachment &

declare my vote to be "Guilty of All

& infinitely more." I send slips to Journal

to-day. Can you induce the printing?4

                                Ever Yours,

                    Charles Sumner

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

1. In his letter of May 25, 1868 (Beverly Palmer, ed., Papers of Charles Sumner, 42:132), Bird asked Sumner his opinion of the Republican Party platform, stating, "Under the circumstances we could not do better." Describing negotiations in the platform committee on the suffrage issue (the "second article" to which Sumner objected), Bird wrote that the article had been weak and apologetic regarding suffrage when it came from the subcommittee. Yet the final version, unsatisfactory as it was, "does not deny the power of Congress, & I yielded. I modified the first part of the resolution & it stands in my words." The second resolution's final version stated that Congress's guarantee of equal suffrage to " all loyal men at the South…must be maintained, while the question of suffrage in all loyal States properly belongs to the people of those States" (New York Times, May 22, 1868).

2. Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2d sess., supp., 463-78.

3. Agreeing with the newspaperman Ben: Perley Poore, Bird wrote to Sumner that impeachment was "dead & the sooner Congress addresses itself to its regular business, the better. I think the attempt to detect corruption will fail."

4. Bird replied on June 9, "The Boston papers will publish nothing without enormous pay." He recommended that Sumner have the opinion privately printed in Washington for distribution in Massachusetts.  Palmer, Papers of Sumner, 42:270.


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