Charles Sumner’s Principled Attack on Slavery
Charles Sumner

On August 26, 1852, forty-one-year-old Charles Sumner rose to give his first speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. He proposed to repeal the Fugitive Slave Act. Friends warned that attacking slavery so directly would be politically and personally dangerous, but Sumner insisted. He could not stay silent, he said, because he believed “that, according to the true spirit of our Constitution and the sentiments of the fathers, it can find no place under our National Government.”
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