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Charles Sumner
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U.S. Senator
    (January 6, 1811-March 11, 1874)
    Born in Boston, Massachusetts
    Senator from Massachusetts (1851-74)
    Leader of Radical Republicans during the Civil War and Reconstruction
    An early trip to Washington (1834) left him with a feeling of 'loathing' towards a political career.
    He admitted about his lack of a sense of humor, 'you might as well look for a joke in the Book of Revelation.'
    In a speech denouncing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he called Stephen Douglas a 'noisome, squat, and nameless animal ... not a proper model for an American senator,' and mocked Senator Andrew Butler's stroke-induced speech impediment.
    He was largely excluded from working on the Thirteenth Amendment, which banned slavery, because of a feud with Judiciary Committee Chair Lyman Trumball.
    He demanded that Great Britain hand over Canada to the US as payment for damages caused by Confederate raiders using British ports.
    Two days after his speech attacking Senator Butler, Butler's nephew, Congressman Preston Brooks, responded by beating him into unconsciousness with a cane (May 22, 1856).
    He was one of the most vocal advocates for full civil rights for blacks and against segregation.
    One historian called him 'perhaps the least racist man in America in his day.'
    When it was suggested that his views on civil rights were unrealistic, he replied, 'The Utopias of one age have been the realities of the next.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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