Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXII
DECISION

CONTINUING their trip, the Stantons came to Boston at the beginning of the third week in September, and stayed at the home of Congressman Samuel Hooper. Sumner was an intimate of the Hooper family, and the Secretary and the senator saw a great deal of each other in those long autumn days. Through Sumner, Stanton came to a crucial judgment concerning his course.

Although he had created a reputation for independent thought and action, Stanton had always been suggestible to stronger personalities. In his youth the preachments of Kenyon professors had firmly set his attitudes toward religion. Subsequently his impressionable nature was further demonstrated by the impact that the elder Tappan, Chase, Black, and, above all others, Lincoln, had on his professional career and on his social views. Now Sumner irrevocably affected him.

Back in April, Sumner had convinced him that Congress would de. mand Negro participation in the rebuilding of the Southern state governments, though Stanton had chosen not to press the matter then. During the intervening months, the deficiencies he had observed in the working out of the President's reconstruction plan had altered Stanton's views on the Negro as a citizen. Earlier he had distrusted the black man's ability to function as a voter and officeholder. Although he was by no means converted to an appreciation of the freedman as a social equal, Stanton now inclined to the belief that Sumner had been pro. phetically correct on the need for the Negro to vote in the South if the North's victories on a hundred battlefields were to be perpetuated.

During Stanton's visit in Boston, Sumner delivered the keynote address at the Massachusetts Republican state convention at nearby

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