Charles Sumner (1811-1874)

sumnerAn early leader of the abolitionist movement, Charles Sumner was elected to the U. S. Senate from Massachusetts in 1851 and helped organize the Republican Party in the years 1854-55. After speaking out against slavery and its defenders on the Senate floor in 1856, he was physically attacked by Congressman Preston “Bully” Brooks, who beat him so severely with a cane that Sumner was forced into temporary retirement. Returning to the Senate in 1859, Sumner was elected Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and continued to be a powerful spokesman for the anti-slavery cause. In the aftermath of the war, he was instrumental in securing political and civil rights for the freed slaves.

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