To Charles Sumner

22 April 1869


[Ms in Charles Sumner Papers, Harvard University, bMS Am 1, Vol. 92, No. 54.]


Charles Sumner (1811-1874) was a Massachusetts senator, and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs.


Oberlin College Ohio

22d April 1869.

Hon. Charles Sumner.

My Dear Sir,

I read your speech on the

Alabama Treaty with deep

interest, & also with much

regret. I consider the argument

conclusive, & put in the best

form & manner. In the

argument I was most

intensely interested.

But I much regretted that

you did not frankly confess

that at the time of the

recognition of beligerency

by England, & for some time

after, England was officially

assured that slavery would

remain intact at all events.

The almost insane course

of Mr. Lincoln & Mr Seward


misled not only England

but all Europe, upon the

question of the relation

of Slavery to the war.

I have just seen an article

in the Independent of this

date, by Mr. Garrison that so

fully expresses what I wanted

to say myself, that I beg leave

to call your attention to it.

Can you not do justice to the

English Nation & people on this

point, & in some way have

it accompany your speech.

I have been a good deal in England,

& during the war, assured my

friends on that side, by letter

that the destruction of Slavery

was designed by the Northern

peop[l]e, & was inevitable, whatever

Mr Lincoln & Seward might

say. I have no doubt that

a paragraph added to your


speech doing justice to England

on this point, would do vast

good both in England & America.

God bless you evermore,

C. G. Finney



Sumner's speech, delivered in the Senate on April 13, 1869, was against the way, proposed by the Johnson-Clarendon Convention, for settling claims against England for damage to Union shipping caused by the Alabama and other British-built Confederate raiders during the Civil War. Sumner put the blame fully upon Britain for support given to the Confederate states. There were several editions of the speech published. See Our Claims on England. Speech of Hon. Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, Delivered in Executive Session of the Senate ... (Washington: J. F. Rives, 1869)

"Our Relations with England" by William Lloyd Garrison in The Independent, April 22, 1869, p.1. Garrison pointed out that Sumner had incorrectly represented the Union as fighting the Civil War to free the Slaves, whereas Lincoln and Seward had in fact assured England that the slave system would remain intact and that the war was to save the Union.