Frederick Douglass Charles Sumner, April 8, 1862
FREDERICK DOUGLASS TO CHARLES SUMNER
Rochester[, N.Y.] 8 April 1862[.]
Hon: CHAS. SUMNER.
MY DEAR SIR:
“They are men by the grace of God and this is enough.”
I want only a moment of your time to give you my thanks for your
speech in the Senate on the Bill for the Abolition of Slavery in the District
of Columbia.1Charles Sumner gave this speech during the congressional debate over the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. Sumner argued that slavery should be abolished in the nation’s capital and throughout the United States. His phrase “men by the grace of God, and this is enough” could be a paraphrase of Heb. 2:9. Charles Sumner, (Washington, D.C., 1862). I trust I am not dreaming but the events taking place seem
like a dream. If slavery is really dead in the District of Columbia,2The bill that ultimately abolished slavery in the District of Columbia was introduced in Congress by Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts on 16 December 1861. The measure was reported out of committee in February, debated throughout March, and passed by the Senate on 3 April 1862. The bill quickly won approval in the House of Representatives and was signed into law by Lincoln on 16 April 1862. , 37th Cong., 2d sess., 1862, 89, 183, 1516—26, 1629; Benjamin Quarles, (New York, 1953), 138, 146. and
merely waiting for the cerimony of “Dust to dust’’3The expression “dust to dust” originated in the “Burial of the Dead” service in the Book of Common Prayer. (New York, 2005), 485; Bartlett, , 51:14.—by the president, to
you, more than to any other American Statesman, belongs the honor of
this great triumph of justice Liberty and Sound policy. I rejoice for my
freed brothers, and Sir, I rejoice for you. You have lived to strike down in
Washington the power—which lifted the bludgion against your own free
voice. I take nothing from the good and brave men who have cooperated
with you. There is, or ought to be a head to every body—and whether
you will or not, the Slaveholder and the Slave look to you as the best
embodyment of the Antislavery idea now in the Counsels of the Nation.
May God sustain you. This is my prayer for you and all the good men who
I am Dear Sir, Truly and gratefully yours
ALS: Charles Sumner Papers, MH-H.