“He raised his head to make an attempt to vomit . . . and his head dropped back on the pillow – life having ceased.” A letter from Charles Sumner’s closest “non-romantic” friend, describing the bedside details of his death. Samuel Hooper.
“He raised his head to make an attempt to vomit . . . and his head dropped back on the pillow – life having ceased.” A letter from Charles Sumner’s closest “non-romantic” friend, describing the bedside details of his death.

“He raised his head to make an attempt to vomit . . . and his head dropped back on the pillow – life having ceased.” A letter from Charles Sumner’s closest “non-romantic” friend, describing the bedside details of his death.

Washington, DC: 1874. Unbound. This two-page letter providing a first-hand account of the death Charles Sumner in 1874, was written by Samuel Hooper to their mutual friend and political ally, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. There is docketing on the reverse, presumably in Dana’s hand. As Hooper relates:

“I drove him home from the senate. . . at about 3½ o’clock. He was then in excellent spirits . . . and spoke of the kindness of Mr. Boutwell [coming] to the Senate to present the resolutions of the Mass’ts. Legislature rescinding the censure on him. . .. I asked him to dine . . . but he said he had asked Pierce (N.C) and Perley Poore to dine with him. . .. I left him at his door about four o’clock. . .. Soon after 11 o’clock [we] were summoned to his bedside. He had one of his attacks at about 9½ o’clock, sent for his Doctor, who came promptly, and insisted on his going to bed . . . and there were two injections of morphine before his pain was removed. . .. He had another more severe attack, and two more injections were administered. . .. He was quiet, his pulse very feeble. . .. The next morning he alternated between [a] stupor, and a restlessness in which he complained of weariness & fatigue until . . . Wednesday afternoon when he raised his head . . . to vomit, . . . and his head dropped back on the pillow – life having ceased.”

. Very good. Item #009806

During the Kansas statehood debate, Charles Sumner, a firebrand abolitionist from Massachusetts made an incredibly insulting speech about fellow senators, Stephen Douglas and Andrew Butler. A relative of Butler’s, Representative Preston Brooks, became incensed and, deeming Sumner too ungentlemanly to duel, beat him senseless with a dog-training cane on the Senate floor; Sumner never fully recovered.

The censure of Sumner mentioned in the letter was by the Massachusetts legislature for giving "an insult to the loyal soldiery of the nation" by proposing battle honors be prohibited from display on the Army’s regimental colors.

Samuel Hooper was a Massachusetts representative and Sumner’s closest non-romantic friend. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Samuel Gridley Howe were his lifelong male loves.) As alluded to in the letter the Hooper-Sumner friendship endured despite Sumner’s marriage-of-convenience to Hooper’s war-widow daughter that had previously ended in an acrimonious divorce.

Richard Henry Dana Jr., who authored Two Years Before the Mast, was an abolitionist Massachusetts politician.

Henry Pierce was a Massachusetts Congressman, and Benjamin Perley Poore was a newspaper editor and Sumner’s biographer.

(For more information see Sumner’s inflammatory and insulting speech, The Crime Against Kansas, “The Caning of Charles Sumner” at the U.S. Senate website, Sumner’s obituary in the New York Times, Martinez’s Congressional Lions, and “An Era of Romantic Friendships: Sumner, Longfellow, and Howe” at the National Park Service website.)

Unique. At the time listing, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, nor listed at OCLC, or the Rare Book Hub.

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Price: $600.00

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