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The following communication from General Robert Anderson, of the Army of the United States, who commanded at Fort Sumter when South Carolina madly fired upon that national stronghold, contains the testimony of a soldier.
"NEW YORK CITY, January 25, 1865.
"HON. CHARLES SUMNER, U. S. Senate.
"HONORED SIR, - The approbation of strangers is sometimes, I know, not unacceptable. I trust, therefore, that you will pardon me for giving vent to the promptings of my heart, in offering you my thanks for the noble, manly, and Christian sentiments which characterize your resolutions introduced in the Senate yesterday, in reference to the subject of Retaliation. No one would go farther than I would, to put down, with a vigorous and resolute hand, this most accursed Rebellion. But, in God's name, Sir, let it be done in such a manner that those who live after us may be able to say, that, in all this time of trial, not one act was sanctioned or permitted by our Government which was not becoming us as a civilized and Christian nation. And God will bless and prosper us only as we do so act. My earnest prayer is, that He will endue our rulers with wisdom, and soon give peace and prosperity and happiness to our bleeding land.
"With the renewal of my thanks for your having so beautifully, so ably, so nobly advocated the cause of humanity, which is the cause of Christ, "I am, Sir, with high respect, your obedient servant, "ROBERT ANDERSON."
In a later letter General Anderson returned to the subject :—
"The sentiments you express in your speech are such as become a Christian and a patriot. We, as a nation, are not at liberty to follow the example of men who claim to owe allegiance to a Government not recognized among nations, the self-assumed name of which will, by God's blessing, soon sink into oblivion."
General Donaldson, of the Army of the Cumberland, and of the staff of the distinguished General Thomas, wrote from Nashville :
"Though but slightly acquainted with Mr. Sumner, I trust he will allow me to tender my thanks as an American for his noble resolutions on the subject of Retaliation. They are greater than any speech, and such as a Howard might have written, had he lived in the days of the mighty crime."
Such were some of the voices, not only from citizens, but from the Army.
ADMISSION OF A COLORED LAWYER TO THE BAR
OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES.
MOTION IN THE SUPREME COURT, FEBRUARY 1, 1865.
JOHN S. ROCK, Esq., was a colored lawyer in Boston, who, after studying medicine, accomplished himself in the law, and visited Europe. In the hope of advancing his race and of overturning an obnoxious precedent, he formed the idea of being admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, even during the life of Chief Justice Taney; but Mr. Sumner, to whom he applied, could not encourage him, while the author of the Dred Scott decision presided over the Court. With Mr. Chase as Chief Justice it was otherwise. Before presenting him, Mr. Sumner communicated with the Chief Justice, who undertook to sound his brethren and smooth the way. After some delay he let Mr. Sumner know that the motion might be made. It seems, that, by usage of the Court, the Chief Justice acted on the admission of counsellors without consulting the rest of the bench, and it was understood that the usage would be recognized in this case.
As only a citizen could be a counsellor of the Supreme Court, and, according to the Dred Scott decision, a colored person was not a citizen, the admission of Mr. Rock was regarded by the country as tantamount to a reversal of that decision.
An informal and intimate correspondence between Mr. Sumner and the Chief Justice belongs to the history of this case.
On the receipt of a letter from Mr. Rock, saying, "We now have a great and good man for our Chief Justice, and with him I think my color will not be a bar to my admission," Mr. Sumner wrote to the Chief Justice, inclosing the letter.
"SENATE CHAMBER, 21st December, 1864.
"MY DEAR CHASE, - Please read the inclosed letter, and let me know what I shall do with regard to it.
"Mr. Rock is an estimable colored lawyer, who, as you will see, is cor
dially recommended by Governor Andrew and others in the public service. He is one of several colored lawyers in Massachusetts, who practise in all our courts, and are always received with courtesy.
"Before I came into the Senate, now several years ago, I was counsel in a case before our Massachusetts Supreme Court,1 where one of these colored lawyers was my associate, and I remember well the very great kindness and attention with which he was received by Chief Justice Shaw and all the bench.
"I mention these things that you may see something of Mr. Rock's title to admission to the Supreme Court of the United States.
"I know not how far the Dred Scott decision may stand in the way.
"Of course, the admission of a colored lawyer to the bar of the Supreme Court would make it difficult for any restriction on account of color to be maintained anywhere. Street cars would be open afterwards.2
The following note, written in pencil, and sent to Mr. Sumner at his seat in the Senate, was the prompt answer: —
"SUPREME COURT ROOM, December 21, 1864. "DEAR SUMNER, -I will confer with the Judges on Saturday, which is consultation day. It is not likely that any, or any serious, objection will be made. "Yours faithfully,
"S. P. CHASE."
Not hearing from the Chief Justice, Mr. Sumner sent the following reminder:
"In re John S. Rock, Counsellor at Law, Massachusetts. "What say you?
"Senate Chamber, Thursday, 15th January, 1865."
This was returned with the following reply, written in pencil on the same paper:
"Nothing at present, -except not forgotten.
Another note, written also in pencil, opened the door.
"S. P. C."
"January 23, 1865.
"DEAR SUMNER, - You can make your motion for Mr. Rock's admission at any time which suits your convenience.
"S. P. CHASE."
1 Ante, Vol. II. p. 327.
2 That question was then under discussion. Ante, Vol. VIII. pp. 116, 117.
Mr. Rock, who was waiting in Boston, appeared February 1st, and was at once presented by Mr. Sumner. The few formal words which passed on this occasion are not without interest.
As soon as the judges had taken their seats, Mr. Sumner rose, and, with Mr. Rock standing by his side, said:
MAY IT PLEASE THE COURT,
ASK leave to present John S. Rock, Esq., a Counsellor at Law of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and now move that he be admitted as a Counsellor of this Court.
The Chief Justice bowed, and said :
"Let him come forward and take the oath."
The oath was then administered by Mr. Middleton, Clerk of the Court. At the same time, on motion of Mr. Sumner, Francis V. Balch, Esq., of Boston, his private secretary, was also admitted.
This incident, marking a stage in the battle for Equal Rights, was extensively noticed at home and abroad. It occurred on the day after the final passage in the House of Representatives of the Constitutional Amendment abolishing Slavery, and the correspondent of the Boston Journal remarked the association of the two events.
"The Slave Power, which received its constitutional death-blow yesterday in Congress, writhes this morning on account of the admission of a colored lawyer, John S. Rock, of Boston, as a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States. The rage depicted in the countenances of some of the old Hunkers present at this invasion of their citadel beggars description."
The correspondent of the New York Tribune announced the event as "The Dred Scott Decision buried in the Supreme Court," and then broke forth enthusiastically:
"O augustly simple funeral cortège! O dead, wrapped in the cerements that the divine hand of Revolution folds its victims with, augustly exciting in your stormy birth, transcendently mischievous in your little life! Senator Charles Sumner and Negro Lawyer John S. Rock the pallbearers, the room of the Supreme Court of the United States the Potter's Field, - the corpse the Dred Scott decision!
"Through the door that was too narrow to freely let out the bearers that bore Charles Sumner's inanimate form from the Senate Chamber, where he had been stricken down by the assassins of the Slave Power, Charles Sumner to-day marched back, leading a negro by the hand, and, standing upon the very spot that had been stained with his blood for demanding freedom and equality for the blacks in America, demanded of the Supreme Court of the United States to enroll among its members an African lawyer, and to license him to practise at its bar. The black man was admitted.”
Then mentioning the motion of Mr. Sumner, the same correspondent says:
"The grave to bury the Dred Scott decision was in that one sentence dug, and it yawned there, wide open, under the very eyes of some of the judges who had participated in the juridical crime against Democracy and Humanity. The assenting nod of the great head of the Chief Justice tumbled in the corse and filled up the pit, and the black counsellor of the Supreme Court got on to it and stamped it down, and smoothed the earth for his walk to the rolls of the Court.
A few lawyers of the old régime looked on, stunned somewhat, but rapidly growing in wisdom, and mixing deference to destiny with their instinctive reluctance to this revolutionary intrusion."
Mr. Cobden, writing from England, also associated this event with the Constitutional Amendment. In a letter shortly before his much lamented death, he said :—
"I feel it a pleasant duty to give you my best congratulations on the recent proceedings within and without your Halls of Congress. The vote on the Amendment of the Constitution was a memorable and glorious event in your history. Another incidentthat of your introduction of a colored man to the Supreme Court- - was hardly less interesting. In all these proceedings at Washington you ought to be allowed to indulge the feelings of a triumphant general. You served as a volunteer in the forlorn hope, when the battle of Emancipation seemed a hopeless struggle. Your position within the Halls of Congress was very different from that of the agitators out of doors, meritorious as were their labors. I have served in both capacities, and know the difference between addressing an audience of partisans at a public meeting and a hostile parliamentary assembly. . . . . I heartily congratulate you."
Doubtless the admission of a colored lawyer to the Supreme Court helped prepare the way for admission of his race to the rights of citizenship, and especially the right to vote.