Charles SUMNER, Congress, MA (1811-1874)

Senate Years of Service:
1851-1855; 1855-1857; 1857-1873; 1873-1874
Free Soil; Opposition; Republican; Liberal Republican

SUMNER, Charles, a Senator from Massachusetts; born in Boston, Mass., January 6, 1811; attended the Boston Latin School; graduated from Harvard University in 1830 and from the Harvard Law School in 1833; admitted to the bar the following year and commenced the practice of law in Boston, Mass.; lectured at the Harvard Law School 1836-1837; traveled extensively in Europe 1837-1840; declined the Whig nomination in 1846 for election to the Thirtieth Congress; one of the founders of the Free Soil Party in 1848; unsuccessful candidate for election in 1848 on the Free Soil ticket to the Thirty-first Congress; elected to the United States Senate in 1851 as a Free Soiler; reelected as a Republican in 1857, 1863, and 1869 and served from April 24, 1851, until his death; in response to his “Crime Against Kansas” speech, was assaulted by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina on May 22, 1856, while in his seat in the Senate, and was absent on account of injuries received until December 1859; chairman, Committee on Foreign Relations (Thirty-seventh through Forty-first Congresses), Committee on Privileges and Elections (Forty-second Congress); removed as chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations in 1871 as a result of differences with President Ulysses S. Grant over policy in Santo Domingo; died in Washington, D.C., March 11, 1874; lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, March 13, 1874; interment in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass.


Dictionary of American Biography; The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law; Donald, David Herbert. Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Knopf, 1960; Donald, David Herbert. Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man. New York: Knopf, 1970.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present