The Republican party was organized in Pittsburg, and when it became national through the Philadelphia convention in the summer of ’56, and nominated Fremont, it seemed that it might injure rather than aid the party to have a woman take a prominent place in it. The nurseling—political abolition—was out of its cradle, had grown to man’s estate, and with bearded lip had gone forth to battle, a man among men. There were honors and emoluments to be won in the cause of the slave, and no doubt of its final triumph.
The Visiter had been sold to Mr. Riddle and united with his weekly, thus extending its circulation, and cutting off the ruinous expense of its publication. The Journal was thoroughly Republican, and would be ably conducted. No further need of a page devoted to freedom, when every page was consecrated to the overthrow of slavery.
Before taking action, it was best to consult an old subscriber, Charles Sumner, then on the Allegheny Mountains, recovering from the Brook’s assault. I took baby and went to see him.
He was domiciled in the family of Dr. Jackson, Pennsylvania State Geologist, and seemed to be one of it. In the sitting-room were his desk and lounge, where he wrote or lay and talked, principally with Dr. Furness, of Philadelphia, who was with him, devoting an ever-growing store of information to the amusement of his friend. Dr. Jackson was full of instruction, and no man more ready than Sumner to learn. He held that all knowledge was useful in adding to one’s resources—inquired minutely about the shoeing of the horse he rode; and over a watermelon at dessert the doctor gave a lecture on amputation, which became a large capital to one at least of his hearers, and was of intense interest to Sumner.
The children loved him, loved to be near him, and never seemed to be in his way. Once when a toddling wee thing crept to his side while he was absorbed in writing, took hold of his clothes, drew herself to his feet and laid her head against his knee, he placed a weight to hold his paper, laid his hand on her head and went on with his work. When some one would have removed her, he looked up and said:
“Oh, let the little one alone!”
He spoke with profound admiration of Mrs. Purviance, wife of the member of Congress from Butler, Pa. Said he was sorry never to have met her. Her influence in Washington society had been so ennobling that the friends of freedom owed her a lasting debt of gratitude. She boarded with her husband at the National where her wealth, independence and sparkling social qualities made her a recognized leader, while all her influence was cast upon the right side. He thought the success of the North in the famous struggle which elected Banks Speaker of the House, was largely due to Mrs. Purviance.
He was oppressed with anxiety about Burlingame, who had gone to Canada to fight a duel, and there was great rejoicing, when he suddenly appeared one evening after the sun had hidden behind the pine trees.