Charles Sumner (1811–1874) was a Radical Republican senator and reformer who fought for abolition and rights for African Americans. Sumner was born in Boston and attended Harvard Law School. He began his first term in the US Senate in 1852. He immediately denounced the Compromise of 1850 in his first major speech. In May 1856, he delivered another anti-slavery speech. Focusing on the “Crime against Kansas,” Sumner denounced the events in “Bloody Kansas” as well as his pro-slavery colleagues. Among the people Sumner criticized in his speech was Andrew Butler, a pro-slavery South Carolina senator. Two days after Sumner concluded his speech, he was attacked in Senate chambers by Butler’s nephew, Congressman Preston Brooks. The attack was so severe that Sumner did not return to the Senate until December 1859. He continued serving in the Senate until his death 1874. Sumner helped to negotiate the Trent affair and pushed Lincoln toward emancipation during the war. He opposed Andrew Johnson’s lenient federal Reconstruction policies after the war.

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