|Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Massachusettts)|
A speech by Missouri Democrat James Sidney Rollins piques his interest; Rollins, formerly a fierce opponent of the abolitionists, speaks out in favor of the 13th Amendment. Duvergier de Hauranne has a keen eye and a strong writerly touch:
He has the rough exterior one expects of men from the West, but along with that there is a strain of candor and native tact that raises him above the ordinary…He would have agreed, he said, to the preservation or even the expansion of slavery if that would have saved the Union. He agreed now to accept abolition because it had become necessary to win the war and restore the public peace. It was strange to hear this slave-owner, impoverished only yesterday by the new principles, defying the Democrats to find any religious, moral or even economic or political argument to justify slavery.
In contrast, Duvergier de Hauranne archly dismisses the overblown rhetoric of an unnamed abolitionist Congressman:
I will pass in silence over the speech made by a loud-mouthed representative who delivered himself of a string of anti-slavery platitudes. He seems to be one of those who don’t believe they are speaking eloquently until they are blue in the face and have bloodshot eyes.
The French visitor is impressed by Thaddeus Stevens, whom he characterizes as among the last of the great orators of the antebellum legislature, comparing him to the likes of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun.
|Rep. Thaddeus Stevens (R- Pennsylvania)|
In conclusion, Duvergier de Hauranne allows that the House is not, “as I may sometimes have led you to believe,” made up entirely of opportunists and “barroom politicians.” He remarks that “ugly faces and home-made haircuts abound…but when you are once accustomed to the typical American face and costume – a strange mixture of stiff formality and unbuttoned negligence – you realize that the greater part of the House is composed of ‘gentlemen.’”