James Burton Pond Collection: Charles Sumner


Charles Sumner
James B. Pond, Eccentricities of Genius, New York:
G. W. Dillingham Company, 1900
chassumner.jpg (13927 bytes)

      CHARLES SUMNER was an aristocrat. He was my father's ideal. After I had got back from Kansas and visited my father's home in Wisconsin, father said to me: "James, the Honorable Charles Sumner is going to speak at R ---. [Ripon, Wisconsin] We must hear him."
    So we arranged to go. We walked nine miles to hear him speak. My father never spoke of him without giving him his title. He had enjoyed that speech intensely. I do not know whether I did or not. Father occupied a front seat with the intention of rushing up to the platform and greeting him by the hand when he was finished, but the Honorable Charles was too quick for him. He disappeared, got to his hotel, and nobody saw him.
     Father said: "James, the Honorable Charles Sumner is going to Milwaukee to-morrow morning, and we can ride with him a part of the way."
     We were on the train early the next morning, and so was the Honorable Charles Sumner. He was sitting reading in the drawing-room car.
     Father stepped up and said: "The Honorable Charles Sumner? I have read all of your speeches. I feel that it is the duty of every American to take you by the hand. This is my son. He has just returned from the Kansas conflict."
     Honorable Charles Sumner did not see father nor his son, but he saw the porter and said: "Can you get me a. place where I will be undisturbed?"
     Poor father! His heart was almost broken. During his last twenty-five years he never referred to the Honorable Charles Sumner. Sumner was in greater demand as a lecturer than any other man of his time just about those years.
     When at the height of his fame, he lectured in Providence and, at the close, the committee gave him a check for $500, expecting that he would hand it back, as it was at that time such an unprecedented fee. But Mr. Sumner put the check into his pocket.
     His price with the bureau was $300 to $500.[1] There was never any difficulty in getting it.

[1] Pond is referring to James Redpath's Lyceum Bureau, for which he worked before founding his own booking agency.

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