Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
A Victor’s Magnanimity
By Charles Sumner (1811–1874)
[Speech prepared for Delivery at Faneuil Hall, 3 September, 1872.—Works of Charles Sumner. 1875–83.]

RECONSTRUCTION is now complete. Every State is represented in the Senate, and every District is represented in the House of Representatives. Every Senator and every Representative is in his place. There are no vacant seats in either Chamber; and among the members are fellow-citizens of the African race. And amnesty, nearly universal, has been adopted. In this condition of things I find new reason for change. The present incumbent knows little of our frame of government. By military education and military genius he represents the idea of Force; nor is he any exception to the rule of his profession, which appreciates only slightly a government that is not arbitrary. The time for the soldier has passed, especially when his renewed power would once more remind fellow-citizens of their defeat. Victory over fellow-citizens should be known only in the rights it assures; nor should it be flaunted in the face of the vanquished. It should not be inscribed on regimental colors or portrayed in pictures at the National Capital. But the present incumbent is a regimental color with the forbidden inscription; he is a picture at the National Capital recalling victories over fellow-citizens. It is doubtful if such a presence can promote true reconciliation. Friendship does not grow where former differences are thrust into sight. There are wounds of the mind as of the body; these, too, must be healed. Instead of irritation and pressure, let there be gentleness and generosity. Men in this world get only what they give,—prejudice for prejudice, animosity for animosity, hate for hate. Likewise confidence is returned for confidence, good-will for good-will, friendship for friendship. On this rule, which is the same for the nation as for the individual, I would now act. So will the Republic be elevated to new heights of moral grandeur, and our people will manifest that virtue, “greatest of all,” which is found in charity. Above the conquest of others will be the conquest of ourselves. Nor will any fellow-citizen suffer in rights, but all will find new safeguard in the comprehensive fellowship.

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