As the new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, said: “It’s not the Ted Kennedy seat. It’s not the Democrat seat. It’s the people’s seat.”
Instead of Ted, let’s remember an honorable and courageous Republican senator who once held the seat to which Scott Brown was elected.
Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) was one of the founders of the Republican Party. Angered by Sumner’s denunciations of slavery, a Democrat congressman beat him nearly to death on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Sumner responded with a classic denunciation of the Democratic Party for promoting The Barbarism of Slavery.
During the GOP’s 1860 election campaign, Senator Sumner gave a speech that speaks to us today:
“If ever there was a moment when every faculty should be bent to the service, and all invigorated by an inspiring zeal, it is now, while the battle between Civilization and Barbarism is still undecided.
Happily, a political party is at hand whose purpose is to combine and direct all generous energies for the salvation of the country. The work must be done, and there is no other organization by which it can be done. A party with such an origin and such a necessity cannot be for a day, or for this election only.
If bad men conspire for slavery, good men must combine for freedom. And when this triumph is won, securing the immediate object of our organization, the Republican Party will not die, but, purified by long contest with slavery, and filled with higher life, it will be lifted to yet other efforts for the good of man.
Others may dwell on the past as secure; but to my mind, under the laws of a beneficent God, the future also is secure, on the single condition that we press forward in the work with heart and soul, forgetting self, turning from all temptations of the hour, and, intent only on the cause.”
The day he died, Charles Sumner urged Republicans to stay true to the principles of our Grand Old Party: “My bill, the civil rights bill – don’t let it fail.” The Republican-controlled 43rd Congress honored his memory by passing the 1875 Civil Rights Act.
Michael Zak is a popular speaker to Republican organizations around the nation, showing office-holders and candidates and activists how they would benefit tremendously from appreciating the heritage of our Grand Old Party. His history of the GOP, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, was cited by Clarence Thomas in a Supreme Court decision. He is also the author of the 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar. See http://grandoldpartisan.com and www.RepublicanBasics.com for more information.