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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
The Rev. Henry G. Spaulding '60 delivered the annual Memorial Day address in Sanders Theatre yesterday under the auspices of the Harvard Memorial Society. The guests and students led by the Charles Beck Post G. A. R. marched to Sanders Theatre from University Hall. Rev. Spaulding, whose subject was "The Life and Career of Charles Sumner," was introduced by President Lowell.
Memorial Day comes this year in the centenary of Charles Sumner,--a great political leader, an eminent statesman, and an eloquent public speaker. He was also "the Senator with a conscience." He was a close personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and his influence upon the acts of the great President was seen most strikingly in Lincoln's Edict of Emancipation in 1862 and his clear and strong reference to the sin of American slavery in his Inaugural Address in 1865.
Mr. Sumner's Fourth of July oration given in Boston in 1845 is today, 66 years after its delivery, annually published and distributed by the Peace Societies of England and America. Of Sumner's speech on "The Crime Against Kansas," given in the United States Senate on May 19, 1856, fully a million copies were circulated. It was reprinted and widely distributed in England. In this respect it may be said of Sumner: "He fired the shot heard round the world." This speech was never answered in debate. The bludgeon of the slave power in the hands of Preston Brooks was the only weapon by which it was not assailed. But the attack on Sumner awakened the slumbering conscience of the North and tore off once and forever the mask under which slavery had so long concealed its real character.
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