Charles Sumner

Description (Brief):

Black & white print; oval bust portrait of a man (Charles Sumner).

On May 22, 1856, during the Bleeding Kansas crisis, Massachusetts Republican Senator, Charles Sumner, delivered a speech to Congress in which he denounced the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and demanded that Kansas be admitted to the Union as a free state. In his oration, he verbally attacked the pro-slavery South Carolina Senator, Andrew Butler. Two days later, Preston Brooks, a South Carolina Congressman and also Butler’s cousin, nearly beat Sumner to death on the Senate floor with a cane. Responses to the attack in the North and the South further polarized the people of the nation, leading it further down the path to war. Even before he had gained renown as the victim of “Bleeding Sumner,” the Senator had been a strong proponent of abolition and civil rights for African Americans. In 1848, the city of Boston denied Sarah Robert, a five-year-old black girl, enrollment at a white-only school. Sumner represented the Roberts in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, challenging the racial segregation of Boston schools in the state. Although the Court ruled in favor of Boston, deeming that racial segregation was not unconstitutional, Sumner’s argument was cited in Brown v. Board of Education, which prohibited segregated schools nationwide.

This portrait of Sumner was produced sometime during the Civil War, between 1861 and 1863. It was drawn by Alfred A. Kipps, an English painter and photographer who settled in California in the mid-1860s. It was printed and published by L. Prang and Company. Louis Prang (1824-1910) was born in Breslau, Prussian Silesia, and immigrated to America in 1850. Settling in Boston, he began his lithographic career in 1856, partnering with Julius Mayer. In 1860, he established his own firm, which grew to become one of the largest producers of American colored lithographs during the 19th century. The company’s first lithographic prints were Civil war battle scenes, maps, and portraits of military and political leaders. Louis Prang & Co. remained in operation until 1898, producing greeting cards, facsimiles of American and European paintings, and natural history prints.

Date Made: n.d.

Depicted: Sumner, CharlesMaker: L. Prang & CompanyArtist: Kipps, Alfred K.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Boston

Subject: U.S. National Government, legislative branch


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Domestic Life, Clothing & Accessories, Art, Peters Prints, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: DL.60.3155Catalog Number: 60.3155Accession Number: 228146

Object Name: lithographObject Type: Lithograph

Measurements: image: 9 in x 6 1/2 in; 22.86 cm x 16.51 cm


Record Id: nmah_325416

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