Sumner, the outspoken senior senator from Massachusetts, was aligned with both President Lincoln and Governor Andrew during the war on issues of slavery and emancipation, delivering landmark speeches that brought him into conflict with political and citizens alike. In recognition of his long and distinguished representation of the Commonwealth, he is honored at the State House with a painting by Henry Ulke and this bust by Milmore. One of three busts by the sculptor in the collection, this is all the more remarkable since Milmore was only twenty when he modeled this.
The bust probably was installed in Doric Hall in one of the niches created during mid-nineteenth century renovations (since removed), until it was relocated in the Chamber upon the Senate's occupancy in 1898. Another version of this bust is in the collection of the U. S. Senate, dated 1875.