February 18, 2005

History Lesson - Pay Attention

I was watching the series on PBS about Slavery the other night. What really peaked my interest was an explanation about how Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina brutally beat Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts almost to death at the rear of the US Senate Chamber.

Brooks then quietly left the Senate chamber, leaving Sumner "as senseless as a corpse for several minutes, his head bleeding copiously from the frightful wounds, and the blood saturating his clothes." It took Sumner three years to recover from his injuries and return to his Senate seat. Brooks became a hero in the South. Merchants in Charleston, South Carolina, bought Brooks a new cane, inscribed, "Hit him again." A vote to expel Brooks from the House of Representatives failed because every Southern representative but one voted against expulsion. Instead, Brooks was censured. He promptly resigned his seat and was immediately reelected to Congress.

In the North, Sumner became a martyr to the cause of freedom. A million copies of Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech were distributed. A young Massachusetts woman summed up popular feeling in the North, condemning Brook's assault with these words: "If I had been there I would have torn his eyes out and so I would now if I could."

What's my point? Nothing has changed in politics except that we are more "civil" now, lol, using words to beat and bludgeon rather than actual physical attacks.

Wouldn't you just love to see a real free-for-all break out on the Senate floor?



  1. Being from Sout Carolina, and a fan of Congressman Preston Brooks, I think that we should definitely see more of this. Actually dueling with pistols would be a lot more appropriate and would be a viable alternative to the ever-unsucessful term limit legislation...

  2. Dueling with pistols is a good idea, but since there is a severe lack of gentleman on Capitol Hill, especially among those we would wish to see duke it out, it wouldn't work.


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