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Congressional Comity – Democrat Style

Given our media masters’ sudden interest in the purported lack of civility in political debate, we are surprised to see them regularly cite figures from the past such as Father Coughlin and yet ignore one of the most famous attacks in our nation’s history.

Perhaps that is because it was perpetuated by Democrat Congressman upon a Republican Senator.

From Wikipedia:

Preston Brooks – Sumner assault

On May 22, 1856,  [Congressman Preston Smith] Brooks [from South Carolina] beat Senator Charles Sumner with his Gutta-percha wood walking cane in the Senate chamber because of a speech Sumner had made three days earlier, criticizing President Franklin Pierce and Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas")…

At first intending to challenge Sumner to a duel, Brooks consulted with fellow South Carolina Rep. Laurence M. Keitt on dueling etiquette. Keitt instructed him that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing, and suggested that Sumner occupied a lower social status comparable to a drunkard due to the supposedly coarse language he had used during his speech. Brooks thus decided to attack Sumner with a cane.

Two days after the speech, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber. Brooks was accompanied by Keitt and Henry A. Edmundson of Virginia. Brooks said, "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks began beating Sumner on the head with his thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Sumner was trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to bash Sumner until he ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat Sumner until he broke his cane, then quietly left the chamber. Several other senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who was holding a pistol and shouting "Let them be!"

Sumner was unable to return to his Senate duties for more than three years while he recovered. He later became one of the most influential Radical Republicans throughout the conduct of the American Civil War, and on through the early years of Reconstruction.

South Carolinians sent Brooks dozens of brand new canes, with one bearing the phrase, "Hit him again." The Richmond Enquirer crowed: "We consider the act good in conception, better in execution, and best of all in consequences. These vulgar abolitionists in the Senate must be lashed into submission." The University of Virginia’s Jefferson Literary and Debating Society sent a gold-headed cane to replace Brook’s broken one.

Brooks survived an expulsion vote in the House but resigned his seat, claiming both that he "meant no disrespect to the Senate of the United States" by attacking Sumner and that he did not intend to kill him, for he would have used a different weapon if he had. His constituents thought of him as a hero and returned him to Congress…

The city of Brooksville, Florida, and Brooks County, Georgia, are named in Brooks’ honor.

But for some reason our media does not like to cite this story.

Perhaps it is for the same reason they never mention that the Ku Klux Klan was the terrorist wing of the Democrat Party, formed primarily to attack Republicans and to prevent anyone – black or white – from voting for them.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, October 12th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Congressional Comity – Democrat Style”

  1. proreason says:

    You just know the libwits would love to do this to Glenn Beck and Rush.

    But of course, they would want a phalanx of Nation of Islam guards to insure their own safety, cowards that they are.

  2. wirenut says:

    Well here’s our answer for todays woes. Give them all tatersticks, lock the doors and SJ. can be the master of ceremoies.

  3. Petronius says:

    I would not take Senator Charles Sumner, the radical Republican of Massachusetts, for my model of civility in political debate.

    Talk about fighting words.

    Clara Barton, who sat in the Senate gallery, described Sumner’s speech––”The Crime Against Kansas”––as a declaration of war against the South. “That night war began . . . . It began not at Fort Sumter but with Sumner.”

    Sumner’s speech was deliberately provocative. It is considered by historians to be the most vicious, hysterical, and unscrupulous speech ever delivered in Congress. It lasted two days, 19-20 May 1856. It was carefully prepared, using gross vituperation, insults, cruelty, and everything that would shock and horrify, then studied and rehearsed, and published in advance, with the deliberate object of generating as much offense and anger as possible.

    The speech used obscenities, lewd Greek and Latin references and classical quotations, and vulgar similes. It was studded with terms such as “assassins and thugs,” “drunken spew and vomit,” “murderous robbers,” etc.

    It compared the venerable Senator Andrew Pickens Butler of South Carolina to a whoremonger, but also insulted the President Franklin Pierce, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, and Senator James Mason of Virginia.

    Sumner called out Douglas: “The noisome, squat, and nameless animal, to which I now refer, is not a proper model for an American Senator. Will the Senator from Illinois take notice?”

    He insulted the southern States in general, and South Carolina and Virginia in particular. He suggested that America would be a better place if “South Carolina [were] blotted out of existence.”

    Sumner’s friends had urged him in advance to moderate his speech, but Sumner — a cruel, intolerant, arrogant, and egotistical fanatic — refused. He came to the Senate armed with a gun.

    Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan was the first to speak after Sumner: “I have listened with equal regret and surprise to the speech of the honorable Senator from Massachusetts. Such a speech––the most unAmerican and unpatriotic that ever grated on the ears of the members of this high body––I hope never to hear again here or elsewhere.”

    Senator Douglas replied, in part: “the personalities in which he has indulged, evincing a depth of malignity that issued from every sentence…. It seems that his studies of the classics have all been in those haunts where ladies cannot go, and where gentlemen never read Latin.”

    Sumner recovered from his beating in a couple of months. He received visitors in his house, including the terrorist John Brown, and visited European spas, but Sumner left his seat vacant for three years in order to indulge his sense of martyrdom.

  4. Gladius et Scutum says:

    An outstanding post. I just finished re-reading Catton’s trilogy. I guess the ‘golden rule of history is that the winners write the history’. You are too kind to Sumner. He also helped sabotage Senator Crittenden’s peace proposal (which was admittedly a bit late).

    • Petronius says:

      Catton notes that Senator Sumner was fond of saying that he dealt in morals, not in politics.

      From this Sumner concluded that his enemies and others who disagreed with him were willfully wicked. And, further, that it was his duty to denounce and excoriate them for their wickedness from his privileged seat in the U.S. Senate.

      With his holier-than-thou attitude, Sumner seems very much like the modern Liberal. He also seems to have set the tone for generations of Massachusetts Senators.


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