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As the fighting in Kansas continued, the hollowed halls of Congress became the next battlefield.  Members of Congress began trading insults and threats over Kansas and the Slavery issue.

     At the center of this verbal

(Click here to hear how Sumner described Senator Butler of South Carolina)

 (Click to here to hear what Congressman Brooks said to Sumner Prior to beating him with a cane)

 storm was a Senator from Massachusetts named Charles Sumner.  Sumner, who was a abolitionist, was an intelligent brilliant orator.  He was also humorless and totally devoted to his principles mainly the abolition of slavery.  This devotion to his principles left him with a complete lack of respect for others points of view and earned him many enemies, one even describing him as a "filthy reptile".

     During a debate about Kansas in 1856 on the floor of the Senate, Sumner let loose a tirade he titled "The Crimes Against Kansas!"  During his fiery speech, Sumner insulted several people including Senator Butler from South Carolina.  Not only did he attack Butler's political views, but he also attacked him personally, even pointing out the fact that Butler, who was an older gentleman, could no longer control his drool.

     At the time of the speech, Butler was not present to defend himself.  Word of the insult quickly spread on Capital Hill and Butler's nephew Congressman Brooks took it upon himself to defend his uncle's honor.  Two days after the speech, Brooks entered the Senate cambers as they were adjourning for the day.  Brooks, who was carrying a cane, approached Sumner who was still writing at his desk.  Brooks, who was probably just as unbalanced as Sumner, began to hit Sumner with the cane across the top of his head until he fell to the floor bloody and unconscious.  "I gave him 30 first rate stripes" Brooks boasted.  "Towards the last he bellowed like a calf.  I wore my cane out completely, but save the hear which was made of gold."

     As a result of his beating, Sumner suffered serious psychological damage and was unable to return to the Senate for many years.  Brooks was censored by the Congress, but was promptly reelected by the people of South Carolina.  Many approving of his actions sent him new canes as gifts.  Northerners viewed the incident as just another example of how brutal southerners and slavery really were.  Sumner became a hero to some and a martyr to others.  After the incident, many members of Congress began carrying knives and pistols into the Capital.   

Click below to hear Senator Sumner describe Senator Butler:

"A noisome squat and nameless animal . . . "

Click below to hear Brooks describe his beating of Sumner:

"I have read your speech twice over, it is a liable on South Carolina and on Mr. Butler"