Secession Era Editorials Project

The Brooks and Sumner difficulty.

Milledgeville, Georgia, Federal Union [Democratic]

(3 June 1856)

Our readers will find an account of the whipping which Mr. Brooks of South Carolina gave Mr. Sumner, of Massachusetts, in another place. We regret very much that Mr. Brooks had not selected some other place than the Senate Chamber in which to inflict that chastisement. We are well aware that the enemies of Republican institutions will seize upon this as a strong argument against our government and people. For Mr. Sumner we have not the least sympathy. When he delivered that compound of vulgarity, abuse and falsehood called a speech, he knew that he violated all the laws of decency, and deserved a severe corporeal castigation, but he relied upon his position as a Senator to protect him. We believe there are some kinds of slander and abuse, for the perpetration of which, no office or station should protect a man from deserved punishment. Whether Mr. Sumner's slander in the Senate was of this species we leave those to judge who heard it. All agree that this was one of the most malignant and indecent tirades ever uttered in the Senate Chamber, and in our opinion such a speech in the Senate of the U.S. is much more dishonorable to as a nation, than the chastisement inflicted upon the perpetrator. Massachusetts has no right to complain, for she has for a long time been without the pale of the constitution and the laws of the Union by virtue of an act of her own legislature. Whilst she refuses to submit to the laws of the Union, she cannot claim the protection of those laws for her Senators, and whilst she chooses to be represented in the U.S. Senate by blackguards, she ought not to complain if they receive a blackguard's reward.

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