Secession Era Editorials Project

An Atrocious Speech and a Disgraceful Assault.

Detroit, Michigan, Free Press [Democratic]

(23 May 1856)

Senator Sumner, of Massachusetts, delivered an atrocious speech the other day in the Senate. It was fitly characterized by Gen. Cass as the most un-American and unpatriotic speech he ever heard on the floor of the Senate; by Mr. Douglas as filled with libels and insults, gross and vulgar, which their author had conned over and written with cool and deliberate malignity, and repeated before the looking-glass, night after night, in order to find the appropriate grace with which to spit them at men who differ from him, and by Mr. Mason, as language which Senators were compelled to listen to in that chamber, because the constitution permitted its utterance there, but which no gentleman would lend an ear to elsewhere. It was an atrocious speech. But its atrocity did not warrant the personal assault upon him by a South Carolina member of the House of Representatives. -- That was a cowardly assault -- the manner of it as well as the spirit by which it was dictated. -- We do not know what conduct, public or private, would justify such an assault -- the coming stealthily upon an unarmed man, in a sitting posture, and prostrating him at a single blow of a bludgeon. We trust that, on one of these occasions, the assailing party will become the assailed, and that a lesson will be taught profitable to all combatants of the character of Mr. Preston S. Brooks.

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