On Tuesday of last week Mr. Sumner, of Massachusetts, delivered a speech in the Senate on Kansas matters, characterized by the correspondent of the Charleston News as presenting a scene of debate which for sarcasm, invective, vulgarity, ridicule and abuse exceeded every thing that has ever been acted before in that way in that body.
It also embraced libels upon Judge Butler, who was absent, and South Carolina of the most mendacious character, calling forth rebukes from Senators Evans, Cass, Douglas, and Mason -- Gen. Cass pronouncing it the most un-American and unpatriotic speech he had ever heard on the floor of the Senate, and the latter charitably concluding that its author was non compos mentis.
As Senator Butler was absent from Washington when thus wantonly assailed in twofold degree, Hon. P. S. Brooks, from the Edgefield District, took redress into his hands. On Thursday, therefore, he sought an interview with the infamous libeller and scoundrel, and what took place may be learned by the following from the Washington Star of Friday:
"Yesterday, after he had sought Mr.
Sumner elsewhere without finding him,
Mr. Brooks went to the Senate Chamber --
the Senate having adjourned; and Mr. S.
being there, Mr. Brooks sat near Mr. Sumner
until a few ladies, who were on the
floor, had retired. He then went up to
Mr. S., who was at his desk writing, and
I have read your speech carefully, and
with as much disposition to do you justice
as I could command; and I have deliberately
come to the conclusion that you were
guilty of a gross libel upon my State, and
of a wanton insult to my absent and grey-haired
relation, Judge Butler; and I feel
myself under obligations to inflict on you
a punishment for this libel and insult.
"Mr. Sumner hereupon essayed to rise
from his seat, as though to resist what Mr.
Brooks had said, when he (Mr. Brooks)
struck Mr. S. with rapid and repeated
blows about the head with a gutta percha
cane, and continued his blows, in spite of
Mr. Sumner's efforts to ward them off and
seize the cane, until Mr. S. fell. As Mr.
Brooks was suspending his blows -- which
he did the instant Mr. Sumner fell -- Mr.
Crittenden came up and interposed, saying,
"Don't kill," &c.. Mr. Brooks thereupon
left the spot and remained with his friends
in the Senate Chamber until Mr. Sumner's
friends, several of whom were present -- Mr.
Morgan, of New York, and Mr. Foster, of
Connecticut, among them -- lifting him up,
bore him into one of the ante-rooms of the
The same account substantially is repeated in the Baltimore Sun; but with the charge that Col. Brooks continued the blows while Sumner was down, and that the latter called for help without attracting assistance until his assailant had desisted from flagellation.
A second despatch from the Sun says:
"Some eye-witnesses say Mr. Brooks
struck Senator Sumner as many as twenty
times over his head. Senator Sumner was
sitting in an arm chair when the assault
was made upon him. He had no opportunity
to defend himself. There are
various opinions on the subject, and quite
contradictory. Many were applauding the
act, whilst others were denouncing it as a
cowardly attempt to beat down freedom of
speech. The affair will, undoubtedly,
cause great debate in the Senate to morrow.
"Mr. Brooks was arrested shortly after
the affair, a complaint having been made
against him on the oath of William Y. Leader,
and was brought before Justice Hollingshead,
and held to bail in $500 to answer.
"Mr. Sumner has two severe but
not dangerous wounds on the head. Brook's cane
was shattered in many pieces, demonstrating
the violence of the assault.
When the attack was made there were
probably fifteen or twenty persons present,
including: Messrs. Crittenden, Foster,
Toombs, Fitzpatrick, Murray, Morgan and
other members of Congress, Governor Gorman,
together with several officers of the
Senate and strangers. The attack was so
sudden and unexpected that Mr. Sumner
had no opportunity to place himself in a
"The first blow stunned him, and the
stick, which was of gutta percha, was
broken into many pieces by the time the
assault was terminated. Messrs. Crittenden,
Toombs, Murray and others, interfered as
soon as they could, and probably prevented
further damage. Great excitement
exists here to-night in consequence of the
"Sumner sank unconscious to the floor,
where he lay till raised by his friends. His
head was bathed in blood, and his physicians
say he has the severest flesh wounds
they ever saw on a man's head, and deny
his friends admission to him to-night."
Subsequent dates bring the improbable statement that Col. Brooks had been committed to jail. This must be a mistake. Sumner is improving, and was expected to take his seat in the Senate in a few days. As the offence (none in our quarter) is bailable, we are sure the above account cannot be true. Committees in the Senate and House have been appointed to investigate the question of privilege involved, while indignation meetings have been held in New York and Boston by the friends of Sumner and abolitionism, with a view to making party capital.
We are opposed to bullyism, in or out of Congress --
we are peaceable men; but Congress may
thank itself for scenes of violence and bloodshed.
Repeal the duelling law that disgraces the Statute
Book of the land, and make members of Congress
aware that personal accountability will follow ribald
license of the tongue, and scenes of brawl will
cease. We are no advocate of the duello, and
condemn the bloody exactions of the code of honor
in ordinary intercourse, where law can right, if not
satisfy, private wrongs. But in the Congress of
the Union, where, under the shield of the
Constitution and laws, the foul tongue of the slanderer
and braggart is unhinged to vituperate and defame,
we would erect personal accountability into a higher
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