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Secession Era Editorials Project

Furman University Department of History

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Sumner Caning Incident

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Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (23 May 1856)
Can the north no longer raise her voice in the halls of Legislation, without being outraged and insulted?
Indianapolis, Indiana, Locomotive [Democratic], (23 May 1856)
Freedom of speech should be guarantied to all public men in debate on public questions
Boston, Massachusetts, Atlas [Republican], (23 May 1856)
the mouths of the representatives of the North are to be closed by the use of bowie-knives, bludgeons, and revolvers.
Boston, Massachusetts, Bee [American], (23 May 1856)
An outrage so gross and villianous was never before committed within the walls of the Capitol.
Boston, Massachusetts, Courier [Whig], (23 May 1856)
The member from South Carolina transgressed every rule of honor which should animate or restrain one gentleman in his connections with another, in his ruffian assault upon Mr. Sumner. There is no chivalry in a brute. There is no manliness in a scoundrel.
Baltimore, Maryland, Sun [American], (23 May 1856)
Scarcely a session of Congress passes in which the public ear is not abused with violence of some sort in one or other of the houses of Congress, or among the members elsewhere.
Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican], (23 May 1856)
How long will the people of the Free States tamely submit to such outrages?
Detroit, Michigan, Free Press [Democratic], (23 May 1856)
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.
Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican], (23 May 1856)
For the first time has the extreme discipline of the Plantation been introduced into the Senate of the United States.
New York, Times [Republican], (23 May 1856)
The most fastidious reader will search in vain for anything which could give the slightest color of just provocation for the brutal outrage of Brooks.
New York, Tribune [Republican], (23 May 1856)
No meaner exhibition of Southern cowardice -- generally miscalled Southern chivalry -- was ever witnessed.
Cincinnati, Ohio, Daily Enquirer [Democratic], (23 May 1856)
Superficial and malevolent writers are attempting to magnify Sumner into a martyr for freedom and a victim of slavery.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (23 May 1856)
[Pointing Finger] The telegraphic despatches to-day will be read with interest.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (23 May 1856)
Read the telegraphic despatches from Washington.
Louisville, Kentucky, Journal [American], (24 May 1856)
A pitched battle has long been raging between the champions of those two States, and generally the harshest and most offensive language has come from the South Carolinians
Boston, Massachusetts, Atlas [Republican], (24 May 1856)
never before has the sanctity of the Senate Chamber been violated
Boston, Massachusetts, Post [Democratic], (24 May 1856)
The free soil politicians are prompt in their endeavors to make party capital out of this affair.
Baltimore, Maryland, Sun [American], (24 May 1856)
It is seldom, perhaps, that a more general feeling of disapprobation has been felt and expressed in regard to a circumstance of the kind, than is called forth on all hands by the outrage and descration commited by the Hon. Mr. Brooks, of S. C., in his recent assault upon Senator Sumner, in the Senate Chamber, on Thursday last.
Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican], (24 May 1856)
We hope, for the credit of humanity, that every man in the Free States, without regard to party, will feel this outrage as a personal indignity, no less than an insult to the Free States.
Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican], (24 May 1856)
Mr. Sumner was writing unsuspectingly and busily at his desk when attacked by Brooks.
Buffalo, New York, Morning Express [Republican], (24 May 1856)
The truth is, that slavery, with its southern chivalry and northern doughfaceism, found more than a match in the oratorical powers of Sumner. They had not the ability to cope with him in debate.
New York, Tribune [Republican], (24 May 1856)
a more vivid, if not a wholly original perception, of the degradation in which the Free States have consented for years to exist.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (24 May 1856)
[Pointing Finger] The reader will not fail to look at the Telegraphic head for the latest news from Washington.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette [Republican], (24 May 1856)
If Southern men will resort to the fist to overawe and intimidate Northern men, blow must be given back for blow. Forbearance and kindly deportment are lost upon these Southern ruffians.
Boston, Massachusetts, Atlas [Republican], (24 May 1856)
The Boston Courier did not see fit to join yesterday morning in the unqualified rebuke which the assault upon Mr. Sumner elicited from almost every Boston newspaper.
Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican], (24 May 1856)
The record of the Revolutionary Struggle shows that South Carolina's Slavery, weakened South Carolina
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (26 May 1856)
This outrage is of a piece with those in Kansas, with the additional merit of being bolder and having a more distinguished person for its victim.
Springfield, Illinois, Illinois State Register [Democratic], (26 May 1856)
Sumner's speech, surpassed in blackguardism anything ever delivered in the senate.
Springfield, Illinois, Illinois State Register [Democratic], (26 May 1856)
Sumner's speech, surpassed in blackguardism anything ever delivered in the senate.
Boston, Massachusetts, Courier [Whig], (26 May 1856)
The object of the Atlas is to obtain personal and political capital from the occurrence at Washington
Wilmington, North Carolina, Daily Herald [American], (26 May 1856)
he has yet given a good handle for the Northern people to seize, in denunciation of his course, and deprived the South of the opportunity of justification.
Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer [Democratic], (26 May 1856)
Senator Sumner is the man for Fusion Candidate for President.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (26 May 1856)
[Pointing Finger] Our exchanges are teeming with accounts of the state of affairs at Washington and in Kansas, and commentaries thereon.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette [Republican], (26 May 1856)
when even Southern papers denounce the attack as atrocious, the Pittsburgh Post, alone among all the papers of the free States, hastes to the defence of Mr. Brooks and justifies his brutal and unmanly assault upon Mr. Sumner.
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (27 May 1856)
It seems that the assault upon Senator Sumner, among the Nebraska men, was a pre-meditated affair, and Senator Douglas was doubtless its principal instigator.
Cincinnati, Ohio, Daily Enquirer [Democratic], (27 May 1856)
gentlemen everywhere will admit that Sumner's general tone was neither parliamentary nor gentlemanly
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (27 May 1856)
[Pointing Finger] The Louisville Journal speaks of the disgraceful outrage in the Senate chamber in a spirit of just condemnation, although it thinks Mr. Sumner ought to be punished "for his incendiary harangues."
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette [Republican], (27 May 1856)
The seat of the National government should be where freedom of speech can safely be tolerated
Columbia, South Carolina, South Carolinian [Democratic], (27 May 1856)
Meetings of approval and sanction will be held, not only in Mr. Brooks' district, but throughout the State at large, and a general and hearty response of approval will re-echo the words, "Well done," from Washington to the Rio Grande.
Nashville, Tennessee, Republican Banner and Nashville Whig [American], (27 May 1856)
His assault upon Mr. S., a member of the Senate, upon the floor of the Senate, was a great outrage upon that body, and cannot be justified or excused.
Louisville, Kentucky, Journal [American], (28 May 1856)
It is monstrous that a member of the House of Representatives should beat a Senator upon the floor of the Senate for a speech made in the Senate
Baltimore, Maryland, Sun [American], (28 May 1856)
Let the root of the evil be aimed at, by a prompt and determined "call to order" immediately on the first digression from the proper parliamentary discourse, and we may then escape any more such scenes as disgrace the body and tend to provoke violence.
Raleigh, North Carolina, Standard [Democratic], (28 May 1856)
It was a speech full of abuse of his brother Senators -- full of the vilest and most dangerous appeals against the domestic institutions of the South, and calculated only to increase the strife between the two sections and lead to disunion and civil war.
Concord, New Hamphire, New Hampshire Patriot [Democratic], (28 May 1856)
Sumner's speech was of such a character as to provoke the result which has followed
Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer [Democratic], (28 May 1856)
Why don't the Democrats denounce the ruffian Brooks?
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (28 May 1856)
The Statesman has at last spoken.
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic], (28 May 1856)
SUMNER was well and elegantly whipped, and he richly deserved it.
Edgefield, South Carolina, Advertiser [Democratic], (28 May 1856)
we have borne insult long enough, and now let the conflict come if it must.
Boston, Massachusetts, Post [Democratic], (29 May 1856)
personal violence is of akin to that higher-lawism Which has been so long urged by fanaticism.
Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican], (29 May 1856)
If you would see the sure and unmistakable evidences of MEAN souls, look at the semi-apologies made in some of the Northern administration papers
Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer [Democratic], (29 May 1856)
Senator Sumner has floored himself much worse than Brooks did by the following foolish and false attempt to drag Senator Douglas into personal difficulty with Brooks.
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic], (29 May 1856)
Was the like of this ever before published in a newspaper in South Carolina?
Greenville, South Carolina, Patriot and Mountaineer [Democratic], (29 May 1856)
he was abusive of Judge BUTLER and Judge DOUGLAS, and denounced all slaveholders as criminals!
Spartanburg, South Carolina, Spartan [Democratic], (29 May 1856)
Few in South Carolina will withhold applause from Col. Brooks for his castigation of a man who to a foul tongue adds the crime of perjury.
Yorkville, South Carolina, Enquirer [Democratic], (29 May 1856)
If ever a high-minded man can be justified in promptly resenting insult and injury, surely Col. Brooks will receive from the people of his own State, at least, the mead of a most cordial approval.
Baltimore, Maryland, Sun [American], (15 May 1856)
These two gentlemen have all at once become prominent characters and objects of public sympathy in their respective sections of country.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (30 May 1856)
The South boasts all the Chivalry:
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic], (30 May 1856)
The South certainly has become generally convinced that it is by hard blows, and not by loud blustering and insulting denunciation, that the sectional quarrel is to be settled.
Laurensville, South Carolina, Herald [Democratic], (30 May 1859)
we can only give our most hearty indorsement of the conduct of Mr. Brooks
Montpelier, Vermont, Patriot and State Gazette [Democratic], (30 May 1856)
The remarks made by Mr. Sumner, which provoked this assault, were malignant and insulting beyond anything ever uttered in coolness upon the floor of the Senate.
Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican], (31 May 1856)
As there have been political crimes in all ages, so there have been in all ages Doughfaces to defend them.
Richmond, Virginia, Whig [American], (31 May 1856)
the Abolition wretch, with his Abolition physicians as accomplices in the trick, is playing possum.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (31 May 1856)
The passage on the floor of the Senate, in which Mr. Butler bore himself so courteously toward Mr. Wilson, and in which Mr. Toombs approved of mob law in regulating debate, has been sketched in our telegraphic dispatches.
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (2 June 1856)
All, without regard to political affinities execrate and denounce the assault upon Senator Sumner by Mr. Brooks of South Carolina, as cowardly and unwarrantable.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (2 June 1856)
The meeting on Friday evening, at the Tabernacle, to give expression to the feelings of the commercial capital of the Nation on the outrage at Washington, is among the occurrences of the day to be noted.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (2 June 1856)
[Pointing Finger] If one thing more than another demonstrates the character of the man and the nature of the attack on Senator Sumner by Brooks, it is this -- that he could steal up unsuspectingly and attack his victim, whom he knew to be unarmed, for words spoken in debate, no way applying to him; but resorted to a challenge with Wilson, whom he knew would not accept, for words the most opprobrious directly applied to himself -- and why?
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (2 June 1856)
The committee on Federal Relations in the Connecticut Legislature, recently reported the following resolutions for the consideration of the two Houses of the General Assembly, viz.:
Milledgeville, Georgia, Federal Union [Democratic], (3 June 1856)
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.
Springfield, Illinios, State Journal [Republican], (3 June 1856)
Brooks declares upon his honor as a gentleman that he had no coajutor in his achievement in the Senate the other day.
Boston, Massachusetts, Atlas [Republican], (3 June 1856)
the Democratic party has kindled its flames; that if fanaticism has taken a new lease of life, that life was breathed into it by Pierce and Douglas and their fellow conspirators
Boston, Massachusetts, Post [Democratic], (3 June 1856)
Madness rules the hour, in nullification-ridden Massachusetts.
Baltimore, Maryland, Sun [American], (03 June 1856)
Mr. Brooks, of S. C., has been burned in effigy at Cambridge, Mass..
Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican], (3 June 1856)
Slavery shows its paternity of the deed by its thorough ratification.
Richmond, Virginia, Enquirer [Democratic], (3 June 1856)
A community of Abolitionists could only be governed by a penitentiary system. They are as unfit for liberty as maniacs, criminals, or wild beasts.
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (4 June 1856)
Every one here thought when the stand taken by Senator Wilson was made known that a rencontre would be the immediate consequence
Louisville, Kentucky, Journal [American], (5 June 1856)
The course of a portion of the Southern press is no less reprehensible in applauding the brutal and deadly assault of Brooks upon the person of a United States Senator upon the floor of the Senate chamber.
Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican], (4 June 1856)
The fault was not with our citizens, but with those who directly and indirectly lent their countenance to the ruffianly conduct of Brooks.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (4 June 1856)
The indignation meeting held at Brooklyn was an ovation: The Mayor presided.
Nashville, Tennessee, Republican Banner and Nashville Whig [American], (4 June 1856)
They speak of Sumner as a martyr to the Freesoil sentiment of the North.
Richmond, Virginia, Whig [American], (4 June 1859)
To speak of feeling an insult as a wound would be to them an unintelligible jargon.
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (5 June 1856)
The only men in South Carolina who gave their efforts to the country in the Revolutionary war, were poor men, and poor men in South Carolina at this time are denied the right of sufferage, and are incapable of holding office.
Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican], (5 June 1856)
The assault upon Senator Sumner was a National outrage.
Spartanburg, South Carolina, Spartan [Democratic], (5 June 1856)
Intense excitement continues at the North, and the negro worshippers are forging capital from the original occurrence.
Albany, New York, Evening Journal [Republican], (5 June 1856)
they take upon themselves the unnecessary odium of being the opponents of Freedom of Debate.
Mobile, Alabama, Register [Democratic], (6 June 1856)
greeley and his crowd are sharply ridiculous in their remarks, and their attempt to make political capital out of it, is so palpable, as to destroy, in a great measure, the effect of the venom they spit forth.
Portland, Maine, Advertiser [Republican], (6 June 1856)
the manner in which the deed has been defended in Congress and its perpetrator so shamefully applauded by the Southern press, has strengthened and prolonged the indignant response of our people.
Raleigh, North Carolina, Register [American], (6 June 1856)
in censuring the attack, let not the cause be forgotten
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (6 June 1856)
Our leading papers, and letter-writers from Washington, are expressing great surprise and indignation at the action of the Senate on the breach of privilege committed on that body by the ruffianly assault on Sumner.
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic], (6 June 1856)
We copy below the letter of Mr. BROOKS, addressed to the President of the Senate
Laurensville, South Carolina, Herald [Democratic], (6 June 1859)
The first blow has been struck, which will be felt keener and longer than all the arguments and warnings ever used in Congress by Southern members
Nashville, Tennessee, Republican Banner [American], (6 June 1856)
We copy the following from the Charleston Mercury:
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (7 June 1856)
On the whole the Mercury concludes that the negro demonstration is a "spectacle as disgusting as it is novel -- offensive to every sentiment of South Carolina society, and calculated to bring ridicule and disgrace upon the whole movement." We think so, too.
Richmond, Virginia, Whig [American], (7 June 1859)
A member of Congress may say what he pleases in his place; but if he publishes his speech, he becomes amenable to the law of libel or the cudgel
Baltimore, Maryland, Sun [American], (09 June 1856)
Senator Wilson, in a speech at Worcester said, that when he and others were conveying Mr. Sumner to his lodgings, Mr. S. remarked: "I shall give it to them again if God spares my life.
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic], (9 June 1856)
Precedent is the mask which tyranny wears when it strikes its deadliest blows.
Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer [Democratic], (10 June 1856)
We see that Senator Sumner is not only in his seat but is engaged in debate with Senator Douglas and others.
Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer [Democratic], (11 June 1856)
Brooks declares that, as the constitution provides that no member of either House of Congress shall be held responsible elsewhere for words spoken in debate, that it would have been unconstitutional to have caned Sumner anywhere else than the place designated by the Constitution.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette [Republican], (11 June 1856)
the club is to be the substitute for debate
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (13 June 1856)
Mr. Sumner has the mark of Cain on his brow but it don't follow that he was Abel to defend himself.
Columbus, Ohio, State Journal [Republican], (13 June 1856)
[Pointing Finger] Senator Butler has been giving the Senate a specimen of his drivel, in reply to Mr. Sumner's speech.
Montpelier, Vermont, Patriot and State Gazette [Democratic], (13 June 1856)
no portion of our people seem to be so much pleased with the Sumner row and the Kansas troubles as our fusion abolitionists
Austin, Texas, Texas State Gazette [Democratic], (14 June 1856)
The most serious offence committed in the American Senate, and one which must be promptly rebuked, is the slanderous and dastardly attack upon the South and one of her proudest patriots, by Sumner, the abolitionist leader in the Senate.
Springfield, Illinois, State Journal [Republican], (16 June 1856)
Senator Butler concluded his remarks, in reply to Mr. Sumner's speech, by claiming he had convicted Sumner of error, misrepresentation and calumny.
Cleveland, Ohio, Plain Dealer [Democratic], (17 June 1856)
We are unprepared to say that a man should be cudgeled over the head for the gross crime of plagiarism, but we believe it is a pretty good rule in the old-fashioned schools to give a youth a good licking for that offence.
Springfield, Illinios, State Journal [Republican], (21 June 1856)
[pointing finger] P.S.Brooks is talked of as the next Democratic candidate for Governor of South Carolina. And on the same principle, we presume, that Herbert will be the next Democratic candidate for Governor of California.
Spartanburg, South Carolina, Spartan [Democratic], (24 July 1856)
These gallant gentlemen have done nothing justifying the action of the House, and their constituents will send them back strengthened to battle with the hosts of Black Republicanism