The Ruffians in the Senate.
York, Evening Journal [Republican]
(23 May 1856)
South Carolina has its barbarians as well as
The brutal soldiery of Brennus were the types of the ruffians
Those first dishonored the Roman Senators with personal violence, and
slaughtered them as they sat in their curule chairs.
These have degraded the American Senate, and brutally
applying force to repress freedom of debate upon the subject of Slavery, have
murderously clubbed a Massachusetts Senator in his seat, till he
For the first time has the extreme discipline of the Plantation been
introduced into the Senate of the United States.
Is there not some Camilus to make it the last time, and to
assure the dignity of that body, and the political freedom of the
No severity of language -- no violence of debate, -- could furnish any
excuse for the assault of the ruffian Brooks upon
But in this case there is wanting altogether the usual apology of the
provocation of unjustly severe and aggressive speech.
Every man who has sat in the Senate Chamber and seen and heard
Butler of South Carolina, during the discussion of any question
touching Slavery, knows well that Mr. Sumner's picture
of him in his great speech, is not exaggerated, but is toned down, and
The South Carolinian's manner, his speech, his appearance,
excite in a Northern gentleman, mingled feelings of astonishmemt, anger, and
Insolent, dictatorial and contemptuous -- with the head of a half-breed
and the voice and temper of an overseer -- painfully discordant in his
exhibition of young violence coursing through a trembling and bent form, and
agitating whitened locks hanging over his maroon face as well as down his
shoulders -- the South Carolina Senator brow-beats and flies at
every opponent of Slavery Propagandism, and spits coarse abuse upon every
measure of Freedom, and cracks his plantation whip at the
greatest and best men in this nation.
His customary demeanor in the American Senate, is the most
humiliating spectacle in the city of Washington.
The picture of him in Mr. Sumner's speech is but
an outline sketch.
A likeness would have excited astonishment in all, accustomed to think of
Daniel Webster, William H. Seward, Silas
Wright, John Bell, Lewis Cass, and Henry
Clay in connection with this Senate of the United
But the assault upon Mr. Sumner was not on account
of the injured vanity of the Southern Senator.
It was the resentment of his speech.
It was the answer to his argument against Slavery -- an answer already
fearfully common, and which threatens to be the ultima
ratio of Southern logic throughout the Republic.
The Editor of the
Tribune was replied to with the rifle and the bowie-knife --
the question of self-Government in the Western Territories the
South proposes to debate with ball cartridges and bayonets.
The logic of the Plantation, brute violence and might, has at last risen
where it was inevitable it should rise to -- the Senate of the United
If we are not virtuous and firm, in the discharge of our duty to ourselves
and the Republic, to strangle this serpent of Slavery Extension, it will fold
us at every point in its grasp.
State liberty can not long survive the extinguishment of Federal
And is the Senate of the United States no longer free to the
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