The Caning of Charles Sumner

The Caning of Charles Sumner
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  • Stephen Douglas is a noise-some, squat, nameless animal, and not a proper model for an American senator.
  • What did he just say about Andrew!
  • A mistress who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to Andrew Butler; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean, the harlot, Slavery.
  • On May 19, 1856, Senator Charles Sumner, a Massachusetts antislavery Republican, gave his "Crime Against Kansas" speech. In this speech, Sumner addressed the issue of whether Kansas should be admitted into the Union as a free or slave state. Since he was an antislavery republican he of course wanted Kansas to be admitted as a free state. Therefore, he identified two Democrats as the main culprits of the crime. They were Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina.
  • Representative Preston Brooks was one of Andrew Butler's relatives and was not happy with what Sumner was saying about Butler. Instead of challenging Sumner to a duel he chose to attach him with a cane.
  • Three days after Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech, Preston Brooks entered the old chamber where he found Charles Sumner working. Brooks walked up behind him and slammed his metal topped cane against Sumner's unsuspecting head.
  • Brooks continued to beat Sumner with his cane as Sumner fell to the floor desperately trying to protect himself. Preston Brooks mercilessly continued to attacked Sumner.
  • After a while, Charles Sumner was carried away bleeding profoundly. Preston Brooks walked away calmly as onlookers stood frozen in shock.
  • Overnight, both men became heroes in their regions. Brooks was reelected and shortly after died at the age of 37. Charles Sumner slowly recovered and remained in the Senate for 18 more years. The Caning of Charles Sumner was an event that helped lead toward the spiraling catastrophe of the Civil War.
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