Summary


The Sumner-Brooks Incident was a violent affair in the United States Senate. On May 22,1856, Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina, marched into the Senate and brutally beat up Massachusetts Senator, Charles Sumner. Brooks beat Sumner with a wooden cane and left him on the Senate floor to die. It was a gruesome event in the senate that would go on to be remembered by historians as a hint of a Civil War to come.
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner


external image 7e2cff4805f3898c8436b44047c439f8_1M.png
Preston Brooks
Preston Brooks

It all started with a speech delivered by Sumner called, "The Crime Against Kansas". In the speech he went after Andrew Butler of South Carolina, calling him the "Don Quixote" of slavery. The speech was in response to the violence that was going on in Kansas due to the recently passed, Kansas-Nebraska Act. Brooks was Senator Butler's nephew and was outraged with what Sumner had to say about his uncle and slavery, so he decided to pummel Sumner on the senate floor. The northerners viewed Sumner as a martyr to the southern savage ways. Similarly, southerners thought of Brooks as a hero and he received a lot of praise.

Controversy


The Crime Against Kansas
The Crime Against Kansas

The event created a great divide between the north and south. The north and the south were fighting over the topic of slavery. Northerners were outraged at the south's barbaric manner, and viewed Sumner as a martyr. The southerners viewed the northerners as rude because of the words Sumner chose in his speech about Bloody Kansas.
In The Crime Against Kansas, Sumner says, "The Senator from South Carolina has read many books of chivalry, and believes himself a chivalrous knight, with sentiments of honor and courage. Of course he has chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows, and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him, -- though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight: I mean the harlot Slavery". Sumner directly assaulted Senator Andrew Butler, and Preston Brooks, along with the people of the south, were infuriated. After his absence Charles Sumner returned to the senate and became one of the leaders in the new Republican Party. He would go on to be a huge activist for the abolishment of slavery.

The South felt completely different from the north. Preston Brooks became one of the most praised people in the south at the time. He gained instant fame amongst southerners. He received so much support that he began to receive canes in the mail. Brooks and other members of the south fought for the cause of slavery.

There was continued controversy over slavery, and would later lead to the start of the Civil War. The North and the South fought over the border states and whether they would be free or slave states.

Increased Sectionalism


After the Sumner-Brooks Incident there was increased sectionalism in the United States. The north was trying to abolish slavery and the south was pro-slavery. The Sumner-Brooks incident increased these feelings. The north viewed Charles Sumner as a hero and the south viewed Brooks as a hero. After the incident on the senate floor, the north viewed the south as barbaric and gruesome and the south viewed the north as rude a
nd brazen. This incident would only be a preview of what would come.
NOT Preston Brooks
NOT Preston Brooks