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[465] ‘impatience, excitability, and absent-mindedness.’ There was something absurd in his taking offence, or any one on his behalf taking offence, at what Sumner had said, considering how freely he treated his opponents in the Senate, calling Wilson ‘a liar’ in open Senate a few days later.1 In all Sumner said of Butler he fell below what had often occurred in the British Parliament and in Congress without the sequel of violence, as when Burke spoke of Hastings; or in controversies between Tristam Burges and John Randolph, Daniel Webster and D. S. Dickinson, Blaine and Conkling. Nor did Sumner's speech on the second day contain any elaborate criticism of South Carolina, but only a single passage illustrating her devotion to slavery (an historic fact claimed to her credit by her public men), and asserting that her whole history was of less value to civilization than the example of Kansas in that territory's struggle against oppression. This single passage was but an incidental reference; whereas Sumner's full speech on the topic two years before led to no act of revenge, and received no attention except a reply in debate. Brooks too was a member of Congress then, and made no sign at the ampler exposure of his State and of his kinsman, who assumed the defence of the State and her cherished institution; and his now setting up a much lighter treatment of the same topics as a just provocation to violence shows that any such alleged grievance was a pretence, set up because it could be availed of thereafter in defence or mitigation in proceedings in Congress or the courts.2

It may be remarked that if Massachusetts senators and representatives had felt called upon to take affront at and revenge the frequent imputations on the honor of the State and its people on account of their efforts for the colonization of Kansas,—far more flagrant than Sumner made on South Carolina,—the Capitol would have been the scene of unintermitted violence.

What went on in Brooks's mind during Tuesday, the second day of Sumner's speech, and how far his plan developed, does not appear. It was claimed for him afterwards that he was stung by rumors and comments on the streets and conversations in parlors, in which women joined, where Southern men were

1 May 27. Keitt, colleague and confederate of Brooks, on Feb. 5, 1858, in the House seized G. A. Grow of Pennsylvania by the throat, and called him ‘a damned Republican puppy.’ New York Tribune, Feb. 6, 1858.

2 Alexander H. Stephens is said to have desired that Brooks should issue a card disclaiming all public grounds for his act. New York Evening Post, May 30.

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