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3 Benton said at the time: ‘This is not an assault, sir; it is a conspiracy,—yes, sir, a conspiracy. These men hunt in couples, sir. It is a conspiracy, and the North should know it.’ （J. S. Pike in the New York Tribune, June 2; ‘First Blows of the Civil War,’ p. 342.) One Southern senator said, on the first day of the speech, that if he could have his way he would hang Sumner on the spot. (J. S. Pike in the New York Tribune, May 21.) Rivers, a Southern member, said in presence of other members the day before the assault, that ‘when Judge Butler came back he would resent it [the speech]; that he would whip him [Sumner], and put his foot upon his face.’ （Buffinton's testimony, Congressional (Globe, p. 1363; Ricaud's testimony, p. 1365.) The easy and informal way in which Brooks communicated his purpose to Edmundson, according to the latter's testimony (p. 1362). and in which Edmundson communicated it beforehand to Senator johnson of Arkansas (p. 1362), as well as the conversation between Edmundson and Keitt (p. 1363), shows how easily these men admitted one another into their confidence, and that an understanding more or less particular existed among the intense pro-slavery men. When Edmundson and Keitt disavowed previous knowledge of the time and place of the assault, Benton wrote to Sumner: ‘There ought to be a searching inquiry, never lost sight of in all the examinations, to know if those persons who did not know when and where the attack would be made did not keep within supporting distances when it was to come. and whether they and he had not pistols or dirks.’
4 It was stated at the time that the assault was agreed upon at a conference of the South Carolina delegation. (New York Times, May 24; New York Tribune, Jan. 28. 1857.) The character of one of the delegation, Governor Aiken, gives assurance that he would have discountenanced it.
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