previous next
[467] bench near the walk leading from Pennsylvania Avenue to the steps. Brooks then said that ‘Sumner had been very insulting to his State, and that he had determined to punish him unless he made an ample apology.’ He further said that ‘it was time for Southern men to stop this coarse abuse used by the Abolitionists against the Southern people and States, and that he should not feel that he was representing his State properly if he permitted such things to be said; that he learned that Mr. Sumner intended to do this thing days before he made his speech; that he did it deliberately, and he thought he ought to be punished for it.’ Edmundson said further that in this first conversation Brooks repeated what Sumner had said about South Carolina,—‘Disgracefully impotent during the Revolution, and still more so on account of slavery.’1 But this is not likely, as this was said on the second day of the speech (Tuesday), when Brooks was not present, and the Congressional Globe containing the passage had not yet been issued. Besides, Brooks at no time claimed that he had read it in the Globe. It will thus be observed that, as appears by Edmundson's testimony, from which alone Brooks's state of mind on both days is ascertained, his grievance was not, as afterwards emphasized, any slander on Butler, who was not even mentioned in the interviews; and although, according to Edmundson, he did refer on Wednesday to an insult to his State, he had not heard, and could not at the time have read, the passage of Sumner's speech concerning South Carolina. Brooks's real grievance, as he stated it, was Sumner's assault on slavery itself, or, as he put it, on ‘the Southern people and States.’ He had constituted himself the avenger of his section and class with the purpose of silencing members of Congress who dealt plainly and strongly with the slavery question. This was the view taken by Butler himself, who in his speech, June 24, claimed that Brooks acted from higher motives than taking redress for an insult offered to his kinsman.2

Brooks, as Edmundson testified, wished the latter to be present merely as a friend to do him justice, as Sumner might have friends with him, but not to take part in the difficulty. Spite of the disclaimer of desiring physical help, it is clear that he desired his friend's presence as something more than a witness,

1 Works, vol. IV. p. 241. Ante, p. 450.

2 Congressional Globe, App. p. 664.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
South Carolina (South Carolina, United States) (2)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Whitfield Brooks (8)
Charles Sumner (6)
Edmundson (4)
Benjamin F. Butler (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 24th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: