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[476] rooms he told Wilson that he should renew the conflict with slavery in the Senate as soon as he could return there.1 There was one man, at least, in Congress of mind unconquered and unconquerable. The next day was the first he had ever been absent from his seat since he became a senator.

The assault produced a prodigious sensation in Washington.2 The Republican senators, still a small body, met the same evening at Seward's house, not knowing what other victims awaited slaveholding wrath. It was agreed that Wilson should the next day call the attention of the Senate to what had occurred, confining himself, as Seward advised, to a very simple statement, and avoiding any reproach or manifestation of excitement; and that if no member of the majority moved a committee of investigations, Seward himself should make the motion.3 Accordingly, the next morning, after the reading of the journal, Wilson rose and said—

Mr. President, the seat of my colleague is vacant to-day. That seat is vacant to-day for the first time during five years of public service. Yesterday, after a touching tribute of respect to the memory of a deceased member of the House of Representatives, the Senate adjourned. My colleague remained in his seat, busily engaged in his public duties. While thus engaged, with pen in hand, and in a position which rendered him utterly incapable of protecting or defending himself, Mr. Preston S. Brooks, a member of the House of Representatives, approached his desk unobserved, and abruptly addressed him. Before he had time to utter a single word in reply, he received a stunning blow upon the head from a cane in the hands of Mr. Brooks, which made him blind and almost unconscious. Endeavoring, however, to protect himself, in rising from his chair his desk was overthrown; and while in that condition he was beaten upon the lead by repeated blows until he sank upon the floor of the Senate exhausted, unconscious, and covered with his own blood. He was taken from this chamber to the anteroom, his wounds were dressed, and then by friends he was carried to his home and placed upon his bed. He is unable to be with us to-day to perform the duties that belong to him as a member of this body.

Sir, to assail a member of the Senate out of this chamber, “for words spoken in debate,” is a grave offence not only against the rights of the senator

1 Wilson's speech at Worcester, June 4. Boston ‘Telegraph,’ June 5. See Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. p. 272.

2 A large number of the Republican members armed themselves for self-defence. (J. S. Pike in the New York Tribune. May 26; W. S. Thayer in the New York Evening Post, May 26.) Wilson carried a revolver for several months, and was carrying one the next winter. The sentiment found frequent expression in the public journals that hereafter Northern members of Congress must be fighting men, and carry arms ready for effective service. BostonAtlas,’ May 30.

3 Wilson's ‘Rise and Fall of the Slave Power,’ vol. II. pp. 482, 483. Seward's ‘Life,’ vol. II. pp. 271-274. Seward's speech, June 24, Congressional Globe, App. p. 661.

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