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[495] according to any code of the duellist or even of the bully; it was simply assassination.1

Southern opinion, so far as it was publicly expressed, with rare exceptions chiefly occurring in the border slave States, approved the assault.2 It made no attempt at apology or extenuation, and did not seek to confine the responsibility for the act to Brooks, but audaciously sanctioned the act. It everywhere extolled him as a hero and the vindicator of the cause of the Southern people. The journals which were the recognized organs of Southern opinion applauded the assault, declaring it ‘good in conception, better in execution, and best of all in consequences,’3 and threatening like discipline and punishment to all Northern members of Congress who should dare, as they called it, ‘to slander the South.’ This exultation was marked by a coarseness and brutality in sentiment, set off in incoherent and even clumsy language, in which it now seems incredible that a civilized people could indulge.4 It was found not only

1 Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky, a brave man, familiar with personal encounters of all kinds, wrote Sumner, June 6, 1856: ‘The whole affair is a piece of atrocious cowardice! It came from an unexpected quarter; it was conceived coolly and aforethought; plotted in conspiracy with others and superior odds, with superior weapons, when you were unaware, and substantially tied hand and foot, and even then Brooks arose not to the dignity of a ruffian by saving, “Stand, and defend yourself!” I, who have seen so much of violence, so much of foul combination, so much of unfair odds, so much of dastardly [conduct],— I, who have been principal and second in duels, engaged in so many street fights and mobs (however unwillingly), declare I never saw yet anything so utterly and atrociously craven as Brooks's conduct! Such will be the sentiment of posterity.’ Longfellow wrote in his diary, May 24: ‘O Southern “chivalry!” O——!’

2 See opinions collected in Sumner's Works, vol. IV. pp. 271-280. Von Holst, vol. v, pp. 328-3:33. Wilson's ‘Rise and Fall of the Slave Power,’ vol. II. p. 48). The feeling was so strong that clergymen of Northern education who kept silent were required to take their stand; and if they disapproved the assault, they were compelled to leave. This was the case with Rev. George Dana Boardman, then having a parish at Barnwell Court House in South Carolina, since an eminent clergyman in Philadelphia. There were a few exceptions to the prevailing approval,—the Louisville Journal, May 24 (edited by a man of Northern birth), reprinted in the New York Times, May 28; the Minden (,La.) ‘Herald’ quoted in the New York Evening Post, July 9; and the Baltimore American. In border cities like Louisville and St. Louis there was more or less open condemnation of the assault. Southern feeling ran towards violence at this time. Horace (Greeley was assaulted in Washington by a Texas member, and Granger, a member from New York, by McMullin of Virginia, both assaults growing out of slavery.

3 Richmond Enquirer, June 12. The best known representative of Southern literature, William Gilmore Simms, justified the assault; and his feelings were so strong that he could not withhold them from a New York audience, Nov. 18, 1856; but his indiscretion at once broke up his enterprise as a lecturer at the North. Simms's ‘Life,’ by W. P. Trent, pp. 220-224.

4 These exhibitions were well compared at the time to a dance of savages over a collection of scalps, and contrasted with the Northern discussion of the event, which proceeded in the line of reason, law, justice, and morality. (BostonAtlas,’ June 6.) They have been regarded as ‘a frightful justification for Sumner's calling slavery a harlot.’ Von Holst, vol. v. p. 330.

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