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[521]

Brooks, having affairs of honor on hand already mentioned, found it inconvenient to make a personal canvass for a reelection; and indeed there was no need of one. He remained in Washington, except for a few days which he passed at White Sulphur Springs. He however issued an address to his constituents, marked by a looseness and wildness of expression which betokened an ill-stored and ill-regulated mind.1 He posed as the avenger of his State when a senator from. Massachusetts ‘falsified her history and defamed her character,’ but said not a word about any offence to his ‘uncle,’ or ‘near kinsman,’ Mr. Butler. His constituents, with only six dissenting votes, re-elected him, and he was in his seat again Aug. 1, 1856, two weeks after his resignation.2 Keitt, who had been re-elected, took his oath a few days later.

Brooks's triumph was short-lived. He came to Washington at the opening of the next session, in December, but he was not there at its close. He made a speech early in the session, December 17, on the slavery question, which, though fully Southern in spirit, was not intemperate in language. The next month he took a severe cold, from which no fatal effects were at first apprehended; but it turned into a violent croup, or acute inflammation of the throat, resulting in sudden strangulation, from which, struggling for breath, he died suddenly, Jan. 27, 1857, in intense pain, after having, as it is stated (no physician being at hand), clutched his throat as if to tear it open. His friend Dr. Boyle, who had dressed Sumner's wounds, was his attendant, but failed to arrive in time to help him. His illness had not been reported, and the country was startled by the intelligence of his death. Two days later he was the subject of eulogies in the House. His friends maintained a decorous silence as to the deed which will alone give him remembrance, except Savage of Tennessee, who, in extolling it, exalted him to an historic place by the side of

1 The Columbia (S. C.) ‘Banner,’ July 23, 1856, copied in Boston Advertiser, July 28. These are specimens: ‘I resigned my seat, and kicking the black dust of a black Republican majority from my feet, I left the hall in indignation and disgust. . . . My appeal is to you. If I have represented you faithfully, then re-elect me with a unanimity which will thunder into the ears of fanaticism the terrors of the storm that is coming upon them.’

2 His triumphant air as he took the oath was observed. New York Evening Post, August 2. The New York Times, Oct. 8, 1856, reported fully a banquet given to Brooks at ‘Ninety-six,’ with speeches from himself, Toombs, Butler, and Governor Adams. Brooks spoke of himself as in his deed ‘the type and representative of the entire South,’ but did not treat it as avenging Butler.

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Preston S. Brooks (4)
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