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But the most significant and instructive incidents and utterances remain to be noted. Much of what has already been adduced might be safely referred to passion, wounded feeling and inflamed hatred. The language of Slidell, Douglas, Toombs and Brooks, was evidently spoken in hot blood, and the votes of Mr. Brooks's constituents were cast in obedience to feelings that had been roused to the highest pitch of embittered and vengeful indignation. No adequate conception of the state of public sentiment and feeling then existing can be found without reference to the cooler and more deliberate expressions of public men and presses outside of the narrow circle of the immediate actors in this tragedy of violence and blood. Unfortunately the evidence is far too conclusive to leave any doubt as to the anarchical sentiments that prevailed too generally at the South, and far too largely, indeed, at the North.

Referring to a meeting of Brooks's constituents, at which resolutions of approval were adopted, and a cane, with a brutal inscription, voted him, a paper published at the capital of the State remarked: ‘Meetings of approval and sanction will be held not only in Mr. Brooks's district, but throughout the State at large, and a general and hearty response of approval will re-echo the words “well done!” from Washington to the Rio Grande.’ The students and officers of the University of Virginia also voted him a cane, on which the leading Democratic organ of the South remarked approvingly: ‘The chivalry of the South, it seems, has been thoroughly aroused.’ The Richmond Examiner said: ‘Far from blaming Mr. Brooks, we are disposed to regard him as a conservative gentleman, seeking to restore its lost dignity to the Senate, * * * whose example should be followed by every Southern gentleman whose feelings are outraged by unprincipled Abolitionists.’ The Richmond Enquirer, some weeks after the assault, said: ‘In the main, the press of the South applaud the conduct of Mr. Brooks, without condition or limitation. Our approbation, at least, is entire and unreserved. * * * It was a proper act, done at the proper time and in the proper place.’

Nor were leading statesmen less explicit in their approval. Mr. Mason, in reply to an invitation to attend a public dinner in honor of Mr. Brooks, after referring to his ‘social and political intercourse’ with [256] their ‘able and justly honored representative,’ adds: ‘I know of none whose public career I hold more worthy the full and cordial approbation of his constituents than his.’ Jefferson Davis, on the same occasion, wrote: ‘I have only to express to you my sympathy with the feeling which prompts the sons of Carolina to welcome the return of a brother who has been the subject of vilification, misrepresentation, and persecution, because he resented a libellous assault upon the representative of their mother.’ Nor were they alone Southern men who joined in this formal indorsement. Mr. Buchanan, the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, referring to Mr. Sumner's speech, characterized it as ‘the most vulgar tirade of abuse ever delivered in a representative body;’ and added that though ‘Mr. Brooks was inconsiderate, * * * Senator Butler was a very mild man.’

Mr. Savage of Tennessee, in a eulogy in the House, said: ‘To die nobly is life's chief concern. History records but one Thermopylae; there ought to have been another, and that one for Preston S. Brooks. * * * So shall the scene in the Senate chamber carry the name of the deceased to all future generations, long to be remembered after all men are forgotten and until these proud walls crumble into ruins.’ So unmistakably did the leading minds of the South indorse the deed and make it their own.

Nor, on the other hand, were the men of the North silent. The thrill of horror and alarm which ran through the free States found expression, as with fitting phrase and indignant emphasis men characterized and denounced the diabolical and cowardly assault. On the floor of Congress were those found who, at much personal hazard, denounced both the assault and the assailant. In the House, John Woodruff of Connecticut, a man proverbial for moderation of temper and deportment, said: ‘If honorable gentlemen cannot wholly rid themselves of an unwelcome presence, they can, at least, show their appreciation of an action wanting few of the elements of the most audacious crime and of a spirit equal to deeds that I will not name. With an endeavor always to cultivate courtesy, I shall not hesitate, here in my place or elsewhere, to freely characterize as they deserve any lofty assumption of arrogance or any mean achievement of cowardice.’ For these words he was waited upon and interrogated whether he would receive a challenge from Mr. Brooks. He, however, declined to receive it.

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