Article Title

The Post and Mr. Sumner


Newspaper Title

Daily Pittsburgh Gazette

Publication Date


Publication Place

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Event Topic

Sumner Caning

Political Party



free state


Please Note: Some editorials in this collection contain offensive language, opinions, and other content. The editorials serve as evidence of the time period in which they were created and enable us to engage in more truthful conversations about history. The views expressed in these editorials do not reflect Furman University's values or our commitment to embrace meaningful diversity and equality in all of our endeavors. If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail


when even Southern papers denounce the attack as atrocious, the Pittsburgh Post, alone among all the papers of the free States, hastes to the defence of Mr. Brooks and justifies his brutal and unmanly assault upon Mr. Sumner.

Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Full Text Transcription

If there could be any doubt among those notstrictly orthodox, as to the truth of the doctrineof total depravity, the leading article in the Postof yesterday ought to satisfy them. The spirittherein betrayed can be accounted for on noother theory.

At a moment when the public mind is boilingover with rage at an unparalleled outrage,when every paper east, west and north is cullingout hard words with which to express itsindignation, when even Southern papersdenounce the attack as atrocious, the PittsburghPost, alone among all the papers of the freeStates, hastes to the defence of Mr. Brooks andjustifies his brutal and unmanly assault uponMr. Sumner. Nor is it content with simplyjustifying the outrage; It descends to a falsificationof the record, and utters a string of absoluteuntruths as the basis of the vindication it volunteersfor the greatest ruffian of modern times.

The whole purport and object of the article inthat paper is to show that Mr. Sumner wasduly notified of the attack upon him; that hewas able to defend himself fully; and not havingdone so, he must be a coward who deserved allhe got. That we may not be accused of misstatingthe position of the Ruffian's organ, wequote from it as follows, hoping to be pardoned,on the score of necessity, for soiling ourcolumns with such a display of unmanliness andunfairness:

"In yesterday's telegraph columns the accountof an attack on a United States Senator wasread. According to that account the assailantspoke to him before he struck him; and then onstriking him the first blow Mr. Sumner calledfor help. He appears to have made no resistancewhatever.

Now Mr. Charles Sumner is, we should judge,five feet ten inches in height, and will weighabout one hundred and sixty pounds. He is inthe prime and vigor of manhood -- hale and athleticin appearance, and apparently capable ofcoping successfully with a majority of his fellowmen. Nature has given him a good proportionof the means of self-defence. That a manthus endowed should adopt the principle ofnonresistance, and submit tamely to a beating fromanother is a shame to mankind and a crimeagainst nature. Nature has endowed every manwith the instinct of resentment and self-preservation, and given him strength to back them;and to ignore those instincts, and refuse toemploy the strength is unnatural, shameful, andcannot command the sympathies of mankind. -- What man or woman will applaud Mr. Sumnerfor sitting still in his arm chair and lettinganother man beat him over the head with a cane?The man was probably not one whit his superiorin physical capacity -- in health and vigor.-Any many who can call for help can help himselfa little."

Is not this infamous? We appeal to everyman who read the telegraphic accounts given onFriday, if it is possible for human degradationto go further than this. The account aspublished in the Post of Friday read as follows:

"Immediately after the adjournment ofCongress today, while Mr. Sumner was still in theSenate Chamber, Mr. Brooks of South Carolina,entered and approached Mr. Sumner, accusinghim of libelling South Carolina, and his greyheaded relative, Mr. Butler. He then struckMr. Sumner with his cane, and Mr. Sumner fell.Mr. Brooks then continued to repeat his blows,until Mr. Sumner was deprived of the power ofspeech. Mr. Sumner was taken up and carriedto his room. It has not been ascertained whetherhis injuries are serious or not. When theattack was made Mr. Sumner called for help, butno one interfered until Mr. Brooks closed theassault."

Some eye-witnesses say that Mr. Brooksstruck Mr. Sumner as many as fifty times overthe head. Mr. Sumner was sitting in hisarmchair when the assault was made, and had noopportunity to defend himself.

The whole of this is in direct contradiction ofthe Post's manner of stating it editorially. Itshows that Brooks struck Sumner while sittingin his chair, that he had no opportunity todefend himself, and that he was felled at the firstblow. This account if verified by those derivedfrom other sources. A dispatch to the Tribunesays that the first blow was struck before Mr.Sumner was aware it was coming; that he hadno distinct consciousness after it was given; andthat in the almost involuntary effort he made torise and defend himself he was embarrassed byhis desk, which he tore from its fastenings inhis frantic efforts to rise. From all this it isplain that Mr. Sumner would have defendedhimself, if he could; and that his assailant wasa sneaking coward, who could not face himmanfully. The attempt of the Post to producea different impression shows that he is in spiritas cowardly and unmanly as the villain whomhe defends. Henceforward the public mustdivide its indignation between the two.

Edited/Proofed by

Entered by Nicole Pascoe. Not proofed




This item is in the public domain, and can be used by anyone without restriction.

This document is currently not available here.


Event Location


The Post and Mr. Sumner

when even Southern papers denounce the attack as atrocious, the Pittsburgh Post, alone among all the papers of the free States, hastes to the defence of Mr. Brooks and justifies his brutal and unmanly assault upon Mr. Sumner.