Article Title

Congressional Bullyism.


Newspaper Title

Illinios State Journal

Publication Date


Publication Place

Springfield, Illinois

Event Topic

Sumner Caning

Political Party



free state


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All, without regard to political affinities execrate and denounce the assault upon Senator Sumner by Mr. Brooks of South Carolina, as cowardly and unwarrantable.

Document Type

Article (Journal or Newsletter)

Full Text Transcription

From one end of the country to the other, except from those sheets which are especially in the pay of the black Democracy, we hear but one expression of opinion in relation to the recent disgraceful outrage in the Congress of the United States. All, without regard to political affinities execrate and denounce the assault upon Senator Sumner by Mr. Brooks of South Carolina, as cowardly and unwarrantable. It was a species of brutality which nothing could justify or extenuate. Matters have indeed come to a singular pass, if on the floor of Congress, the Parliament of the United States, a Senator can not freely utter his sentiments, we care not how extreme they may be, except at the hazard of his life. This is the most direct blow against the freedom of speech ever made in this country. If it is to be tolerated, we may well ask, what next?

The only interpretation which can be put upon the affair is that Mr. Brooks and his southern allies have deliberately adopted the monstrous creed that any man who dares to utter sentiments which they deem wrong or unjust, shall be brutally assailed in order to deter others from like freedom of thought and speech. Bent upon carrying out their ruffianly creed, these men skulk into the Senate Chamber, crouch in a seat near the gentleman whose frank and outspoken words have offended them, and at the moment when he is all unconscious and all unprepared, rush upon him, and with a heavy bludgeon beat him to unconsciousness, thus virtually saying to the country and to the world, that at the capital, on the floor of Congress even, free speech is not permitted and our boasted liberty is a sham. Will not the U.S.Congress assert its dignity?

Since the present Congress commenced its session, the country has been more than once shocked at the outrages and brutality which have been perpetrated by those who sustain the present slavery administration. Col. Webb in a letter to the N.Y.Courier enumerates the cases as follows:

First, William Smith , an ex-Governor of the State of Virginia, and member of the House of Representative, assailed and beat the editor of the Evening Star , in December last, in the lobby of the House.

Second, Albert Rusk , a member of the House of Representatives, from Arkansas, assailed and beat the editor of the New York Tribune in the grounds of the Capitol, immediately after leaving the House of Representatives.

Third, Philip T. Herbert, of Alabama, a member of Congress, from California, shot down and killed an Irish waiter at Willard's, and is now under bonds to appear before the Grand Jury and await his trial for such crime as they may adjudge him to have committed.

Fourth, Preston S.Brooks , a member of the House of Representative from South Carolina assaults and beats unmercifully a Senator from Massachusetts, when occupying his seat in the Senate of the United States and engaged in the transaction of business legitimately appertaining to his station.

In these several instances what has been done with the criminals? What has Congress said as to their crimes? The first and second outrages were considered such trivial offences that the subject was not even referred to in either House. The third offence, the shooting down and killing of an Irish waiter at Willard's Hotel, was voted by a coalition of the slavery Democrats and Southern Know Nothings to be an occurrence not even meriting investigation. Every Representative from a slave State and every supporter of this administration, save one, united in suppressing inquiry, and the offender daily takes his seat in the House, as though nothing unusual had occurred. The last offender against law and order has at least had his conduct inquired into, and a majority of the committee have recommended his expulsion; but it must not be lost sight of that such action was strenuously resisted by every member of that body, save two, who represent the slave States, and by all who sustain the present administration. In all probability these same men will persist in voting against Brooks' expulsion, thus making themselves parties to the outrage.

We have seen the word chivalry used in connection with this last disgraceful affair. If there is the faintest shadow of a shade of chivalry in the business, we are at a loss to discover it. We have always attached to that word the idea of valor, heroism, gallantry! Which of these did Brooks display? We beg to call it by another name. It was sheer cowardice, and worse than cowardice, for it partakes of fiendish malice, and therefore merits the loathing and scorn of every honest man, and chivalrous citizen. Will indeed, the House refuse to rid itself of such cowardly bullyism? Will they give their countenance and approval of this attempt to crush out free speech by brutal violence? We shall see. The eye of the country is closely watching this affair and will hold those who are trying to smother it to a just accountability.

Edited/Proofed by

Entered by Beatrice Burton. Proofed by James Cash




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Event Location


Congressional Bullyism.

All, without regard to political affinities execrate and denounce the assault upon Senator Sumner by Mr. Brooks of South Carolina, as cowardly and unwarrantable.