In a dispute over slavery, U.S. Rep. Preston Brooks, D-S.C., struck Sen. Charles Sumner, R-Mass., on the head with a cane.
A history of the Senate picks up the story:
"Moving quickly, Brooks slammed his metal-topped cane onto the unsuspecting Sumner's head. As Brooks struck again and again, Sumner rose and lurched blindly about the chamber, futilely attempting to protect himself. After a very long minute, it ended.
"Bleeding profusely, Sumner was carried away. Brooks walked calmly out of the chamber without being detained by the stunned onlookers. Overnight, both men became heroes in their respective regions."
No one can seriously claim that Washington is running smoothly these days, but we've not seen acts of physical violence employed by members of Congress.