HOT BLAST: A caning in the Senate
May 22, 2013 | 2454 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Image via New York Public Library)
(Image via New York Public Library)
The next time someone tries to tell you that our politics have never been worse remind them of the events of May 22, 1856. On that day - 157 years ago today - a U.S. congressman assaulted a U.S. senator with a cane. 

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.

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