Let a congressman from SC beat a senator half to death ONE TIME, and they never let you forget it


It’s just not fair the way folks from other parts speak of us. As though it weren’t bad enough that Jon Stewart keeps remarking upon the recent embarrassments wrought by politicians from South Carolina, we have to endure this today from Peggy Noonan:

Politics is a rough arena, and understandably so, for our politicians tell us more and more how to order our lives. Naturally there will be resistance, and strong opposition. We have a long history of hurly-burly debate, and we all know examples the past 200 years of terrible things said and done. Capitol tour guides enjoy showing the stain on the marble steps supposedly left by the blood of Sen. Charles Sumner, beaten half to death on the floor of the senate in 1856 by Rep. Preston Brooks, who wielded a thick gold-tipped cane. So we’ve had our moments.


Rep. Preston Brooks

Doesn’t that just tear it? A congressman from South Carolina beats a senator bloody one lousy time, 154 years ago, and these Yankees just keep on talking about it. It’s not like the scurvy dog didn’t have it coming. And beating him with a cane was of course not Mr. Brooks’ first instinct. This was no act of animal passion. The perceived insult had come in a speech by the senator three days earlier. And Mr. Brooks, being a gentleman, initially intended to call him out onto the field of honor, as any gentleman would.

However, another gentleman pointed out that Sen. Sumner was NOT a gentleman, so that was out. What, indeed, was left but to thrash him with a gutta-percha cane? I appeal to your sense of civilized conduct.

And why do they keep bringing up this one incident? Why don’t they mention all the times that congressmen from other places beat colleagues to within an inch of their lives? Oh… um, really? You mean, never? Huh…

No, wait, wait! You’re wrong! There wasn’t a cane involved, but remember when some lunatic physically wrestled Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough to keep him from entering a committee room in 1964.

Oh, wait — that was Strom Thurmond wasn’t it? Well, so what? It’s not like it reflects on anything inherent in ol’ Strom’s birthplace or anything…

It’s not like there’s anything wrong with us — is there?

4 thoughts on “Let a congressman from SC beat a senator half to death ONE TIME, and they never let you forget it

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    Because, of course, South Carolinians are noted for having put the past behind them, moving promptly to redress past wrongs and lay the groundwork for a brighter future by making high quality education available to all….

  2. Steve Gordy

    ‘Tis a pity ol’ Strom wasn’t alive in the 1850s. Instead of caning Sumner, Strom would’ve wrestled him to the floor and held him down until he apologized for bad-mouthing Andrew Pickens Butler.

  3. Todd

    At least this story distracted comments about our current state leaders and their transgressions….. Thanks, Brad. Kathryn – that’s funny.

  4. Grace S

    The spirit of Preston Brooks is still alive and well in SC I see. People in SC still think beating up people is a fine thing and they are proud of what Brooks did to someone whose “crime” was an offense of *words.* But, hey, SC was the last state to do away wih importng the slaves and the first state to secede over the “states rights” issue of enslaving people. And slaves, of course, had to be kept in line by beating them up frequently. SC just has a thing about beating people up. Fine for the military, maybe, but not for decent society!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *