On this day, May 22, in 1856, Rep. Preston Brooks of South Carolina beat Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerner sympathizers of pro-slavery violence in Kansas.
Sumner's "Crime Against Kansas" speech mocked the South, and included a personal attack on Brooks' uncle, South Carolina's Sen. Andrew Butler.
"Senator Butler has chosen a mistress. I mean the harlot, slavery," said Sumner, of Massachusetts.
Brooks attacked Sumner at his Senate floor desk, shattering his cane and nearly killing the Massachusetts senator.
The indictment made both heroes to their causes. Southerners showered Brooks with new canes. He was not prosecuted.
Sumner was beaten so badly he did not return to the Senate for three years.
-- Scott McCabe