Friday is the 153rd anniversary of the kind of moment that makes one proud to be an American--for it was on May 22, 1856 when a man hailed by one biographer as "perhaps the least racist man in America in his day" was nearly beaten to death on the floor of the US Senate. (No, Dick Cheney isn't that old, plus he never does the violence himself, unless you're a friend who looks passingly like a quail, of course.) Abolitionist MA Senator Charles Sumner had given a vituperative speech against slavery two days prior, pulling no punches (no pun intended), even mocking the stroke-induced speech deformity of pro-slavery SC Senator Andrew Butler along the way. Turns out Butler had a cousin (no, not one he was married to) named Preston Brooks, who was a congressman from SC (SC Motto--"bringing US govt quality since even before Strom Thurmond"). Brooks decided Sumner was even beneath the level to challenge to a duel, so instead opted to beat the crap out of him with a gutta-percha cane with a gold head. (I wish gutta-percha was something better than a Malaysian tree, for it's one cool word.) Brooks' buddy and fellow pro-slavery Congressman Laurence Keitt then brandished a gun, preventing anyone to come to Sumner's aid. All on the floor of the Senate. What's best is replacement canes were shipped from throughout South Carolina, with notes that said beat him again. To this day there is a town in Florida and a county in Georgia named in Brooks' "honor." Two notes: 1) I will never live in the south. 2) Obama is president now.
Labels: twisted history