Caning of Charles Sumner

Thursday, May 22, 1856

Lithograph of Preston Brooks' 1856 attack on Sumner. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

The nation is polarized after Representative Preston Brooks (Democrat, South Carolina) canes antislavery Senator Charles Sumner (Republican, Massachusetts) nearly to death in the U.S. Senate chambers. Sumner had delivered an anti-slavery speech called "The Crime against Kansas" two days before, but he spends the next three years recovering from his injuries. Southerners send Brooks canes as a show of solidarity on the slavery issue. 


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