The Sumner-Brooks Affair

On May 19, 1856, Charles Sumner took the floor of the Senate.  Sumner’s powerful intellect had raised him from a relatively impoverished childhood to a seat in the Senate.  A lawyer and an academic he was one of the most powerful orators of his day and an ardent abolitionist.  He was also haughty and arrogant.  Both his intellect and his arrogance were on prime display when he delivered his speech on May 19 that became known as “The Crime Against Kansas Speech”, a searing indictment of the policy of Stephen A. Douglas and the Pierce administration in overturning the Missouri Compromise and allowing the settlers in Kansas to choose whether Kansas would be slave or free which had ignited a mini-civil war in Kansas.  The entire speech may be read here.  In the speech he attacked two senators by name:  Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina.  Sumner lashed out at Butler in bitter personal terms: (more…)

Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Sumner-Brooks Affair  
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