Very Public Whipping

Charles Sumner was a Massachusetts attorney who won national notice in the 1840s for representing an African American in what may have been the nation's first school desegregation case. Though he lost the case, he won the respect of state voters and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1851. In 1856, Sumner stood on the floor of the Senate for two days speaking out against slavery and its supporters. Among the people he tongue-lashed was Andrew Butler, a senator from South Carolina. Butler was not present to reply. However, two days later, his nephew, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, strode into the Senate and beat Sumner senseless with a cane. South Carolinians applauded Brooks for defending his family's honor.

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