A Southern Response to the Caning of Sumner, 1856

From "The Sumner Discipline -- The Needful Remedy," Richmond Enquirer, June 3, 1856.

      A few Southern journals, affecting an exclusive refinement of feeling or regard for the proprieties of official intercourse, unite with the abolition papers in condemning the chastisement inflicted upon Sumner by the Hon. P. S. Brooks. We have no patience with these mealy mouthed pharisees of the Press. Why not speak out and declare at once that you are shocked by the :"brutality of a slave-holding ruffian!" It is much more manly to adopt the violent vocabulary of the Tribune, than to insinuate disapprobation in the meek accents of a conscience-smitten saint.

      In the main, the press of the South applaud the conduct of Mr. Brooks, without condition or limitation. Our approbation at least is entire and unreserved. We consider the act good in conception, better in execution, and best of all in consequence. These vulgar abolitionists in the Senate are getting above themselves. They have been humored until they forget their position. They have grown saucy, and dare to be impudent to gentlemen! Now, they are a low, mean, scurvy set, with some little book learning, but as utterly devoid of spirit or honor as a peck of cure. Intrenched behind "privilege," they fancy they can slander the South and insult its Representatives, with impunity. The truth is they have been suffered to run too long without collars. They must be lashed into submission. Sumner, in particular, ought to have nine and-thirty early every morning. He is a great strapping fellow, and could stand the cowhide beautifully. Brooks frightened him, and at the first blow of the cane, he bellowed like a bull-calf. There is the blackguard Wilson, an ignorant Nantick cobbler, swaggering in excess of muscle, and absolutely dying for a beating. Will not somebody take him in hand? Hale is another huge, red face, sweating scoundrel, whom some gentlemen should kick and cuff until he abates something of his impudent talk. These men are perpetually abusing the people and representatives of the South, for tyrants, robbers, ruffians, adulterers, and what not. Shall we stand it? Can gentlemen sit still in the Senate and House of Representatives, under an incessant stream of denunciation from wretches who avail themselves of the privilege of place, to indulge their devilish passions with impunity? It is an idle mockery to challenge one of these scullions. It is equally useless to attempt to disgrace them. They are insensible to shame; and can be brought to reason only by an application of cowhide or gutta percha. Let them once understand that for every vile word spoken against the South, they will suffer so many stripes, and they will soon learn to behave themselves, like decent dogs--they can never be gentlemen. Mr. Brooks has initiated this salutary discipline, and he deserves applause for the bold, judicious manner, in which he chastised the scamp Sumner. It was a proper act, done at the proper time, and in the proper place. Of all places on earth the Senate chamber, the theatre of his vituperative exploits, was the very spot where Sumner should have been made to suffer for his violation of the decencies of decorous debate, and for his brutal denunciation of a venerable statesman. It was literally and entirely proper, that he should be stricken down and beaten just beside the desk against which he leaned as he culminated his filthy utterances through the capitol. It is idle to talk of the sanctity of the Senate Chamber, since it is polluted by the presence of such fellows as Wilson and Sumner and Wade. They have desecrated it, and cannot now fly to it as to a sanctuary from the lash of vengeance. We trust other gentlemen will follow the example of Mr. Brooks, that so a curb may be imposed upon the truculence and audacity of abolition speakers.--If need be, let us have a caning or cowhiding every day. If the worse comes to the worse, so much the sooner so much the better.

Houghton Mifflin Company