The Beatdown in D.C. – Today In Southern History

22 May 1856 

A surprisingly spry Preston Brooks beats down a deserving Charles Sumner .

On this date in 1856…

South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner senseless with his walking stick on the floor of the U.S. Senate after Sumner delivered repeated personal insults and sexual innuendos against Brooks’ family in a speech during the session.  Despite newspaper hysteria, most who heard the speech believed Brooks’ attack and even his choice of weapon was justified. Senator Brooks was crippled and required his cane to even stand. 

Other Years:

  • 1843 – The first wagon train to depart for Oregon left Independence, Missouri with more than 1,000 travelers.
  • 1865 – Federal authorities imprisoned Confederate President Jefferson Davis in a dark, damp cell at Fort Monroe, Virginia.
  • 1802 – The first U.S. First Lady, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, died of a severe fever.
  • 1926 – Congress established the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
  • 1931 – Canned rattlesnake meat went on sale in Florida.
  • 1946 – The WAC Corporal became the first U.S. rocket to reach edge of space when it launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
  • 2002 – A Birmingham, Alabama jury convicted former Ku Klux Klan member Bobby Frank Cherry of the 1963 murders of four girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
  • 2003 – In Fort Worth, Texas, Annika Sörenstam became the first woman to play on the men’s PGA Tour in 58 years.
  • 2011 – A mile-wide F-5 tornado destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri and killed 159 people. It is the single deadliest U.S. tornado since modern record keeping began in 1950.

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