Remarks By The President At The National Prayer Breakfast, Washington Hilton, Washington, D.C., 9:08 A.M. EST, February 4, 2010. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, For Immediate Release, February 4, 2010
Obama: And we've seen actually some improvement in some circumstances. We haven't seen any canings on the floor of the Senate any time recently. (Laughter.)
CWL: In 1856, during the Bleeding Kansas crisis when "border ruffians" approached Lawrence, Kansas, Sumner denounced the Kansas-Nebraska Act in the "Crime against Kansas" speech on May 19 and May 20, two days before the sack of Lawrence, Kansas.
Two days later, on the afternoon of May 22, Preston Brooks, a congressman from South Carolina and Butler's relative, confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber. Brooks was accompanied by Laurence M. Keitt also of South Carolina and Henry A. Edmundson of Virginia (the latter taking no part in the assault). Brooks said, "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine."
As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks began beating Sumner severely on the head with a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head before he could reach his feet. Sumner was knocked down and trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to bash Sumner until he ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat the motionless Sumner until he broke his cane, then quietly left the chamber.
Several other senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who was brandishing a pistol and shouting, "Let them be!" (Brooks died in 1857; Keitt was censured for his actions and was later killed in 1864 during the Civil War while fighting as a Confederate officer).
Obama: Remember Abraham Lincoln. On the eve of the Civil War, with states seceding and forces gathering, with a nation divided half slave and half free, he rose to deliver his first Inaugural and said, "We are not enemies, but friends… Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."
Even in the eyes of confederate soldiers, he saw the face of God.
CWL: Lincoln may have. Some of the combat soldiers too.
Text Source: White House briefing Room, Washington, D.C.
Text Source: edit of Wikipedia, Charles Sumner
Image Source: President Barack Obama speaks at the Energy Department in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak), Huffington Post