BROOKS, PRESTON S3IITII ( 1819-57) . An American politician, notorious for his assault on Charles Sumner, in the United States Senate Chamber, in 1856. He was born in Edgefield District, S. C.; graduated at South Carolina Col lege in 1839; was admitted to the bar in 1843; was elected to the State Legislature in 1844; and in 1846;47 served as a captain of volunteers in the war with Mexico. In 1852 he was elected to the House of Representatives. and was reelected in 1854. Soon after the adjournment of the Sen ate on May 22, 1856, two days after Senator Sumner had delivered his speech on "The Crime Against. Kansas." in which he had, spoken with great severity of South Carolina and of Senator Butler. from that State (then absent from the Senate), Brooks, who was related to Senator Butler. assaulted Sumner while the latter was writing alone at his desk in the Senate Chamber, repeatedly striking him on the head with a cane, knocking him senseless, and inflicting spinal in juries from which Sumner never fully recovered.
The llfaise of IZepresentatives immediately ap pointed a committee to investigate the affair. and the committee reported in favor of expelling hut the necessary two-thirds vote could not be secured for the motion. Brooks resigned voluntarily, however, after making a speech in justification of his aet, but he was immediately reelected by his constituents. Some remarks of Representative Anson Burlingame. on June 21, charging Brooks with cowardice and a lack of fair play, provoked a challenge from the latter, and a duel was arranged to take place in Canada. near Niagara Falls: but Brooks declined to fight at the place designated, for the reason that he could not read] it "without running the gauntlet of mobs and assassins, prisons and penitentiaries, bailiffs and constables." The assault caused the greatest excitement all over the country. The North was fiercely indignant. while the South, for the most part, upheld Brooks, and passed resolutions in his honor.