The Massachusetts Resolutions on the Sumner Assault, and the Slavery Issue

THE MASSACHUSETTS RESOLUTIONS ON THE SUMNER ASSAULT, AND THE SLAVERY ISSUE. SPEECHES OF SENATORS DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES. if the consequences which are likely to flow from that speech hereafter shall end in blood and violence, that Senator should be prepared to repent in sackcloth and ashes. Now, I pronounce a judgment on that speech । which will be adopted by the public. I am as I certain as I am speaking that itis now condemned I by the public mind, and by posterity it will be | consigned to infamy, for the mischievous conse- iqmnees which have flowed from it already, and ! such as are likely yet to disturb the peace and repose of the country. I said nothing, Mr. President, at any period of my life—much less did I say anything in the course of the debate to which the Senator from Massachusetts purports to have made a reply— । that could have called for, much less have justi- | fled, the gross personal abuse, traduction, and |calumny, to which he lias resorted. When I was at my little farm, enjoying myself quietly, and as 1 thought had taken refuge from the strifes and contentions of the Senate, and of politics, a message was brought to me that mjr kinsman had been involved in a difficulty on my account. It was- so vague that I did not know how to account for it. I was far from any telegraphic communication. 1 did not wail five minutes before I left home to put myself within the reach of such information—and garbled even that, was—as was accessible. I traveled four days- continuously to Washington; and when I arrived / L found the very subject under discussion which . had given me so much anxiety; and it has been a source of the deepest concern to my feelings, ever since I heard of it, on many accounts—on account of my country, and on account of tht»- honor and the safety of my kinsman. When I arrived here, 1 found the subject under discussion. I went to the Senate worn down by travel;and I then gave notice that, when the resolutions from Massachusetts should be presented, I would speak to them, as coming from a Commonwealth whose history, and whose lessons of history, had inspired me with the very highest admiration — 1 would speak to them from a respect to a ComJune 12, 1856. Hon. A. P. EUTLER addressed the Senate as follows: Mr. President: The occasion and the subject upon which 1 am about to address the Senate of the United States, at this time, have been brought about by events-over which I have had no control, and could have had none—events which have grown out of the commencement of a controversy for which the Senator from Massachusetts (not now in his seat) [Mr. Sumner] should be held exclusively responsible to his country and his God. He lias delivered a speech the most extraordinary that has ever had utterance Tn any deliberative body recognizing the sanctions of law ai)d decency. When it was delivered 1 was not here; and if 1 had been present, what I should have done it "would be perfectly idle for me now to say; because no one can substitute the deliberations of a subsequent period for such as might have influenced him at another time and under different circumstances. Aly impression now is that, if I had been present, 1 should have asked the Senator, before he finished some of the paragraphs personally applicable to myself, to pause; and if he had gone on, 1 would have demanded of him, the next morning, that he should review that speech, and retract or modify it, so as to bring it within the sphere of parliamentary propriety. If lie had refused this, what I would have done I cannot say; yet 1 can say that I would not have submitted to it. But what mode of redress 1 should have resorted to, I cannot tell. I wish I had been here. I would have at least assumed, as I ought to have done on my responsibility as a Senator, and on my responsibility as a representative of South Carolina, all the consequences, let them lead where they might; but instead of that, the speech has involved his own friends, and his owrlcolleague. It has involved my friends. It has involved one of them to such an extent that, at this time, he has been obliged to put his fortune and his life at stake. And, sir,

Ji 2 to have control over him; and then it was that he made this celebrated attack on me, assailing my reputation as a gentleman of veracity: “ With regret, I come again upon the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. Butler,] who, omnipresent in this debate, overflowed with rage at the simple suggestion that Kansas had applied for admission as a State ; and, with incoherent phrases, discharged the loose expectoration of his speech, now upon her representative, and then upon her people. There was no extravagance of the ancient parliamentary debate which he did not repeat; nor was there any possible deviation from the truth which he did not make, with so much of passion, I am glad to add, as to save him from the suspicion of intentional aberration. But the Senator touches nothing which Redoes not disfigure—with error, sometimes of principle, sometimes of fact. He shows an incapacity of accuracy^ whether in stating the Constitution or in stating the law, whether in the details of statistics or the diversions of scholarship.- He cannot ope his mouth, but out there flies a blunder. Surely he ought to be familiar with the life of Franklin ; and yet he referred to this household character, while acting as agent of our fathers in England, aa above suspicion; and this was done that he might give point to a false contrasf with the agent ofJCansas—not knowing that, however they may differ in genius and fame, in this experience they are alike : that Franklin, when intrusted with the petition of Massachusetts Bay, was assaulted by a foul-mouthed speaker, where he could not be heard in defense, and denounced as a ‘ thief,’even as the agent of Kansas has been assaulted on this- floor, and denounced aa a‘forger.’ And let not the vanity of the Senator be inspired by the parallel with the British statesmen of that day ; for it is only in hostility to freedom that any parallel can be recognized. “ But it is against the people of Kansas that the sensibilities of the Senator are particularly aroused. Coming, as he announces, ‘ from a State’—ay, sir, from South Carolina —he turns with lordly disgust from this newly-formed community, which he will not recognize even as ‘ a body- politic.’ Pray, sir, by what title does he indulge in this egotism? Has he read the history of ‘the State’ which he represents ? He cannot surely have forgotten its shameful imbecility from Slavery, confessed throughout the Revolution, followed by its more shameful assumptions for Slavery since. He cannot have forgotten its wretched persistence in tire slave trade as the very apple of its eye, and the condition of its participation in the Union. He cannot have forgotten its Constitution, which is republican only in name, confirming power in the hands ot the few, and founding the qualifications of its legislators on r a settled freehold estate and ten negroes.’ And yet the Senator, to whom that ‘ State’ has in part committed the guardianship of its good name, instead of moving, with backward treading steps, to cover its nakedness, rushes forward, in the very ecstasy of madness, to expose it by provoking a comparison with Kansas!” * He charges the Senator from Massachusetts with garbling, misquoting, and misconstruing the constitution of South Carolina; defends the State and her revolutionary history from the aspersions of Mr. Sumner, and proceeds: But, sir, the Senator undertakes to say that, because I have advocated here the constitutional rights of the South and the equality of these States, I subjected myself to an imputation which I shall not read myself. It bears his own handiwork. Mr. Secretary, I beg your pardon for asking you to read such a thing as this, but it is your duty, not mine. The Secretary read the following extract from Mr. Sumner’s speech of May 19: i “But, before entering upon the argument, I must say something of a general character, particularly in response I to what has fallen from Senators who have raised themselves to eminence on this floor in championship of human wrongs ; I mean the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. Butler,] and the Senator from Illinois, [Mr. Douglas,] who, though unlike as Don QuixSte and Sancho Panza, yet, like this couple, sally forth together in the s^ime adventure. I regret much to miss the elder Senator from his seat; but the cause, against which he has run a tilt, with 1 such activity of animosity, demands that the opportunity of mon weal th, whilst, perhaps, the Senator who had been the cause of their introduction ought not to deserve my notice, and would not have received it. Well, sir, days passed, and those resolutions were not presented. Now, they have been presented, and presented in a different way from any that I have ever known to be submitted from any Commonwealth before. They were not presented by one of its Senators, but were sent directly to the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, I waited for some time with the expectation that, when these resolutions should come, I would acquit myself of the painful task which circumstances had devolved upon me. They did not come until yesterday— more than tw'o weeks after their adoption. In the mean time — on Monday last — I gave notice that I would address the Senate to-day, under the confident belief, not that the present Senator [Mr. Wilson] would be here—because I have nothing to do with him—but that the Senator who has been the aggressor, the criminal aggressor, in this matter, would be present; and if 1 give credence to the testimony of Dr. Boyle, I see no reason why he should not be present. For anything that appears in that testimony, if he had been an officer of the Army, and had not appeared the next day on the battle-field, he would have deserved to be cashiered. In proceeding with his preliminary remarks, .‘he expresses his surprise that the Senator from ^Massachusetts should have aimed his assaults at [Mr. Butler] individually and at South Carolina, and continues: Now, sir, I proceed to make my points; and I shall show that what the Senator said of myself, and’South Carolina, was not in response to anything which I said; that he has gone outside the record to bring into the debate matters which did not legitimately belong to it by association or connection. I will maintain these three propositions so certainly that, in my opinion, there will not be one mind here, unless it be disposed to morally perjure itself, which will not acquiesce in them. I will show that his remarks upon me and South Carolina were untrue and unjust; the language used was licentious; the spirit which prompted it was aggressive; and the whole tenor and tone of the speech dras malignant and insulting. In no speech which I have made during this session did I name Massachusetts or South Carolina. Tiiis is a most remarkable thing con- ; sidering the nature of the debate. I have culled what I said, and I have not introduced South Carolina by name into the debate, nor have I ..brought in Massachusetts. Yet, sir, this Senator . alludes to me in two paragraphs. I should like to know why he did not finish my picture in one sketch on the first day, when he spoke of me as being “ Don Quixote in love with slavery as a . mistress, because she was a harlot.” I dislike to repeat the obscenity of his illustration. When he had me under review then, why did he not ■finish me in that general sketch? He took another night; and during that night the chaotic concep- ,tions either emanated from his own mind or were suggested io it by those busy people who seem 7^-7077^

3 exposing him should not be lost; .and it is fer the cause that 1 speak. The Senator from South Carolina has read many books of chivalry, and believes himself a chivalrous knight, with sentiments of honor and courage. Of course he has chosen a mistress to whom he has made his vows, and who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him ; though polluted in the sight of the. world, is chaste in his sight—I mean the harlot Slavery. For her, his tongue is always profuse in words. Let her be impeached in character, or any proposition made to shut her out from the extension of her wantonness, and no extravagance of manner or hardihood of assertion is then top great for-this Senator. The frenzy of Don Quixote, in behalf of his wench Dulcinea del Toboso, is all surpassed. The asserted rights of Slavery, which shock equality of all kinds, are cloaked by a fantastic claim of equality. If the slave States cannot enjoy what, in mockery of the great fathers of the Republic, he misnames equality under the Constitution—in other words, the full pow^r in the National Territories to compel fellow-men to unpaid toil, to separate husband and wife, and to sell little children at the auction block—then, sir, the chivalric Senator will conduct the State of South Carolina out of the Union! Heroic knight! Exalted Senator 1 A second Moses come for a second exodus! • But not content with this poor menace, which we have been twice told was £ measured,’ the Senator, in the'Unrestrained chivalry of his nature, has undertaken to apply Opprobrious words to those who differ from him on this floor. He calls them ‘sectional and fanatical;’and opposition to the usurpation in Kansas, he denounces as £ an uncalculating fanaticism.’ To be sure, these charges lack all grace of originality, and all sentiment of truth ; but the adventurous Senator does not hesitate. He is the uncompromising, unblushing representative on this floor of a flagrant sectionalism, which now domineers over the Republic, and yet with a ludicrous ignorance of his own position —unable to see himself as others see him—or with an effrontery which even his white head ought not to protect from rebuke, he applies to those here who resist his sectionalism, the very epithet which designates himself. The men who strive to bring back the Government to its original policy, when Freedom and not Slavery was pational while Slavery and not Freedom was sectional, he arraigns as sectional. This will not do. It involves too great a perversion of terms. I tell that Senator, that it is to himself, and to the ‘ organization’ of which he is the ‘ committed advocate,’ that this epithet belongs. I now fasten it upon them. For myself, I care little for names; but since the question has been raised here, I affirm that the Republican party of the Union is in no just sense sectional, but, more than any other party, national; and that it now goes forth to dislodge from the high places of the Government the tyrannical sectionalism of which the Senator from South Carolina is one of the maddest zealots.” Mr. BUTLER. Now, Mr. President, how any man, who has not been excluded from society, could use such an illustration on this floor, I know not. I do not see how any man could obtain the consent of his own conscience to rise in the presence of a gallery of ladies and give to slavery the personification of "a “ mistress,” and ~say that I loved her because she was a “ harlot.” I beg pardon for repeating it. What in the name of justice and decency could have, ever led that man to use such language ? That is the language of Cleon. It is a somewhat remarkable thing, that in the speech which I delivered here in reply to the Senator from New Hampshire, I used the word “ slavery” but in one paragraph, and that was in response to a remark of his speaking of the Supreme Court as the citadel of slavery. I rebuked him. I said'I would rather regard that court as the defender or as the promontory of the Constitution; and that he was at too great a distance ever to reach it by any arrow which he •could discharge from his bow. Sectionalism was not in the speech itself. When I spoke of individuals in a particular section, I did not speak in terms which would imply or convey the idea that I meant the public of the slaveholding and nonslaveholding States. I confined it to that section who are suffering at this time, I hope to a limited ■ extent, and who are burning their fires until they will be reduced to the caustic ashes of disappoint- mentand disgrace.’ I did notspeakof sectionalism in any other point of view. Sir, there are men on this floor who I believe honestly differ from me. I would not make any personal allusion to them. Far from widening this controversy, the object of my speech was to appease public sentiment. In the course of it I ventured to say, what I h'ad never said before, that the man does not live who could look without concern at the consequences of a separation of these States effected in blood. I remarked that I would not aay there was not intelligence enough ultimately to form new governments and make them a union of confederacies. Sir, in that speech I attempted to throw oil upon the troubled waters. My friends in some measure blamed me for the tone of my remarks. The so-called reply was already in the sap, the poisonous sap behind, and the Senator had to use his speech as a conduit to pour it out on me and on the country, when he had less occasion than was presented by any speech whieh I ever before made. Anybody who says we are incapable of preserving free institutions,! should be inclined to consider a slanderer on free insti- ! tutions; but I will never agree to live in any Government that has not some operative and enford- ble provisions of a constitution to preserve my rights. If the Government were as it formerly was, South Carolina and Massachusetts having a common interest, do you think the Senator could arise as an adversary to be applauded by his people ? There was a time, sir, when his people would have disgraced him forthat very speech. At this day, I do not say they will acquit my kinsman; I dare say they will not; but the time is coming when there will be but one opinion—that that is the most mischievous speech which has ever been delivered in this country, and has involved more innocent persons. If the contest goes on upon such issues as it makes, blood must follow. I do not look on any such scenes with pleasure. I have not temper for them, though when a young man I might, perhaps, not have been indisposed to embark in the hazards ®f contests. Whilst upon this point, I may remark that Josiah Quincy, for whom I have heretofore had a great respect, says the Senator has not gone a hair’s breadth beyond the line of duty and truth. After my explanations here I hardly think he will say so. He is the only man of high respectability whom I have yet seen of heard make such a declaration. He made it, too, with a reproach I that I was sorry to see escape from such a man. I He said, alluding to the fracas in the Senate- I house, not in the Senate, that it is only a part of that tribe who carry bowie-knives and revolvers. I Sir, I never wore a secret weapon in my life. I | am not going to discuss the fact that I have used 1 open weapons; and that is the only way I choose to deal, but that is not the way we can get them, to deal with us, Unfortunately, I have had scenes of that kind which I have regretted all my life to some extent. I .am mortified to hear such a man as Quincy making a charge upon a whole section, when I question if there is a southern man in this House with a pistol or bowie-knife in his pocket. He -has gone out of the way gratuiW’j to say that

4 we are of a “ breed” who wear them as part of our dress. I am sorry to see such things creeping into the public mind. They mortify me; they annoy me. But now I come to the resolutions of Massachusetts. 1 ask that they be read. The Secretary read them as follows: Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In the year 1855. Resolves concerning the recent assault upon the Hou. Charles Sumner, al Washington. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of ■ the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, That we have received j] with deep concern, information of the recen (.violent assault I committed in the Senate Chamber at Washington. upon die person of the Hon, Charles Sumner, one of our Senators in Congress, by Preston S. Brooks, a member of the Bouse of Representatives from South Carolina;—an assault Which no provocation could justify—brutal and cowardly iij itself—a gross breach of parliamentary privilege—a ruthless attack upon the liberty' of speech—an outrage of the deceii- etes of civilized life, and an indignity to the Commonwealth j of Massachusetts. Resolved?, That the Legislature of Massachusetts, in the name of her freehand enlightened people, demands for her representatives in the National Legislature entire freedom of speech, ami will uphold them in the proper exercise of that essential right of American citizens. Resolved, That we approve of Mr. Sumner’s manliness •nd courage in his earnest anil fearless declaration of free i Ill d t lo soui|i Carolina, have 1 to look for the feeling'S gnnciples, and Uis delense of human nghts and tree tem- I w|^h diclatcd res„ludo„s. [ baVt t0 m?et Jory, Resolved, That the Legislature of Massachusetts isimper- •lively called upon by die plainest dictates of duty, from-a decent regard to the rights of her citizens, and respect t'or her Character as a soveietgn State, to demand, and the Legisjattireof Massachusetts hereby i a mi. mi m u . , . i i n । , za :bv does demand, of the national/ they be correct or not, I shall throw out. Our ~ ,............. _ . .. . ...___ „ . ........................... 1 .. .......Ur.. fS__ Congress, a prompt and strict investigation into the recent assault upon Senator Sunnier, and the expulsion by the House ofReprcsentativesof Mr. Brooks, of South Carolina, •ml any oilier member concerned with him in said assault. Resolved, That Ins excellency the Governor he requested to traiKum a copy of the foregoing resolves to the President Of tile Senate, amt Speaker ol The House of Representatives, and to each.of the Senators and members of the House of Reprwtimtives from this Common wealth, in the Congress of the United States. House of Bfthesbntatives, May29, 1855. Passed. Passed.. Approved. CHARLES A. PHELPS, Speaker. In Senate, May ,30, 1855. ELIHU C. BAKER, President. May 31,1856. HENRY J. GARDINER. Secretary’s Office, Boston, May 31, 1855. I certify the foregoing to be a true copy of the original resolves. Attest: FRANCIS DeWITT, Secretary of the Commonwealth. Mr, BUTLER. These resolutions give rise to more serious reflection than anything which has occurred to me in my time. 1 have been in the Senate for ten years, and this is the first occasion that 1 have ever seen one of the sovereign States of the Union taking cognizance of matters which Occurred in Congress, with a view to influence the judgment of Congress in relation to one of their members. This is the first occasion of the Kind in the history of the country. It has been done from an ex parte view of the subject; for it is now very apparent that the resolutions of Massachusetts were introduced and passed with- <tmt regard to the evidence. These resolutions anticipated and asserted what may not be true— what the public may not .think true—what the Senate may not think true—what the House of | Representatives may not think true; and yet the j one of the most eloquent decisions 1 ever read- sovereign State of Massachusetts, before there! “thattheHouse of Commons, by claiming a privwas any evidence, indicted my -relative upon rumor—a measure which would have taken Stafford to the gallows. What’ sirijndict a man in the language of these resolutions upon the rumor of newspapers? These resolutions— I suy it more in sorrow than in anger—betray a temper and precipitancy of judgment that do hot look like having a regard to that dignity which is associated with justice. I shall speak respectfully. So far as 1 have spoken of Massachusetts hitherto, no exception can be taken; but, when I speak of Massachusetts now, itunust be of Massachusetts as she has sent forth these resolutions—- under the influence of a feeling which pervades her—under the influence of a sentiment which denied Daniel Webstpr the right to speak in Faneuil Hall, and threw.oft'the coffin of Lincoln because he had fallen in performing his professional duties in the cause of his country. Boston now is not the Boston that she was when Hancock wrote, and Adams spoke, and Oris thought, and Warren fell. They would not recognize her. She is no more the same. -Yet, from that very hot- b>d of bitter feeling to the South, and especially • an indictment—for what? It is said that the lib— i ertyof speech has been violated. Upon that point । 1 intend to deliver some remarks which, whether ancestors were a people, of hardy morality. Generally, when they spoke, they spoke directly from the heart.. Such it thing as printing speeches beforehand, of having them printed without being uttered in the Senate, was unheard of in their day. They were men who stood on their legs, and spoke out. They had hearts and mouths. They । did not resort to the appliances of paper and print- I ing before they brought their speeches here. If the Senator from Massachusetts were present, and would answer me, 1 would put the question to him, “Was not that speech of yours printed and published before you spok" it m the Senate of the United States?’’ What «s the meaning of ■ tliat provision of the Constitution, which says I that a Senator, or a member of the House, for j any speech or debate in cither House, shall I not be questioned in any other place? Does it ! mean to give the Congress of the United States i the power of deciding what is privilege without I the courts questioning it? If so, it goes far be-- | yond the settled doctrine in Great Britain at this i day, which was maintained by Chief Justice i Denman, in the case of Stockdale vs. Hansard; i and that case has touch to do with the matter now i under consideration. Hansard had undertaken, ‘ under the authority of Parliament,.to publish a । book which contained a libel. Without such I license or privilege, all agreed that he wasrespons- : ible. The English House of Commons said that having granted him the license, it was their privilege. Chief Justice Denman took cognizance of the case, on the broad ground that the courts could determine what was privilege under the Constitution of England. He said: “ad a common law judge, 1 will show the Parliament whether I am not capable of d ciding on my responsibility asone of the great departments ofthis Government. Can it be maintained”— and it ia

ilege, shall thereby appropriate it to themselves, and screen a villain from the consequence of his libel ?” The judge said that although by the law of Parliament newspapers were passed through the country under the frank of members without paying postage, that privilege did not give them the right to make use of a newspaper as a libel. He uses the strong expression : “ God forbid that Parliament should afford such a pretext fordoing wrong.” I say the same thing now. Will you tell me that a member rising here and handing a speech, to the reporter, and telling him to print it, conn s within the purview of the Constitution? [las he uttered words in debate? Will you tell me that a member who has made a speech i of five sentences may append to it a newspaper [ like the Tribune, which has libeled me, and has ; the right to send through the post of this Government , and have folded by the persons employed in the folding-room at the public expense, into my daughter's parlor, that which would cost him his life if he told it to me? Has it come to this, that a Senator upon this floor can claim such an extensive privilege, under the law of Parliament, that he can semi off, by the twenty thousand, speeches to England and to the four corners of the globe, where l am not known,and then claim protection upon the ground that he has a privilege j which precludes him from being questioned else- ■ where for words spoken in debate? The liberty of speech and of the press is the great conservative element of a Republic; it is to the political, what fire is to the material world, a subservient and abluent minister, when under the eontrql of prudence and intelligence; but, when unchecked and unregulated, a consuming foe, withering and blasting everything along its pathway of ruin. Render freedom of speech tributary to the proprieties, decencies, and restraints of'social life, and you may crown it with all the ministries a nd supremacies of intcllectand liberty, but-release it from them, and it becomes a blind and maddened giant of evil, tearing down the bulwarks of social order, and desecrating the very sanctuary of republican liberty. What | would you think of a reckless man who should I set fire to his own house, or should go about H claiming t he privilege of throwing his fire where-[ ever he.couid among the most combustible ma- !■ tcrials, and say he bad the right to do so, on it the ground that he was a freeman, and could do ; as he pleased. Away with such liberty!- Liberty that is worth anything must be in-the harness of the law. Liberty of speech and liberty of the press must have two restraints. The first is the highest, which will always govern a class of men who cannot violate it- decency, and justice. •the obligations of honor, Another restraint upon licentiousness is that a man may publish and H as arc to be found in any part of the globe, speak what he pleases wdh a knowledge that !' his constituent. But. more than that, he has worn he is amenable to the tribunals of the law for jI the epaulet and the sword: he Ims marched under what lie lias done. Congress cannot pass any jI the Palmetto banner, and his countrymen hava Statute to say that men shall lint write against I [ awan.ed to him a sword for his good conduct in religion, or agniiist the Government, or against ![ the war with Mexico. That sword was m som^ p criminal recklessness, with a licentious indiflbr- ence to the feelings of individuals and the consequences upon society. 1 do not wish to live in ■ any community where it is otherwise. i The press is losing its power, and it ought to ' lose it; for it is now beginning to be an engine ] of private revenge, and’ individual expression, . instead of being a responsible organ of public, | opinion. Suppose I were to go to New York, | and indict one of the editors there whom I could j name, for the most atrocious libel that has ever i been uttered upon the South. I will not name i the editor, but he has uttered a sentiment akin to i one which has been expressed by the Senator [from Massachusetts. 1 saw in a New York 'paper—1 have alluded to it heretofore— a state- , ment that the southern States are too feeble and weak to take any part in a war—that all they can do is to take charge of their negroes! It said that if a war should take place between England and the United States, the English fleet would only have to go to the capes of the Chesapeake, and the effeminate masters would be kept at homa. Fifty thousand slaves, inured to toil, could be mustered.into service, and they would have the power to put their masters to the sword; and when the declaration of peace should come, the result would be the freedom of the slaves and the proscription of the masters! Suppose I should go into the community where this libel was uttered, and indict a man for such a sentiment us this, what would be the consequence in the present state of public opinion ? It is idlp, worse than idle, to talk about that as a remedy. Liberty of the press! Sir, that man has franked twenty thousand of his speech^; and some o them, if I am not misinformed, were printed long before'it was delivered. To bring him within tlte privileges of parliament is a mockery—a perfect mockery. Now, Mr. President, I approach another most painful part of this case, and l.come to it in no bad temper; for, God knows, if my heart could be read, there is no one who would sooner than myself have averted the state of things which now exists,if I could, consistently with myhonoy and the honor of the gentleman to whom I shall allude. The resolutions of Massachusetts undertook, before any evidence was heard, to pronounce sentence on Mr. Brocks. Sir, I will tell you who Mr. Brooks is, and why he felt so deeply in reference to these abominable libels. I do hot allude to him now as my hereditary kinsman; I think that is the smallest view to take of the matter; but 1 am his constituent. 1 live in “ Niticiy-six”— a district through which, if you pass, you will read- upon the toinbstoncsvpitaphs which would reproach him for tame and ignominious submission to wrong and to insult. He has as proud and intelligent a constituency I am individuals. Neithercan Congress passu low, nor it measure committed to him, that he might, use can any State pass a law depriving the tribunalsit, when occasion required, to maintain t he honor rof the country of the right of saying whether ['and the dignity of his State. When he heard of you have gone beyond the limits of liberty, and il this speech first,and read itafterwards, this young have used your power, under that name, with J man, in passing down the street, heard but oi*®

6 Sir, that sentiment was uttered at a time when clergymen confined themselves to the pulpit, and preached against crime and vice; when they did not use the pulpit as a recruiting station to issue Sharpe’s rifles, and to mingle in all >he bitter strife of the forum and the Agora. It was uttered when Boston knew how to respect the feelings of others. I concur in all that is said by Mr. Dexter. I deprecate blood and violence. I will not utter i all that my heart prompts me to say, for fear of ■ encouraging young men; but this I will say, that no son of mine should ever submit to insult without satisfaction. At this point, on a suggestion of Mr. Clay, the honorable Senator yielded the floor, and the Senate adjourned. The day succeeding, Mr. Butler continued: I said yesterday that my friend, my representative, my relative, one. who is associated with me by more ties than either of these—had taken redress in. his own hands—had resorted to his own mode of redress. I said that there were considerations connected with the occasion which, though they could not justify him before a legal tribunal, would excuse any man of his character and position, representing such constituents as he represented, and bound in some measure to sympathize with the opinions of the section with which he is associated. It was impossible that he could separate himself from those conclusions which othersmight notappreciate, and some could ! not understand. But I say that gentleman dare not—I do not say 1 would have advised him—■ but in his estimation he could not go home and face such a constituency without incurring what' is the worst of all judgments—the judgment of the country against a man who is placed as a sentinel to represent it. If, in the course of these proceedings and the events which have grown out of the speech which has been made by the Senator, it shall be said that Massachusetts can be justified by falling back on an opinion which will justify her Senators and Representatives, it is, I must be permitted to say, one of the unfortunate symptoms of the times in regard to which we have no common tribunal to decide between us. Sir, it seems to indicate a crisis when the opinion of the constituency of one portion of the Confederacy ap- . plauds one whilst it is ready to consume and put to the stake another. We have always suppos’ed 1 that public opinion would be right; and sir, I distinguish public opinion very much from popular prejudice. Popular prejudice is that which would consume in ignorance to-day, what it would repent of to-morrow. Public opinion is i the judgment of an intelligent community, not : formed under the excitement of the moment. It : is not the sentiment of an irresponsible multi- 1 tude; it is not the sentiment of an ex parte decision; it is notthe judgment which can find its way into the history of the country, or which posterity will adopt as that which ought to be pronounced on the occasion. Public opinion is the highest, the gravest, the most solemn judgment to which any of us can defer. I would not give one cent for what is called public opinion, if it depended, upon ex parte views of any subject. And I say t that the resolutions which have been sent here sentiment, and it was, that his State and his blood had been insulted. He could not go into the drawing-room, or parlor, or into a reading-room, without the street commentary reproaching him. Wherever he went, the question was asked, “Has the chivalry of South Carolina escaped, and this to be a tame submission ?” What advice I would have given him I do not now undertake to say. But, sir, when this was said to this gentleman ' wherever he went, he felt that if something was J not done he could not face his constituents without losing his usefulness, and without there being । a taint on his honor and on his courage. He may have been mistaken in some respects. His I coming into the Senate house was no option of his. When he formed his determination, as I am informed,—and I have kept aloof from conversation with him,—-I judge from the evidence he had no purpose to profane the Senate house. I say the Senate house had been profaned before. Thad rather to-morrow take, ten blows inflicted on my body, than have the gas of the rhetorician poured out upon my character and State. The Senator from Massachusetts -chose to make his place here one from which to assail the history and reputation of South Carolina, and to assail an absent constituent of the gentleman who has taken redress into his own hands. In such a condition of things who could be placed in a situation more difficult? Surely, Mr. President, something is to be the feelings of a man acting under sensibility, and under the dictates of high honor. If any one was here, placed in a situation to feel the touching appeal made by the ghost to Hamlet, “If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not,” he was the man. Now, I ask the Secretary to read the extract ,winch I have marked in the book which I send to him, and I do not intend to say where it comes from till it is read. The Secretary read as follows: wDo not believe that I am inculcating opinions, tending to disturb the peace of society. On the contrary, they are the principles that can preserve it. It is more dangerous for the laws to give security to a man, disposed to commit outrages on the persons of his fellow-citizens, than to au- thorize those, who must otherwise meet irreparable injury, to defend themselves at every hazard. Men of eminent talents and virtue, on whose exertions, in perilous times, t&e honor and happiness of their country must depend, will always be Hable to be degraded by every daring miscreant, if they cannot defend themselves from personal insult and outrage. Men of this description must always feel, that to submit to degradation and dishonor is impossible. Nor is this feeling confined to men of that eminent grade. We I have thousands in our country who possess this spirit; and without them we should soon deservedly cease to exist as an irSfiependent nation. I respect the laws of my country, and revere the precepts of our holy religion; I should shudder at shedding human blood; I would practice moderation and forbearance, to avoid so terrible a calamity; yet, should I ever be driven to that impassable point, where degradation Md disgrace begin, may this arm shrink palsied from its socket if I fail to defend my own honor 1” Mr. BUTLER. Who uttered that sentiment? It is the sentiment of a gentleman whose speeches have always commended him to me. It is a sentiment worthy of the ancient days of Boston when Dexter spoke. This is a northern man speaking; arid I adopt his language. J say with him that, when things “ tend to that impassable point where degradation and disgrace begin, may my arm shriek palsied from its socket if I fail to defend ■ my own honor! ” I

7 from the Legislature of Massachusetts, are not only ex^parte, but I am sdkry to say that I fear : their* counselors were prejudice and malignity, even giving their counsels through the darkness of ignorance. I do not mean ignorance so far as regards the body individually, for I have no. doubt it is intelligent enough; but I mean ignorance, so far as regards pronouncing a judgment without understanding the facts on which that judgment ought to turn. I say that my friend has been condemned without a hearing. He has been condemned by a judgment which, if suffered to go into history uncontradicted, unexamined, and unrefuted, would consign him to a fate which his character does not deserve, and shall not receive as long as I can stand Here as his friend and advocate. But, yir, before I approach the constitutional and legal view of these resolutions, I must acquit myself of the duty which I in some measure assumed yesterday evening, of presenting to the public the circumstances under which the fracas, as it is termed, or the assault, on the Senator from Massachusetts, occurred. I said that my friend and relative was not in the Senate when the speech was being delivered, but he was summoned, here, as I have learned from others. Hewas excited and stung by the street rumors and the street coriimentaries, and by the conversations in the parlors, where even ladies pronounced a judgment; and, sir, woman never fails to pronounce a judgment where honor is concerned, and it is always in favor of the redress of a wrong. I would trust to the instinct of woman upon subjects of this kind. He could not go into a parlor, or drawing-room, or to a dinner party, where he did not find an implied reproach that there was an unmanly submission to an insult to his State and his countrymen. Sir, it ■was hard for any man, much less-for a man of his temperament, to bear this. I intended to reserve a commentary which Vias at once made on the speech of the Senator from Massachusetts as the most important part of my ; conclusion; but I find that I can apply it at no better time than this. I allude to the commentary which was pronounced at the time; not when a I controversy had arisen; not when it was supposed 1 that the temptations of an adversary, or ev«n the public mind, had so far made an issue that he was obliged to take one side or the other; but it was pronounced by a gentleman of distinguished position , a sage, a patriot, a man who had won laurels in the field, and justly deserved to be considered the Nestor of the Senate. Sir, the remarks made by the member from Michigan [Mr. Cass] struck' me as the most consuming piece of criticism; and I think, taking it all into consideration, it would be more terrible to me than all the arguments of an advocate, and all the array that could be brought on one side or the other. It was the testimony of Voluntary justice. “I have listened”—said that distinguished gentleman, [Mr. Cass,] who had worn the sword and the robes of the Senate, with distinction and dignity—“ with equal regret and surprise to the speech of the honorable Senator from Massachusetts. Such a ' speech—the most un-American and unpatriotic that ever grated on ears of the members of this high bodiy—as I hope never to hear again, here or elsewhere. But, sir, I did not । rise to make any comments on the speech of the honorable Senator, open as it is to the highest ■and disapprobation.” I am not as young a man as Mr. Sumner, not do I pretend to be in a condition to defy or place myself against the testimony which would put i into operation a current of public opinion, such as was pronounced by the honorable Senator from Michigan in his place; but, sir, I can say, that, with my nature, I could not have slept that night on my pillow with such a censure and such a criticism pronounced in the Senate of the United States. I should have been ready to send a message to make atonement in some way. I should have wiped out, as far as I could, by repentance and atonement, the unmanly aggression and insult which had been offered, and was concensure ; demned by the highest authority. I do not undertake to say what was the opinion of that 1 Senator, but I can quote from his Sta,te the most consuming judgment I ever heard pronounced. The sentiments expressed in the paragraph to which I allude, and in others, show that when the effervescence of popular prejudice shall have subsided, this case might be tried, even in Massachusetts itself. I should not be afraid to try it there. They are not slaves to be governed by fanatical madness. One of the journals there, in a remarkably well-written article, which I adopt, says: “ Charles Sumner’s recent speeches in the United States Senate have not in any respect enhanced his reputation as a man, as a debater, of as a statesman. It is impossible, it seems to us, for any fair-minded man, who loves truth and regards honor and decency, to read these effusions, all reeking with falsehoods, bitterness and wrath, and indecency, without feeling that Massachusetts has been disgraced by an unworthy son in the Senate Chamber, before the country and in the face of the world. We venture the assertion that no parallel to these vituperative outbursts of Sumner can be found in the annals of Congress, nor in the records of any legislative assembly in the world. Overpowering passion, madness itself, seems to have bereft him of his senses, and left him oblivious of truth' and hopor, of the courtesies of intelligent and dignified debate, and of the proprieties of civilized life. We do not, we cannotf use terms too strong in relation to this matter. It is not the character of Charles Sumner alone that is involved. The fair fame of Massachusetts suffers. Whatever may have been the political errors of Massachusetts, she has ever, heretofore, been represented in the Senate of the United States, and we might also say in the House of Representatives, by men, statesmen— Webster, Winthrop, Everett, Choate, Davis, and Bates— who knew their rights, and knowing dared to maintain, and maintained them with courtesy, dignity, and ability, in such a manner as to command the respect of their opponents, the applause of their friends, and the admiration of all their countrymen.” I knew some of the gentlemen here named, and. I should never be afraid to meet them in debate anywhere, because with them I should never apprehend the assaults of calumny and slander. I cajinot be reduced to such an issue that I must discount calumny and slander by the language of a blackguard. If it be the theory of gentlemen that when one uses language in debate transcending the sphere prescribed byproprietyandjustice, we are to resort to the same mode for redressand. satisfaction, I am a non-combatant; I cannot enter into a controversy with gentlemen in which they are to bandy words. These remarks are not without their direction. I have used them to show what was the impression on the public mind at the time when the assault was committed.' Mr. Bingham, a friend

8 of Mr. Sumner I presume, says in his testimony i derer.’ ” A single murder is horrible. It may that on hearing the speech lie anticipated stfme- ' take a single individual from society. But when thing. It was the general impression of the 1 I look at the mischievous influence of slander, I whole community that he deserved to receive a find that it pervades a whole community; makes chastisement; or, at least, that he was bound to । war in society; sets family against family; indi- make atonement in some way for the insults and j vidual against individual; section against section, the wantonness of his insults to a gentleman (as j It is the most cowardly mode tn which a war I hope I am) then absent. This was the common ' ' ' ’ sentiment-pervading the public mind at Washington. What was my friend to do? Sue him ? Indict him ? If that was the mode in which he intended to take redress, he had better never go to South Carolina again. Was he to challenge him ? That would have been an exhibition of Chivalry having no meaning. Although he has been upon the field, both in open war and in a private affair, I should be very sorry to see any crisis requiring it again. A challenge would have been an .advertisement to the world of his courage, when there was not a probability of its being tried; He would have made himself contemptible, and perhaps might have been committed to the peni- ; had adjourned, tentiary for sending a challenge. | A™. .1__ ... Then, what course was left to him to pursue? j Legislature. He was half a minute in bis proem Mr. Sumner had opportunities enough to make | or explanation. He saidMr. Sumner, I have an apology. God knows I could not have resisted i read your speech. 1 have read it carefully, with the admonitory criticism of the distinguished : - -----' ----- :1 - - 1 ' ------- 1 " ' Senator from Michigan, perhaps the most imposing authority in the Senate. He paid no regard to him, and for a very good reason: his speech was written, and had gone out, and he could not contradict what he had sent forth tothe public with malice aforethought. Well, sir, what did Mr. Brooks do? It is said he sought Mr. Sumner in the Senate Chamber. It is the last place in which he wished to seek him. He would have met him in an open combat, on a fair field, and under a free sky, at any time. And when the Legislature of Massachusetts chooses to say that his conduct is cowardly, let her try him in. any way she chooses. [Applause.] Sir, a man who occupies a place in the Senate, representing a great Commonwealth like Massachusetts, or representing any State, as one of her Senators, occupies a very high position, from which he can send forth to the public what may affect the character of almost any man, except General Washington, or some one upon whose character the verdict of history has been rendered. There is scarcely any man who can withstand the slander which may be pronounced from the Senate Chamber of the United Slates. For this reason I would never look, and f never have looked, beyond the public position of a member here, to go into his private and personal character. I would not do it, because by so doing 1 should do a wrong which I could not redress. Even a word escaping my tongue in this CJiam- ber, as a Senator, might go far to injure a man where he could not correct it. Wearein aposition which requires high considerations for the regulation of our conduct. I agree thoroughly with General Jackson, that the slanderer who involves third persons in difficulty and danger, is an incendiary, against whom we should guard more than any one else, in a parliamentary point of view. I will quote General Jackson’s language. He said: “ Over the doors of each House of Congress, in letters of gold, should be inscribed the > words, ‘ The Slanderer is worse than the Mur- ] can be conducted. With the state of opinion to which 1 have alluded prevailing, what did Mr. Brooks do? Of course he did nqt undertake to challenge Mr. Sumner to a fist fight, ora stick fight, or any other kind of fight. He thought Mr. Sumner deserved a castigation, and he undertook to give it to him according to the old-fashioned notion, by caning him. J have not heard Mr. Brooks detail the I circumstances. I have not conversed with him j in regard to the matter; I take my information ; from the published testimony. Mr. Brooks, not ; finding him anywhere else, came to hijn while | he was sitting in his seat here, after the Senate L . He carncsto him in front—differ- ! ent fromthe statement made to the Massachusetts ; as much consideration, and forbearance, and fair- | ness as I could; but, sir, I have come to punish i you now for the contents of that speech, which i is a libel on my State, and on a gray-haired rel- ! ative.” Instinct would have prompted most men to rise immediately. Mr. Sumner did rise. In । the act of rising, Mr. Brooks struck him across I the face—not, as has been represented, over his head, for that is not the truth, nor is it borne out by the testimony. On the second stroke the cane -broke. It is the misfortune of Mr. Brooks to have incurred all the epithets which have been used in regard to an assassin-like and bludgeon attack, by the mere accident of having a foolish stick, which broke. It broke again; and it was : not, as I understand, until it came very near the j handle, that he inflicted blows which he would ■ not have inflicted if he bad an- ordinary weapon of a kind which would have been a security ’ 1 against breaking. His design was to whip him; । but the stick broke, and that has brought upon , ,him»these imputations. ; It has gone through the country that Mr. Brooks struck him after he was prostrate on the ; floor. None who know this young man could, entertain such an idea, 1 have known him from childhood. I used to have some control overhim; t but the scholar has become the master, and I sup- ; pose he would not care much about, my advice : now. By an hereditary tie our families are more 1 closely united than any two with whom I hava j been acquainted. Bui that is far apart from the . question. Independent of his filial feelings for ; me, and his regard for me as his constituent and ; Senator, 1 have no doubt that a persona) feeling i of regard for myself individually influenced him. | He approached that man with no other purpose than to disgrace him as far as he could; but the stick broke. After it broke he was reduced to a kind of necessity—a contingency not appre- , bended at all in the original inception of the pur- I pose of making the assault. Notwithstanding all that has been said of his brutality, he is one ; of the best tempered fellows 1 ever knew—impctu-