The Caning of Charles Sumner: Honor, Idealism, and the Origins of the Civil War

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $8.57
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 57%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $8.57   
  • New (12) from $8.59   
  • Used (4) from $8.57   

Overview

A signal, violent event in the history of the United States Congress, the caning of Charles Sumner on the Senate floor embodied the complex North-South cultural divide of the mid-nineteenth century. Williamjames Hull Hoffer's vivid account of the brutal act demonstrates just how far the sections had drifted apart and explains why the coming war was so difficult to avoid.

Sumner, a noted abolitionist and gifted speaker, was seated at his Senate desk on May 22, 1856, when Democratic Congressman Preston S. Brooks approached, pulled out a gutta-percha walking stick, and struck him on the head. Brooks continued to beat the stunned Sumner, forcing him to the ground and repeatedly striking him even as the cane shattered. He then pursued the bloodied, staggering Republican senator up the Senate aisle until Sumner collapsed at the feet of Congressman Edwin B. Morgan. Colleagues of the two intervened only after Brooks appeared intent on beating the unconscious Sumner severely—and, perhaps, to death.

Sumner's crime? Speaking passionately about the evils of slavery, which dishonored both the South and Brooks’s relative, Senator Andrew P. Butler. Celebrated in the South for the act, Brooks was fined only three hundred dollars, dying a year later of a throat infection. Sumner recovered and served out a distinguished Senate career until his death in 1873.

Hoffer's narrative recounts the caning and its aftermath, explores the depths of the differences between free and slave states in 1856, and explains the workings of the Southern honor culture as opposed to Yankee idealism. Hoffer helps us understand why Brooks would take such great offense at a political speech and why he chose a cane—instead of dueling with pistols or swords—to meet his obligation under the South’s prevailing code of honor. He discusses why the courts meted out a comparatively light sentence. He addresses the importance of the event in the national crisis and shows why such actions are not quite as alien to today’s politics as they might at first seem.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Hoffer, professor of history, recounts preceding events, the attack itself, as well as the aftermath in an excellent work of historical analysis... This will be a valuable addition to Civil War collections.
Midwest Book Review
An extraordinary and valuable study of what these events of history reveal not only about America of the past, but also America of today, The Caning of Charles Sumner is highly recommended especially for college library collections and American Civil War shelves.
Teaching History: A Journal of Methods
The short length, subject, and writing style of The Caning of Charles Sumner will make this text a staple in survey and upper-level American history classes alike.

— Mary Ellen Pethel

Teaching History: A Journal of Methods - Mary Ellen Pethel
The short length, subject, and writing style of The Caning of Charles Sumner will make this text a staple in survey and upper-level American history classes alike.
South Carolina Historical Magazine - Tommy C. Brown
The Caning of Charles Sumner should appeal to both academics and non-academics, but it is perhaps most useful as a supplemental text in undergraduate American history survey courses. The book likewise would be a welcome addition to reading lists in graduate seminars, especially those on the Old South or the Civil War.
H-Law, H-Net Reviews - Martin Hardeman
The Caning of Charles Sumner attempts to place the incident as well as its primary figures within their temporal, cultural, moral, and ethical contexts... In its careful analysis of the evidence and its generally balanced conclusions, the author has succeeded.
Journal of Southern History - Christopher J. Olsen
His smooth style will allow students to engage with the material.
Midwest Book Review

An extraordinary and valuable study of what these events of history reveal not only about America of the past, but also America of today, The Caning of Charles Sumner is highly recommended especially for college library collections and American Civil War shelves.

Booklist

This will be a valuable addition to Civil War collections.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801894695
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2010
  • Series: Witness to History
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 569,226
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Williamjames Hull Hoffer is an associate professor of history at Seton Hall University and the author of To Enlarge the Machinery of Government: Congressional Debates and the Growth of the American State, 1858–1891, also published by Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 One Minute 7

2 A Machine That Would Go of Itself? 36

3 Immediate Aftermath 66

4 A Long, Winding Road 96

5 Honor, Idealism, and Inevitability 123

Epilogue 131

Acknowledgments 135

Notes 137

Essay on Sources 141

Index 149

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)