The Ruffians in the Senate.

South Carolina has its barbarians as well as ancient Gaul. The brutal soldiery of Brennus were the types of the ruffians of Slavery. Those first dishonored the Roman Senators with personal violence, and slaughtered them as they sat in their curule chairs. These have degraded the American Senate, and brutally applying force to repress freedom of debate upon the subject of Slavery, have murderously clubbed a Massachusetts Senator in his seat, till he was insensible. For the first time has the extreme discipline of the Plantation been introduced into the Senate of the United States. Is there not some Camilus to make it the last time, and to assure the dignity of that body, and the political freedom of the Nation?

No severity of language -- no violence of debate, -- could furnish any excuse for the assault of the ruffian Brooks upon Mr. Sumner. But in this case there is wanting altogether the usual apology of the provocation of unjustly severe and aggressive speech. Every man who has sat in the Senate Chamber and seen and heard Butler of South Carolina, during the discussion of any question touching Slavery, knows well that Mr. Sumner's picture of him in his great speech, is not exaggerated, but is toned down, and altogether moderate. The South Carolinian's manner, his speech, his appearance, excite in a Northern gentleman, mingled feelings of astonishmemt, anger, and disgust. Insolent, dictatorial and contemptuous -- with the head of a half-breed and the voice and temper of an overseer -- painfully discordant in his exhibition of young violence coursing through a trembling and bent form, and agitating whitened locks hanging over his maroon face as well as down his shoulders -- the South Carolina Senator brow-beats and flies at every opponent of Slavery Propagandism, and spits coarse abuse upon every measure of Freedom, and cracks his plantation whip at the greatest and best men in this nation. His customary demeanor in the American Senate, is the most humiliating spectacle in the city of Washington. The picture of him in Mr. Sumner's speech is but an outline sketch. A likeness would have excited astonishment in all, accustomed to think of Daniel Webster, William H. Seward, Silas Wright, John Bell, Lewis Cass, and Henry Clay in connection with this Senate of the United States.

But the assault upon Mr. Sumner was not on account of the injured vanity of the Southern Senator. It was the resentment of his speech. It was the answer to his argument against Slavery -- an answer already fearfully common, and which threatens to be the ultima ratio of Southern logic throughout the Republic. The Editor of the Tribune was replied to with the rifle and the bowie-knife -- the question of self-Government in the Western Territories the South proposes to debate with ball cartridges and bayonets. No. The logic of the Plantation, brute violence and might, has at last risen where it was inevitable it should rise to -- the Senate of the United States. If we are not virtuous and firm, in the discharge of our duty to ourselves and the Republic, to strangle this serpent of Slavery Extension, it will fold us at every point in its grasp. State liberty can not long survive the extinguishment of Federal freedom. And is the Senate of the United States no longer free to the North?




Transcribed and reverse-order proofed by T. Lloyd Benson, Department of History, Furman University, from the Albany, New York, Evening Journal, 23 May 1856.