Yesterday youll remember we

January 21, 2003 9:36 a.m.

Yesterday, you’ll remember, we discussed Richard T. Hines, a political ally of President Bush, who provided key support in mauling John McCain in South Carolina in 2000. According to, he is also the likely force behind the President’s decision to resume the practice of sending a wreath to honor the memory of Jefferson Davis on Memorial Day.

Now if you think back to your high school or college American history classes, you may remember the caning of Charles Sumner, one of most infamous moments in the lead-up to the Civil War. Sumner was Senator from Massachusetts and an ardent anti-slavery ‘Whig’ — a soon to be defunct political party which was in some ways the predecessor of the Republican party.

In any case, in the Spring of 1856, Sumner delivered a long and explosive speech entitled ‘Crime Against Kansas’ on whether Kansas should be admitted into the union as a free or slave state. Three days later a South Carolina congressman, Preston Brooks, came into the Senate chamber while Sumner was at his desk and proceeded to beat him over the head with a gold-topped cane. For the key few moments it took Brooks to inflict the first blows Sumner was partially trapped under the desk where he was at work franking copies of his speech — staffs weren’t quite so large as they are these days. After that Brooks proceeded to beat the now thoroughly bloodied Sumner into unconsciousness. It took Sumner years to recuperate — the Bay State left his seat unoccupied during that time — and he was partly disabled by the incident for the rest of his life. In most of the country the incident became a symbol of the barbarity of the ‘slave power’ and its propensity to resort to violence in defense of the ‘peculiar institution.’ Among Southern ‘fire-eaters‘, Brooks was embraced as a hero.

Here — just added to the TPM Document Collection — is President Bush’s political ally Richard T. Hines’ celebration of the attack (“The Caning of Charles Sumner: Blows Struck for the South“) in — where else? — the Southern Partisan magazine.

“Mr. Hines, a member of the Reagan administration, tells us how Southerners handle Yankees who don’t treat us with respect,” says the intro …

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