Southern Chivalry Argument Versus Clubs

Southern Chivalry Argument Versus Clubs

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On May 22, 1856, during the Bleeding Kansas crisis, Massachusetts Republican Senator Charles Sumner delivered a speech to Congress in which he denounced the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and demanded that Kansas be admitted to the Union as a free state. In his oration, he verbally attacked the pro-slavery South Carolina Senator, Andrew Butler, and called into question the man’s code of Southern chivalry, accusing him of taking slavery as his mistress. Two days later, Preston Brooks, a South Carolina Congressman and also Butler’s cousin, nearly beat Sumner to death on the Senate floor with a cane. Responses to the attack in the North and the South further polarized the people of the nation, leading it further down the path to war.
In the print, Brooks uses a bloody cane to strike the Massachusetts Senator, who has fallen out of his chair and lies on the ground below the Southerner, bleeding from gashes on his forehead. He holds in his right hand a quill he had been using to write on a document containing the word, “Kansas.” Behind the struggle, other Congressmen look on, appearing either disgusted or delighted. In the back left, Brooks’ fellow South Carolinian Representative, Laurence M. Keitt, prevents a bystander from interrupting.
The illustration is signed in the lower left hand corner by John L. Magee. Born in New York around 1820, Magee was initially employed by the lithographic firms of James Baillie and Nathaniel Currier. He started his own business in New York in 1850, but moved to Philadelphia sometime shortly after 1852. He was known for his political cartoons, which he produced until the 1860s.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
date made
ca 1856
Sumner, Charles
Brooks, Preston Smith
Magee, John L.
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
ink (overall material)
image: 9 1/4 in x 16 in; 23.495 cm x 40.64 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Communication, letter writing
U.S. National Government, legislative branch
Political Caricatures
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Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Clothing & Accessories
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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