On this date in 1856 Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was savagely beaten on the floor of the Senate by South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks. The beating was prompted by Sumner’s two-day speech against slavery and specifically called out three of his fellow senators by name as being particularly heinous. One of those senators, South Carolina Senator Andrew P. Butler, was old, sick and absent. His cousin Preston Brooks decided to defend his honor and attacked Sumner while he was seated at his desk. Unable to free his legs from under the deck Sumner was defenseless and had to be rescued by other senators who dragged Brooks off of him. Brooks became an instant hero in the South. An effort to expel Brooks from the House failed but he was convicted of assault in a Washington D.C. court and fined $300. It was three years before Sumner recovered enough to be able to return to the Senate.