The Caning

The Caning

The Assault That Drove America to Civil War

Book - 2012
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"Early in the afternoon of May 22, 1856, ardent pro-slavery Congressman Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina strode into the United States Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C., and began beating renowned anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner with a gold-topped walking cane. Brooks struck again and again -- more than thirty times across Sumner's head, face, and shoulders -- until his cane splintered into pieces and the helpless Massachusetts senator, having nearly wrenched his desk from its fixed base, lay unconscious and covered in blood. It was a retaliatory attack. Forty-eight hours earlier, Sumner had concluded a speech on the Senate floor that had spanned two days, during which he vilified Southern slaveowners for violence occurring in Kansas, called Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois a "noise-some, squat, and nameless animal, " and famously charged Brooks' second cousin, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, as having "a mistress. . . who ugly to others, is always lovely to him. . . . I mean, the harlot, Slavery." Brooks not only shattered his cane during the beating, but also destroyed any pretense of civility between North and South. One of the most shocking and provocative events in American history, the caning convinced each side that the gulf between them was unbridgeable and that they could no longer discuss their vast differences of opinion regarding slavery on any reasonable level. The Caning: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War tells the incredible story of this transformative event. While Sumner eventually recovered after a lengthy convalescence, compromise had suffered a mortal blow. Moderate voices were drowned out completely; extremist views accelerated, became intractable, and locked both sides on a tragic collision course. The caning had an enormous impact on the events that followed over the next four years: the meteoric rise of the Republican Party and Abraham Lincoln; the Dred Scott decision; the increasing militancy of abolitionists, notably John Brown's actions; and the secession of the Southern states and the founding of the Confederacy. As a result of the caning, the country was pushed, inexorably and unstoppably, to war. Many factors conspired to cause the Civil War, but it was the caning that made conflict and disunion unavoidable five years later."-- Publisher's description.
Publisher: Yardley, Pennsylvania : Westholme, 2012.
ISBN: 9781594161643
Characteristics: xvii, 374 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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gogirl1313 Feb 13, 2015

I love, love, love, love (I would go on but my fingers are getting tired) this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's a must-have for any history lover, like me. I only found out about this whole event in history a few days ago in my Social Studies class, and I became hooked on its intriguing depth right from the start. I was dying to know more, and the internet could only provide so much information. I haven't finished the entire book yet (only got it yesterday), but so far so good! The book provides all the background information and consequences in rich detail. Again, I LOVE this book!!!!

Dec 15, 2012

While I'm not completely convinced by the author's argument that the caning was the event that made civil war inevitable, he does an excellent job of putting the incident in the context of the times. He is at his best in portraying all the participants fairly - warts and all - and in conveying to the reader the different viewpoints. After reading this book, I can understand how both sides of the slavery debate could convince themselves that compromise was impossible. Recommended for anyone interested in the Civil War or US history.


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