I did not make it up.
Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina
beat Senator Charles Sumner unconscious on the floor of the U.S. Senate
while fellow Congressman Laurence Keitt held a pistol on the crowd.
Congressman Anson Burlingame, not present during the beating,
denounced Brooks as a “vile coward.” Cane-weilding Brooks
immediately challenged Burlingame to a duel.
Burlingame accepted without hesitation.
As the challenged party, Burlingame chose rifles as
the weapons and the US Navy yard on the Canadian side of
Niagara Falls to be the site. (As U.S. law did not allow duels,
the Canadian site was a necessity.)
Brooks, dismayed by Burlingame’s enthusiastic acceptance
and his reputation as a crack shot, neglected to show up for the duel.
He died of the croup 8 months later at the age of 37.
Pistol-wielding Congressman Keitt died of wounds received
while fighting for the Confederacy.
Senator Sumner was unable to return to his Senate duties for more than three years while he recovered from the attack. Upon his return he became a high-profile Republican alongside Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and served our nation with distinction during the early years of Reconstruction.
In 1861 Abraham Lincoln appointed Anson Burlingame to be minister to the Qing Empire of China. In a series of speeches made across the United States, Burlingame advocated the equal treatment of China and a welcoming stance toward Chinese immigrants. He died unexpectedly at age 50.