Preston Brooks

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Preston Smith Brooks (August 5, 1819 – January 27, 1857) was a Democratic Congressman from South Carolina. Brooks is primarily remembered for his severe beating of Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the United States Senate with a gutta-percha cane, delivered in response to an anti-slavery speech in which Sumner compared Brook's relative, South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, to Don Quixote, which Brooks interpreted as a humiliation laden with sexual innuendo.

Early life

Born in Roseland, Edgefield County, South Carolina, he was the son of Whitfield and Mary Parsons-Carroll Brooks. Brooks attended South Carolina College (now known as the University of South Carolina) but was expelled just before graduation for threatening local police officers with firearms. He was admitted to the Bar in 1845. Brooks served in the Mexican-American War with the Palmetto Regiment. Brooks once fought a duel with future Texas Senator Louis T. Wigfall and was shot in the hip, forcing him to use a walking cane for the rest of his life.


  • First marriage: Caroline Harper Means (1820–1843). Brooks was widowed upon her death.
    • Children: Whitfield D. Brooks (1843–1843).

  • Second marriage: Martha Caroline Means......
  • ...

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