The Graduate Center - City University of New York

Arguments of the Chivalry.

In this print, Winslow Homer portrays the May 22, 1856 attack and beating of antislavery Massachusetts Republican Senator Charles Sumner by Democratic Representative Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina. Brooks's assault was provoked by Sumner's insulting remarks about Democratic senators Andrew Pickens Butler (Brooks's cousin) and Stephen A. Douglas during the debate over the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In one of his first political drawings at the age of twenty, Homer depicted an enraged Brooks caning the seated Sumner in the Senate chamber (right) while Georgia Senator Robert Toombs (far left) and Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas (hands in pockets) watched, making no move to intervene. Inscribed at the top of the print is a quote from abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher's May 31, 1856 speech supporting Sumner: "The symbol of the North is the pen; the symbol of the South is the bludgeon." The Homer scholar David Tatham suggests that the print may not actually have been released at the time of the incident.

Creator: Winslow Homer

Date: 1856?

Publisher: Boston: John H. Bufford(?)

Source: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress