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Article 3 (Dec 2018): You think politics are tough now...
December 20, 2018Imagine a political climate that is so hostile and divisive that legislators find themselves picking fights on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
No, that didn't happen last week.
It was 221 years ago on Jan 30, 1798 when the first fight broke out on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, only to be followed by a second fight the next month. And before you ask, it wasn't Democrats versus Republicans. In fact it was a Democratic-Republican (a single political party) versus a Federalist. Democratic-Republican Matthew Lyon of Vermont spit in the face of Federalist Roger Griswold of Connecticut. And that happened because Griswold had called Lyon a coward. The event caused a stir, but troubles really ignited Feb. 15, 1798, when Griswold, the one who was spit on, took a hickory stick and beat the daylights out of Lyon.
Lyon, the spitter in the previous battle, was not going to take that so he got a pair of tongs from the fireplace and went after Griswold. Congressmen broke up the fight but Lyon evidently kept his tongs because minutes later he went after Griswold again and the fight was on.
The second famous fight was in 1856 when Democrat Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina, caned to unconsciousness his Republican opponent from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner. Sumner, the Republican, whose party was founded to fight slavery, had ignited Preston's ire by bad-mouthing Preston's uncle over his support of slavery. Seems Sumner said the uncle took to himself an ugly mistress and harlot called Slavery.
The issue of slavery caused two more brawls in succeeding years among Republican anti-slavery crusaders and Democrat pro-slavery factions.
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