Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I wanted nothing more of vampires or politics. To think of all that I had missed whiling away the hours in Washington! How much of Eddy's brief, beautiful life had escaped my notice! No... never again. Simplicity! That was the oath I swore now. Family! That was my errand. (9.14)
Senator Charles Sumner lay unconscious on the Senate floor, facedown in a pool of his own blood.
The abolitionist had been attacked by a thirty-seven-year-old congressman named Preston Smith Brooks, a proslavery South Carolinian who'd taken offense at the Massachusetts senator's mocking of his uncle in an antislavery speech two days earlier. On May 22nd, 1856, Brooks entered the Senate chamber accompanied by a fellow South Carolina congressman named Laurence Keitt and approached Sumner at his writing desk. "Mr. Sumner," said Brooks, "I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." Before Sumner had a chance to reply, Brooks began to beat his head with his gold-tipped cane, opening new gashes with each blow. Blinded by his own blood, Sumner staggered to his feet before collapsing. His victim now unconscious and bleeding, Brooks continued to strike until his cane broke in two. As horrified senators rushed to Sumner's aid, they were held back by Keitt, who brandished a pistol and yelled, "Let them be!"
The blows fractured Sumner's skull and vertebrae. He would live but wouldn't be able to return to his Senate duties for three years. When South Carolinians heard of the attack, they sent Brooks new canes by the dozen. (9.35-7)
I am happy to make a speech or two; happy to lend my pen where it is needed. But I am happy. And happiness, I have decided, is a noble ambition. I have lost too much already, and have been a slave to vampires these thirty years. Let me now be free. Let me now seek the enjoyment of whatever time God may grant me. And if this peace be merely prelude to some peril or other, so be it. I shall enjoy the peace. (9.38)