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Gun nuts in Congress
November 10, 2013 - Harry Eagar
How it used to be:
"Congress in those days (the decades before the Civil War) could have easily been mistaken for a Western saloon. 'Every man on the floor of both Houses is armed with a revolver,' reported Senator James Hammond of South Carolina, 'and some with two revolvers and a Bowie knife.' Senator Benjamin Wade of Ohio even carried a sawed-off shotgun. When a pistol concealed in one House member's desk accidentally discharged, there were instantly 'fully thirty or forty pistols in the air, recalled Representative William Holman of Indiana, who was present." (from Michael Farquhar, "A Treasury of Great American Scandals")
This gives a different coloration to Webster's "Reply to Hayne," which schoolboys of 7 or 8 generations ago (in the North) used to memorize.
Despite all the artillery, nobody got shot on the floor of Congress until 1954 when Puerto Rican nationalists shot 5.
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Webster delivering the Reply to Hayne