On May 19th and 20th 1856, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts rose and gave a 5 hour speech in which he attacked the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854, along with the supporters of it. Namely, South Carolina democrat Andrew Butler. This speech is seen as one of the key indicators of increasing hostilities between North and South in the run up to the Civil War.
After the speech was delivered, Sumner was attacked at his desk by Preston Brooks, relative of Butler, caning him nearly death in the middle of the Senate chamber, only leaving when his cane finally broke. Southerners then sent Brooks more canes to show how much they appreciated what he did.
This caning of Sumner would go on to be remembered as one of the most visual descriptions of how the South would react violently to anyone questioning the expansion of slavery.
This speech is one of the most important of the 1850s and antebellum America as it lays out the Republican opposition to not only slavery, but with it democrats and the Kansas Nebraska Act. It is essential reading for any American History classroom.