Brooks, Preston (Smith)(1819–1857) U.S. representative; born in Edgefield, S.C. A gentleman farmer, lawyer, and veteran of the Mexican War (1846–48), he served in Congress (Dem., S.C.; 1853–57). When Senator Charles Sumner (Mass.) vilified his uncle, A. P. Butler, in heated debate over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, Brooks retaliated by smashing Sumner's head with his cane. The 1856 incident became the focus of partisan antagonism between the North and South, and although Congress failed to expel Brooks, he died a year later.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.