Back to Results
Historical Highlights

The Near Duel Between Representatives Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania and Lawrence Branch of North Carolina

December 29, 1859
The Near Duel Between Representatives Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania and Lawrence Branch of North Carolina Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
On this date, in the midst of a contentious Speaker contest and a disorganized House, Representative Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania verbally skewered Representative Lawrence Branch of North Carolina during House Floor debate. Earlier that week, Representative Branch had charged that Grow purposely defeated a Post Office Appropriations bill to force President James Buchanan to call for an extra session of Congress. Disinclined to ignore such insults and to let things blow over, Grow prepared his rebuttal and requested to address the House. “I sought the floor at this time, Mr. Clerk, not for the purpose of engaging in the general discussion of any political questions,” Grow said, “My only object now is to respond briefly to the remarks made some days since by the Gentleman from North Carolina.” Monopolizing the House Floor, the two exchanged insults and questioned whom had acted in the in the more ungentlemanly manner. Grow enraged Branch to the point that he later challenged Grow to a duel. While dueling in the District of Columbia had been outlawed since the late 1830s, individuals could still travel across the District line to Maryland. Away from the prying eyes of the public and press, the North Carolina Member issued the challenge and arranged the details. The combatants, with their associates (Branch’s were Laurence Keitt of South Carolina and Roger Pryor of Virginia; Grow’s were De Witt Giddings of Texas and Reuben Fenton of New York), agreed to meet near the Silver Spring, Maryland, home of Francis P. Blair, Sr., the editor of the Congressional Globe, on Saturday December 31, at 11:00 am. But police received a tip about the pending violence. Armed with an arrest warrant, District of Columbia Police tracked down and arrested Branch, Grow, and their seconds before the event. The court freed each man on a $5,000 bond warning them, “to keep the peace and not leave the District to fight a duel.”

Related Highlight Subjects

Blog Post

February 6, 2014

I've Scalped Him?