In July 1856, the House voted on a motion to expel Representative Preston Brooks
of South Carolina from Congress for his violent attack two months before against Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner—whom he beat severely with a walking cane. Expulsion, the most serious form of congressional discipline, requires two-thirds of the House to vote for a Member’s removal from office. As this tally sheet shows, the House did not achieve the two-thirds vote necessary to strip Brooks of his seat, with 121 Members voting to expel him and 95 voting against removal. Later the same day, Brooks resigned in protest, remarking, “they have written me down upon the history of the country as worthy of expulsion, and in no unkindness I must tell them that for all future time my self-respect requires that I shall pass them as strangers.” Brooks wasn’t a stranger to the House for long; South Carolina returned him to his vacated seat in a special election held at the end of July.