November 12, 2003

Imagine if this happened today

Reader Pete asked how many Senators had become President...which made me think of another question: How many Senators drew a gun on another Senator on the floor of the Senate?

(Because, of course, that is the next logical leap. I digress.)

Just one that I've heard of, which occurred during debates on the Compromise of 1850:

Senators Henry S. Foote of Mississippi and Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri detested each other. The personal attacks upon one another had become so bad that Benton took the floor and forbade Foote from mentioning his name in Congress again.

After Benton's declaration he took his seat and Foote rose to launch an attack upon his colleague. As soon as Foote spoke Benton's name, Benton started for him. Foote moved to the aisle of the Senate where he drew his pistol, cocked it, and pointed it at Benton.

Two other Senators tried to stop Benton, but he kept walking towards Foote, who backed up to the Vice President's seat. Finally Benton stopped, opened his shirt, and yelled, "Let him fire! Stand out of the way! I have no pistol! I disdain to carry arms! Stand out of the way, and let the assassin fire!"

Foote was disarmed and later claimed he thought Benton was armed too. A committee investigated the incident, criticized both men, but recommended no action against the pair.

Posted by Jennifer at November 12, 2003 12:14 PM