Stop the Revival of Sedition

Feb 2, 2021

photo: Harriet Ross Tubman

By Randy Shannon | PDA: PA 17th CD Chapter, Treasurer,  PA Coordinator, National Board Secretary, and HealthCare4AllPA, Board of Directors

On May 21, 1856 several hundred local slave holders attacked and ransacked Lawrence, KS, a town established in 1854 by abolitionists from MA funded by the New England Emigrant Aid Society. Two anti-slavery newspaper offices were destroyed and the Free State Hotel was burned. The pro-slavery mob flew state flags of SC and AL and flags inscribed “Southern Rights” and “Supremacy of the White Race.”

Republican Sen. Charles Sumner of MA

On May 19th at the Capitol, Republican Sen. Charles Sumner of MA delivered his two-day “Crime against Kansas” speech. “…It is the rape of a virgin Territory, compelling it to the hateful embrace of slavery; and it may be clearly traced to a depraved desire for a new Slave State, hideous offspring of such a crime, in the hope of adding to the power of slavery in the National Government.”

On May 22nd Rep. Preston Brooks of SC entered the Senate chamber with two fellow pro-slavery Representatives. Brooks then assaulted Senator Sumner beating him severely on the head as he sat in his desk. The initial blows blinded Sumner and he fell under his desk. Sumner ripped the desk from its bolts and staggered up the aisle blinded by his own blood as Brooks continued the beating. As Brooks beat Sumner across the head, face, and shoulders “to the full extent of my power” his cane snapped. As Sumner collapsed unconscious Brooks grabbed his lapel to hold him up and continue to beat him with the metal head of the broken cane. It took years for Sumner to recover but MA voters re-elected him.

Sumner’s speech had condemned the slave state Senators and Democrat Sen. Stephen Douglas of IL who had authored the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Act repealed the Missouri Compromise that outlawed slavery in the new territories acquired by the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. This Act was supported by the powerful railroad magnates in the North and the Slave Aristocracy in the South. It was signed into law by Pres. Pierce May 30, 1854. During the months long debate some Southern Congressmen brandished pistols and threatened “free soil” Congressmen. 

Frederick Douglass

Four years after Sumner’s brush with death, Rep. Preston Brooks’ SC began a military assault against the US Government at Fort Sumter. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Sen. Sumner and many other heroic abolitionists had swung the majority of small farmers and workers against slavery to defeat Stephen Douglas and elect Abraham Lincoln President in 1860.

In January 2021, one hundred and sixty-five years after the brutal assault on Sumner, his historic heirs assaulted the US Congress and Senate as it counted the votes of the 2020 Presidential election. For the first time ever, the flag of the slaveocracy flew in the US Capitol. The assault was organized by the new far-right Republican Party and funded by reactionary oligarchs. They elected new Members of Congress that echo the irrational violent behavior of their slave-holding forebears and helped prepare the assault. As the 117th Congress opened, these racist extremist Members are singling out Representatives of color and progressive Democratic members for harassment and threats of violence. Their aggressions are encouraged by the flow of social media death threats and death threats made public by far-right Senators and Representatives, a reflection of the seditious slave-holding cabal. These violent extremist Members are not being disciplined. They have not been censured, or reprimanded, or expelled.

If we look at America for what it is, it’s clear that reactionary anti-democratic forces are continuing their drive to wreck the constitutional government with the January insurrection a prelude. They have selected the Democratic socialist and progressive representatives as their prime target. The goal is to silence progressive Democrats, make them ineffective through fear, and mobilize voters to defeat them next year. Beyond that, assassination is openly discussed and endorsed. Republican Members were recently stopped from carrying loaded weapons onto the House floor when the Speaker installed metal detectors at the entrance for Members.

Progressive Democrats must focus on the expulsion of Members who are threatening and harassing fellow Members of Congress. The priority is a majority vote in the House for H.Res.25: “Directing the Committee on Ethics to investigate…whether…actions taken by Members of the 117th Congress who sought to overturn the 2020 Presidential election violated their oath of office…and face removal from the House of Representatives. 

Beyond this immediate response we should support local efforts to recall these seditious right wingers as well as support any and all challengers. We must avoid focusing on a few individuals and on the moment; this is the resurgence of the dark evil inhuman forces suppressed by years of struggle, but not destroyed. These evil forces are being revived, like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, by massive injections of cash and the ravings of the wealthiest oligarchs in America. Their goal is to establish an authoritarian regime. 


  1. Pat Sebes

    I have grave concern for our democratic freedom after a violent right wing mob assaulted the Capital on Jan. 6, 2021. I support HR 25. These radical republicans must be investigated as to their actions in voting to overturn the 2020 Preaidntial election. They no longer know the importance of our constitution and see fit to abuse it to carry out their destructive plan to destroy democracy.

    Good read- this could happen at any time now.

  2. David Keeler

    I support HR 25. Members of the Congress who swore an oath to uphold & defend the Constitution and then renounce that oath in their opposition to the proscribed procedures of that document should no longer be entitled to serve in the Congress established by the Constitution.

    Excellent read Randy, thank you !