As Charles Sumner (1811-1874), Republican senator from Massachusetts, sat writing at his desk in the Senate Chamber in May of 1856, he was brutally assaulted by Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina. Angered by Sumner's "Crimes against Kansas" speech, in which Sumner had criticized Brooks' uncle, South Carolina senator Andrew Butler, Brooks struck Sumner repeatedly with his heavy cane. Sumner's long absence from the Senate to recuperate from the attack served as a powerful symbol of the tensions between North and South in the years before the Civil War. Sumner later returned to the Senate, where he authored the nation's first civil rights legislation. He died in 1874.