A looming sense of foreboding in America


"Is America headed for another Civil War?" Americans are wondering: Was James Hodgkinson, who nearly murdered Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a precursor of more like him to come?

In the past, such bad actors have been a portent to wider destruction, as was the caning of Republican Pennsylvania Senator Charles Sumner on May 22, 1865, on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Sumner, a strict abolitionist, was attacked by Democrat Representative Preston Brooks from South Carolina after Sumner criticized slave holders. The brutal caning, that nearly killed Sumner, is seen today as representative of the decline in political civility that eventually led to the American Civil War.