Meet a brawl involving 50 congressmen on the US House floor in 1858. It ended when someone knocked off a man’s wig and the man accidentally put it back on backwards, causing both sides to laugh and stop fighting.

Laurence M. Keitt

On February 5, 1858, Keitt started a massive brawl on the House floor during a tense late-night debate. Keitt, offended by Pennsylvania Congressman (and later Speaker of the House) Galusha A. Grow, a Republican, having stepped over to the Democratic side of the House chamber, dismissively demanded that Grow sit down, calling him a “black Republican puppy”. Grow responded by telling Keitt that “No negro-driver shall crack his whip over me.” Keitt became enraged and went for Grow’s throat, shouting that he would “choke [him] for that”. A large brawl involving approximately 50 representatives erupted on the House floor, ending only when a missed punch from Rep. Cadwallader Washburn of Wisconsin upended the hairpiece of Rep. William Barksd… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

12 thoughts on “Meet a brawl involving 50 congressmen on the US House floor in 1858. It ended when someone knocked off a man’s wig and the man accidentally put it back on backwards, causing both sides to laugh and stop fighting.”

  1. neworleanssaintsfan

    From the article:

    > On February 5, 1858, Keitt started a massive brawl on the House floor during a tense late-night debate. Keitt, offended by Pennsylvania Congressman (and later Speaker of the House) Galusha A. Grow, a Republican, having stepped over to the Democratic side of the House chamber, dismissively demanded that Grow sit down, calling him a “black Republican puppy”. Grow responded by telling Keitt that “No negro-driver shall crack his whip over me.” Keitt became enraged and went for Grow’s throat, shouting that he would “choke [him] for that”. A large brawl involving approximately 50 representatives erupted on the House floor, ending only when a missed punch from Rep. Cadwallader Washburn of Wisconsin upended the hairpiece of Rep. William Barksdale of Mississippi. The embarrassed Barksdale accidentally replaced the wig backwards, causing both sides to erupt in spontaneous laughter.

  2. FranksRedWorkAccount

    the take away is that congress used to be much more functional?

  3. rkit27

    Where’s live telecast when you want one

  4. RJPeaches

    Don’t tell anyone.

    -David Spade

  5. WhoDatHowSo

    That was also a time where people [drank alcohol](https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31741615), mostly spirits, like we drink water today. It won’t surprise me a bit if the lawmakers were intoxicated and threw haymakers at each other like it was a pub brawl regularly.

  6. BigBobby2016

    Who would stop to fix their wig in the middle of a fistfight?

  7. beefyesquire

    Our Congress is full of people so old they probably remember this first hand.

  8. loki1337

    Nobody speak, nobody gettin choked

  9. saltedfish

    Good to know laughter brings us all together

  10. Thugzz_Bunny

    I wish this is how congress still was. I’d watch cspan every day.

  11. TwoCentFriend

    I’m not saying that violence solves everything but I think congress might be actually be a little more civil if brawling was allowed.
    Plus, I’d kinda like to see Bernie Sanders and McConnell go at it live on CSpan.

  12. TheQuarrelsomeEmu

    Methinks that not enough is being made of the fact that these dudes were legit walking around with names like Galusha and Cadwallader.

    Like, that was a thing. The more you know.

Leave a Comment