The History of the Butterfly, part 104: Grinnell Gets Rattaned

June 13, 1866 was a pretty momentous day in the United States Congress.  On that day, Congress passed the bill that would become the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

The 14th amendment is pretty significant.  The 13th abolished slavery, but the 14th insured that states were not able to pass laws that made the freed slaves some other class of citizen.  It established that all persons born in the United States were citizens by virtue of their birth.  It was written specifically to overturn the Dred Scott V. Sandford of the Supreme Court, and it was used later to rule that segregation in schools was unconstitutional (Brown v Board of Education).

The Civil War had been over for slightly more than a year.  Slavery had been abolished.  Congress was working on a lot of significant issues and debates were quite heated.

On June 14, 1866, Kentucky representative Lovell Rousseau, armed with a loaded pistol and accompanied by a couple of men who also conspicuously carried pistols, walked up to the representative from Iowa, Josiah B. Grinnell and asked him to apologize for statements he had made in an earlier debate.  Grinnell either didn’t answer him or refused to give an apology (depending on whose account you believe).

Not getting the response he wanted, Mr. Rousseau struck J. B. Grinnell with the metal handle of his cane.  He struck him five or six times, breaking the cane in the process.

Mr. Grinnell was badly bruised and bloodied, but he picked up what remained of the cane and walked away, leaving Rousseau and his armed friends in the rotunda of the capitol.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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