United States Congress members killed or wounded in office

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John L. Magee's lithography demonstrates Northern outrage over Brooks's attack on Sumner

Since the United States Congress was established with the 1st Congress in 1789, thirteen of its members have been killed while in office by people seeking to do them harm, and nine members have suffered serious injuries as a result of such attacks. The members of Congress included in this list were either injured or killed by someone intending to do them serious harm, or there is a serious claim that there was a lethal intent from an unknown assailant (such as the two congressmen who died of National Hotel Disease). The earliest a member of Congress was killed or wounded while in office was 1831 when Spencer Pettis was killed in a duel and the most recent death occurred in 1983 when a plane carrying Larry McDonald was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. The most recent Congress member to be wounded was Gabrielle Giffords who was seriously injured during the 2011 Tucson shooting.

Out of the thirteen Congress members killed in office, all of them were male and ten were Democrats while three were Republicans. Three members died in duels, and a total of eight (five members of the House of Representatives and three senators) died due to gunshot wounds.

Nine Congress members have been wounded while in office. Three of the wounded were Republicans, five were Democrats, and one was a member of the Free Soil Party. Only one was a woman, and only three were senators. Five of those injured were wounded during the 1954 United States Capitol shooting incident.

Lists[edit]

Killed[edit]

Party colors:       Democratic       Republican

Member State
(district)
Date of incident Perpetrator(s) Incident
Spencer Pettis   Missouri
(1st at-large seat)
August 28, 1831 Thomas Biddle Both Pettis and Biddle sustained fatal gunshot wounds during a duel on Bloody Island in Illinois.[1]
Jonathan Cilley   Jonathan Cilley Maine
(3rd district)
February 24, 1838 William Graves Cilley was shot by Graves, the Whig Congressman from Kentucky's 8th district, during a duel on the Marlboro Pike in Maryland.[1]
John Montgomery   Pennsylvania
(12th district)
April 24, 1857 Unknown (disputed) Several people staying at the National Hotel in Washington, D.C., died of National Hotel Disease during this time period. It is disputed whether the "disease" was due to deliberate poisoning or accidental food poisoning.[1]
John Quitman   John Quitman Mississippi
(5th district)
July 17, 1858
David Broderick   David Broderick California
(senator)
September 13, 1859 David Terry Broderick and Terry, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, took part in a duel in San Francisco. Broderick was shot and died three days later.[1]
Edward Baker   Edward Baker Oregon
(senator)
October 21, 1861 7th Brigade, 4th Division of the Confederate Army of the Potomac (under the command of Nathan Evans) Baker died during the Battle of Ball's Bluff, while assigned command of a brigade in Brigadier General Charles Pomeroy Stone's division, guarding fords along the Potomac River in Virginia. The Confederate soldiers were commanded by Brigadier General Nathan George Evans.[2][3]
Cornelius Hamilton   Cornelius S. Hamilton (ancestry.com).jpg Ohio
(8th district)
December 22, 1867 Thomas Hamilton Hamilton was killed by his insane 18-year-old son, Thomas, in Marysville, Ohio.[1][4]
James Hinds   Arkansas
(2nd district)
October 22, 1868 George Clark Hinds was killed in Indian Bays in Monroe County, Arkansas, after being shot in the back by George A. Clark, a member of the Ku Klux Klan and the secretary of the Democratic committee of the county.[1][5][6]
John Pinckney   John Pinckney Texas
(8th district)
April 24, 1905 Unknown (riot started by J. N. Brown) A political event in Hempstead, Texas, turned violent when one of the participants, J. N. Brown, began shooting. Other attendees began to shoot as well and a riot broke out. Pinckney, his brother Tom, and Brown were all killed at the scene.[1][7]
Huey Long   Huey Long Louisiana
(senator)
September 8, 1935 Carl Weiss (disputed) Long died two days after Weiss fired a handgun at him at close range inside the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge. More recent evidence suggests that Long's bodyguards may have accidentally shot and killed Long when they opened fire on Weiss, who was killed at the scene.[8][9]
Robert Kennedy   Robert Kennedy New York
(senator)
June 5, 1968 Sirhan Sirhan Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after giving a speech for his presidential campaign; he died about 25 hours later.[10]
Leo Ryan   Leo Ryan California
(11th district)
November 18, 1978 Peoples Temple (under the direction of Jim Jones) While on an official visit to Guyana to investigate the activities of the Peoples Temple cult led by Jim Jones, Ryan was shot multiple times while boarding an airplane leaving Jonestown.[11]
Larry McDonald   Larry McDonald Georgia
(7th district)
September 1, 1983 Soviet Far East District Air Defense Forces (under orders from Anatoly Kornukov) McDonald was a passenger on board Korean Air Lines Flight 007 which was shot down over the Sea of Japan near Sakhalin island by Soviet interceptors per the orders of General Kornukov, Commander of Sokol Air Base.[12]

Wounded[edit]

Party colors:       Democratic       Free Soil       Republican

Member State
(district)
Date of incident Perpetrator(s) Incident
Charles Sumner   Charles Sumner Massachusetts
(senator)
May 22, 1856 Preston Brooks Representative Preston Brooks, a Democrat from South Carolina's 4th district, assaulted Sumner with a cane on the floor of the Senate in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The attack followed Sumner's verbal attacks on pro-slavery politicians.[13]
Josiah Grinnell   Josiah Grinnell Iowa
(4th district)
June 14, 1866 Lovell Rousseau Grinnell was assaulted with an iron-tipped cane by Rousseau, an Unconditional Unionist Congressman from Kentucky's 7th district, on the east portico of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in retaliation for derogatory statements he made earlier. Grinnell was pummeled on the "head and face until the cane broke," and was heavily bruised.[14]
Alvin Bentley   Alvin Bentley Michigan
(8th district)
March 1, 1954 Rafael Cancel Miranda,
Andres Figueroa Cordero,
Irving Flores Rodríguez,
Lolita Lebrón
Armed Puerto Rican nationalists shot the representatives from the Ladies Gallery of the House of Representatives in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.[15]
Clifford Davis   Clifford Davis Tennessee
(10th district)
George Fallon   George Fallon Maryland
(4th district)
Ben Jensen   Ben Jensen Iowa
(7th district)
Kenneth Roberts   Kenneth Roberts Alabama
(4th district)
John Stennis   John Stennis Mississippi
(senator)
January 29, 1973 Unknown (two young men) Stennis was shot twice outside his home in Washington, D.C. during a mugging.[16]
Gabrielle Giffords   Gabrielle Giffords Arizona
(8th district)
January 8, 2011 Jared Loughner Giffords was shot in the head during the 2011 Tucson shooting, which occurred at a constituency meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobes, Arizona.[17]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Amer, Mildred (2002-03-14). "Members of the U.S. Congress Who Have Died of Other Than Natural Causes While in Office" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  2. ^ "BAKER, Edward Dickinson, (1811 - 1861)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  3. ^ "Brig. Gen. Nathan George "Shanks" Evans". Marion County, SC in the War Between the States. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  4. ^ "The Murder of Mr. Hamilton.". The New York Times. 1867-12-26. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  5. ^ Foner, Eric (March 1989). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. New York City: Harper & Row. p. 342. ISBN 978-0-06-093716-4. OCLC 48074168. 
  6. ^ Stanton, Amanda. "James Hinds (1833–1868)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. The Central Arkansas Library System. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  7. ^ "Congressman Pickney Shot in a Texas Riot". The New York Times. 1905-04-25. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  8. ^ "Huey Long's Assassination". Huey Long: The Man, His Mission, and Legacy. Long Legacy Project. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  9. ^ Unsolved Mysteries: Who Shot Huey Long? (Television production). 1993. 
  10. ^ "KENNEDY, Robert Francis, (1925 - 1968)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  11. ^ United States House of Representatives; Foreign Affairs Committee (1979-05-15). "Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee report on Ryan's assassination". Report of a Staff Investigative Group to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. United States Congress. 
  12. ^ Wilkes, Jr., Donald E. (2003-09-03). "The Death Flight of Larry McDonald". Flagpole Magazine. pp. 7, 9. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  13. ^ "SUMNER, Charles, (1811 - 1874)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved 2011-01-12. 
  14. ^ "Historical Highlights: Representative Lovell H. Rousseau assaults Representative Josiah B. Grinnell". Office of History and Preservation of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  15. ^ Barone, Michael and Ujifusa, Grant (1993). The Almanac of American Politics 1994. Washington, D.C.: National Journal Group. p. 749. ISBN 0-89234-057-6. OCLC 32984467. 
  16. ^ "Senator From Mississippi Reported As Very Serious". Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Associated Press. 1973-02-01. Retrieved 2011-05-09. 
  17. ^ Halloran, Liz (2011-01-08). "'Vitriol' Cited As Possible Factor In Arizona Tragedy". NPR. Retrieved 2011-01-12.