WI Judge/Congressman in Fist Fight on Floor of Congress

Today’s Odd Wisconsin reminds us that things sometimes got a bit heated – and bloody – on the floor of the U.S. Congress back in the 1800s.

A bloody melee broke out on February 8, 1858, that brought fame to Wisconsin congressman John F. Potter . The House was engaged that day in a heated debate over sectional issues. Northern representatives outnumbered those from the South and they pressed their parliamentary advantage, infuriating the few Southerners present. A fist fight between two members quickly turned into a general brawl, and during the fray Potter pulled the wig off an opponent’s head. At this, a cry went up in the gallery that Potter had “taken a scalp.” Read more.

Potter was a Republican member of the Wisconsin state assembly in 1856, a state court judge in Wisconsin, and a U.S. Representative from the Wisconsin 1st District from 1857 until 1863.