Since the United States Congress was established with the 1st Congress in 1789, fifteen of its members have been killed while in office, and thirteen have suffered serious injuries from attacks. The members of Congress were either injured or killed by someone intending serious harm, or there is evidence of lethal intent by an unknown assailant (such as the two congressmen who died of the National Hotel disease). The first member of Congress to be killed or wounded in office was Henry Wharton Conway who was killed in a duel in 1827. The most recent death occurred in 1983 when Korean Air Lines Flight 007, carrying Larry McDonald, was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. The most recent Congress member to be injured was Rand Paul who was tackled from behind by his neighbor in 2017.
All of the 15 Congressmen killed in office were male and 10 were Democrats, four were Republicans, and one was a Democratic-Republican. Four members died in duels, and a total of ten (three senators, six members of the House of Representatives, and one territory delegate to the House) died from gunshot wounds.
Thirteen Congress members have been wounded while in office. Six of the wounded were Republicans, five were Democrats, and one member each from the Anti-Jacksonian and Whig parties. One was a woman, and four were senators. Five of those injured were wounded during the 1954 United States Capitol shooting incident.
Party colors: Democratic-Republican Democratic Republican
|Date of incident||Perpetrator(s)||Incident|
|Henry Wharton Conway|| Arkansas Territory |
|October 29, 1827||Robert Crittenden||Conway died eleven days after being shot in the chest during a duel with Crittenden near the confluence of the White and Mississippi rivers.|
|Spencer Darwin 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.|
|Jonathan Cilley|| Maine |
|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.|
|John Gallagher Montgomery||–|| Pennsylvania |
|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.|
|John A. Quitman|| Mississippi |
|July 17, 1858|
|David Colbreth Broderick|| California |
|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.|
|Edward Dickinson Baker|| Oregon |
|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.|
|Cornelius S. Hamilton|| Ohio |
|December 22, 1867||Thomas Hamilton||Hamilton was killed by his insane 18-year-old son, Thomas, in Marysville, Ohio.|
|James M. Hinds|| Arkansas |
|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.|
|Thomas Haughey|| Alabama |
|July 31, 1869||Collins (first name not known)||At a speech by Haughey in Courtland, Alabama, he and Collins got into an argument. This escalated into a fist fight and ended with Collins shooting Haughey in the stomach. Haughey died five days later.|
|John M. Pinckney|| Texas |
|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.|
|Huey Long|| Louisiana |
|September 8, 1935||Carl Weiss||Long died two days after Weiss fired a handgun at him at close range inside the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.|
|Robert F. Kennedy|| New York |
|June 5, 1968||Sirhan Sirhan||Kennedy was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after giving his victory speech in the California primary; he died about 25 hours later.|
|Leo Ryan|| California |
|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 group led by Jim Jones, Ryan was shot multiple times while boarding an airplane leaving Jonestown.|
|Larry McDonald|| Georgia |
|September 1, 1983||Soviet Far East District Air Defense Forces||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 on the orders of General Kornukov, Commander of Sokol Air Base.|
Party colors: Anti-Jacksonian Democratic Republican Whig
|Date of incident||Perpetrator(s)||Incident|
|William Stanbery|| Ohio |
|April 13, 1832||Sam Houston||After Stanbery accused Houston of profiteering off Andrew Jackson's forced relocation of Native Americans, Houston confronted Stanbery in Washington, D.C. and beat him repeatedly with a hickory walking stick. During the fight Stanbery pulled a gun, placed it on Houston's chest, and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired.|
|Alexander H. Stephens|| Georgia |
|September 4, 1848||Francis H. Cone||Francis Cone, an Associate Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, called Stephens a "traitor to the South" due to Stephens' move to table the Clayton Compromise. When confronted about this in front of Atlanta's Thompson Hotel, Stephens struck Cone with his walking stick and Cone responded by stabbing Stephens 6 times in the hand and chest.|
|Charles Sumner|| Massachusetts |
|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.|
|Josiah Bushnell Grinnell|| Iowa |
|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.|
|Alvin Morell Bentley|| Michigan |
|March 1, 1954|| Rafael Cancel Miranda,|
Andres Figueroa Cordero,
|1954 Capitol shooting: Armed Puerto Rican nationalists shot the representatives from the Ladies Gallery of the House of Representatives in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.|
|Clifford Davis|| Tennessee |
|George Hyde Fallon|| Maryland |
|Ben F. Jensen|| Iowa |
|Kenneth A. Roberts|| Alabama |
|John C. Stennis|| Mississippi |
|January 29, 1973||Tyrone Marshall, John Marshall, Derrick Holloway||Stennis was shot twice outside his home in Washington, D.C. during a mugging.|
|Gabrielle Giffords|| Arizona |
|January 8, 2011||Jared Lee 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.|
|Steve Scalise|| Louisiana |
|June 14, 2017||James T. Hodgkinson III||Scalise was shot in the hip by a gunman using a rifle during a practice session for the 2017 Congressional Baseball Game at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia.|
|Rand Paul|| Kentucky |
|November 3, 2017||Rene Boucher||Paul was tackled from behind by his neighbor, Rene Boucher, during an altercation. Paul sustained five fractured ribs, including three displaced fractures, as well as "cuts around his mouth".|
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