Brooks was the first son of one of the most influential planter families of South Carolina. He attended Moses Waddel School in Willington, and then the South Carolina College, which he was expelled in 1839 but not finish because he had tried to free his brother by force of arms from prison. In 1840 he was involved in a duel with the subsequent Senator Louis Wigfall, where he was wounded in the hip, which he was all his life dependent on a cane as a walking aid. In 1841 he married Caroline H. Means, who still died the same year. From the following marriage with her cousin Martha C. Means four children.
1845 was Brooks ' admission to the Bar Association and, with the election in the House of Representatives of South Carolina, the beginning of his political career. At the outbreak of the Mexican - American War in 1846, he enlisted as a captain for the Palmetto Regiment, but a typhoid fever prevented his participation in the struggle. Brooks was in 1853 elected to the House of Representatives of the United States.
The attack on Mr Sumner
On May 20, 1856 Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts held in connection with the violent events in Kansas a speech in Congress, in which he attacked the conditions in the south sharp and Senator Andrew Butler, Brooks ' cousin offended. Senator Butler was not present at this time and Brooks felt as relatives and fellow obliged to avenge the insult. On May 22, 1856 Brooks entered the Senate, and cut off with his walking stick up to 30 times on a Sumner, his walking stick broke here. The incident was seen in the north and barbarism, while the South Brooks declared a hero because he restored the honor of the South. So he sent some admirers from the southern states new walking sticks, among other things, with the inscription "Hit him again". In the elections of 1856, the outrage over the incident, however, should benefit the Republicans.
A was employed to investigate the incident Committee presented a report on the basis of the distance Brooks ' from the Congress voted. Although the necessary majority was not achieved, Brooks stepped back and stood as a candidate in a special election again for his own seat Shortly after his return he died of the consequences of a common cold.
Brooks is buried in Edgefield, where a monument to him was erected in the cemetery.
After Preston Brooks were the Brooks County, Georgia and the City of Brooksville, Florida named.