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Title: When the Ku Klux Rode
Author: Damer, Eyre
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When the Ku Klux Rode" ***

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  Copyright, 1912, by
  The Neale Publishing Company


This work is undertaken with the wish to gratify a popular desire for
addition to the scant literature relating to the Reconstruction Era and
that most remarkable organization of modern times--begotten of conditions
unparalleled in history, conditions which can never recur, and vanishing
with the emergency which created it--the militant Ku Klux Klan. Only one
writer has ventured far into this field of research, which until then
seemed forbidden, and in his contribution to history, fact and fiction are
so interwoven as to be almost indistinguishable. But the widespread and
intense interest manifested in his revelations of the origin and purposes
of the Klan indicates that the present generation eagerly imbibes
knowledge of the sacrifices and achievements of the men who in the awful
crisis of reconstruction, and against almost insuperable obstacles,
rescued the commonwealth from the control of corrupt adventurers and
ignorant freedmen, and established orderly government, without which the
subsequent marvelous development of natural resources and advancement in
education which have placed the state in the forefront of progress would
have been impossible. This evident interest encourages the hope that a
simple narrative of facts connected with the struggle in that part of the
Black Belt of Alabama which formed the Fourth Congressional District, by
one who was in the midst of it and a close observer, will receive a




  CHAPTER TWO--NATIVE GOVERNMENT                           14

  CHAPTER THREE--MILITARY GOVERNMENT                       19

  CHAPTER FOUR--A GRAVE PROBLEM                            26

  CHAPTER FIVE--THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU                      34

  CHAPTER SIX--MILITARY REGULATIONS                        38

  CHAPTER SEVEN--THE UNION LEAGUE                          47

  CHAPTER EIGHT--A REPUBLICAN BLUNDER                      51

  CHAPTER NINE--CARPETBAG GOVERNMENT                       54

  CHAPTER TEN--RUINOUS MISGOVERNMENT                       74

  CHAPTER ELEVEN--THE WHITES AROUSED                       84

  CHAPTER TWELVE--THE KU KLUX KLAN                         90

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN--A MISCARRIAGE                          99


  CHAPTER FIFTEEN--FOILED THE KU KLUX                     107

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN--IN TUSCALOOSA                          114



  CHAPTER NINETEEN--RIOTS IN MARENGO                      127






In a proclamation which issued on May 10, 1865, the president of the
United States declared the Civil War at an end. April 9, the date of
General Lee's surrender, was recognized as the date of the actual
termination of the war. On May 29, 1865, the president, by proclamation,
directed the restoration of seized private property, except "as to
slaves"; and on June 24, 1865, restored commercial intercourse between all
the states.

Relying on the promises made by federal generals while Southern armies
were in the field; on the terms arranged between Generals Grant and Lee
and Sherman and Johnston when the Southern armies capitulated, and on the
proclamation of the president, the people of Alabama believed that as
soon as they could in the proper way repeal the ordinance of secession and
comply with other immediate requirements, Alabama and the people thereof
would be restored to their former coequal condition in the Union.

The real issue of the war had been the right of the southern people to
renounce allegiance to and citizenship in the Union; in its triumph at
arms the United States sustained its contention that there could be no
such renunciation; and consequently the southern people laid down their
arms as citizens of the United States defeated in the attempt at
renunciation. The authorities at Washington could not fairly avoid this
conclusion, and certainly President Johnson reached it instantly.

That there would be permitted prompt resumption of equal rights, except in
a few cases, was more than hoped for,--it was confidently expected; and
for some time there was no indication that there would be disappointment.

President Johnson's attitude toward the southern states encouraged the
hope of speedy restoration of order and a large measure of prosperity. The
president was as generous as Lincoln would have been, had he survived the
conflict. In order that readers may clearly understand the situation as it
then existed, a brief explanation of President Johnson's attitude is
necessary here:

Immediately following the surrender of the Confederate armies and the
declaration of peace, President Johnson formally stated his view of the
situation to be that the war had neither destroyed nor impaired the Union;
that the southern states had no right to withdraw from the compact, and
having failed by resort to arms to accomplish separation, they emerged
from the strife as they entered it, states and members of the Union, still
possessing their constitutions, laws and territorial boundaries as they
had been prior to the adoption of the ordinance of secession; that the
constitutions and laws of those states, however, must be suspended pending
unavoidable acceptance by the people of the fact that slavery having been
a stake in the struggle, the accomplished abolition of that institution
was irreversible; also, that debts contracted by the states during the war
should be repudiated; that with acquiescence in these requirements the
states should be restored to their former relations with the Union. He
therefore announced as his policy that while the southern states were
adjusting themselves to the change, provisional state governments should
be established as necessary and constitutional agencies; that the citizens
who were included in the proclamation of amnesty, together with those
who, having been leaders in the secession movement, were pardoned, should
participate in the work of restoration; that citizens of the states were
best entitled to fill the public offices, and should be appointed to them;
that the emancipated slaves were not qualified to take part in such work,
nor had the president of the United States power to confer upon them the
right of suffrage, because the determination of their political status was
a function of the states.

In the light of subsequent events, there can be no doubt that President
Johnson's views and purposes were wise and statesmanlike, and had they
prevailed, the horrors caused by congressional enactments would not have
afflicted the people, nor would the relations between the races have
become unfriendly, as they did, and continue to be. But, unfortunately,
the embittered and aspiring leaders in Congress were planning at
cross-purposes with the president. His moderate and conservative course,
and scrupulous respect for his oath to support the Constitution, seemed
along in 1866 to have won popular favor; but his indiscreet expressions in
public addresses in western cities created hostility so strong that in the
congressional elections his enemies triumphed over him. By two-thirds
votes in Congress they nullified his vetoes of oppressive legislation; and
in 1868 the Senate reinstated Secretary of War Stanton, whom he had
during the previous year suspended from office. Out of this transaction
grew the unsuccessful attempt to impeach him. While this attempt failed,
the president's influence with his party was destroyed and he was
powerless to enforce his beneficent policies.



But meanwhile, having announced his policy in reorganizing the southern
states, President Johnson in the summer of 1865 appointed Lewis E.
Parsons, of Talladega, provisional governor of the state of Alabama, and
that gentleman entered upon the discharge of his duties. There was popular
approval of the appointment. Parsons was a native of New York, but long a
resident and practicing lawyer in Talladega, an uncompromising Whig and
Union man, possessing fine abilities and much dignity.

On July 20 Governor Parsons published a proclamation directing that an
election be held in each county on August 3 for delegates to a state
convention to assemble on September 12, 1865. Accordingly, intelligent and
patriotic delegates were chosen in all the counties, and the convention
met at the capitol in Montgomery, with Benjamin Fitzpatrick presiding.
That convention, dealing with the constitution, abolished the ordinance in
relation to the institution of slavery, declared null and void the
ordinance of secession and other ordinances and proceedings of the
convention of 1861; adopted ordinances repudiating the war debt, and
provided for an election for state, county and municipal officers and
members of Congress, and assembling of the legislature on the third Monday
in November, 1865. The convention then adjourned, subject to call of the
presiding officer.

Worthy of note here is the fact that Alabama, in its sovereignty, and
represented by some of its best citizens, abolished slavery within its
borders. Alexander White, who subsequently was among the first to adopt
"the new departure" (acquiescence in all the measures of reconstruction),
was the only delegate in the convention who voted against the proposition
to make abolition of slavery constitutional; but outside the convention,
Governor Parsons and Samuel Rice, also to become "new departurists,"
concurred with him; while General Clanton, who was the wise and fearless
leader of the Democratic party from its reorganization until the day of
his tragic death, advocated both that measure and the extension of civil
rights to the negroes.

And also worthy of note is the fact that Judge Brooks, of Selma, judge
Goldthwaite, of Montgomery, and others of unquestioned loyalty to their
people, shortly after in the legislature advocated qualified suffrage for
negroes. This was prior to the advent of carpetbaggers and organization in
Alabama of the Republican party.

Under this authority, an election was held, and the legislature then
elected assembled on November 20, 1865, and ratified the amendments to the
federal Constitution, excepting the fourteenth. That was regarded as
equivalent to a bill of attainder, depriving vast numbers of the rights of
citizenship without trial. The legislature comprised a majority of men who
had been anti-secessionists--the senate at least two-thirds; but they had
held offices before the war and served the Confederate government. The
legislature rejected the fourteenth amendment; its adoption would have
been political suicide for the members. It enacted a law to protect
freedmen in Alabama in their rights of person and property. The federal
authorities were duly notified of the proceedings, and on December 18,
1865, Governor Parsons received from Secretary of State Seward a telegram
saying that "in the judgment of the president the time had arrived when
the care and conduct of the affairs of Alabama could be remitted to the
constitutional authorities chosen by the people thereof without danger to
the peace and safety of the United States", and directing him to transfer
to his excellency the governor of Alabama, the papers and property in his
hands. Accordingly, on December 10, 1865, Robert M. Patton, of Lauderdale,
was inaugurated governor, and Parsons retired.

(Patton was a Virginian, long settled as a merchant in northern Alabama.
As a Whig, he had served in both houses of the legislature and become
president of the senate. In the election of 1865, he defeated Colonel M.
J. Bulger. He was intelligent and painstaking in the discharge of duties.
Patton continued in the office of governor until 1868, several months
beyond the full term, pending action by Congress respecting the results of
the election of that year, when he was displaced by operation of the
reconstruction acts. During his incumbency a federal military commander,
supported by soldiers stationed in the capitol, supervised all of his
appointments and official acts.)

As evidence of confidence, the legislature elected former Governor Parsons
United States senator for the term ending March 3, 1871. At the same time,
it chose George S. Houstan for the term ending March 3, 1867, and John
Anthony Winston for the term of six years, commencing March 4, 1867.

At the election in November, 1865, C. C. Langdon was elected to Congress
from the first district: George C. Freemen, from the second; Cullen A.
Battle, from the third; Joseph W. Taylor, from the fourth; Burwell T.
Pope, from the fifth, and Thomas J. Foster, from the sixth.

Then came early rumblings of the storm that was soon to break. These
chosen men were not permitted to take their seats as representatives, and
the state was not represented in Congress until 1868.



March 2, 1867, after two years of peace, Congress passed over President
Johnson's veto a bill relegating the southern states to the condition of
conquered provinces. A military commander was appointed and authorized to
supersede civil and judicial tribunals by military courts of his own
creation, with power to inflict usual punishments, excepting only death.

This act was supplemented with another, of July 13, forbidding state
authorities to interfere with the military commander, who was given the
additional power to displace any official and appoint his successor. This
act provided that military rule should cease within a state when a
convention of the people thereof should frame, and the voters adopt, a
constitution ratifying the amendment to the federal Constitution which
conferred the suffrage on negroes, and being otherwise acceptable to
Congress, and when the legislature also should ratify that amendment.

The new constitution was to be framed by delegates to be chosen by votes
of all male citizens of legal age, excepting those disfranchised by the
fourteenth amendment; and it was to be ratified by an affirmative vote of
a majority of voters registered under the supervision of the military
commander and his subalterns.

Under the reconstruction acts of 1867, in April of that year, Alabama
became a part of the department comprising, with itself, the states of
Georgia and Florida. The military commander called a convention to frame a
constitution. At the election for delegates the polls were kept open for
five days. The whites held aloof from it. The gathering of delegates thus
elected was stigmatized as "the carpetbaggers' convention." The men who
composed it and framed the constitution were in many cases grossly corrupt
and ignorant.

As an illustration of the character of the men sent to the convention,
Samuel Hale, a brother of United States Senator Hale, one of the few Union
men and later Republicans resident in Sumter county, wrote Senator Wilson
in January, 1868, a letter protesting against recognition by Congress of
radicals in the south, in which he said that the men who sat in the
convention and framed the constitution were, "so far as I am acquainted
with them, worthless vagabonds, homeless, houseless, drunken knaves";
that the Sumter delegates were a negro and two whites--Yordy and Rolfe.
Rolfe, he said, left his family in New York and had not seen them for four
years, during which period he had led an immoral life with negroes; that
he was known as the "Hero of Two Shirts," having left at a hotel in Selma,
as security for an unpaid hotel bill, his carpetbag containing only two
shirts: that his name was not signed to the constitution which he helped
to frame because he was too drunk to write it. These men and Hays and
Price, all strangers, were the only white men in Sumter county who took
part in the election for delegates. As an early indication of future
leadership, at that election Price ordered the negroes to secure their
arms and prevent expulsion from the booth of one of their members who was
vauntingly flourishing a gun. Only intervention by cool-headed whites
prevented trouble. Mr. Hale, in the letter quoted from, stigmatized the
election thus: "As shameless a fraud as was ever perpetrated upon the face
of the earth."

Rolfe and Hays were wheelwrights, but their talents found employment in
more lucrative occupations. Rolfe's first "get-rich-quick" scheme was the
selling to negroes of badges, which he said he was engaged in by order of
General Grant.

While agent of the Freedmen's Bureau Hays defrauded negroes of a thousand
dollars derived from sales of cotton with which they had entrusted him.
That was his disappearing act.

That convention deprived of the right to vote all men who were proscribed
by the fourteenth amendment from holding office.

The constitution framed called for an election in February, 1868, to which
it was to be submitted for ratification, and at which time officers were
to be elected. It was submitted under a solemn congressional provision
that if it should not receive in its favor the ballots of a majority of
the registered voters, it was to be considered as rejected.

The Democratic convention of 1865 entrusted to the party's state executive
committee, of which General James H. Clanton was chairman, all matters of
policy. When the military order for the convention issued, General Clanton
called into council with the executive committee one hundred of the
leading men of the state. After deliberation, they concluded that the
wisest course for the party to pursue would be to go to the polls and
endeavor to defeat the constitution, but, in view of the possibility of
failure in this, to place candidates in the field, to be voted for under
it. Having agreed on this policy, the council was about to adjourn, when
the chairman received from ex-Governor Parsons, who was the accredited
agent in Washington of the Democratic party, a dispatch, saying:

"I am on my way to Montgomery; will be there to-night. Don't adjourn your
convention; don't act till I get there."

The council waited, and the former governor arrived and delivered a
speech, in which he uttered the memorable sentence:

"So far as the reconstruction measures are concerned, and this
constitution, touch not, taste not, handle not the unclean thing."

He said that this was in accordance with the advice of President Johnson.
Messrs. Samuel Rice and Alexander White supported the ex-governor, and the
council was persuaded to reverse its decision and advise the voters to
refrain from taking any part in the election. Mr. White prepared the
address to the voters.

Accordingly, the Democratic voters abstained from voting, and only one
Democratic state senator was elected, and he was not endorsed. Negroes in
battalions, armed with muskets and stepping to the beat of drums, marched
to the polls, stacked arms, placed guards about them, and cast their
ballots for the constitution and their candidates.

The registration of voters for the election of 1868 was under military
supervision and regulation. Registration was kept open at polling places
up to and including time of election. The registers of voters and election
officers were appointed by military officers, and nearly every register
was a candidate for office. He was given power to reject any applicant for
registration. Soldiers were present at all polling places to enforce the
regulations, which forbade the challenging of illegal voters: citizens
were forbidden under severe penalties to warn election judges or expose
the fact even if they should see a non-resident or minor or repeater offer
to deposit a ballot. Voters were permitted to cast their ballots at any
precinct in the county. Negroes were eligible to all offices.

The returns of the election disclosed the fact that the majority of the
registered voters had abstained from participation in the election, and
hence the constitution was not adopted by the people--according to the
declaration of the military authorities, lacking 8,000 of the requisite
number of votes. In view of this authoritative declaration, the radical
candidates did not claim the offices to which they had aspired, and the
incumbents for the time being were not disturbed. But, to the amazement of
the people and its own dishonor, Congress in June, 1868, accepted the
constitution as ratified by the people, and recognized the candidates as
elected officers, and in July they were installed by military power, the
former officers retiring under protest.

In order that the reader may understand the situation and how poorly
prepared were the people for such a reign, we must go back to the
beginning and note other occurrences which had a direct bearing on that



At the termination of the war between the sections, the southern people
had thrust upon them for solution the gravest and most difficult problem
with which the white race on this continent was ever perplexed,--how to
preserve their civilization with the government operating in opposition to
their efforts.

After four years of warfare, the south was prostrate before the victorious
people of the north, whose armies were quartered in garrisons everywhere
in the surrendered territory, to enforce with arms, if necessary, whatever
oppressive and humiliating measures might be conceived in hatred and
vengeance by fanatics whose intolerance had made the bloody conflict
irrepressible, and who were determined to extend and perpetuate the
political power gained by conquest. The means adopted were enfranchisement
of the emancipated slaves and disfranchisement of all white men who had at
all distinguished themselves as leaders, while extending favors to those
who would ally themselves with the oppressors and betray their countrymen.

The difficulties of the situation in which the defeated southerners were
placed were appalling. Naught of the former wealth of the country was left
save the land--which in the disorganized state of labor was almost a
burden to the possessors--and some cotton which had accumulated because
exportation was prevented by the blockade of the ports; and upon this the
federal government imposed an unconstitutional tax of three cents a pound.
Farm implements were crude and scarce; the necessities of the Confederate
government in its expiring struggles had stripped the country of the best
of the draft and food animals; in the Black Belt there were no factories;
development of transportation had been checked in its incipiency;
education was almost abandoned, and the civil laws suspended. Everything
had to be organized or reorganized.

Cotton was one of the principal resources left to the people at the close
of the war. In great demand and readily convertible into money at prices
ranging from fifty cents a pound upward, and in considerable quantities,
it would have furnished means for a "fresh start" had the people been
permitted to hold it in undisputed possession; but the government
begrudged even this remnant of lost fortunes. Unfortunately, during the
war agents of the Confederacy from time to time contracted for quantities
of cotton, to be paid for in bonds, but in most cases there had been no
actual transfer of either bonds or cotton, and the latter remained on the
plantations. After the surrender of General Taylor to General Canby, the
federal commander promulgated an order requiring all persons who held such
cotton to surrender it to the United States agents, under penalty of
confiscation of their property. The military authorities claimed this
cotton as a prize of war, and treasury agents--some of them fictitious, as
afterward proven--were soon ranging the country in search for it. The
holders believed that the question of ownership was at least debatable.
Prior to the surrender, the Confederate government, fearing that federal
raiders would seize the cotton, ordered that it be destroyed by the
holders; but the authority of that government was not then potent, and the
planters, instead of obeying the order, conveyed the bales to places of
concealment in swamps and elsewhere, and believed that this act confirmed
their claim to ownership. Some of the cotton was thus concealed when the
agents began their search. The order of seizure was subsequently so
modified as to permit the original holders to claim one-fourth of the
cotton as compensation for caretaking. Very few took advantage of this
concession; and, indeed, the greedy agents actually suppressed the order
for months while the seizures were in progress. Attorneys who contested
before military tribunals the right of seizure argued that, by reason of
non-delivery, sales to the Confederate government had not been completed,
and that the federal government had no right to capture the cotton after
final surrender of the Confederate armies; but in some instances these
attorneys were arrested and threatened with imprisonment unless they
abated their zeal in behalf of clients.

There was in resulting evil practices a touch of picturesqueness. The
unconquered and unconquerable veterans of the vanquished southern armies,
in many instances impoverished, were ripe for any enterprise which
promised congenial adventure and spoils which they regarded as legitimate.
The agents went about supported by federal troops, and many were the
clashes between the latter and so-called guerrilla bands composed of their
late antagonists on other and more glorious fields. These bands were
actuated by the conviction that the Confederate government having had no
clear title to ownership of the cotton, the conquerors succeeded to none;
and so they took up the contest where the intimidated attorneys dropped
it, and contested with the agents and their armed supporters. These
agents were well supplied with army teams and wagons, and often these,
falling into the hands of the "guerrillas," served the captors as a
convenient means of transportation of booty. Yet, it sometimes happened
that the guerrillas were the captives, and when in the toils were in sore
straits to raise the ransom which was exacted in lieu of arrest and
arraignment for trial. Even steamboats were hauled to and relieved of
cargoes. That was the golden era for steamboatmen, when freight charges
and salaries, especially of pilots, were phenomenal.

These transactions soon degenerated into plunder pure and simple,
involving private cotton to which the government could lay no sort of

Perhaps there had been collusion between holders of "Confederate" cotton
and the raiding bands which seized and bore it off; anyhow, the inevitable
effect was that unscrupulous men, taking advantage of popular tolerance of
practices which originally sprang from patriotic impulses, disregarded
private rights and indiscriminately stole. Planters paid for guards as
high as thirty dollars each per night at critical times. Men who were
unaccustomed to the command of money grew rich in a brief space and
correspondingly lavish in their expenditures. Extravagance and
demoralization which left their enduring impress ensued. Admissions were
made in high quarters in after years that not one-tenth of the proceeds of
cotton seized by agents ever went into the treasury of the United States.
One example will suffice: An agent in Demopolis claimed and was allowed
for four months' services, on the basis of one-fourth of the cotton seized
by him, $80,000; and the settlement was between him and military
authorities who were quite as adept as he in the art of pilfering. Thus in
a time of stress the producers were despoiled and adventurers enriched by
the ungenerous policy of the victorious government.

           *       *       *       *       *

The following facts are gathered from evidence taken before the committee
in Congress in the investigation as to General Howard:

At the close of the war there were held in the south at least five million
bales of cotton, worth in Liverpool $500,000,000. Only a fraction of this
cotton was owned by the Confederate states government, and this was turned
over to General E. R. S. Canby by General E. Kirby Smith on May 24, 1865.
Besides the swarm of official agents, informers and spies sent down by the
Treasury Department in search of Confederate cotton, contracts were made
with private individuals to engage in the work. Much cotton was taken from
plantations before the owners returned to their homes after the
disbandment of the armies. Seizures were indiscriminate. Proof of private
ownership had to be supported by tender of toll; there was no redress.

A Treasury Department regulation required that all cotton seized in the
Atlantic and Gulf states should be shipped to Simon Draper, United States
cotton agent in New York City; and that seized on the upper Mississippi
river and in northern Georgia and northern Alabama to William P. Mellen,
agent in Cincinnati. These agents sold by samples which were spurious and
inferior to the cotton which they represented. Accordingly, cotton worth
sixty cents to one dollar per pound was sold for ten to fifteen cents. The
purchasers were in collusion with the agent. By the system of "plucking,"
the weight of bales was reduced anywhere from one hundred to two hundred
pounds before they were sold: the plucked cotton was termed "waste
cotton," packed and sold as "trash" to mills, but not at trash prices.
These terms figured only in the reports to the department. Sometimes
owners traced stolen cotton to the New York or Cincinnati agency; and if a
thousand bales were involved, the agent reported that only two hundred had
been received, and of very inferior quality, and was sold for ten or
fifteen cents per pound, which his books would prove; that
transportation, storage and commissions left only a small sum. Draper,
when he became cotton agent, was a bankrupt. Subsequently he settled his
debts and when he died was a multimillionaire. Fifty million dollars'
worth of cotton was shipped to Draper; the government derived only
$15,000,000 net from that source as the reward for the wrong which it had
committed in entrusting the enforcement of its doubtful claim against the
impoverished southern people to dishonest and unscrupulous agents.

The Confederate States government imposed a tax in kind upon all
provisions produced on plantations--one-tenth. The first year after the
war this tax was enforced in some isolated sections by orders of minor
military officers, and collected by agents. Of course this was fraudulent,
and was stopped after a while.



Meanwhile, the Freedmen's Bureau had been established. General Swayne
promulgated an order recognizing as agents of the bureau former civil
magistrates who could and would obtain endorsement of negroes; but, as a
rule, carpetbaggers filled the places. Offices were opened at the county
seats, where complaints of freedmen were lodged and investigations
conducted. The agents prescribed a uniform division of products of the
soil between planters and hands. They supervised all contracts and
regulated the conduct of affairs between employer and employe, and their
dicta were absolute and final, being enforced, if necessary, by soldiers
of the garrison.

The agents gave notice that nobody would be allowed to employ freedmen
unless the contracts were submitted to and approved by them and left in
their custody. They gave ear to any tale of complaining freedmen, arrested
the white man complained of, tried and punished him, unless he proved
willing to purchase immunity. Sometimes after the planter had contracted
in the prescribed manner with freedmen, and had his crops in process of
cultivation, the hands would quit work, and only intervention by the agent
would make them return. Such intervention cost as high as ten dollars per
hand, and the occasion for it might recur before the crops could be
gathered. Some of the agents secured plantations and used them as refuges
for dissatisfied freedmen, who were fed and clothed.

The agents were as a rule "fanatics without character or responsibility,
and were selected as fit instruments to execute the partisan and
unconstitutional behests of a most unscrupulous head." (Senator Beck, in
an official report.) Some of them were preachers, and had been selected as
being the most devout, zealous and loyal of a certain religious sect. In
league meetings they told the negroes that although they had been married
according to plantation custom for many years, they must procure licenses
and be remarried. Thus they made large sums in fees, in many instances
from old couples who had grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

All of this was humiliating and irritating to the planters, but submitted
to so long as the agents confined their activities to legitimate
functions. But they soon became mischievously meddlesome, and discovered
in their powers means for promoting their political fortunes.

As a body, the negroes had been conducting themselves with propriety, and
good feeling prevailed. Their greatest delight was in the dignity of
unaccustomed surnames, duster coats, gauntlet gloves, albums, clocks and
other wares, with which enterprising northern peddlers tempted them. Their
childish delight in these novel possessions for a while filled the measure
of their happiness. But some of them who had been following armies
contracted nomadic habits; others were incapable of rational exercise of
their novel privileges, and became disturbers of the peace. Their
depredations soon rendered stock raising impracticable. Every plantation
had a gin-house, and these houses, with their valuable contents, were
exposed to incendiaries seeking revenge for real or fancied grievances,
and many were destroyed. Men with the "easy money" acquired during the
period of cotton stealing set up crossroad stores at every available point
and dispensed vile whiskey in barter for bags of loose cotton and corn,
ostensibly the "shares" of those offering them, but really often stolen
from lint rooms and cribs, and even from the ungarnered crops in the
fields. These traders did an immense business, many of them setting up
gins and baling screws. The existing "sundown and sunrise" law was enacted
to destroy this nefarious traffic. It prohibited the sale of farm products
between sunset and sunrise.



Another cause of irritation was the offensive conduct of soldiers
composing the garrisons, which provoked collisions with the more impetuous
citizens. In 1865 the federal soldiers in Tuscaloosa, Greensboro, Eutaw
and other towns subjected the people to very offensive regulations. Only a
few examples need be mentioned as exhibiting the temper of both sides: The
former soldiers of the Confederacy, having no means with which to
replenish their wardrobes, wore their uniforms. The federals threatened,
and sometimes attempted, to cut the buttons from the old gray coats, and
the proud wearers were forced to resort to the expedient of covering them
with thin cloth rather than let them serve as a pretext for insults. Flags
were stretched across the sidewalks, so that pedestrians would have to
pass under them. To defeat the obvious purpose, men and women, in going
about, resorted to the roadway or diverged from the sidewalks at points
where the flags were placed. In some instances these unwilling and
protesting people were seized and forced under the flags. These and other
practices, devised to provoke the people to exhibitions of hostility,
caused severe smarting. Perhaps many young men who had received war
schooling were not reluctant to encounter their former antagonists.

A memorable tragedy, with annoying consequences, resulted from such an
encounter. August 31, 1865, election day, the brothers Tom and Toode
Cowan, formerly heroic members of Forrest's cavalry, became involved in a
controversy with a squad of soldiers of the garrison in Greensboro; in the
resulting affray pistols were used; the younger Cowan killed one of the
soldiers, while his brother dangerously wounded another. The slayer
mounted a horse and escaped, but the intrepid Tom scorned flight and
yielded only to overpowering numbers. Intense excitement prevailed; the
enraged soldiers sprang to arms, seized Cowan, and, defying their
officers, prepared to hang the prisoner. At the critical moment came a
message from the wounded man, generously acknowledging he was the
aggressor and pleading for a fair trial for Cowan. This appeased the
military mob and the prisoner was locked up. That night squads of cavalry
roamed the country, ostensibly seeking the fugitive, but really to disarm
and arrest the planters. Mr. Cowan was tried and acquitted. His brother
was not apprehended.

In some cases the soldiers were insubordinate and manifested hostility to
the people. One notable example in illustration is recalled: During the
hours of darkness soldiers burned the Episcopal church in Demopolis. Some
of them were detected with articles stolen from the sacred edifice, and
the colonel was requested to have the impious robbers arrested. That
officer declined to make the order, because the guilty men were dangerous
characters and would seek revenge if called to account. Indeed, they
threatened that when transferred from Demopolis they would set fire to the
town. To prevent the execution of this purpose, another colonel was
substituted for the commander of the regiment, and he placed sentinels
around the quarters and marched the men away in ignorance of the fact that
it was their final departure.

In Greensboro, in 1867, was enacted another regrettable tragedy, the
attendant circumstances of which intensified the growing hostility between
the races. John C. Orick shot and killed Aleck Webb, negro register of
voters. The shooting occurred in daylight and on one of the principal
sidewalks. Orick calmly retired from the scene, locked the doors of his
store, and in disguise fled the town.

Orick was a bold, dashing and handsome young man who had won enviable
laurels in the war. When hardly more than a boy, his adventurous spirit
impelled him to leave home without parental consent and attach himself to
Colonel Mosby's command. One of his achievements is worthy of mention
here: As an "observer" he visited Baltimore and Washington, and in the
latter city ascertained the time of departure of the army pay train on the
Baltimore and Ohio railroad. Reporting to his commander the valuable
information he had acquired, successful plans were formed for the capture
of the train by Mosby's command. With his share of the booty obtained in
this enterprise, Orick, after the final surrender, purchased a stock of
goods and established himself in business in Greensboro.

The negroes of the town and vicinity bitterly resented the killing of
Webb, and during the night large bands of them roamed the surrounding
country, avowedly seeking the slayer, but really bent on any mischief for
which opportunity might offer. One band went to the Gewin premises. A
young man, a member of the family, in his night clothes and barefooted,
was encountered in the yard. Seeing that the marauders intercepted retreat
to the house, Gewin fled to the woods, hotly pursued. After a chase which
extended for a mile, over rough fields and woods, the fleeing man was
overhauled, tied to the bare back of a horse and conveyed to the office of
Dr. Blackford, in Greensboro. After a lengthy parley, his friends secured
his release.

At dusk the town was thronged with infuriated armed negroes, who
threatened to apply the torch. After some of the leading citizens had
vainly expostulated with them, the whites armed themselves and prepared to
expel them by force; but when Gewin was released, the negroes retired,
sullenly, and a clash was averted.

The Gewin family and its connections comprised a considerable number of
brave and resolute men, of remarkably fine physique, and they and their
friends were indignant with Blackford, the probate judge, because of the
suspicion that he had directed the negroes who committed the outrage,--a
suspicion justified by the fact that Gewin was conveyed to Blackford's
office. Everybody sympathized with them. It was said that Blackford told
the negroes they should avenge the killing of Webb, and that he instigated
the incendiary threats, and he was thenceforward regarded as a factor of
disturbance in the community.

As a result of these occurrences, an organization was formed in Greensboro
for public defense, and arms were obtained. The members were, in event of
necessity, to assemble at the ringing of a certain bell, and a rendezvous
was selected. No oath was required of the members.

The first attempt to enforce the flag regulation in the case of a woman,
in Tuscaloosa, was the last. Intrepid Ryland Randolph, editor of the
_Monitor_, in uncontrollable indignation seized a sabre and in person
challenged the responsible commander to mortal combat. Declining the
proposed close encounter, that official thenceforward was more circumspect
in his conduct.

The story of Randolph's career is an interesting part of the history of
Tuscaloosa. As an editor, he was belligerent, and relentless in his
denunciation of radical maladministration of public affairs. So effective
was his hostility that publication of his paper (official organ of the Ku
Klux) was suppressed by military order. He accepted a challenge to a duel
provoked by attacks upon the chief justice of the state supreme court,
addressed to him by the judge's son-in-law; but on the field mutual
friends effected an amicable and honorable settlement.

A less dignified encounter involved him in more serious difficulties.
Opposite the _Monitor_ office a number of negroes were assembled one day,
and two of them assaulted a white man. Suddenly Randolph, with pistol and
bowie-knife in hand, appeared in the midst of the struggling throng. One
shot was fired by him, when he, in turn, became the object of attack. One
of the assailants, a political leader, received in his side a thrust from
Randolph's bowie, and another in the back, where the broken point of the
knife remained. Within a few minutes the prostrate leader was the only one
who remained on the scene. But the negroes, with augmented numbers,
reassembled a short distance away. Randolph returned to his office and
reappeared with a shotgun. His dauntless bearing discouraged further
hostile demonstration by the blacks. In consequence of this affair,
Randolph was arrested by the soldiers and taken to Montgomery for trial.
En route, by stage-coach, he was made a spectacle for gloating negroes. He
was acquitted, and his return was made an occasion of popular
manifestation of esteem. A cavalcade met him some miles outside of
Tuscaloosa, and on nearer approach to town was magnified into a vast
procession of carriages and marchers, embracing men and women and school
children. The procession moved to the sound of bells. A great meeting,
with speechmaking, followed.

At that time the University of Alabama, at Tuscaloosa, was controlled by
the radicals and boycotted by the whites. A brother of Governor Smith was
a regent of the institution, and this regent's son a student. One of the
professors, Vaughan, had been persistently assailed by the _Monitor_,
which charged him with incompetence and drunkenness. It was said that
Vaughan enlisted Smith as a champion. Anyhow, the two sought Randolph on
the streets and found him in conversation with a friend. While Vaughan
stood some distance away, Smith approached Randolph and insultingly
jostled him. Simultaneously and without hesitation, the two men drew
pistols and began firing, each discharging five chambers of his revolver.
One shot struck a thick book in Randolph's coat pocket and lodged therein;
another struck above the knee and ranged up the thigh, his leg being
crooked at the moment. This shot necessitated amputation of the injured
limb. An innocent bystander on the opposite side of the street was killed
by a stray bullet. Smith and Vaughan were arrested. The former was rescued
by fellow students and fled to Utah.

Randolph survived the reconstruction period and enjoyed the restoration of
white supremacy. He died in 1903 from the effects of a fall in a

An incident of the military régime in Eutaw early embittered relations
between the people and their rulers. An "undesirable citizen" was given a
ride on a rail. In the court martial trial of the accused, James A.
Steele, Thomas W. Roberts, F. H. Mundy, John Cullen, Hugh L. White,
William Pettigrew and Mr. Strayhorn were sentenced to hard labor at Dry
Tortugas for periods ranging from two to six years. The circumstances
attending their treatment as prisoners exhibited harshness which aroused
indignation. Handcuffed and chained, they were conveyed by a squad to New
Orleans and thence by sea to the island prison. They were not permitted to
communicate with their families or friends nor to receive funds to relieve
their wants. Their sufferings and indignities were severe and humiliating.
An appeal in their behalf, with a presentation of the facts connected with
the trial, was made to General Meade, and that commander remitted the
sentence. The return of the victims to their homes was made the occasion
of a memorable demonstration of popular feeling.



In pursuance of their schemes which culminated at the election in 1868,
the carpetbag adventurers early in 1867 organized everywhere in Alabama
branches of the Union League, a secret, oathbound political society, with
all the mysticism of grips, signs, signals and passwords, national in
scope, with grand national and grand state councils. Secrecy and obedience
to commands were enjoined under severest penalties, including even death.
Their meeting places were guarded by armed sentinels. The negro members
were taught to disregard the feelings and interests of the whites, and
told that if their former masters should obtain control of the government,
they would re-enslave them; and this was an irresistible appeal to
ignorant people enjoying the first delights of release from bondage. On
the other hand, they were promised that if the Republicans should gain
control, they would enact such oppressive tax laws that the landowners
would be unable to meet the exactions, and consequently their lands would
be forfeited; after which the Republicans would allot them in parcels of
forty acres, together with a mule, to each head of a negro family resident
thereon; they were told, further, that, in order to facilitate and
expedite this process of confiscation and apportionment, they should
slight their work and thus increase the difficulties under which their
former masters would have to struggle to save their properties from
spoliation. The student of history should not be harsh in judgment of the
negro because of his susceptibility to a lure so enticing. He was
ignorant, and regarded every pretentious white stranger as one of that
great army which had liberated him from bondage.

Serious as was the situation, it was not without amusement in its
demonstration of the negro's gullibility. A bogus "land agent" circulated
slips conveying directions regarding "preëmption of homesteads," and the
credulous negroes bought them, and, besides, painted sticks with pointed
ends to be driven into the ground to mark their boundaries; they also
purchased chances in a sort of lottery for the distribution of parcels of
land. All of these were sold under alleged authority received from the
government at Washington, all dependent on the success of the Republican

By request of President Johnson, General Grant in 1865 made a tour of the
southern states, to learn the feelings and intentions of the people and to
ascertain to what extent, in the interest of economy, the military forces
there could be reduced. He reported that white troops excited no
opposition: thinking men would offer no violence to them. But black troops
demoralized labor, "and the late slaves seem to be infused with the idea
that the property of their late masters should by right belong to them, or
at least should have no protection from the colored soldiers. There is
danger of collision being brought by such causes."

The so-called abandoned lands on the coast of South Carolina and
Georgia--lands from which whites had fled to escape dangers of the
war--were actually seized and colonized with wandering negroes, though the
lands were afterward restored to the owners. The germ of the "forty acres
and a mule" idea, no doubt, originated in those colonies. The idea was of
early conception, as the Grant report shows.

The first annoyances caused by the league were the neglect of field work
by negroes in order to attend political meetings in daylight, and taking
hard-worked mules from lots at night and riding them to league meetings.
But in the course of time the organization assumed a military aspect,
drilling regularly. Bodies appeared in procession, in regular company
order, with arms, banners, drums and fifes, the officers wearing
side-arms. At the election they were met outside the towns by emissaries
and furnished with tickets, and then proceeded to the polling places and
deposited them as directed. All of this appealed to the negroes' taste for
novelty and spectacle.



This narrative is now brought again to the point at which it digressed,
the election on the constitution, but before resuming that subject a few
words of comment here will not be out of place.

The perfidy of Congress in imposing upon the people of Alabama, in
violation of its own solemn covenant, a constitution which they had
rejected in a lawful manner, was a blunder fatal to the future influence
of the Republican party in Alabama. The fourteenth amendment had already
injured the party because of its application to great numbers of men who
might have allied themselves with it if they had not been involved in the
proscription. They had opposed secession as long as there was any reason
in opposition, and then reluctantly adapted themselves to the situation.
Jefferson Davis had been in prison, demanding trial and ready to abide the
result; he was discharged, and the proceedings looking to personal
punishment abandoned. Other leaders, including Admiral Semmes, "the
pirate," as he was termed in intensity of hatred, were at their homes,
pursuing the vocations of peace and ready to try the issue. The excuse for
abandoning the prosecution was that, the fourteenth amendment having
imposed the penalty of deprivation of citizen rights, the courts could not
inflict other punishment.

Thus, the men who had, at the cost of popular good will and private
friendship, opposed with all their abilities severance of the Union were
equally subject to a penalty deemed adequate for "the arch traitor" and
"the pirate," so called.

Then, there were thousands of men in northern Alabama not subject to the
proscription, who were nursing the grievance that Democrats had
precipitated secession without permitting the people to vote on the
ordinance. They believed that, had it been submitted, it would have been
defeated. Northern Alabama was so loyal to the Union that leaders there
proposed separation of that section at the line of the mountains, and that
its people organize and "fight it out" in the foothills. But the
promptness with which the Confederate authorities organized the military
forces discouraged such a project. The strong resentment of the summary
accomplishment of secession was rendered bitter by conscription laws.
Sections of the mountains in which drastic measures were necessary to
enforce those laws became easy recruiting grounds for the federal army.
It is recorded that 2,700 men from Walker, Winston and Fayette counties
enlisted in one federal command. North Alabama was more than once occupied
by contending armies, and partisan organizations embittered the contest.

In central and southern Alabama were many Whigs and Union men who had no
liking for the Democratic party.

In this state of affairs, convinced that not many of the proud
Confederates would sue for relief from fourteenth amendment disabilities,
and that the constitution which disqualified thousands of white voters
would perpetuate negro supremacy in Alabama, the Republican leaders in
Congress committed a wrong which to this day bears heavily upon their



The negroes had exercised without hindrance their new privilege of the
suffrage. Their incapacity as voters was illustrated in the character of
the men who assumed office after the election in 1868.

In Sumter county, Tobias Lane was elected probate judge, but during the
period of uncertainty when the constitution was in abeyance, concluding
that congressional action respecting it would be unfavorable, he packed
his carpetbag and returned to Ohio, having been one of the migrants from
that state, so prolific of birds of his feather.

Beville, the sheriff, was an appointee of General Swayne. He was unable to
give bond, but Swayne waived that formality and ordered him to continue in
office without bond. In 1868 Richard Harris, a negro, who could neither
read nor write, became his worthy successor.

As solicitor the discriminating voters chose Ben Bardwell, a negro, who
was wholly deficient in the knowledge of reading and writing, a
deficiency which made him "an easy mark" for one of the most learned bars
in the state.

George Houston, a freedman, was sent to the lower house of the
legislature. As his colleague Ben Inge, another "person of color,"
absolutely illiterate, was selected.

An army captain, one Yordy, received the state senatorial honors, which he
wore while serving Uncle Sam in the custom house at Mobile. He was a
long-distance representative, having no domicile in Sumter, nor ever
making his appearance there.

John B. Cecil, reputed federal army sutler and coming with the influx from
fecund Ohio, was elected treasurer. He gradually and logically degenerated
into a partnership with a negro in a grog-shop enterprise.

Badger, another bird of passage, became tax assessor. The revenue and road
commission was a motley aggregation which comprised one carpetbagger and
three negroes.

Edward Herndon, a native Union man, by grace of appointment and election,
simultaneously devoted his talents to the offices of circuit clerk,
register in chancery, notary public, justice of the peace, keeper of the
poorhouse and guardian _ad litem_,--and perhaps felt aggrieved that he
didn't have "all that was coming to him."

It would seem that, with this multiplicity of trusts, Mr. Herndon
monopolized the privilege of plurality in office holding; but not so, for
Mr. Daniel Price, a typical scalawag, with the reputation of a jailbird
and desperado, made flight from Wetumpka to Sumter, and was endowed with a
bunch of federal and county jobs,--register of voters, superintendent of
education, postmaster and census taker. Insatiable, like Oliver Twist he
wanted more, and as a side line to his multifarious activities, employed
his scholarly attainments in the conduct of a negro school, meanwhile
boarding and associating with negroes.

The harmony of the "color scheme" of the official colony in Perry county,
adjoining Hale county, was never broken by a trace of the ebony hue.

Without exception, all of the county offices were held by carpetbaggers,
officers of the 8th Wisconsin regiment, originally sent on garrison duty.
Their characters are illustrated by the fact that, under the guise of
selling properties which they had acquired in the county, all of them sold
their offices in the time of political regeneration and betook themselves
to the north. During Lindsay's administration the sheriff, charged with
conniving at the escape from jail of a prisoner incarcerated for murder,
sold his job for $1,500. Democrats succeeded the aliens.

In Marengo county there were more places than "loyal and reconstructed"
place-seekers, and consequently Charles L. Drake, who made his advent in
1866 as an army captain, was burdened with the cares and responsibilities
of register in chancery, circuit clerk, United States commissioner and
agent of the Freedmen's Bureau; yet had time for political activity which
made him especially obnoxious.

Another conspicuous character in Marengo was one Burton, a carpetbagger,
who established in Demopolis a weekly newspaper, _The Southern
Republican_. He had incorporated in the oppressive tax laws a provision
that where a deed was made to a purchaser at a tax sale, it should be made
conclusive evidence, whether the sale was legal or illegal, that all
requisites to a valid sale had been complied with. In order to increase
the advertising, a section of land was divided into sixteen parts and each
part advertised separately. Legal advertising was confined to "loyal"
papers, the test of loyalty being allegiance to the Radical party. _The
Southern Republican_, being the only loyal paper in all that
unreconstructed region, was designated as the official organ of Marengo,
Greene, Perry and Choctaw counties.

The newspaper statute referred to was in these words:

"That it shall be the duty of the probate judge in each county of this
state to designate a newspaper in which all local advertisements, notices,
or publications of any and every character required by law to be made in
his county shall be published. Provided, that no newspaper shall be
designated as such official organ which does not in its columns sustain
and advocate the maintenance of the government of the United States and of
the government of the state of Alabama, which is recognized by the
Congress of the United States as the legal government of this state; and
if there be no such paper published in the county, then the probate judge,
whose decision upon the question shall be final, shall designate the paper
published nearest the county seat of his county which does sustain said

The "loyal" papers so designated had no circulation beyond a small free
distribution among office-holders. Few of the negroes in their general
illiteracy could read them, and none of them were concerned in the
advertisements. The white people, to whom all of the advertisements were
addressed, would not permit a copy of the publications to be sent to them.
Consequently, the payment of fees was a waste of public money. The purpose
of the law was to create and sustain a detestable press at the expense of
the taxpayers, or seduce the existing papers.

In 1870 Burton was nominee for lieutenant-governor. On account of some
personally offensive publication, Mr. E. C. Meredith, of Eutaw, a
Democratic leader ("Bravest of the Brave"), severely chastised him in
Eutaw. Thereafter the "trooly loil" journalist made his periodical
collections of fees in Greene county by proxy. About the time when frost
touched with withering chill his budding political aspiration, Burton
received an ominous communication, not intended for publication, but for
his own guidance. It was embellished with pictures of cross-bones, skull
and dagger, and inscribed with a legend which he interpreted as a sort of
"move on" ordinance. And he stood not on the order of his going, but

General Dustin, a northern soldier, of good family connections, who
settled in Demopolis and allied himself by marriage with one of the old
and prominent families of the town, was appointed major general of
militia, and endeavored, but unsuccessfully, to organize a force. The law
provided that whenever forty or more men should enroll themselves and
choose officers, the governor upon application should recognize them as a
volunteer company. Governor Smith could not be persuaded to encourage the
formation of a militia force; he preferred federal regulars, and they were
always available.

While awaiting opportunity for employment of his warrior genius and
acquirements, General Dustin, equally soldier and statesman, served the
people of his adopted county in the legislature. His colleague in that
august assembly of solons was Levi Wells, a "ward of the nation."

Others who made reconstruction history in Marengo county will be mentioned
incidentally as this narrative progresses. They were a rare lot, and
equally with the others worthy of a place on the scroll of fame.

Choctaw county officials distinguished themselves in some features of
their administration of affairs, according to testimony before a
government commission. Dr. Foster was appointed probate judge and elected
state senator, and served in the dual capacity. Receiving the appointment
of revenue collector at Mobile, he discarded the probate judgeship, to
which Hill was appointed, but polygamously refused to be divorced from the
other love, the senatorship. Hill had been appointed treasurer before
receiving the appointment to the judgeship. Withdrawing from the former
place, his brother, Alexander, succeeded. It may not too much confuse the
already complex situation to mention incidentally that the industrious
Alexander filled in spare time by discharging the humble duties of justice
of the peace, having before him the example of his eminent brother, who
scorned not the lesser duties of register in chancery, with which also he
was charged. In the progress of time, an inquisitive grand jury, nosing
into matters, ascertained that Treasurer Aleck had received from the
county tax collector fees to the amount of $3,600. While the jury was
investigating, a disturbance occurred on the streets; the sheriff
resigned, rather than interfere with the disturbers, and sought pastoral
scenes. Circuit Judge J. Q. Smith, serving as a substitute for Luther R.
Smith, adjourned court without receiving the jury's report. Immediately
after adjournment Probate Judge Hill, who had received a significant
communication, with skull and dagger adornment, and maybe had been
playfully shot at, retired to his farm, leaving his office in the care of
the overburdened but willing Aleck. The circuit clerk accompanied the
probate judge to his sylvan retreat, and imposed more work on Aleck by
making him custodian of his office also. By the way, this clerk was first
elected, but failed to qualify, whereupon Judge Smith cured the defect by
appointing him to the place. Such was the situation of affairs when, at
midnight, April 14, the structure burned, and, excepting documents in the
hands of the jury, all of the records of the two offices, together with
the treasurer's account of moneys received and disbursed, fed the hungry
flames. The treasurer said that all the funds were in the safe, but only
charred packages of Confederate "shinplasters" were found therein when the
safe was opened. The succeeding treasurer, an expert accountant, under
instructions from the commissioners' court, investigated accounts between
the collector and former treasurer, and reported that the latter was in
default to the extent of about $7,000, and the tax collector about $2,700.
Meanwhile, the tax collector had sought a change of air in "the glorious
climate of California." Before his departure he related a tale of woe, the
burden of which was that highwaymen had despoiled him of official
collections of between $5,000 and $6,000.

The fire fiend had marked Choctaw officials for its victims. According to
his own statement, the dwelling of the county superintendent of education
was the repository of $4,000 of county funds when said "fiend" consumed
it. The superintendent was the author of his own official bond, and in his
inexperience omitted therefrom the customary penalty clause, which
omission rendered the instrument non-enforceable. Feeling the inadequacy
of local employment for his talents, he took up residence across the line
in Sumter county, and thus qualified for election to the legislature, but
there was no requisition for his services.

The superintendent was law partner of Joshua Morse, attorney general of
the state. They were jointly indicted for the murder of Editor Thomas of
the county paper at Butler, the county seat; they obtained a change of
venue and were tried and acquitted in Mobile, the principal witness
against them having disappeared.

William Miller, a former slaveowner and one of the largest landowners,
became probate judge of Greene county in 1868. Judge Oliver, the
incumbent, refused to recognize his claim, and Miller invoked the
ever-responsive military powers; the soldiers forced entrance to the
office and inducted the claimant. Oliver filed a protest and retired.
Alexander Boyd, a nephew of Miller, became county solicitor and register
in chancery.

Judge Luther R. Smith had a brother, Arthur A., who was languishing in
Massachusetts, with talents unemployed and maybe unrecognized. The judge
imported his brother and made him county superintendent of education.
There were not many white Republicans in Greene, and it happened that the
circuit court clerkship was "lying around loose," and the judge thought
Arthur was the man for the place. The latter accepted the gift, but failed
to relinquish the superintendency of education. One Yordy figured as agent
of the Freedmen's Bureau.

These officials were unable to obtain board and lodging at either of the
taverns or elsewhere, and jointly established and maintained for some time
a bachelor establishment, duly ostracised by the people of the town and

Hale county had a complement of officials in keeping with the layout
common to the counties of the district, including a negro legislator. The
most troublesome was Dr. Blackford, probate judge. He had served as a
delegate to the constitutional convention of 1867. He displaced Judge
Hutchinson, a popular gentleman who had lost three brothers in one of the
battles in Virginia, members of the famous Greensboro Guards.

Blackford was a skillful physician and surgeon, and of fair education. He
served as surgeon in the Confederate army, and was stationed at Vicksburg
during the siege. Subsequently a story circulated that he was there
court-martialed on a charge of appropriating to his own use hospital
stores, including liquors. However that may be, his services were
dispensed with and he took up abode in Greensboro, and began to practice
his profession with much success. In an evil hour he was tempted to cast
his lot with the adventurers who were greedily fastening their clutches
upon the substance of the country, and fell. Going from bad to worse, he
affiliated with negroes and soon obtained absolute control of them.
Claiming, as probate judge, that he had the right to supervise contracts
between them and their employers, he constantly meddled in private
affairs. Calling league meetings and taking the hands away from their
work, he caused much vexation and loss to the planters.

About the time when he became probate judge an incident occurred in
Greensboro in which was exhibited by the soldiers an unusual
disapprobation of the administration of affairs. The agent of the
Freedmen's Bureau, one Clause, incurred the displeasure of some of them
who were inclined to insubordination, and they administered to him a
beating. Varying the proceeding, they seized a negro school teacher and
conveyed him to a pond, in which they ducked him repeatedly.

Blackford became alarmed at this manifestation of displeasure, and fled to
the hills north of the town. There he was pursued by the rioters in
uniform, and, resuming his flight, sought refuge at the home of a citizen,
who apprised leading citizens of Greensboro of his whereabouts and peril.
They informed the military commander, who, in turn, dispatched a squad of
cavalry to rescue him and conduct him to town. Blackford, on his return,
renounced his political heresies and aspirations to the judgeship, which
he declared he would not accept; but, recovering his confidence in the
stability of the military powers and his negro backing, he quickly
recanted and relapsed into arrogance.

Tuscaloosa county was not neglected by place-hunters, but the
preponderance of whites in that county was a restraining influence.

Luther R. Smith, a carpetbagger from Michigan, provisional circuit judge
in 1866, was elected to that position in 1868, and simultaneously a member
of the legislature, but had decency to resign the latter trust.
Notwithstanding he subsequently violated the judicial proprieties by
presiding over a radical state convention in Selma. He was one of the most
respectable of the intruders, and reputed to be just, impartial and
courteous on the bench. Nevertheless he shared, in a lesser measure, the
odium which attached to all. The feeling of the people was that no
right-minded man would thrust himself into public position under the
peculiar circumstances.

All the members of the United States House of Representatives from
Alabama were carpetbaggers--officers in the United States army. Charles W.
Pierce represented the fourth district. He held a commission as major. His
course in the interval when the constitution was in abeyance was the same
as that of Colonel Callis, who caused more discussion. Colonel Callis was
elected to Congress from the Huntsville district, in competition with
General Joseph W. Burke, a man of character and education. General Burke
was the Republican nominee, and Callis bolted. Callis was a federal
soldier and agent of the Freedmen's Bureau, at Huntsville. While
canvassing, he was attired in the uniform of a colonel. When the
constitution was rejected and declared rejected by General Meade, and the
fact communicated to General Grant and by him communicated to Congress,
and the action of Congress looked to the rejection of the constitution,
Colonel Callis left Huntsville and went upon duty to Mississippi as an
army officer. When Congress accepted the constitution and admitted Alabama
under the "omnibus" measure, Callis hurried to Washington and took his
seat as a representative from Alabama, notwithstanding he had never been a
citizen of the state and was then a resident of Mississippi. Pierce was
succeeded by Charles Hays, of Greene county, in November, 1869.

The state was represented in the federal Senate by Willard Warner and
George E. Spencer, the first named a northern general, the other, an army
contractor. Judge Busteed, under oath, said that when elected Warner was
not a citizen of Alabama; that when summoned a short while before as a
juror in his court, Warner claimed exemption on the plea that he was a
senator of the state of Ohio. Governor William H. Smith, in a letter
published in the _Huntsville Advocate_, said: "Spencer lives upon the
passions and prejudices of the races. The breath of peace would leave him
on the surface, neglected and despised." And Spencer characterized his
colleague as a "a trifling and worthless man."

Being unobjectionable as to "loyalty," all of these non-citizens were
permitted to take their seats; and for the first time since 1861 Alabama
was represented (?) in the federal Congress, notwithstanding the fact that
during a part of that period the people were taxed by the government which
denied them representation--taxed unconstitutionally (in the case of
cotton), as the Supreme Court subsequently decided.

William H. Smith, of Randolph county, displaced Governor Patton. His
character will be revealed as these pages multiply.

The state supreme court justices were evicted, and S. W. Peck, Thomas M.
Peters and B. F. Saffold substituted for them. There is little to be said
of them by a layman, except that the first named favored suspension of the
writ of habeas corpus, during the Ku Klux era, and the last named declared
unconstitutional the law under which a justice of the peace was convicted
of solemnizing the rites of matrimony between a white man and a negro, and
reversed the judgment of the lower court.

President Lincoln in 1863 appointed Richard Busteed United States district
judge, and in 1865 the appointee came to the state and assumed the bench.
Whatever else may be said of him, he was bold in expression of opinion,
judicial and personal; and during the carpetbag régime he testified that
"the general character of Alabama office-holders for intelligence and
honesty was not good." In 1870 Francis S. Lyon, of Demopolis, testified
that a bill was filed in Judge Busteed's court to foreclose two mortgages
on the Alabama Central Railroad (Selma to Meridian), and the cost of that
suit, paid by New York creditors of the road, amounted to $122,000. The
institution presided over by Judge Busteed was costly to litigants, to say
the least.

A. J. Applegate became lieutenant-governor. Mr. William M. Lowe, of
Huntsville, testifying before the congressional commission in 1870, said
of him:

"I had occasion to look into his record, and published a statement in
reference to his character, in which I proved conclusively that any petit
jury in any New England state would have convicted him of grand larceny
upon the evidence by his own declarations,--his own letters. These charges
were made by me when he was living. Every opportunity was given him to
make his defense; he had no defense to make but a lie. He had been a
member of McPherson's body-guard that stopped near Mrs. Jacob Thompson's
residence in Mississippi. He was there taken sick and taken into her house
and nursed and kindly treated by her. At that time and under those
circumstances, he, or some one with his knowledge and connivance, stole
the deeds and patents and valuable papers belonging to the Thompson
estate. After the war he settled here and wrote a letter to Mrs. Thompson.
In his first letter he thanked her for her kind and Christian treatment of
him while he was sick, although he was an enemy to her cause, saying that
he would ever hold it in remembrance. The second letter called to her mind
the fact that she had lost those valuable papers, and offered to return
them or have them returned to her for a consideration. She wrote him back.
The correspondence was published in full. Finally, he wrote to her if she
wanted these papers better than she wanted $10,000, to send him on the
money and get the papers. That was about his language, written in the most
abominable and illiterate style." The matter was placed in the hands of
lawyers, who induced Applegate with $300 to surrender the papers.

General James H. Clanton, under oath, spoke thus of Harrington, speaker of
the house of representatives:

"Mr. Harrington came to Mobile very poor, from the northeast somewhere. He
was never a soldier that we knew of. He is now very rich. Just after the
war he was charged with running free negroes into Cuba. I do not know
whether it is true or not. The present sheriff of Montgomery county showed
me a reward offered for him, from what purported to be a northwestern
paper, on a charge of bank robbery. He requested me to say nothing about
it lest Harrington should get away. He said he was going for him that
night; that he had his accomplice in jail, and the accomplice said
Harrington was the man. The description he showed me was lifelike."

Asked whether it could not be a mistake, the general replied:

"No, sir; a man of marked physique. I did not give this information at the
time to any of my law partners, but they smiled when I told them that
Harrington would pay more reward to Barbour (the sheriff) and we would
never hear of it again. And we never did hear of it till we published it
in the last campaign, to which Harrington, who still lives there, made no
response whatever. Colonel Thomas H. Herndon, a prominent lawyer of
Mobile, said to me that a friend saw Harrington, during the last session
of the legislature at which he presided, take a crowd off to drink
champagne at a barroom known as the Rialto, in Montgomery, and when
remonstrated with for his extravagance, he ran his hand in his pocket and
pulled out seventeen one-hundred-dollar bills, with the remark that he
could afford it, as he had made that much in one day in engineering a bill
through the house." The general further testified that Eugene Beebe, of
Montgomery, told him he paid Harrington a sum of money to advocate a
lottery charter before the house. He said that of the representatives whom
he "approached" on the subject of the lottery, only one, a negro,
exhibited any qualms, and he accepted fifty dollars, protesting that it
was only "as a loan."

When Colonel Joseph Hodgson became superintendent of education, he said
that county superintendents had embezzled between $50,000 and $60,000 of
school funds. Two sons of the former state superintendent were fugitives
on that account.

Mr. P. T. Sayer, speaking of the Montgomery county representatives in the
lower house of the legislature, said: "One of them is a man who came from
Austria, by the name of Stroback. I understood that he was a sutler or
something of that kind in the federal army. I further understood that he
never has been naturalized; I do not know about that. He was said to be a
gentleman in his own country; I do not know about that, but he certainly
is not one in Montgomery. He is a man of a great deal of sense, and I
think a dangerous man in any community situated as ours is. The others are
three negroes."

These character sketches of radical officials might be multiplied
indefinitely, but the monotony would weary the reader. Necessarily others
will be mentioned incidentally as this story of reconstruction



Only misrule could be expected from such officials. Nothing was sacred
from their greedy grasp. The most cherished institutions were debased to
their purposes. In time the university was avoided by all who were
unwilling to forfeit public esteem. One of the early arrivals from
fruitful Ohio was Rev. A. S. Lakin. He was commissioned by Bishop Clark,
of the Cincinnati conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to
organize negro churches in Alabama. He was a fanatic of the extreme type,
and his work of the politico-religious character. He regarded the
Methodist Episcopal Church, south, as an aggregation of rebels, and aimed
to array his negro proselytes against it by preaching political sermons,
in which he reminded his audiences of their former bondage and alleged
there was danger of its renewal. According to his own statements, he was
the unterrified victim of a concatenation of Ku Klux attacks. In
prosecuting his roving missions in the mountains of northern Alabama,
Lakin's morbid fancy distorted every lone hunter encountered on the
roadside into a lurking assassin, and every innocent group of gossiping
rustics into a band of Ku Klux. He organized a camp-meeting, and one night
at an early hour during its progress a party of horsemen rode through.
Lakin wrote for publication in one of the church organs a hair-raising
story of the incident, magnifying it into a Ku Klux foray. His explanation
of the cause of the intrusion was that the klansmen were offended because
of a rumor circulating in the camp that an infant born in the neighborhood
was "a Ku Klux child," an exact image in miniature of a disguised Ku Klux,
horns and hood included. Lakin solemnly affirmed the fact of the birth of
the monstrosity, but ungenerously robbed it of distinction by adding that
six other infants in that klan-infested region were similarly "Ku Klux
marked." The woods must have been full of human curios!

In 1868 the regents elected this superstitious and prejudiced emissary
president of the University of Alabama! Accompanied by Dr. N. B. Cloud,
state superintendent of education, Lakin journeyed to Tuscaloosa to assume
the station which the people once hoped would be graced by the illustrious
Henry Tutwiler. Professor Wyman was in charge of the institution and held
the keys; the former president had withdrawn and appointed him custodian.
On the ground that the board of regents was illegally constituted,
Professor Wyman refused to yield to Lakin, and the latter, discerning
signs of popular displeasure, lost the courage which had nerved him to
assert his claim, mounted his horse and hurriedly rode away in the
direction of Huntsville, while Dr. Cloud departed with equal celerity in
the direction of Montgomery.

Some time afterward Lakin related a blood-curdling story of pursuit from
Tuscaloosa by a band of Ku Klux and his almost miraculous escape from the
horrible death to which the band had condemned him. This story provoked
the publication of a counter charge,--that while Lakin was preaching
somewhere in New York State he ill requited the hospitality of an
entertainer by dishonoring the household.

And this man's ultimate aspiration was to represent Alabama in the United
States Senate!

One of the most scandalous chapters in the history of the Republican
régime relates to railroad subsidies. The Lindsay administration favored
encouragement to the building of railroads, as means for development of
natural resources, and in 1867 the legislature passed, and the governor
approved, an act which authorized the state to indorse bonds of new
railroads to the extent of $12,000 per mile, with an additional
endorsement for bridges; but indorsement was safeguarded carefully, and no
wrongs were committed in connection with the execution of the law until
the Radicals assumed control. Then there began a riot of bribery and

November 10, 1871, I. F. Grant, state treasurer, submitted to the
congressional commission investigating affairs in the southern states a
statement from which the following extracts are made:

"Bonded debt of the state January 11, 1861, $3,445,000.

"The state is and was bound to pay in perpetuity for annual interest on
the school fund the sum of $134,367.80.

"Interest unpaid during the war, accrued up to and including January 1,
1867, was then funded and new bonds issued for the sum of $621,000, which
made the total bonded debt on

  January 1, 1867                                            $4,066,000

  "The war debt, amounting to $12,094,731.95 was repudiated.
  "Eight per cent. bonds sold in 1867-68                        659,100
  "Eight per cent. bonds sold in 1869-70                        657,700
  "Total bonded debt January 1, 1871                         $5,382,800

"Cause of increase, sale of bonds to carry on the government.

"There is a prospective liability for an indefinite amount growing out of
the passage of an act, approved February 19, 1867, and amended August,
1868, whereby the state is required to indorse railroad bonds to the
amount of $12,000 per mile, which act was further amended in March, 1870,
so as to increase the indorsement to $16,000 per mile.

"The same legislature in March, 1870, made a loan to the Alabama and
Chattanooga Railroad Company of $2,000,000 in Alabama 8% bonds, over and
above the indorsement of $16,000 per mile for the entire length of the
road, thereby adding to the direct and collateral liability of the state
for this one road the sum of $6,700,000. In addition to this, the
Republican governor, W. H. Smith, issued to the road bonds to the amount
of $500,000 above what the road could ever by any possibility claim under
the law.

"The said road made default in payment of January and July, 1871,
interest, which the state paid as its owner and creditor, $508,000.

"There are eight or ten other roads for which the state, under the law
above referred to, is liable as indorser."

The state auditor reported this summary of liabilities September 30, 1871:

  Direct indebtedness                       $ 8,761,967 37
  Present conditional indebtedness           15,420,000 00
  Conditional indebtedness provided by law   14,200,000 00

Under Democratic administration, a committee of the legislature
investigated the railroad deals and reported that "Two millions of state
bonds which the law authorized the governor to issue in aid of said
company (Alabama and Chattanooga) in sums sufficient to pay off the cost
of having constructed a certain amount of road in excess of the state
indorsement of $16,000 per mile, were issued in bulk, with reckless haste,
and were hurried away to the money marts of Europe"; that "there has been
no record kept by any officer of the state of the number and amount of the
bonds issued or indorsed by the state in favor of the various railroads
entitled by law to the aid of the state, except as to loans of bonds to
the Montgomery and Eufaula Railroad Company, $300,000 in amount, and the
indorsement of bonds in favor of the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad

R. M. Patton testified that although he had accepted the presidency of the
Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad Company, he was ignored because he
opposed the loan bill. D. N. Stanton, of Boston, was elected president,
and Patton "was not invited or expected at the consultation of friends of
the road. He said: "I do not think the stockholders ever paid in any of
the capital stock of the company."

Arthur Bingham, state treasurer from 1868 to 1870, asked whether he knew
of any fraud or illegality in connection With the issue or indorsement of
the railroad bonds, declined to answer upon the ground that by so doing he
would criminate himself.

Mr. Holmes testified that on the last day of the session of the
legislature of 1869-70 Mr. Gilmer, president of the North and South
Railroad, borrowed from him and Mr. Farley $25,000. Next day Mr. Gilmer
complained that John Hardy, of Dallas county, chairman of the committee of
the legislature, had treated him shabbily; that "he had agreed to pass the
bill for him for $25,000, but that at the eleventh hour he went back on
him and made him pay $10,000 more, making in all $35,000."

Jere Haralson, colored, Mr. Hardy's colleague from Dallas, was a shrewd
negro, but at that time a cheap commodity. Later he appraised himself more
highly. Ben Turner, a negro (successor to the carpetbag congressman),
continued for some time after regeneration to represent the Dallas
district in Congress, and Jere spent much time with him in Washington,
engaged in profitable political work. But at the Montgomery distribution
only fifty dollars was apportioned to him. He ingenuously explained that
he accepted it as a loan.

When the state, some years later, attempted to make Mr. Hardy disgorge the
$35,000 (bonds) and imprisoned him, he escaped on the plea that it was
imprisonment for debt.

Ex-Governor Patton published a statement in which he said that, when in
Boston, parties to the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad complained to him
because legislation in Alabama had cost the company $200,000.

J. P. Stowe, a Montgomery county representative, asserted, and the
assertion was published, that John Hardy took away the night the
legislature adjourned not less than $150,000, but not all of it was
his--he had much of it for distribution.

Construction of the Alabama and Chattanooga (now the Great Southern)
Railroad, extending from Meridian to Chattanooga, referred to in the
report quoted from, was under direction of D. N. Stanton. He was a skilled
and unscrupulous lobbyist and get-rich-quick builder. There was testimony
to the effect that the only money used in construction work was that
which was derived from state indorsement. The indorsement for bridges was
$60.00 per lineal foot of structure. In the hill country, beginning in
Tuscaloosa county, the line of road described a serpentine trail among the
hills. Mere increase of mileage presented no great disadvantage to
Stanton, but tunneling, cutting and filling were difficulties studiously
avoided. Consequently, when the road passed into other hands and
reorganization was effected, changes necessary in straightening left the
landscape with marks of peculiar interest to civil engineers. Travelers by
that road may observe from car windows at many points abandoned roadbeds
to right and left, winding among the low places and avoiding hills which
were so formidable to Stanton, reminding the observer of meandering brooks
seeking lower levels. Lines of least resistance were most attractive to
Stanton, regardless of circuitousness.

While government was thus growing in costliness, the resources of the
people who had to foot the bills were diminishing.

State Treasurer Grant's statement showed that the average cost of state
government in Alabama for 1859 and 1860 was $813,000; for 1868, 1869,
1870, $1,514,000; and the increase, he said, was partly due to increase
of bonded debt, but mainly to ignorant and corrupt legislation.

The report of the superintendent of census showed:

  Assessed valuation of property in Alabama,
      including slaves, in 1860              $432,198,762
  Assessed valuation in 1870                  156,770,387
  State taxation in 1860                          530,107
  State taxation in 1870                        1,477,414
  County taxation in 1860                         309,474
  County taxation in 1870                       1,122,471

Now consider, as representing average conditions in the counties of the
Black Belt, these facts derived from the report of Judge Hill, an expert,
employed to investigate affairs in Marengo county.

Taxes in 1870 were threefold greater than in 1860. The value of subjects
of taxation had diminished two-thirds; 22,000 slaves, of an average value
of $500 each, had ceased to be enumerated as taxable property; lands had
depreciated in value sixty per cent.; there was less than one-half as much
live stock as formerly; two townships had been lopped off and given to the
newly-created county of Hale.



The people of the Black Belt had borne with all possible patience the
multiplied grievous wrongs recited in the foregoing pages. During the
transition from master and slave to the new relations between them there
was a strong disposition in both races to live in peace and harmony and
make the best of their altered relations; the negroes were civil and
confiding, scarcely realizing the change in their status, while the whites
appreciated their good behavior during the war, when families of men in
the army were unprotected, and were disposed to gratitude for it. But
since the establishment of the league friendly intercourse between the
races had been growing rarer, and now ceased altogether; the estrangement
was complete.

With the imposition of the constitution began the reign of the
carpetbagger--"demon of discord and anarchy"--and the negro, and the
infliction of "the horrors of reconstruction"; a civil convulsion in which
the foundations of society were broken up; "a vast sluice of ignorance
and vice was opened; a race which never had evolved anything of its own
motion was given the ballot, the highest right of American citizenship,"
and never regarded it as more than a personal perquisite, while white men
of the highest type were disqualified from voting by the constitution of
their state; negroes were made eligible to all offices, while the federal
Constitution deprived the people of the wisdom, knowledge and experience
in office of former leaders at a time when they were most needed. A
comment of the time was, that a proscribed white man could not have been
bailiff to his former slave if that former slave was a justice of the
peace, as he might well have been, if he was not in fact. Democrats had
not opposed negro suffrage in order to oppress the negroes, but to prevent
negroes from crushing them; and the situation produced by the imposition
of the constitution attested the reasonableness of their fear of the
effect of the endowment of the negro with the ballot. They realized that
"in popular government where two races exist in mass who are from any
cause so different that they cannot mingle in marriage and become one, the
exercise of political power must be confined to one or the other of those
races if there be a wish for security and peace."

In the fourth district, the whites were greatly outnumbered by the
blacks, and, comparing voting strength, a contest with them at the polls
seemed hopeless.

The census of 1870 credited Choctaw county with 5,802 whites and 6,872
blacks; Greene county, 3,858 whites and 14,541 blacks; Hale county, 4,802
whites and 16,990 blacks; Marengo county, 6,090 whites and 20,058 blacks;
Sumter county, 5,202 whites and 18,907 blacks; Tuscaloosa county, 10,229
whites and 8,294 blacks.

Thus, excepting the first- and last-named counties, the whites were
outnumbered by more than three to one.

All of the towns in the section under review were small, the populations
ranging from 1,500 to 2,000. Greensboro in Hale, Eutaw in Greene,
Demopolis in Marengo, Butler in Choctaw, Livingston in Sumter, and
Tuscaloosa in the county of the same name, were the seats of government of
their respective counties, centers of religion, education and sociability.
At Tuscaloosa were located the State University and a fine girls' school;
in Marion were the Seminary, the Institute, Judson, and Howard College; in
Greensboro, the Methodist Southern University and an advanced girls'
school. These towns had been founded as the home places of wealthy and
cultured planter families whose plantations were in the fertile prairies
and canebrakes. Office-holding had always been their honorable
distinction, gained by highest merit.

An epitome of conditions in the southern states at that period will serve
to portray those in Alabama: "Legislatures in some instances composed in
part of pardoned felons and penitentiary convicts enacting laws; the
judiciary in the hands of charlatans and bribe-takers; every office, from
the highest to the lowest, filled with ignorance, vice and unblushing
corruption; with the land swarming with libelers and malignant slanderers;
the country divided into military districts and garrisoned with troops,
whose officers were ever ready, at the slightest bidding, to annoy and
oppress an unarmed people."

But the whites realized that in this section, at least, civilization
itself was at stake, and notwithstanding the adverse odds and other
disadvantages, resolved to risk all in combat with the forces arrayed
against them. They were acquainted with the character of the Union League;
aware of its horrible objects and aims; the almost daily crimes of lustful
fiends, assassins and incendiaries were regarded as the fruits of its
teachings; its responsibility for the existence of courts of law void of
decency and recognized authority, and for officials incapable of
enforcing law and order, for injury to public credit by prodigal pledges,
and waste of public money, was fixed by its foolish and persistent
allegiance to false leaders. This league was the institution marked for
destruction. An organization pledged to undertake the task relentlessly
and unflinchingly was regarded as a necessity. As the mighty Anglo-Saxon
race on this continent had ever proved equal to emergencies, so now the
men of this race, war-trained in arms and horsemanship, sensible that the
great stake of Christianity and civilization lay in the balance, nerved
themselves for the conflict.

The rule of the carpetbagger and scalawag and freedman was a "reign of
terror," and thrilling as well as deplorable were the incidents of the
struggle to throw off the yoke. The mere recital of them, without comment,
would fill volumes. Only those regarded as culminating events in the
several counties of the district will be related. And in the relation
sworn testimony of the time supports the writer's statements where
personal observation was lacking. They illustrate the sacrifices of the
devoted men who were impelled to deeds distasteful but regarded as a
necessary choice of evils, and who rescued that garden spot of the state
from savage domination and again made it fit abiding place for the race
which before had dispossessed the aborigines. These men knew that the
negroes were misguided dupes of designing and ruthless leaders, and pitied
them, but for the ultimate good of both races sternly resolved that they
should be compelled to discard those leaders and submit to the legitimate
rulers of the land.



Before proceeding with the narrative, an explanation of the origin and
purposes of the Ku Klux Klan may interest the reader. The facts mentioned
were derived from authentic and official sources.

The first den was organized in Pulaski, Giles county, Tennessee, in 1866,
and Pulaski continued to be the centre of the order throughout its
existence as an interstate organization. Six men organized the den for
diversion and amusement in a community where life was dull and monotonous.
The original name was Ku Kloi (from the Greek word Ku Klos), meaning band
or circle. It was changed to Ku Klux and Klan was added.

The constitution of Tennessee was imposed by a fraction of the people. The
legislature passed an act restricting suffrage which disfranchised
three-fourths of the native population of the middle and western parts of
the state. This obsequious legislature also passed acts ratifying the
illegal edicts of the autocratic and tyrannical Governor Brownlow ("The
Parson"); the sedition law was revived and amplified; freedom of speech
and press was overthrown, and a large militia force composed of negroes
was created and made responsible to the governor alone. At an election
enough men had been permitted to register to thwart Brownlow's plans. He
threw out the entire vote of twenty-eight counties. Registrars were
removed, registration set aside, the counties placed under martial law,
and negro militia quartered therein. The legislature had become
unanimously Republican in both branches.

The people began to consider means of counteracting this high-handed
tyranny. The Pulaski Ku Klux organization had attracted much attention and
branches of it had been organized in many parts of the state. Leaders of
the people quickly saw that it could be utilized for the purpose in view.
And this was done. The order, thus perverted, soon spread from Virginia to
Texas. The ritual was simple and easily memorized and was never printed;
but a copy of the prescript was obtained and used in a trial in Tennessee
and reproduced in United States government publications. At a meeting in
Nashville of delegates from all dens this was modified. That convention
designated the southern territory as "The Invisible Empire." It was
subdivided into "realms" (corresponding to states); realms were divided
into "dominions" (congressional districts); dominions into "provinces"
(counties); provinces into "dens." Officers were designated as follows:
Grand Wizard of Invisible Empire and his ten Genii (and the grand wizard's
powers were almost autocratic), Grand Dragon of Realm and his Eight
Hydras, Grand Titan of Dominion and his Six Furies, Grand Cyclops of Den
and his Two Night Hawks, Grand Monk, Grand Scribe, Grand Exchequer, Grand
Turk, Grand Sentinel, The Genii, Hydras, Furies, Gobbins and Night Hawks
were staff officers. It is said that the gradation and distribution of
authority were perfect, and that no more perfectly organized order ever
existed in the world. The costume consisted of a mask with openings for
the nose and eyes; a tall, pointed hat of stiff material; a gown or robe
to cover the entire person. Each member was provided with a whistle, and
with this, and by means of a code of signals, communicated with his
comrades. They used a cypher to fix dates, etc., and published their
notices in the newspapers, until repressive laws forbade this. Their
horses were robed and their hoofs muffled.

Meanwhile, other orders formed: White brotherhood, White League, Pale
Faces, Constitutional Union Guards and Knights of White Camelia; but all
evidence shows that they were for the most part short-lived, the very
name of Ku Klux having caught the fancy of the members. General Forrest is
credited with having consolidated all of them into the one grand order. An
interview with General Forrest was published in the _Cincinnati
Commercial_ in September, 1868, in which he was quoted as saying that in
Tennessee the klan embraced a membership of 40,000, and in all the states
550,000. He said to the congressional commission that the order was
disbanded by him when it had fulfilled its purpose. No doubt he meant that
the general organization was disbanded, for certainly detached bodies
existed after the date fixed by him as that of the disbandment. Fleming
says that the general was initiated by Captain John W. Morton, formerly
his chief of artillery, and became Grand Wizard. In his testimony General
Forrest said that the klan in Tennessee was intended as a defensive
organization to offset the Union League; to protect ex-Confederates from
extermination by Brownlow's militia; to prevent the burning of gins, mills
and residences.

Congress and the radical legislatures resorted to all possible means to
break up the klans, but they existed until after white supremacy was
restored. Even then, counterfeit bodies perverted the name until they were
suppressed by the natural rulers of the land. Congress passed a bill which
provided for suspension of civil government in any district in which Ku
Klux lawlessness existed, thus depriving all the people of trial by jury
and other rights, and placing whole communities under the ban of military
power. The Alabama legislative enactment pronounced anyone found in
disguise a felon and outlaw. It also provided that if a person was whipped
or killed by men in disguise, the county could be sued for a penalty
ranging from $1,000 to $5,000; and it made it the duty of the prosecuting
attorney of the county to institute suit for and in behalf of the victim
or his relatives, in any case where no indictment was found.

After the Nashville convention the order courted publicity, in order to
inspire respect for its powers, and the Ku Klux sometimes paraded in
daylight. Their appearance in public was sudden and unheralded; and they
disappeared as silently and mysteriously. The perfection of their
movements in drill revealed the training which the members had received as
cavalrymen during the war. Sometimes the parades were at night, and then
the mystery of their sudden appearance and the weirdness of the spectacle
were heightened. One of the night parades was in Huntsville, and the story
of it was circulated throughout the north as evidence that another
revolution was imminent. It was in the nature of an acceptance of
challenge, and the circumstances connected with it were as follows:

On October 30, 1868, C. C. Sheets, a Grant candidate for elector, made a
speech in Florence. About ten o'clock that night a band of disguised men
visited his sleeping apartment. He attempted to escape by way of a
gallery, but was caught and taken back to his room. After a short stay the
band retired without having in any way harmed him. Sheets said that they
exacted from him a promise that he would desist from making inflammatory
speeches. Later in the same month Sheets delivered a speech in Huntsville.
It was reported that in the course of that speech he told his colored
audience that he had been interfered with a few nights before in Florence
by Ku Klux, and that he had promised them then that he would not make the
abusive and inflammatory speeches that he had been making; but up there,
where there were so many colored people, he wasn't afraid to say what he
pleased, and that if the colored people would do what was becoming in
them, they would carry with them weapons and shoot down those disguised
men wherever they found them; that the reason the Ku Klux paraded the
country was because the negroes were weak-kneed.

The speech excited the negroes. They remained in town all day, and at
night a meeting was held in the court-house and many negroes, with guns,
attended. During the day leading negroes loudly proclaimed that Ku Klux
would never again be permitted to enter the town; that if they attempted
to do so, they would be shot on sight. A federal military officer had said
it would be lawful to do this. A rumor circulated that Ku Klux were
assembling at a point some miles distant, and about dark two large posses
of negroes, under command of deputy sheriffs, repaired to points along
principal roads to intercept them. While the speaking at the court-house
was in progress, fugitive negroes from the posses, which had suddenly
dissolved at the approach of danger, rushed to the court-house and
announced that Ku Klux were marching on the town. The meeting broke up in
confusion and the people hurried into the yard. All the near-by streets
and the sidewalks surrounding the square were thronged with people, white
and black. Suddenly the cavalcade, numbering about two hundred, fully
uniformed in tall conical hats, long gowns, and hoods with eyeholes, some
armed with guns and sabres, wheeled into the square, and without sound
save the whistle signals--then almost as awe-inspiring as had been the
"rebel yell"--rode in military order completely around the court-house,
and then turned into one of the streets. Proceeding along this some
distance, the column halted and formed into battle line. After maintaining
this formation for a few minutes, the march was resumed and the band

There was stationed in Hunstville at that time a regiment of regular
troops, and their commander, General Cruger, with some of his staff
officers, from a hotel veranda viewed the spectacle of the Ku Klux parade.
His comment was that "it was fine but absurd."

There was an unfortunate episode of the event:

Just as the Ku Klux withdrew there was a discharge of firearms in the
courtyard. Some witnesses said that the first discharge, an accidental
one, due to nervousness, caused the others. Judge Thurlow, a visitor, was
mortally wounded, and said a short while before his death that he was shot
accidentally by his Republican friends. A negro seated on the court-house
steps was killed instantly. Two white men and a negro were wounded. This
tragedy was without design, and the excitement was quickly quieted.

A rumor that a few undisguised Ku Klux were posted about the square was
supported by the fact that after the departure of the troop three men,
having disguises in hand, were arrested by soldiers while in the act of
mounting horses in one of the side streets. Later in the night they were
rescued from jail by their comrades, and were never officially identified.
But their paraphernalia was retained by the officials and often exhibited
and photographed. Perhaps none other was ever captured directly from a



There were some miscarriages in the operations of the klan. A memorable
one of this character is recalled. A cavalcade, supposed to have started
from the western side of the Warrior river, rode through Greensboro and
proceeded to Marion, a distance of about thirty-five miles, presumably to
take from jail and execute a negro who had, with but slight provocation,
killed a white man with a paling which he wrenched from a fence. The
riders visited the jail and demanded the keys. The jailer's wife appeared
and implored them to desist. The jailer himself, a member of a fraternal
order, made an appeal which was recognized and respected by members of the
party and was successful, and after much parleying, the invaders withdrew
without molesting the custodian of the county Bastile or his charge. But
an episode of the foray was embarrassing and dangerous. The riders had
proceeded only a short distance when one of the horses fell and expired,
in full mock panoply. Here was an awkward situation for the raiders. A
comrade, far away from home, unhorsed and subjected to inevitable
detection should he be abandoned! It is not known by what means he escaped
and regained the realms of the "Grand Cyclops."

The warning to evil-disposed persons conveyed by this raid perhaps
obviated the necessity for another in that particular part of the county.

Across the border line of Mississippi occurred a lamentable disaster, due
to incompetent leadership and ignorance of locality.

In 1870 the carpetbag government in Mississippi reached the zenith of its
power, and its baleful influence pervaded every nook and corner of the
state. The effects of misgovernment were deplorable. Lands which in
ante-bellum days were appraised at twenty-five to seventy-five dollars per
acre had so depreciated in value that at forced sales only about one
dollar per acre could be obtained. There were few real estate transfers;
some of the lands were depopulated; the only immigrants were carpetbaggers
seeking offices; taxation was oppressive, especially for the support of
schools, and almost the entire burden was laid upon the whites; the scanty
possessions of negroes were within the limits of exemption; even the poll
tax, devoted to school purposes, was evaded by them. In some counties
tax-payers bore the expense of schooling three negro pupils to one white
pupil. At length they resisted collection of the tax.

Robert W. Flournoy, of Pontotoc, distinguished himself in the resultant
controversy. When not engaged as deputy postmaster and county
superintendent of education, he conducted a weekly newspaper, and made it
and himself odious. In his paper he bitterly denounced the Ku Klux as
"midnight prowlers and assassins," and responsible for the suppression of
public schools. He insisted that in the schools there should be no
separation of races, and engaged in a prolonged and heated controversy
with the governor over the question of admitting negroes to the State

Colonel Flournoy received from the Grand Cyclops a communication,
intimating that at an early date he would receive a visit from the men
whom he had denounced. About midnight, May 13, 1871, Flournoy's office
foreman and a companion aroused him from sleep with the startling
announcement that a band of Ku Klux had appeared in the village, and the
leader was inquiring where the colonel's residence was located. He had
some shotguns, and, arming himself and his callers, departed from home and
repaired to a blacksmith shop near by. At this place a number of
townsmen, well armed, had already assembled. The colonel subsequently
accounted for their presence with arms with the statement that during the
afternoon they had been hunting, and when the foreman had alarmed them
they were engaged in a game of cards. Altogether, these men constituted a
strong force, and proceeded to arrange an ambuscade at the shop.

Meanwhile the Ku Klux, who, according to later revelations, were
strangers, wholly unacquainted with the locality, having learned the
situation of the Flournoy residence, were approaching it, unconscious of
the state of affairs. Fronting the place and extending a long distance
were deep and tortuous gulleys, and in their progress the horsemen became
entangled and bewildered as in a maze and their formation broken.
Extricating themselves in groups and singly, they approached the shop.
Chancellor Pollard and Deputy Sheriff Todd were with the concealed
villagers, and the former emerged from the rear of the shop and commanded
the riders to surrender. Simultaneously, someone in concealment fired a
shot, and instantly the ambushers sprang from cover and discharged a
volley in the direction of the disordered klansmen. The surprise was
complete and overwhelming. Horses, becoming unruly, frantically turned and
fled. The riders in advance were thus thrown back upon those emerging
from the gulleys. In the resultant confusion there was desultory firing
back and forth, but the unfortunate strangers were unable to rally at any
point, and singly and in small groups they withdrew to the main street,
where they found themselves in little less embarrassing a situation. No
one knew in what direction they should retreat. They had lost their
bearings and knew not how to reach the road over which they had entered
the village. Disbanded, they fled in different directions.

Colonel Flournoy's supporters, for the most part, were ignorant of the
character of the men whom they had assaulted and the object of the foray,
and were easily led into the mistake of pressing the advantage they had
gained. Consequently, led by Flournoy, they intercepted a small body of
the raiders and fired on them.

Stampeded as they were, the resolute riders halted and returned the fire.

After daybreak a man, fully costumed and still in mask, badly shot, was
found at the place where he and his comrades had been waylaid. The
unfortunate was tenderly cared for, but expired a few hours later. Three
others were wounded, but escaped. Sixteen horses, abandoned by their
riders, together with the disguises of those riders, were picked up next
day. The original party comprised thirty men.

There was profound sorrow in the little town when the inhabitants learned
what an awful mistake had been made.



Throughout the reconstruction period there was perhaps more turbulence in
Choctaw than in any other county of the district, but, after all, the
climax in the struggle for restoration of white supremacy was in an
orderly and regularly-organized meeting of citizens, without any attempt
at secrecy of proceedings.

Judge J. Q. Smith, as substitute for Judge Luther R. Smith, as previously
chronicled, undertook to hold the regular term of the circuit court at
Butler. The sheriff attempted to arrest a boisterous man outside the
court-house and met defiance and resistance; consequently, in alarm he
resigned, and the judge, after some deliberation, concluded he could not
proceed without a sheriff and returned to his own proper jurisdiction. The
people in attendance and the residents of Butler held a meeting and
adopted a resolution requesting resignations from all public officials.
More cautious men dissuaded the leaders from promulgating the resolution,
and a movement started to have meetings in all the precincts and
delegates to a county meeting chosen. This project was successfully
accomplished, and the county meeting adopted a resolution which had been
adopted at a meeting in Sumter county. But in the interval between the
impromptu gathering and the regularly-organized county meeting most of the
officials had taken time by the forelock and anticipated the request that
they vacate the offices. The resolution adopted declared devotion to law
and order and opposition to any violation thereof, but recited the fact
that the objectionable officials held office, not by choice of the people,
but contrary to their will; that the officers had demonstrated their
incapacity to enforce the laws, and, therefore, in the interest of the
public they should resign.



Throughout the reconstruction period there was less lawlessness in Hale
than in the counties adjoining, and overthrow of the radical
administration was effected without bloodshed.

January 19, 1871, in the wee sma' hours, a cyclops and his retinue of
seventy unceremoniously called at Judge Blackford's apartments to pay
their respects. The call was intended as a sort of "surprise party"; but
coming events had cast their shadows before, and those shadows were as
premonitions of an early nocturnal visit, and the judge was "not at home."
He was cautiously domiciled in a room adjoining his office, in another
part of town. Here, in the embrace of Morpheus, perhaps reveling in dreams
of a blessed land beyond the jurisdiction of the Grand Wizard, he was
aroused with the cry of "Ku Klux!" by an alert negro, who had hastened
from the judge's home to apprise him of the presence there of the
unwelcome visitors. The alarm was not premature, for the horsemen were
hotfooting in the wake of the negro and reached the office almost as soon
as he. The judge needed no repetition of the dreadful tidings. His
transition from Dreamland to earth was instantaneous, and his plunge in
dishabille through an open window was a disappearing act worthy of
reproduction on a dramatic stage. The weird sound of a whistle close at
hand broke discordantly into the sweet concert of frogs, katydids and
other melodists of the nights and accelerated the speed of him who sought
asylum and ghostly solitude in the boneyard in the depths of the forest.

Recounting the thrilling incidents of that awful night, and his sojourn of
three nights in the gruesome refuge, Dr. Blackford, expressed bitter
resentment of the rude treatment to which his glossy tile, which he
abandoned in vanishing through the window, was subjected by the klansmen;
they placed it on the end of a staff and bore it as a sort of mock pennant
at the head of the cavalcade. Often trivial incidents, if ridiculous or
amusing, eclipse those that are grave. It was so in the Eutaw riot, when a
"plug hat" diverted dangerous men from an unlawful purpose,--but that is
another story, and will be told in due time.

For the next few days, Dr. Blackford camped at night and returned to his
office in the morning. According to his own statement, a prominent
Confederate general took him to his quarters in a hotel and promised him
protection temporarily. One evening, in general conversation, the subject
of the Ku Klux was broached, and the host imparted to his very receptive
guest much information thereon. The klans pervaded the country, and were
better organized than the Confederate army had ever been. There was no
escape for a proscribed man if he should tarry when ordered to be on the
move; when they dealt with a man, a klan from some other county or state
did the work, and all residents could be seen pursuing their accustomed
walks. "You are watched," he said, "day and night, and your whereabouts
cannot long be concealed. On that night when the Ku Klux were after you,
not more than one or two persons in the vicinity had knowledge of their

[There were at that time in Greensboro two distinguished Confederate
generals, Forrest and Rucker, engaged in building the Selma and Memphis

Judge Blackford conferred with some prominent citizens, and at his request
they consented to purchase his property on condition that he resign and
betake himself to other parts. After prolonged negotiations, the
arrangement was effected. Governor Lindsay appointed as Blackford's
successor to the probate judgeship Mr. James M. Hobson, father of
Congressman Richmond P. Hobson. Dr. Blackford, with his grievances,
repaired to Washington, where an emollient in the form of a special agency
of the Postoffice Department diverted his thoughts from the enemies he had
left behind.

The details of Dr. Blackford's statement of information derived from the
Confederate general should be taken with a grain of salt, because his
memory was not accurate. In Washington he testified in regard to another
occurrence in Greensboro, and General Blair's inquisitiveness exposed the
infirmity referred to.

He said the citizens regarded the soldiers "as a set of niggers and
offscourings of creation" whom they could "buy with two dollars and a
drink of whisky," and make them do their will. Then he related that "while
probate judge" there was an election in Greensboro, and soldiers in charge
at the polls got drunk and changed negroes' votes. He interfered, and one
of them asked: "What the devil have you got to do with it?" The doctor
replied: "I have simply this much, I am the presiding officer here of this
county; I propose to keep the peace and enforce my rights as the presiding
officer of the county, and I will deal with you myself if you do not
leave." The valiant doctor then drew a pistol and said, "If you do not
leave here now, I will shoot you." Comrades of the obstreperous soldier
interposed and bore him away, leaving the doctor in serene enjoyment of
his rights as "presiding officer of the county." After he had testified
further at considerable length, Senator Blair suddenly projected himself
into the inquiry with the question:

"On what occasion was it you drew your pistol upon a United States soldier
and told him you would shoot him if he would not desist?"

"It was on the day of the election."

"What election?"

"For the constitution; the day we voted on the constitution, I think that
was the day."

"What office did you hold then?"

"No, sir; it was not the day of the constitutional election; it was the
day on which the election, I think, of officers took place, and I know
that I was--or at least my impression is that I was probate judge at the
time; that is my impression, that I was probate judge at the time."

"The officers were elected on the same day the constitution was voted on.
So you could not have been a probate judge until you were elected and

"No, sir; my impression is, that it was after I was probate judge that
that occurred. I think I told him that by virtue of the office that I
held, if he did not desist from this--I know that was my assertion to the

"Was that a proper act for an officer, a conservator of the peace?"

"I do not know that it was, but the acts of violence going on, I thought,
demanded it, and the sheriff of the county had left,--and left these
soldiers there to do just what they pleased, and they were drunk; and when
I asked them several times to desist from this thing, and this fellow
clapped his hand on his pistol,--and I had a large derringer in my pocket,
and I told him he should do it."

"You drew your pistol on him?"

"Yes, sir; I drew my pistol."

"Was it your duty to arrest him?"

"Perhaps it might have been, sir. I did not think so; in the midst of that
excitement, I did not think so, sir."

"If a peace officer set such examples, they cannot complain that they are
followed by others."

"Yes, sir; that may be all true, but the peace officers had all forsaken
me and I was there, either to let the election go by default or else to
pursue that course,--and I resolved on that to get him away from there."

"Would not the course have been just as effectual if you had arrested him
in the name of the law?"

"I think the parties around him would have resisted arrest."

"Would not they have equally resisted your firing upon him?"



Two young men belonging in the hills of Tuscaloosa county, were journeying
in a wagon, bound homeward from a trading trip to Northport (across the
river from Tuscaloosa). Passing a negro lad, they jestingly pretended that
they would kidnap him. In alarm, the boy fled to his home and informed his
father that he had been mistreated; and the man armed himself with a gun
and pursued the unconscious young men. Overtaking them, he leveled his gun
menacingly and cursed the unarmed and defenseless white men. That night
they, with some friends, repaired to the negro's house to chastise him. He
had assembled a number of armed friends in anticipation of an attack. He
had loosened some of the flooring, and through the opening thus provided
crawled to the edge of the house, and, emerging from this position, crept
unperceived to the near-by bushes. While the whites were parleying with
the inmates of the house, he discharged both barrels of his gun, and young
Finley fell dead. Shots from the house succeeded. Attacked front and
rear, the whites withdrew in disorder. News of the occurrence quickly
spread far and wide.

Next day one of the negroes implicated was caught and killed. Later,
another, who had been captured and incarcerated in jail at Tuscaloosa, was
taken therefrom by a band of men and executed. The ringleader escaped
temporarily. Twice in pursuit of him steamboats were stopped and searched.
The fugitive had been on one of them, but debarked at one of the landings.
About twelve months after the unsuccessful chase, the fugitive was traced
to a plantation in Hale county, where the habit of wearing a heavy
revolver even while at field work rendered him an object of suspicion, and
caused an investigation which revealed his identity. His dead body, weapon
in hand, was found one day on the roadside, and his taking off was
associated in the minds of the people with the brief visit to that
neighborhood of two white men, who departed in the direction of Tuscaloosa
county. Consequences of this affair were a change in the office of
sheriff, recall of troops, and other tragedies, but the ultimate effect
was a better understanding between the races.



In Sumter county affairs were approaching a climax when Enoch Townsend, a
negro, about dark one evening waylaid and repeatedly stabbed Mr. Bryant
Richardson, a planter, and fled after Mr. Richardson, despite his wounds,
bravely struggled to overcome his assailant. A warrant for the arrest of
the assailant issued, and officers sought him on the plantation of Dr.

Choutteau was of French descent and migrated to Sumter from Louisiana,
where, it was rumored, he had been involved in serious trouble. He is
described as a swaggerer. During his early residence in Sumter he
expressed intense dislike of freedmen and lost caste with the whites by
seriously advocating wholesale poisoning as a means of relieving the
county of the surplus of its negro population. Later he yielded to the
temptation of office, and identified himself with the league and gained
odious notoriety by his radicalism. He had constantly about him at his
plantation armed negro guards; the league met there and picketed the roads
thereabout. At length he became intolerable.

To this plantation officers with the warrant of arrest repaired and
searched the cabins in the negro quarters. After the search was nearly
completed, a negro scrambled from the chimney of a cabin to the roof,
sprang thence to the ground and fled. Disobeying the summons to halt, he
was fired upon by the posse and killed. Poor fellow! he was the wrong man,
and no one ever learned why he acted so like a criminal. The dead man
proved to be Yankee Ben, president of the Loyal League at Sumterville.
(The fugitive Townsend was arrested by two law-abiding freedmen and lodged
in jail at Livingston.)

The killing of Yankee Ben excited the negroes, and a meeting was called at
Choutteau's place for the purpose of formulating plans to avenge it. Sixty
armed negroes assembled accordingly on Saturday, but were dispersed. On
Monday one hundred and fifty met at Choutteau's. Simultaneously, twelve
white men went there to hold an inquest on the remains of Yankee Ben,
which had previously been interrupted by the proceedings narrated. On the
latter occasion Choutteau refused to permit an inquest unless by a jury
composed of negroes. In this his dusky adherents supported him, and were
insulting in demeanor. One hundred whites reinforced the jury and
scattered the negroes. Thereupon Choutteau withdrew his objection.
Moreover, he promised that if permitted to remain on his place undisturbed
for a few days, he would leave the neighborhood, adding that he had for
some time contemplated the move. He was told that what he purposed to do
was unnecessary, and that he was required only to cease his turbulent

Choutteau moved to Livingston, and shortly afterward his plantation house
was destroyed by fire. He then posed as a victim of Ku Klux incendiarism,
magnified his losses, memorialized the legislature for reimbursement,
published exaggerated stories of the occurrence, and vociferously
threatened revenge. He was regarded as a menace to the safety of the
community in which he had taken up his residence.

Shortly after midnight August 13, 1869, his house was attacked by a small
band of men, who forced an entrance into the hall. Doors on each side gave
entrance to sleeping quarters, and an invader broke out a panel of one of
them, struck a match and thrust his face into the opening. A gun was fired
from within the room and the man fell to the floor. The weapon was
discharged by a German named Coblentz, whom Choutteau had hired as a
guard. The intruder's head was blown to pieces, and the entire brain, with
one hemisphere intact, together with the mask the unfortunate had worn,
was found on the floor next morning. When the victim fell back from the
door, a comrade sprang to the vacated place and fired several shots at
Coblentz, inflicting wounds from which he died an hour or so later.
Believing they had killed Choutteau, the band departed, taking the fallen
comrade. Blood drippings marked for some miles, to the river, the trail of
the retiring invaders. The negro ferryman testified that they ferried
themselves over the stream.

The dead man's identity was never disclosed to the public, but there was a
rumor that he was a young doctor, and that his remains were interred by
companions, who sent to his home his watch and other valuables which he
had about his person, with information regarding the place of burial. In
some unhappy home, a mother, wife or other loved ones long mourned the
fate of him who had died so tragically. Choutteau did not tarry. He was
given employment in Washington, and disappeared from view.

The party which visited Livingston that fateful night divided and a
detachment went to the house of George Houston, one of the negro
legislators. When the firing began at Houston's home, someone sprang from
a window and fled to the brush. Thinking it was Houston and that he had
escaped, this band reunited itself with the others and all departed. It
was Houston's son who escaped. Houston himself was wounded, but recovered,
and left for Montgomery, returning no more. Houston was accused of having
repeatedly uttered the threat that if the whites did not cease their
regulating activities he would have Livingston laid in ashes.

On August 8, of the same year leading citizens of Livingston received
telegrams advising them that one hundred armed negroes, en route to
Livingston, had stopped at Gainesville, in the same county, and purchased
quantities of ammunition. Very soon thereafter Captain Johnson, commander
of a steamer on the Tombigbee river, telegraphed to Livingston that in
steaming up the stream he had seen groups of negroes on the banks,--all
with guns,--who said they were going to Livingston to attend a nominating
meeting, to be held next day; that they had been ordered to attend with
arms. Another dispatch was received from Eutaw saying that Congressman
Hays had engaged transportation next day for one hundred negroes.

The white people of Livingston, on receipt of these dispatches, bestirred
themselves and summoned reinforcements from other points.

The night preceding the day set for the meeting the negroes camped outside
of town. Next day, when they entered Livingston, they were confronted by a
body of white men, who told them they would not be permitted to retain
their guns while in town and must take them back to the camp. The negroes,
after some disputation, on learning that the congressman would not be
present, retired. Burke, the negro legislator and president of the league,
went to the camp and harangued them. He urged them to return to town with
their guns and resist any interference that might be offered. He wrought
them into a state of excitement.

One negro, Hayne Richardson, refused to lay down his gun, and was shot on
the road some distance out of town. The report of the gun attracted
attention both in town and camp, and suddenly a party of horsemen dashed
toward the latter, firing their weapons. The sudden attack abruptly
terminated Burke's fervid oratory and his audience fled. Some were shot.
Richardson was badly hurt, but escaped and left the county. The following
night twenty horsemen surrounded Burke's dwelling. He escaped from it and
fled, under fire. Early in the morning his body was found stretched in a
path leading to the dwelling of his former master.

Price, the man of multifarious official employment, called the meeting,
and the negroes who testified in the investigation said that his runners
told them he directed that they attend with guns. Price took final leave
of Sumter before the shooting commenced.

Congressman Hays said he was prevented from attending by sickness of a
member of his family. He disavowed any responsibility for the negroes
going armed. "I only want to state this," he said, while testifying in
Livingston, "in connection with that matter--I do not know that it is
worth stating: that I understood from friends of mine here that there was
a regular mob down there to assassinate me the very moment I got off the
train. I heard that afterward,--that if I had come here, I would have been
killed instantly. If I had been, I would have been killed innocently."

Congressman Hays was unfortunate in being placed in alleged false
situations. There was another memorable occasion when appearances were
against him, however innocent of evil designs he may have been:

There was to be a meeting at Boligee, in Greene county, and Colonel J. J.
Jolly, of Eutaw, was invited to address the gathering. The Boligee
Democratic Club sent a committee to Major Charles Hays with an invitation
to discuss jointly with Colonel Jolly the issues of the campaign. The
invitation was accepted. When Major Hays arrived there was gathered a
party of armed negroes. According to his own statement under oath, Hays,
in relating the incidents of the abortive meeting, said that a half-hour
after his arrival "there came some fifteen young men riding up, with
double-barreled guns and a few hounds following them. I saw this
demonstration at once and I came to the conclusion that it was gotten up
for a row." He had been present for a half-hour and was all the time aware
that a crowd of armed negroes was gathered, but said nothing in
remonstrance, but as soon as the party of young white men rode up he
immediately stepped to the door of the building in which he was waiting,
and said to the negroes: "You have come here with guns in your hands, and
you know that I have expressly said to you that I would never speak to you
on any occasion whatever when you brought arms to a political meeting at
any place, and I shall decline to have anything to do with this matter in
any way whatever." Then, turning to the white men, "I hope, gentlemen, you
will excuse me; I'm going home."



Price was the most turbulent and desperate character among the radicals.
One of his own ilk declared that Price had not brought with him even so
much as a carpetbag, but was soon grasping everything in sight. After the
trouble in Livingston, just described, he fled to Meridian, and continued
there to be a disturbing element.

Lauderdale county, Mississippi, of which Meridian is the capital, and
Sumter county, Alabama, adjoin. A negro of Livingston went to Meridian to
obtain some farm laborers. On his return he reported that he had been
assaulted by disguised negroes, in whose leader he recognized Price. An
officer went from Livingston to investigate, and was assaulted by Price
and others. Price was arrested by the Meridian authorities, and when the
trial was due a number of Alabamians were gathered in that town. The trial
was to be before the mayor. Some of the county and city officials
requested the mayor not to permit the trial to proceed, because if he did
there would certainly be an outbreak. In compliance with the request, the
trial was postponed and Price permitted to escape. He never reappeared
and nothing is known of his subsequent career. But he entailed trouble on
the people, and there was a bloody sequel to his arrest and release.
Negroes held a meeting and resolved that they would repel with force any
future "raids" by Alabamians. After the meeting adjourned an incendiary
fire started, and leading negroes at the scene discharged revolvers
recklessly. This caused much excitement, and some colored men were
arrested and held under guard. Monday morning at eleven o'clock white
citizens met and adopted a resolution asking the mayor to resign and leave
the city. At three o'clock the trial of the negro prisoners began. Many
Alabamians were in town, among them, according to statements, the noted
Steve Renfroe, of Sumter, and Joe Reynolds, of Eutaw ("Captain Jenks").
The trial or investigation was before a justice named Bramlette. A white
witness concluded his testimony and was about to retire, when one of the
accused negroes, Tyler, insultingly asked him to continue on the stand a
few minutes, as he wished to impeach his testimony with that of some negro
witnesses whom he would introduce. The witness picked up a cane which was
lying on the table and moved toward Tyler. A pistol was fired from the
direction of that part of the room in which Tyler and a number of others
were grouped. Bramlette sank back in his chair, dead. Firing of pistols
became general and there was great disorder and confusion. Clopton, one of
the negroes under arrest and charged with incendiary utterances, was
wounded and thrown from a window of the room, which was in the second
story. He was taken into the sheriff's office, and in the uproar there
killed. Tyler escaped from the building and hid in a shop some distance
away. Pursuers found and killed him. Few doubted that he fired the shot
which killed the justice.

Excitement continued through the afternoon. Three other negro leaders were
arrested and placed under a guard for protection. Two nights afterward
they were taken from the guards and executed.

The mayor abandoned his office and left the state. An obnoxious member of
the legislature was sought, but fled and did not return.

One of the utterances of Tyler at the negro meeting recalled a remarkable
incident in the history of Meridian. In a drunken brawl an Indian
belonging to the Mississippi Choctaw tribe was killed there. A band of his
tribesmen, in a spirit of retaliation, visited Meridian and killed the
slayer. Tyler referred to this action of the Choctaws as an example worthy
of emulation by his people.



In the campaign of 1870, a former slave owner was one of the Republican
candidates for office in Marengo county, and made what was regarded as an
inflammatory speech to negroes gathered at Shiloh, a hamlet, situated in a
section of Marengo county largely populated by negroes. A few white men
were present, and between them and the candidate an angry controversy
arose. The immediate result was cessation of the speechmaking and
dissolution of the meeting. The orator was escorted by white men to a
buggy and departed in safety. He was a pugnacious man and had a record of
at least one victim to attest his prowess in rencontre. Some days later he
repaired to Linden, the county seat, accompanied by two negro men,
ostentatiously bearing a United States flag. There had assembled a great
crowd of negroes, who were, as usual, armed. With him on the platform was
Captain C. L. Drake, the man of many offices, and above them floated Old
Glory. An offensive reference to the disturbance at Shiloh provoked a
quick retort from one of a small group of white men who were listening to
the speech. The orator paused, dramatically removed from his pockets his
watch and purse, and from its fastening a diamond pin, handed them to the
sheriff, with the request that he convey them to the candidate's wife, in
the event of a fatality, drew a pistol, and, remarking that he had been
mistreated and would "fight it out," descended from the platform. Negroes
with guns sprang into double ranks, enclosing him on two sides. The group
of whites promptly seized and disarmed him, and meanwhile white men with
arms were rushing to the scene from all quarters. Somewhere on the
outskirts of the throng a pistol was fired which caused a stampede in that
quarter. The negroes about the platform, confronted by a line of
determined whites, yielded and retired from the scene. Drake fled to his
office and thence to tall timber. The candidate, forsaken by his
followers, asked for protection, and was hurried into a room of the
court-house and locked in with two or three citizens. The angry crowd
outside was clamorous and the beleaguered man, rejecting all suggestions
of plans for flight, himself finally proposed as a means of quieting the
uproar to sign a paper relinquishing his candidacy for sheriff and
withdrawing from politics. Duplicate copies of the paper were drawn up and
signed; he retained one of them, and the other was taken outside and read
to the people. It produced the desired effect. The candidate was placed in
a buggy and, accompanied by an escort, proceeded to his home. And thus
ended "the Linden riot." But the candidate was irrepressible and speedily
repudiated his act of self-abnegation as having been done under

He spoke at Belmont, a small settlement, and became involved in an affray
with a resident. This created a general disturbance, in which the meeting
was broken up and the negroes sullenly retired from the scene. They
threatened to burn the place, and a white man was shot at from ambush. So
unusually hostile and aggressive were the negroes that warrants issued for
the arrest of certain of their leaders, among them Zeke High. There were
posted notices of a meeting of negroes at Belmont on July 5, 1870. White
men in considerable numbers assembled there on that date, and the meeting
was prudently postponed. A negro was whipped that night, and next night he
assembled at his house, in a dense swamp near the river, a number of armed
friends. A scouting party of whites, seeking information respecting the
purposes of the negroes, approached their stronghold in the darkness of
night; one of them (Melton) entered the yard and was fired at. Melton
dropped to the ground and feigned death to escape another volley. Both
sides, thinking he was dead, ceased firing, and the whites withdrew to
give the alarm. A warrant of arrest was placed in the hands of an officer,
but he was unwilling to attempt to serve it at night. A young man named
Collins, bold and fond of excitement and adventure, volunteered to serve
the warrant and was duly commissioned. Collins, with three companions,
approached the house, but before he had time to summon the inmates to
capitulate, a volley was fired by the latter and Collins sank from his
horse in death. Two of his companions were slightly injured, and the
party, after returning the fire, retired. This occurrence created intense
excitement and indignation. Whites gathered from the surrounding country.
The negroes were greatly reinforced and fortified a position in an almost
impenetrable part of the swamp. Some of the whites favored an immediate
assault, but other counsels prevailed, and the sheriff, with a small
posse, proceeded to the scene and demanded Collins' body. The demand was
refused. Next day the sheriff rode into the midst of the mob and again
demanded the body, and got it. A few hours later the white forces made a
quick and determined forward movement to dislodge the negroes from their
almost impregnable position, and found it abandoned,--the negroes had
disbanded and fled in terror. This terminated "the Belmont riot"; but it
had a sequel in the retributive death of the negro leader, Zeke High, who
boasted that his shot killed Collins. On his own boastful confession High
was arrested and lodged in the Sumter county jail at Livingston. September
29 a party of mounted and disguised men from the direction of Marengo
forced the sheriff to surrender the jail keys, entered the prison and took
High from his cell, conveyed him a short distance away and hung and shot
him to death. This High was a desperate and dangerous character, and even
when seized by his executioners fought ferociously. When the leader
entered the dark cell in which High and three other prisoners were
incarcerated, he was assaulted and struck in the face with a heavy piece
of furniture, the blow dislodging several front teeth.



In 1870 Eutaw, the seat of government of the rich county of Greene,
contained a population of 1,800 or 2,000, and prospered greatly in trade
with farmers in the surrounding country. It was a typical Southern
court-house town,--busy in fall and winter, almost dormant in late spring
and summer. Its men were among the earliest to volunteer for service in
the Confederate armies and latest to retire from that service; they were
also amongst the earliest to organize resistance to carpetbag rule and to
throw off the yoke.

On the morning of April 1, 1870, the people of Eutaw were shocked when
informed of a tragedy which had been enacted during the night--Alexander
Boyd, county solicitor and register in chancery, had been shot to death by
Ku Klux! At first most persons discredited the gruesome story as an "April
fool" hoax, but incredulity gave place to amazement when the scene of the
awful tragedy was visited.

Of all the acts attributed to the klan, perhaps none was bolder than the
slaying of Boyd. A bachelor, he had for a long time occupied sleeping
quarters in a detached office building situated in a corner of the
court-house yard; but having received a warning note, he became alarmed
and abandoned these quarters and obtained an apartment on the second floor
of the Cleveland Hotel only a few nights previous to his death. This hotel
was situated on a corner diagonally opposite the court-house, and was the
principal rendezvous of townsmen with a taste for gossip.

Witnesses at the investigation into the circumstances testified that at
half-past eleven o'clock forty or fifty horsemen, in the regulation garb
and armed with revolvers, their horses robed and hooded, approached to
within a short distance of the hotel, where all except the customary
horse-holders dismounted and quickly and unhesitatingly entered the hotel
office, posted guards at all entrances, and then commanded the clerk to
take up a candle and show them to Mr. Boyd's apartment. Obediently the
clerk led the way until he reached the corridor upon which opened the room
they sought. Pausing here, in his speechlessness he indicated the door by
pointing, and then fled the scene. Within a brief space an agonized
scream, heard blocks away, issued from the room of the doomed man, and
was almost instantly succeeded by a heavy volley of pistol shots. The
panic-stricken clerk had hardly resumed his seat upon the office stool,
with hands to ears and head bowed upon his ledger, when the dread invaders
reappeared in the office. Signaling with whistles the recall of sentinels,
they quietly withdrew, remounted and rode around the square, in military
order, and then departed in the direction from which they first appeared.
[They were traced to the Mississippi border line.]

After their departure, officials and others repaired to the corridor and
discovered the dead body, robed in night dress, perforated with many
bullets and almost completely drained of blood. Not a shot had missed the
mark. Inside the room a table, bearing a lighted lamp, his revolver and
watch, stood close to the head of the bed. He had not attempted to use the
weapon. Evidently the purpose of his slayers was to remove him from the
building, for one of them carried a suggestive coil of rope, but his
outcry and struggles settled his fate.

Boyd was a nephew of William Miller, probate judge. Some years before the
war he was convicted of killing a young man named Charner Brown, and
sentenced to a term in the penitentiary. A petition in his behalf was
presented to Governor Winston, and in response thereto the sentence was
commuted to one year's imprisonment in the county jail. Having served the
sentence, Boyd departed for another state. At the close of the war he
reappeared, and, following the example of his uncle, sought office in 1868
at the hands of the negroes, and was made county solicitor and register in
chancery. He was not distinguished as a prosecutor, but regarded as

December 9, 1869, Dr. Samuel Snoddy left the village of Union, in the
northern part of Greene county, to return to his farm. Night overtook him
en route, and he became confused. Reaching the cabin of some negroes with
whom he was acquainted, he engaged one of them to pilot him. Early next
morning Dr. Snoddy's badly mutilated remains were discovered on the
roadside. The unfortunate man had been murdered and robbed of a
considerable sum which he had on his person. Sam Caldwell, Henry Miller
and Sam Colvin, negroes, were arrested, accused of the crime, and lodged
in jail at Eutaw. The scene of the murder had become notorious on account
of being a centre of league activities and disorders, and the murder of
Snoddy aggravated the sense of wrong under which the whites had long been
restive; and when, a few days later, the prisoners were released, one of
them on bond, they were seized and executed summarily. Solicitor Boyd, it
was alleged, manifested no zeal in the investigation of the Snoddy murder,
but became exceedingly active in the inquisition in connection with the
subsequent and consequent affair, and exultantly declared that he had
ascertained the names of all the men engaged in it, would send for
soldiers to effect their arrest, and vigorously prosecute them, and if
necessary hold the jury for six months.

All of these facts were related in explanation of popular displeasure with
Boyd, which revealed itself first in the note of warning and finally in
the taking of his life. Mr. Boyd's tombstone in the Messopotamia cemetery,
Eutaw, erected by Judge Miller, is inscribed: "Murdered by Ku Klux."

Greene county continued in a state of disorder, which grew worse as the
election approached.

The Republican state executive committee advertised that on October 25,
1870, Senator Warner, Congressman Hays, Governor Smith and Ex-Governor
Parsons would deliver addresses at the court-house in Eutaw. On that day
the party of visitors, accompanied by General Crawford, military commander
of the department, and others, arrived in town. They were informed that
the Democratic county committee had invited the voters to hear an address
by the Democratic candidate for the legislature, and had chosen the same
time and place. Thereupon the Republican leaders held a conference and
decided to invite the Democratic committee to hold with them a joint
meeting. Accordingly, Judge Miller, Congressman Hays and Mr. Cockrell were
commissioned to convey to the Democratic committee the following note:

"We propose to appoint a committee of two to meet a committee of two from
your party, to arrange the terms of a discussion for the day, to meet
immediately at the circuit clerk's office."

To this note the following reply was sent:

"Gentlemen,--In answer to your note of this date, we, the committee
appointed by the president of the Democratic and Conservative Council of
Greene county, are instructed to say, that we do not consider the
questions in the present political canvass debatable, either as to men or
measures; and we therefore, in behalf of the Democratic and Conservative
party of Greene county, decline any discussion whatever.

  "J. J. JOLLY,
  "J. G. PIERCE,

This reply was ominous. So apprehensive were the leaders that Congressman
Hays, who was exceedingly unpopular, decided, with the concurrence of the
others, that it would be safer if he should refrain from speaking. The
garrison troops were quartered a half-mile away from the court-house, and
Governor Smith requested General Crawford to have the entire body brought
to the court-house; but after conference with the sheriff, the general
concluded that a detachment posted two blocks distant would be a
sufficient safeguard.

Immediately after the note of reply was sent, the Democrats called their
meeting to order on the north side of the court-house, and soon thereafter
the Republicans assembled on the south side. The Democratic meeting lasted
only a short time, and at its conclusion the auditors repaired to points
where they could listen to the Republican orators.

Corridors run through the court-house, crossing each other in the centre
of the building. These spaces were thronged by white men.

For the accommodation of the Republican speakers, an improvised platform,
formed of a table, was placed against a window opening from the clerk's
office. All of the Republican visitors and local officials occupied chairs
in this office. By request of Senator Warner, the office door was locked
from the inside, in order, as said, that "whatever danger there might be
would be in front."

Senator Warner spoke without unusual interference. Ex-Governor Parsons
followed and was listened to attentively. When he retired through the
window, the negroes called for Congressman Hays. A Democrat, Major Pierce,
approached Governor Parsons, who was seated inside near the window, and
advised him to restrain Hays. Parsons, in response, endeavored to attract
the attention of Hays, who had mounted the platform with the intention, as
he subsequently testified, not to deliver an address, but merely to
dismiss the audience. If this was true, his purpose was misunderstood, for
the table was suddenly tilted and Hays precipitated. As he fell a pistol
was fired, and the ball passed through Major Pierce's clothing. Some
witnesses testified that Hays fired it, and Parsons afterward admitted
that Hayes was armed with a derringer; others, that the shot came from the
direction in which the negroes were massed. However this may be, there was
an impulsive forward rush by the negroes, and, as Warner admitted, they
had weapons in their hands.

The first shot was instantly succeeded by a volley from the corridors, and
the onrush was halted. Suddenly, in a resonant voice, someone in a
corridor shouted: "Go in, boys, now is your time!" Continuous firing
followed, and the negroes fled in great disorder, leveling the stout fence
which enclosed the yard, a few discharging pistols as they fled.

Even in this grave situation there was an amusing incident. In his
testimony before an investigating commission Senator Warner, describing
the riot, related it accurately. Beaver hats were not worn in Eutaw at
that period. Mr. Parsons' attire was similar to that of Quakers and
included a light-colored beaver hat. Senator Warner's tile was
conventional, black and glossy. "I caught up the papers in my hands," he
said, "and walked very deliberately to the right, in order to get out of
the way of the firing. There came from the right-hand side of the
court-house a pretty good line of men, thirty or forty, I should think.
They came around all together, and formed a tolerable line across from the
corner of the court-house to the fence, and commenced firing on the
negroes, who had broken down the court-house fence and were fleeing as
fast as they could. These men cocked their revolvers and fired upon them
as rapidly as they could. I looked at them for a moment, and then walked
up to them as they were firing. I saw some colored men falling on the
grass and then scrambling up and moving off. I walked up to these men and
held up my hand in a deprecating manner, and said, 'For God's sake, stop
this!' One of them who was nearest to me turned around and cast a kind of
defiant but yet somewhat surprised look at me. One of them leveled his
pistol upon us, Governor Parsons, Mr. Brown and myself; he was standing
about the length of this table distant from us. He leveled his pistol at
Governor Parsons. The governor said: 'For God's sake, don't shoot at me; I
have done you no harm.' The crowd stopped firing and turned their
attention to us. Just at that instant the sheriff came around with his
arms spread out, and said: 'Stop this! stop this!' The man stopped for a
moment and seemed to be deliberating whether he should shoot Parsons. He
then saw Mr. Hays on my right; turning a little to one side to avoid me,
he threw his pistol down upon Hays and Mr. Brown, who were both together,
and tried to shoot them. They both sprang behind me; I saw them getting
behind me and squatting on the ground to avoid his fire. By that time the
negroes had been driven out of the court-house yard and across the street,
where they had stopped and turned, and began to fire back. A few were
firing back. Just at that moment I heard somebody call out, 'Boys, hold
your fire!' The firing then ceased. I started and walked through the
crowd, right among them. I suppose there were forty or fifty of them, all
standing there with their revolvers in their hands, smoking, as they had
been firing. Just as I was getting out of the crowd somebody from behind
struck at me and knocked my hat off; I just felt the blow on my head, but
I could not tell who it was, for when I turned around his hands were
dropped, whoever it was. I guess it was pretty lucky I did not know, for
the blow aroused me a great deal, and I am afraid I should have lost my
self-possession. I turned around to pick up my hat, when another man
kicked it; then another kicked it; and then the whole crowd, one after
another, played football with it and kicked it across the yard. I started
back to get it, when a man by the name of Dunlap, a Democrat, who seemed
to be in accord with the party there, walked up to me and took me by the
arm in a friendly sort of way, and said, 'General, you had better get away
from here or you will get hurt!'"

The senator's hat furnished diversion at a critical moment, and in all
probability was the means of saving his life and the lives of his friends.
There had been firing from the clerk's office, and Mr. Cowan (one of the
actors in the Greensboro tragedy mentioned in an earlier chapter), was
slightly grazed on the left thigh. He was brandishing a pistol and calling
to the white men to rally about him, and standing near a window of the
clerk's office. He believed that he was made a target by a prominent
Republican who was in the office. Two other white men, near Mr. Cowan,
were struck by missiles from the negro ranks just before they fled from
the yard. Some of the party with or about Senator Warner had, a moment
before the scene described by him, emerged from the office and were
retreating to the Cleveland hotel, and a determined group of men,
including Reynolds, with a shotgun, were pursuing them when the fun with
the hat commenced. While it was yet in progress, the soldiers wheeled
around the nearest corner and rescued the imperilled Republican leaders.

Meanwhile the negroes, having fled in two directions to points where they
had guns concealed in wagons, secured these arms and resolutely moved back
toward the scene of their rout. They were aware of their preponderating
numbers, and counted on the sympathy of the soldiers. Those on Prairie
street had not proceeded far when they encountered a squad of mounted men
commanded by the marshal and a few sharpshooters posted behind trees in
private yards, who speedily checked their advance. At the intersection of
the two streets which were scenes of reviving combat a line of white men,
armed with guns, all men of tested courage, was formed to prevent a
junction of the two bodies of negroes. Just then the soldiers, at
double-quick, made their appearance and were halted opposite the line of
armed citizens. After a brief hesitation, the officer gave the command to
move and the soldiers proceeded down Prairie street. The negroes quickly
lost courage and retreated, and before long none could be seen within
miles of the town. And so ended the Eutaw riot, in which, according to the
local newspaper, the _Whig and Observer_, and the testimony of witnesses,
54 men were shot, and from 250 to 300 white men and from 1,800 to 2,000
negroes were engaged. The number of wounded was probably exaggerated.

The pistol shot which followed so quickly the rude interruption of Hays'
remarks was not the real cause of the riot; it was but the signal for the
opening of a conflict which had been impending for some time, and it gave
vent to indignation which had been suppressed with difficulty. The
explanation is found in earlier occurrences.

In October the white people of Greene county were much disturbed by rumors
that a number of bands of negroes had been drilling with arms in parts of
the county where plantations were largest and the negro population
densest. A country store was burned by incendiaries, and threats were
made that the several bands would be consolidated and Eutaw attacked by
the combined force.

Lieutenant Charles Harkins, commanding the detachment of troops
garrisoning the town, reported to his superior officer at Huntsville as

"I have the honor to report that on the evening of the 19th instant,
reports were brought to this town, by both colored and white men, to the
effect that a band of armed colored men intended burning the town that
night. The rumor seemed to be generally credited by the citizens, which
caused great alarm and excitement. Armed parties of citizens were
immediately formed, under the direction of the sheriff, and patrols and
pickets sent to the suburbs of the town, where they remained all night. No
demonstration was made by the colored men, if they had any such intention,
which I am inclined to doubt. The excitement has abated, but there is
still a feeling of distrust and anxiety among all classes.

"The real facts of the case, and cause of the present alarm, I believe to
be as follows: The colored men and Republicans generally of this county,
feeling aggrieved at the many murders and outrages perpetrated on men of
their party by the Ku Klux organization, have determined to protect
themselves in future and have banded together for that purpose only, not
to assume the offensive, or interfere with the peaceful, law-abiding
portion of the community."

The relation of cause and effect in this thwarted conspiracy to destroy
Eutaw and the riot which followed so soon is indisputable. The trend of
Lieutenant Harkins' sympathies is equally plain. He was inclined to doubt
that the banded negroes intended to burn the town, but readily intimated
that they had provocation in "the many murders and outrages perpetrated on
men of their party by the Ku Klux organization." Not a word is there in
the report concerning the burning of the store, nor of the fact that
refugee white families from the widely-separated plantations were moving
into Eutaw for protection against the menacing bands of negroes, nor that
the "patrols and pickets" were necessary precautions not of one night
only, but of three nights, and served to deter the negroes from
prosecuting their design.

The prompt action of the whites in driving the negroes out of town on
October 25 would seem precipitate and unjustifiable if not considered in
connection with the facts just recited. Nearly two thousand negroes
attended that meeting, and they took with them guns, which were secreted
in wagons at the foot of Prairie street. They were aware that the
commanding officer of the garrison was in sympathy with them, and that
they would encounter only a small body of white men should there be a
collision. No doubt they counted much on the presence of the radical
governor of the state, the military commander of the department, a senator
and a congressional representative, all in sympathy with them, and all
smarting under indignities received only a few days before at a meeting in
an adjoining county.

The white men remembered the nights of anxiety for the safety of the women
and children and property of the town, and realized the danger of the
situation in which they were placed by the group of official Republicans
who heedlessly and recklessly assembled thousands of negroes who had so
recently been frustrated in a design to obtain revenge for punishment
administered to evildoers of their race. Those white men had courage and
resolution to meet the emergency, and they met it promptly and terribly.
And they taught a lesson for which there has never since been occasion for



The state election in 1870 resulted in a victory for the Democratic and
Conservative party, but there was a persistent effort to deprive that
party of the fruits of victory. There was instituted on behalf of the
incumbent governor and treasurer a proceeding in the chancery court to
enjoin the presiding officer of the senate from counting the votes for
candidates for those two offices. The legislature met November 20, and the
law required that the vote be counted, with the two houses assembled
jointly, within the first week. In the proceedings instituted, Governor
Smith alleged irregularity in the election. The judge of the circuit court
refused to grant an injunction, on the ground that the legislature could
not be enjoined by a court. It was then filed with a supreme court judge.
It prayed that the presiding officer of the senate be restrained from
counting the vote until the legislature could provide rules by which the
proposed contest should be tried. Judge Saffold, as chancellor, granted
the injunction. Lieutenant-Governor Applegate was dead, and Barr, an Ohio
man, was presiding. The injunction was served on Barr, and he very
cheerfully obeyed it.

There are some interesting facts in relation to this senate. The radical
constitution gerrymandered the senatorial districts, in some instances
apportioning a senator to a single county; in others, a senator to a group
of three or four counties, with nearly threefold greater population.

The constitution provided that representatives in the legislature should
be elected for two years, and senators for four years; that one-half of
the seats of senators first elected (in 1868) should be declared vacant at
the end of two years, thus providing for continuation of a certain number.
In accordance with this provision, at the session in November the question
whether the senators should draw for the long and short terms was
discussed; nobody wished to vacate his seat, and by hocus-pocus they
reached the conclusion that all should hold over. Consequently, one-half
of them sat four years and the others for six. This procedure contributed
much to the complication of affairs. This senate connived at the attempt
to prevent the count of returns.

At noon on the last day of the week the two houses assembled and Barr
proceeded to count the returns for other officers, declaring that for
Lieutenant-governor E. H. Moren had received a majority of the votes cast
at the election; that for secretary of state J. J. Parker had defeated J.
T. Rapier; that W. A. Sanford had defeated Joshua Morse in the race for
attorney-general; that Joseph Hodgson succeeded N. B. Cloud as
superintendent of public instruction. These winners were all Democrats. As
soon as he had declared these results. Barr and the radical senators
withdrew. Lieutenant-Governor Moren then appeared, took the oath of
office, assumed the chair of the presiding officer, and directed that the
returns for governor and treasurer be brought in. This being done, he
proceeded forthwith to count them and declared that Robert B. Lindsay, for
governor, and James F. Grant, for treasurer, had received majorities, and
to proclaim them duly elected. These officers were sent for and sworn in.
Consternation seized the Republican leaders. They were caught in their own
trap, for the injunction had been served on Barr and he had qualified his
own successor in the person of Dr. Moren, who as lieutenant-governor was
unaffected by the injunction. Lindsay lost no time in demanding possession
of the office, but Smith refused to yield and had federal soldiers
guarding all entrances to the offices of governor and treasurer.

Judge J. Q. Smith went from Selma to Montgomery, and before him Lindsay
and Grant instituted proceedings, demanding that the seal and all books
and papers and other property pertaining to the offices of governor and
treasurer be delivered to them, respectively. The proceedings lasted
several days. Meanwhile, Montgomery was fast filling up with young men,
strangers in the community, and there were rumors that bodies of men in
near-by towns were awaiting summons to the capital, and that locomotives
with steam up and cars attached, ready for service, were side-tracked at a
number of stations. Judge Smith's court-room was daily crowded with
strange men. Excitement was intense.

Lindsay in his complaint alleged that he was the qualified successor of
Governor Smith; that he had made a demand upon him for the books, papers
and paraphernalia of the office of governor, and that Smith refused to
deliver them. The trial was set for three o'clock in the afternoon, and
Governor Smith was ordered to appear in person in court and show cause why
he should not be compelled to deliver the property demanded. Governor
Smith did not like the appearance which Montgomery had assumed, nor did he
relish the necessity of appearing in that court-room and before that
audience contesting the right of the people's representatives to assume
the offices to which they had elected them, nor the certainty that as soon
as judgment should be given against him an order for commitment to custody
would issue. Accordingly, he had a conference with General Pettus, and
soon thereafter announced that he "would yield, upon the ground that,
although he was satisfied he was fairly and lawfully re-elected, his
continuance of the litigation and the contest in the palpable excitement
that surrounded the whole matter would tend to disturb the public peace;
and the detriment to the material interests of the people of the state
would be infinitely greater than the possession of the office itself by
any particular man could possibly compensate."

Thus negro domination in Alabama was overcome.

And the Ku Klux rode no more.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When the Ku Klux Rode" ***

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