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gold medal in token of her sense of the generous service rendered to
her as a black nation."

The medal, now deposited in the Massachusetts State Library, is
not a token of any real service to the Republic of Hayti, the inde-
pendence of which was not threatened, but of the conflict between
the ideas of the man of action and the inaction of the man of ideas.
Events have shown that the foresight of the soldier was truer than
the wisdom of the statesman. San Domingo would have been bene-
fited directly, and Hayti indirectly, by annexation in 1870. The United
States would not only have gained great material advantages from
the development of San Domingo, but we would have had a base of
inestimable value in the operations against Spain in 1898. Grant's
policy not only exhibited the foresight of the soldier, but the wisdom
of the statesman. We can now see that the President's words in his
last annual message have been justified by events. " If my views had
been concurred in," he said, " the country would be in a more pros-
perous condition to-day both politically and financially. ... I
do not present these views now as a recommendation for a renewal
of the subject of annexation, but I do refer to it to vindicate my
previous action in regard to it."

It was an unfortunate circumstance in connection with the San
Domingo annexation scheme that General Babcock, by whom the
treaty was negotiated, was afterward compromised by the friends of


the notorious " Whisky King." Mr. Suinner had created the im-
pression that there was a job in the treaty in which Babcock was
interested. The smirching that Babcock's reputation received in
1875 seemed to confirm Suniner's allegation, and thus the President
was made to share in the suspicions that attached to the original
negotiations. These circumstances were at the bottom of the Presi-
dent's justification of himself in his last message to Congress.

While it must be admitted that the diplomacy of Grant's admin-
istration failed through the opposition of Republicans in the Senate,
except in the settlement of our long pending differences with Great
Britain, the failure leaves no reproach for the soldier President. It
was due to the narrowness of a few men who were hostile to Grant,
as they had been hostile to Lincoln, and to the readiness with which
the country forgot the isolation and dangers of the Civil War. We
forgot that the malignant neutrality of England and France while the
war lasted meant enmity to the Union. We forgot that by the aid and
intervention of France a neighboring Republic had been subverted
and an empire established on our Southern borders. We forgot that
all the States of Europe, with the exception of Russia, were unfriendly
to us in the hour of trial, and at heart were unfriendly to us still.
We allo\ved ourselves to become so absorbed in the work of restora-
tion that we neglected safety in the future because it involved the
fanciful dangers of extension. We cried out against the alleged per-
sonalism and one-man power of Grant's administration, and built a
sea-wall of prejudice against our destiny as a nation. All this was
inevitable, perhaps. Reaction was the natural consequence of
reconstruction and restoration. The reaction set in early in Grant's
first term, and we shall find it the most potent force in opposition to
his re-election. This reactionary spirit was most seriously felt in
retarding the progress and prosperity of the South, but its aims and
purposes were most clearly exhibited in the Liberal Republican move-
ment of 1872.



Georgia Repudiates the Fifteenth Amendment Consequent Action
of Congress Outrages in the South Origin of the Ku-Klux

Klau Mr. Cox on the Ku-Klux Strength of the Organization
Ku-Klux Outrages in North Carolina Condition of South Caro-
lina Disorders in Georgia and Alabama Outrages in Missis-
sippi Condition of the South in 1874 The Carpet-baggers-
Judge Black on Carpet-bag Government His Impeachment De-
nied Responsibility of the Democratic Party Legislation of
Congress General Amnesty and Civil Rights A Democratic
Recognition of Organized Intimidation and Terrorism.

[HE South accepted all the amendments, including the Fif-
teenth, and then treated them as without force or effect.
Georgia was the first State to show open defiance of the
measures of Reconstruction. While her Senators and Rep-
resentatives were waiting for formal leave to take their seats in the
41st Congress, the Legislature which had complied with the condi-
tions that rendered their return possible, decided that colored men
were not entitled to serve as legislators, or to hold office in that State.
The blacks were accordingly expelled from the Legislature, while
white men who were ineligible under the Fourteenth Amendment
were allowed to remain. The Fifteenth Amendment was then re-
jected. Congress passed an act declaring the Legislature thus consti-
tuted illegal, and, in order to make the measure effective, Georgia
was required to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution
before the Senators and Representatives w r ould be admitted to Con-
gress. To meet these requirements, the Legislature, as originally
constituted, was reassembled, and the amendment was finally rati-
fied, February 2, 1870.

Although reconstruction was complete, restoration was still far in
the future. Everywhere in the South the right of the negro to vote
was resisted and denied. So bitter was the hostility to impartial suf-
frage that a number of organizations was formed for the purpose of
depriving the negro of the rights conferred on him by the Constitu-
tion and law r s of the States and the United States. The most note-
worthy of these was known as the Ku-Klux-Klan. It was made up
in part of returned Confederate soldiers, and in part of very young


men, who had reached early manhood after the war. These young
desperadoes were armed as freebooters. They rode by night and w r ore
disguises. Negroes and white Republicans were their victims. The
laws were openly and even ostentatiously defied. They hesitated at
no cruelty were deterred by no considerations of humanity. Ter-
rorism became the general condition throughout the South. The
outrages included nearly every crime in the criminal code, from the
mere beating of black men to arson and murder. Wholesale mas-
sacres were not uncommon. Arrest and punishment for these wrongs
were rendered difficult and almost impossible. White men who had
no share in the outrages w r ere prevented by fear from giving incul-
pating testimony. Willing witnesses were subjected to torture, and
in many cases doomed to death. Unwilling witnesses were beaten
and their houses burned over their heads. " Murder with them was
an occupation and perjury a pastime," said a member of the klan.

The Ku-Klux Klan originated as early as 1866. It began in the
vicious frivolities of some young Tennesseeans, and in the end became
the engine of a series of outrages that have scarcely a parallel in
history. It has been claimed that the organization at first had no
political purpose that it was instituted merely to scare the super-
stitious blacks. The original Ku-Klux went " mumicking about,"
telling horrid tales to frighten the negroes. They visited the houses
of the colored people, threatening and maltreating them, and relat-
ing preposterous stories. One Ku-Klux said he. had been killed at
Manassas, " and since then some one has built a turnpike over his
grave, and he has to scratch like h 1 to get up through the gravel."
Some of them carried a flesh bag in the shape of a heart, and went
" hollering for fried nigger meat." One carried an India rubber
stomach to frighten negroes by swallowing pailsful of water. Even
Democratic writers with prejudices in favor of the truth have been
compelled to admit the political objects of these secret, oath-bound
organizations. " Certain it is," wrote S. S. Cox, in his " Three Decades
of Federal Legislation," in 1885, " that they soon came to be made use
of, in the most arbitrary, cruel, and shocking manner, for the further-
ance of political ends, and for the crushing out of Republicanism in
the Southern States, to which party the colored people were almost
unanimously attached. The crimes and outrages narrated in these
pages had their origin, almost exclusively, in political causes in
the effort on the part of the whites to set at naught the rights of
suffrage guaranteed to the negroes, and to exclude from Federal,
State, county, and local offices all persons whose reliance for election
to such offices was mainly, if not altogether, on negro votes.
The members were sworn to secrecy, under the penalty of death for


breach of fidelity. Their ordinary mode of operation as gathered
from the mass of evidence was to patrol the country at night. They
went well armed and mounted. They wore long white gow r ns. They
masked their faces. Their appearance terrified the timid and super-
stitious negroes who happened to see them as they rode past, and
who then regarded them as ghostly riders. But most frequently they
surrounded and broke into the cabins of the negroes; frightened and
maltreated the inmates; warned them of future vengeance; and prob-
ably carried off some obnoxious negro or ' carpet-bagger/ whose
fate it was to be riddled with murderous bullets, hung to the limb of a
tree, or mercilessly whipped and tortured, for some offense, real or
imaginary, but generally because he was active in politics or in negro
schools or churches."

Among those who belonged to one of the secret societies that went
by the general name of the Ku-Klux Klan w r as the Confederate Cav-
alry leader, General Forrest. The " order " of which Forrest was a
member bore the title of " Pale Faces." In its constitution and by-
laws it was designated only by three stars, *** or *%. Forrest esti-
mated the strength of the Ku-Klux organization in Tennessee at
40,000. In North Carolina the Ku-Klux were so numerous, and their
outrages so atrocious, that in 1870 Governor Holden issued proclama-
tions declaring the counties of Alamance and Caswell in insurrec-
tion. In Alamance County, where the white population numbered
8,234 and the colored population only 3,640, fifty-four outrages were
reported in 1870, while in only three of the sixteen counties in which
the negro population was one-third greater than the white popula-
tion only two or three outrages occurred in each. A part of the
recital of outrages committed in North Carolina is here quoted from
Mr. Cox's book because he was always a Democrat and a fair-minded
and honest man. He says: " It is impossible to pass over the outrages
committed upon Mr. James M. Justice. He was an attorney-at-law,
and a man of respectability. He resided at Kutherfordton, in Ruther-
ford County. He was a Republican, and a member of the State
Legislature. As an attorney, he aided in the prosecution of members
of the Ku-Klux Klan. He had given offense to the order. In one of
their secret conclaves they decreed that he must be put to death.
His execution was ordered. The raid took place on the night of Sun-
day, June 11, 1871. Eighty or more men, in the usual disguise,
marched into the village. They had left their horses on the outskirts.
They surrounded his house. It was raining very hard. They broke
open the door of his dwelling with an ax, and several of them entered.
Hearing the noise, Mr. Justice rose out of bed and attempted to go to
his gun, but was interrupted. They lighted matches and found their


victim before them with only his nightshirt on. They ordered him to
come out of the house. He begged to be let alone. They informed
him that his time had come. They dragged him out of his house.
When he resisted he was struck with a big pistol and fell down in-
sensible. After he came to consciousness he was forced to walk sev-
eral hundred yards into the woods. There the fiends held a council
over him. Although he had screamed loudly for help when taken out
of his house, and although the neighborhood was populous, none of
the neighbors dared to come to his relief. In the woods he pleaded hard
for his life, but the general voice was for killing him. Finally, through
the influence of the leader, who seemed to possess more intelligence
and humanity than his followers, they contented themselves by ex-
torting promises from Mr. Justice. His life was spared, and he was
permitted to return home without further suffering at their hands.
His only offense had been his politics and his prosecution of the Ku-
Klux for their crimes. In his testimony, Mr. Justice recited many
instances of outrages that had been perpetrated in Rutherford, Cleve-
land, Lincoln, and (Jaston counties. He could not enumerate them,
but could only say that there were more than one hundred of such
outrages. Many men had come to him and exhibited the marks of
lashes on their backs and the wounds received from guns and pistol
shots. Mr. Justice could not remember all the whippings he had
heard of, but they were very numerous. Among them was that of an
old white man, John Nodine, a soldier of the War of 1812, and a
citizen of the State, who had been whipped for voting the Republican

" But perhaps the most hideous case of whipping recited by Mr.
Justice was that of Aaron Biggerstaff. He was an old, white-haired
gentleman. A large gang of raiders armed with guns and pistols
broke into his house by night. They pulled the old man out of his
bed. They dragged him into the road in front of his house. There
they beat him w r ith hickories and kicked him with their feet for a
long time, and then brought him back into his house. This barbarous
punishment was inflicted upon him merely on account of his politics,
and because of his harboring another man named McGahey, who had
retaliated for an outrage committed on his family, and had shot one
of the gang connected with it. Twenty of the members of the band
who had thus maltreated Biggerstaff were arrested and brought be-
fore Judge Logan, of the State Circuit Court; but Biggerstaff, his
son and daughter, while on their way to Charlotte to prosecute the
prisoners, were attacked and treated with great cruelty, and the old
man would have been hanged by the gang had it not been that the
son, who recognized several of them, had managed to escape. Being


afraid of the consequences if they proceeded further in their out-
rages, they ordered Biggerstaff and his daughter to return home
and not to say anything about what had happened to them. Thirty
men were subsequently tried before the United States Circuit Court
for participation in the first raid upon Biggerstaff. Sixteen of them
were found guilty, and eight not guilty. As to the other six cases, a
nolle proscqui was entered. For participation in the second raid upon
Biggerstaff and his family, while they were on the road to Charlotte,
five men were arraigned. Three pleaded guilty, while a nolle prosequi
was entered for the other two."

In South Carolina the terrorism in Edgefield county was so great,
in 1868, that out of 4,200 colored voters in the county only 800 voted.
The Ku-Klux previous to the State and Presidential elections paid
domicilary visits to black and white Republicans, shooting some,
whipping many, and warning all not to vote the Republican ticket.
" In reference to South Carolina," wrote Mr. Cox, " the report of the
Joint Select Committee of the two Houses of Congress of 1872 con-
tains such a mass of revolting details that one can not decide where
to begin their citation or \vhere to stop. Murders, or attempts to mur-
der, are numerous. Whippings are without number. Probably the
most cruel and cowardly of these last was the whipping of Elias Hill.
He was a colored man who had, from infancy, been dwarfed in legs
and arms. He was unable to use either. But he possessed an intelli-
gent mind, had learned to read, and had acquired an unusual amount
of knowledge for one in his circumstances. He was a Baptist preacher.
He was highly respected for his upright character. He was emi-
nently religious, and was greatly revered by the people of his own
race. It was on this ground that he was visited by the Ku-Klux,
brutally beaten, and dragged from his house into the yard, where he
was left in the cold at night, unable to walk or crawl. After the
fiends had left, his sister brought him into the house. Although this
man was a Republican, his testimony gave evidence of the mildness
and Christian forbearance of his character, as well as his freedom
from ill-will toward the white race. In answer to a question as to
his feeling toward the whites, he replied that he had good-w r ill, love,
and affection toward them; but that he feared them. He said that he
had never made the wrongs and cruelties inflicted by white people on
his race the subject of his sermons, but that he preached the Gospel
only repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."

In Georgia, as in North and South Carolina and the other States
where the Ku-Klux organization existed, the outrages were in pro-
portion to the preponderance of the white population over the blacks.
There the white men, whose principal occupation was to make raids


upon the cabins of the negroes and upon the teachers of negro schools,
called their society " The Brotherhood." Although professing to be
the defenders of society, these midnight prowlers in their hideous dis-
guises rarely encountered a foe unless they were twenty to one, and
there were cases in which a well-directed shot put to flight a strong
squadron of the " Brotherhood." In Alabama, as in Georgia, opposi-
tion to the education of the negro was very pronounced. In 1870
William C. Luke, a white school teacher, was murdered near the
village of Cross Plains, in Calhoun county. Alexander Boyd, the
prosecuting attorney of Greene county, was assassinated the same
year in the public square in the town of Eutaw by a band of twenty-
five disguised men because of his activity in prosecuting men charged
with Ku-Klux outrages. No effort was made to arrest the murderers,
and none of Mr. Boyd's legal brethren had the courage to attend his
funeral. President Lakin, of the State University at Tuscaloosa, was
compelled to vacate his office, and many of the students were driven
off by the threats of the Ku-Klux. In 1868-9 many of the preachers
of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and a few belonging to
other denominations, were maltreated by the Ku-Klux " order." Two
presiding elders, the Rev. J. A. McCutcheon and the Rev. John W.
Tailby, were driven aw r ay from their districts; the Rev. Mr. Sullivan,
the Rev. James Dorman, and the Rev. George Taylor were whipped;
Dean Reynolds was whipped, and left for dead, with both arms
broken; the Rev. Jesse Kingston, a local preacher, was shot in 1869;
the Rev. Mr. Johnson was shot in the pulpit the same year, and a
colored preacher and his son were shot dead on the West Point and
Montgomery road. It seems necessary to emphasize the fact that in
Alabama, as elsewhere, the outrages were most frequent in counties
where the negroes were fewest.

None of the States was subjected to more frequent or more atrocious
Ku-Klux outrages than Mississippi. In those counties in which the
ratio of the negro population was in inverse proportion to the strength
of the Ku-Klux organization war was made upon the schools, the
churches, and the courts. Judge Bramlette was shot dead on the
bench at Meridian; a colored Baptist church w r as burned, besides a
number of houses, and many negroes were killed. Mr. Flournoy, the
Superintendent of Schools for Pontotoc county, was raided by a band
of Ku-Klux in 1871, but, having received notice of the intended raid,
he resisted the attack, assisted by some of his neighbors, and drove
off the assailants. There were sixty-four public schools in the county,
of which only twelve were for colored children. Among the teachers
were eleven Republicans, one a colored man, to forty-three Democrats.
The Republican teachers were all driven off and some of them were


whipped. Similar conditions prevailed in other counties. Another
school superintendent, A. P. Huggins, was given as many as seventy-
live lashes by a mob, and was whipped to insensibility for refusing to
leave the county when ordered by the " Klan." " It ought to be said/'
says Mr. Cox, " not in extenuation of the crime, but in explanation of
it, that the popular dislike to Mr. Huggins arose from his active in-
strumentality in the exaction of heavy taxes and his alleged ex-
travagant and dishonest use of the school moneys that passed through
his hands. He was supposed to pay extravagant wages to teachers
and exorbitant prices for school buildings and furniture. He had
graduated as a philanthropist in the school of the Freedmen's Bureau,
where he had not learned the lesson: i Thou shalt not muzzle the ox
that treadeth out the corn.' ' It is not improbable that Superin-
tendent Huggins was wickedly maligned as w*ell #s cruelly beaten.

Similar conditions to those already described prevailed in Tennes-
see, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, but Virginia was almost wholly
free from Ku-Klux outrages. Florida escaped Ku-Klux disorders to
a greater degree than any of the other Gulf States. The Democrats
of the North encouraged these disorders by claiming that they were
due to repression, whereas repression and military government were
rendered necessary by the disorders and the defiant tone assumed by
the conquered Confederates. The outrages continued over a period
of fully twenty years, and would be repeated far into the twentieth
century if the negroes were resolute in asserting their rights as

The writer of these pages made a tour of the four States of Ten-
nessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana in 1874. It was a time
when the Northern newspapers were full of reports of negro riots, in
which few white men, but many blacks, were killed. On his way
from Louisville to Humboldt, Tenn., where a riot had occurred a few
days before, he stopped at Paris, Ky., for breakfast. After breakfast
a Southern gentleman in the smoking car said politely: "Will you
oblige me by looking out of the window for half an hour while you
smoke, and then tell me what impresses you most of what you have
seen? " The request was unusual, but because it was unusual it met
with ready acquiescence. "Well, w r hat have you seen?" asked the
Southerner when the time had expired.

" The only thing that to me seems peculiar," was the answer, " is
the fact that so many negroes, who are not working, are lurking in
the fields of corn as if in hiding."

" Ah, that is it," said the questioner. " They are keeping out of the
way of the night riders."

The Southern man entered into a long and careful consideration of


the condition of the South for the benefit of the Northern traveler.
When the two strangers separated they exchanged cards, he of the
South asking him of the North to visit him at his place of business
in Memphis. The visit was made a few days later.

" Why did you make that peculiar request of me in the smoking
car? " asked the Northern man of the Southerner during the inter-

" Well, you see, I took the fancy that you were the representative
of a New York newspaper, and I wanted you to see for yourself/' was
the response. " Because of these night rides of our young men busi-
ness is prostrate in the South. It will not revive while the present
condition lasts. I thought that if the truth should be told in a power-
ful Northern newspaper, friendly to the South, it would be an aid
toward the revival of business by helping to bring existing conditions
to an end."

The letters that were the results of the hints and suggestions of
the Memphis merchant contributed to the end he had so much at
heart. But Robert Tyler, a son of President John Tyler, wrote to the
journal of which the Northern traveler was the representative, ask-
ing that he be dismissed for misrepresenting the South. " His lies are
so dispassionate and so free from any appearance of political feeling,"
said Mr. Tyler, " that they will all the more readily be believed on
that account." On the contrary, what Mr. Tyler called lies were really
helpful to the South because they were true. The exposure of the

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 61)