Southern Style Nightmare AUSTIN Fear of Negro insurrection has stalked the dreams and secret thoughts of the South since the final decade of the Eighteenth Century, when the blacks of Haiti overthrew their French masters in an upheaval that did not subside until most of the whites had been butchered in a general massacre. The abortive plot of some slaves in South Carolina, in 1822, was stifled without public commotion: Trials were held, but the Charleston papers carried only the names of the Negroes that were hanged. Still, enough was known to tense Southern nerves. The Nat Turner rebellion, which erupted in the quiet countryside of southeast Virginia in 1831, gave the South a shock that disturbs it to this day. Turner, a mad slave, unsettled the minds of his followers with religious fanaticism \(his chosen A few jugs of applejack made screeching maniacs of them, and they hacked to pieces 61 persons more women than men, and more children than women. The immediate effect on the South of this nightmare-come-tolife was mass hysteria; the consequences have been beyond reckoning. In a frenzy of fear and rage, the White people in this corner of Virginia, who saw themselves surrounded by would-be murderers, held hasty trials and executed a number of Negroes, then posted their severed heads as a frightful example. Some of these, said the governor of Virginia, in a report to the governor of South Carolina at this time, were no doubt innocent, for in the places where trials were not held until the excite BRAINPOWER IS OUR MOST VITAL RESOURCE, You can’t dig education out of the earth. There’s only one place where business and industry can get the educated men and women so vitally needed for future progress. That’s from our colleges and universities. Today these institutions are doing their best to meet the need. But they face a crisis. The demand for brains is increasing fast, and so is the pressure college applications. More money must be raised each year to expand ficilitlesbring faculty salaries up to an adequate standard provide a sound education for the young people who need and deserve it. As a practical business measure, help the colleges or tmiversities of your choicenowt The returns will be greater than yea think If you want to know what the college crisis means to you, write for v free booklet tot HIGHER EDUCATION, Box 36, Times Square Static*, New York 36, New York. Shaw Transportation Company, Inc. E.. P. SHAW, PRESIDENT Houston,. Texas ment had died down, the prisoners were all acquitted. The most sinister consequence of this mass hysteria was the application of methods once ascribed to the Spanish Inquisition \(but refined in our own day by the suinating evidence. One slave who was pardoned by the governor had been begged by his master to confess “in order to save himself from the severe and cruel torture to which other slaves had been subj ected.” From this time on, while no,actual uprising of any seriousness was ever again reported from the Old South, the outlines of the “plots” that were “discovered” follow a pattern of remarkable uniformity over a period of years and in widely separate parts of the country. Charles Ramsdell In 1835 some fantastic additions to the basic plot were contributed by an author named Virgil Stewart, whose masterpiece of fiction, published under a pseudonym, purported to expose a conspiracy of the notorious criminal John Murrel, who, it was alleged, had laid plans to seize power and wealth in the South by arming the slaves. A nervous lady of Beattie’s Bluff, Mississippi, heard some Negroes on the place talking in ‘low tones. That was sufficient to arouse all Mississippi; the state swarmed with mobs howling for blood. “Evidence which the mob desired was extracted from the Negroes by unmerciful whippings.” Among the literary flourishes added to the basic plot by Stewart was the choice of Christmas as the date for the uprising; since the book said so, victims of the mob were persuaded to admit that the blow had been scheduled for Christmas, but the date had been advanced because of the revelations. Most of the “plots” that were to be “discovered” in the South henceforth were scheduled to come off at Christmasa real triumph for literature. Another, and more significant, addition was the complicity of white men. Stewart had a peculiar aversion to “steam doctors,” practitioners of a system of medicine popular in that day; he had denounced them as members of the “Mystic Clan,” which was out to get him. A Mississippi mob was lucky enough to find and hang two steam doctors, who happened also to be Yankees. At Livingston, five whites and twelve blacks ‘pulled hemp,” the jocular f olksay had it. It was not until the fall of 1856 that the first great Negro “plot” was discovered in Texas. Almost simultaneously, plots were discovered in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and at least forty Negroes were hanged. An interesting feature of these plots is that the first ones were discovered just before the national election, when Fremont, whose candidacy was considered a threat to slavers, was running for president. Others were discovered just b e f ore Christmas, when the slaves, in f MARTIN ELFANT Sun Life of Canada Ho’uston, Texas CA 4-0686 most cases, were scheduled to rise. Here are three contemporary reports, in order of time, on the plot in Texas. From the True Issue, Sept. 5, 1856: “We noticed last week the rutnor that a large number of slaves, of Colorado County, had combined and armed themselves for the purpose of fighting their way into Mexico. Developments have since been made of a much more serious nature … It is ascertained that a secret combination had been formed, embracing most of the negroes of the county, for the purpose of not fleeing to Mexico, but of murdering the inhabitants men, women and children promiscuously. To carry out their hellish purposes, they had organized into companies of various sizes, had adopted secret signs and passwords, sworn never to divulge the plot under the penalty of death, and had elected captains and subordinate officers … They had provided themselves with some fire-arms and home-made bowie-knives and had appointed the time for a simultaneous movement. “Some two hundred, we learn, have been severely punished under the lash, and several are now in jail awaiting the more serious punishment of death, which is to be inflicted today. “One of the principal instigators of the movement is a free negro, or one who had been permitted to control his own time as a free man.” Report of Vigilance Committee: “COLUMBUS, C o l o r a d o Co., Sept. 9, 1856: “The object of this communication is to state to you all the facts of any importance connected with a recent intended insurrection. “Our suspicions were aroused about two weeks ago, when a meeting of the citizens of the county was called, and a committee of investigation appointed’ to ferret out the whole matter, and lay the facts before the people of the county for their consideration. The committee entered upon their duties, and in a short time they were in full possession of the facts of a well-organized and systematized plan for the murder of our entire white population, with the exception of the young ladies, who were to be taken captive and made the wives of the diabolical murderers of their parents and friends. The committee found in their possession a number of pistols, bowie-knives, guns and ammunition. Their passwords of organization were adopted, and their motto, ‘Leave not a shadow behind.’ “Last Saturday, the 6th inst., was the time agreed upon for the execution of their damning designs. At a late hour at night, all were to make one simultaneous, desperate effort, with from two to ten , apportioned to nearly every house in the county, kill all the whites, save the above exception, plunder their homes, take their horses and arms, and fight their “Notwithstanding the intense excitement which moved every member of our community, and the desperate measures to which men are liable to be led on by such impending danger to which we have been exposed by our indulgence and lenity to our slaves, we must say the people acted with more caution and deliberation than ever before characterized the action of any people under similar circumstances. “More than two hundred negroes had violated the law, the penalty of which is death. But, by unanimous consent, the law was withheld, and their lives were spared, with the exception of three of the ringleaders, who were, on last Friday, the 5th inst., at 2 o’clock P.M., hung, in compliance with the unanimous voice of the citizens of the county. “Without exception, every Mexican in the county was implicated. They were arrested, and ordered to leave the county within five days, and never again to return, under the penalty of death. There is one, however, by the name of Frank, who is proven to be one of the prime movers of the affair, that was not arrested; but we hope that he may yet be, and have meted out to him such reward as his black deed demands. “We are satisfied that the lower class of the Mexican population are incendiaries in any country where slaves are held. and should be dealt with accordingly. And, for the benefit of the Mexican population, we would here state, that a resolution was passed by the unanimous vote of the county, forever forbidding any Mexican from coming within the limits of the county. “Peace, quiet and good order are restored …” From the Galveston News, Sept. 11, 1856: “We learn, from the Columbian Planter, of the 9th, that two of the negroes engaged in the insurrection at C Olumbus were whipped to death; ‘three more were hung last Friday, and the Mexicans who were implicated were ordered to leave the country. There was no proof against these last ‘beyond surmises. The band had a deposit of arms and ammunition in the bottom. They had quite a number of guns, and a large lot of knives, manufactured by one of their number. It was their intention to fight their way to Mexico.” It is obvious that the near facts of the case are stated in the report from the Galveston News. It is interesting that the Vigilance Committee does not include among “all the facts of any importance” the fact that two of the Negroes were whipped to death. It may be inferred from the first report that these two were tortured to make them confess the conventional plot, which called for the murder of the white males, the looting of property, and the carrying off of the females. It seems likely that the slaves had planned an escape to Mexico, and had assembled arms to carry out this purpose. Against the Mexicans, “there was no proof beyond surmises Reavley Favors Public Power WASHINGTON The question in the building of Amistad Dam on the Devil’s River “is whether a natural resource belonging to all the people shall be taken from them and given to the control and exclusive advantage of one company or a few persons,” Tom Reavley, general counsel for the Texas Electric Cooperatives, told a congressional panel here. Approval fOr Rep. Clark Fisher’s bill as now written would be a decision that Central Power & Light Co. would build the power plant “and have the power,” Reavley said. He said the electric cooperatives hope they can buy some of the power generated at Amistad, and with CP&L the sole source of power for many of them, “this is not necessarily a comfortable position for them, particularly at rate fixing time. “Incidentally,” R e a v ley observed, “Texas has no state utility regulation by which excessive rates might be attacked.” A public vs. private power fight is taking shape in the, Congress over a proviso in the bill which would permit CP&L to buy the “falling water” from the dam on the Rio Grande and generate and sell hydroelectric power for profit. Money Stories Reprinted WASHINGTON Congressman James C. Oliver of Maine is placing the Observer’s articles on “Patman and Money,” as well as Rep. Wright Patman’s Observer guest column Jan. 15, in the Congressional Record. The Observer is advised that the series will then be reprinted in pamphlet form for distribution. In his extension of remarks in the Congressional Record March 21, Oliver said: “These articles are most enlightening. Despite the obvious importance of the subject, I regret to say it is one which is too much neglected, particularly by the public press. More than that, the Government officials in charge of monetary matters and the banker-philosophers who speak on the subject have a way of surrounding this subject with much mysticism, gobbledygook, and, at times, downright misleading statements . . . “I believe that the Members will find the Texas Observer’s articles both informative and stimulating reading . . . “A word about the Texas Observer. It is a weekly newspaper, published in Austin, Tex. It is one of the rare giants of American journalism. It reports on those important issues which most of the newspapers of the country find either too hot to handle or too difficult to handle. As a consequence, it has a high reputation and a devoted following of subscribers over the countryfrom the farthest corner of Texas to Maine,” Oliver said. Chronicle, Not Post Sir: In a recent issue of The Texas Observer I wrote about a big Texas newspaper that ran a headline saying, in effect, “John Doe and Three Negroes Indicted.” Many people here in Houston think I was writing about The Houston Post. This is a gross injustice, for The Houston Post is more civilized than most other big newspapers in the South and Southwest. The “John Doe and Three Negroes .. . ” headline appeared in The Houston Chronicle, a newspaper whose editorial policies range all the way from paleolithic to neolithic. Hart Stilwell, 1819 Ewing, 1-C, Houston, Tex. Insensitive Sir: For shame! How can an idealist like you not only attack but ridicule a fine man like Mr. Hunt? How can you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning? He has labored lo these many years just to get ahead. He lacked the prerequisites to succeed in
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