Friday, October 18, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple, excerpt thirteen)

from The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple:

In Macon, Georgia, for instance, a committee of white men protested the Reconstruction Acts, which they considered cruel and unjust. “In making this earnest protest against being placed, by force, under negro domination, we disavow all feeling of resentment toward that unfortunate race,” the men declared. “As they were made the dupes of unscrupulous partisans and designing adventurers, we pity them; as they are ignorant, dependent, and helpless, it is our purpose to protect them in the enjoyment of all the rights of person and property to which their freedom entitles them.” But the committee then concluded that the white men of Georgia should organize in order to protect themselves and their families against this “direful rule of negro supremacy.”

That committee may well have been the Klan. The Klan burned one-third of the town of Lewisburgh, Arkansas, after gunning down a black man named George Washington and leaving him for dead. The justice of the peace, L.B. Umpsflet, said that unless he received federal protection, he was leaving Arkansas, and maybe the country. Congressman James M. Hinds was killed with a double-barreled shotgun, and in South Carolina Klansmen assassinated a black state representative. Mounted men shot the black state senator Benjamin F. Randolph as he waited on a railroad platform. Teachers, black and white, were seized, schoolhouses torched, printing presses smashed, assemblies raided, men lynched. The stories were bone-chilling. “The ‘Klu Kluxe Klan’ is in full blast here and have inaugurated their nefarious proceedings by visiting, on two occasions, families of Negroes in this place,” Charles Cotton reported from Camden, Alabama. “On one occasion they went to a place where the Freedmen were, halting a meeting and one of the party deliberately shot a negro through the head.”

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