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"Murrell and his clan, who had been exposed and held up "to public odium, lost no time in endeavoring to discredit "the publication and slander its author. Matthew Clanton "and Col. Jarrot, the reputed friends of Murrell, united all "their powers for the destruction of Mr. Stewart's charac"ter; and as drowning men struggling for the last gleam "of hope, they entered the field bearing the arms of slan"der and perjury. At their heels were found murderers, "thieves and refugees, brandishing their envenomed wea"pons of destruction. The dark mantle of infamy was "just closing on them forever. After rallying all the forces "of vice and corruption, they resolved to make one united "and vigorous effort in a desperate cause. From such a "combination what but slander and detraction could be ex"pected? They sallied forth with an abusive and malicious "pamphlet, impeaching the honor of Mr. Stewart; and as "that pamphlet may have obtained some circulation, it "may not be amiss to give it here a passing notice."
We do not propose to enter into this profound controversy, but merely to indicate the standing at the South of "murderers, thieves, and refugees." They write pamphlets which obtain "some circulation." They frequently occupy the highest posts of southern society. The truth of this proposition by no means rests upon the sole testimony of Stewart and his biographer. They state only what we knew before. Their book, whether true or false, may be used as a sort of guage to show the villany of a slaveholding community. If false, still what must be the state of society where such an imposture could meet with so great success? Multitudes at the south believe the whole, of course security must be a stranger to their breasts; they can have no confidence in the guardianship of their laws.
The proceedings at Livingston and Vicksburg show, that law is not the safeguard of the South. In the present volume we have a detailed account of these proceedings, designed to vindicate the extra-judicial murder of those who suffered. It will be well for the people of the North to understand the grounds of them, and the reasons by which they are vindicated. We will advert only to those at Livingston.
Rumors of intended insurrections were afloat in various quarters of the South, as the natural consequence of Stewart's pamphlet. The ears of the timid and nervous were
of course very sensitive. It is said that a lady at a place called Beatie's Bluff, in Madison county, Mississippi, overheard part of a conversation between her slave nurse and a colored man which alarmed her. The nurse was called up and told that she must disclose the whole. She took care, as slaves exposed to torture very naturally do, to make her confession sufficiently frightful to prevent any resort to the lash. A number of gentlemen re-examined the girl, and receiving the same statement gave out that there was "good reason to believe that an insurrection of the negroes was contemplated." This set the country in a blaze, and led to further discoveries directly. One of the planters came before a meeting of the citizens, and stated that he had set his negro driver to examining his negroes, who reported to him that one old negro confessed that he had knowledge of the conspiracy. This old negro being brought before the meeting, "positively denied ever having had any conversation "with the driver; and the committee, finding they could "get nothing out of him by persuasion, ordered him to be "whipped until he would tell what the conversation was, "they not being informed of its nature."
"After receiving," says the historian of these proceedings, "a most severe chastisement, he came out and confessed all he knew, and confirmed in every particular the statement of the driver, &c." How natural the result! The poor old man knew he was to be whipped till he confessed, and he did just as thousands have done in such circumstances before him! See the history of the Inquisition. This took place on the 30th of June. The inquisitors followed up this mode of getting evidence till the 2d of July, when several white men having been implicated, and it having been discovered that the rising was to take place on the 4th, the "whole community" was ripe for vengeance. This consisted in an "immediate execution of the guilty," who were identically the witnesses, and, except the nurse, all the witnesses by whom the disclosures had been made!
The "community" then proceeded against the white men. One would think they committed an oversight in putting to death their witnesses before bringing the accused to trial. But it must be recollected that the slave laws, in their wisdom, do not permit a colored man, bond or free, to testify against a white in a court of justice. The difficul
ties of proceeding against these white men are thus stated. "The question became general what should they do with "the persons implicated? Should they hand them over to "the civil authority? This would seem under ordinary "circumstances the proper course. But should that be the 66 course, it was well known that much of the testimony "which established their guilt beyond all doubt, would, un"der the forms of the law, be excluded; and, if admissible, "that the witnesses were then no more. If, from our pe"culiar situation, the laws were incompetent to reach their "case-should such acts go unpunished? Besides, from "what had been seen and witnessed the day before, it "was universally believed, and, doubtless such would have "been the fact, that these persons would be forcibly taken, even from the custody of the law, and made to suffer the "penalty due to their crimes. Should they even be com"mitted for trial, there was much reason to apprehend that "they would be rescued by their confederates in guilt-if "not by perjury, at least by breaking jail. They had an "example of the dreadful excitement of the evening of "2d July, at Livingston. Immediately after the execution "of the negroes at Beatie's Bluff was made known at Liv"ingston, it created a most alarming excitement. The two "old negro men who were in custody of the Committee of "Examination at Livingston were demanded by the citi"zens; and previous to a vote of condemnation, and a full "examination, they were forcibly taken by an infuriated "people from the custody of those who intended to award "them a fair trial, and immediately hung." p. 234.
Whatever was the difficulty of disposing of the accused whites, "the citizens" very promptly got over it, for on the next day they had a general assembly of the people of the county, appointed a committee of thirteen, clothed them with full powers of life and death, and before sunset of the 4th, two white men by the names of Joshua Cotton and William Saunders, were disposed of. The former is said to have made a confession under the gallows, that he belonged. to Murrell's clan, that there were fifty-one white conspirators to raise the insurrection, which was to have taken place that day. All the names of these that he could recollect, who were deeply concerned, were fourteen, which he gave.
That our readers may have a fair specimen of these ex
tra-judicial murders, we shall give verbatim, the report of the
TRIAL OF ALBE DEAN.
"This man was a native of Ashford, Connecticut, whence he emigrated to Mississippi two years since. His general character before the disclosure of the conspiracy was not good; he was considered a lazy, indolent man, having very few pretensions to honesty. He had previously resided in the neighborhood of Livingston, where he pretended to make a living by constructing washing-machine, until he became acquainted with Cotton, when he abandoned his business. and turned steam-doctor, and went into partnership with Cotton, Saunders & Co. and settled in Hinds county. He was known to associate with negroes, and ́ would often come to the owners of runaways and intercede with their masters. to save them from a whipping. It was in evidence before the committee that he was seen prowling about the plantations in the neighborhoods of Vernon, Beatie's Bluff, and Livingston, ostensibly for the purpose of inquiring for runaway horses, which he did with great particularity-sometimes inquiring for a black, bay, gray, or other color that suggested itself at the time. It was evident that horse-hunting was not his business, but that he was reconnoitering the country, and seeking opportunities to converse with the negroes. He acknowledged that he was in the swamp near Livingston when the notorious Boyd was started by the dogs. Dean was arrested at the instigation of Saunders, who said he was a great rascal, and one of the conspirators. He was brought to Livingston with Saunders, on the 2d July. On Monday, the 6th July, he was placed on trial before the committee; but was in presence of the committee during the trial of Saunders and Corton, and heard the whole of the testimony which went to implicate him. It was in evidence before the committee, that, when on his way to Livingston, he had asked a witness, among other things, if some of Mr. W. P. Perkir s' negroes were not engage in the conspiracy; and particularly if Hudnold's Ned (a noted villain, whom he, Dean, had often endeavored to screen from a whipping) was not concerned. He also inquired if Mr. William Johnson's, Ruel Blake's, and some other gentlemen's negroes were not accused. He was not aware, at the time, that the very negroes about whom his inquiries were made had not only been suspected, but some of them actually hung; and, when informed Blake's nero had been hung, he asked if he had made any disclosures about him. He was identified as one of their accomplices by negroes accused.
And, lastly, he was accused by Dr. Cotton, who said, 'Dean was one of his accomplices, and deeply engaged in the conspiracy, as a member of the Murrell clan.' After a cool and deliberate investigation of his case, he was, by a unanimous vote of the committee, found guilty of aiding and exciting the negroes to insurrection, and sentenced to be hanged.
In pursuance of the sentence, he was executed on the 8th of July, with Donovan, and died in dogged silence, neither acknowledging his guilt, nor asserting his innocence.
This man requested that his name should not be given to the public, as his father was a public man, and it might lacerve the feelings of a venerated mother, who still survived. This request the committee and the writer would have scrupulously regarded, but that the name of this unfortunate man had already been made public by the officious and gratuitous information of some of the letterwriters, who have already given his name to the public." p. 246.
That man must have an extraordinary bump of credulity, who could swallow all the conclusions to which this tredecemvirate were led by their "cool and deliberate investigation." What had the things which were in evidence before the committee," in the case of Dean, to do with exciting an insurrection of the negroes? What weight is to be given
to the alleged confession of those who had been already hung? That the man requested his name to be concealed -the man who died in "dogged silence"-is too palpable a lie to deceive any disinterested brains, into whatever shape they may have been bumped. If there was any conspiracy at all we are inclined to believe it was on the part of those who assumed the bench of justice. There is nothing in the whole account of these proceedings, except the bare fact that a certain amount of slave property was destroyed, to save a rational man from the prevailing suspicion that the whole was a plot to get rid of some obnoxious individuals, and to strike terror into the slave population. There is just as good reason to believe that members of the Murrel clan sat on the bench as that they hung on the gallows. The whole testimony of the case rests on the bare word of men who had made themselves murderers. No legal investigation has been had, since the "excitement," to clear up the character of the state or the county. And strange to tell, neither Kentucky nor Connecticut, whose citizens were murdered side by side at the behest of thirteen irresponsible Mississipians, has demanded any atonement or explanation. What safety is there, we seriously ask the citizens of the free states who frequent the South-what safety is there for you in any slave state, if it should please any body to set afloat a rumor of insurrection? If you have ever been seen in company with a negro-if you have ever had the happiness to save one from a flogging-if you have ever expressed any doubts of the master's right to flog-or, even if you have maintained a "dogged silence," and kept your thoughts to yourself, you must die the death of a malefactor-and your murderers will be left to tell their own story,—and yours.
The facts which belong to this sad subject need no comment. On the one hand, the South does not deny that there lives and flourishes in her bosom a class of flagitious and desperate men, ripe for conspiracy and treason. On the other, she confesses that her institutions are such as cannot be defended by the regular operation of law; she glories that her most distinguished citizens will, upon the first alarm of insurrection, set themselves above all law, and imbrue their hands in the blood of their fellow citizens. Do we need better ground for the utter, instant, and eternal condemnation of the slave system?