Charles Caldwell

Charles Caldwell (Hinds County)

State Senate: 1870-1875

Born: 1831/32
Died: December 25, 1875 in Clinton, MS

Appointed to be colonel in the second regiment of the Hinds County militia in 1873.

On December 25, 1875, Caldwell went into the town of Clinton to learn about his nephew who had been threatened earlier that day. After dinner he returned to Clinton. This time an acquaintance of his, Buck Cabell, invited Caldwell to drink a toast in celebration of Christmas. While the two men stood in the basement of Chilton’s store, they touched their glasses, apparently a signal for the assassins. Caldwell was shot in the head as he stood with his back to the window. Not quite dead, he lifted himself up and told the assassins not to forget that they were killing a gallant man and that when he was dead be mindful of the fact that he was not a docile man. At that instant, some forty shots rang out, delivering the fatal blow.”
(Buford Satcher, Blacks in Mississippi Politics 1865-1900, 1978)

“Charles Caldwell, Mayson’s colleague from Hinds County, also exercised some influence in the [1868 constitutional] convention. A mulatto, he had been a slave blacksmith in Clinton, and had picked up a smattering of education. A Democratic leader declared he was ‘far above the average negro in intelligence.’ Although he was no orator, he was a natural leader. Later, as state senator, he helped to guide his party, and, as ‘the Warwick of the administration,’ became one of the strongest supporters of Governor Ames. Unlike the great mass of Negroes of the time, in or out of politics, he was absolutely fearless. Although he used his power for the maintenance of peace between the races, in the crisis of 1875 he led a unit of militia through Clinton, and for this he was marked for death. One night about a month after the overthrow, he was literally riddled with bullets on a street in that town.”
(Vernon Lane Wharton, The Negro in Mississippi, 1865-1890, 1965)

Links:
Biography at Hutchins Center for African and African American Research
The Clinton Riot of 1875: From Riot to Massacre

Hinds County Gazette, May 1, 1872
Clarion-Ledger, October 2, 1873
Canton Mail, January 8, 1876
Vardaman’s Weekly, June 20, 1908