Daily Evening Express, May 8, 1876

Daily Evening Express, May 8, 1876

A DEMOCRATIC CANVASS.

The means employed by the Mississippi Democrats to defeat their political opponents are quite as numerous as they are ingenious and violent. The general plan of the last campaign was the intimidation of Republican leaders, for it was well known that the complete demoralization of the masses would immediately follow. Even Democrats admit that “the white people were never so aroused;” all over the State they warned prominent black men that they would have to give up politics or run the risk of being shot, and by of emphasizing these threats they did indeed kill a large number of negro leaders. I make this statement after careful inquiry and upon the best authority; it cannot be successfully contradicted, for it is true. There is no evidence that the white people banded themselves together to commit these outrages, but there was a general understanding that the State should be free from negro rule, no matter what the cost. It is only just to state in this connection that the white men, the property owners, had suffered many wrongs at the hands of colored officials. Many of the more conservative men of the Democratic party professed to deplore the acts of their lawless associates, but they made no effort to prevent the wrongs which were put upon the black men, and they were ever ready to wink at even the most terrible outrages. It was not always necessary to commit crime, however; in many cases the timid negroes were easily subdued by threats and what are known here as “warnings.” This was the case in Washington county, where the colored men had a majority of 3,000 but polled only a few hundred votes. In this district the Democrats bought up a number of negroes who had been repudiated by their party but who still claimed to be Republicans. They sent these men to all the political meetings held by the negroes in the county, instructed them to make all the noise and confusion possible, and in order that the work of breaking up the meeting might be more effectually done numbers of well-armed white men were always on hand to protect the negro renegades. In Greenville one of the colored men thus secured by the whites was a mulatto named J. Allen Ross, who at one time had great influence among the negroes. Because of his prominence, he was particularly disliked by the whites, and three attempts were made to take his life. At one time his arm was shot off, and he received several other serious wounds. He forgot these injuries when they bought him over. Acting under instructions from the white leaders, he attended most of the meetings held in and about Greenville, and in many cases succeeded in breaking them up. At one of these gatherings, State Senator Gray, a colored man, was the speaker, and Ross, as was his custom, interrupted him frequently by asking irrelevant questions. Gray answered one or two of them, but at length becoming tired of the interruption, said quietly, “I can’t answer any more of your questions, sir.” Upon this, one of a number of white men, who was supporting Ross, leveled his gun at Gray, and said, “Answer him, you black —— ——, or get down from that stand.” Gray, fearing for his life, left the stand, and the meeting broke up. It was the last one held in Greenville. In Lowndes county another species of outrage was resorted to for the purpose of defeating the Republican ticket. A colored man named Gleeds was the leader in the district, and was a candidate for Sheriff. A few nights before the election the young white men and boys of Columbus, where Gleeds lived, set fire to an old shanty near his house, and to a deserted log cabin in another part of the village, then they ran through the streets crying, “Defend your homes, the niggers have set fire to the town.” Pistols were at once drawn and three black men were killed, Gleeds fled to Jackson, the Republican organization was broken up, and the Democrats carried the county by a large majority. In Warren county, of which Vicksburg is the principal city, and in which the negroes have a majority of seven to one, the Democratic canvass was begun on that memorable 7th of November when seventy negroes were massacred. This was followed by the trouble in July, when three black men were killed, and the result was that the Republicans held no meetings and virtually gave up the contest. To make their success doubly sure, the Democrats, through some unknown agent of whom they prefer to have no knowledge, tried to kill Crosby, the negro Sheriff and Republican leader. He was standing in a drinking saloon in Vicksburg just behind a wire screen, which was placed in front of the door, when suddenly a shot was fired, a ball came through the screen, and Crosby fell to the floor. He was severely wounded in the head, and fearing for his life left Mississippi. It is perhaps unnecessary to state that the Democrats carried Warren co. In Yazoo county, where there is a negro majority of 3,800, it is a notorious fact there were only seven Republican votes cast. The Democrats rid themselves of the Republican leader of the county in a somewhat novel fashion. He was a prominent member of the Legislature named Patterson. Shortly before the election somebody killed a negro, the whites swore it was an outrage, and said Patterson was to blame; then, without judge or jury, they took him out of his bed and hung him. The Democrats carried Yazoo by a majority of 4,000.

THE REPUBLICANS DEMORALIZED.

By these and similar acts of violence the Democrats succeeded in breaking up the Republican organization in Mississippi. Their efforts were ably seconded by certain discontented leaders. General Grant’s refusal to send troops into the State was “the last straw that broke the camel’s back,” and today the negro voters are demoralized and without hope or spirit. They know that they cannot expect to carry the coming election, for the Democrats assure them that if necessary they will conduct the canvass precisely as they did the last one. They make no secret as to their intentions. To-day, in a public dining-saloon, in the hearing of half a dozen persons, I asked a prominent Democrat from Vicksburg how many negroes were killed during the last political campaign? “Oh, three or four dozen,” was his cool reply. “And how many will you have to kill to carry the next election?” I asked. He thought a moment and then said, laughing: “Not many, I hope, but we must win.” This was said jocosely, but nevertheless it conveys a very good idea of the feelings of the Democrats. They don’t want to kill negroes, but they must carry the election. -Special Correspondence of the New York Times.

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