Part 39 out of 52
of this horrible deed; and not then, until a relation of the murdered
Anthony had demanded a warrant for the apprehension of Wilson. Several
days then elapsed before he was brought before an examining court. He
then, in a carriage and four, came to the place appointed for his
trial. Four or five days were employed in the examination of
witnesses, and never was a clearer case of murder proved than on that
occasion. Notwithstanding, the court (Justice Brown dissenting)
admitted Wilson to bail, and positively refused that the prosecuting
attorney for the state should introduce the law, to show that it was
not a bailable case, or even to hear an argument from him.
"At the time appointed for the session of the Circuit Court, Wilson
appeared agreeably to his recognizance. A motion was made by Wilson's
counsel for _change of venue_, founded on the affidavits of Wilson,
and two other men. The court thereupon removed the case to Saline
county, and ordered the Sheriff to take Wilson into custody, and
deliver him over to the Sheriff of Saline county.
"The Sheriff of Pulaski never confined Wilson one minute, but
permitted him to go where he pleased, without a guard, or any
restraint imposed on him whatever. On his way to Saline, he
entertained him freely at his own house, and the next day delivered
him over to the Sheriff of that county, who conducted the prisoner to
the debtor's room in the jail, and gave him the key, so that he and
every body else had free egress and ingress at all times. Wilson
invited every body to call on him, as he wished to see his friends,
and his room was crowded with visitors, who called to drink grog, and
laugh and talk with him. But this theatre was not sufficiently large
for his purpose. He afterwards visited the dram-shops, where he freely
treated all that would partake with him, and went fishing and hunting
with others at pleasure, and entirely with out restraint. He also ate
at the same table with the Judge, while on trial.
"When the court met at Saline, Wilson was put on his trial. Several
days were occupied in examining the witnesses in the case. After the
examination was closed, while Col. Taylor was engaged in a very able,
lucid, and argumentative speech, on the part of the prosecution, some
man collected a parcel of the rabble, and came within a few yards of
the court-house door, and bawled in a loud voice, 'part them--part
them!' Every body supposed there was an affray, and ran to the doors
and windows to see; behold, there was nothing more than the man, and
the rabble he had collected around him, for the purpose of annoying
Col. Taylor while speaking. A few minutes afterwards, this same person
brought a horse near the court-house door, and commenced crying the
horse, as though he was for sale, and continued for ten or fifteen
minutes to ride before the court-house door, crying the horse, in a
loud and boisterous tone of voice. The Judge sat as a silent listener
to the indignity thus offered the court and counsel by this man,
without interposing his authority.
"To show the depravity of the times, and the people, after the verdict
had been delivered by the jury, and the court informed Wilson that he
was discharged, there was a rush toward him: some seized him by the
hand, some by the arm, and there was great and loud rejoicing and
exultation, directly in the presence of the court: and Wilson told the
Sheriff to take the jury to a grocery, that he might treat them, and
invited every body that chose to go. The house was soon filled to
overflowing. The rejoicing was kept up till near supper time: but to
cap the climax, soon after supper was over, a majority of the jury,
together with many others, went to the rooms that had been occupied
several days by the friend and relation of the murdered Anthony, and
commenced a scene of the most ridiculous dancing, (as it is believed,)
in triumph for Wilson, and as a triumph over the feelings of the
relations of the departed Anthony. The scene did not close here. The
party retired to a dram-shop, and continued their rejoicing until
about half after 10 o'clock. They then collected a parcel of horns,
trumpets, &c., and marched through the streets, blowing them, till
near day, when one of the company rode his horse in the porch
adjoining the room which was occupied by the relations of the
This case is given to the reader at length, in order fully to show,
that in a community where the law sanctions the commission of every
species of outrage upon one class of citizens, it fosters passions
which will paralyze its power to protect the other classes. Look at
the facts developed in this case, as exhibiting the state of society
among slaveholders. 1st. That the members of the legislature are _in
the habit_ of wearing bowie knives. Wilson's knife was 10 or 11 inches
long. 2d. The murderer, Wilson, was a man of wealth, president of
the bank at the capital of the state, a high military officer, and
had, for many years, been Speaker of the House of Representatives, as
appears from a previous statement in the Arkansas Gazette. 3d. The
murder was committed in open day, before all the members of the House,
and many spectators, not one of whom seems to have made the least
attempt to intercept Wilson, as he advanced upon Anthony with his
knife drawn, but "made way for him," as is stated in another account.
4th. Though the murder was committed in the state-house, at the
capital of the state, days passed before the civil authorities moved
in the matter; and they did not finally do it, until the relations of
the murdered man demanded a warrant for the apprehension of the
murderer. Even then, several days elapsed before he was brought before
an examining court. When his trial came on, he drove to it in state,
drew up before the door with "his coach and four," alighted, and
strided into court like a lord among his vassals; and there, though a
clearer case of deliberate murder never reeked in the face of the sun,
yet he was admitted to bail, the court absolutely refusing to hear an
argument from the prosecuting attorney, showing that it was not a
bailable case. 5th. The sheriff of Pulaski county, who had Wilson in
custody, "never confined him a moment, but permitted him to go at
large wholly unrestrained." When transferred to Saline co. for trial,
the sheriff of that county gave Wilson the same liberty, and he spent
his time in parties of pleasure, fishing, hunting, and at houses of
entertainment. 6th. Finally, to demonstrate to the world, that justice
among slaveholders is consistent with itself; that authorizing
man-stealing and patronising robbery, it will, of course, be the
patron and associate of murder also, the judge who sat upon the case,
and the murderer who was on trial for his life before him, were
boon-companions together, eating and drinking at the same table
throughout the trial. Then came the conclusion of the farce--the
uproar round the court-house during the trial, drowning the voice of
the prosecutor while pleading, without the least attempt by the court
to put it down--then the charge of the judge to the jury, and their
unanimous verdict of acquittal--then the rush from all quarters around
the murderer with congratulations--the whole crowd in the court room
shouting and cheering--then Wilson leading the way to a tavern,
inviting the sheriff, and jury, and all present to "a treat"--then the
bacchanalian revelry kept up all night, a majority of the jurors
participating--the dancing, the triumphal procession through the
streets with the blowing of horns and trumpets, and the prancing of
horses through the porch of the house occupied by the relations of the
murdered Anthony, adding insult and mockery to their agony.
A few months before this murder on the floor of the legislature,
George Scott, Esq., formerly marshall of the state was shot in an
affray at Van Buren, Crawford co., Arkansas, by a man named Walker;
and Robert Carothers, in an affray in St. Francis co., shot William
Rachel, just as Rachel was shooting at Carothers' father. (_National
Intelligencer, May 8, 1837, and Little Rock Gazette, August 30,
While Wilson's trial was in progress, Mr. Gabriel Sibley was stabbed
to the heart at a public dinner, in St. Francis co., Arkansas, by
James W. Grant. (_Arkansas Gazette, May 30, 1838._)
Hardly a week before this, the following occurred:
"On the 16th ult., an encounter took place at Little Rock, Ark.,
between David F. Douglass, a young man of 18 or 19, and Dr. Wm. C.
Howell. A shot was exchanged between them at the distance of 8 or 10
feet with double-barrelled guns. The load of Douglass entered the left
hip of Dr. Howell, and a buckshot from the gun of the latter struck a
negro girl, 13 or 14 years of age, just below the pit of the stomach.
Douglass then fired a second time and hit Howell in the left groin,
penetrating the abdomen and bladder, and causing his death in four
hours. The negro girl, at the last dates, was not dead, but no hopes
were entertained of her recovery. Douglass was committed to await his
trial at the April term of the Circuit Court."--_Louisville Journal_.
The Little Rock Gazette of Oct. 24, says, "We are again called upon
to record the cold blooded murder of a valuable citizen. On the 10th
instant, Col. John Lasater, of Franklin co., was murdered by John W.
Whitson, who deliberately shot him with a shot gun, loaded with a
handful of rifle balls, six of which entered his body. He lived twelve
hours after he was shot.
"Whitson is the son of William Whitson, who was unfortunately killed,
about a year since, in a rencontre with Col. Lasater, (who was fully
exonerated from all blame by a jury,) and, in revenge of his father's
death, committed this bloody deed."
These atrocities were all perpetrated within a few months of the time
of the deliberate assassination, on the floor of the legislature by
the speaker, already described, and are probably but a small portion
of the outrages committed in that state during the same period. The
state of Arkansas contains about forty-five thousand white
inhabitants, which is, if we mistake not, the present population of
Litchfield county, Connecticut. And we venture the assertion, that a
public affray, with deadly weapons, has not taken place in that county
for fifty years, if indeed ever since its settlement a century and a
Missouri became one of the United States in 1821. Its present white
population is about two hundred and fifty thousand. The following are
a few of the affrays that have occurred there during the years 1837
The "Salt River Journal" March 8, 1838, has the following.
"_Fatal Affray_.--An affray took place during last week, in the town
of New London, between Dr. Peake and Dr. Bosley, both of that village,
growing out of some trivial matter at a card party. After some words,
Bosley threw a glass at Peake, which was followed up by other acts of
violence, and in the quarrel Peake stabbed Bosley, several times with
a dirk, in consequence of which, Bosley died the following morning.
The court of inquiry considered Peake justifiable, and discharged him
From the "St. Louis Republican," of September 29, 1837.
"We learn that a fight occurred at Bowling-Green, in this state, a few
days since, between Dr. Michael Reynolds and Henry Lalor. Lalor
procured a gun, and Mr. Dickerson wrested the gun from him; this
produced a fight between Lalor and Dickerson, in which the former
stabbed the latter in the abdomen. Mr. Dickerson died of the wound."
The following was in the same paper about a month previous, August 21,
"_A Horse Thief Shot_.--A thief was caught in the act of stealing a
horse on Friday last, on the opposite side of the river, by a company
of persons out sporting. Mr. Kremer, who was in the company, levelled
his rifle and ordered him to stop; which he refused; he then fired and
lodged the contents in the thief's body, of which he died soon
afterwards. Mr. K. went before a magistrate, who after hearing the
case, REFUSED TO HOLD HIM FOR FURTHER TRIAL!"
On the 5th of July, 1838, Alpha P. Buckley murdered William Yaochum in
an affray in Jackson county, Missouri. (Missouri Republican, July 24,
General Atkinson of the United States Army was waylaid on the 4th of
September, 1838, by a number of persons, and attacked in his carriage
near St. Louis, on the road to Jefferson Barracks, but escaped after
shooting one of the assailants. The New Orleans True American of
October 29, '38, speaking of this says: "It will be recollected that a
few weeks ago, Judge Dougherty, one of the most respectable citizens
of St. Louis, was murdered upon the same road."
The same paper contains the following letter from the murderer of
"_Murder of Judge Dougherty_.--The St. Louis Republican received the
following mysterious letter, unsealed, regarding this brutal
"NATCHEZ, Miss., Sept. 24.
"Messrs. Editors:--Revenge is sweet. On the night of the 11th, 12th,
and 13th, I made preparations, and did, on the 14th July kill a
rascal, and only regret that I have not the privilege of telling the
circumstance. I have so placed it that I can never be identified; and
further, I have no compunctions of conscience for the death of Thomas
But instead of presenting individual affrays and single atrocities,
however numerous, (and the Missouri papers abound with them,) in order
to exhibit the true state of society there, we refer to the fact now
universally notorious, that for months during the last fall and
winter, some hundreds of inoffensive Mormons, occupying a considerable
tract of land; and a flourishing village in the interior of the state,
have suffered every species of inhuman outrage from the inhabitants of
the surrounding counties--that for weeks together, mobs consisting of
hundreds and thousands, kept them in a state of constant siege, laying
waste their lands, destroying their cattle and provisions, tearing
down their houses, ravishing the females, seizing and dragging off and
killing the men. Not one of the thousands engaged in these horrible
outrages and butcheries has, so far as we can learn, been indicted.
The following extract of a letter from a military officer of one of
the brigades ordered out by the Governor of Missouri, to terminate the
matter, is taken from the North Alabamian of December 22, 1838.
Correspondence of the Nashville Whig.
THE MORMON WAR.
"MILLERSBURG, Mo. November 8.
"Dear Sir--A lawless mob had organized themselves for the express
purpose of driving the Mormons from the country, or exterminating
them, for no other reason, that I can perceive, than that these poor
deluded creatures owned a large and fertile body of land in their
neighborhood, and would not let them (the Mobocrats) have it for their
own price. I have just returned from the seat of difficulty, and am
perfectly conversant with all the facts in relation to it. The mob
meeting with resistance altogether unanticipated, called loudly upon
the kindred spirits of adjacent counties for help. The Mormons
determined to die in defence of their rights, set about fortifying
their town "Far West," with a resolution and energy that kept the mob
(who all the time were extending their cries of help to all parts of
Missouri) at bay. The Governor, from exaggerated accounts of the
Mormon depredations, issued orders for the raising of several thousand
mounted riflemen, of which this division raised five hundred, and the
writer of this was _honored_ with the appointment of ---- to the
"On the first day of this month, we marched for the "seat of war," but
General Clark, Commander-in-chief, having reached Far West on the day
previous with a large force, the difficulty was settled when we
arrived, so we escaped the infamy and disgrace of a bloody victory.
Before General Clark's arrival, the mob had increased to about four
thousand, and determined to attack the town. The Mormons upon the
approach of the mob, sent out a white flag, which being fired on by
the mob, Jo Smith and Rigdon, and a few other Mormons of less
influence, gave themselves up to the mob, with a view of so far
appeasing their wrath as to save their women and children from
violence. Vain hope! The prisoners being secured, the mob entered the
town and perpetrated every conceivable act of brutality and
outrage--forcing fifteen or twenty Mormon girls to yield to their
brutal passions!!! Of these things I was assured by many persons while
I was at Far West, in whose veracity I have the utmost confidence. I
conversed with many of the prisoners, who numbered about eight
hundred, among whom there were many young and interesting girls, and I
assure you, a more distracted set of creatures I never saw. I assure
you, my dear sir, it was peculiarly heart-rending to see old gray
headed fathers and mothers, young ladies and innocent babes, forced at
this inclement season, with the thermometer at 8 degrees below zero,
to abandon their warm houses, and many of them the luxuries and
elegances of a high degree of civilization and intelligence and take
up their march for the uncultivated wilds of the Missouri frontier.
"The better informed here have but one opinion of the result of this
Mormon persecution, and that is, it is a most fearful extension of
Judge Lynch's jurisdiction."
The present white population of Missouri is but thirty thousand less
than that of New Hampshire, and yet the insecurity of human life in
the former state to that in the latter, is probably at least twenty to
This state was admitted to the Union in 1819. Its present white
population is not far from three hundred thousand. The security of
human life to Alabama, may be inferred from the facts and testimony
The Mobile Register of Nov. 15, 1837, contains the annual message of
Mr. McVay, the acting Governor of the state, at the opening of the
Legislature. The message has the following on the frequency of
"We hear of homicides in different parts of the state _continually_,
and yet how few convictions for murder, and still fewer executions?
How is this to be accounted for? In regard to 'assault and battery
with intent to commit murder,' why is it that this offence continues
so common--why do we hear of stabbings and shootings _almost daily_ in
some part or other of our state?"
The "Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser" of April 22, 1837, has the
following from the Mobile Register:
"Within a few days a man was shot in an affray in the upper part of
the town, and has since died. The perpetrator of the violence is at
large. We need hardly speak of another scene which occurred in Royal
street, when a fray occurred between two individuals, a third standing
by with a cocked pistol to prevent interference. On Saturday night a
still more exciting scene of outrage took place in the theatre.
"An altercation commenced at the porquett entrance between the
check-taker and a young man, which ended in the first being
desperately wounded by a stab with a knife. The other also drew a
pistol. If some strange manifestations of public opinion, do not
coerce a spirit of deference to law, and the abandonment of the habit
of carrying secret arms, we shall deserve every reproach we may
receive, and have our punishment in the unchecked growth of a spirit
of lawlessness, reckless deeds, and exasperated feeling, which will
destroy our social comfort at home, and respectability abroad."
From the "Huntsville Democrat," of Nov. 7, 1837.
"A trifling dispute arose between Silas Randal and Pharaoh Massingale,
both of Marshall county. They exchanged but a few words, when the
former drew a Bowie knife and stabbed the latter in the abdomen
fronting the left hip to the depth of several inches; also inflicted
several other dangerous wounds, of which Massengale died
immediately.--Randal is yet at large, not having been apprehended."
From the "Free Press" of August 16, 1838.
"The streets of Gainesville, Alabama, have recently been the scene of
a most tragic affair. Some five weeks since, at a meeting of the
citizens, Col. Christopher Scott, a lawyer of good standing, and one
of the most influential citizens of the place, made a violent attack
on the Tombeckbee Rail Road Company. A Mr. Smith, agent for the T.R.R.
Company, took Col. C's remarks as a personal insult, and demanded an
explanation. A day or two after, as Mr. Smith was passing Colonel
Scott's door, he was shot down by him, and after lingering a few hours
"It appears also from an Alabama paper, that Col. Scott's brother,
L.S. Scott Esq., and L.J. Smith Esq., were accomplices of the Colonel
in the murder."
The following is from the "Natchez Free Trader," June 14, 1838.
"An affray, attended with fatal consequences, occurred in the town of
Moulton, Alabama, on the 12th May. It appears that three young men
from the country, of the name of J. Walton, Geo. Bowling, and
Alexander Bowling, rode into Moulton on that day for the purpose of
chastising the bar-keeper at McCord's tavern, whose name is Cowan, for
an alleged insult offered by him to the father of young Walton. They
made a furious attack on Cowan, and drove him into the bar room of the
tavern. Some time after, a second attack was made upon Cowan in the
street by one of the Bowlings and Walton, when pistols were resorted
to by both parties. Three rounds were fired, and the third shot, which
was said to have been discharged by Walton, struck a young man by the
name of Neil, who happened to be passing in the street at the time,
and killed him instantly. The combatants were taken into custody, and
after an examination before two magistrates, were bailed."
The following exploits of the "Alabama Volunteers," are recorded in
the Florida Herald, Jan. 1, 1838.
"SAVE US FROM OUR FRIENDS.--On Monday last, a large body of men,
calling themselves Alabama Volunteers, arrived in the vicinity of this
city. It is reported that their conduct during their march from
Tallahassee to this city has been a series of excesses of every
description. They have committed almost every crime except murder, and
have even threatened life.
"Large numbers of them paraded our streets, grossly insulted our
females, and were otherwise extremely riotous in their conduct. One of
the squads, forty or fifty in number, on reaching the bridge, where
there was a small guard of three or four men stationed, assaulted the
guard, overturned the sentry-box into the river, and bodily seized two
of the guard, and threw them into the river, where the water was deep,
and they were forced to swim for their lives. At one of the men while
in the water, they pointed a musket, threatening to kill him; and
pelted with every missile which came to hand."
The following Alabama tragedy is published by the "Columbia (S.C.)
Telescope," Sept. **, 1837, from the Wetumpka Sentinel.
"Our highly respectable townsman, Mr. Hugh Ware, a merchant of
Wetumpka, was standing in the door of his counting room, between the
hours of 8 and 9 o'clock at night, in company with a friend, when an
assassin lurked within a few paces of his position, and discharged his
musket, loaded with ten or fifteen buckshot. Mr. Ware instantly fell,
and expired without a struggle or a groan. A coroner's inquest decided
that the deceased came to his death by violence, and that Abner J.
Cody, and his servant John, were the perpetrators. John frankly
confessed, that his master, Cody, compelled him to assist, threatening
his life if he dared to disobey; that he carried the musket to the
place at which it was discharged; that his master then received it
from him, rested it on the fence, fired and killed Mr. Ware."
From the "Southern (Miss.) Mechanic," April 17, 1838.
"HORRID BUTCHERY.--A desperate fight occurred in Montgomery, Alabama,
on the 28th ult. We learn from the Advocate of that city, that the
persons engaged were Wm. S. Mooney and Kenyon Mooney, his son, Edward
Bell, and Bushrod Bell, Jr. The first received a wound in the abdomen,
made by that fatal instrument, the Bowie knife, which caused his death
in about fifteen hours. The second was shot in the side, and would
doubtless have been killed, had not the ball partly lost its force by
first striking his arm. The third received a shot in the neck, and now
lies without hope of recovery. The fourth escaped unhurt, and, we
understand has fled. This is a brief statement of one of the bloodiest
fights that we ever heard of."
From the "Virginia Statesman," May 6, 1837.
"Several affrays, wherein pistols, dirks and knives were used, lately
occurred at Mobile. One took place on the 8th inst., at the theatre,
in which a Mr. Bellum was so badly stabbed that his life is despaired
of. On the Wednesday preceding, a man named Johnson shot another named
Snow dead. No notice was taken of the affair."
From the "Huntsville Advocate," June 20, 1837.
"DESPERATE AFFRAY.--On Sunday the 11th inst., an affray of desparate
and fatal character occurred near Jeater's Landing, Marshall county,
Alabama. The dispute which led to it arose out of a contested right to
_possession_ of a piece of land. A Mr. Steele was the occupant, and
Mr. James McFarlane and some others, claimants. Mr. F. and his friends
went to Mr. Steele's house with a view to take possession, whether
peaceably or by violence, we do not certainly know. As they entered
the house a quarrel ensued between the opposite parties, and some
blows perhaps followed; in a short time, several guns were discharged
from the house at Mr. McFarlane and friends. Mr. M. was killed, a Mr.
Freamster dangerously wounded, and it is thought will not recover; two
others were also wounded, though not so as to endanger life. Mr.
Steele's brother was wounded by the discharge of a pistol from one of
Mr. M's friends. We have heard some other particulars about the
affray, but we abstain from giving them, as incidental versions are
often erroneous, and as the whole matter will be submitted to legal
investigation. Four of Steele's party, his brother, and three whose
names are Lenten, Collins and Wills, have been arrested, and are now
confined in the gaol in this place."
From the "Norfolk Beacon," July 14, 1838.
"A few days since at Claysville, Marshal co., Alabama, Messrs.
Nathaniel and Graves W. Steele, while riding in a carriage, were shot
dead, and Alex. Steele and Wm. Collins, also in the carriage, were
severely wounded, (the former supposed mortally,) by Messrs. Jesse
Allen, Alexander and Arthur McFarlane, and Daniel Dickerson. The
Steeles, it appears, last year killed James McFarlane and another
person in a similar manner, which led to this dreadful retaliation."
From the Montgomery (Ala.) Advocate--Washington, Autauga Co., Dec. 28,
"FATAL RENCONTRE.--On Friday last, the 28th ult., a fatal rencontre
took place in the town of Washington, Autauga county, between John
Tittle and Thomas J. Tarleton, which resulted in the death of the
former. After a patient investigation of the matter, Mr. Tarleton was
released by the investigating tribunal, on the ground that the
homicide was clearly justifiable."
The "Columbus (Ga.) Sentinel" July 6, 1837, quotes the following from
the Mobile (Ala.) Examiner.
"A man by the name of Peter Church was killed on one of the wharves
night before last. The person by whom it was done delivered himself to
the proper authorities yesterday morning. The deceased and destroyer
were friends and the act occurred in consequence of an immaterial
The "Milledgeville Federal Union" of July 11, 1837, has the following
"In Selma, Alabama resided lately messrs. Philips and Dickerson,
physicians. Mr. P. is brother to the wife of V. Bleevin Esq., a rich
cotton planter in that neighborhood; the latter has a very lovely
daughter, to whom Dr. D. paid his addresses. A short time since a
gentleman from Mobile married her. Soon after this, a schoolmaster in
Selma set a cry afloat to the effect, that he had heard Dr. D. say
things about the lady's conduct before marriage which ought not to be
said about any lady. Dr. D. denied having said such things, and the
other denied having spread the story; but neither denials sufficed to
pacify the enraged parent. He met Dr. D. fired at him two pistols, and
wounded him. Dr. D. was unarmed, and advanced to Mr. Bleevin, holding
up his hands imploringly, when Mr. B. drew a Bowie knife, and stabbed
him to the heart. The doctor dropped dead on the spot: and Mr. Bleevin
has been held to bail."
The following is taken from the "Alabama, Intelligencer," Sept. 17,
"On the 5th instant, a deadly rencounter took place in the streets of
Russelville, (our county town,) between John A. Chambers, Esq., of the
city of Mobile, and Thomas L. Jones, of this county. In the
rencounter, Jones was wounded by several balls which took effect in
his chin, mouth, neck, arm, and shoulder, believed to be mortal; he
did not fire his gun.
"Mr. Chambers forthwith surrendered himself to the Sheriff of the
county, and was on the 6th, tried and fully acquitted, by a court of
The "Maysville (Ky.) Advocate" of August 14, 1838, gives the following
affray, which took place in Girard, Alabama, July 10th.
"Two brothers named Thomas and Hal Lucas, who had been much in the
habit of quarrelling, came together under strong excitement, and Tom,
as was his frequent custom, being about to flog Hal with a stick of
some sort, the latter drew a pistol and shot the former, his own
brother, through the heart, who almost instantly expired!"
The "New Orleans Bee" of Oct. 5, 1838, relates an affray in Mobile,
Alabama, between Benjamin Alexander, an aged man of ninety, with
Thomas Hamilton, his grandson, on the 24th of September, in which the
former killed the latter with a dirk.
The "Red River Whig" of July 7, 1838, gives the particulars of a
tragedy in Western Alabama, in which a planter near Lakeville, left
home for some days, but suspecting his wife's fidelity, returned home
late at night, and finding his suspicions verified, set fire to his
house and waited with his rifle before the door, till his wife and her
paramour attempted to rush out, when he shot them both dead.
From the "Morgan (Ala.) Observer," Dec. 1838.
"We are informed from private sources, that on last Saturday, a poor
man who was moving westward with his wife and three little children
and driving a small drove of sheep, and perhaps a cow or two, which
was driven by his family, on arriving in Florence, and while passing
through, met with a citizen of that place, who rode into his flock and
caused him some trouble to keep it together, when the mover informed
the individual that he must not do so again or he would throw a rock
at him, upon which some words ensued, and the individual again
disturbed the flock, when the mover, as near as we can learn, threw at
him upon this the troublesome man got off his horse, went into a
grocery, got a gun, and came out and deliberately shot the poor
stranger in the presence of his wife and little children. The wounded
man then made an effort to get into some house, when his murderous
assailant overtook and stabbed him to the heart with a _Bowie knife_.
This revolting scene, we are informed, occurred in the presence of
many citizens, who, report says, never even lifted their voices in
defence of the murdered man."
A late number of the "Flag of the Union," published at Tuscalosa, the
seat of the government of Alabama, states that "since the commencement
of the late session of the legislature of that state, no less than
THIRTEEN FIGHTS had been had within sight of the capitol." _Pistols
and Bowie knives were used in every case_.
The present white population of Alabama is about the same with that of
New Jersey, yet for the last twenty years there has not been so many
public deadly affrays, and of such a horrible character, in New
Jersey, as have taken place in Alabama within the last eight months.
Mississippi became one of the United States in 1817. Its present white
population is about one hundred and sixty thousand.
The following extracts will serve to show that those who combine
together to beat, rob, and manacle innocent men, women and children,
will stick at nothing when their passions are up.
The following murderous affray at Canton, Mississippi, is from the
"Alabama Beacon," Sept, 13, 1838.
"A terrible tragedy recently occurred at Canton, Miss., growing out of
the late duel between Messrs. Dickins and Drane of that place. A
Kentuckian happening to be in Canton, spoke of the duel, and charged
Mr. Mitchell Calhoun, the second of Drane, with cowardice and
unfairness. Mr. Calhoun called on the Kentuckian for an explanation,
and the offensive charge was repeated. _A challenge and fight with
Bowie knives, toe to toe_, were the consequences. Both parties were
dreadfully and dangerously wounded, though neither was dead at the
last advices. Mr. Calhoun is a brother to the Hon. John Calhoun,
member of Congress."
Here follows the account of the duel referred to above, between
Messrs. Dickins and Drane.
"Intelligence has been received in this town of a fatal duel that took
place in Canton, Miss., on the 28th ult., between Rufus K. Dickins,
and a Mr. Westley Drane. They fought with double barrelled guns,
loaded with buckshot--both were mortally wounded."
The "Louisville Journal" publishes the following, Nov. 23.
"On the 7th instant, a fatal affray took place at Gallatin,
Mississippi. The principal parties concerned were, Messrs. John W.
Scott, James G. Scott, and Edmund B. Hatch. The latter was shot down
and then stabbed twice through the body, by J.G. Scott."
The "Alabama Beacon" of Sept. 13, 1838, says:
"An attempt was made in Vicksburg lately, by a gang of Lynchers, to
inflict summary punishment on three men of the name of Fleckenstein.
The assault was made upon the house, about 11 o'clock at night.
Meeting with some resistance from the three Fleckensteins, a leader of
the gang, by the name of Helt, discharged his pistol, and wounded one
of the brothers severely in the neck and jaws. A volley of four or
five shots was almost instantly returned, when Helt fell dead, a piece
of the top of the skull being torn off, and almost the whole of his
brains dashed out. His comrades seeing him fall, suddenly took to
their heels. There were, it is supposed, some _ten or fifteen_
concerned in the transaction."
The "Manchester (Miss.) Gazette," August 11, 1838, says:
"It appears that Mr. Asa Hazeltine, who kept a public or boarding
house in Jackson, during the past winter, and Mr. Benjamin Tanner,
came here about five or six weeks since, with the intention of opening
a public house. Foiled in the design, in the settlement of their
affairs some difficulty arose as to a question of veracity between the
parties. Mr. Tanner, deeply excited, procured a pistol and loaded it
with the charge of death, sought and found the object of his hatred in
the afternoon, in the yard of Messrs. Kezer & Maynard, and in the
presence of several persons, after repeated and ineffectual attempts
on the part of Capt. Jackson to baffle his fell spirit, shot the
unfortunate victim, of which wound Mr. Hazeltine died in a short time.
"We understand that Mr. Hazeltine was a native of Boston."
The "Columbia (S.C.) Telescope," Sept. 16, 1837, gives the details
"By a letter from Mississippi, we have an account of a rencontre which
took place in Rodney, on the 27th July, between Messrs. Thos. J.
Johnston and G.H. Wilcox, both formerly of this city. In consequence
of certain publications made by these gentlemen against each other,
Johnston challenged Wilcox. The latter declining to accept the
challenge, Johnston informed his friends at Rodney, that he would be
there at the term of the court then not distant, when he would make an
attack upon him. He repaired thither on the 26th, and on the next
morning the following communication was read aloud in the presence of
Wilcox and a large crowd:
"Rodney, July 27, 1837.
"Mr. Johnston informs Mr. Wilcox, that at or about 1 o'clock of this
day, he will be on the common, opposite the Presbyterian Church of
this town, waiting and expecting Mr. Wilcox to meet him there.
"I pledge my honor that Mr. Johnston will not fire at Mr. Wilcox,
until he arrives at a distance of one hundred yards from him, and I
desire Mr. Wilcox or any of his friends, to see that distance
"Mr. Johnston will wait there thirty minutes.
"J. M. DUFFIELD.
"Mr. Wilcox declined being a party to any such arrangement, and Mr. D.
told him to be prepared for an attack. Accordingly, about an hour
after this, Johnston proceeded towards Wilcox's office, armed with a
double-barrelled gun, (one of the barrels rifled,) and three pistols
in his belt. He halted about fifty yards from W's door and leveled his
gun. W. withdrew before Johnston could fire, and seized a musket,
returned to the door and flashed. Johnston fired both barrels without
effect. Wilcox then seized a double barrel gun, and Johnston a musket,
and both again fired. Wilcox sent twenty-three buck shot over
Johnston's head, one of them passing through his hat, and Wilcox was
slightly wounded on both hands, his thigh and leg."
From the "Alabama Beacon," May 27, 1838.
"An affray of the most barbarous nature was expected to take place in
Arkansas opposite Princeton, on Thursday last. The two original
parties have been endeavoring for several weeks, to settle their
differences at Natchez. One of the individuals concerned stood
pledged, our informant states, to fight three different antagonists in
one day. The fights, we understand, were to be with pistols; but a
variety of other weapons were taken along--among others, the deadly
Bowie knife. These latter instruments, we are told, were whetted and
dressed up at Grand Gulf, as the parties passed up, avowedly with the
intention of being used in the field."
From the "Southern (Miss) Argus," Nov. 21, 1837.
"We learn that, at a wood yard above Natchez, on Sunday evening last,
a difficulty arose between Captain Crosly, of the steamboat Galenian,
and one of his deck passengers. Capt. C. drew a Bowie knife, and made
a pass at the throat of the passenger, which failed to do any harm,
and the captain then ordered him to leave his boat. The man went on
board to get his baggage, and the captain immediately sought the cabin
for a pistol. As the passenger was about leaving the boat, the captain
presented a pistol to his breast, which snapped. Instantly the enraged
and wronged individual seized Capt. Crosly by the throat, and brought
him to the ground, when he drew a dirk and stabbed him eight or nine
times in the breast, each blow driving the weapon into his body up to
the hilt. The passenger was arrested, carried to Natchez, tried and
The "Planter's Intelligencer" publishes the following from the
Vicksburg Sentinel of June 19, 1838.
"About 1 o'clock, we observed two men 'pummeling' one another in the
street, to the infinite amusement of a crowd. Presently a third hero
made his appearance in the arena, with Bowie knife in hand, and he
cried out, "Let me come at him!" Upon hearing this threat, one of the
pugilists 'took himself off,' our hero following at full speed.
Finding his pursuit was vain, our hero returned, when an attack was
commenced upon another individual. He was most cruelly beat, and cut
through the skull with a knife; it is feared the wounds will prove
mortal. The sufferer, we learn, is an inoffensive German."
From the "Mississippian," Nov. 9, 1838.
"On Tuesday evening last, 23d, an affray occurred at the town of
Tallahasse, in this county, between Hugh Roark and Captain Flack,
which resulted in the death of Roark. Roark went to bed, and Flack,
who was in the barroom below, observed to some persons there, that he
believed they had set up Roark to whip him; Roark, upon hearing his
name mentioned, got out of bed and came downstairs. Flack met and
stabbed him in the lower part of his abdomen with a knife, letting out
his bowels. Roark ran to the door, and received another stab in the
back. He lived until Thursday night, when he expired in great agony.
Flack was tried before a justice of the peace, and we understand was
only held to bail to appear at court in the event Roark should die."
From the "Grand Gulf Advertiser" Nov. 7, 1838.
"_Attempt at Riot at Natchez_.--The _Courier_ says, that in
consequence of the discharge of certain individuals who had been
arraigned for the murder of a man named _Medill_, a mob of about 200
persons assembled on the night of the 1st instant, with the avowed
purpose of _lynching_ them. But fortunately, the objects of their
vengeance had escaped from town. Foiled in their purpose, the rioters
repaired to the shantee where the murder was committed, and
precipitated it over the bluff. The military of the city were ordered
out to keep order."
From the "Natchez Free Trader."
"A violent attack was lately made on Captain Barrett, of the steamboat
Southerner, by three persons from Wilkinson co., Miss., whose names
are Carey, and one of the name of J.S. Towles. The only reason for the
outrage was, that Captain B. had the assurance to require of the
gentlemen, who were quarreling on board his boat, to keep order for
the peace and comfort of the other passengers. _Towles_ drew a Bowie
knife upon the Captain; which the latter wrested from him. A pistol,
drawn by one of the Careys was also taken, and the assailant was
knocked overboard. Fortunately for him he was rescued from drowning.
The brave band then landed. On her return up the river, the Southerner
stopped at Fort Adams, and on her leaving that place, an armed party,
among whom were the Careys and Towles, fired into the boat, but
happily the shot missed a crowd of passengers on the hurricane deck."
From the "Mississippian," Dec. 18, 1838.
"Greet Spikes, a citizen of this county, was killed a few days ago,
between this place and Raymond, by a man named Pegram. It seems that
Pegram and Spikes had been carrying weapons for each other for some
time past. Pegram had threatened to take Spikes' life on first sight,
for the base treatment he had received at his hands.
"We have heard something of the particulars, but not enough to give
them at this time. Pegram had not been seen since."
The "Lynchburg Virginian," July 23, 1638, says:
"A fatal affray occurred a few days ago in Clinton, Mississippi. The
actors in it were a Mr. Parham, Mr. Shackleford, and a Mr. Henry.
Shackleford was killed on the spot, and Henry was slightly wounded by
a shot gun with which Parham was armed."
From the "Columbus (Ga.) Sentinel," Nov. 22, 1838.
"_Butchery_.--A Bowie knife slaughter took place a few days since in
Honesville, Miss. A Mr. Hobbs was the victim; Strother the butcher."
The "Vicksburg Sentinel," Sept. 28, 1837, says:
"It is only a few weeks since humanity was shocked by a most atrocious
outrage, inflicted by the Lynchers, on the person of a Mr. Saunderson
of Madison, co. in this state. They dragged this respectable planter
from the bosom of his family, and mutilated him in the most brutal
manner--maiming him most inhumanly, besides cutting off his nose and
ears and scarifying his body to the very ribs! We believe the subject
of this foul outrage still drags out a miserable existence--an object
of horror and of pity. Last week a club of Lynchers, amounting to four
or five individuals, as we have been credibly informed, broke into the
house of Mr. Scott of Wilkinson co., a respectable member of the bar,
forced him out, and hung him dead on the next tree. We have heard of
numerous minor outrages committed against the peace of society, and
the welfare and happiness of the country; but we mention these as the
most enormous that we have heard for some months.
"It now becomes our painful duty, to notice a most disgraceful outrage
committed by the Lynchers of Vicksburg, on last Sunday. The victim was
a Mr. Grace, formerly of the neighborhood of Warrenton, Va., but for
two years a resident of this city. He was detected in giving free
passes to slaves and brought to trial before Squire Maxey.
Unfortunately for the wretch, either through the want of law or
evidence, he could not be punished, and he was set at liberty by the
magistrate. The city marshal seeing that a few in the crowd were
disposed to lay violent hands on the prisoner in the event of his
escaping punishment by law, resolved to accompany him to his house.
The Lynch mob still followed, and the marshal finding the prisoner
could only be protected by hurrying him to jail, endeavored to effect
that object. The Lynchers, however, pursued the officer of the law,
dragged him from his horse, bruised him, and conveyed the prisoner to
the most convenient point of the city for carrying their blood-thirsty
designs into execution. We blush while we record the atrocious deed;
in this city, containing nearly 5,000 souls, in the broad light of
day, this aged wretch was stripped and flogged, we believe within
hearing of the lamentations and the shrieks of his afflicted wife and
In an affray at Montgomery, Mississippi, July 1, 1838, Mr. A.L.
Herbert was killed by Dr. J.B. Harrington. See Grand Gulf Advertiser,
August 1, 1838.
The "Maryland Republican" of January 30, 1838, has the following:
"A street rencounter lately took place in Jackson, Miss., between Mr.
Robert McDonald and Mr. W.H. Lockhart, in which McDonald was shot with
a pistol and immediately expired. Lockhart was committed to prison."
The "Nashville Banner," June 22, 1838, has the following:
"On the 8th inst. Col. James M. Hulet was shot with a rifle without
any apparent provocation in Gallatin, Miss., by one Richard M. Jones."
From the "Huntsville Democrat," Dec. 8, 1838.
"The Aberdeen (Miss.) Advocate, of Saturday last, states that on the
morning of the day previous, (the 9th) a dispute arose between Mr.
Robert Smith and Mr. Alexander Eanes, both of Aberdeen, which resulted
in the death of Mr. Smith, who kept a boarding house, and was an
amiable man and a good citizen. In the course of the contradictory
words of the disputants, the lie was given by Eanes, upon which Smith
gathered up a piece of iron and threw it at Eanes, but which missed
him and lodged in the walls of the house. At this Eanes drew a large
dirk knife, and stabbed Smith in the abdomen, the knife penetrating
the vitals, and thus causing immediate death. Smith breathed only a
few seconds after the fatal thrust.
"Eanes immediately mounted his horse and rode off, but was pursued by
Mr. Hanes, who arrested and took him back, when he was put under guard
to await a trial before the proper authorities."
From the "Vicksburg Register," Nov. 17, 1838.
"On the 2d inst. an affray occurred between one Stephen Scarbrough and
A.W. Higbee of Grand Gulf, in which Scarbrough was stabbed with a
knife, which occasioned his death in a few hours. Higbee has been
arrested and committed for trial."
From the "Huntsville (Ala.) Democrat" Nov. 10, 1838.
"_Life in the Southwest_.--A friend in Louisiana writes, under date of
the 31st ult., that a fight took place a few days ago in Madison
parish, 60 miles below Lake Providence, between a Mr. Nevils and a Mr.
Harper, which terminated fatally. The police jury had ordered a road
on the right bank of the Mississippi, and the neighboring planters
were out with their forces to open it. For some offence, Nevils, the
superintendent of the operations, flogged two of Harper's negroes. The
next day the parties met on horseback, when Harper dismounted, and
proceeded to cowskin Nevils for the chastisement inflicted on the
negroes. Nevils immediately drew a pistol and shot his assailant dead
on the spot. Both were gentlemen of the highest respectability.
"An affray also came off recently, as the same correspondent writes
us, in Raymond, Hinds co., Miss., which for a serious one, was rather
amusing. The sheriff had a process to serve on a man of the name of
Bright, and, in consequence of some difficulty and intemperate
language, thought proper to commence the service by the application of
his cowskin to the defendant. Bright thereupon floored his adversary,
and, wresting his cowhide from him, applied it to its owner to the
extent of at least five hundred lashes, meanwhile threatening to shoot
the first bystander who attempted to interfere. The sheriff was
carried home in a state of insensibility, and his life has been
despaired of. The mayor of the place, however, issued his warrant, and
started three of the sheriff's deputies in pursuit of the delinquent,
but the latter, after keeping them at bay till they found it
impossible to arrest him, surrendered himself to the magistrate, by
whom he was bound over to the next Circuit Court. From the mayor's
office, his honor and the parties litigant proceeded to the tavern to
take a drink by way of ending hostilities. But the civil functionary
refused to sign articles of peace by touching glasses with Bright,
whereupon the latter made a furious assault upon him, and then turned
and flogged 'mine host' within an inch of his life because he
interfered. Satisfied with his day's work, Bright retired. Can we show
any such specimens of chivalry and refinement in Kentucky!"
From the "Grand Gulf (Miss.) Advertiser," June 27, 1837.
"DEATH BY VIOLENCE.--The moral atmosphere in our state appears to be
in a deleterious and sanguinary condition. _Almost every exchange
paper which reaches us contains some inhuman and revolting case of
murder or death by violence. Not less than fifteen deaths by violence
have occurred, to our certain knowledge, within the past three
months._ Such a state of things, in a country professing to be moral
and christian, is a disgrace to human nature and is well calculated,
to induce those abroad unacquainted with our general habits and
feelings, to regard the morals of our people in no very enviable
light; and does more to injure and weaken our political institutions
than years of pecuniary distress. The frequency of such events is a
burning disgrace to the morality, civilization, and refinement of
feeling to which we lay claim and so often boast in comparison with
the older states. And unless we set about and put an immediate and
effectual termination to such revolting scenes, we shall be compelled
to part with what all genuine southerners have ever regarded as their
richest inheritance, the proud appellation of the '_brave, high-minded
and chivalrous sons of the south_.'
"This done, we should soon discover a change for the better--peace and
good order would prevail, and the ends of justice be effectually and
speedily attained, and then the people of this wealthy state would be
in a condition to bid defiance to the disgraceful reproaches which are
now daily heaped upon them by the religious and moral of other
"The present white population of Mississippi is but little more than
half as great as that of Vermont, and yet more horrible crimes are
perpetrated by them EVERY MONTH, than have ever been perpetrated in
Vermont since it has been a state, now about half a century. Whoever
doubts it, let him get data and make his estimate, and he will find
that this is no random guess."
Louisiana became one of the United States in 1811. Its present white
population is about one hundred and fifteen thousand.
The extracts which follow furnish another illustration of the horrors
produced by passions blown up to fury in the furnace of arbitrary
power. We have just been looking over a broken file of Louisiana
papers, including the last six months of 1837, and the whole of 1838,
and find ourselves obliged to abandon our design of publishing even an
abstract of the scores and _hundreds_ of affrays, murders,
assassinations, duels, lynchings, assaults, &c. which took place in
that state during that period. Those which have taken place in New
Orleans alone, during the last eighteen months, would, in detail, fill
a volume. Instead of inserting the details of the principal atrocities
in Louisiana, as in the states already noticed, we will furnish the
reader with the testimony of various editors of newspapers, and
others, residents of the state, which will perhaps as truly set forth
the actual state of society there, as could be done by a publication
of the outrages themselves.
From the "New Orleans Bee," of May 23, 1838.
"_Contempt of human life._--In view of the crimes which are _daily_
committed, we are led to inquire whether it is owing to the
inefficiency of our laws, or to the manner in which those laws are
administered, that this _frightful deluge of human blood fowl through
our streets and our places of public resort_.
"Whither will such contempt for the life of man lead us? The
unhealthiness of the climate mows down annually a part of our
population; the murderous steel despatches its proportion; and if
crime increases as it has, the latter will soon become _the most
powerful agent in destroying life_.
"We cannot but doubt the perfection of our criminal code, when we see
that _almost every criminal eludes the law_, either by boldly avowing
the crime, or by the tardiness with which legal prosecutions are
carried on, or, lastly, by the convenient application of _bail_ in
The "New Orleans Picayune" of July 30, 1837, says:
"It is with the most painful feelings that we _daily_ hear of some
_fatal_ duel. Yesterday we were told of the unhappy end of one of our
most influential and highly respectable merchants, who fell yesterday
morning at sunrise in a duel. As usual, the circumstances which led to
the meeting were trivial."
The New Orleans correspondent of the New York Express, in his letter
dated New Orleans, July 30, 1837, says:
"THIRTEEN DUELS have been fought in and near the city during the week;
_five more were to take place this morning_."
The "New Orleans Merchant" of March 20, 1838, says:
"Murder has been rife within the two or three weeks last past; and
what is worse, the authorities of those places where they occur are
_perfectly regardless of the fact_."
The "New Orleans Bee" of September 8, 1838, says:
"Not two months since, the miserable BARBA became a victim to one of
the most cold-blooded schemes of assassination that ever disgraced a
civilized community. Last Sunday evening an individual, Gonzales by
name, was seen in perfect health, in conversation with his friends. On
Monday morning his dead body was withdrawn from the Mississippi, near
the ferry of the first municipality, in a state of terrible
mutilation. To cap the climax of horror, on Friday morning, about half
past six o'clock, the coroner was called to hold an inquest over the
body of an individual, between Magazine and Tchoupitoulas streets. The
head was entirely severed from the body; the lower extremities had
likewise suffered amputation; the right foot was completely
dismembered from the leg, and the left knee nearly severed from the
thigh. Several stabs, wounds and bruises, were discovered on various
parts of the body, which of themselves were sufficient to produce
The "Georgetown (South Carolina) Union" of May 20, 1837, has the
following extract from a New Orleans paper.
"A short time since, two men shot one another down in one of our bar
rooms, one of whom died instantly. A day or two after, one or two
infants were found murdered, there was every reason to believe, by
their own mothers. Last week we had to chronicle a brutal and bloody
murder, committed in the heart of our city: the very next day a
murder-trial was commenced in our criminal court: the day ensuing
this, we published the particulars of Hart's murder. The day after
that, Tibbetts was hung for attempting to commit a murder; the next
day again we had to publish a murder committed by two Spaniards at the
Lake--this was on Friday last. On Sunday we published the account of
another murder committed by the Italian, Gregorio. On Monday, another
murder was committed, and the murderer lodged in jail. On Tuesday
morning another man was stabbed and robbed, and is not likely to
recover, but the assassin escaped. The same day Reynolds, who killed
Barre, shot himself in prison. On Wednesday, another person, Mr.
Nicolet, blew out his brains. Yesterday, the unfortunate George
Clement destroyed himself in his cell; and in addition to this
dreadful catalogue we have to add that of the death of two, brothers,
who destroyed themselves through grief at the death of their mother;
and truly may we say that 'we know not what to-morrow will bring
The "Louisiana Advertiser," as quoted by the Salt River (Mo.) Journal
of May 25, 1837, says:
"Within the last ten or twelve days, three suicides, four murders, and
two executions, have occurred in the city!"
The "New Orleans Bee" of October 25, 1837, says:
"We remark with regret the frightful list of homicides that are
_daily_ committed in New Orleans."
The "Planter's Banner" of September 30. 1838, published at Franklin,
Louisiana, after giving an account of an affray between a number of
planters, in which three were killed and a fourth mortally wounded,
says that "Davis (one of the murderers) was arrested by the
by-standers, but a _justice of the peace_ came up and told them, he
did not think it right to keep a man 'tied in that manner,' and
'thought it best to turn him loose.' _It was accordingly so done_."
This occurred in the parish of Harrisonburg. The Banner closes the
account by saying:
"Our informant states that _five white men_ and _one_ negro have been
murdered in the parish of Madison, during the months of July and
This _justice of the peace_, who bade the by-standers unloose the
murderer, mentioned above, has plenty of birds of his own feather
among the law officers of Louisiana. Two of the leading officers in
the New Orleans police took two witnesses, while undergoing legal
examination at Covington, near New Orleans, "carried them to a
bye-place, and _lynched_ them, during which inquisitorial operation,
they divulged every thing to the officers, Messrs. Foyle and Crossman."
The preceding fact is published in the Maryland Republican of August
Judge Canonge of New Orleans, in his address at the opening of the
criminal court, Nov. 4, 1837, published in the "Bee" of Nov. 8, in
remarking upon the prevalence of out-breaking crimes, says:
"Is it possible in a civilized country such crying abuses are
_constantly_ encountered? How many individuals have given themselves
up to such culpable habits! Yet we find magistrates and juries
hesitating to expose crimes of the blackest dye to eternal contempt
and infamy, to the vengeance of the law.
"As a Louisianian parent, _I reflect with terror_ that our beloved
children, reared to become one day honorable and useful citizens, may
be the victims of these votaries of vice and licentiousness. Without
some powerful and certain remedy, _our streets will become butcheries
overflowing with the blood of our citizens_."
The Editor of the "New Orleans Bee," in his paper of Oct. 21, 1837,
has a long editorial article, in which he argues for the virtual
legalizing of LYNCH LAW, as follows:
"We think then that in the circumstances in which we are placed, the
Legislature ought to sanction such measures as the situation of the
country render necessary, by giving to justice a _convenient
latitude_. There are occasions when the delays inseparable from the
administration of justice would be inimical to the public safety, and
when the most fatal consequences would be the result.
"It appears to us, that there is an urgent necessity to provide
against the inconveniences which result from popular judgment, and to
check the disposition for the speedy execution of justice resulting
from the unconstitutional principle of a pretended Lynch law, by
authorizing the parish court to take cognizance without delay, against
every free man who shall be convicted of a crime; from the accusations
arising from the mere provocations to the insurrection of the working
"All judicial sentences ought to be based upon law, and the terrible
privilege which the populace now have of punishing with death certain
crimes, _ought to be consecrated by law_, powerful interests would not
suffice in our view to excuse the interruption of social order, if the
public safety was not with us the supreme law.
"This is the reason that whilst we deplore the imperious necessity
which exists, we entreat the legislative power to give the sanction of
principle to what already exists in fact."
The Editor of the "New Orleans Bee," in his paper, Oct 25, 1837, says:
"We remark with regret the frightful list of homicides, whether
justifiable or not, that are daily committed in New Orleans. It is not
through any inherent vice of legal provision that such outrages are
perpetrated with impunity: it is rather in the neglect of the
_application of the law_ which exists on this subject.
"We will confine our observation to the dangerous facilities afforded
by this code for the escape of the homicide. We are well aware that
the laws in question are intended for the distribution of equal
justice, yet we have too often witnessed the acquittal of delinquents
whom we can denominate by no other title than that of homicides, while
the simple affirmation of others has been admitted (in default of
testimony) who are themselves the authors of the deed, for which they
stand in judgment. The _indiscriminate system of accepting bail_ is a
blot on our criminal legislation, and is one great reason why so many
violators of the law avoid its penalties. To this doubtless must be
ascribed the non-interference of the Attorney General. The law of
_habeas corpus_ being subjected to the interpretation of every
magistrate, whether versed or not in criminal cases, a degree of
arbitrary and incorrect explanation necessarily results. How
frequently does it happen that the Mayor or Recorder decides upon the
gravest case without putting himself to the smallest trouble to inform
the Attorney General, who sometimes only hears of the affair when
investigation is no longer possible, or when the criminal has wisely
commuted his punishment into temporary or perpetual exile."
That morality suffers by such practices, is beyond a doubt; yet
moderation and mercy are so beautiful in themselves, that we would
scarcely protest against indulgence, were it not well known that the
acceptance of bail is the safeguard of every delinquent who, through
wealth or connections, possesses influence enough to obtain it. Here
arbitrary construction glides amidst the confusion of testimony; there
it presumes upon the want of evidence, and from one cause or another
it is extremely rare, that a refusal to bail has delivered the accused
into the hands of justice. In criminal cases, the Court and Jury are
the proper tribunals to decide upon the reality of the crime, and the
palliating circumstances; _yet it is not unfrequent_ for the public
voice to condemn as an odious assassin, the very individual who by the
acquittal of the judge, walks at large and scoffs at justice.
"It is time to restrict within its proper limits this pretended right
of personal protection; it is time to teach our population to abstain
from mutual murder upon slight provocation.--Duelling, Heaven knows,
is dreadful enough, and quite a sufficient means of gratifying private
aversion, and avenging insult. Frequent and serious brawls in our
cafes, streets and houses, every where attest the insufficiency or
misapplication of our legal code, or the want of energy in its organs.
To say that unbounded license is the insult of liberty is folly.
Liberty is the consequence of well regulated laws--without these,
Freedom can exist only in name, and the law which favors the escape of
the opulent and aristocratic from the penalties of retribution, but
consigns the poor and friendless to the chain-gang or the gallows, is
in fact the very essence of slavery!!"
The editor of the same paper says (Nov. 4, 1837.)
"Perhaps by an equitable, but strict application of that law, (the law
which forbids the wearing of deadly weapons concealed,) the effusion
of human blood might be stopt _which now defiles our streets and our
coffee-houses as if they were shambles_! Reckless disregard of the
life of man is rapidly gaining ground among us, and the habit of
seeing a man whom it is taken for granted was armed, murdered merely
for a _gesture_, may influence the opinion of a jury composed of
citizens, whom, LONG IMPUNITY TO HOMICIDES OF EVERY KIND has
persuaded, that the right of self-defence extends even to the taking
of life for _gestures_, more or less threatening. So many DAILY
instances of outbreaking passion which have thrown whole families into
the deepest affliction, teach us a terrible lesson."
From the "Columbus (Ga.) Sentinel," July 6, 1837.
"_Wholesale Murders_.--No less than three murders were committed in
New Orleans on Monday evening last. The first was that of a man in
Poydras, near the corner of Tehapitoulas. The murdered individual had
been suspected of a _liason_ with another man's wife in the
neighbourhood, was caught in the act, followed to the above corner and
"The second was that of a man in Perdido street. Circumstances not
"The third was that of a watchman, on the corner of Custom House and
Burgundy street, who was found dead yesterday morning, shot through
the heart. The deed was evidently committed on the opposite side from
where he was found, as the unfortunate man was tracked by his blood
across the street. In addition to being shot through the heart, two
wounds in his breast, supposed to have been done with a Bowie knife,
were discovered. No arrests have been made to our knowledge."
The editor of the "Charleston, (S.C.) Mercury" of April, 1837, snakes
the following remarks.
"The energy of a Tacon is much needed to vivify the police of New
Orleans. In a single paper we find an account of the execution of one
man for robbery and intent to kill, of the arrest of another for
stabbing a man to death with a carving knife; and of a third found
murdered on the Levee on the previous Sunday morning. In the last
case, although the murderer was known, _no steps had been taken for
his arrest_; and to crown the whole, it is actually stated in so many
words, that the City guards are not permitted, according to their
instructions, to patrol the Levee after night, for fear of attacks
from persons employed in steamboats!"
The present white population of Louisiana is but little more than that
of Rhode Island, yet more appalling crime is committed in Louisiana
_every day_, than in Rhode Island during a year, notwithstanding the
tone of public morals is probably lower in the latter than in any
other New England state.
Tennessee became one of the United States in 1796. Its present white
population is about seven hundred thousand.
The details which follow, go to confirm the old truth, that the
exercise of arbitrary power tends to make men monsters. The following,
from the "Memphis (Tennessee) Enquirer," was published in the Virginia
Advocate, Jan. 26, 1838.
"Below will be found a detailed account of one of the most unnatural
and aggravated murders ever recorded. Col. Ward, the deceased, was a
man of high standing in the state, and very much esteemed by his
neighbors, and by all who knew him. The brothers concerned in this
'murder, most foul and unnatural,' were Lafayette, Chamberlayne,
Caesar, and Achilles Jones, (the nephews of Col. Ward.)
"The four brothers, all armed, went to the residence of Mr. A.G. Ward,
in Shelby co., on the evening of 22d instant. They were conducted into
the room in which Col. Ward was sitting, together with some two or
three ladies, his intended wife amongst the number. Upon their
entering the room, Col. Ward rose, and extended his hand to Lafayette.
He refused, saying he would shake hands with no such d----d rascal.
The rest answered in the same tone. Col. Ward remarked that they were
not in a proper place for a difficulty, if they sought one. Col. Ward
went from the room to the passage, and was followed by the brothers.
He said he was unarmed, but if they would lay down their arms, he
could whip the whole of them; or if they would place him on an equal
footing, he could whip the whole of them one by one. Caesar told
Chamberlayne to give the Col. one of his pistols, which he did, and
both went out into the yard, the other brothers following. While
standing a few paces from each other, Lafayette came up, and remarked
to the Col., 'If you spill my brother's blood, I will spill yours,'
about which time Chamberlayne's pistol fired, and immediately
Lafayette bursted a cap at him. The Colonel turned to Lafayette, and
said, 'Lafayette, you intend to kill,' and discharged his pistol at
him. The ball struck the pistol of Lafayette, and glanced into his
arm. By this time Albert Ward, being close by, and hearing the fuss,
came up to the assistance of the Colonel, when a scuffle amongst all
hands ensued. The Colonel stumbled and fell down--he received several
wounds from a large bowie knife; and, after being stabbed,
Chamberlayne jumped upon him, and stamped him several times. After the
scuffle, Caesar Jones was seen to put up a large bowie knife. Colonel
Ward said he was a dead man. By the assistance of Albert Ward, he
reached the house, distance about 15 or 20 yards, and in a few minutes
expired. On examination by the Coroner, it appeared that he had
received several wounds from pistols and knives. Albert Ward was also
badly bruised, not dangerously."
The "New Orleans Bee," Sept. 22, 1838, published the following from
the "Nashville (Tennessee) Whig."
"The Nashville Whig, of the 11th ult., says: Pleasant Watson, of De
Kalb county, and a Mr. Carmichael, of Alabama, were the principals in
an affray at Livingston, Overton county, last week, which terminated
in the death of the former. Watson made the assault with a dirk, and
Carmichael defended himself with a pistol, shooting his antagonist
through the body, a few inches below the heart. Watson was living at
the last account. The dispute grew out of a horse race."
The New Orleans Courier, April 7, 1837, has the following extract from
the "McMinersville (Tennessee) Gazette."
"On Saturday, the 8th instant, Colonel David L. Mitchell, the worthy
sheriff of White county, was most barbarously murdered by a man named
Joseph Little. Colonel Mitchell had a civil process against Little. He
went to Little's house for the purpose of arresting him. He found
Little armed with a rifle, pistols, &c. He commenced a conversation
with Little upon the impropriety of his resisting, and stated his
determination to take him, at the same time slowly advancing upon
Little, who discharged his rifle at him without effect. Mitchell then
attempted to jump in, to take hold of him when Little struck him over
the head with the barrel of his rifle, and literally mashed his skull
to pieces; and, as he lay prostrate on the earth, Little deliberately
pulled a large pistol from his belt, and placing the muzzle close to
Mitchell's head, he shot the ball through it. Little has made his
escape. _There were three men near by when the murder was committed,
who made no attempt to arrest the murderer_."
The following affray at Athens, Tennessee, from the Mississippian,
August 10, 1838.
"An unpleasant occurrence transpired at Athens on Monday. Captain
James Byrnes was stabbed four times, twice in the arm, and twice in
the side by A.R. Livingston. The wounds are said to be very severe,
and fears are entertained of their proving mortal. The affair
underwent an examination before Sylvester Nichols, Esq., by whom
Livingston was let to bail."
The "West Tennessean," Aug. 4, 1837, says--
"A duel was fought at Calhoun, Tenn., between G.W. Carter and J.C.
Sherley. They used yaugers at the distance of 20 yards. The former was
slightly wounded, and the latter quite dangerously."
June 23d, 1838, Benjamin Shipley, of Hamilton co., Tennessee, shot
Archibald McCallie. (_Nashville Banner_, July 16, 1838.)
June 23d, 1838, Levi Stunston, of Weakly co., Tennessee, killed
William Price, of said county, in an affray. (_Nashville Banner, July
October 8, 1838, in an affray at Wolf's Ferry, Tennessee, Martin
Farley, Senior, was killed by John and Solomon Step. (_Georgia
Telegraph, Nov 6, 1838._.)
Feb. 14, 1838, John Manie was killed by William Doss at Decatur,
Tennessee. (_Memphis Gazette, May 15, 1838_.)
"From the Nashville Whig."
"_Fatal Affray in Columbia, Tenn_.--A fatal street encounter occurred
at that place, on the 3d inst., between Richard H. Hays, attorney at
law, and Wm. Polk, brother to the Hon. Jas. K. Polk. The parties met,
armed with pistols, and exchanged shots simultaneously. A buck-shot
pierced the brain of Hays, and he died early the next morning. The
quarrel grew out of a sportive remark of Hays', at dinner, at the
Columbia Inn, for which he offered an apology, not accepted, it seems,
as Polk went to Hays' office, the same evening, and chastised him with
a whip. This occurred on Friday, the fatal result took place on
In a fight near Memphis, Tennessee, May 15, 1837, Mr. Jackson, of that
place, shot through the heart Mr. W.F. Gholson, son of the late Mr.
Gholson, of Virginia. (_Raleigh Register, June 13, 1837_.)
The following horrible outrage, committed in West Tennessee, not far
from Randolph, was published by the Georgetown (S.C.) Union, May 26,
1837, from the Louisville Journal.
"A feeble bodied man settled a few years ago on the Mississippi, a
short distance below Randolph, on the Tennessee side. He succeeded in
amassing property to the value of about $14,000, and, like most of the
settlers, made a business of selling wood to the boats. This he sold
at $2.50 a cord, while his neighbors asked $3. One of them came to
remonstrate against his underselling, and had a fight with his
brother-in-law Clark, in which he was beaten. He then went and
obtained legal process against Clark, and returned with a deputy
sheriff, attended by a posse of desperate villains. When they arrived
at Clark's house, he was seated among his children--they put two or
three balls through his body. Clark ran, was overtaken and knocked
down; in the midst of his cries for mercy, one of the villains fired a
pistol in his mouth, killing him instantly. They then required the
settler to sell his property to them, and leave the country. He,
fearing that they would otherwise take his life, sold them his
valuable property for $300, and departed with his family. _The sheriff
was one of the purchasers._"
The Baltimore American, Feb. 8, 1838, publishes the following from the
Nashville (Tennessee) Banner:
"A most atrocious murder was committed a few days ago at Lagrange, in
this state, on the body of Mr. John T. Foster, a respectable merchant
of that town. The perpetrators of this bloody act are E. Moody, Thomas
Moody, J.E. Douglass, W.R. Harris, and W.C. Harris. The circumstances
attending this horrible affair, are the following:--On the night
previous to the murder, a gang of villains, under pretence of wishing
to purchase goods, entered Mr. Foster's store, took him by force, and
rode him through the streets _on a rail_. The next morning, Mr. F. met
one of the party, and gave him a caning. For this just retaliation for
the outrage which had been committed on his person, he was pursued by
the persons alone named, while taking a walk with a friend, and
murdered in the open face of day."
The following presentment of a Tennessee Grand Jury, sufficiently
explains and comments on itself:
The Grand Jurors empanelled to inquire for the county of Shelby, would
separate without having discharged their duties, if they were to omit
to notice public evils which they have found their powers inadequate
to put in train for punishment. The evils referred to exist more
particularly in the town of Memphis.
The audacity and frequency with which outrages are committed, forbid
us, in justice to our consciences, to omit to use the powers we
possess, to bring them to the severe action of the law; and when we
find our powers inadequate, to draw upon them public attention, and
the rebuke of the good.
An infamous female publicly and grossly assaults a lady; therefore a
public meeting is called, the mayor of the town is placed in the
chair, resolutions are adopted, providing for the summary and lawless
punishment of the wretched woman. In the progress of the affair,
_hundreds of citizens_ assemble at her house, and raze it to the
ground. The unfortunate creature, together with two or three men of
like character, are committed, in an open canoe or boat, without oar
or paddle, to the middle of the Mississippi river.
Such is a concise outline of the leading incidents of a recent
transaction in Memphis. It might be filled up by the detail of
individual exploits, which would give vivacity to the description; but
we forbear to mention them. We leave it to others to admire the
manliness of the transaction, and the courage displayed by a mob of
hundreds, in the various outrages upon the persons and property of
three or four individuals who fell under its vengeance.
The present white population of Tennessee is about the same with that
of Massachusetts, and yet more outbreaking crimes are committed in
Tennessee in a _single month_, than in Massachusetts during a whole
year; and this, too, notwithstanding the largest town in Tennessee has
but six thousand inhabitants; whereas, in Massachusetts, besides one
of eighty thousand, and two others of nearly twenty thousand each,
there are at least a dozen larger than the chief town in Tennessee,
which gives to the latter state an important advantage on the score of
morality, the country being so much more favorable to it than large
Kentucky has been one of the United States since 1792. Its present
white population is about six hundred thousand.
The details which follow show still further that those who unite to
plunder of their rights one class of human beings, regard as _sacred_
the rights of no class.
The following affair at Maysville, Kentucky, is extracted from the
Maryland Republican, January 30, 1838.
"A fight came on at Maysville, Ky. on the 29th ultimo, in which a Mr.
Coulster was stabbed in the side and is dead; a Mr. Gibson was well
hacked with a knife; a Mr. Ferris was dangerously wounded in the head,
and another of the same name in the hip; a Mr. Shoemaker was severely
beaten, and several others seriously hurt in various ways."
The following is extracted from the N.C. Standard.
"A most bloody and shocking transaction took place in the little town
of Clinton, Hickman co. Ken. The circumstances are briefly as follows:
A special canvass for a representative from the county of Hickman, had
for some time been in progress. A gentleman by the name of Binford was
a candidate. The State Senator from the district, Judge James, took
some exceptions to the reputation of Binford, and intimated that if B.
should be elected, he (James) would resign rather than serve with such
a colleague. Hearing this, Binford went to the house of James to
demand an explanation. Mrs. James remarked, in a jest as Binford
thought, that if she was in the place of her husband she would resign
her seat in the Senate, and not serve with such a character. B. told
her that she was a woman, and could say what she pleased. She replied
that she was not in earnest. James then looked B. in the face and said
that, if his wife said so, it was the fact--'he was an infamous
scoundrel and d----d rascal.' He asked B. if he was armed, and on
being answered in the affirmative, he stepped into an adjoining room
to arm himself; He was prevented by the family from returning, and
Binford walked out. J. then told him from his piazza, that he would
meet him next day in Clinton.
"True to their appointment, the enraged parties met on the streets the
following day. James shot first, his ball passing through his
antagonist's liver, whose pistol fired immediately afterwards, and
missing J., the ball pierced the head of a stranger by the name of
Collins, who instantly fell and expired. After being shot, Binford
sprang upon J. with the fury of a wounded tiger, and would have taken
his life but for a second shot received through the back from Bartin
James, the brother of Thomas. Even after he received the last fatal
wound he struggled with his antagonist until death relaxed his grasp,
and he fell with the horrid exclamation, _'I am a dead man!'_
"Judge James gave himself up to the authorities; and when the
informant of the editor left Clinton, Binford, and the unfortunate
stranger lay shrouded corpses together."
The "N.O. Bee" thus gives the conclusion of the matter:
"Judge James was tried and acquitted, the death of Binford being
regarded as an act of justifiable homicide."
From the "Flemingsburg Kentuckian," June 23,'38.
AFFRAY.--Thomas Binford, of Hickman county, Kentucky, recently attacked
a Mr. Gardner of Dresden, with a drawn knife, and cut his face pretty
badly. Gardner picked up a piece of iron and gave him a side-wipe
above the ear that brought him to terms. The skull was fractured about
two inches. Binford's brother was killed at Clinton, Kentucky, last
fall by Judge James.
The "Red River Whig" of September 15, 1838, says:--"A ruffian of the
name of Charles Gibson, attempted to murder a girl named Mary Green,
of Louisville, Ky. on the 23d ult. He cut her in six different places
with a Bowie knife. His object, as stated in a subsequent
investigation before the Police Court, was to cut her throat, which
she prevented by throwing up her arms."
From the "Louisville Advertiser," Dec. 17th, 1838:--"A startling
tragedy occurred in this city on Saturday evening last, in which A.H.
Meeks was instantly killed, John Rothwell mortally wounded, William
Holmes severely wounded, and Henry Oldham slightly, by the use of
Bowie knives, by Judge E.C. Wilkinson, and his brother, B.R.
Wilkinson, of Natchez, and J. Murdough, of Holly Springs, Mississippi.
It seems that Judge Wilkinson had ordered a coat at the shop of
Messrs. Varnum & Redding. The coat was made; the Judge, accompanied by
his brother and Mr. Murdough, went to the shop of Varnum & Redding,
tried on the coat, and was irritated because, as he believed, it did
not fit him. Mr. Redding undertook to convince him that he was in
error, and ventured to assure the Judge that the coat was well made.
The Judge instantly seized an iron poker, and commenced an attack on
Redding. The blow with the poker was partially warded off--Redding
grappled his assailant, when a companion of the Judge drew a Bowie
knife, and, but for the interposition and interference of the
unfortunate Meeks, a journeyman tailor, and a gentleman passing by at
the moment, Redding might have been assassinated in his own shop.
Shortly afterwards, Redding, Meeks, Rothwell, and Holmes went to the
Galt House. They sent up stairs for Judge Wilkinson, and he came down
into the bar room, when angry words were passed. The Judge went up
stairs again, and in a short time returned with his companions, all
armed with knives. Harsh language was again used. Meeks, felt called
on to state what he had seen of the conflict, and did so, and Murdough
gave him the d--d lie, for which Meeks struck him. On receiving the
blow with the whip, Murdough instantly plunged his Bowie knife into
the abdomen of Meeks, and killed him on the spot.
"At the same instant B.R. Wilkinson attempted to get at Redding, and
Holmes and Rothwell interfered, or joined in the affray. Holmes was
wounded, probably by B.R. Wilkinson; and the Judge, having left the
room for an instant, returned, and finding Rothwell contending with
his brother, or bending over him, he (the Judge) stabbed Rothwell in
the back, and inflicted a mortal wound.
"Judge Wilkinson, his brother, and J. Murdough, have been recently
tried and ACQUITTED."
From the "New Orleans Bee," Sept. 27, 1838.
"It appears from the statement of the Lexington Intelligencer, that
there has been for some time past, an enmity between the drivers of
the old and opposition lines of stages running from that city. On the
evening of the 13th an encounter took place at the Circus between two
of them, Powell and Cameron, and the latter was so much injured that
his life was in imminent danger. About 12 o'clock the same night,
several drivers of the old line rushed into Keizer's Hotel, where
Powell and other drivers of the opposition-line boarded, and a general
melee took place, in the course of which several pistols were
discharged, the ball of one of them passing through the head of
Crabster, an old line driver, and killing him on the spot. Crabster,
before he was shot, had discharged his own pistol which had burst into
fragments. Two or three drivers of the opposition were wounded with
buck shot, but not dangerously."
The "Mobile Advertiser" of September 15, 1838, copies the following
from the Louisville (Ky.) Journal.
"A Mr. Campbell was killed in Henderson county on the 31st ult. by a
Mr. Harrison. It appears, that there was an affray between the parties
some months ago, and that Harrison subsequently left home and returned
on the 31st in a trading boat. Campbell met him at the boat with a
loaded rifle and declared his determination to kill him, at the same
time asking him whether he had a rifle and expressing a desire to give
him a fair chance. Harrison affected to laugh at the whole matter and
invited Campbell into his boat to take a drink with him. Campbell
accepted the invitation, but, while he was in the act of drinking,
Harrison seized his rifle, fired it off, and laid Campbell dead by
striking him with the barrel of it."
The "Missouri Republican" of July 29, 1837 published the details which
follow from the Louisville Journal.
MOUNT STERLING, Ky. July 20, 1837.
"Gentlemen:--A most unfortunate and fatal occurrence transpired in our
town last evening, about 6 o'clock. Some of the most prominent friends
of Judge French had a meeting yesterday at Col. Young's, near this
place, and warm words ensued between Mr. Albert Thomas and Belvard
Peters, Esq., and a few blows were exchanged, and several of the
friends of each collected at the spot. Whilst the parties were thus
engaged. Mr. Wm. White, who was a friend of Mr. Peters, struck Mr.
Thomas, whereupon B.F. Thomas Esq. engaged in the combat on the side
of his brother and Mr. W. Roberts on the part of Peters--Mr. G.W.
Thomas taking part with his brothers. Albert Thomas had Peters down
and was taken off by a gentleman present, and whilst held by that
gentleman, he was struck by White; and B.F. Thomas having made some
remark White struck him. B.F. Thomas returned the blow, and having a
large knife, stabbed White, who nevertheless continued the contest,
and, it is said, broke Thomas's arm with a rock of a chair. Thomas
then inflicted some other stabs, of which White died in a few minutes.
Roberts was knocked down twice by Albert Thomas, and, I believe, is
much hurt. G.W. Thomas was somewhat hurt also. White and B.F. Thomas
had always been on friendly terms. You are acquainted with the Messrs.
Thomas. Mr. White was a much larger man than either of them, weighing
nearly 200 pounds, and in the prime of life. As you may very naturally
suppose, great excitement prevails here, and Mr. B.F. Thomas regrets
the fatal catastrophe as much as any one else, but believes from all
the circumstances that he was justifiable in what he did, although he
would be as far from doing such an act when cool and deliberate as any
The "New Orleans Bulletin" of Aug. 24, 1838, extracts the following
from the Louisville Journal.
"News has just reached us, that Thomas P. Moore, attacked the Senior
Editor of this paper in the yard of the Harrodsburg Springs. Mr. Moore
advanced upon Mr. Prentice with a drawn pistol and fired at him; Mr.
Prentice then fired, neither shot taking effect. Mr. Prentice drew a
second pistol, when Mr. Moore quailed and said he had no other arms;
whereupon Mr. Prentice from superabundant magnanimity spared the
From "The Floridian" of June 10, 1837. MURDER. Mr. Gillespie, a
respectable citizen aged 50, was murdered a few days since by a Mr.
Arnett, near Mumfordsville, Ky., which latter shot his victim twice
with a rifle.
The "Augusta (Ga.) Sentinel," May 11, 1838, has the following account
of murders in Kentucky:
"At Mill's Point, Kentucky, Dr. Thomas Rivers was shot one day last
week, from out of a window, by Lawyer Ferguson, both citizens of that
place, and both parties are represented to have stood high in the
estimation of the community in which they lived. The difficulty we
understand to have grown out of a law suit at issue between them."
Just as our paper was going to press, we learn that the brother of Dr.
Rivers, who had been sent for, had arrived, and immediately shot
Lawyer Ferguson. He at first shot him with a shot gun, upon his
retreat, which did not prove fatal; he then approached him immediately
with a pistol, and killed him on the spot."
The Right Rev. B.B. Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of
Kentucky, published about two years since an article in the Lexington
(Ky.) Intelligencer, entitled "Thoughts on the frequency of homicides
in the state of Kentucky." We conclude this head with a brief extract
from the testimony of the Bishop, contained in that article.
"The writer has never conversed with a traveled and enlightened
European or eastern man, who has not expressed the most undisguised
horror at the frequency of homicide and murder within our bounds, and
at the _ease with which the homicide escapes from punishment_.
"As to the frequency of these shocking occurrences, the writer has
some opportunity of being correctly impressed, by means of a yearly
tour through many counties of the State. He has also been particular
in making inquiries of our most distinguished legal and political
characters, and from some has derived conjectural estimates which were
truly alarming. A few have been of the opinion, that on an average one
murder a year may be charged to the account of every county in the
state, making the frightful aggregate of 850 human lives sacrificed to
revenge, or the victims of momentary passion, in the course of every
"Others have placed the estimate much lower, and have thought that
thirty for the whole state, every year, would be found much nearer the
truth. An attempt has been made lately to obtain data more
satisfactory than conjecture, and circulars have been addressed to the
clerks of most of the counties, in order to arrive at as correct an
estimate as possible of the actual number of homicides during the
three years last past. It will be seen, however, that statistics thus
obtained, even from every county in the state, would necessarily be
imperfect, inasmuch as the records of the courts _by no means show all
the cases_, which occur, some escaping without _any_ of the forms of a
legal examination, and there being _many affrays_ which end only in
wounds, or where the parties are separated.
"From these returns, it appears that in 27 counties there have been,
within the last three years, of homicides of every grade, 35, but only
8 convictions in the same period, leaving 27 cases which have passed
wholly unpunished. During the same period there have been from
eighty-five counties, only eleven commitments to the state prison,
nine for manslaughter, and two for shooting with intent to kill, _and
not an instance of capital punishment in the person of any white
offender_. Thus an approximation is made to a general average, which
probably would not vary much from one in each county every three
years, or about 280 in ten years.
"It is believed that such a register of crime amongst a people
professing the protestant religion and speaking the English language,
is not to be found, with regard to any three-quarters of a million of
people, since the downfall of the feudal system. Compared with the
records of crime in Scotland, or the eastern states, the results are
ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING! _It is believed there are more homicides, on an
average of two years, in any of our more populous counties, than in
the whole of several of our states, of equal or nearly equal white
population with Kentucky._
"The victims of these affrays are not always, by any means, the most
worthless of our population.
"It too often happens that the enlightened citizen, the devoted
lawyer, the affectionate husband, and precious father, are thus
instantaneously taken from their useful stations on earth, and
hurried, all unprepared, to their final account!
"The question, is again asked, what could have brought about, and can
perpetuate, this shocking state of things?"
As an illustration of the recklessness of life in Kentucky, and the
terrible paralysis of public sentiment, the bishop states the
"A case of shocking homicide is remembered, where the guilty person
was acquitted by a sort of acclamation, and the next day was seen in
public, with two ladies hanging on his arm!"
Notwithstanding the frightful frequency of deadly affrays in Kentucky,
as is certified by the above testimony of Bishop Smith, there are
fewer, in proportion to the white population, than in any of the
states which have passed under review, unless Tennessee may be an
exception. The present white population of Kentucky is perhaps seventy
thousand more than that of Maine, and yet more public fatal affrays
have taken place in the former, within the last six months, than in
the latter during its entire existence as a state.
The seven slave states which we have already passed under review, are
just one half of the slave states and territories, included in the
American Union. Before proceeding to consider the condition of society
in the other slave states, we pause a moment to review the ground
The present entire white population of the states already considered,
is about two and a quarter millions; just about equal to the present
white population of the state of New York. If the amount of crime
resulting in loss of life, which is perpetrated by the white
population of those states upon the _whites alone_, be contrasted with
the amount perpetrated in the state of New York, by _all_ classes,
upon _all_, we believe it will be found, that more of such crimes have
been committed in these states within the last 18 months, than have
occurred in the state of New York for half a century. But perhaps we
shall be told that in these seven states, there are scores of cities
and large towns, and that a majority of all these deadly affrays, &c.,
take place in _them_; to this we reply, that there are _three times as
many_ cities and large towns in the state of New York, as in all those
states together, and that nearly all the capital crimes perpetrated in
the state take place in these cities and large villages. In the state
of New York, there are more than _half a million_ of persons who live
in cities and villages of more than two thousand inhabitants, whereas
in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and
Missouri, there are on the largest computation not more than _one
hundred thousand_ persons, residing in cities and villages of more
than two thousand inhabitants, and the white population of these
places (which alone is included in the estimate of crime, and that too
_inflicted upon whites only_,) is probably not more than _sixty-five
But it will doubtless be pleaded in mitigation, that the cities and
large villages in those states are _new_; that they have not had
sufficient time thoroughly to organize their police, so as to make it
an effectual terror to evil doers; and further, that the rapid growth
of those places has so overloaded the authorities with all sorts of
responsibilities, that due attention to the preservation of the public
peace has been nearly impossible; and besides, they have had no
official experience to draw upon, as in the older cities, the offices
being generally filled by young men, as a necessary consequence of the
newness of the country, &c. To this we reply, that New Orleans is more
than a century old, and for half that period has been the centre of a
great trade; that St. Louis, Natchez, Mobile, Nashville, Louisville
and Lexington, are all half a century old, and each had arrived at
years of discretion, while yet the sites of Buffalo, Rochester,
Lockport, Canandaigua, Geneva, Auburn, Ithaca, Oswego, Syracuse, and
other large towns in Western New-York, _were a wilderness_. Further,
as _a number_ of these places are larger than _either_ of the former,
their growth must have been more _rapid_, and, consequently, they must
have encountered still greater obstacles in the organization of an
efficient police than those south western cities, with this exception,
THEY WERE NOT SETTLED BY SLAVEHOLDERS.
The absurdity of assigning the _newness_ of the country, the
unrestrained habits of pioneer settlers, the recklessness of life
engendered by wars with the Indians, &c., as reasons sufficient to
account for the frightful amount of crime in the states under review,
is manifest from the fact, that Vermont is of the same age with
Kentucky; Ohio, ten years younger than Kentucky, and six years younger
than Tennessee; Indiana, five years younger than Louisiana; Illinois,
one year younger than Mississippi; Maine, of the same age with
Missouri, and two years younger than Alabama; and Michigan of the same
age with Arkansas. Now, let any one contrast the state of society in
Maine, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan with that of
Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, and
Mississippi, and candidly ponder the result. It is impossible
satisfactorily to account for the immense disparity in crime, on any
other supposition than that the latter states were settled and are
inhabited almost exclusively by those who carried with them the
violence, impatience of legal restraint, love of domination, fiery
passions, idleness, and contempt of laborious industry, which are
engendered by habits of despotic sway, acquired by residence in
communities where such manners, habits and passions, mould society
into their own image. The practical workings of this cause are
powerfully illustrated in those parts of the slave states where slaves
abound, when contrasted with those where very few are held. Who does
not know that there are fewer deadly affrays in proportion to the
white population--that law has more sway and that human life is less
insecure in East Tennessee, where there are very few slaves, than in
West Tennessee, where there are large numbers. This is true also of
northern and western Virginia, where few slaves are held, when
contrasted with eastern Virginia; where they abound; the same remark
applies to those parts of Kentucky and Missouri, where large numbers
of slaves are held, when contrasted with others where there are
We see the same cause operating to a considerable extent in those
parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, settled mainly by slaveholders
and others, who were natives of slave states, in contrast with other
parts of these states settled almost exclusively by persons from free
states; that affrays and breaches of the peace are far more frequent
in the former than in the latter, is well known to all.
We now proceed to the remaining slave states. Those that have not yet
been considered, are Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South
Carolina, Georgia, and the territory of Florida. As Delaware has
hardly two thousand five hundred slaves, arbitrary power over human
beings is exercised by so few persons, that the turbulence infused
thereby into the public mind is but an inconsiderable element, quite
insufficient to inflame the passions, much less to cast the character
of the mass of the people; consequently, the state of society there,
and the general security of life is but little less than in New Jersey
and Pennsylvania, upon which states it borders on the north and east.
The same causes operate in a considerable measure, though to a much
less extent to Maryland and in Northern and Western Virginia. But in
lower Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the
general state of society as it respects the successful triumph of
passion over law, and the consequent and universal insecurity of life
is, in the main, very similar to that of the states already
considered. In some portions of each of these states, human life has
probably as little real protection as in Arkansas, Mississippi and
Louisiana; but generally throughout the former states and sections,
the laws are not so absolutely powerless as in the latter three.
Deadly affrays, duels, murders, lynchings, &c., are, in proportion to
the white population, as frequent and as rarely punished in lower
Virginia as in Kentucky and Missouri; in North Carolina and South
Carolina as in Tennessee; and in Georgia and Florida as in Alabama.
To insert the criminal statistics of the remaining slave states in
detail, as those of the states already considered have been presented,
would, we find, fill more space than can well be spared. Instead of
this, we propose to exhibit the state of society in all the
slaveholding region bordering on the Atlantic, by the testimony of the
slaveholders themselves, corroborated by a few plain facts. Leaving
out of view Florida, where law is the _most_ powerless, and Maryland
where probably it is the _least_ so, we propose to select as a fair
illustration of the actual state of society in the Atlantic
slaveholding regions, North Carolina whose border is but 250 miles
from the free states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and Georgia which
constitutes its south western boundary.
We will begin with GEORGIA. This state was settled more than a century
ago by a colony under General Oglethorpe. The colony was memorable for
its high toned morality. One of its first regulations was an absolute
prohibition of slavery in every form: but another generation arose,
the prohibition was abolished, a multitude of slaves were imported,
the exercise of unlimited power over them lashed up passion to the
spurning of all control, and now the dreadful state of society that
exists in Georgia, is revealed by the following testimony out of her
The editor of the Darien (Georgia) Telegraph, in his paper of November
6, 1838, published the following.
"_Murderous Attack_.--Between the hours of three and four o'clock, on
Saturday last, the editor of this paper was attacked by FOURTEEN armed
ruffians, and knocked down by repeated blows of bludgeons. All his
assailants were armed with pistols, dirks, and large clubs. Many of
them are known to us; but _there is neither law nor justice to be had
in Darien! We are doomed to death_ by the employers of the assassins
who attacked us on Saturday, and no less than our blood will satisfy
them. The cause alleged for this unmanly, base, cowardly outrage, is
some expressions which occurred in an election squib, printed at this
office, and extensively circulated through the county, _before the
election_. The names of those who surrounded us, when the attack was
made, are, A. Lefils, jr. (son to the representative), Madison Thomas,
Francis Harrison, Thomas Hopkins, Alexander Blue, George Wing, James
Eilands, W.I. Perkins, A.J. Raymur: the others we cannot at present
recollect. The two first, LEFILS and THOMAS struck us at the same
time. Pistols were levelled at us in all directions. We can produce
the most respectable testimony of the truth of this statement."
The same number of the "Darien Telegraph," from which the preceding is
taken, contains a correspondence between six individuals, settling the
preliminaries of duels. The correspondence fills, with the exception
of a dozen lines, _five columns_ of the paper. The parties were Col.
W. Whig Hazzard, commander of one of the Georgia regiments in the
recent Seminole campaign, Dr. T.F. Hazzard, a physician of St.
Simons, and Thomas Hazzard, Esq. a county magistrate, on the one side,
and Messrs. J.A. Willey, A.W. Willey, and H.B. Gould, Esqs. of
Darien, on the other. In their published correspondence the parties
call each other "liar," "mean rascal," "puppy," "villain," &c.
The magistrate, Thomas Hazzard, who accepts the challenge of J.A.
Willey, says, in one of his letters, "Being a magistrate, under a
solemn oath to do all in my power to keep the peace," &c., and yet
this personification of Georgia justice superscribes his letter as
follows: "To the Liar, Puppy, Fool, and Poltroon, Mr. John A. Willey"
The magistrate closes his letter thus:
"Here I am; call upon me for personal satisfaction (in _propria
forma_); and in the Farm Field, on St. Simon's Island, (_Deo
juvante_,) I will give you a full front of my body, and do all in my
power to satisfy your thirst for blood! And more, I will wager you