by Andre E. Johnson
Director: The Henry McNeal Turner Project

I discovered Henry McNeal Turner by accident. While starting a seminar class in rhetorical criticism and trying to hone in on a dissertation topic, I ran across a speech delivered by Turner. He delivered the speech on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives as the House debated whether African Americans could hold office in the state of Georgia. I remember reading the speech and wondering if anyone had studied Turner’s rhetoric.

However, there was a problem. Since Turner lived during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was my belief that texts to study Turner would be difficult to find. Turner, like many of his contemporaries during this time, spoke extemporaneously—not from notes or prepared texts. Moreover, unlike many other speakers during this time, Turner did not travel with a stenographer—or someone who could have written what Turner said for later publication. Going into my project, I only hoped there were enough texts to do a solid dissertation.

Imagine my surprise though when I found that Turner was one of the most prolific writers and speakers during his time and that much of his writings were not lost to history. Turner published copious amounts of material for the newspapers, magazines, and journals of his day. Turner lectured throughout the country and wrote extensively on his travels to Africa. In short, many would consider Turner a public intellectual in today’s definition of the term.

Sadly, many today have not heard of Turner. Indeed, it is as if Turner has been lost to history. I found myself always explaining to people who Turner was and why I thought, at least, he was so important. This is why this site exists. It is our intent to recover a lost voice within American and African American history. Henry McNeal Turner deserves recognition and it is our fervent hope that this site begins to serve that purpose.

The Presidential Election of 1880: March 25, 1880

The Presidential Election of 1880

Christian Recorder: March 25, 1880

I have thought it prudent to keep out of the Presidential agitation for the reason that I am down upon the whole nation. I think my race has been treated by it with the kindness that a hungry snake treats a helpless frog. I am as near a rebel to this Government as any Negro ever got to be. My race has been treated with so much treachery, vile contempt and diabolical meanness, that I have but little in the country anyway, except to eke out my existence and get out of this world with a prospect of finding a better. I am not talking at random. I have been in nearly all parts of the entire nation within the last for years, and know whereof I speak, and have studied the negro phase as thoroughly as my ability would enable me, for I have “the negro on the brain.” And I wish had never been born, so that I might not have been a witness to the deviltry perpetrated upon my people by a so-called civilized country.

Wayside Dots and Jots: October 24, 1878

Wayside Dots and Jots

Christian Recorder: October 24, 1878

Mr. Editor. – Owing to a severe attack of chills and malarial fever, which followed me for several days, I have been in no condition to write for some time. I will neccasarily, therefore, have to blend a short sketch of the Illinois and Missouri conferences together, as I was unable to write after leaving the Illinois Conference, till the present time. This will prevent an extensive notice of either, but, as this was done somewhat elaborately last year, it can be more readily dispensed with this year. I must, however, repeat my last year’s expressed opinion, that the Illinois Conference is composed of the finest looking set of colored men that ever assembled together. I believe that half the members will weigh from two hundred upwards, and those under will push it closely, and as for Revs. Henry Brown, W. C. Trevan and J. B. Dawson, nature can give no finer ornamentation to manhood.

Their legislation is almost as grand as their appearance. Rarely is a brother ever interrupted when he takes the floor. Each minister feels it to be good manners to sit and hear him through.

Should anyone attempt to interject a word, while a brother is speaking, you would hear a dozen voices saying, “don’t bother him, I want to hear what he has to say, sit down there, and have some politeness,” and the interrupter is bound to take his seat. Would to heaven our brethren had such respect everywhere for each other. We could do twice the work in half the time, and do it far more intelligently.

Elder Booth is regarded as the great scholar of this conference. As a preacher he is deep, polished; deals extensively in scientific lore, and presents his points in mathematical order.

Rev. J. W. Eads is considered the chief theologian of the conference. I heard the annual sermon preached by him, and, while it did not partake of any theological points of great depth, it was exceedingly eloquent.

Rev. J. W. Malone is one of the most humorous men in debate I ever listened to. He never seems to loose his temper; never gets irritated, and always resents attacks with some remark that will provoke laughter. But it is useless to continue with men, as there is too much merit to write about in one letter. The presiding elder question, which was under consideration, died without a struggle or a gape. I think it was not urged because it was thought Bishop Shorter would oppose it, but several believed it would add to the church numerically, administratively and financially. There will be a heavy fight made at the next General Conference to make the presiding eldership universal on our church, because of the cast amount of maladministrative complaints that come up to every conference. Our Bishops have such an enormous amount of territory to preside over that it is literally impossible for them to visit even the points where their presence is needed, and to offset this condition of things, the presiding elder a office ought to be made universal, and the ablest men of our church, north and south, placed in the said office, otherwise our next General Conference will be compelled to largely increase our episcopal force. The cant phrases that we are not able to support either class of these functionaries, is the barest wild jargon, for the impetus their presence would give to the church would more than pay quintuply.

The Illinois Conference held a yellow fever meeting and raised seventy five dollars for the sufferers, and sent the same to Elder Stringer at Vicksburgh, Miss., high and lofty eulogies were paid to the worth of Bishop Green and Elder Madison, who fell victims to the awful scourge.

Rev. Henry Depugh and his members at Alton, sustained the conference grandly. I have no words that can express my high estimate of brother Depugh; he is the embodiment of politeness and kindness; but I must here leave the Illinois Conference without doing it half justice.

From here I went to St. Louis Mo., spent several days with Rev. John Turner, his spirited lady, and kind people, but was out of full trim during my stay for either preaching or lecturing. I must close here by saying Rev. John Turner is one of God’s noblest pieces of workmanship; his church and people are literal prodigies. St. Paul is the queen church of the State, and the members of the same are extraordinarily progressive; they are destined to be the first people of the land, and the same may be said of the congregation of elder Sexton, in Carondelet, or South St. Louis.

From St. Louis I went in company with elder Turner, to Jefferson City, where the Missouri Conference met, which too was a grand assemblage. This conference has several of the most promising young men in it that I have met anywhere: young men whose natural abilities, combined with considerable culture, bid fair to be giants in our church. They are now practically treading upon the heels of Wilkerson, Turner, Dove, Loving, and Sexton. Indeed Gaines, Owens, Mitchell, Oaks, Gusley, Henderson, and others, are now formidable characters. In progressive measures Gaines leads the conference, but the conservative element is too strong for him yet, neither can his eloquence nor his logic make them venture too far from the old land marks. Elder Dove might be termed the bull dog of the conference. You can seldom arouse him, till some ignoramus attempts to break in, then he growls to the consternation of the uncultivated intellects, for he is determined to keep out men who won’t study and give evidence of promise and usefulness.

Much might be said about the Missouri Conference, and nothing to disgrace, but time will not permit. Suffice it to say they are heavy men, well proportioned physically, intellectually and religiously, and in a few years will be one of the ablest conferences in our connection. Yet I must say, with due regard to Wilkerson, Dove, Turner, &c., that the Missouri Conference ought to be larger than it is. There are enough people in the State to have had two conferences as large as the one they have. Passing through different towns, where the M. E. Church has flourishing churches, I found we did not have a member, at least so it was reported to me. But the truth of the matter is, our church is losing the spirit of missions. I see it and I feel it to my heart, and others are seeing it too. The truth is, some of our conferences are held and the entire business is dispensed without ever recurring to new work at all. It is almost unfashionable to speak of it, and as for foreign work, it is never though of. Bishop Shorter says Brother Mossell and wife are at the point of starvation in Hayti, and as for Africa, her appeals to her more enlightened descendents, especially to our church is virtually responded to by telling her millions to go to hell. Instead of trying to encourage our young men and ladies to go there in considerable numbers and build up a few settlements, and lend a helping hand toward christianizing those people, they are advised to shun Africa and as they would a continent of hobgoblins, and even God is virtually charged with folly for making such a despicable place, and populating it with a people so monstrous and abnormal; a people that deserves no pity, no sympathy, no gospel, no Christ, no salvation, no God. I would as soon be Benedict Arnold as the utterer of some remarks I have heard and read about Africa, by her own descendants. But I must leave this subject, as my soul is tired when I think of some of our blind would-be leaders.

The people of Jefferson City, as in Alton, took fine care of the conference. Elder Henderson deserves great credit for the tact he displayed he displayed in managing his conference responsibilities.

One of the most aristocratic churches of the M. E. Church South, in the State, had our conference to fill its pulpit, and the Governor of Missouri was a listener, as well as a member of said church. While at Alton, Ill., the M. E. Churches did notice us, much less invite the Negro ministers to fill their pulpits. Besides, the ministers of the M. E. Church South, including the presiding elder, visited our conference; spoke words of cheer, and bade us God speed. I could not but note the contrast. Illinois, formerly a free State, with an abolition church, snubs us, while, Missouri, a slave State, with a pro-slavery church, holds out the hand of greeting, and invites us into her pulpits. I had to ask if it was possible that those who struggled hard for our enslavement, were going to be the chief actors in our elevation. Such, I believe, is the omen of the times. Our conference was snubbed last year in Illinois, at Galesburg, the same way by the same church.

My next point was Louisiana, Mo., where I spent a few days with Rev. Birl Mitchell, his estimable wife, and almost incomparable members. Brother Mitchell is a coming young man. The church he has built there within the last year speaks in terms of the highest commendation. He has a small but a fine class of members.

From here I went to Hannibal; was the guest of James Clay; lectured for Elder Wilkerson to a crowded house. It is scarcely necessary that I should say the Wilkerson is a giant in intellect and model in Christianity.

The learned Prof. J. N. Pelham is still here, doing honor to our race as a public instructor, assisted by several competent teachers, one especially Miss Louisa Gordon, who is a rare specimen of fine culture and ladyhood. Her politeness and general urbanity, blended with fine attainments, will carry her to success and honor, where scores of other self inflation will go to wreck.

I next went to Quincy, but, as elder Trevan was absent, I passed on to Keokuk, Iowa. Spent a few days with that polished gentleman and Christian, Rev. J. B. Dawson. Visited the palace of Rev. W. A. Dove, who lives in superb grandeur, and spent a pleasant time. I found more wealth and colored aristocracy in Keokuk than in any place I ever visited, for its size. Our church here is a grand structure; and will be palatial when completed. I must refer to some of these places again, as this letter is already too long.

Oct. 5, 1878.

Wayside Dots and Jots: August 1, 1878

Wayside Dots and Jots

Christian Recorder: August 1, 1878

MR. EDITOR:-After taking my departure from the city of Brotherly Love, I proceeded to Washington, D.C., where I remained a few days only. Here, as natural, I met several prominent characters, politically and ecclesiastically; but nothing that came under my observation so seriously impressed me as a talk with I had with Bishop Brown, relative to his trip to California to hold that conference. The immense distance on the one hand, and the terrific heat through which he would have to pass, with rather an enfeebled constitution were apparently weighing heavy upon his mind. I could but feel that the task was one of fearful proportions, considering all the surrounding, which I shall not mention at this time, and that should anything serious result, the blame will be traced to folly, and not to the dispensations of Providence. An awful expression I confess.

On the 12th inst. I left Washington, D.C., by steamer for Norfolk, Va., and made the trip safely. Stopped at Mrs. Williams’ boarding house, where every comfort awaits the weary traveler, and where can be found some of the most pleasant sleeping compartments that the city can afford. I commend this house to all who wish to find the comforts of order, quietude, respectability and good dainties combined.

During the Sabbath I preached for Rev. B.F. Lloyd, pastor of our church in Norfolk, whose congregation was out in heavy numbers. I also had the pleasure of hearing an able sermon most eloquently put together, by Rev. W. D. Schureman, P.E., whose pulpit fame needs no comments. Brother Lloyd betrays the part of a perfect gentleman and Christian.

I lectured for him, too, on Monday night, but as it was quarterly meeting &c, his people did not have a fair chance. Sabbath night I spoke at the church of Rev. W.H. Brown, of Portsmouth, to a very poor congregation compared with what I had seen there, though the heat was so intense I could not blame the people for remaining at home. Elder Brown purchased a good supply of books for his church, and set a commendable example for others.

Tuesday morning I left Norfolk for Richmond, but the heat was so fearful that I come near being prostrated in the cars. I became so sick that I became serious over my condition. However, I reached Richmond alive, and tried to lecture at night in our publishing interest. People were out in small numbers, but those present appeared to be much interested, and promised to do well.

Next morning, as per appointment, I arose to proceed to Danville, Greensboro, &c, but Rev. Joseph Nichols, the pastor, objected to my going a step farther till I got better, and refused to allow me to leave. So I remained here three days, taking medicine, resting, &c. I was sorry to miss Danville, but had I gone, it would have been to no purpose, as I could not have talked a bit. Brother Nichols did well in the book line; he brought a host of books for his members, and is going to do well in Richmond. He is a man of fine parts. Here, too, I met Presiding Elder Derrick, and was astonished to find him so reduced from overwork. He appeared to have lost 40 or 50 pounds within the last six weeks, yet he is on the go, and seems to be glad of his physical reduction, says, there is none morally or intellectually.

Thursday night we raised our hat and look leave of Richmond, making Raleigh, N.C., next morning or noon. Here we found Rev. G. D. Jimmerson, P.E., holding the quarterly conference of Rev. A.H. Newton, A.M. Elder Jimmerson is one of the able men of this State, and is cutting a wild row now; by shrewd, intelligent and active workmanship &c. He has a bright future. I need not refer to either Elder Newton or his church, as this was amply done a few months ago. I may mention the fact, however, that he and his noble congregation are purchasing a beautiful lot in close proximity to their present property, and will enhance the value of our church inestimably. Miss Ida Newton, his lovely and handsome daughter, is destined to become famous in this life. She is one of the most intellectual young ladies I ever met. She appears to have nothing trite or tame about her. She soars in the lofty and sublime, and if she keeps marrying out of her head, she will live in the memories of the unborn, and will do so if married, too, providing she does not get tied to a numskull or a bigot.

I never come into North Carolina unless I become indignant at the miserable condition of our great church. Somebody must go to h---l for the way our church has frittered away here; it would never do for them all to go to heaven after such a willful dereliction of duty, such a result would corrupt messengers of God throughout the universe.

I have forgotten to mention what was done by the several churches I have visited for the reason, they did not have a fair chance.

I wish that some of those wiseacres who are always fighting every project suggested in favor of a negro nationality either in Liberia, Africa, or elsewhere, and who are eternally howling at every man who proposes to better our condition by doing something for our future, would come to North Carolina and tell these poor men, who only get from 20 to 25 cents per day and have to pay house rent and support their wives and children out of that, what they can do to make a decent living. If men can do any worse in Liberia or Siberia than that, they had better ask God to kill them at once.

Now is a chance for the resolution men of some of our conference to do something worth the pen and paper they use. But they will take good care, I venture to predict, to say nothing about this, because it is a question involving brain and work; and not mere gas. I spent four hours at Goldsboro, the other day, and as hard hearted as I am, I had to cry like a child at statements made to me about the condition of our people. One man, with a wife and five children, had not had a dollar this year. What little compensation he received, was paid in an order to a store, where he had to pay two prices for anything he got.

I had contempt for the sense of a class of men, before I left home, but Oh! Heavens, what have I now-contempt is no longer a word.

Wayside Dots and Jots: February 7, 1878

Wayside Dots and Jots

Christian Recorder: February 7, 1878

Mr. Editor—If my recollections serves me right, I last wrote you from Madison, Ga, where I arrived on the afternoon of the 1st Sabbath in 1878, after travelling there from Katonton, a distance of 22 miles, on the coldest day that ever visited that section of the State without doubt.

Nevertheless I made my entrance into our church just as Rev. Andrew Brown, P.E., had knelt down to consecrate the elements of the Lord’s Supper, and witnessed a very lively time indeed. The most prominent of which was a large, well built, and finely arranged church and a congregation that would ornament a palace, if we are to judge by appearance.

Madison is the home of Presiding Elder Brown, and as he was fortunately holding his first quarter here, it gave me the much coveted opportunity of spending a few days in his over agreeable company. With him and Rev. Richard Graham, the pastor of the said church, I would have had a grand time, had it not for being sick part of the time and falling on the ice and severely spraining my leg, which very much disabled me; I nevertheless endeavored to preach, lecture and represent the Department as best I could. I found Elder Graham to be very popular, and much beloved by all, colored, white, Baptist, Methodist, &c. He is one of our coming lights and if he keeps his promise to me, will be remembered when dead. Mrs. Wesbey a lady of rare qualities, Mrs. Mary Turner of commendable status, and Mrs. Russell the distinguished mother of Rev. I. N. Fitzpatrick, respectively entertained the Manager with sumptuous collations not in consideration of his merits, but of his position.

I had the pleasure of an acquaintance with Col. Johnson of this place, who has supplied the colored people with more homes than possibly any five white men in Georgia. Once the owner of hundreds of slaves, but now the benefactor of hundreds, if not thousands. Had one white man in a hundred in Georgia done as Col. Johnson, the State would have been millions of dollars better off. But blessings rebound while Col. Johnson has provided an immense number of homes for our people, and made hundreds happy by his wise and generous policy, they in return have made him rich again and have more than counterbalanced all of his war losses…..

From Madison I went to Marietta, stopped with Rev. S. B. Jones, P. E. and enjoyed the social comforts of his well supplied domicile. Here I also tried to preach and lecture to crowded houses and had the estimable honor of consecrating by Holy Baptism two of the children of the Presiding Elder, which service had been awaiting my arrival for some years. Mrs. Jones, the wife of the Elder, is a lady of many virtues and graces her high station nobly.

Rev. Dr. Stewart recently of our church, but now of the Congregationalist, is here watching an afflicted wife who is expected to leave for a better land at any time. The Dr. has had several deaths in his family within the past few years and seriously feels the visitation of Providence. Elder Smith the pastor of our church in Marietta is a gentleman of fine parts….He seems to be wanting in executive force, but as a preacher, he has few equals; he appears to be criminally timid (unable to read middle portion of this sections). And a colored preacher had as well try to fly without wings as to succeed by running a timid schedule.

I spent the Sabbath in Atlanta, preached for Elders R. A. Hall, and Low, one the pastor of Bethel church, and the latter the pastor of Wood’s Chapel. I scarcely know how to speak of these two brethren; except that both are doing grandly, and their churches are perpetually crowded.

Rev. R. A. Hall recently of the Baltimore Conference has charge of the big church here, and his acceptability cannot be expressed in words. He possibly has more classical scholars in his church than are to be found in any one charge in our wide spread connection. His literary society considers, reviews and discusses the deepest subjects known to science, philosophy and art, and whom together talk like an assemblage of scientist. Brother Hall’s Christian department on one hand, and his gentlemanly urbanity on the other, is winning for him the highest respect if not admiration both in and out of his church. After spending Sabbath there, I lectured on Monday night to a crowded house, who at times grew furious with applause, but what at, they never told me.

From this point, I passed through Macon, lectured to another grand assemblage, spent a few days and went to Americus, where I was met at the depot by that illustrious church builder, Rev. Wm. Bradwell. Brother Bradwell in one year has built a church here with what he entitles ten cent collections that is not only an ornament to this place, but to the whole State. I believe that Dr. J. W. Stevenson of Trenton N. J. is regarded as the Prince of Church builders among the living. But Elder W.J. Gaines and Wm. Bradwell, are certainly nipping at his heels at the rate they are moving. They will soon say to the distinguished Doctor, get further as we want more room.

While in Atlanta I met several distinguished personages, who have figured largely in this State for many years; such as Col. J. E. Bryant, the indefatigable editor of the Georgia Republican a gentleman who for many years has walked the watch towers of Republicanism with a seal that had no bounds, and never failed to attach any and every thing the thought incompatible with its success. Also Hon. W. H. Harrison, who contemplates turning his great forces to the medical profession. Also Dr. Balwin, one of the most successful practitioners among the colored Doctors in the State, and several others whose names are too numerous to mention.

There is a better state of affairs in Georgia likely, than in any State south, to the exception of railroad accommodations.

They are trying to keep up the color line on the cars yet, though it is done without the shadow of law, and the rule would vanish before the courts as mists before the sun, if those who do not pay half fare would resist the wicked discrimination, yet I confess that some of our people act most shamefully on the cars. Such conduct is intolerable. But they ought to have cars suited to the rag-tag, and bob-tail, and charge them accordingly, as they do in South Carolina &c. I had myself to leave the colored people’s car between Savannah and Macon, and go in the white car, because of the conduct of some drunken colored skunks whose conduct was unbearable and was a shame to civilization. And what I can’t stand, a cross cut saw could not, for I thought I was flint and steel to every thing. Yet those ruffians did no worse than I have seen white ruffs do. But as the colored do not charge all the whites with the conduct of a few, the whites should not treat us so, for there are thousands of colored, just as polished, and as sensitive to irregularities and misconduct, as the most fastidious whites could be. In other respects Georgia is coming fast to the front, to the exception of a few old fossils, who do all they can to hold the negro back. They have had the negro on the brain so long, that it will take death itself to get him off. Some will likely go into the other world scheming for the degradation of the negro. But that there is a marvelous change among the masses of the whites, in favor of the intellectual and moral elevation of the colored people, is too potent to doubt or question.

President Hayes is almost universally denounced by the colored people, as an indescribable ingrate. The appointment of a Democrat to the U.S. Marshallship of the State, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They say that the United States Marshall was the last hope they had of a little protection. And as he is removed, they are left in total darkness. And now, if the President wishes any Republican party here, any speeches made, and any republicans votes cast, he must come and do it himself, or get his democratic supporters to do it, for they will not. One of the ablest colored speakers in the State said to me, if he took the stump again at all, it would be to tell the colored people to vote any ticket to keep on the good side of the whites. That there is no Republican party.

Another said, “There is still a strong feeling in favor of Southern confederacy among the whites,” or as he said, among the rebels, and he was praying for another secession movement, so that negroes and whites could all unite, and whip out the north, and let the north feel the force of her desertion. And many other remarks of that sort I have listened to from time to time. The truth is, there is such a bitter feeling among the colored and white republicans south, against the policy of the President on the one hand, and the seeming desertion of the negro by the northern people on the other, that no one can tell what the result would be, if another fuse was to break out between the north and south.

Wayside Dots and Jots: December 20, 1877

Wayside Dots and Jots

Christian Recorder: December 20, 1877

Mr. Editor: —In accordance with my promise in my letter last week from Colombia, S.C. I now write you a more full account of the political persecutions miscalled trials that have taken place in South Carolina during the past month.

Before entering upon a description of the so-called trials I should, perhaps, state the circumstances that immediately preceded them, and that are requisite to a full comprehension of their significance.

It will be remembered that during the fierce political contests of last year it was a question of great doubt and anxiety how South Carolina had voted on both the National and State candidates and that after a great deal of suspense throughout the country it was ascertained that the vote upon it face was in favor of the National Republican candidate for President and against the State Republican candidate for Governor. The board of State Canvassers consisting of five state officers, were the Judges, in the first instance of the result of the votes; in the exercise of the powers vested in them by law they declined to accept the vote of two counties—Edgefield and Lawrens in which there was the most flagrant fraud.

The Legislature in the exercise of it prerogatives threw out the votes of the two counties above mentioned for Governor and members of their bodies—the Home and the Senate. This result made the executive and Legislature Departments Republican, as they were justly entitled to be.

The Supreme Court of the State had usurped the functions of the Board of State Canvassers, and had assumed control of the Election Returns, which act was considered at the time by all disinterested lawyers as a most high handed outrage. The Board of State Canvassers proceeded with the performance of its duties and declared the result of the election while the lawyers were wrangling in the Supreme Court, and before that court had announced its decision as to how the board should act.

For baffling the Supreme Court in desire Tilden President and Hampton Governor, the Board of State Canvassers were….imprisoned by the Judges of that court who, perhaps, we should here say were elected as Republicans but who now betrayed their party, having stepped outside their legitimate sphere to perform that act of treachery. The Board of State Canvassers were however released by Judge Bond of the U.S. Circuit Court.

The……..dual government in South Carolina during the long and weary mouths from December 1875 until April 1877—the one headed by Hampton as Governor, and the other by Chamberlain, when the President with drew the troops, and Governor Chamberlain to prevent the violence and bloodshed threatened by General Hampton, withdrew from the contest and left Hampton in undisputed possession of the Governor’s office.

Hampton soon showed his real spirit by ejecting all the Republican State officers from their offices, notwithstanding their right to the offices were being contested in the Supreme Court by their Democratic competitions.

Hampton then called an extra session of his Legislature, and they proceeded in a manner similar to that which had been adopted in the Executive Departments. The prominent Republican members of both House were expelled and their seats declared vacant, and Democrats were soon elected to fill them.

These outrageous proceedings had so alarmed and disgusted the country generally that it was deemed necessary to take further steps to present some justification for their extraordinary character, and an investigating committee was decided as the best means for this end.

A State Government was betrayed by the President who was required by the Constitution to guarantee a Republican form of government to each State. Hampton and his rifle clubs had taken possession of the State government by…. violence and had robbed the majority of the citizens of their rights. They attempted to justify those proceeding by alleging corruption on the pairs of Republicans insufficient to warrant their revolutionary notion.

The investigating committees was appointed consisting of four Democrats and an old renegade Republican as Chairman. They have procured indictments from the Grand Jury of the County where Columbia—the Capitol of the State—is situated against nearly all leading Republicans. Three of these Republicans were tried at the last term of the court—commencing November 1—Hon. F. L. Cardoso—Ex Treasurer of South Carolina, Hon. Robert Smalls member of Congress from South Carolina, and Mr. S. C. Carpenter, the Editor of the Republican Newspaper of the State. The first two gentlemen are well know colored men, and the last, a white man. I shall confine my remarks in this letter to the trial of the first two gentlemen.

To begin with Mr. Cardozo, I should first mention that he was a member of the Board of State Canvassers…..and was therefore a special object of dislike. He was also re-elected State Treasurer by Republicans after having served the State four years in that capacity and four years prior to his first election as Treasurer, as Secretary of State. He has thus for the past eight years held prominent positions in the Republican Party, and was known as one of its best and noblest leaders.

He was deprived of the office of Treasurer to which he was elected, and to justify their act of robbery, he was charged with theft by this Committee and tried by this Court, and convicted. I happened to be in Colombia the day the Judge pronounced the sentence and heard the lecture he delivered. I was surprised beyond measure at the bitter news of its tone, and the strong personal and political haste he manifested. I then felt for the first time in its full force what a terrible caricature of Justice it is for a political partisan to set a Judge in trial of a political opponent especially in times of violence and revolution.

The Judge that presided at Mr. Cardoza’s trial professed Republicanism at the time of election, but in the last election became a Democrat and supported Hampton and like all renegade and traitors was more bitter towards his former Republicans colleagues than an original Democrat.

I shall now state the facts as developed in the testimony in Mr. Cardoza’s trial, and let your readers judge how unjust was a conviction upon such facts. As Treasurer, Mr. Cardoza was required to pay out the money appropriated for legislative expense upon the orders of drafts of the presiding officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate attested by the clerks.

Those officers and clerks issued an order upon the Treasurer for the payment of money, and the Treasurer paid it. This order was afterward discovered to be a fraudulent one. One of the presiding officers and two clerks acknowledged its fraudulent character and amid that they obtained and applied to their own use a part of the money procured by the order. It was the right and duty of these officers to issue those orders for services rendered or materials furnished.

You would have naturally supposed that the presiding officer and the two clerks whose guilt was manifest and who had acknowledged their guilt, would be surely published. But you would be mistaken in such a supposition; that is not the way they proceed in South Carolina.

Those three men were comparatively insignificant political leaders and their confessions of their guilt which could not be concealed, were considered sufficient punishment for them if also they would become witnesses to destroy the influence and reputation of those prominent Republican leaders who might oppose and injure the Democratic party in the State and nation. It was therefore determined not to prosecute those men, but use them as witnesses to prosecute and destroy the influence and reputation of Hon. F. S. Cardoza, the Treasurer of the State. These witnesses swore that Mr. Cardoza knew of the fraudulent character of this order and received one-fifth of the proceeds amounting to $800. This Mr. Cardoza solemnly denied under oath. The prosecution was then put to proof. One of the witnesses swore that Mr. Cardoza proposed to him to perpetrate the fraud by issuing an order for four thousand dollars, which was the exact balance of the appropriation of $75,000 for legislative expenses that remained unexpended at that time, December 10, 1873. Mr. Cardoza immediately and promptly refuted this witness by proving from public records of the Treasurer’s office that but $385 out of the $75,000 was expended during the entire month of December 1873 leaving a balance of $74,015 on the 31st of that month.

The next witness (Mr. Woodruff) came forward and stated that he gave Mr. Cardoza notes of the State ordered to be issued to him by the Legislature in payment of printing accounts for this order of $4,000. He swore positively from a memorandum book, that he said he kept at the time, that he gave Mr. Cardoza these notes on the 9th day of December 1873. Mr. Cardoza instantly refuted this witness by showing that he issued these notes to an entirely different person, not commencing until December 11, 1873, as the public records showed. The third witness swore that he knew nothing at all of the conspiracy. In addition to the refutation of the two witnesses produced, Mr. Cardoza showed the utter improbability of the story told by those witnesses by producing a fraudulent order for four thousand dollars given to him by them, and which he had immediately cancelled. Mr. Cardoza stated on the stand that the order was given to him without his request and that he had it cancelled immediately by the officer who handed it to him making him sign his name to the cancellation made across its face in red ink. That very officer was one of the witnesses against him, and acknowledged the whole matter.

The fact of Mr. Cardoza’s refusal to profit by a fraudulent certificate of five-thousand dollars given to him at the very same time—December 1873—without his request, was introduced to show the utter improbability of his becoming a party to a fraud or precisely the same character whereby he gained only eighteen hundred dollars.

This circumstance together with the complete refutation of the two witnesses by public documentary evidence was so conclusive of the innocence of Mr. Cardoza and the utter failure of the conspiracy to destroy his reputation, that the prosecution determined to change the nature of the charge notwithstanding the long established legal principle—that a man cannot be tried for one charge, and proof produced to sustain another and entirely different charge.

Mr. Cardoza and his Counsel were perfectly willing to allow the prosecution to produce all the irrelevant testimony they desired and to make all the additional charges they wished so confident were they that they could be met and refuted.

In accordance therefore with this plan the Attorney General, who was conducting the prosecution, introduced Mr. Woodruff, the Clerk of the Senate, one of the witnesses used to prove the first charge to prove that he (Mr. Woodruff) had bribed the Treasurer to pay him his accounts as President of the Printing Company which did the printing for the state.

Mr. Woodruff had nothing whatever to prove his charge but his own word, uncorroborated by a particle of other testimony. Now let it be remembered that this man was a self-confessed thief who publicly admitted that he had robbed the State of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mr. Cardoza solemnly denied this charge under oath, and there was nothing to sustain it but the allegation of this self-admitted criminal whose testimony uncorroborated would not be received against anyone else but himself in any court in any civilized country.

But Mr. Cardoza fortunately remembered that he had refused to issue one hundred thousand dollars of notes that the legislature had authorized to be issued to the Printing Company of which this man was President, on the ground of the unconstitutionality of such notes being issued by a State, and that this same witness had attempted to bribe him to make the issue by offering him twenty-five thousand dollars which he indignantly declined and still refused to make the issue. To the astonishment of the entire court this witness admitted that he had offered the bribe, and that it was scornfully declined.

The prosecution saw at once that they could not prove Mr. Cardoza a corrupt officer by such a witness, who in one breath admitted that he had bribed an officer by paying him….and in the same breath testified that the same officer refused twenty-five thousand dollars as a bribe to issue to him notes authorized by the Legislature. The Prosecution therefore shifted their ground again and introduced an entirely different charge and an entire new witness to prove it. Hardy Solomon—President of a bank…in the city of Columbia was introduced to prove an entirely different charge from the one allege in the indictment. This witness stated that Mr. Cardoza advised him to withdraw twenty thousand dollars from certain claims amount to one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars belonging to his bank and the payment of which the Legislature had authorized and made appropriation for ; Mr. Cardoza stating, as he alleged, that these twenty thousand dollars that he had advised him to withdraw, could be paid out of another account in the Treasury and twenty thousand dollars of fraudulent paper could be substituted in their stead; and that this was done by him—the President—and the money obtained.

Mr. Cardoza instantly produced the public journal of the Legislature to prove that at this very same time this witness swore that he advised the perpetration of such a fraud, he had a public controversy with him declining to pay a fraudulent paper of twenty-five thousand dollars which was a matter of record in this office, and by means of which record, he was enabled to discover and prove its fraudulent character; that he communicated the fact to the Legislature, and that this witness replied in a communication to the Legislature which was published in the journals and was produced, denying in the most emphatic and indigent terms that there was any fraudulent papers among his claims, thus giving the lie direct to the statement that he was now making.

The prosecution now saw that no matter how they varied the charge, or more properly, charges, or how many witnesses they produced, they were met by the defendant and his counsel and instantly refuted, they therefore concluded to close their testimony, and let the case go to the jury, relying upon the influence to obtain a conviction. The prosecution saw plainly they had utterly failed to prove the case they had started with, or any of the subsequent ones they had substituted in its stead, and expressed a doubt of their ability to convict. The spectators also, composed of both races and parties, who had crowded the Court House during the trial, and heard all the testimony, declared unanimously that the case was a failure on the part of the State and that it would very probably result in a Mistrial as the white men would not vote to acquit Mr. Cardoza as they ought.

I should perhaps also state that Mr. Cardoza in reply to the charge that he had paid a fraudulent certificate or order of the Presiding Officers, answered that he did not know that it was fraudulent, and was not responsible for its unlawful character: and that the Presiding officers alone, were, and ought to be held responsible for the order; that he was authorized and required by the law to make payments upon the orders of the Presiding officers, and that therefore it was incumbent upon him to see that the signatures to the orders were the genuine signatures of those who were authorized to issue the drafts; and that he did not and could not know that parties in whose name the order was drawn were reality to existence; or that the services were rendered of the materials furnished, and that he paid the order to a responsible firm.

In the particular case charged in the indictment, it was shown by the testimony of the officers who issued the order that the person in whose name the order was issued was not a real person but a fictitious one and that therefore no services were rendered. Mr. Cardoza replied to this that the person who brought the draft to the Treasury for payment endorsed and collected the money was a real and responsible person and that that person and not he should be held accountable for the fraud together with the Presiding Officers who issued the order, knowing necessarily that it was fraudulent.

Mr. Cardoza compared his position as Treasurer to that of teller in a bank who paid the check of a depositor issued to a second party unknown to the teller but which check was endorsed by the second party and presented by a third party who was known to the teller, and which was also indorsed by the third party in addition to the previous endorsement of the second party.

The case was then given to the jury composed of seven colored and five white men, six of them being Democrats and six Republicans,--one of the colored men was a Democrat.

The jury after twenty-four hours deliberation brought in a verdict of guilty to the surprise of every one, not expecting the prosecution. No one was surprised at the conduct of the white men, but when the color men were asked how could they bring in such a verdict in the face of the evidence, they replied that they were threatened with death; they did not agree to such a verdict.

The counsel of Mr. Cardoza gave notice of an appeal to the Supreme Court for a new trial on exceptions to the rulings of the judge during the progress of the trial. The judge ruled most unfairly, violating every precedent and well established custom, in favor of the prosecution.

So much at present for Mr. Cardoza’s case, which has already occupied more space than I intended. I shall devote the balance of this letter to the case of Hon. Robert Small the present member of Congress from the Fifth District of South Carolina.

Gen. Smalls is an object of special hatred to the Democrats of South Carolina for several reasons; first and mainly—he is the “Hero of the Planter.” They can never forgive or forget the daring feat by which a slave pilot took possession of that Confederate craft and ran her out of Charleston Harbor one dark night and delivered her and himself to the blockading vessels of the Federal Navy lying outside of that port and then for that very man to be elevated to the position of a member of Congress was in their estimation adding insult to injury. Gen. Smalls also lived in a county and Congressional District where the Republican majority was very large, and composed of positive and determined men, who admired his courage and the intelligence which he displayed in their leadership. These were qualities in the estimation of his Democratic opponents, which were dangerous obstacles to the success of their schemes, and the man that possessed them must be broken down at any cost.

Again the Democrats were hungry for office, and the competitor who had run against Gen. Smalls for congress and who was beaten by him by more than 1700 votes, wanted his position at any sacrifice. This Democrat was from bloody Edgefield County, the citizens of which introduced the Mississippi Policy into South Carolina during the last election, and carried it by the rifle and shot gun.

He invoked the powers of the Judicial Department, which has often been the tool in the hands of unscrupulous demagogues to accomplish their purposes in his behalf and readily obtained it.

Gen. Smalls was therefore arrested on the eve of his leaving for Congress on a charge of bribery while member of the Senate of South Carolina in 1873. He gave bail for his appearance at court on the 22nd of October and left Columbia for Washington to be sworn in on the 15th, as a member of the 45th Congress. This was rather a disappointment to the Democrats who had arrested Gen. Smalls at Beaufort on the 4th of October, and hoped to detain him in jail until the 22nd of October, when the Court met, and thus prevent him from appearing in Washington and thus permit his Democratic opponent to be sworn in on account of his absence. But General Smalls promptly furnishing bail spoiled this little Democratic trick.

Gen. Smalls immediately returned from Washington, and submitted himself to the court as his bond required his trial begin on Wednesday, November 7th, the day Mr. Cardoza’s trial concluded.

Gen. Smalls and his counsel had noticed particularly the unfair rulings of the Presiding Judge who seemed to be entirely under the control of the Attorney-General who conducted the prosecution, and more especially the violent and bitter spirit of prosecution that existed among the Democrats in the community towards Republicans. It was simply impossible to obtain a fair trial under such circumstances. No Democrat possessed the moral courage to withstand and oppose such feelings so universal among his political associates no matter what may be the character of the evidence in favor of the defendant.

Gen. Smalls and his counsel therefore determined to attempt to transfer his case to the Unites States Circuit Court as provided in the U.S. States.

This attempt provoked the bitterest feeling among the Democrats, and if possible intensified that already existing to a much greater extent. The motion was denied by the Court, and the case proceeded to trial.

The first witness was Mr. Woodruff the clerk of the Senate, who was President of the Printing Company that did the State printing. He testified that he gave to Gen. Smalls a check for five thousand dollars payable to cash or bearer for voting in favor of his Printing account. The second witness was the book-keeper in the bank, who testified that he debited Mr. Woodruff’s account five thousand dollars on account of the check above mentioned on the day of its date, and that he credited Gen. Small’s account five thousand dollars on the same day from a deposit slip furnished him by the cashier and teller. Gen. Smalls stated in reply to these charges that he never received the bribe alleged to have been given to him, that he had no knowledge or connection with the check payable to cash or bearer, and that the five thousand dollars placed to his credit was from a deposit of money made by him. There was not testimony of any kind to prove Gen. Smalls guilty of the charge except the evidence of Mr. Woodruff.

We have already stated and shown that this witness for the State was a self confessed thief whose uncorroborated testimony would be thrown out of any respectable court. But it is proper to show how utterly worthless the evidence given by this man is by stating that he testified from a memorandum book kept by him in a short hand peculiar to himself comprising three systems of phonography, and which he stated that he knew of but one man in the State besides himself that could read: and that book kept in pencil, admitting of any erasures and substitutions desired.

Again this man—Woodruff—was one of two partners comprising this printing company which had the contract for the State printing. The other partner was Mr. Jones—the clerk of the House. Whatever bribes Mr. Woodruff said he paid was allowed by Mr. Jones and vice versa, as they both testified on the stand. There was thus every inducement for each of them to cheat the other, and to charge it to the company, and pocket the proceeds of the fraud, and credit to some innocent man.

But further still, the circumstances under which this man became a State witness is enough to utterly discredit his testimony, apart from his self-confessed infamous character. His guilt was clearly discovered and proven in raising a printing bill against the State from forty-five to ninety thousand dollars. He admitted his guilt, and entreated the prosecuting officers to forgive him that and many other crimes of similar character that he committed offering to render them any service they required.

He was forgiven; his terms were accepted; all the cases against him were not pressed, and he was used as a State witness, and his testimony entirely unsupported and uncorroborated, was received as evidence to convict Mr. Cardoza and Gen. Smalls.

Nothing more need be said to show the injustice and unfairness of those trials than the fact that the prosecution relies upon such witnesses.

The mere fact that Gen. Smalls deposited five thousand dollars at the same time that Mr. Woodruff issued his check was considered conclusive evidence that the check was given to Gen. Smalls.

The case was given to a jury similar to Mr. Cardoza’s in race and politics. They brought in a verdict of guilty after 15hrs deliberation.

So far as the colored men are concerned it is almost impossible to expect any of them to exercise any courage and independence. The present condition of things seems like a restoration of slavery, so far as they are concerned without any of its advantages, such as the protection the master gave. A perfect reign of terror exist and peace that prevails is the peace that “reigns at Warsaw.”

Gen. Smalls had appealed to the Supreme Court of the State against the illegal rulings of the Judge during the progress of the trial and hopes to get a new trial through its decision. In the meantime, both he and Mr. Cardoza were offered release from imprisonment in the jail, where they both have been upon furnishing bail pending the appeal to the Supreme Court. Gen. Small’s bail was fixed at ten thousand dollars and he has given it and is released.

Mr. Cardoza’s was fixed at thirty-five thousand dollars and as he cannot give it, he remains imprisoned.

The State had made out so poor a case against Gen. Smalls, or more correctly speaking had so utterly failed that his counsel did not deem it necessary to cross-examine the two witnesses on behalf of the State or place Gen. Smalls himself on the stand to contradict their statements.

Mr. Woodruff also admitted afterward that Gen. Smalls had offered to lend him five thousand dollars, and Gen. Smalls could have produced several witnesses to prove that he had that amount of money and even more in his possession about that time for the purposes of investment. There were many opportunities for making large profits by the purchase and sale of Treasury warrants that were in circulation at that time, and bankers and brokers, irrespective of race or politics regarded such speculations as the best and most profitable, and indulged in them to a large extent.

It will thus be plainly seen that all the evidence in both Gen. Smalls and Mr. Cardoza’s cases was purely circumstantial, a subject of inference and probability. All history shows that when men are tried for their lives or liberties of such testimony, the verdict is an indication of the public sentiment prevailing in the community towards the defendants, rather than the truth as warranted by the facts elicited in the testimony.

The great maxim, in short, that has made the Common Law of England the pride and boast of civilization, viz., that all men must be presumed innocent until proved guilty, has been reversed in these cases; and the defendants were regarded as guilty, unless they could prove themselves innocent. As it was impossible to perform such a feat, especially in such a community, they were condemned before their trials began.

As I stated in the beginning, theses trials have a far-reaching significance and effect. The colored people are depressed beyond measure, notwithstanding all the high-sounding promises of political and civil equality and protection of their rights, they feel that their best and most prominent leaders are being persecuted for no other reason than being faithful and determined Republicans. In their sorrow and disappointment their yearnings and hopes are looking towards Liberia and Africa, where the white men who have robbed and oppressed them for nearing three centuries can do so no longer.

The solution of the problem—how can the colored men live in the United States—especially in the Southern states where most of them are—is one that I have given long and prayerful consideration to and I confess it does not appear clear to me.

One thing is certain the two races cannot live in the South on terms of equality, political, civil, or otherwise. The colored race will be remanded to a species of slavery worse in many respects than that from which they have been emancipated.

They are sullen, despondent and discontented and sooner or later these feelings will lead to trouble. The Southern whites rely upon the strong arm of power to produce submission, but they are resting upon a slumbering volcano which sooner or later will cause a fearful eruption.

We hope and pray that God in his infinite wisdom and goodness will point out a peaceful solution to all these difficulties, and the rights and liberties of the poor and long oppressed black man, of which he has been robbed by his more fortunate white brother will be restored to him in this or some other country.

I will write you again on different phases of this subject as it presents itself to me. But vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord, and South Carolina had better not forget it.

Eatonton, GA Dec. 6th 1877

The New Cabinet

The New Cabinet

Christian Recorder: March 15, 1877

I have not lost faith in President Hayes yet, but I am certainly much disappointed at his cabinet selection. I was not only gratified but elated at the news, of his intention to place a southern Conservative or Democrat in his cabinet. I felt it was due the South. But as an equilibration of the measure, I felt sure he would offset it by calling a colored man to the cabinet also. To this end, several of us urged the name of Prof. J.M. Langston, LL.D., as he was well known to the president in person, and known to the country as a scholar and an able politician. But it seems that both him and all the able colored men of the South, upon whom depended the president’s election have been overlooked; white men have been called around him, who worked and voted against him. The president will find he has made a great mistake before he has done with this matter. He may contemplate giving a colored man the position of Assistant Secretary in some of the Departments, but unless he does, there will be fearful dissatisfaction.

There is a rumor going the rounds that Hon. Frederick Douglass is to be offered the Marshallship of the District of Columbia as a panacea to the negro. Certainly the President would not dare insult out race with such subterfuge. Think of the great Douglass transformed into a bailiff. Bah! Mr. Douglass would no more accept it, than would the Emperor of Russia. I am not however, charging the President, but as a man who knows the feeling of the colored people of this country a thousand times better than he ever will, I would like to tell him he is on the verge of making an irremediable mistake.