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In Their Own Words

November 02, 1868

Letter Detailed Terrorizing of Blacks after Civil War

From Americus, H.C. Morrill wrote Georgia’s Freedmen’s Bureau about conditions in the neighboring county:

“The condition of the colored people in Schley County is most deplorable. There seems to be no protection for them at all. They are continually shot, beaten nearly to death and it seems from the testimony the most respectable citizens are engaged in it. If there can be any respectability about such people! At the recent term of the court the most notorious persons connected with this organization [the K.K.K.] were on the grand jury and no presentments were made against any of the parties guilty of shooting and beating freedmen, while twenty freedmen were or had true bills brought against them for simply carrying a gun in accordance with the Constitution. Of all the cases, no colored man need look for justice unless it comes directly before the judge in points of law. They threaten with death any freedman that tries to prosecute or ever tells he has been beaten. There is a perfect reign of terror, and they swear, I am told, no freedman shall vote the Radical ticket. John T. Lumpkin, who has shot three and was recognized in a party of K.K.K.’s by Henry Davis when he was shot, was on the grand jury. Some of the freedmen have been whipped so that their intestines protruded by whipping on their stomach. It is mortifying in the extreme to have these men come down, driven from home, their year’s hopes gone and say I can’t do a thing. Even the notary public I recommended told me last night he would be obliged to leave as his life was in danger. Parties on horseback, dressed in white sheets, would ride ‘round his house night after night.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), p. 236.