Transcripts are full unless otherwise noted.
Manly labor contract, 1865
http://purl.lib.ua.edu/62691 (see image 0083, numbered pg. 75)
June 20 tuesday – This day, at the plantation made an arrangement with my negroes to work on my place, being declared freedmen & freedwomen, by the yankees. The arrangement includes my home-servants at home. They are to have the productivity of ten average acres of corn. The following is a copy of the contract, & the names of the signers.
“We, the undersigned, declared ‘freedmen & freedwomen’ by the U.S. military authorities, and residing on the plantation of B. Manly, near Foster’s ferry, Tusk., W. Ala., do hereby agree to continue to work on the said plantation, under the direction of said Manly or his agent; to use due diligence during the customary number of hours, daily, to take care of all the stock, implements, or other property on the place or committed to us severally; and to act faithfully as laborers and employees on said plantation in all respects, until the close of the present year, on pain of being dismissed therefrom by said Manly of his legal representative by his desire. And we do also hereby agree to receive as full compensation for said services, the food, clothing, house-room, fuel and medial attendance in actual sickness, of ourselves and families; and further, that we receive to productions of a lot of ten (10) acres of land, to be selected as an average of the crop of corn; to be divided [?] among us at the close of the year.
As witness of our freely & voluntarily agreeing hereunto we have affixed our marks opposite our names, to this paper, before witnesses, at the said plantation, this 20th day of June, A.D. 1865.
Winter, Wood, Peter, William, Archy, Andrew, George, Robert, Alick, John, Henderson, Edmond, Oliver, Levi, Judy, Ron, Patsy, Martha, Sabra, Rebecca, Priscilla, Lydia, Binky, Ann, Old Sabra, Julia, Morris, Arthur
I, B. Manly, as named in the preceding instrument, do hereby [express?] my agreement to employ the persons whose names are thereunto attached, according to the terms thereof.
Given, under my hand, the day & date before written.
Signed in presence of
John C. Foster
Joshua H. Foster
This was presented to the U.S. military authorities in Tusk. on Thursday July 6th and approved.
Cocke labor contract, 1866
http://purl.lib.ua.edu/23941 (beginning at 5th image)
Memorandum of and an agreement made and entered into between John Cocke party of the first part and the following named persons freedmen of color vis. (Rea Catherine William) Jarrat Pat Ed Itt Charlotte Alen) Ras) Jim Nick Nan) Joe Sally Charity Maria Sophia Sini Georgia) Charles Philis Delia) Peter Jones Tamar) Stephen Julia Stephen Jr. [?]) Mary Jerry Martha) Spencer Sara Alace Emily Susan [?] Harry) Shack) Antony) Harriet [?] Maria) Theophulus) Sol Katy Mary Sally Margaret Ely) Manerva Harriet Oscar) Roger) Nancy) Witnesses, they have agreed, and do now agree, and bind themselves, jointly, collectively, individually, and severally, as families, for themselves, and those for whom they have a right to contract — to stay with the party of the first part, untill, the first day of January next, (1868,) work and be under his and the same rules, and regulations, directions, and management &c as heretofore required by him. And, in consideration for their doing and performing the same, the party of the first part, agrees to give them, one half of the nett proceeds, made or raised, on his plantation from said labor, the party of the first part, to furnish provisions, stock, and other things that he may think necessary, and also stock for raising, the same to be returned to him, if on the plantation the first day of January next, if not, in kind if made, or raised, on plantation, if not made, or raised, its value, to be retained, by him out of proceeds. The party of the first part, to hire and overseer, or Agent, at a reasonable compensation, or what is customary in the neighborhood, the party of the first part, to receive for his service such commissions, and compensation, as is allowed by the judge, of the probate court, of Green County
to Administrators, on Estates. Should they party of the first part, think it is to the interest, of both parties, to hire more hands, for the purpose, of making, saving, or gathering the crop, he to do so, and said hire, and expenses, to be deducted from proceeds of said crop. Should any of the parties of the second party, loose any time by sickness, or otherwise, the rations, and water, to be deducted in proportion, to time lost. the party of the first part, to furnish, fuel, and lodging, but, the parties of the second part, to furnish, their clothing, shoes, medical attendance, and pay their Taxes, but, if furnished, or paid, by the party of the first part, to be deducted, from their portion of the crop, and also, all other liabilities, and damages, to which he, the part of the first part, may be subjected to, on their account. The half, of the nett proceeds belonging, to the parties of the second part, to be paid, by the party of the first part, to any person, whom majority of the second party, may select, to divide, and pay the same, over to them agreeable, to classification, to be made by themselves, when paid, should they not agree, the party of the first part, to decide the same for them. The plantation, and all improvements, to be kept in good repair, all water ways, and ditches, to be made, and kept opened &c, that the party of the first part, may think necessary for the production of the same. All time for holidays to be left to the option of party of the first part, or his Agent. The parties of the second part, to pay for all clothing, provisions, medical attendance &c for their children, if furnished, by the party of the first part, provided said children, are not able, to earn the same by their labor. All males under 21 years of age, and all females, under 18 yrs of age, who has been contracted for in the above contract by their parents, to be punished in a reasonable and humane manner, by the party of the first part,
or his Agent, by switching, or otherwise, as they may think best. Should any of the parties of the second part refuse, or fail, to obey any orders, given them, by the party of the first part, or his Agent, or fail, to perform, any labor to their satisfaction, or if they should fight, or quarrell, or use any insolent language or act in an insolent manner, toward the party of the first part, or his Agent, or violate any part of the above contract, the same, to be null and void, and the party of the first part, has the right to discharge, or make them leave his plantation . . . . . . in acknowledgment of the above and foregoing contract the party of the first part signs his name and the parties of the second part make their mark.
Henry Rea, his X mark
Catherine, her X mark
Jarrat his, X mark
Pat, her, X mark
Ras, his X mark
Jim Nick, his, X mark
Nan, her X mark
Joe, his X mark
Sally, her, X mark
Charles, his, X mark
Philis, her, X mark
Peter Jones, his, X mark
Stephen, his, X mark
Julia, her, X mark
Spencer, his, X mark
Sarah, her, X mark
Harry, his, X mark
Shack, his, X mark
Antony, his, X mark
Harriet her, X mark
Theophulus, his, X mark
Sol, his, X mark
Caty, her, X mark
Manerva, her, X mark
Roger, his, X mark
Nancy her, X mark
[?] T. Moore
W. C. Burton
“Letter from Liberia,” Livingston Journal, Oct. 2, 1868
It is with pleasure that we publish the following letter from one of the negro emigrants who left this city summer before last to seek a home in Liberia. We for one would not on our own account wish to see such men as Larkin Creagher leave this country, but our honest advice to them on their own account, is to go to a country where they are masters, and where they will be left to work out such a civilization as God has endowed them with the power of developing.
In Africa they have a continent greater in extent than America; with vast undeveloped resources; and peopled by tribes that may easily be brought under subjection by American negroes who settle among them in sufficient numbers — provided the American negro is capable of wearing the armour of Cancasian [sic] civilization.
On the other hand, the negroes who remain on this continent are courting the doom that has befallen the Indian, and every other dark race with which the white man has come in contact.
The stronger race of men can’t help devouring the weaker, sooner or later.
The very efforts of honest philanthropists like Gerrett Smith, based on the belief that the negro is a white man in black, have a direct tendency to destroy the negro.
Well meaning missionaries have reduced the population of the Sandwich Islands to about one-tenth of what it was when they group was discovered by Capt. Cook. They committed wholesale slaughter by attempting to make the Kanaka a European. It was like forcing a fish to live up a tree.
As is is, we are very much interested, as well on our own account as that of the good negroes in our midst.
But to the letter:
Monrovia, Liberia, July 13, 1868.
To the Editor of the Mobile Tribune:
Sir — I sit myself down to write you a few lines that you may lay them before the public of Mobile.
We arrived safely at Monrovia on the 19th of June, having left Savannah on the 14th of May.
We are doing well here, and all the emigrants from Mobile are in good health, except John Steward and Matilda Barrett, but they are much better now.
I hope you will let me know how you are setting along, both white and black.
But I especially wish to hear from the white people of the South — that they will remain true to their cause, and will ever be a unit for the country and their government as a Democratic government, and will maintain the constitution of the United States at all hazards.
I hope the Democrats will triumph over their enemies as Christ triumphed over Death, Hell and the Grave.
As for the colored people, let them come to Liberia. Here is the place for them, on this, one of the finest continents in the world, where they can live to themselves and have as much good land as they can cultivate.
But they stay there in American to contend with the white man for his government, where there are thirty-four millions of white people to defend their government.
Brethren, I beg you, as one who wishes you well, to come over and help cultivate this rich soil, and by doing so we shall gain favor with all the leading powers of the earth, and particularly with the people of the United States, who are our friends when we get here.
But if you stay where you are, I know too well what is going to become of you.
The white people of the United States are going to rule the country, and they are not going to let you have anything to do with ruling it. And they are right. I would be just as they are, if I were in their place. I would battle against you all as long as I have the breath to draw.
Then, colored friends, come to this country, for here we are masters, with nobody to disturb us, with good and cheap land, and plenty of hard money.
Mr. Editor, please tell Albert Griffin that I never want to hear of him putting a decent black man’s letter in that dirty paper of his.
That paper has been supported by the colored people, and it has done them nothing but harm.
Tell all my friends to write to me soon.
Larkin Y. Creagher
The only alterations we have made in the above is in the orthography, and in leaving out some of the repetitions which every unpracticed writers is apt to commit.
“Immigration,” Gadsden Times-News, July 11, 1872
The subject of immigration is one of general importance. Nothing, perhaps, is fraught with so many blessings to the famishing industrial resources of the South as an adequate supply of labor to satisfy imperative demands. To say that the South is the most inviting field for labor in the world, is but expressing a truth known to all familiar with its climate and soil. Efforts on the part of the pioneers or aborigines of this wilderness of ours, will bring a population into the country that will make every barren spot produce the growth of some luxuriant product. The term “wilderness” is applied to the South, because it is only at this time in an embryo state of development. Those of us who were born and raised on its generous soil, are accustomed to think that all that is necessary to develop her untold wealth is industry on our part in utilizing the resources at command; but while this is true in part, yet the inadequate supply of labor to the great and increasing demand must be patent to all the outside world.The scarcity of labor is about all that is retarding the prosperity of the country at the present time. Laborers are few; those few exact exhorbitant [sic] wages for their services. It is rarely the case that a laborer can be hired for less than $1.00 per day, and ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the services of said laborer, when rendered, is not worth more than 12 1/2 cents, and unless the employer is on hand with the “eye servant” all the time, it is doubtful, in a majority of cases, whether is is worth 12 1/2 cents.
Immigration then is our only hope. Our once fertile fields now grown up in sedge grass, pines, brambles and briers of all kinds, echo the demand — immigration.
“K: K: K:,” Jacksonville Republican, Mar. 28, 1868
Note: This article contains what might be a racial epithet (it may also be a proper name) which has not been omitted in the transcription.
[From the Montgomery Advertiser]
K: K: K:
THE SPIRITS MOVING.
The Bloody Mouth at Hand
FLIGHT OF THE SCALAWAGS
The evident moving of the spirits, aided by the living members of the mysterious Ku-Klux-Klan, has excited a consternation in this city, which has not been equalled since the dark, dismal and ghastly times of Shakspeare. The “Klan” is a secret but most powerful organization of living and dead men, who prowl about in the dark hours of the night, seeking whom they may devour. They know the political sentiments of every living man, being represented by a spirit at every fireside. They hold their meetings at midnight in dark caverns, and thousands of names are on their muster rolls. Sooner or later they may plant their cannons and blow this city into atoms. It is manifestly our duty to have nothing to do with the mean scalawags who infest the country. They are more terribly frightened than the balance of the community, which indicates that the Ku Klux are more particularly after them. The following notices were posted during Wednesday night in all portions of the city. When the sun arose yesterday morning, a large number of scalawags who had come to Montgomery to take their seats in the scallawag legislature yesterday, were found at the wharf, rail road depots, hack depots &c, begging to be taken away from Montgomery. —- Coon of Dallas, offered the railroad Conductor half the proceeds of his revenue investigation, if he would only blow the whistle: Farden of Autauga started off on foot; Tucker of Lee, took up on one of his “high mountains,” Giraffe Ely were his hat on top of his head to fool the Ku Klux, Barber quartered himself at Strobach’s, the negroes swore they had seen the Ku Klux Tuesday night, “an dey had big eyes and great long horns like a cow.”
In fact the consternation was indescribably terrible amongst the scallawags, and no doubt prevents the meeting of the Alabama “Legislature” which was to have met yesterday, according to the new “constitution” of Alabama. The following is one of the posted documents which created this monstrous fear; it is enough to frighten a genuine white man much less a real scallawag:
CLOUDY MOON — LAST HOUR.
Special Order No. 91 — Shrouded Brotherhood of Montgomery Division, No. 71.
The Great Past High Giant Commands you. The dark and dismal hour will soon be here. SOME LIVE TO-DAY, TO-MORROW DIE.
BE YE READY.
The whetted sword, the bullet red — and right are ours. Be vigilant and firm. Dare not wear the hold garb of our mystic brotherhood save in quest of BLOOD. Mark well our friends. Let the guilty BEWARE. In dark case, in the mountain recesses, everywhere our brotherhood appears. Traitors beware.
By order of
GREAT GRAND CYCLOPS,
SAMIVEL, G. S. G. C. T.
Here is another of the mysterious orders:
DEN OF SKULLS, DAY OF RETRIBUTION.
Spirits of the dead rise! Your Chief commands — To-day the 18th of the mortal month of March you will scatter the clouds of the grave and be ready for the MYSTERIOUS MISSION. The guilty we free to commit dark deeds that mortal eyes do not see. We disown them and must be avengers. BE READY. “In hoc signo.”
THE SUPREME CYCLOPS
GENERAL ORDER NO. 37. — HEADQ’RS DEVIL’S PIT IN SERPENT’S BEND, Den No. 5 of K. K. K., March 18 — I, Great Grand Cyclops of Death Degree members, so order that a notice be given to warn all persons from doing anything under the name of the Kuklux Klan. And if this warning is not heeded the Stars in the Heavens will shine upon a new made grave.
Death’s angels are always on the lookout “Traitors beware.” K. K. K. take notice.
O. A. P., G. G. C.
P. B. M. G. G. S.
Approved by the Klan.
Here is another of these frightful orders:
DUNBAR’S SEPULCHRE, BLOODY MONTH, CLOUDY MOON, MUDDY HOUR
Shrouded Brothers of For McRAE,
Division No. 51, of the Great Circle:
Burst your cerements asunder! — Meet at the den! The glow-worm shows the motion to be near.” Silence! Watchfulness!! Patience!! Faithfulness!!!! The guilty SHALL BE punished!
By order of
SENIOR GRAND CYCLOPS
HERNDOS, G. S.
We cannot even attempt to describe the horrible doing of the Kuklux Klan in other portions of the country. But if any more proof of their designs be wanting, we would point our readers to Nova Scotia and Kamschatka. It will cause your blood to chill to read the direful works of this mysterious Klan in those unfortunate countries. However, we advise our friends to beware of scallawags or the Kuklux may come down in all their fury at any moment.
Dan Price letter, 1868
Decr 21st 1868
Livingston Sumter Co Ala
Hon C. W. Pierce,
For fear you might think your District was all quiet, and that the election of Grant had caused the Ku Klux to subside, I will give you a brief account of come of their latest doings in Sumter. On the night of the 5th Decr a band of Ku Klux went to the house of Dr Choutteau a true Radical of this country and fired at the Dr several times he being in his house. The Dr left with his wife and two children, next day and came to my house leaving his mother-in-law, and son a small boy on the farm. On the night of the 7th another band of K.Ks. went to the Drs house and after enquiring for the Dr demanded that the door be opened, the old lady refused to open the door as she had retired to rest, whereupon they broke into the house and after cursing and abusing the old lady to their hearts content (calling her a d–d old Radical Bitch) they set fire to the house. The old lady hearing the shrieks of a negro at some distance from the house supposed the men had left and
seeing the fire burn slowly took a bucket of water and put it out, in a few moments the Devils were heard approacing the house no doubt to see how they fire progressed. finding it out they went into the Dr’s office and procured a lot of Turpentine which they poured over a lot of cotton in the house and at each of the corners after beating two negroes (man and wife) in a horrible manner, they set fire to the house again which was soon wrapped in flames. These devils kept up a constant dancing and shouting in the hall of the house telling the old lady she would soon be in Hell. She however with the little boy made her escape out of a window in her night dress; and his herself in a ditch until daylight. The night was very cold and but for the exertions of a former slave woman the old lady would certainly have frozen. The Dr saved nothing in the world clothes, cotton crop, medicines, Books, chemical apparatus everything in the world he had was destroyed but the clothes he had on, and why was this deed perpetrated, he had not offended the Laws was a peaceable man. The only reasons assigned by the Burners was he was a Radical
and they wanted to run his kind of men out of the Land, they openly declare that they the Democrats intend to and will rule Ala, Congress and the laws to the contrary notwithstanding, your old friend Gid Harris is very positive that his party shall control the country if they have to wade in blood to their chins. (minute – he was always sick when a fight was going on while he was in Jeff Davis’ army) The Livingston Journal says it looks very much as if the Dr burned his house in order to get a bad name for his neighborhood. You see our greatest misfortunes are put upon us by these devils as a thing of our own manufacture. Shall this state of affairs continue, have we a government? and can it not protect its citizens. It seems to me it should or else what use is it. Now can you not use your influence to get the Dr some stationary, appointment where he could be protected that would enable him to make a living. He had sustained serious loss on account of his devotion to the Union and it seems to me eminently proper for the Government to reward such men by giving them the preference over Democrats in regard to offices. There is a Democrat in
Gainesville who is Assignee in Bankruptcy and there are Democrats all over the State in Government offices who use their office to breed hatred of the Government. This ought not so to be. If you could possibly fix up any thing for him it would be a great favor to us. If you get hold to any thing of interest and importance to the party something to refer to in the next campaign please send it to me. Burton has a fine reputation, is spoken of as the most business member of the Legislature and I think it will not be long before we send him to Congress Attend to the Doctors case and if you can afford him any relief we will be most grateful.
Dont forget us poor Devils Major, and dont fail to remember the Rebs.
Let me hear from you soon.
Note: This event became somewhat notorious in the state, and people on different sides of the political spectrum regarded it very differently. In the conservative Livingston Journal of Dec. 18, the editors present the “strong impression prevailing in the vicinity of the fire” that it was not a genuine Klan action but done by someone who wants to “supply the foundation for a ‘Ku-Klux outrage.'” Dr. Gerard Choutteau himself explained what happened in the Dec. 17 issue of the Alabama State Journal, the official state organ (which means it was a Republican newspaper). This was reprinted in the Livingston Journal on Dec. 25 — with editorial commentary accusing him of lying and calling him a villain.
Macon County KKK letter, 1870
Macon County Ala
W. B. Bowen
As respectable numbers of us citizens of Macon County having at heart the good of our country & especially the interest of the whole people have seen fit to relieve ourselves & county of some of our annoyances and intend to leave no stone unturned (to use a rude phrase) to bring about the desired end. First we regard you as the prime cause of the foothold that radicalism has gotten in the community – you have had some [lesser/lesson?] help who are also to be advised you were a man of means having sprung from a family of some respectability in an adjoining state & marrying in a highly estimable family here in that position you became a citizen of this state and after the death of your first wife you married into one of the most estimable families here with these surroundings you with [?] means have found yourself in league against the best interest of the country & of the whole people with the negroe & the north. You with highly respectable families by marriage connected with you and money had an influence with your own demagoguer[ism?] to bring men into this infernal & hellish party that no other member here had making you largely responsible for our course politically your own wife & children know the truth of the assertion man think what you have done after being elected from your old county upon the extreme [ultra?] fire-eating platform
voting for the like measures in the legislature endorsing the action of the convention that carries the state out of the union holding to the same until your assistance as well as that of every other man was required with means or muscles and abandoning his friends than you had helped to place in the [difficulty?] [?] soon as you saw it was to cost you something. when the war closed you came out a full feathered union man taking after begging for it an office and with it an oath that you had never countenanced aided or in any way abetted the rebellion dont you know you swore to a positive lie and you are a purjured villain or are you so scared as to have no remorse of conscience you have a good & respectable wife & nice children and we will [?] no harm but fervently pray that good may come to them as well as the country the adored leader has received notice that his home must be elsewhere by a [?] insinuation injuring his person but little another while for whose radicalism you are responsible as well as that of many others in different parts of the county has also received notice that his course is not acceptable. Now before you are visited by a similar warning though in as now your time in regular succession Dougherty having first been hung and you next we propose to five you an opertunity to retrace your steps & to point out to you the road that you must traval as no white man should take the liberty of turning black & remaining a negroe without the permission of his friends & not then until he blacks his skin curls his hair
and marries a negroe & carries [?] to his white wife no long the negroe stench you can no long hold without she have and keep with the hounds Now pay attention to order & dont mistake their meaning First you must within two weeks come out in the Tuskegee News abandoning your republicanism Secondly you are to resign within thirty days your position as cou mailman & use your best efforts to defeat the negroe party in this county you are to put a check upon your backbiting & scandalizing which you have done when you have done when you have had an opertunity you are too mean & cowardly to come out openly with such all these these must & shall be ended.
Your lying tongue must cease its abuse of men your superiors some of whom if not quite old enough for your father. You are no to move from this place for two years as you are to aid the peple here to throw off the yoke that you have helped to place upon their necks you must go to work in good [?] to undo the hellish work you have already done. This letter & its contents are not to be used in any way to cause military or political hardships to be visited upon the people nor cause your own promotion to office upon the penalty of loosing your life go home & stay with your family at night & try to change your black heart as your ways must and shall To these things quietly & without a noise as we don’t wish to hurt you for the sake of your family. These orders seem to you
hardships but every one must be complied with at the peril of your life We have always been law abiding citizens & have only been forced to take this position herein presented from the necessity of the times. For your information we take this opportunity to remark that we are a large association leagued together for the good of the county & intend to watch you closely.
Now that you may go on the discharge of this duty with ease of mind we promise that no injury shall be done you without first giving you notice this we promise with the same assurance that we give that it will be done if you do not comply with our demands remember the penalty Take due notice thereof & govern yourself accordingly.
Citizens of Macon County
Note: William Banks Bowen, a lawyer and Confederate veteran, did not leave Tuskegee, and he did not apparently repent of his Republican ways. He served as postmaster (an elected position) from 1871 to 1873, and as an alternate delegate for Alabama in the 1872 Republican National Convention. After the war, he sold 100 acres of abandoned property — the family no longer lived there because the farm house had been burned during the war — to Booker T. Washington, to serve as the home of the Tuskegee State Normal School, later known as Tuskegee Institute. (See Historic Resource Study, Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, National Park Service, June 2019)
“Restoration of the Union,” Elmore Standard, May 22, 1867
Partial transcript, from beginning.
Any work which can designated a good work, should by all means be accomplished, and the sooner the better — why delay a good thing. Let us apply this to the restoration of the Union. Will any one deny that this is a good work, and one that should be carried into successful operation? Certainly, no one. But when? The answers must be immediately. Some of our people were in a great hurry to get out of the Union. Seeing then that we have all felt the disastrous consequences of that move, and that we are suffering, and still must suffer for the want of the protecting care of the government, we see no reason we should not be in equally as great a hurry to get back in the Union. When men are in a hurry to do wrong, they should be in a hurry to repair that wrong when they discover it. Long have we remained out of the Union; quite long enough have we experienced the evils and disadvantages under which we labor in consequence of being out of the Union. The storm rages without — let us hurry back to the shelter of the Union. Delays are dangerous — the longer we delay the good work of reconstruction the worse it will be for us. …
Peck speech to the Alabama Constitutional Convention, 1867
Gentlemen of the Convention
The work is done. the People of the State of Alabama have declared, through you their representation, that all men are created equal. They have made it a part of the fundamental laws of the state that liberty and equality shall exist here from generation to generation.
To my coloured fellow citizens in this convention, let me say to you, go home to your wives and your children, your friends and your neighbors, and say, rejoice and sing, for your liberty and equality is now founded upon a rock, it is a part of the Constitution of the State, and all free men who shall hereafter exercise the great privilege, the right to vote, will have, first to swear, he will never attempt to deprive you of these, your chartered rights, nor will he encourage any one else in doing so.
And to all the loyal, union men, who during long years of persecution and oppression when you had no security for life or property, when you had to flee and hide yourselves among the woods and in the mountains for safety, let me say to you, the constitution we have formed, if ratified by the People, will, in my judgement, if duly executed and observed, give you, hereafter, security and protection in the enjoyment of all the privileges so dear to every free man, and secure you against any harm or injury, for your bold and patriotic adhearence to the Government of the United States when treason was rife and in the ascendant – you are protected by the highest obligation known to human laws.
If this will not give you protection and secure you from persecution and injury no governement but a government founded on force can do it. But it will do it, the great body of the People, are essentially honest, and have a convention for the solemnities of an oath, a Christian fear at violating it.
Again I say, the work, as far as we are concerned, is done and now, let us go home and show our work to the People, and ask their satisfaction of it. If we do this and do it correctly, it will be accomplished and the state will ever be restored to that high position which it enjoyed in the Union before it was destroyed by traitorous hands. The hands of her own children
In conclusion, gentlemen, accept my sincere thanks for the gentleness and kindness I have received at your hands, as your presiding officer. Let me assure you individually of my earnest prayers for your prosperous journey home and for the final success of our great work. God grant it may accomplish the most sanguine wishes of its friends and restore the State of Alabama to peace and prosperity.
Note: The text written up the left margin reads: My heart with gratitude and good will to each one of you.
Henry Clayton charge to the grand jury, 1866
http://purl.lib.ua.edu/97167 (beginning at 3rd image, second paragraph)
There is a class of our population clothed with certain civil rights & privileges which they did not possess until recently, and in dealing with which you may experience some embarrassment. I, of course, allude to the negroes. Among the terms upon which the confederate states terminated their late heroic struggle for a separate & independent nationality, was one which guarantied freedom to this race. Although we deplore that result as alike injurious to the country and fatal to the negro, the law has been placed upon our statute books, in solemn force, by us through our Delegates. The laws for their governance as slaves have been repealed, and others [?] adapted to their new condition. We are in honor bound to observe these laws. For myself I do not hesitate to say in public & private, officially & unofficially, that after having done all I could to avert it, when I took of my sword in
surrender, I determined to observe the terms of that surrender with the same earnestness and fidelity, with which I first shouldered my musket. True manhood requires no deception, but that as we say with our lips, we shall feel in our hearts & do with our hands. There is nothing in the history of the past of which we need to be ashamed. Whilst we cherish its glorious memories and that of our martyred dead, we pause here and there to drop and tear over their consecrated ashes, but remember that there is still work for the living, and set ourselves about the task of establishing society and rebuilding our ruined houses. Others, unwilling to submit to this condition of things, may seek their home abroad; you and I are bound to the soil for life, for better as for worse, and it must at last cover our [reveries?]. What then is our duty? To repine at our lot? To sit down day & night cursing and [?] our chains? That is not the part of manliness, but to rise up and go forward performing our high mission as men. “He who does the best his circumstances allow does well, acts nobly, angels could do no worse.” Is it not enough that the blood of the best and the bravest has been shed in every valley throughout the land? Is it not enough
that the bones of our fathers and brothers & sons be whitening on every hill top? Is it not enough that the voice of lamentation has been heard at every fireside? Is it not enough that the wailing of the widow and the orphan still sound in our ears? Have we not suffered enough? Have we not done that was in the bowers of human nature? In our own [bosoms?] let us wear this consciousness as a jewell above price.
Now let us deal with the facts before us as they are. The negro has been made free. It was no work of his. He did not seek freedom. Nominally free as he is, he is helpless beyond expression. Helpless by his want of habits of self-reliance. Helpless by his want of comprehension to understand and appreciate his condition. From the very nature of an understanding so far as promoting his welfare and the adopting him to new relation to society, are conceived, all other agencies may prove inadequate. They may restrain in individual instances. We are the only people in the world who understand their character & hence the only people in the world capable of [?] them. To remedy the evil as far as is in our power growing out of the freedom of the negro it seems two things are necessary. 1st The recognition of
the freedom of the race as a fact, the enactment of just and humane laws, and the willing enforcement of them. 2nd By treating them with perfect fairness & justice in our contracts and in every way in which we may be brought in contact with them. By the first we convince the world of our good faith, and get rid of this system of [?], by removing the pretext of its necessity, and by the second we secure the services of the negroes, [leave/learn] them their places and how to keep them, and convince them at last we are indeed their best friends. When we do this let us hope that society will revive from its present shock , and our land be crowned with abundant harvests. We need the labor of the negroes all over the country, and it is worth the effort to secue it.
Besides all this, do we owe the negro any grudge? What has he himself done to provoke our hostility? Shall we be angry with him because freedom has been forced upon him? Shall it excite our animosity that he has been suddenly, and without any effort on his part, torn loose from the protection of his kind master? You may have been that master. He is proud to call you master yet. In the name of humanity let him do so. He may
be older than you and perhaps carried you in his arms when you were an infant. He may have been the companion of your boyhood. You may be bound to him by a thousand ties which only a southern man knows, and which he alone can feel in all its force. It may be that when only a few years ago, you guided on your cartridge box and seized your trusty rifle, to go forth to meet the invaders of your country, you committed to his care your house and your loved ones; and when you were far away upon the weary march, upon the dreadful battle field, in the trenches and on the picket lines, many and many a time you thought of that faithful old negro, and your heart wavered towards him. Did he not raise the corn and meat that fed your wife and children? And when you returned home did he not welcome you with tears of joy? Was he not faithful to the last? I believe there was scarcely ever such a picture of fidelity in the world as was exhibited by the negroes towards us during the war! Then let us not cherish animosity toward them, for that which we and they were unable to prevent, and which is a deplorable catastrophe to them, more than to us.
Note: Without getting into an analysis of the extreme paternalism and textbook Lost Cause rhetoric in this speech, it is worth noting that some of this was surely inspired by Henry Clayton’s own experiences. While Henry as an officer was probably not in the trenches, so to speak, Civil War era letters to his wife, Victoria, indicate he was relying on an older enslaved person, Joe, to essentially run the family plantation in his absence.
Joe Clayton will, 1874
The State of Alabama
In the name of God, Amen:
Know all [there?] by these hereunto that I Joe Clayton of said state & county being of sound and disposing mind and reason, in view of the certainty of death and the uncertainty of life; and being anxious as to the disposition of what property it has pleased God to entrust me, after my death, do make and declare the following as my last Will & Testament.
Item 1. I direct that my body be decently intered in some suitable place on my land
Item 2. I direct that my debts be paid
Item 3. I will and direct that my wife Nancy, who has done her part in helping me to accumulate my property, (if she should be living at my death) shall have and control every thing of which I may die possessed during her life
Item 4. After the death of myself and of my said wife, I give and bequeath all my property, both real and personal, to Joe Clayton, the grand son of my sister Dorcas, whom I have adopted and raised, to be delivered to him by my executor to be herein after named, as soon as
he shall become twenty one years of age.
Item 5. I direct and request that my former master Henry D. Clayton shall be the Executor of this my last will and Testament, without giving bond for the same, or if he shall have departed this life or [?] beyond this state, then that his oldest son living nearest to me, shall be my executor.
Signed sealed and declared to be my last will & testament, in witness whereof I have hereto set my hand and affixed my seal this the 7th day of February Anno Domini 1874
Joe his X mark Clayton (Seal)
Signed and sealed in the presence of each of us, who attested the same in the presence of the Testator and each in the presence of the other on the day & date as above.
H. D. Clayton
H. D. Clayton Jr
V. V. Clayton
Note: Based on their signatures, it appears that Henry D. Clayton, the executor, drafted the document. The witnesses were his wife, Victoria, and his son Henry Jr.