Albion Tourgée on the subserviance of African Americans and their lack of influence in A Fool's Errand, 1879
Tourgée, Albion. A Fool's Errand. New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1879.
THE Fool's neighbors having read his letter to the Wise Man, as published in the
great journal in which it appeared, were greatly incensed thereat, and
immediately convened a public meeting for the purpose of taking action in
regard to the same. At this meeting they passed resolutions affirming the
quiet, peaceful, and orderly character of the county, and denouncing in
unmeasured terms all reports or rumors to a contrary purport as false and
slanderous, and especially affirming with peculiar earnestness that the recent
act of violence which had startled and amazed this law-abiding community was
not the work of any of its citizens, but an irruption from beyond its borders.
It was noticeable that none of the colored
people joined in this demonstration, nor any of those white people, who, on that night of horror, had stood with bated breath behind their barred doors, in the midst of weeping and terrified households momently expecting attack. There
were not many of the latter, it is true, and what was termed "respectable society" had long ago shut its doors in their faces; and it was by no
means to be expected that the respectable white people of any county would seek to have their declarations confirmed by the testimony of an inferior race, whose evidence, at best, would have to be taken with many grains of allowance.
There were many eloquent and impressive speeches made on this occasion.
The lawyers were, of course, in the lead, as the profession always is in all matters of public interest in our land. They descanted largely upon magna
charta, and the law-abiding and liberty-loving spirit of the people of the grand old county, on which the sun of American liberty first arose, and had shone his very brightest ever since. They told how the people, after being overwhelmed in the holiest crusade for liberty that the world had ever known, by the hosts of foreign mercenaries which the North had hurled against them, after having their fields and homes ravaged and polluted by Yankee vandals, had surrendered in good faith, and had endured all the tyranny and oppression which Yankee cunning and malice could invent, without resistance, almost without murmuring.
They painted the three years of unutterable oppression, when they were ground under the heel of "military despotism," deprived of the right of self-government, their laws subverted to the will of a "military
satrap," and their judges debarred from enforcing them according to their oaths of office. They recalled the fact, that in that very county the sheriff had been prevented by a file of soldiers from carrying into effect the sentence of the court, given in strict conformity with the law of the State, and requiring the offender to be publicly whipped on his bare back. They called
attention to the fact that the whipping-post, the stocks, and the branding-iron,--the significant emblems of their former civilization,--had been swept away by the influx of "Yankee ideas," which had culminated in the inexpressible infamy of military reconstruction, and "nigger supremacy."
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