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Allen W. Trelease, White Terror (1971)


Allen W. Trelease, White Terror (1971)


Allen W. Trelease’s book, White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction, looks at the terror invoked by the KKK during reconstruction in the south. Chapters twelve and thirteen highlight the events that caused Governor W. W. Holden to issue a state of insurrection in Alamance and Caswell Counties in North Carolina, and the use of the militia under the command of Colonel George Kirk of Jonesboro, Tennessee. In chapter twelve, Trelease highlights the events that precipitated in the said counties prior to Governor Holden’s declaration. White Terror brings to light the ideology of white supremacy that emerged and the political connections it maintained in the local government. Governor Holden was forced to declare a state of insurrection because the very people who had sworn to protect the rights of the people of the said counties were in fact the ones riding at night, terrorizing “Black Republicans” and white sympathizers. What emerged became what the democratic adversaries of Governor Holden and Col. Kirk know as the Kirk-Holden War; which is exactly the title of Chapter Thirteen. In this part of the book, Trelease discusses what ensued in the counties consumed by the terror of the KKK. Governor Holden was forced to call upon the militia and appeal to President Grant for Federal intervention in attempting to extinguish the insurrection arising in Alamance and Caswell Counties. Following the murder of North Carolina State Senator John Stephens in Caswell County, and Wyatt Outlaw in Alamance County. Governor Holden declared the counties in a state of insurrection, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and declared martial law in said counties under the direction of Colonel George Kirk. Numerous people were arrested during this dilemma for being associated with the Ku Klux Klan’s terror. However the connections the KKK maintained with the local authorities, evidence was slim and few offenders were actually punished. The following election year, the Democrats regained control of the North Carolina Congress and brought articles of impeachment against Governor Holden for his actions towards the people of the State of North Carolina, becoming the first Governor in American history to stand trial and be impeached for a governor’s office.


Trelease, Allen W.


Trelease, Allen W. . White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction. (New York: Harper & Row, 1971).






New York City, New York

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The great majority of the Klan’s victims were blacks; they were attacked and beaten everywhere in the county for many reasons. The raiders explained on one occasion that they were simply out whipping Radicals that night. In December, a disguised band attacked a Negro home in which about twenty persons were holding a frolic or party. They broke open the door, shot into the house, and then rushed in themselves, knocking over a woman who was holding a four-month-old baby in her arms. The baby fell to the floor, whereupon several Klansmen went over to it and put their feet on it, mashing it, as the father later described, without actually stamping on it. The child died a week later. Then they dragged three men outside and whipped them, not bothering to explain why. On another raid Dr. Thomas Lutterloh, a physician, whipped a black man so severely that he died of the effects, according to the doctor’s later private admission. Still another Negro was whipped and then forced to mutilate his penis with a pocketknife, he too died of the effects. More than one freedman was whipped and turned out of his house with his family at the behest of white men who wanted to farm the land themselves. A negro woman of about sixty was whipped after struggling with a white woman who tried to beat her granddaughter. It was Alamance Klansmen who crossed over into Orange County and Murdered the Negroes suspected of barn burning.


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Trelease, Allen W., Allen W. Trelease, White Terror (1971), Civil War Era NC, accessed July 14, 2024,