Worse Than Slavery

October 24, 1874, page 878

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How easily wicked and treasonable organizations may gain the control over the peaceable and the industrious members of society has always been signally apparent at the South. A band of wild and desperate young men, maddened with whisky and torn by demoniac passions, is the governing power in Texas and Alabama, Georgia, and even Kentucky. Masked, armed, and supplied with horses and money by the Democratic candidates for office, they ride over the country at midnight, and perpetrate unheard-of enormities. It is said, and no doubt truly, that not one in a hundred of their fearful deeds is ever told. Their enormous vices and crimes are faintly depicted in the Ku-Klux reports of 1872. Yet before these infamous associations Southern society trembles. They rob, they murder, they whip, they intimidate; yet no man, white or black, dares to denounce them. If a colored man ventures to tell of some frightful assassination which he saw in the dim midnight, he is himself dragged from the prison where he had been placed for safety and slaughtered, as happened recently in Tennessee, with horrible mockeries. If a United States official becomes conspicuous in politics, he is carried into the woods and shot, as at Coushatta. In Alabama and Louisiana the bands of young ruffians patrol the country by day as well as night, shooting down Republican voters. According to a recent estimate, there is a Republican majority of 20,000 in Louisiana, yet M’Enery and his band of assassins claim to have carried the last election, and hope to win the next by their usual outrages. Nor does any Southern paper in Georgia, or Alabama, or Texas, and scarcely in Tennessee, venture even to denounce the murderers or the violators of the laws; or if any Northern journal, roused to a proper indignation by the wrongs inflicted upon peaceable settlers and citizens in the disturbed districts, calls for the suppression and punishment of the lawless crew, it is at once placed under the ban of the secret associations. Such journals (exclaims the Austin Daily Statesman) "are more to be hated than the rattlesnake." Harper’s Weekly has been especially marked in this way, and its sale is forbidden by no unmeaning threats to the booksellers of Austin. The White Leaguers are resolved that the power of a free press shall never be felt in the South, and hope to pursue their career of crime unimpeded by the voice of humanity or reason.

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