Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Negro Uprising Feared: July 16, 1879

Today our feature is an article that shows that pandering to fear is an old habit in the United States. Although I could find endless examples, I am sharing an article from The York Daily (York, Pennsylvania) dated July 16, 1879:


Trouble Between the Whites and Blacks in West Virginia.

CHARLESTON, W. Va., July 15.—Another excitement occurred in this community Saturday and Sunday, growing out of rumors that a body of armed colored men had lynched, by hanging, a telegraph operator at Hinton, W. Va., a station on the C. & O. R. R., and distant about eighty miles from this city. Yesterday morning the true state of affairs was obtained and is as follows:—On Saturday last the telegraph operator at Hinton while walking along the principal street of that town was struck by one of three colored men. The white man in defending himself threw a stone, which, striking the head of one of the colored men, fractured his skull, and but little hopes are entertained of his recovery.

The colored men of Hinton and vicinity, smarting under the late lynching of the colored brute, Lee, who was hanged a few days since, immediately had a secret meeting, and resolved to hang the telegraph operator, Saturday night being the time decided upon. A colored man who had been in the secret council divulged the intention of the would-be lynchers, and the citizens of Hinton, fearing the colored men, the population being largely made up of that class of persons, telegraphed to the Coalburg miners (the party who lynched Lee) and by dusk Saturday upwards of one thousand  suddenly made their appearance at Hinton.

A few minutes after their arrival a body of men, most of them armed, were detected in secret council, having under discussion plans for hanging the telegraph operator.—The miners surrounded the house while the meeting was being held and, making prisoners of the inmates, marched them into the street and cowhided the entire party.—After this the negroes were liberated with the understanding that if any lynching is to be done it must be for a crime serious than that of assault.

It is generally believed that the colored men of this city hold secret meetings each week and that they are organizing for rough work. Our citizens are not alarmed in the least by their movements, as an outbreak here would result disastrously to any body of colored men that might be foolish enough to open hostilities with the whites. The grounds upon which our citizens base their anticipations for an out-break here are found in following:

About two weeks ago an extensive system of blackmailing was practicing upon several white men of this place by three colored men, whose plan of operations was to send noted to the white men, the notes purporting to have been written by respectable married white woman, and asking interviews with the white men for base purposes. A brother who had been thus shamefully outraged by the negroes, resolved to avenge the insult offered his sister, and in a row with one of the darkies had his skull broken. The negro was arrested, but afterwards released for court.

The companions of the negro now say that no punishment by the law shall be inflicted on him, and that any attempt to punish him will be the signal for an out-break. We, however, do not anticipate any trouble when the trial of the negro takes place; but should a riot occur, the colored people will receive a rough handling.

The first thing I would like to point out is that many lynchings occur because a black man defended himself against a white man's attack. Many of those do not end with the white man receiving a fatal blow, but the black man is still, apparently, deserving death. In this case the article wants the reader to realize the white man was only defending himself when he struck the black man, possibly delivering a fatal blow. Normally the paper does not use the words "defending himself" when the races are reversed. 

The secret meeting is another thing. Secret meetings are scary; people could be discussing lynchings or surprise parties, no one knows. People organizing unions hold secret meetings, people who belong to secret groups, such as the Masons, hold secret meetings, people who plan to overthrow governments hold secret meetings, people who are organizing neighbors to help a needy neighbor hold secret meetings, people who plan surprise birthday parties hold secret meetings. There are many reasons to have a meeting not held for the general public. One man's word that they are organizing a lynching does not make it so, especially when they hold these secret meetings weekly. If they were going to lynch the man why hold at least two secret meetings, especially if the date was set upon during the first meeting? Just a little something to think about. 

Any violence that actually occurred after the initial scuffle between three black men and the telegraph operator was initiated by the miners. They physically assaulted the men in the meeting, who were supposedly armed, and beat them. I am confused on this point. If the men in the building were mostly armed and were surrounded by the miners, why did they let the miners march them out and "Cowhide" them?

I know that these were very scary black men. They held secret meetings and three of them may have attempted to blackmail men by pretending they were "respectable, married white women."  One even dared to defend himself against a white man (of course the article doesn't use defend, only that he hurt the avenging white man in a row). 

So in an article that continually gives reasons to be wary of the black people amongst them, it end with letting the readers know they were not afraid because they were prepared to give the "colored people" a "rough handling."

I could have found a better article to use to point out the fear mongering, but honestly this one was in my list of articles to feature. I am tired. I have been remiss for the last week (due to migraines) in posting. I am exhausted from seeing people continue to die, even this weekend, because of fear mongering. I read about lynchings and death and what the newspapers were not saying. I read about the manipulation of the press to make people justify heinous acts against other humans, but I can tell myself that this is the past. There is nothing I can do now to change things. All I can do is present the past to people and hope that helps people understand why there are wounds. But Orlando is not the past. While it was only one man, it was no different than the torching of black communities or when men opened fire on black men in a court room. 

You are different to the person who is different to you. There is nothing to be afraid of. The only way to end this type of assassination of people is to not let the fear mongering affect you. Please take apart the words you are hearing and reading. Please pay attention to the manipulation being used. Don't let other people convince you to hate someone just because you don't understand them.    

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.


No comments:

Post a Comment