Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/55

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52
Southern Historical Society Papers.

charges published against our party in newspapers claiming to be your organs, and also in Northern papers backed by the name of Senator Patterson and others of your political friends. These charges should be either contradicted by your denial of them, or you should go in person to ascertain their truth. You are Governor as well as candidate; as the latter you may not be bound to correct charges which you know to be false, but as Governor you are bound by your pledges and your honor to prevent your followers using the sanction of your official silence, to sustain charges against your opponents, when they allege the overthrow of the peace and dignity of the State which you are sworn to defend. You are bound either to contradict the assertion that the law is overthrown and terrorism prevails, or to suppress this lawlessness." He then makes an offer of the whites to assist the Governor in restoring order. "It is our right to be called upon to aid you before you appeal to the United States Government. Our services are at your disposal, and whatsoever is our duty we are ready to do."

This letter gave Chamberlain an opportunity to write an answer, which was extensively circulated at the North in the interest of Hayes. This letter is very long. He not only does not contradict, but he reiterates all the slanders which an infuriate party had uttered against the whites. He begins with acknowledging the courtesy of Colonel Haskell's invitation, which he accepts (but did not keep his promise.) He denounces the conduct of the Democrats at joint meetings. Those at which he had been present at Edgefield and elsewhere had been attended by Democrats who had perpetrated every sort of insult short of physical violence. (He forgot that he had himself set the example four years before.) He denounced the Rifle clubs as a basis of political organization, as illegal associations. These clubs were guilty of actual violence; at Harrisburg they had wantonly butchered unresisting prisoners. The Republicans, he admitted, were responsible for the Charleston riot, but he is proud to add that it was suppressed by Republican authority. (The Governor knew that the riot suppressed itself, and that Republican authority did nothing to suppress it.) The cause of the Elberton riot was not well known, but it had been proved that colored men had been killed, not while resisting the process of law, not while engaged in acts of violence, but they were shot down in the fields, in the roads, in their cabins, wheresoever they might be found. He had learned that forty or fifty had thus been killed, and had reason to believe that the killing was not yet over. All the violence in the State is due to Democratic