The present problem in the South is purely industrial. The condition of things produced by the results of the war is most natural in its every phase. It should have been the easiest thing in the world to have foreseen that upon the lines laid down by the moulders of the Reconstruction policy chattel slavery would certainly be followed by industrial slavery, no less galling and degrading to the enfranchised class and far more profitable to the employers of labor. The fetters [of slavery] were no sooner removed from the limbs of the black slave than the fetters of condition took their place; so that today it is a painful and a notorious fact that the last condition of the common laborers of the South is, in many respects, much more degrading and demoralizing than the first.
When the war came to a close the whites owned all the intelligence, all the capital, all the land. They had been educated as the dominant class. To rule and tyrannize was bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh. The war had despoiled them of their property in slaves and largely of their accumulated capital; but it did not despoil them of their superiority of education and their control of the land. The accumulated increment of labor had been swept away, but the primal agencies of accumulation had been left intact. As a consequence, recovery from the exhaustion and prostration of the war was only a question of time. The black laborer must produce in order to subsist, and this very necessity redounded to the enrichment of those who controlled the agencies of production and who in consequence held a lien upon the surplus earnings of the laborer. In the very effort put forth by the laborer to subsist he enriched those who controlled those agencies of production without which labor cannot reproduce.
In nearly every Southern State the white capitalists have managed to have placed upon the statute books laws intended to protect and enrich the employer of labor at the expense of the laborer. The legislatures of those States have not needed any outside influence to pass such laws. They have passed them to benefit largely those who composed such assemblies—men who had vaulted into power over majorities contemplation of which staggers the mind.
No state in the South is more completely ruled by the unscrupulous arm of usurpation than that of South Carolina, because no Southern State has such a preponderating black majority. Since 1876, when the treachery and cupidity of the managers of the Republican party gave the State Government over to the Hamptons and the Butlers, the whole end and aim of the white rulers have been to make voiceless the black vote of the State and to chain the black toilers to the car of the capitalists and land owners.
When it became known that the Knights of Labor were going to organize the black laborers of the South the most serious apprehensions were aroused throughout that section. The most decided step taken by any Southern State Legislature to counteract the possible effect of the influence of the Knights of Labor on the colored laborers of the South has just been taken by the Senate of South Carolina in the passage of the following law:
“It shall be deemed a conspiracy and shall be a misdemeanor for any persons united, organized, associated, or banded together to interfere by threats, force or in any other way with any contract between any employer or employee, whether such contract be verbal or in writing, or to permit any person for them or in their name or on behalf of such union, association, organization, or band to interfere with an employer or employee, whether the contract between them be verbal or in writing, for wages or for any other consideration, to prevent the execution of such contract; and each and every one convicted of the offence shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months, or fined not less than $200, or both fined and imprisoned, in the discretion of the court. Each one of such contracts interfered with as above prescribed shall constitute a separate and distinct offence.”
Perhaps there stands today in no statute book a law more explicit as to the inhibition aimed at and more elastic for the purposes of injustice and cruelty. The law virtually reduces the laborers of South Carolina to the condition of slaves. The contract need not exist anywhere except in the imagination of the employer. The mere fact that a man is laboring for another will be construed as being as binding as a written contract. We know so well how Southern laws are operated that we see in the wording of this law the possibility of the most cruel and widespread injustice.
The Charleston News and Courier opposes the passage of this law, and justly says it would be regarded as a firebrand. The committee to which the measure was referred in the lower branch of the Legislature has already reported adversely upon it. It will hardly receive further consideration at the present session of the Legislature.
Speaking on this subject a writer in the December North American Review says:
“New York labor must either give to Southern labor the protection of a free ballot and fair count, or be prepared to compete with a servitude more complete than is known in England, Germany, or France. A labor party that tries to toss this issue into the ash-barrel will go there itself.”
In the book Black and white, published by the writer hereof in 1885, the following bearing on the labor question was declared on page 4 of the preface:
“The labor elements of the whole United States should sympathize with the same elements in the South, and in some favorable contingency effect some unity of organization and action which shall subserve the common interest of the common class.”
Again, on page 242:
“When the issue is properly joined, the rich, be they black or be they white, will be found upon the same side; and the poor, be they black or be they white, will be found upon the same side. Necessity knows no law and discriminates in favor of no race.
The issue is already properly joined. The time is now when the laboring classes all over the country must take up this question of Southern labor and the methods by which it is defrauded, pauperized and tyrannized over before they can hope to accomplish the ends they have in view. The colored people of the South are gradually, as a class, sinking deeper and deeper into the cesspool of industrial slavery, and selfishness and greed are hedging themselves about by statutory enactments of the most unjust and iron-clad nature. What the end will be no man can safely say, but it is a comparatively easy matter to predict that the pathway thereto will be honeycombed with fraud, cruelty, and bloodshed. Capitalists and land owners, in all times and all countries, from the Helots of Sparta to the Irish tenantry of today, have been unscrupulous and cruel, yielding no inch to the sentiments of justice or humanity. The capitalists and landowners of the South of today will be found to be as stubborn and unjust as the ante-bellum slave-holders. What they yield of justice and fair play will be at the command of organized and irresistible power; and none but knows just what this means in the last resort.
New York Freeman, November 23, 1886.
THE FARMERS OF SOUTH CAROLINA TAKE PROMPT ACTION
COLUMBIA, S.C., Dec. 17.—The action of some white men in this State who are organizers of the Knights of Labor has caused much bitter feeling against the order among the farmers. Some of the State papers are denouncing in the strongest terms the proposed organization of the negroes in the rural districts. At this date of depression and agricultural poverty it is considered by many as criminal to array the colored people against their white employers. Mr. W. P. Russell, State Organizer of the Knights of Labor, in answering newspaper comments is bitter. He says:
“In your ignorance you may think that mechanics and laborers are not American citizens and that the laborers in the rural districts of South Carolina are to be used as the lazy, intolerant men in these districts choose to dictate; that they are not freemen and shall work for what pay you may choose to allow them for the small time at work upon the ‘backbone,’ and when that bone is gone beg for bread the rest of the year.”
Some papers advise the farmers to “spot” all white men like Russell if they try to organize negro Knights of Labor and to run them from the neighborhood. They advised that the Legislature should appropriate money for the maintenance of the militia, as well-equipped soldiers would be needed if this organization goes on. This the Legislature has done. To further protect the farmers against the organization of the colored people living on their plantations the Senate has passed the following bill by a large majority, and House will doubtless make it a law.
“It shall be deemed a conspiracy and shall be a misdemeanor for any persons united, organized, associated, or banded together to interfere by threats, force, or in any other way with any contract between any employer or employe, whether such contract be verbal or in writing, or to permit any person for them or in their name, or on behalf of such union, association, organization, or band to interfere with any employer or employe, whether contract be verbal or in writing for wages, or for any other consideration, to prevent the execution of such contracts, and each and every one convicted of such offense shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months or fined not less than $200, or both fined and imprisoned. Each one of such contracts interfered with as above prescribed shall constitute a separate and distinct offense herein.”
The possibility of a strike at cotton picking time, when the whole crop of the State would be lost if not gathered, was the principal argument used, together with the declaration that if a strike occurred among the negroes much more blood would be spilled than last Summer in Chicago and St. Louis.
New York Times, December 18, 1886.
Columbia, South Carolina: The efforts of some of the organizers of the Knights of Labor in this State to enroll the colored people in the order has caused much bitter feeling against the order by the farmers. Some papers advised the farmers to “spot” all white men like “Russell” endeavoring to organize colored Knights of Labor, and drive them from the neighborhood. These journals have advised that “the Legislature should appropriate money for the maintenance of the militia, as well-equipped soldiers may be needed if this organization goes on.” This the Legislature has done and to further protect the farmers against the organization of the colored people living on their plantations, the Senate passed by a large majority, and the House will doubtless make it a law, a bill making it a conspiracy, punishable by fine and imprisonment, to interfere between employer and employee in any contract, whether written or verbal. The possibility of a strike at cotton picking time when the whole crop of the State would be lost if not properly gathered, was the principal argument used, together with a declaration that if a strike occurred among the colored people, much more blood would be spilled than last summer at Chicago and St. Louis.
Charleston, South Carolina: The bill now before the Legislature to prevent the organization of colored laborers in the agricultural sections in Knights of Labor is causing a great commotion among the leaders of the colored people of this State. Rev. J. Wooford White, one of the most intelligent colored preachers of the State has issued an address in which he says that this bill has for its aim the grinding down and driving to the wall of the Negro laborers. In closing his address, Mr. White says: “From the point of equity considering the circumstances surrounding all laborers, the Negro is the most excusable in forming organizations of a legal kind to better his condition. Do the white people imagine that by threats they can keep away the Negro’s agents or organizers and in this way by force keep them in this State or prevent them from being organized for mutual protection! If so, they reckon without their host. The great drawback to the Negroes lies in the fact of their being too easily satisfied. The Shylocks of this State today are the farmers who want the crops made and gathered without paying a reasonable price for labor. They can reduce wages to the lowest point, and if they are asked for justice it is refused, and when the Negroes organize for mutual protection this is to be pronounced illegal and who dares to resist is to be incarcerated in prison. . . . “
The Cleveland Gazette, December 25, 1886.
The importance of the intelligent organization of the colored workingmen of the south has for some time been recognized by all wide-awake labor leaders, and by them the action of the General Assembly at Richmond, giving an impetus to this move, was hailed with joy.
The Labor Record, of Louisville, Ky., says:
“The colored laborers can and do exist on an amount that would not pay for a single meal for a northern white labor. The colored man lives with his family in a hovel but little better than the quarters of the slaves prior to the war, and upon food practically the same as was issued to the slaves. The result of this is that already the cotton mills of the south are fixing the prices at which the mills of Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island, must sell their products. Injury to one of the meanest laborers in the United States is an injury to all. Organize, organize, and still organize! Every laborer, black or white, man or woman, in the United States, should be a member of some trade or labor union. Thus, and thus only, can we protect each other and protect ourselves. It is in the interest of all laborers that the price paid for labor should be a good price; whether the labor be skilled or unskilled, of the plow, the loom, the forge, or the shop. The price should be all that the work is worth, due consideration being given to the different cost of living as far as may be uniform.”
This work of southern organization has now met a rebuff by the slave-drivers of South Carolina. Local papers advise that labor organizers be driven out of the state of South Carolina. A paper that thirty years ago said:
“We can assure the Bostonians, one and all who have embarked in the nefarious scheme of abolishing slavery at the south, that lashes will not hereafter be spared. Let them send out their men to Louisiana; they will never return, but they shall expiate the crime of interfering with our domestic institutions by being burned at the stake.”
This same paper is now advising the people to burn Knights of Labor organizers at the stake. In the legislature of South Carolina, the senate has passed the following bill which will possibly be passed by the lower house:
“It shall be deemed a conspiracy and shall be a misdemeanor for any persons united, organized, associated, or banded together, to interfere by threats, force, or in any other way with any contract between any employer or employe, whether such contract be verbal or in writing, for wages or for any other consideration, to prevent the execution of such contract, and each and every one convicted of this offense shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months or fined not less than $200, or both fine and imprisonment. Each one of such contracts interfered with, as above prescribed, shall constitute a separate and distinct offense herein.”
The militia is being increased and the papers are demanding that negroes known to have joined the Knights shall be taken out and shot without trial. The possibility of a strike at cotton-picking time, when the whole crop of the state would be lost if not promptly gathered, was the principal argument used, together with the declaration that if the strike occurred among the negroes much more blood would be spilled than last summer in Chicago and St. Louis. Meanwhile the organization of the workingmen of the south is being rapidly pushed, and as in pre-slavery days the more “nigger-catching” laws were passed the more negroes escaped, so now the more opposition from the slave-drivers the more the slaves become convinced of the necessity of organization; as well try to crowd the eagle back into the egg, as to prevent the man who has tasted of liberty from becoming free.
Knights of Labor, December 23, 1886.
A Reign of Terror in Laurens County, South Carolina
Charleston, S.C., June 21. Last winter H. F. Hoover, a white man, went through the upper part of this State organizing lodges of the “Co-operative Workers of America” among the negroes. He did his best to stir up bad blood against the whites, and succeeded in forming several lodges. As soon as his mission was known Hoover was told to move on. He went to Georgia, and several weeks ago was mobbed near Milledgeville for exciting the negroes to incendiarism. Hoover has not been back here since, but the seed that he sowed is beginning to sprout. For the past two weeks a reign of terror has existed in Youngs Township, Laurens County. As the story goes Hoover’s dupes have been holding midnight meetings with armed sentinels at the doors of their council chambers, and with pickets on post. Their plan of operation was to seize the land, kill the men, reduce the boys to slavery, and keep all the young white women for their wives. It is said that they have only been waiting for the signal to begin their bloody work. So serious was the situation thought to be, that a cavalry company was organized in the threatened section and active steps taken so as to be ready for any emergency. The matter was laid before Gov. Richardson and application was made to Adjt. Gen. Bonham for arms and ammunition for the purpose of protecting the community. Gov. Richardson dispatched an aide to the scene of the threatened disturbances and he has prepared his report.
The correspondent of the News and Courier telegraphs today:
“There is no doubt that some of the negroes are organized; that they often hold meetings between midnight and daylight with the greatest precautions at secrecy, sentinels being stationed at convenient distances from the rendezvous. The various threats that have been so widely circulated cannot be traced authoritatively to the organization. There will be no outbreak unless the negro leaders shall act rashly as the whites preserve great caution. The organizations are known as “Co-operative Workers of America,” and are the offspring of the Hoover influence, and many believe they are for the purpose of extorting money from the ignorant negroes. It costs each member $1.55 cents to take all the degrees, and $1.50 of that amount is forwarded to Hickory, N.C. Several packages of money have been sent from Simpsonville, Spring County, and Woodruff, Spartanburg County, to Hickory, N.C. The objects of the Hoover lodges are to elevate and dignify labor; to secure to the laborer a just share of the products of his toil; to instruct him in a knowledge of his rights and his wrongs and his duty to his country and to his fellow man, and to use all rational means to better his social, moral, and financial condition. They demand that the abrogation of laws that do not bear equally upon capital and labor; the enactment of laws to compel corporations to pay their employes weekly in lawful money; that the poll tax be repealed and that a free co-operative school system be established. They demand of Congress that the public lands, the heritage of the people, be reserved for actual settlers, etc.; that a graduated income tax be levied so that the greater enactment of a graduated forfeiture tax to be levied on the estates of the rich at their death; that United States Senators be elected by the people; that the Government establish and maintain a free ballot in every State of the Union, and that the hours of labor be reduced.
They also declare that they “are opposed to war and consider strikes as dangerous to society, hurtful to the participants, and contrary to the interest of good government.” They promise co-operation with the Knights of Labor and all similar organizations. It is not expected that there will be any violent outbreak among the Laurens negroes, and if there should be it is believed that the people can be protected without any general call to arms.
New York Times, June 22, 1887.
We have maintained that free speech is not permitted in the South. We have maintained that there is one law in the South for the white man, another for the colored man. During the past week the newspapers have been full of a so-called “conspiracy” of colored men in Laurens County, South Carolina, under the inspiration of Knights of Labor, to demand $1.00 and $1.50 for a day’s labor, and if this be denied to kill the white men and old women, take the young ones as wives, confiscate the land and make the white children work for them. How preposterous the whole thing sounds to anyone who knows the real situation of affairs in South Carolina and the general peaceable disposition of colored men!
And, yet, on information furnished by a “private” citizen the Governor of South Carolina began to put the military machinery of the State in a posture of war, sent special messengers to Laurens County, and others showed exasperating symptoms of being all torn up over this tempest in a teapot!
Not long since five colored men were lynched by white ruffians at York, but the Governor of South Carolina was stone blind to the fact. As Governor he did not feel called upon to take any action. He was satisfied that the county authorities would take care of the matter—even to the extent of shielding, if necessary, the criminals. But a “private” citizen can manufacture a manifest lie and move the Governor to put in motion the military power of the State to interfere with the secret meeting together of two or more colored men for purposes obviously unknown to the “private” citizen! The Governor of South Carolina should brace up, or else he should be braced out. He is not the right man in the right place. He sees too much difference in a white face and a black one.
Mr. Henry George says in his paper, the New York Standard, commenting upon this episode:28
“It is not many years since the society saviors in certain quarters of the South entered upon a murderous raid against the blacks for the purpose of reducing them to political subjection. They were so successful that even to this day the colored race, which is largely in the majority in the State of South Carolina, is completely dominated there by the active and vigilant society saviors of the white race. And now a new enterprise, also murderous in character, appears to have been inaugurated in some parts of the South for the purpose of reducing the blacks, who constitute the great body of workers there, to a state of industrial subjection. The old spirit of chattel slavery is revived in a new form, but with all its inhuman concomitants
Some weeks ago a man named Hoover was shot in Georgia by a mob. The information we get through the press respecting this murder is very meager. Details of society saving anarchy are not gathered by news distributers with the avidity that characterizes those enterprising individuals when some one in a workingmen’s mass meeting, which has been lawlessly dispersed by the police, kills one of the lawless policemen. But the best inference that can be drawn from the associated press dispatches is that Hoover was an organizer of the Knights of Labor engaged in discussing labor questions before an audience of workingmen, which was, naturally enough in Georgia, largely composed of Negroes. For this offense against society he was summarily murdered by saviors of society.
And now we learn that the Governor of South Carolina is organizing troops to break up assemblies of the Knights of Labor in that State. The pretense is that these assemblies are arming themselves to murder white men and ravish white women. That pretense is well understood. It is as absurd as it is stale. It is the manufactured excuse for murdering black men.
The true inwardness of this malicious intimidation of the Negroes under legal forms leaks out in one of the dispatches in a statement to the effect that when the white men have been killed and the white women ravished by the colored Knights of Labor, the colored Knights intend to take possession of the land that belongs to their intended victims. This throws a flood of light on the situation in South Carolina. The fact is, evidently, that the black Knights of Labor are learning, like their white brothers at the North, that the land belongs to all the people—to the worker as well as to the idler, to the black as well as to the white. That they propose to recover their natural right to the land on which they were born and out of which they must live in the same peaceable manner that is proposed by the Knights of Labor everywhere, is clear enough; but they must be accused of contemplated violence as an excuse for using violence against them. Gentlemen of South Carolina—you of the lily hand and azure blood—your tricks are understood by the workingmen of the North and East and West, and if you persist in them—if you persist in thus outraging popular government—you will soon hear with an emphasis that you cannot mistake, from the mudsills whom you despise but a little less than the blacks only on account of the color of their skin.
Your past outrages on the colored race were denounced by the Republican party from partisan motives alone. That party cared no more for the Southern Negro, except as an election perquisite, than it cared for the Northern mechanic. It might raise the Negro outrage cry now if by doing so it could get the Negro vote or then its voting power in the North. But hopeless of such a result it is silent, and it will remain silent about these outrages upon the workingmen of the South. There is a power here, however, that South Carolina society saviors will hear from, and that speedily, if it once comes to be fully understood that free speech and political or industrial organization and agitation are to be prohibited in South Carolina. That power is the spirit of true democracy that now animates the workers of all sections.”
It is not necessary that we add anything to what Mr. George has said. It may be that organized rascality in the South may have a tougher time coping with organized labor and Afro-American Leagues in the future than it had with the Republican party of the past. We shall see.
New York Freeman, July 9, 1887.
Conditions favored the Knights. It was semi-secret, with passwords and grips, and was difficult for the planters to judge its strength. They knew it was there, but that was about all.
At that time there were few large plantations; no giant central refineries owned by corporations dominated the district. The sugar-houses, as the factories were then called, were rather small affairs strung along the bayous every two miles or so. Their three-roller crushers seldom exceeded four feet in length, and a few were still turned by horse power.
Most of the planters were their own general managers, and the majority were convinced that their “hands,” as they called the workers, were too loyal to ever listen to labor agitators. The situation faced by the Knights was entirely different from that a union would meet today if it faced the corporation owned refineries and plantations with headquarters in distant cities, and with workers more or less alien to the field laborers.
Following the Civil War wages had fallen steadily until those of husky men ranged from 50 to 60 cents for a day lasting from the first grey of dawn to pitch dark. In addition to these meagre wages the hands were allowed “rations,” which consisted of five pounds of salt shoulder meat and a peck of cornmeal a week.
Girl and women hoe-hands received from 25 to 40 cents for the long work-day; blacksmiths and carpenters from $1 to $2, and engineers $2.00. Overseers (they furnished their own horses and equipment) received from $50 to $75 a month, while from $100 to $150 monthly was considered princely for the chief overseers and managers. Most of the latter were sons or nephews of the planters, or if not that then neighbors or more distant kinsmen.
White or Negro, wages and salaries were the same for the same work. As a whole the district lived on a scant subsistence basis; times were hard, terribly so, with dispirited farmers and one-hoss not many more jumps ahead of the wolf than were the workers. Such was the general condition, and it tended to grow worse as the sugar industry continued depressed. Was it small wonder that the hands listened eagerly to the message of the Knights when their organizers appeared in the Sugar Bowl whispering, “In union there is strength. Organize or starve!”
Discontent was rampant, not only in the Sugar Bowl but throughout the nation. In addition one of the largest crops on record was in the fields, with the planters hoping to get enough profit from it “to get from under” the banks and the New Orleans commission merchants.
Considering this it is not surprising that the sugar workers flocked en masse into the Knights of Labor when its organizers came into the district preaching higher wages, better conditions, and “United States money” instead of “commissary paste-board.”
Other factors—in fact the entire set-up in the district, political as well as economic—aided the Knights in their organization work and propaganda. The great majority of the workers were Negroes, but during the grinding many white men worked both in the sugar-houses and the fields. White and colored, the men worked side by side—on my uncle’s plantation under a Negro chief-overseer. (White women never worked on the plantations).
And as they worked, the Knights organized them—all, regardless of creed or color, into one “Assembly,” as the sub-divisions were called.
Not only did the K. of L. organize both white and colored together, but they brought both Confederate and Union Veterans into their fold. We cannot have the races together today, many assert, without danger of riot or bloodshed. Yet it would seem that what the Knights did in the ‘80’s, barely 15 years after the Civil War, the Unions today might do.
Such was the situation, and such the movement. It was a mass upheaval against unbearable conditions, as were many other struggles dominated by the Knights in other sections. It was a movement “of the workers, by the workers, for the workers!”
No single strong man dominated the struggle in the Sugar District, though there were many, both colored and white, who deserved to be called heroes. Jim Brown, a “griffe,” (about one-quarter white), was said to have been the “brains of the Union” in my Parish (“county” in other states) of Terrebonne.
The Knights worked quietly, but long before any demands were made on them the planters were aware of impending trouble. However they comforted themselves with the idea that their hitherto docile hands and hirelings (“hands,” permanent workers; “hirelings,” those who came in to make the grindings) would not listen to anarchistic agitators, but instead would continue to trust and depend on their “best friends,” the planters.
They (the planters) were disillusioned October 24, 1887. That date the New Orleans Daily Picayune published a dispatch from Thibedeaux, parish seat of Lafourche Parish, in which Local Assembly 10,499 notified the “Sugar Planters of the Parish of Lafourche” of the action taken by District Assembly 194 of the Knights of Labor, at its district meeting at Morgan City October 19, 1887, in regard to “a scale of wages” it had “unanimously agreed upon for this grinding season for its jurisdiction, which comprises the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia and St. Martin.”
Local Assembly 10,499 listed the new wages demanded, as follows: “Said rate of wages is $1.25 per day without board, or $1 and board, and 60 cents for watch; watch money to be paid every week, and day money every two weeks: no paste-board to be accepted in compensation for labor.”
In conclusion the Assembly requested; “That should this demand be considered exorbitant by the sugar planters, that we ask them to submit such information with reason therewith to this (executive) board not later than Saturday, October 29, inst., or appoint a special committee to confer with this board on said date.”
It was a very personal matter to the writer and his family. When the strike was called my uncle “Ami” had died, and our uncle Rodney Woods was in charge of the home place. He gave in to the demands, not because he wished to, but because he had no other option. He would have lost the crop and everything else, including the place, if he had not done so.
Immediately all neighboring planters denounced him as “disloyal to his class,” declaring he should be willing to lose everything in defense of his class interests. But he could not see it.
More and more strikers and planters in the five parishes affected began to feel the economic pressure and privation as the strike dragged on. Something had to be done about it, and that “something” began to be evident.
The planters had scorned all petitions or communications (except in one instance) from strikers or Assembly, answering through action at mass meetings.
October 30 the Picayune published a dispatch from Thibedeaux emanating from such a meeting, which in part was as follows:
“The following resolutions by a large meeting of the influential people of this parish were adopted today. The meeting was presided over by Judge Taylor Beattie, (a planter, and Republican District judge) and Hon. E. A. Sullivan (Democrat) acting as secretary.” The resolutions began: “Our people are quiet, but determined to enforce the law and preserve quiet.” Then came a series of resolves in which the Knights of Labor are referred to as a secret organization, conspirital in form, charged with threatening violence and breaking contracts for work at established wages of 75 cents a day with, or $1 per day without board, and 50 cents per watch.” (“Watch” was six hours night work.) Such demands could not and would not be considered because “the present depressed condition of the sugar interest of our state forces us to decline to accede to any demand for an increase of wages.” To prevent this “We hereby pledge ourselves, one and all, to meet this trouble as good men and law-abiding citizens, and to that end we hereby tender ourselves to the sheriff and other constituted authorities (who) may call upon us in event of necessity for our services;” and
“Resolved, That if any laborers are discharged from the plantations upon which they are now at work, or if any such discharge themselves by refusing to work, we pledge ourselves to give them no employment; that all people discharged for refusal to work be required to leave the plantation within 24 hours, and on refusal to obey that the powers of the law be invoked to assist the owners of property in enjoyment of their rights of property.”
(Here it may be stated that the sugar planters, unlike the lumber barons, did not charge employes rent for cabins.)
The closing resolution called upon the governor “to furnish militia to enforce the law, and prevent bloodshed and violence,” and he promptly complied. In no instance reported did the unionmen resist orders to leave when eviction notice was served on them by the “constituted authorities.”
BLOOD IS SHED
The state militia was called out but had little to do, taking no open or direct part in the suppression of the strike. In Thibodaux, foolishly, the unionists had the delusion that Governor McEnery, one of the most negrophobe of white supremacists, had sent the militia to protect strikers! They were soon disillusioned; the strike was crushed by one of the most ruthless massacres that ever occurred in the United States!
Planters’ associations in the other parishes made substantially like replies to the demands, but one, that of St. Mary’s addressing its reply directly to the Knights.
The St. Mary Local Assembly, No. 6205, was reported to have passed resolutions protesting the strike, but the District Assembly, No. 194, promptly repudiated the action, declaring that it had been suspended “for non-payment of dues.”
On November 2 the Picayune had a choice collection of headlines: “The Strike Inaugurated:” “Negro Laborers Quit Work, and are Ordered off the Plantations:” “Planters Determined to Stand Their Ground:” “Beanham’s Battery on Duty at Thibodaux—a Possibility of Trouble Today.”
The next day it reported 16,000 “intimated” to have answered the strike call in this district; rumors of “trouble expected” and of violence done and threatened as evictions begin, but “peace and quiet maintained as a general thing.” “Lafourche . . . the center of the disturbed community,” the disturbance being work “of white mischief-makers.” Then follows a description of the strikers pouring into Thibodaux or camping on the roadsides with their evicted families:
“They are leaving (the plantations) as fast as they can, and are being brought into town where they are all dumped together. Every vacant room in town tonight is filled with families of penniless and ragged negroes. All day a long stream of black humanity poured in, . . . bringing all their earthly possessions, which never amounted to more than a frontyard full of babies, dogs and ragged bedclothing. . . . On many of the plantations old gray-headed negroes who had been born and lived continually upon them, left today.”
There were few evictions in Terrebonne, and little or no violence, but in Lafourche so many were made homeless that 10,000 were reported herded in and around Thibodaux, numbering normally 2,000.
The Picayune continued: “J. H. R. Foote and D. Mounier (evidently ‘white mischief-makers’) are two of the prime movers of this uncalled-for strike. . . . There is some talk of their being ordered to leave town, and it is possible they may get their walking papers before this trouble is over with.” So ran headlines and reports day after day, until armed violence finally erupted, the last “riot” breaking in Thibodaux the last week of November.
The strike dragged on, the planters being able to secure but few strikebreakers. One day the report would be that the plantations were working full blast, the next that more and more workers were joining the strike or being evicted. Often these contradictory reports appeared in the same dispatch; and always “trouble expected,” yet little occurred until about the last week of the walkout. Four strikebreakers in Terrebonne were variously reported as first wounded and next killed.
This is referred to time and again in the report as indicating a reign of lawlessness on the part of the unionmen; it was at a backwoods settlement called Tigerville. As the “grapevine” brought it, all that happened was that a small gang of canecutters was sprinkled with birdshot.
Here and there reports of sabotage, of roughhousing strike-breakers, and firing on “loyal workingmen” made the front pages, often in the same dispatches saying that unionmen were quietly obeying the law, with little or no resistance to eviction.
The two worst “riots” were in the last weeks of the strike, at Patterson and Thibodaux, that at Thibodaux being by far the worst.
This report of the trouble at Patterson is from the Times Democrat, of New Orleans. “Pattersville, La., Nov. 5: . . . An encounter took place today between a sheriff’s posse, commanded by Hon. Don Caffery, the Attakapas Rangers, under Capt. Cade, and a crowd of negro strikers. Several of the strikers were apprehended and others were ordered to disperse. They resisted, and an engagement ensued, in which several of the negroes were killed.”
The next day the same paper’s account (briefed) said; “Strikers were ordered to disperse; refused; fired upon by posse; four killed, one severely wounded, two boys hit.” Singularly, all killed were leaders of the K. of L.
Don Caffery, a prominent planter and politician of St. Mary’s, (later U.S. senator) denied commanding the posse, saying that it was Col. E. M. Dubroca, another planter. This was verified.29
Col. Dubroca withdrew with part of the posse, and Caffery, on his own statement, assumed command, and rounded up “rioters.”
The Times-Democrat also reported (on the 5th) that “a few planters have resumed work” at old wages, but that “the strikers have insisted upon their demands for increased pay, which the planters are utterly unable to meet; evictions have become a necessary consequence. They were accomplished peaceably and there was no resistance to the proper authorities. The Picayune had reported to the same effect, and added “No outbreak of any consequence since the ambuscade at Tigerville. Troops ready, but not required.”
Om the same report it was stated that all trouble was due to “futile work of local anarchists,” which term lumped all unionists, socialists, and sympathizers with the strike.
Militia officers steadily denied that any of the troops had fired on the strikers. The “grapevine” account was that 20 strikers had been besieged in a building, and refusing to surrender were fired upon, and all killed. Press reports stated that they had assembled in front of a negro saloon, and were fired upon when they refused to disperse. Subsequent reports all tended to confirm the “grapevine,” and not the press accounts.
THIBODEAUX’S GORY DEBACLE
Headlines from the Times-Democrat, November 24 th:—
“Riot at Thibodeaux:” “Pickets Guarding Town Attacked by Negroes:” “Two White Men Seriously Injured—Fire Returned by an Armed Guard and Citizens:” “Six Negroes Killed Outright, and Four Dying of Wounds!” The text stated the fighting began at dawn, 5 A.M. Wednesday; but a day later the same paper reported in contradictory terms: “Monday night some unknown persons went to Franklin’s coffee-house where there were some negroes playing cards. The negroes made an attack upon the whites, when firing was commenced, resulting in the shooting and killing of two negroes, with one painfully wounded.”
This account bears out the grapevine report we received that the shooting began at six o’clock in the evening, and not at dawn. We lived 25 miles below Thibodeaux, and my uncle, noting an uneasy stir among the men, called “Uncle” George Jones, fireman of the kettles, and asked what the trouble was. (This was about 9 P.M.)
“News has come,” said Uncle George, “that a terrible riot has broken out in Thibodeaux. The shooting began about six o’clock, and is still going on.” Reports the next day confirmed the statement.
It will never be known how many were killed and wounded in this massacre; at the time the number of killed and wounded was estimated at between 500 and 600, including a few women, accidently mistaken for men. All night long the shooting went on, excited planters and their allies losing all control of themselves. It was said that crack shots would take a man they believed a ringleader in the strike to the railroad tracks, place him ten paces ahead of them, give him a chance to “run for your life,” and he would be riddled with bullets before he had gone two leaps!
New made graves were reported found in the woods around Thibodeaux for weeks afterwards. Two other uncles of mine lived two miles south of Thibodeaux, and the following morning they found a dead man in the road near their yard. The heavy casualties given by grapevine are utterly at variance with the press accounts, but the writer has talked with many men at or near the scene, and never met one who questioned its (the grapevine’s) accuracy. In fact, many who took part in the massacre boasted of “putting the black bastards and white anarchists in their place.”
So ended, in blood and terror, the first attempt to organize and strike the Sugar Bowl.
(Note: Other than the grapevine, all statements here are from two New Orleans papers, the Picayune and the Times-Democrat, since merged, and now the Times-Picayune.
HIGHLIGHTS, AFTERMATH, AND POLITICS
The bitterness between the embattled forces was intense. The planters had been certain that their childlike and hitherto submissive and lovable Negroes would not turn against “01’ Massa,” nor listen to anarchistic outside agitators. Nevertheless, declaring “We will never submit to anyone dictating our business,” they prepared for the struggle. When it came the Planters’ Association in all parishes was ready and determined to crush the Knights, cost what it might.
At the time the entire country was in turmoil. Miners, railroad workers and many others were striking and being violently resisted, both by employers and government. The “Chicago Anarchists,” the first martyrs to the eight-hour day, had been convicted and hanged. The press in Louisiana, as elsewhere, was filled with pitiless gloating over the execution, and thus reacted not only against the sugar strikers, but the entire labor movement. This was the setting of the strike. It was not strange that violence occurred in the Sugar Bowl, or that the Planters’ Associations were more culpable than were the Knights of Labor.
The worst terror was in Lafourche Parish, mainly in and around the parish-seat, Thibodeaux. Judge Taylor Beattie, elected as a Republican, ruthlessly led the forces of “law and order,” showing no mercy to strikers, white or colored.
Sanctuary or protection under law was denied those interdicted. The Picayune reported that Sol Williams, “a loud-mouthed agitator and leader of the strikers, came to town, sought the sheriff, and wished to surrender. The sheriff told him he could not protect him as there were no charges against him and moreover the jail was not strong enough to protect him. Williams left, swam Bayou Lafourche, and took to the swamps on the other side. It is not probable that he will ever return to Thibodeaux.
Again: “At nine o’clock tonight it was learned by the authorities that an attack was contemplated on the jail in which the Cox brothers, two of the leading strikers, were confined for protection. The two were freed, and made their escape over Bayou Lafourche. The object of the attack was to get possession of the two black men to lynch them.”
And then this: “Enoch Adams, also a promoter of the disturbance, who is at large, will be sought and if found will suffer the same penalty.”
Day by day came the news of strikers firing on strike-breakers, but during the whole period only one white man, a picket in Thibodeaux, was reported as seriously wounded. All dead were colored and unionmen though many whites were active members of the Knights.
Far more were killed and wounded than given in press reports. I talked with many who took part in the riots at Thibodeaux, and all had no hesitancy about killing “niggers.” In fact they were inclined to boast about it; they had played a part in “teaching the niggers and agitators a lesson they would never forget.”
Though the strike had been lost, in 1888 field wages were raised to 75 cents per day for men, though rations were cut. . . .
The defeat of the Knights was utter and complete. Since the debacle of the Knights in 1887 no other labor organization has attempted to unionize the Sugar Bowl. Today (1945) the workers on plantations and in the refineries are still very low priced labor.
Covington Hall, “Labor Struggles in the Deep South,” unpublished manuscript, 30 Howard Tilton Library, Tulane University.
Monday, January 25, 1886
Cld. foggy - C1. To store with Mr. B. for mail. Wrote Betsy (in rep.) No. 3.
Mr. Turcuit of Ar. writes that all his neighbors are paying 75 cts. & he is losing his hands. Mr. B. wrote him to stick to 65 for the present. He telephoned to Capt. Murray to stand by him. Murray replies that he fears they cannot get hands for 65. It seems all planters in St. J. on both sides of river are paying 75.
O. G. commenced ploughing for Corn. C1. also - in afternoon. Walked on Levee in aft.
Friday, January 29, 1886
C1 – cld – cld. pleasant. Talked with hands at St. J. ab’t wages. Told them there was neither rhyme nor reason for raising wages (from 65 cts last yr’s rate – to 75 ct) & tried to explain to them that at present very cheap prices of meat, flour &c (lower than for years) & which art’s we furnish them at cost – 65 cts. goes further than 80 cts. did a year or two ago. But made no impression on them. Then talked with hands of F. & B. Ar. to the same effect & with no better success. Every other planter in the neighborhood is paying 75 cts. Hence we are in a very tight place. We lose all of our best hands & will not be able to get them back of course, as long as they can get 75 cts. from others. Those that we may get at 65 cts. will be the refuse – trifling hands, who will work badly & grudgingly & will doubtless – most of them – have to [be] sent off in consequence. But Mr. Beirne seems determined not to pay 75 cts.
Friday, February 5, 1886
Cl – cold – del. 26° – 44°. To N.H. & As. with Sally on 10:30 A.M. boat & ret’d on 4 P.M. boat.
N. H. Topping st. with 25 two mule plgs. Commenced planting on 2nd. Planted about 10 A. Has from Corn Boat 4000 bu. As. Topping st. with 10 four mule plgs. As Scraping with 8 hoes. As. planted 5 A. on the 2nd. Has from Corn Boat 4000 bu.
Surprised on my return to hear from Mr. B. that he had determined to raise wages on all his places from 56 to 75 cts. Emissaries from Lawless at Southwood have been drawing away our hands by paying the higher wages than 65 & offering Corn patches besides. We are told Corn patches are allowed hands at the Ben Tureaud place, Mr. Cofield, the McCall’s &c. This is fully equivalent to 10 cts. additional.
Monday, February 8, 1886
Cl – del – To Riv. Ploughing for Corn & opening furrows & preparing to plant Cane this afternoon. To Don. Commenced planting Cane (10 hands) C1. Ploughing for Corn & hauling Corn from boat. To have 5500 bu.
Managers from As. & N. H. come to say that hands refuse to work – although wages have been raised to 75 cts – unless they continue to be paid every fortnight – instead of from time to time, whenever a hand has “made 20 dys,” as is the custom here. Mr. B. agrees to their terms.
To Con. in aft. with Mr. B. Topping st. & planting Cane. Con. to have 4000 bu. of Corn. To haul it tomorrow. To O. G. Planting Cane.
Wednesday, July 14, 1886
Cl – 90°. Went to don’ville to meet Gen’l Brent by request.
The Negroes at Mount Houmas & Southwood are having secret drilling at night & some apprehension has been felt in consequence. Managers have not been able to find out what is in the wind. A Major Ramsey in N. O. said to be at the bottom of it. Radicals organizing for political campaign, no doubt.
Fog – c1 – del – 46° – 77°. To Lower Places by Miss. V.R.R. with Hamilton. On arrival there got a dispatch from Jno. Tucker asking me to come up as the hands on N. H. & As. had all struck. Went to Don’ville on 10:20 A.M. train & drove to N. H. Assembled hands & made them a speech in which I tried to convince them of the unreasonableness & unfairness of their demand for $1.25 a day & .50 cts. a watch, & told them we would not increase the pay agreed upon at the beginning of grinding—viz. $1. a day & .50 cts. a watch. Called to see Mr. Richard McCall on whose place hands had also struck. He & Henry McCall & Godchaux & Lemman all bind themselves not to yield to the demand for increased wages. Ret’d home on 3 P.M. Ferry boat. Hamilton ret’d from St. J. on 6–i/2 P.M. train.
Wednesday, November 16, 1887
Fog – cl – del – 47°. To Cl. Grinding. All right. Mr. Jim Tucker thinks there is no danger of a strike on these places – as do Mr. Cochrane – Booth & Brand – from conversations they have had with negroes.
Thursday, November 17, 1887
Fog – C1 – C1d – R. at n’t. To Riv. All right. Bagasse fair –
To Don. All right. Bagasse first rate. To Cl. All right. Bagasse tolerable. Mr. Branch from Don’ville reports strike over at N. H. & As. & all hands at work today. The great majority of the hands were opposed to it, & were forced into it by a few. These latter we will “spot” & get rid of as soon as convenient.
Wrote Mr. B. announcing the strike & its termination & what I had done in the matter. No. 24. Wrote Nancy (in rep.) No. 25.
Mr. Garnett of Demerara came with a letter of introduction from Mr. Slack of Washington. He is a very large Sugar Planter in Demerara & is much interested in “diffusion”—& will go to Gov. Warmoth’s to see the experiments instituted by the U.S. Gov’t there. Took him to O. G. & Con. & Cl. in afternoon. On the estate upon which he resides they make 11,000,000 lbs. of Sugar & have a Vacuum Pan of the capacity of 100,000 lbs. They use fertilizers freely. They weigh every 1g. of Coal that they use & utilize all exhaust steam. Yet they make little or no money. Their profits last year were only $15,000 or 3,000.
The William Porcher Miles Diary, Vol. 21, typed copy from manuscript, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The Knights and the Laborers
BERWICK, La., Oct. 28.—Editor Picayune: In the T.D. of the 27th an article appears headed: “Strike of Sugar Laborers,” and purporting to be an interview with a planter from the Teche. The article in some respects is misleading, in that it says no price for work was requested when the present rate was adopted by the Sugar Planters’ Association.
Please to insert in your paper the two inclosed communications, which will testify as to whether the Knights of Labor made any attempt to amicably arrange scale of wages prior to the planters’ meeting whereat they fixed the wages.
B. W. SCOTT
Communication sent to the St. Mary Branch of the Sugar Planters’ Association, Aug. 22, 1887:
To the St. Mary Branch of the Sugar Planters’ Association: Gentlemen—
The executive board of District Assembly No. 194 would be pleased at any time or place prior to the grinding season to meet with a committee appointed by your association to make some amicable arrangement of a question in which both planters and laborers are equally interested.
The probability of the coming grinding being the most prosperous of any experienced for several years by this parish, and any misunderstanding between employer and employe at such a time would be of incalculable injury to the prosperity of planters and laborers and the public of the parish in general, therefore this board in behalf of the labor acknowledging its actions, would earnestly request that your association appoint a committee of ten with equal powers as this board to meet as aforesaid.
The executive board of District Assembly 194, K. of L., consists of ten members, and any arrangements or obligations entered into by said board will be sustained by four-fifths of the labor in the parish. Most fraternally Submitted,
B. W. SCOTT, Secretary.
Answer from Planters’ Association:
FRANKLIN, La., Sept. 2.—Mr. B. W. Scott: Dear Sir—As secretary of this association I have no reply to make to your communication of Aug. 22. As a matter of courtesy and politeness, however, I write to say that your letter was read and discussed in executive session and by a unanimous vote of the members present it was laid on the table.
I am very respectfully yours,
JOHN A. O’NEILL
New Orleans Daily Picayune, October 29, 1887.
The Demand of the Negroes for Higher Wages
An Official Communication—A Healthy Opposition to Extreme Measures
The Planters of Terrebonne Refuse to Submit to the Exactions
A General Strike on Tuesday Probable
A prominent lawyer of this city, who is largely interested in planting in Lafourche, has returned from a visit to his place in that parish, and reports everything quiet and prosperous. Concerning the recent labor troubles in that section of country the gentleman says that it is impossible for the negroes to succeed in a strike for the reason that they are dependent on the planters for their living.
While in Lafourche parish the gentleman was shown a circular letter, copies of which had been forwarded to all the planters of the parish. The circular reads as follows:
THIBODEAUX, La., Oct. 24.—To the Sugar Planters, Parish of Lafourche, La.: Gentlemen—Whereas, District Assembly 194 of Knights of Labor of North America at their district meeting, held Oct. 19, 1887, at Morgan City, La., unanimously agreed upon a scale of wages for this grinding season for its jurisdiction, which comprises the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia and St. Martin:
And whereas, said rate of wages is $1.25 per day without board or $1 and board and 60 cents for watch, board or no board; watch money to be paid every week and day money every two weeks; no pasteboard to be accepted in compensation for labor;
Therefore, it is resolved by this joint local executive board, representing the Knights of Labor of the parish of Lafourche, That the sugar planters of said parish are hereby petitioned in behalf of the common laborers to pay their laborers at the times specified the said rates of hire, and that it commence from date of agreement.
It is further resolved, That should this demand be considered exorbitant by the sugar planters, that we ask them to submit such information with reason therewith to this board not later than Saturday, Oct. 29 inst., or appoint a special committee to confer with this board on said date.
J. H. Bailey, president joint local
executive board, K. of L., Joseph A. Clairville, vice president; Gabriel Edward, secretary.. Members: J. R. H. Foot, D. Monnier and J. Dixon delegates to Thibodeaux local Assembly, Thibodeaux, La. J. M. Ricard, O. Rousseau, Geo. Cox and Jacob Turner, delegates of Excelsior, La., Thibodeaux, La., Henry Franklin, Nathan Cambridge, Washington Whitby, Gustave Antoine, delegates of Longneville, La. Lockport, Charles August, Lenzy Ingram, Jessie Ingram and Frank Coleman, delegates of Morning Glory, La., Harangville, La.
A true copy:
In Terrebonne parish matters were conducted on a somewhat different plan. The negroes would congregate on the plantations and appoint committees of three, one member of which could read and write, and the committee would notify the planters substantially of the points contained in the above circular.
The planters, on their side, paid no attention to the circulars and messages; leaving it optional with the negroes to work or not. On many places the negroes struck and the plantation continued its operations shorthanded, and it was not long before the negroes returned to work.
Action of the Planters at Houma.
SCHRIEVER, La., Oct. 29.—[Special]—At the request of a committee purporting to represent the laborers of Terrebonne, the sugar planters met in Houma to try and adjust the trouble. They agreed to make the concession of 60 cents a watch, instead of 50 cents as now paid, day wages of $1 to remain as before.
They replied that after a careful deliberation of the proposition advanced by the committee they had decided not to depart from the scale of wages as submitted by the district executive board, which was attached, until they were authorized to do so by proper authority.
The scale of wages submitted throughout the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia and St. Martin to take effect at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1887, are: $1.25 per day without board, or $1 per day with board, and 60 cents a watch, money to be paid once a week, and day money once every two weeks, no pasteboard to be accepted as compensation for labor.
It was unanimously resolved to refuse their demand, therefore a strike is expected on Tuesday, and it is feared trouble will grow out of it.
FRANKLIN, La., Oct. 29.—[Special]—The rumors which have been rife for some days that a strike was to be inaugurated by the Knights of Labor in this and adjacent parishes, are now known to be well founded, and that a general strike has been ordered for Monday by the executive board of the district, comprising the parishes of St. Mary, Iberia, St. Martin, Terrebonne and Lafourche.
In view of this action the Sugar Planters Association of this parish has called a meeting for tomorrow, Sunday, at noon, of all planters of the parish, to discuss the situation and personally to adopt a course of procedure if a strike takes place.
It is known that the order of the executive board is opposed by some of the assemblies to this vicinity, on the ground that such a course is uncalled for, unjust, ruinous to the planter and to the laborer and demoralizing in its effect upon both.
A meeting of the assembly of knights of labor of this place it is learned is also to be held tomorrow, and it is said that an earnest protest will be made against the strike by the assembly.
NEW IBERIA, La., Oct. 29—[Special]—The news of the labor troubles in Terrebonne parish, as announced in yesterday’s papers, was the source of some surprise, and has been the cause of considerable comment. No feeling, however, is manifested in any quarter. Our city has been filled with country people all day, and our tradesmen have been doing a land-office business.
District court adjourned sine die, today, after a busy session. Judge Mouton takes the bench at St. Martinsville on Monday next.
ABBEVILLE, La., Oct. 29.—[Special].—The sugar planters are all or nearly at work rolling and boiling, and all agree in the statement to the effect that the yield is excellent—surprisingly so; no one expected such a large yield.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, October 30, 1887.
THE PLANTERS UNITED AND DETERMINED NOT TO YIELD
Knights of Labor Who Protest Against the Order to Strike Laborers to Supply the Vacancies
A Mass Meeting of Planters Refuse to Accede to the Demands for an Increase of Wages
THIBODEAUX, La., Oct. 30.—[Special.]—The following resolutions were adopted by a large meeting of influential people of this parish today. The meeting was presided over by Judge Taylor Beattie and Hon. E. A. Sullivan acting as secretary. Our people are quiet, but determined to enforce the law and preserve quiet:
Whereas, a committee of people claiming to represent a secret organization, have called upon the planters of Lafourche to accede to certain demands as to the rate of wages and the manner of payment and whereas, it is publicly asserted that unless these demands are acceded to not only will the members of the secret order refuse to work in accordance with their contracts, but any other people willing to work will be prevented by force and arms by the secret organization from so doing, and the property of the good people of this parish withheld by force from the possession and enjoyment of the same:
Resolved, That we hereby pledge ourselves, one and all, to meet this trouble as good men and law-abiding citizens, and that to that end we hereby tender ourselves to the sheriff and other constituted authorities to obey any and all calls upon us to assist in carrying out the law, and that our names be at once furnished to the sheriff that he may call upon us in the event of necessity for our services.
Resolved, That the present depressed condition of the sugar interest of our state forces us to decline to accede to any demand for an increase of wages, and that we hereby bind ourselves, one and all, to refuse to in any way recognize the body of men who have represented themselves as a committee appointed by a secret organization.
Resolved, That all law-abiding citizens, irrespective of position or occupation, or of race or color, are called upon to join us in carrying out the plain behests of the written law of the land.
Resolved, That if any laborers are discharged from the plantation upon which they are now at work, or if any such discharge themselves by refusing to work, we pledge ourselves to give them no employment; that all people discharged for refusal to work be required to leave the plantation within twenty-four hours, and on refusal to obey that the powers of the law be involved to assist the owners of property in the enjoyment of their rights of property.
Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that an emergency has arisen which requires that the governor be called upon to furnish militia to aid in enforcing the law, and to prevent bloodshed and violence, and that the sheriff of the parish be requested to call upon the governor for the aid of some recognized military organization.
The Local Assembly of Knights of Labor Protest Against a Strike—The Sugar Planters Agree to Resist the Strike
FRANKLIN, La., Oct. 30.—[Special].—The strike ordered for Nov. 1 by authority of the Knights of Labor is the all engrossing topic of conversation, and a large number of planters and others interested in the sugar culture are in town for the purpose of attending the meeting called by the Sugar Planters’ Association and also a large number of the Knights of Labor opposed to the order.
A meeting of the Assembly No. 6295 was held this morning and the following protest was adopted by a unanimous vote after a full and free discussion of the situation:
Whereas, a general strike to take effect Nov. 1 has been ordered by the district executive board of District Assembly No. 194, which if carried into effect will operate most disastrously for the interest of both planters and laborers; and, whereas, this action is uncalled for at this time and is equally unjust to the laborer and to the planter in view of the present cordial relations existing between them, and no legal complaints having been made to warrant or justify such steps: therefore, be it
Resolved, That we, the members of Local Assembly No. 6295, Knights of Labor, enter this our earnest protest against the action of the district executive board in ordering a strike at this time, deeming such a course unwise and impolitic, and as tending to the utter destruction of the present crop of sugar, the impoverishment of the laborer and the ruin of the planting interest, and its enforcement will bring only misery and distress upon all laboring classes of the community. We further protest against the order for the reason that this assembly was practically unrepresented in the district board when the order was issued, and we cannot but believe that a majority of the actual laborers composing the membership of the local assemblies of this district will coincide with this assembly in protesting against the order as wholly unjustifiable and uncalled for under the present circumstances
This protest and resolutions were reported by a committee of knights composed of Dr. M. V. Richard, A. G. Frere, B. F. Harris, F. C. Douglas and Fred Marsh.
The planters’ meeting assembled at 12 o’clock, Dr. H. J. Sanders presiding and John A. O’Neill secretary.
After a full and exhaustive discussion of the situation a committee consisting of Hon. Don Caffery, L. S. Clarke, J. M. Burguires, O. D. Berwick and T. J. Foster reported the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, 1. That the planters and employers of labor in the parish of St. Mary will not recognize nor pay heed or respect to the demands of any organization in respect to the wages they should pay their laborers nor the method of payment.
Second—That the planters of St. Mary hereby solemnly bind themselves each to the other to stand together in this emergency, and under no circumstances to increase the wages they are now paying.
Third—That the strikers on any plantation shall be ordered to leave, and such steps will be taken as will ensure the execution of the order.
Fourth—That in the event of a strike, and other labor is to be introduced, such price will be paid as the planters will among themselves agree to, and a uniformity of price is to be arranged at a period as near as possible.
Fifth—That we each and everyone hereby bind ourselves in case of a strike to carefully note the strikers, a list of whom is to be sent to every other planter, and under no circumstances to employ a striker.
Sixth—That we deny the right of any laborer to violate his contract and to demand more wages than those stipulated to be paid him for sugar-making, and we counsel him to faithfully abide by his contracts for wages which insure a good living while doubtfully yielding the planter a profit, and that after the planters have employed laborers during the whole cultivation of the crop, it is flagrantly unjust and illegal to demand extortionate wages to harvest the same.
A SUPPLY OF LABORERS
In Town Enroute from Vicksburg
Mr. F. M. Welch of Jeanerette, La., arrived in the city last night from Vicksburg, bringing a carload of negroes to take the places of the striking cutters on the sugar farms in the Attakapas country. Mr. Welch was seen by a Picayune reporter, and stated that he found plenty of idle labor in Mississippi, and that there would be no trouble in supplying the places of the striking knights with labor from the Mississippi valley country. He goes over to Jeanerette this morning. In speaking of the strike he said that trouble would be had if the strikers interfered with labor. “The planters were determined,” he said, “that there should be no interference with men who did not belong to the Knights of Labor lodge, and if any concessions are to be made it must come from the labor side.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, October 31, 1887.
The Negro Laborers Quit Work and Ordered Off the Plantations
The Planters Determined to Stand Their Ground
Beanham’s Battery on Duty at Thibodaux—A Possibility of Trouble Today
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 1.—[Special].—Battery B of the Louisiana Field Artillery, with Capt. W. H. Beanham commanding.
IN OBEDIENCE TO ORDERS
No. 3 from General Glynn, commanding the National Guard of Louisiana, arrived here today at 4 o’clock with the following roster:
Captain W. H. Beanham, First Lieutenant H. B. Thompson, First Junior Lieutenant J. Reynolds, Second Lieutenant F. M. Ziegler, First Sergeant E. Uter, Sergeants M. D. McLaughlin, F. Danzereau, G. B. Hamilton, Corporals J. D. D’Hemecourt, W. Schriver and H. J. Cumpsten, and Privates T. L. Connell, M. Fenlihan, H. M. Nugent, C. J. Fenn, R. Smith, G. Stork, M. Levy, F. Keefe, J. G. Kimble, J. T. Skelly, G. Grandmann and J. Duenas. General Pierce, quartermaster general, accompanied the troops.
On the arrival here they were met by a company of citizens and about 2,000 negroes were on the platforms and around the depot to see what demonstrations they would first make.
Judge Beattie met the company at the depot and they were at once marched to the courthouse where the Clay Knobloch Guards were quartered. Tonight they were detailed to quarters and to guard the town from any insurrection of the negroes.
The town is full of excitement. Today was the day ordered for the strike and a general suspension of all hands on the sugar plantations of Lafourche and Terrebonne took place this morning.
The trouble between the planters and the laborers has been brewing for a month. The knights of Labor demanded more wages paid for all classes of labor than the planters were competent to pay. Their business would not justify the wages ordered by the lodge, and they were notified that no concessions would be made on their part.
Upon this notification the Knights of Labor met on the 24th of October and adopted the following resolutions:
To the Sugar Planters, parish of Lafourche, La., Gentlemen:
Whereas, District Assembly No. 194 of Knights of Labor of North America, at their district meeting held Oct. 19, 1887, at Morgan City, La., unanimously agreed upon a scale of wages for this grinding season for its jurisdiction, which comprises the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia, and St. Martin; and whereas, said rate of wages is $1.25 per day without board or $1 and board, and 60 cents for watch, board or no board, watch money to be paid every week and day money every two weeks, no pasteboard to be accepted in compensation for labor; therefore it is
Resolved by this joint local executive board, representing the Knights of Labor of the parish of Lafourche, That the sugar planters of said parish are hereby petitioned in behalf of the common laborers to pay their laborers at the times specified the said rates of hire, and that it commence from date of agreement. It is further
Resolved, That should this demand be considered exorbitant by the sugar planters, we ask them to submit such information with reason therewith to this board not later than Saturday, Oct. 29th inst., or appoint a special committee to confer with this board on said date.
J. H. BAILEY,
President Joint Local Executive Board, K. of L.
JOSEPH A. CLAIRVILLE,
J. R. H. Foot, D. Monnier, J. Dixon, Delegates of Thibodaux Local Assembly, Thibodaux, La.
J. M. Ricard, O. Rousseau, Geo. Cox, Jacob Turner, Delegates of Excelsior Local Assembly, Thibodaux, La.
Henry Franklin, Nathan Cambridge, Washington Whitley, Gustave Antoine, Delegates of Louqueville Local Assembly, Lockport.
Charles August, Lenzy Ingram, Jesse Ingram, Frank Coleman, Delegates of Morning Glory Local Assembly, Harrangville, La.
A true copy:
The planters paid no attention to this communication, and as today was the limit all of those belonging to this order went out on a strike.
It is intimated that over 10,000 laborers in this district quit work this morning.
On the E. J. Gay place, three miles from here, about two-thirds of the laborers quit this morning, but a sufficient force was gathered to go on with the cutting and grinding. Colonel Andrew Price, the manager, states that he will have no trouble in gathering a sufficient force by Thursday to resume all operations.
On Major C. Lazard’s plantation there is no working at all. Judge Sullivan, a son-in-law of Major Lagarde, left for the plantation at Lockport today to see if he could gather a force to begin work.
It is reported on the street tonight that one of the managers of a plantation was badly beaten by the negro strikers today, and his recovery is doubtful. His name could not be ascertained.
On Trosclaire and Robishaux plantations 75 of the 100 hands stopped work this morning. They were all members of the Knights of Labor and threaten to oppose any demonstration made to oust them from their cabins. Trouble is anticipated there tomorrow.
On Judge E. D. White’s place all the hands suspended labor this morning, and upon orders from the manager to leave the place they refused to do so. Charges of trespass were preferred against them and Sheriff Thibodaux and Deputy Frost went out to arrest them. Upon hearing of the sheriff’s coming all of them skipped out except John Ballard and Phillip T. Dickson, who were arrested and brought to jail. They were released on bail of $100 this evening, their colored friends going on their bond.
The most vicious and unruly set of negroes are at the Allen plantation. The leader of them said today that no power on earth could remove them unless they were moved as corpses. The time given them for departure expires tomorrow morning, and if they are still there the militia will be called upon to expel them.
One of the leaders of the strikers said today that the white people had never met the negroes united before—that they had been heretofore disorganized when unjust demands had been made them by the whites; now he said they defied all of the militia of the state; they were right, he thought, in this movement, and every one of his 400 members would die before they would concede one point to the planters. There is a meeting of the striking knights going on in town tonight, but the object of it cannot be understood. A great deal of whisky-drinking has been going on among them all day, and maddened by drink and defeat, it is feared that they will attempt devilment before daylight.
The Picayune reporter interviewed L. C. Aubert, master workman of white Assembly No. 10499. He said that when they received the circular from the district assembly his lodge met and voted unanimously against the strike. He was called upon to advise and consult with the colored assembly as to what course to pursue. They would listen to no suggestion of his and were bent on a strike at all hazards. When he saw he was opposed and even censured for his action he immediately resigned from the Knights of Labor lodge. He thinks that evil-minded persons have instigated the strike.
Henry Cox, a prominent colored Knight of Labor man, was seen late tonight. He declares that the order has been to counsel peace and refrain from amything that would bring about trouble; that is what he is saying to outsiders, but it is generally believed he is doing more incendiary work then anyone else.
By tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock every one quartered on the plantations who refuses to work will be ejected by the militia. Serious trouble is then expected all over the country, as the negroes generally are stubborn and disposed to stand their ground.
The planters held a meeting yesterday at the courthouse and adopted resolutions indorsing the governor’s action in responding to their call for troops. They declared that they would never yield to the unjust and exorbitant demands of the colored knights and pledged their aid to the sheriff to quell all disturbances arising from the strike. Both sides seem determined and manifestly there is an irreconcilable difference between them.
Battery C is quartered at Frost’s Hotel, where they are being royally treated by the citizens.
Quartermaster General Pierce, who accompanies the artillery, received orders this evening to assume control of all state troops between Berwick’s Bay and New Orleans.
Action of the Sugar Planters—They Will Maintain Their Position at Every Risk
FRANKLIN, La., Oct. 30.—[Special]—The sugar planters and others interested in the plantations in Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia and St. Martin parishes held a meeting today to discuss and take action on the notices that have lately been served on planters in that section of country. Dr. Henry J. Sanders presided, and Mr. J. A. O’Neill was the secretary. The chairman urged all present to adhere to the scale of wages agreed to by the Sugar Planters’ Association which is $1 per day and 50 cents per watch of 6 hours at night.
Mr. Daniel Thompson submitted a notice which he had received on him and other planters. “It reads: Scale of wages submitted throughout the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia and St. Martin, to take effect at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, 1887—$1.25 per day without board, or $1 per day with board, and 60 cents for watch; watch money to be paid once a week and day money once every two weeks. No pasteboard to be accepted as compensation for labor.”
Hon. Don Caffery, Mr. Murphy J. Foster and Mr. G. G. Walker addressed the meeting on the subject. They all claimed that the planters had voluntarily adopted a rate of wages that was conceded to be fair and just to both planter and laborer, and therefore the strike was not opportune.
A committee composed of Don Caffery, L. S. Clarke, J. M. Burguieres, O. D. Berwick and T. J. Foster reported the following resolutions, which were adopted:
Whereas, the laborers of the parish of St. Mary are entirely satisfied with the price paid them for sugar-making wages and have not directly made any demand for higher wages: and
Whereas, a large number of planters have been notified, through agents or representatives of the Knights of Labor, that throughout the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, St. Mary, Iberia, and St. Martin the scale of wages will be, on and after Tuesday, 6 a.m. Nov.l, 1887, $1.25 per day and 60 cents per watch, without board; and $1 per day and 60 cents per watch with board; and Whereas, the price now paid to the laborers by the planters is as much as the business will warrant; therefore, be it
First—Resolved, That the planters and employers of labor in the parish of St. Mary will not recognize nor pay any heed or respect to the demands of any organization in respect to the wages they should pay their laborers nor the methods of their payment.
Second—That the planters of St. Mary hereby solemnly bind themselves each to the other to stand together in this emergency, and under no circumstances to increase the wages they are now paying.
Third—That the strikers on any plantation shall be ordered to leave, and such steps will be taken as will insure the execution of the order.
Fourth—That in the event of a strike and other labor is to be introduced, such price will be paid as the planters will, among themselves, agree to, and a uniformity of price is to be arrived at, as near as possible.
Fifth—That we each and every one, hereby bind ourselves in case of a strike to carefully note the strikers, a list of whom is to be sent to every other planter, and under no circumstances to employ a striker.
Sixth—That we deny the right of any laborer to violate his contract, and to demand more wages than those stipulated to be paid him for sugar-making, and we counsel him to faithfully abide by contracts for wages which insure him a good living, while doubtfully yielding the planter a profit, and that after the planters have employed laborers during the whole cultivation of the crop, it is flagrantly unjust and illegal to demand extortionate wages to harvest the same.
The following planters signed the resolutions: Dr. Henry J. Sanders, chairman; A. J. Decuir, F. H. Williams, J. N. Pharr, Murphy J. Foster, for self and as agent; Eugene Bodin, Caaries C. Palfrey, E. M. Dubroes, D. Caffery Thomas J. Foster, J. D. Capren, E. Scannel, C. S. Palm, S. R. Gay, Boss & Thompson, Joseph Bing, H. C. Rose, D. R. Calder, Daniel Thompson, for Calumet plantation and also for Alice plantation; A. Short, R. Habert, Millard Bosworth, L. S. Clark & Bro., Rivers & Bidstrup, N. K. Todd, James C. Mahon, F. Lagemann, J. M. Burguieres, B. F. Queen, W. W. Johnson, Marsh Bros., O. D. Berwick, W. Schwann, W. P. Kemper, Mrs. E. D. Burguieres, per Viguerle; Hubert Delhaye; J. B. Chaffe, for John Chaffe; Robert R. Cocke, for Lyon & Cocke; W. H. Wills, T. Bellissein, Geo. W. Whitworth, G. G. Walker, John B. Marsh, C. E. Gillis, for Andrew Price; C. P. Bennings, for Des Ligne and Saule plantations.
The secretary was requested to send copies of the resolutions to Col. J. H. Oglesby and John Henderson, Jr. of New Orleans, and to the Messrs. Pecote of Indian Bend, in order to obtain the indorsement and co-operation of these gentlemen.
On motion of Hon. D. Caffery, the secretary was appointed a committee of one to provide that a dinner be given to the members of the St. Mary branch of the Louisiana Sugar Planters’ Association, on Dec. 30, 1887, on which day the officers for the ensuing year will be elected.
The meeting adjourned sine die.
NO TROUBLE SO FAR
MORGAN CITY, La., Nov. 1—[Special]—No developments of importance regarding the labor question in this vicinity. Dr. Darrall and all planters on Bayou Boeuf have ceased working. The laborers struck at 6 o’clock this morning and are still out with no apparent probability of an early adjustment.
One or two plantations between this place and Pattersonville are working short-handed. There has been no trouble, and it is to be hoped there will not be any in this place, and but few strange faces are seen on the streets.
The militia company in our town have orders to hold themselves in readiness for active duty.
Two Companies of Soldiers on Duty
NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 1.—[Special]—A call was made for armed forces by Messrs. Gay, Boss & Thompson, and Colonel Wills, large sugar planters below here. In their telegram it was stated that laborers who were willing to work were threatened by the strikers.
Captain C. T. Cade, of the Attakapas Rangers, received orders to proceed at once with a necessary force to preserve order to Boss & Thompson’s plantation. He left here with a detachment of the Iberia Guards under Lieutenant H. P. Gates and a detachment of the Attakapas Rangers, numbering in all thirty-three men.
Tonight your correspondent learns that orders have been received to hold the rest of the two companies and the gun detachment in readiness for a moment’s call.
The Strike Inaugurated in the Lower Teche District
PATTERSONVILLE, La., Nov. 1.—[By Associated Press.]—A general strike among the sugar-making hands was inaugurated this morning on the lower Teche in the district between Bartel’s station and Morgan City. All places above Grandwood are still at work, and all places below and including Grandwood are either idle or working with a few white hands.
The planters are to unite in resisting the demands of the strikers, and they have no doubt whatever about the result.
There is a feeling of intense bitterness throughout the district against certain prominent leaders who have urged up the strike, and if the matter is not promptly settled there is no estimating what the final result will be.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 2, 1887.
The situation in the sugar district has grown more serious in the last few days. There was, at first, a disposition on the part of some of the “reform” papers to think that Gov. McEnery had acted hastily in sending the militia to St. Mary and Terrebonne to suppress, they pretended, a labor movement there.
As the situation has become threatening there they have changed their tune, and now that the telegraph brings news of four white men shot down while peaceably working by negroes they are ready to acknowledge the wisdom of the Governor in this matter.
Gov. McEnery has had much experience of the negro character, and was, therefore, able to appreciate the danger threatened by the condition of affairs in the Teche country. His experience in North Louisiana had shown him how dangerous the negro may become when excited, filled with whisky and incited to deeds of violence by incendiary addresses. He saw this in the political campaign in North Louisiana, in which he was a participant; he saw there violence of all kinds, outrages on defenseless women, incendiary fires, murder and rapine, committed by drunken and frenzied negroes, and he determined that there should be no chance of this in the sugar district, but that peace and order should be preserved by the troops. There was no question of labor in this matter. The militia were not ordered to Terrebonne and Lafourche to interfere in any manner with any labor trouble, but simply to prevent violence, which was threatened, by bad and dangerous negroes left behind as a relic of Radical days.
The laborers in the sugar district are peaceful and quiet if left to themselves, and are averse to any deeds of violence, but there are a number of negro politicians, left stranded high by the failure of the Republican party, who can make a living only by stirring up trouble and inciting riot. Gov. McEnery’s experience of this class of people was too fresh for him to hesitate as to the action he ought to take in this matter. He recognized that promptness was necessary in order to prevent loss of life and property, and he therefore had the troops ready for that turbulence which his experience had taught him was to be feared from idle and drunken negroes excited by violent appeals to their passions.
Even the “reformers” admit now that the sending of troops to the Teche and Lafourche was opportune and fortunate, and see that the militia were not sent to shoot down people, but to prevent riot, plundering and bloodshed.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 3, 1887.
ENFORCED IDLENESS IN THE SOUTH LOUISIANA SUGAR FIELDS
THE STRIKERS VACATE THEIR CABINS
Four Laborers Shot From Ambush in Terrebonne
Peace and Quiet Maintained as a General Thing
In the Center of the Disturbed Community—The Work of White Mischief-Makers
THIBODAUX, Nov. 2.—[Special]—The situation among the strikers remains unchanged. The sheriff has arrested twelve trespassers today. They offered no resistance and willingly came to the courthouse where they readily gave bond.
The negroes remain firm and are not disposed to yield. On all the plantations there is a practical suspension of all labor.
The negroes had a meeting last night, and it was understood that they decided to remain firm. They sent a courier out at daylight this morning telling all of the strikers to leave the places without resistance. They are leaving as fast as they can, and are being brought into town where they are all dumped together. Every vacant room in town tonight is filled with penniless and ragged negroes. All day long a stream of black humanity poured in, some on foot and others in wagons, bringing all of their earthly possessions which never amounted to more than a frontyard full of babies, dogs and ragged bed-clothing.
Some of the planters extended the time until tomorrow morning for their leaving. On many of the plantations old gray-headed negroes, who were born and have lived continually upon them, left today.
J. R. H. Foote and D. Mounier are two of the prime movers of this uncalled for strike. Foote’s reputation in this community is anything but good—a common laborer, whose highest ambition and aspiration is to guzzle as much beer as he possibly can stand—is the instigator of this entire trouble. There has never been any trouble existing between planter and laborer before this fellow Foote and Mounier came amongst them. There is some talk of their being ordered to leave town, and it is possible they may get their walking papers before this trouble is over with.
The negroes turned out of house and the most of them penniless will be in a starving condition before many days, then they will want work and in time their places will have been filled with imported labor.
Judge White arrived here this morning and left on the noon train for New Orleans. He states that he has about two-thirds of a force on his place and expects to send to Alabama and Mississippi for the balance of the laborers.
On the Allen place, the largest on Bayou Lafourche, the negroes are leaving. Some few refused to go, but warrants were issued for their arrest and all that could be found were captured.
All work on the Godschaux, Allen, Webb, Ridgefield, Gayoso and Lagarde places has been practically suspended. Captain Jno. R. Teeley states that all of his hands have struck.
There has been no disturbance within the immediate vicinity of Thibodaux.
At Tigerville, in Terrebonne parish four laborers were shot by the strikers. The particulars cannot be ascertained, and whether the wounds were fatal or not is not known.
W. S. Benedict wired Captain Beanham here today of the trouble and asked for militia assistance. The matter was referred to Brigadier General Price who ordered the New Iberia Guards to go to the scene. They arrived there this evening.
Mr. C. S. Matthews and Nicholas Foret from Lockport, in this parish arrived here today with a petition to the sheriff praying for protection from a turbulent and armed mob that menaced the planters of their section. Sheriff Thibodaux swore in a number of deputies tonight and they were at once sent down to the scene of trouble. They state that an unruly set of negroes threaten danger and the people of Lockport are much excited. The names of the trespassers were given to Judge Beattie who issued warrants for their arrest.
The manager of the Chatsworth plantation telegraphs that there are no hands working there, and some of them are resisting the authorities.
Landry Odeson and Naquin Emile are the names of the two white men who were arrested today. They gave bond. D. Mounier, who next to this fellow Foote, is stirring up more mischief among the negroes than any one else, was knocked down by Mr. B. A. Wormald. It was thought then that trouble would result, but nothing has been done about it.
A meeting of the planters is called for tomorrow at 1 o’clock, when the situation will be discussed. The town is well patrolled tonight, for there is no telling when trouble is to commence.
Strike at the Oil Mill, but Not in the Sugar Fields
ST. MARTINSVILLE, La., Nov. 2.—[Special]—The laborers of the oil mills here, comprising eight or ten colored men, Knights of Labor, struck this morning. Their grievance was that they were dissatisfied with the two head press men, who are not knights. They called upon Mr. Rousseau, the proprietor of the works, and asked him to discharge the head press men or they would not work with them. Mr. Rousseau refused to discharge his press men and consequently they struck.
Their places in the oil works were immediately filled by white laborers, and the mills are running as usual, with the exception of the ginnery, which will probably be in operation tomorrow.
These laborers, although they are Knights of Labor, are not acting under order of the knights.
A committee called upon the sugar planters yesterday, and matters were arranged to the satisfaction of all, and no strike was ordered at sugar-houses in this parish.
The Hands on Many Places Quit Work but No Outbreak as Yet
FRANKLIN, La., Nov. 2.—[Special]—Advices from the lower part of the parish are to the effect that all work has stopped on the plantation from Centreville to Berwick bay, a distance of twenty miles, with the exception of the plantation of Foos & Barnett, near Centreville.
All is quiet at present, the laborers making no demonstration but refusing to work unless their demands are complied with. The planters on these places have ordered these laborers to leave the premises by Thursday morning and give place to others.
From the upper portion of the parish it is learned that all are at work in full force with the exception of the Eustis plantation, on which all have resumed with the exception of twenty-five who were discharged. These sought work on other places, but were refused, but at least obtained employment on the Stirling plantation, owned by D. McCann of New Orleans.
In response to the telegraph published in the Picayune of today signed “Bud Scott, secretary, District Assembly 149, Knights of Labor,” stating that Local Assembly 6295 was suspended on Oct. 24 for non-payment of dues. Fred C. Marsh, acting secretary of Assembly 6295, says that the dues were paid and the receipt therefore is now in the archives of the assembly.
No Trouble in the Lower End of the Parish, but There May be Today
MORGAN CITY, La., Nov. 2.—[Special]—There is nothing new regarding the strike. I hear that the sheriff went yesterday to evict laborers on the Buckner plantation in the upper end of the parish from this place to Centreville. The mills are quiet. Planters claim they will not yield to the demand, but the laborer is very quiet and has but little to say. There is some dissatisfaction among leading knights in this place and the same exists at Pattersonville. Developments are looked for Thursday, but no reports are current of anticipated trouble.
The weather is very pleasant and cane is becoming sweeter every day.
Moving the Troops to the Scene of Expected Trouble
NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 2.—[Special]—The detachment from the Iberia Guards, under Captain H. P. Gates, returned today from the sugar plantations below here in this parish. They report all quiet, but work suspended or nearly so.
Large numbers of idle negroes are collected in all public places. Many of them are willing to work, but are intimidated by threats of the strikers.
The rangers, a cavalry company, under Captain C. T. Cade, will remain until order is restored.
The strikers are told to decide whether they will work or not; if not, they must vacate the plantation cabins and make room for those willing to work. Many are leaving.
Captain Dudley Avery, of the Iberia Guards, has received orders from General Parkerson to sent thirty men to Terrebonne at once. They are ready to leave, and will on the first train unless other orders are received.
By order of Captain Cade some twelve men of the Attakapas Rangers leave for Jeanerette, to take the place of the departing Guards.
The weather is moderate and very dry, no rain having fallen since the storm of two weeks ago.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 3, 1887.
THE FIRST ACT OF VIOLENCE IN THE SUGAR STRIKE
A Crowd of White Laborers Fired Into by Colored Strikers and Several of Them Wounded—Troops Ordered to Houma
The Strikers Shoot Down Several Men in Terrebonne Parish
TIGERVILLE, Nov. 2.—News reached here this morning of great excitement prevailing on Lacassagne’s Greenwood plantation, about seven miles from this place, up Bayou Black. The strikers interfered with and intimidated the new laborers brought there on yesterday. The strikers shot at them as they went out to work. No one was killed, but several were hurt. All is quiet at this time, the new men having left. No work is doing of consequence. Troops were sent for, but have not as yet arrived.
Four Men Said to Have Been Killed
Special to The Times-Democrat
BATON ROUGE, Nov. 2.—A telegram was received at the Executive Department today from Mr. W. S. Benedict, at Tigerville, Terrebonne parish, stating that the negro strikers had attacked the hands on a sugar plantation near that place and driven them off the place, and also that they had killed four men who had refused to leave the place. Orders for the proper protection of life and property have been given.
Considerable Excitement In the City Over the Shooting of Four Men Near Tigerville.
Considerable excitement was occasioned here yesterday morning by a telegram stating that the strike in Terrebonne parish had resulted in the probably fatal shooting of four white men who had been shipped the day previous from this city to the Lacassagne plantation to supply the places of hands that had withdrawn from the fields. The telegram referred to, and which was from Mr. Lacassagne, was sent in duplicate to Messrs. C. E. Black and W. S. Benedict, and read as follows:
“Strikers shot four of my laborers this morning from an ambush. I have telegraphed the Governor for troops. Please see that they get off at once. Answer if they will come today.”
It was also stated that further trouble was anticipated, and that considerable anxiety was being felt by the peaceably-inclined people in the parish over the existing condition of things. Messrs. Black and Benedict, immediately upon receipt of the above, made known its contents to Gens. Glynn and Meyer and Col. Richardson, of the Washington Artillery, with a view of having Capt. Beanham’s battery sent to Tigerville, which is about eight miles from Mr. Lacassagne’s plantation. Gov. McEnery was telegraphed to at Shreveport in reference to the above, with the following result, as made known through a dispatch to Mr. Charles S. Black, received last evening:
SHREVEPORT, La., Nov. 2, 1887
To Charles S. Black, Esq.:
I ordered troops to Tigerville early this morning. See Col. Faries for information, and telegraph people at Tigerville.
S. D. McENERY, Governor
In connection with the above, Mr. Black stated that he had called at the offices of Gens. Glynn and Meyer and notified them of the Governor’s action. He also visited that of Col. Faries but found his office closed. At any rate the troops were ordered to Tigerville last evening, and will have arrived at their destination before these lines meet the reader’s eye.
Mr. Benedict, who is largely interested in sugar planting in the vicinity of Tigerville, has been sending hands in large numbers to Terrebonne parish since the strike. He says he finds no difficulty in getting as many as he wants, and especially is this the case if the necessary protection is guaranteed.
The following telegram was received yesterday forenoon by Mr. John T. Moore, Jr., from Schriever, La.:
SHREVEPORT, La., Nov. 2, 1887
To John T. Moore, Esq.:
“All quiet. No one at work this morning, Mr. George Marshall, manager of your plantation, has gone to Houma for the sheriff.”
The opinion at the Sugar Exchange yesterday was that, while there might possibly be some bloodshed, the present disturbances would soon blow over and the crop would be taken from the fields without damage.
Gen. Beauregard returned to the city yesterday, and Col. Faries was in consultation with him during the greater portion of the day. The General read a long dispatch last evening from the Governor, who is at Shreveport, in which the latter told the former to use his discretion in handling troops.
Up to a late hour last night the troops of the Washington Artillery had not received orders to move although momentarily expecting them.
THE EFFECT ON THE LABOR MARKET
Mr. Albert H. Parker, who has for many years been engaged in securing labor for the plantations in neighboring parishes, was asked by a Times-Democrat reporter last evening what effect the present troubles have had upon the local labor market.
Mr. Parker stated that there has been no unusual demand for plantation laborers this season and that there are but few really good men to be had in this city for that kind of work. About sixty men, eighteen of whom were white, were sent out yesterday, but this is not unusual, as the sugar-grinding always necessitates the employment of extra help. Some orders have been given for men, contingent upon the continuance of the strike. Many really reliable men, who are out of employment and are willing to go on the plantations, were deterred yesterday by the report that the blacks had fired on white laborers near Tigerville, and are awaiting further reports. A number of men have recently returned from Camp Levee, reporting that owing to heavy rains they have been unable to work continuously, and have returned with the intention of seeking work on the plantations. There is a disposition among some of the negroes here to hold out for the wages demanded by the strikers. Almost any number of men can be had but they are of a very unreliable class, and probably would not work after their passage had been advanced.
Gen. Meyer received a telegram yesterday afternoon from Capt. W. H. Beanham, at Thibodaux, to the effect that one of the chief disturbers in that vicinity had been captured and jailed during the day.
Mr. J. W. Barnett, owner of the Shady Side plantation, on the Teche, was registered at the St. Charles Hotel last evening. He reports laborers as working harmoniously in his section. All appear satisfied, and there is no apprehension of a strike.
“The truth of the matter is, said Mr. Barnett, “seven-eighths of the laborers on sugar and other plantations, if not interfered with and ill-advised by outsiders, would work to the satisfaction of all concerned and be perfectly contented.”
Detachment of Troops Ordered to Houma
Special to The Times-Democrat
JEANERETTE, Nov. 2.—The detachment of Iberia Guards which were here, under command of Lieut. H. P. Gates, were recalled today to New Iberia to join the company, which is ordered to Houma. The Attakapas Rangers will be reinforced tonight, and will continue here on duty under Capt. C. F. Cade.
The Knights of Labor held a meeting this evening and it is reported that they have decided to adhere to their original demands.
The strikers were given until tomorrow to leave the plantations of Lt. Gay and Capt. W. H. Wills, and if they fail to comply with the orders they will be ejected by force. It is not expected that much resistance will be encountered by the officers of the law.
Most of the strikers on the plantation of Boas & Thompson have resumed work.
Strikers Turbulent on a Lafourche Plantation
Special to The Times-Democrat
THIBODAUX, Nov. 2.—The situation in this parish is substantially the same as already reported. On some plantations all hands continued work right through the trouble, but these are the exceptions. In most cases either all or the majority of the laborers are on a strike, but in Lafourche parish no violence has been reported so far. In response to the summons to return to work or quit the place the strikers have as a rule adopted the latter alternative, either flocking into town, where many have arrived today, or making active preparations for a move.
Affidavits were, however, sworn out against some twenty men who refused to adopt either alternative. Twelve of these were arrested, two of whom, Emile Naquin and Odessa Landry, are white. All the prisoners were bailed.
It was reported this morning that more serious trouble had occurred in Terrebonne, and that Capt. Avery’s company, from New Iberia, had been ordered to Houma in consequence. Laborers brought from New Orleans to fill the places of strikers on the Greenwood plantation were, the report says, fired upon while at work and two of them wounded.
The hands on the Raceland place of Leon Godchaux, who were at work yesterday, struck today. This evening Mr. C. S. Matthews, with a deputation from the neighborhood of Raceland, arrived here, and reported that the hands on a strike in that quarter are turbulent and threatening and asked for protection. Judge Beattie directed the sheriff to leave for Raceland with a posse tonight.
The Garling and twelve-pounder gun, with horses harnessed, stood all day in front of the courthouse, ready to move at a moment’s notice.
Gen. Pierce is the guest of Judge Taylor Beattie, Capt. Beanham’s company is conveniently located in comfortable quarters near the courthouse. Both officers and men are highly pleased with the arrangements made for their comfort.
Everything Quiet Around New Iberia
Special to The Times-Democrat.
NEW IBERIA, Nov. 2.—The detachment from the Iberia Guards, under Lieut. H. Gates, which left here yesterday for plantations below, returned today. Capt. Avery is in receipt of orders from Gen. Parkerson to send thirty men at once to Terrebonne. The boys report all quiet in this parish below here, and that the Rangers under Capt. Cade are equal to any possible emergency. They also report large numbers of negroes idle. Many are willing to work, but are intimidated by threats of the strikers. It is thought all will be working in a day or two.
All Plantations Idle from Centreville to Berwick City
Special to The Times-Democrat.
FRANKLIN, Nov. 2.—Advices from the lower part of the parish are to the effect that all work has stopped on plantations from Centreville to Berwick Bay, a distance of twenty miles, with the exception of the plantation of Foos & Barnett, near Centreville. All quiet at present, the laborers making no demonstrations, but refusing to work unless their demands are complied with. The planters on these places have ordered these laborers to leave the premises by Thursday morning and give place to others.
From the upper portion of the parish it is learned that all are at work in full force, with the exception of the Eustis plantation, on which all have resumed with the exception of twenty-five who were discharged. These sought work on other places, but were refused; but at last obtained employment on the Stirling plantation, owned by D. McCann, of New Orleans.
In response to the telegram published in THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT of today, signed B. W. Scott, secretary District Assembly 194, K. of L., stating that Local Assembly 6295 was suspended on Oct. 24 for non-payment of dues, Fred C. Marsh, acting secretary of Assembly 6295, says that the dues were paid and the receipt therefore is now in the archives of the assembly.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 3, 1887.
THE BACKBONE OF THE LABOR STRIKE BROKEN
The Negroes Rapidly Returning to Their Work
No Outbreak of Any Consequence Since the Ambuscade Near Tigerville
The Troops Ready but Not Required
The Futile Work of the Local Anarchists—The Planters Firm and the Negroes Returning to Work
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 3.—[Special]—The backbone of the strike is about broken. The negroes, when they found the farmers determined, yielded, and probably one-half of them have returned to work.
A number of mills that suspended operations yesterday blew their whistles today, and enough hands responded to begin work. There has been no trouble reported at all.
The negroes are to be complimented on their good behavior. They have been advised by evil-minded persons but further than leaving their field of labor no other damage has been done.
The presence of those anarchists, Mounier and Foote, can well be dispensed with from the usual quiet parish of Lafourche, and it is quite likely they will go.
Twelve negroes have been arrested for trespass today, seven of them being brought in by the sheriff’s posse, who went to Raceland this morning. They will give bond.
The Opelousas military has been ordered to Lockport, but their presence there will hardly be needed, for a majority of the negroes are returning to work.
Battery B will likely remain over here until Saturday. The boys are being handsomely treated by the citizens.
Pursuant to a call from the planters’ committee, the planters met here today and the following resolutions were passed:
Whereas, in spite of the fact that we have lost thousands of dollars by the strike now prevailing, and in view of the fact that we may still lose thousands by the same, we hereby reaffirm our determination to stand steadfastly and unyieldingly by the position we have taken, and not to accede to the demands made upon us by a body of men who have presumed to dictate to us how we shall manage our private and business affairs.
The planters have adjourned to meet tomorrow, and have resolved to hold daily meetings until the troubles are settled.
The streets are quiet tonight and no trouble is apprehended. By Monday it is expected all will be at work.
The Ambuscade—The Law Will Be Enforced
HOUMA, La., Nov. 3.—[Special]—Day before yesterday three men were shot on Mr. Lacassagne’s Greenwood plantation while they were at work by some of the strikers. Warrants were yesterday issued by Judge Allen for eight persons supposed to be the guilty parties, and the sheriff went down for them this morning.
Judge Allen yesterday examined the parties from Captain Shaffer’s plantation who were guilty of violence in taking possession of his sugar-house, and they were all committed for trial before the district court.
Everything is now quiet in this parish. The strikers are evidently weakening. The strike seems to be under the control of a few young men, none of whom are laborers, who are ambitious of political preferment. The planters are firm and will not yield an inch.
Captain Avery of New Iberia arrived here this morning at 11 o’clock with his company. They are quartered at Durand’s Hotel, and will assist the sheriff of the parish in making arrests when needed.
Judge Allen is determined to uphold the supremacy of the law and all violence will be suppressed and the guilty punished.
Sugar-houses are going in several parts of the parish, though some of the planters are shorthanded. It is thought that the strike will soon end; unless it does, there will be evictions by the wholesale.
The Disposition of the Troops—Most of the Mills Running
NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 3.—[Special]—The news of the shooting near Tigersville has been the leading topic here today.
The gun detachment of the Iberia Guards got off this evening under command of Captain E. A. Pharr. Captain Cade with a detachment of the Attakapas Rangers is still at Jeanerette.
This morning was the time fixed for the strikers to choose between returning to work and leaving the plantations. Some returned quietly to work while others left, bag and baggage.
The rangers will remain at Jeanerette a day or two longer, but to save expenses their horses will be sent home.
Every mill in the Fausse Pointe country is running full blast and making good headway. The laborers seem satisfied with a dollar per day and show no disposition to take part in the strike. West of this place in the interior news comes that all is working smoothly; there sugar hands are paid from 75 cents to a dollar per day.
Every Prospect of an Early Settlement
JEANERETTE, La., Nov. 3.—[Special]—During several days past talk has been rife about a strike by the hands on the sugar plantations through this parish and predictions of its unhappy results widely spread. The people were feverish on the subject for awhile, but today every indication points to an early settlement of the troubles, planters and workmen alike evincing a laudable desire to come to an amicable arrangement. On the point of such a pleasant settlement the colored women in large numbers trooped into town this evening to join the strikers and Knights of Labor, but it is hoped that their influence may not have any disturbing effect on the community.
Belligerent Strikers on the Dubroca Place Brought to Terms
SORREL, La., Nov. 3.—This morning at 6:00 o’clock the strikers were ordered by Colonel E. M. Dubroca’s manager to go to work or leave the plantation and on refusing positively to comply with the orders the deputy sheriff was called in and began at once to eject them.
When they saw that matters were serious many of them wisely concluded to go to work and the others consented to move without any further trouble.
Threats having been made by the strikers, trouble was anticipated and the deputy sheriff called a posse of the following neighboring planters, who answered promptly: Major A. J. Decuir, Messrs. Paul Picot, A. G. Picot, and Millard Bosworth with his home guard, composed of the employes of his refinery, these being well equipped with Winchester carbines.
Everything is quiet now, and the strike is over on the place and work will be resumed in the morning.
Troops Under Arms
BATON ROUGE, La., Nov. 3.—[Special]—The Baton Rouge Fencibles, in obedience to orders received from Assistant Adjutant General Faries, are under arms at their armory, ready to depart for the scene of anticipated troubles on the Teche.
The Deltas of West Baton Rouge are also here.
The following was received in this city yesterday:
SCHRIEVER, La., Nov. 3.—J. L. Harris, New Orleans: Strike broken here. All hands at work. Commence grinding after dinner.
N. S. WILLIAMS
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 4, 1887.
MANY OF THE STRIKERS RETURNING TO WORK
Moral Effect Exerted by the Militia Companies—Not a Single Case of Violence in the District Yesterday
Beneficial Effects of Sending Troops to Thibodaux
Special to The Times-Democrat
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 3.—There is good reason to believe that very many, if not the majority, of the strikers have gone into the present movement against their will and judgment, and only in consequence of orders received from their leaders. A number of the more turbulent among them having been arrested and placed under bond, several instances have occurred of hands seeking and readily adopting any possible excuse to return to work. As it becomes more evident with the lapse of time that there is no prospect of yielding on the part of the planters, these instances may be expected to multiply, and it may be hoped that within a few days work will be pretty generally resumed. Nevertheless, the loss of several days of such splendid weather as has prevailed all through the present week is to be deeply regretted, and may be irretrievable. Meanwhile, arrangements are being made by several of the planters to fill the places of the strikers, and hands will be brought from other States, if necessary.
The hardship and loss involved in present situation falls on others besides the planters and laborers. The loss of time is a serious matter to the officers and men of the militia organizations. Although everything possible is done for their comfort and convenience, the fact remains that every day they are kept under arms represents so much money taken from their pockets. The men of the local company, the Knobloch Guards, are for the most part mechanics and artificers, who earn $2.50 to $3.50 a day. These wages are now lost to them. The Louisiana Field Artillery left New Orleans at the most inconvenient time possible for themselves and for the merchants and others in whose employment their members are. Some of them, it is stated, even run the risk of losing their positions, though it is scarcely credible that any employer would show such a lack of public spirit as to discharge a young man for responding to the call of the State. But it will be only fair to all parties, if the necessity of keeping the troops under arms continues, to allow Battery B to return to New Orleans, relieving them by some other command.
That the presence of troops in this town has had its effect in preserving the peace can scarcely be doubted and the men themselves realize the fact, and have consequently borne the loss of time and money in the best spirit. The strikers driven from the plantations have flocked into town in large numbers, all more or less excited. But the knowledge of bodies of armed men, close at hand and in constant readiness to act, has been sufficient to prevent any approach to disturbance.
The following order was issued by Gen. Pierce this morning: HEADQUARTERS, THIBODAUX SPECIAL FORCES, Nov. 2, 1887
Order No. 1.
Capts. Beanham and Walsh:
“Under orders from the adjutant general, New Orleans, Nov. 1, I assume command of all troops between Berwick Bay and New Orleans. Have everything in readiness to forward orders of civil authorities at a moment’s notice. Have horses harnessed and ready to move at a moment’s notice.”
The process of arrest, jailing and bailing of strikers who refused to quit the plantation went on throughout the day. Orders of arrest were issued against twenty-four men, of whom seventeen were taken. All are negroes. All except five were bailed. The town is absolutely quiet. The planters held a meeting this afternoon at which it was resolved to hold firm in their previous attitude, in spite of all losses, past or future.
The planters believe that the worst of the strike is over. This belief is confirmed by the increasing number of laborers who are returning to work. There is an impression in some quarters that the labor organization in this district is an independent body in no wise connected with the regular order of the Knights of Labor. This, however, is not the case. THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT correspondent has the clearest evidence to the contrary, having carefully inspected today the framed charter of the Thibodaux Assembly No.10499, Knights of Labor. The charter is of the regular pattern, is dated the 8th of July, 1887, and signed T. V. Powderly, general master workman, and Chas. H. Litchman, general secretary. Affixed to the charter is the grand seal of the order with the legend: “That is the most perfect form of government in which an injury to one is the concern of all.”
The Opelousas company, dispatched in response to the request of the Raceland planters, will arrive at Raceland at 5 a.m. tomorrow by a mixed train, no earlier train being available, and will be met and cared for by Mr. C. S. Matthews and others of that neighborhood.
Troops Under Arms at Baton Rouge
Special to The Times-Democrat.
BATON ROUGE, Nov. 3.—Quite a stir was created here this afternoon by the receipt of orders by the Baton Rouge Fencibles, of this city, and the Delta Rifles, of West Baton Rouge, to assemble, armed and equipped, and hold themselves in readiness for marching orders. Capt. Granary is in command of the Fencibles, and the Delta Rifles will assemble at Port Allen, under command of Capt. Parker.
Opelousas Guards Ordered to Lafourche
Special to The Times-Democrat.
OPELOUSAS, Nov. 3.—The Opelousas Guards, Capt. E. Sumpter Tayor commanding, left for Raceland Station, Lafourche parish, this evening, under orders from Brig. Gen. Parkerson, commanding this militia district.
All Quiet Around Jeanerette
Special to The Times-Democrat.
JEANERETTE, Nov. 3.—The question of the strike has not yet been settled, but from all appearances a satisfactory understanding between the planters and their employes will speedily be reached. There has been no disturbance or violation of law on any of the neighboring plantations, and all parties interested in the exceptionally fine crops growing evince a very decided disposition to return to their work with as little delay as possible. There are a few planters fully supplied with labor, but the great majority of the hands, including women, are still holding out for higher wages.
The laborers ordered to leave the plantations of Dr. Gay and Capt. Wills have all done so.
Capt. Cade was this morning instructed to remain in Jeanerette with a squad of ten men, and to send the balance of his company to his headquarters. Tonight he received another order to proceed to Pattersonville at once with a force of thirty men. The Knights of Labor held a meeting today, and it is reported that they agreed to assist all who desired to persist in the strike, but not to molest those desiring to return to work. All is quiet.
The Planters at Schriever Begin Grinding
It was stated yesterday that Mr. Paul Lacassagne, of Terrebonne, had again telegraphed the State authorities for troops to protect the recently employed laborers on his place. On inquiry, however, nothing definite could be obtained with reference to the above, but the belief was generally entertained here that nothing serious had occurred.
Mr. George Marshall, manager of the Waubun plantation at Schriever, La., telegraphed Capt. John T. Moore, Jr., to the effect that more troops were necessary to preserve order and prevent any damage in that locality. He further stated that, although he had appealed to, he had not received any assistance whatsoever from Sheriff Budd.
Subsequently, however, the following was received, which would seem to indicate that peace and good order had been restored:
Schriever, La., Nov. 3, 1887
J. L. Harris, New Orleans:
Capt. Moore left for Schriever Station at 12:15 p.m. yesterday by the Morgan Railroad, where he will remain until matters and things have assumed a more peaceful aspect.
Up to a late hour last evening nothing had been heard by either Gens. Glynn or Meyer from the scene of the threatened disturbances.
Work Resumed at Sorrel
SORREL, LA., Nov. 3.—This morning at 6:30 o’clock the strikers were ordered by Col. E. M. Dubroca, the manager, to go to work or leave the plantation, and on their refusing positively to comply with the order, the deputy sheriff was called in and began at once to eject them. When they saw that matters were serious, many of them wisely concluded to go to work, and the others consented to move without any further trouble. Threats having been made by strikers, trouble was anticipated and the deputy sheriff called a posse of the following neighboring planters, who answered promptly: Major A. J. Decuir, Messrs. Paul Picot, A. G. Picot and Millard Bosworth with his Home Guard, composed of the employes of his refinery, these being well equipped with Winchester carbines. Everything is quiet now, the strike is over on this place and work will be resumed in the morning.
A COTTON STRIKE THREATENED
A committee composed of four white and four colored members of the Cotton Yard Men’s Benevolent Association waited on their bosses, the cotton press owners, Wednesday, and presented a new uniform tariff. The committee were cordially received by some of the press owners, while others ignored the association.
The workingmen claim that they cannot get along with the wages now being paid. The press owners would not accept the new tariff presented to them, stating that on account of the small amount paid them for the storage of cotton they would not be able to pay the amount asked. Last year the cotton yard men were receiving ten cents for compressing and eighteen cents for the yard men.
The Terrell and Atlantic cotton presses are said to be the best-paying presses in town. They pay eight cents for compressing and fifteen cents for the yard men. The new uniform tariff requires every press to pay the same as the two above presses. It was rumored that the cotton men were going to strike this week.
A TIMES-DEMOCRAT reporter visited a number of presses yesterday. The men were found working, and stated that they had received no orders to knock off and go on a strike. A general meeting of both white and colored cotton yard men will be held next Sunday. A committee will be sent to the press owners in order to try and settle the trouble by arbitration. If the owners do not recognize the committee, then there will probably be a strike ordered, and for the same wages as last year.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 4, 1887.
Planters Fear That Frost May Swoop Down on Them
Jeanerette Reports Good Prospects for a Resumption of Work There—Two Military Companies at Baton Rouge Ordered Held in Readiness—No Change at Morgan City.
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 3.—H. Zuberbier, of Zuberbier & Bran, owners of several large sugar estates, returned home this morning after a week’s absence spent in inspecting their plantations. He very much laments the occurrence of the strike as the frost season is at hand and the consequent danger to this, as fine, if not the finest sugar crop ever grown in Louisiana. Along the river several planters have conceded the rate of wages demanded, $1.25 per day, where no contracts existed. Mr. Zuberbier says he recognizes the danger in yielding to this demand for an increase in cases where laborers have contracted at $1 per day for the season as establishing a precedent of breaking contracts through the medium of strikers would render the stability of business estimates, so very necessary to the success of plantation work impossible.
Judge E. D. White stated this morning that he did not think well at all of the situation. In Assumption all hands are at work at less rates than the Judge is paying, and the suspension of labor on his plantation is undoubtedly the foolish work of some ignorant and unprincipled leaders. Lafourche planters have always strained every point to pay the highest wages possible, and until now the parish has had no trouble, and has enjoyed the best reputation. It is now difficult to say what the end will be.
Savannah Morning News, November 4, 1887.
The labor troubles in the sugar districts are being rapidly settled, and there is every prospect that the next few days will witness a full resumption of work at all the sugar-houses.
The laborers are returning to their former homes and accepting the terms offered by the planters, which are the old scale of wages.
The negroes have been led into the strike by a few agitators, who have been working them for many months past, and did not comprehend the full significance of their action until the test came.
The past three seasons have been about as disastrous to all connected with the sugar interests of the State as any in its annals, and if the laborer has suffered the proprietors of the estates have suffered more. In fact most of these plantations have been operated at a dead loss.
The prospects are now brighter, and one good crop will go far to put the industry on a comparatively safe footing. The laborer must share in that recuperation, but he cannot hope to grasp it precipitately by crippling the planter in the critical period of taking off the crop.
The cane is represented as being quite rich, and a yield approximating 25,000 hhds. is expected, should grinding operations be pushed with usual vigor and no disaster in the shape of an early freeze intervene.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 4, 1887.
Advices from the sugar district report the strike as being practically over. The planters have remained firm and would not listen to the labor demands. The fact is, no demand for an increase of prices was made by the laborer.
The Knights of Labor organization in the Teche numbers perhaps 5000 men. They selected as heads of the different lodges men who knew nothing of the situation and were known as agitators. They could not appreciate the disadvantages under which the planters have labored for three years with short crops of cane and the low prices of sugar. An increase of the price of labor under such circumstances meant that every planter would come out further in debt at the end of the season. The Knights of Labor committee who framed and signed the circular addressed to the planters evidently did not understand the situation.
The negroes had no grievances to present other than an increase of wages, and as that could not be given they have peaceably returned to work, and with the present favorable weather the crop will be gathered in a few weeks.
The presence of the state militia was in most instances not necessary. No mischief was attempted except in two cases, the shooting at Tigerville and Raceland.
The troops, however, did no harm, and it was well perhaps to have been prepared in case of an emergency.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 5, 1887.
A PLANTER SHOT BY A STRIKER NEAR LOCKPORT
Militia Called Upon to Assist in the Arrest of the Assailant—Eviction of a Number of Strikers Near Raceland
Special to The Times-Democrat
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 4.—This morning about 10 o’clock a negro striker, named Moses Pugh, shot and seriously wounded Mr. Richard Foret, a prominent planter, near Lockport. When a deputy sheriff attempted to arrest him he was surrounded by about 150 of his friends, who defied the authorities. The Opelousas Guards, Capt. Taylor commanding, were called upon to assist the deputy sheriff and succeeded in capturing him without any trouble and bringing him to Thibodaux. He was jailed at 5 o’clock to await the result of the wound.
Great excitement prevails in that neighborhood, and Gen. Pierce went to the scene of trouble at once. Affidavits have been made against several of the party for resisting the officers, and trouble is expected tomorrow, when the arrests will be made. All is quiet in this vicinity, and many of the strikers have returned to work.
A secret circular, dated 2d November, has been issued by District Assembly 194, Knights of Labor, from its headquarters at Morgan City, calling upon the strikers to stand firm in their demands, as any backdown after they have gone so far would place the laborer in a worse position than ever. The circular goes on to abjure the strikers to refrain from all violence or resistance to the law, so as to prove by their moderate attitude that Gov. McEnery ordered out the militia without due cause. There is a suspicious flavor of partisan bias in this. But the necessity of calling upon a militia company to evict strikers near Raceland today, after the civil authorities had failed to do so, and the trouble experienced in the arrest of Pugh, prove the Governor’s action to have been well advised.
Several more strikers who refused to move from the plantations were arrested and jailed today. The disinclination to move on the part of most of the others who have expressed their intention of doing so indicates that they are only waiting for an excuse to return to work. About half the men who quit work in this neighborhood have resumed it. Most of the plantations are still short-handed, but the planters say that unless the strikers who are holding out return pretty soon they will find their places filled by outsiders. The planters have not shown the least sign of yielding.
It is hoped that the presence of the Louisiana Field Artillery may be dispensed with tomorrow, but it is more probable that they will be required to remain here till Monday. Gen. Pierce rode over to Schriever today to view the situation in that quarter.
Eviction of Tenants at Pattersonville
Special to The Times-Democrat
FRANKLIN, La., Nov. 4.—In order to show the animus of W. Scott in stating that Local Assembly No. 6295, K. of L., was suspended Oct. 24 for nonpayment of dues, and that by reason thereof the protest of the assembly was of no effect, the following letters and receipt have been exhibited to THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT correspondent:
Santa Maria, Franklin Postoffice, La.
To the R.S. 6295,
Dear Sir and Brother—Inclosed please find receipt for $1.20 paid as per capita to District Assembly No. 194 for the quarter ending Oct. 1, 1887. Fraternally,
J. P. McKAY
BERWICK, Oct. 18, 1887
Received from L. A. No. 6295, K. of L., the sum of $1.20, being ten cents per member in good standing as per capita for the quarter ending Oct. 1, 1887. $1.20.
J. P. McKAY, D.F.S., D.A. No. 194.
This receipt bears the seal of the assembly. On Oct. 29, 1887, a telegram was received by T. C. Lawless, representing Local Assembly 6295, asking his attendance at the meeting of the District Executive Board of District Assembly 194, at which meeting the order for the strike of the laborers was ordered. This telegram was received too late for Lawless to take the train, and Local Assembly 6295 was unrepresented at the meeting for this reason, and not because of the suspension of the assembly, as stated by Scott.
This morning the sheriff arrested some ten or twelve of the strikers on D. Thompson’s plantation near Pattersonville, who refused to resume labor or to leave the place, as required, and brought them before Judge R. D. Gill upon an affidavit for trespass. After a hearing, the judge ordered each to give bond and security in the sum of $50 for appearance before the District Court and also in the sum of $250 to keep the peace, and in default to remain in jail. They are in the lockup, not having been able to find sureties. Some of them were accompanied by their wives.
In this vicinity all is quiet and the laborers are working contentedly. From the upper part of the parish the report is to the same effect. Conflicting rumors prevail that trouble is anticipated below on the Clarke plantation, by reason of the refusal of laborers either to resume work or to vacate the premises and give place to others, but the sheriff says he has received no notice of such a condition from any authentic source.
A detachment of militia is under arms at the courthouse, guarding the lockup in which the laborers now under arrest are confined, as rumors are afloat that an attempt will be made tonight by parties from below to release them. Little credence is placed in the rumor, and the present attitude of the militia is wholly one of precaution.
The Militia to Come Home
Yesterday Gen. John Glynn, Jr., received a communication from Gen. Beauregard, Adjutant General, to the effect that it was his desire to relieve the State troops now at Tigerville, in Terrebonne parish, as soon as possible. Gen. Glynn thinks that they will be ordered home today.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 5, 1887.
The Fizzle Out of the Sugar Laborer’s Strike
Nearly All of the Negroes Returned to Their Work
A Few in Jail Charged With Trespass
Feeling Against the Political Labor Leaders
How the Strike Came to an End—Battery B to remain Over Today THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 4.—[Special]—The strike has practically ended. The strikers are sick and discouraged, and are returning to work as fast as they can. In some instances the managers refuse to re-employ the leaders, but the inoffensive ones are gladly taken back.
A number of mills started today. On the Allen plantation, the place where trouble was expected, sixty hands were at work this evening. Reports from adjoining places say there is perfect peace, and the negroes are returning to the fields.
The Iberia Guards, numbering thirty-eight, Captain Taylor commanding, reached Houma yesterday morning. Seventeen negroes were arrested and jailed at Houma last night, charged with firing on the Germans who were returning from work on the Greenwood plantation day before yesterday.
At Raceland, this morning, Moses Pugh, a colored laborer on the Mary plantation, shot and badly wounded Richard Foret, the manager of the plantation. Before he could be arrested the negro fled, coming to Thibodaux, where he gave himself up to the sheriff. He claims self-defense, and states that Foret was beating him over the head, when he was compelled to shoot. Foret, it is learned, is resting well tonight and will probably recover. The Opelousas military company arrived at Lockport today.
At Schriever and Acadia Everything is Quiet
Captain Beanham’s company is still quartered here and will remain until Saturday or Sunday. While there has been no actual need of their services their presence has had a most salutary effect on the negroes. A number of the boys of the company left their business to come and protect the interest of both merchant and planter.
There is some uneasiness among them for fear that their employers may supply their places before their return. Surely the merchants of New Orleans are as much interested in putting down this insurrection as any one else and should only be glad to render the planters assistance.
Most of the Laborers Returned to Their Work—Indignation at the Labor Leaders
HOUMA, La., Nov. 4.—[Special]—Yesterday the leaders of the strikers asked for a conference with the planters, saying that they would be willing to take $1 per day and 60 cents a watch. This had been offered by the planters last Saturday, but it was refused by the strikers. The planters declined this conference, feeling that the matter had gone too far, and said they would not treat with them at all. They will give $1 per day and 50 cents a watch and no more.
Unanimity prevails among the planters and the collapse of the strike is only a question of time. The hands on Berger’s Jolly plantation abandoned the strikers and went to work yesterday at contract prices; the same thing at Williams’ and the Anodyne plantation. These places are all now in full blast. Winn’s Southdown plantation has been going all the week.
Captain Avery’s company went up this morning to Jno. T. Moore’s Waubon plantation, at Schriever, with the sheriff, to evict some of the hands who declined to vacate their cabins.
McCullum’s and W. V. Duffle’s places started up today.
Some of the strikers from Berger’s “Crescent” plantation were released from jail yesterday. They said they were done with strikers, and wanted to go to work. They started in this morning at old contract prices.
The negroes feel here that they have been duped by a few young men, their self-constituted leaders, who are using them for political effect. They are candidates for office and care nothing for the laborer, except to use him as a tool. Much feeling is exhibited against them, and there is some talk of driving them away from here. It would certainly be a good riddance.
Twelve persons are in jail who did the shooting in Lacampru’s place.
A Few Strikers Arrested for Trespass—Militia Guarding the Jail
FRANKLIN, La., Nov. 4.—[Special]—This morning the sheriff arrested some ten or twelve of the strikers on D. Thompson’s plantation, near Pattersonville, who refused labor or to leave the place as required, and brought them before Judge R. D. Gill upon an affidavit for trespass. After a hearing the judge ordered each to give bond and security in the sum of $50 for appearance before the district court and also in the sum of $250 to keep the peace and in default to remain in jail. At 6 o’clock this evening they are in the lockup, not having been able to find sureties. Some of them were accompanied by their wives.
In this vicinity all is quiet and the laborers are working contentedly. From the upper part of the parish the report is to the same effect.
There are conflicting rumors that trouble is anticipated below on the Clarke plantation by reason of the refusal of laborers either to resume work or vacate the premises and give place to others, but the sheriff says he has received no notice of such a condition from any authentic source.
A detachment of militia is under arms at the courthouse guarding the lockup in which the laborers now under arrest are confined, as rumors are afloat that an attempt will be made tonight by parties from below to release them. Little credence is placed in the rumor and the present attitude of the militia is wholly one of precaution.
No More Troops Needed.
NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 4.—[Special]—The gun detachment of the Iberia Guards did not get off last night as reported owing to trouble in getting transportation for their guns and horses. This morning Captain Pharr received other orders making it not necessary to go.
The Rangers are returning, a force of only ten men being left in Jeanerette.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 5, 1887.
FOUR WHITE MEN SHOT DOWN BY NEGRO STRIKERS
A Sheriff’s Posse of Citizens and Militia Sent to the Scene at Pattersonville—A Conflict in Which Five of the Strikers Are Killed—Situation in Terrebonne.
Four Men Killed by Strikers
Special to The Times-Democrat
FRANKLIN, La., Nov. 5.—Reliable information was received here this morning that four white men were shot by the strikers last night while attending the cane carrier on Capt. John N. Pharr’s plantation, near Berwick. The sheriff, on the receipt of the information, summoned a posse of about forty men from this vicinity and left for the scene of the shooting, increasing the posse along the line of his route to about eighty substantial citizens. Capt. Cole’s company passed down to Berwick on the train at 12 m.
Rumors are current that the laborers in the Irish Bend will strike on Monday. Advices from the upper part of the parish and Bayou Cypremont are that all is quiet and the laborers are at work.
William Price, manager of the plantation of D. McCann, in an interview today, denies that any of the strikers and ousted hands from the Eustis plantation are employed on the plantation, and that there is no intention of employing them or any other strikers.
A telegram from Pattersonville just received, states that a collision had occurred and five laborers were killed. All is quiet at present, but further trouble is anticipated tonight.
Battle Between Strikers and a Sheriff’s Posse
Special to The Times-Democrat
PATTERSONVILLE, Nov. 5.—An encounter took place today between a sheriff’s posse, commanded by Hon. Don Caffery, the Attakapas Rangers, under Capt. Cade, and a crowd of negro strikers. Several of the strikers were apprehended and others were ordered to disperse. They resisted, and an engagement ensued, in which several of the negroes were killed.
The companies present, under the command of Capt. C. T. Cade, are the Attakapas Rangers, of Iberia parish; St. Mary Volunteers, of Franklin, commanded by Capt. T. Marsh; Company B, St. Mary Artillery, of Morgan City, under Capt. W. H. P. Wise. Upon arrival of these companies, Capt. Cade, senior officer, took command, W. B. Gray acting as adjutant.
Everything is now quiet, and indications point to no recurrence of this afternoon’s work. The militia companies are quartered on the steamer E. W. Cole, subject to the orders of Sheriff Frere. The town is patrolled tonight by squads of militiamen.
Terrebonne Tenants Evicted and New Men Take Their Places
Special to The Times-Democrat
HOUMA, Nov. 5.—With reference to the strike of sugar laborers the situation in this parish is somewhat anomalous. A few plantations have resumed work under the original rates agreed upon at the beginning of the grinding season, viz: One dollar per day and fifty cents per watch on a majority of the plantations. However the strikers have insisted upon their demands for increased pay, which the planters are utterly unable to meet, and evictions have become a necessary sequence. As a rule these have been accomplished peaceably and no resistance has thus far been manifested to the properly constituted authorities that have been evoked on several plantations.
The evicted have taken their departure without waiting for legal process, and thus escaped the penalty that might wait on resistance. Numbers of the evicted have congregated in Houma, and vacant houses for their accommodations are at a premium. In the meantime the places of those removed are rapidly filled by other laborers who are disposed to work for the rates proposed by the planters. The result will inevitably be idleness for a number of home laborers, while those from abroad occupy their places. The authorities are determined to preserve the peace and prevent any interference with those who are disposed to work.
The Laccassagne incident on Bayou Black, where four men were shot and wounded by the strikers, has more than confirmed this determination.
The Iberia Guards, under the command of Capt. Dudley Avery, are stationed in Houma, and their presence has a wholesome influence in restraining any riotous proceedings that may be contemplated by the more obstreperous of the strikers.
Reports have reached town of certain threats directed against managers and laborers disposed to work, warning them of the wrath that awaits them unless they take immediate departure, but these anonymous communications have, as a rule, been ignored and but few are frightened thereby. The strike has been ill advised, and is unjustifiable. The laborers began work at rates mutually agreed upon between employer and employe.
The law-abiding people of Terrebonne are grateful for Gov. McEnery’s action in ordering troops here promptly in response to the call of the civil authorities.
Situation Around Tigerville
TIGERVILLE, Nov. 5.—The excitement of a few days since at the Lacassagne plantation has subsided. Thirty-five laborers are at work now. There have been no violent demonstrations on the part of the strikers toward the new men, who arrived yesterday. No militia at all came here. Only private guards are employed.
Resistance to Officers at Lockport
Special to The Times-Democrat
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 5.—Everything is quiet here. Carts still coming into Thibodaux removing hands from plantations.
The Rienzi has about fifty men at work today. Leighton has a few laborers employed; on Ridgefield twenty-five to forty are expected to fall into line on Monday morning. On Dixie a force were at work yesterday. At Highland the entire force is at work, the strikers having all returned.
There has been some trouble near Lockport. Sheriff Frost has gone down this morning to make arrests. Report has it that the constables have been defied in that neighborhood.
Mr. Foret, who was shot on May plantation on Friday, is not thought to be seriously wounded.
Planters will meet this afternoon and enter into arrangements to import laborers from elsewhere. In every instance in which strikers have returned to work it has been at the original prices.
One peculiarity of this strike is that the leaders are all men who never did a day’s work in the field. Some of the white members of the Knights of Labor have abandoned the organization.
One of the vagaries of the strike occurred in Terrebonne, where about a dozen men who were cultivating cane on shares struck for higher wages, leaving their cane at the mercy of the chances. In another instance a man who was receiving $1.50 a day, 75 cents a watch, struck for $1.25 and 60 cents.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 6, 1887.
Details of the Killing of the Negroes at Pattersonville
More Trouble Anticipated
Movements of Troops in the Disturbed Neighborhood
More Negroes Going to Work Today
The Particulars of the Affair at Pattersonville
General Frank Morey arrived last evening from his plantation opposite Pattersonville, and gives the following account of the shooting that occurred there on Saturday, of which he was an eye-witness:
It appears that on Friday, after a full consultation of the leading planters of St. Mary, it was decided that there should be unanimous action in compelling the laborers who refused to work to vacate the houses and cabins occupied by them, in order that they might be occupied by laborers to be brought in.
Threats had been freely made by some of the self-constituted leaders of the negroes that they would not allow other negroes to be brought in to work in their places, nor would they vacate the houses occupied by them.
It was apparent to the planters that they could not peacefully cope with the condition of things without co-operation, and they decided upon the following plan: to have warrents issued for the arrest of the trespassers who persisted in remaining in the houses or on the premises after they were ordered to vacate, and to have the sheriff serve the warrants aided by a posse of sufficient strength to enable him to execute the law.
To this end a posse was organized at Franklin, composed of leading citizens of that end of the parish—lawyers, merchants, planters, etc.—who accompanied Sheriff Frere to Pattersonville on Saturday morning.
Before attempting the execution of the warrants, leading citizens, such as Hon. Don Caffrey, Henry J. Saunders, George C. Zenor and Frank Williams stated to the posse that it was of the first importance that nothing should be done except to aid the sheriff in the performance of his duties and implicitly obey his orders, no matter what the provocation might be.
At first the sheriff was unable to find some of the most flagrant violators of the law, but arrested five in Pattersonville who were put under strict guard to be conveyed to the boat which was to take them to the jail at Franklin. There was considerable excitement in Pattersonville.
There were large numbers of negroes in the streets. On Main street, about midway of the town, a colored man named Jake Norris jostled one of the posse who were assisting the sheriff in that portion of the town. On being remonstrated with and ordered to clear the sidewalk the negro replied with an oath that he had “rather die first.” The negro was immediately shot—by whom was not ascertained.
At the first shot, there was great excitement. The prisoners, who were under guard, and were about two squares from the scene of the firing, became alarmed and attempted to escape. They were called upon to halt, and not obeying they were riddled with shots by the posse. Four were killed outright and the fifth made his escape.
Those killed were Alf Anderson and Wash Anderson, brothers. Wm. Cooper, their brother-in-law, and Bob Wrenn. The latter was under indictment at the time and awaiting trial for the murder of another negro man. The justice of the peace held an inquest on the dead negroes, and coffins were provided and they were buried by the parish authorities by the consent of the surviving relatives.
Large numbers of the negroes are satisfied with the schedule and desirous of working, but are deterred by the threats of others who have refused to work. On most of the places in that neighborhood, however, work is going on as usual. The sheriff and posse assured the negroes protection and many of the strikers will, it is thought, go to work in the morning as they have promised to do.
It was reported, however, that a meeting of negroes was held at Berwick Saturday night at which considerable incendiary language was indulged in and threats made of burning the town of Pattersonville.
At Berwick, as the train passed yesterday, negroes with guns in their hands were seen lurking behind the houses.
At Houma there are indications of further trouble. There is less disposition to go to work here than at other points.
Matters About Morgan City
MORGAN CITY, La., Nov. 6.—[Special]—Today has been one of considerable excitement, without demonstration by the laborers. A report was current in Berwick that a crowd from Pattersonville was coming to that place to make arrests, and there was excitement and gathering of arms by some of the people. The report was unfounded and everything is quiet there and in this place up this eve.
The killing of four negroes in Pattersonville Saturday created some excitement here. Their names were A. E. Anderson, Wash Anderson, Bob Wrenn and Cooper. Squire Jefferson escaped. A. E. Anderson has a little store in Pattersonville.
None of the laborers have gone to work in this vicinity. It is rumored they will go to work in the morning, but nothing definite is known.
Movement of Troops
NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 6.—[Special]—The military company from Opelousas passed down by here today, thirty-two strong.
Captain Pharr with the artillery detailment of the Iberia Guards left on the local train today in response to Captain Cade’s call for more men. Ten more of the Iberia Guards leave here tonight to join their command at Pattersonville. All is quiet here.
All the mills in Fausse Point section, as well as in the interior, are at work.
Large numbers of negroes went down on the train today, going to take the places of the strikers.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 7, 1887.
PARTICULARS OF THE AFFAIR AT PATTERSONVILLE
A Mob of Negroes Threaten a Sheriff’s Posse Guarding Prisoners and Are Fired Upon—The Louisiana Field Artillery on Duty at Schriever
Special to The Times-Democrat
PATTERSONVILLE, Nov. 6.—The town is profoundly quiet today. Many of the negroes, who form the majority of the population, have cleared out, in consequence of the affair of yesterday afternoon. Of that affair everybody has a different story to tell.
The following are the conclusions arrived at after some pains and careful consideration:
Trouble has been threatening in this neighborhood for sometime past. The negroes have been talking freely of burning the town of Pattersonville. It is stated that one who is now a prisoner under escort has made a full confession to the Hon. Don Caffery of a plot to burn the town, which was to have been carried into effect last night, but the events of yesterday afternoon intervened. Mr. Caffery went to Franklin on the afternoon train, and has not therefore been interviewed.
The shooting and wounding of four white men on the Pharr plantation on Friday decided the authorities here to institute a search for arms in the town, and at the same time to arrest several men who had made themselves most conspicuous by the loudness and ferocity of their threats. The troops were quartered on steamboats lying alongside of Williams’ saw-mill, about a mile from town. From there yesterday afternoon, between 4 and 5 o’clock, the Attakapas Rangers, under command of Capt. Cade, together with a posse of citizens partly of this neighborhood and partly from Franklin, moved on the town. There are several versions of what afterward occurred.
The correct story is probably this: At the entrance to the town stand two cottages, the one on the right occupied by a white man named Hibbert, that on the left by colored people. Here, as the troops approached, they found a crowd of fifty to 100 excited negroes assembled. This crowd was ordered to disperse at once, which some proceeded to do, while others stood fast and assumed a defiant attitude.
One negro of notorious character threw his hand behind him as if to draw a pistol; then in a minute the whole affair was over. A regular fusilade was opened upon the negroes by the posse and four men were shot dead where they stood.
It is asserted by the militia, and with considerable positiveness by some of them, that no militiaman fired a shot, and that all the killing was done by the sheriff’s posse. Capt. Cade seems to have had a good deal of difficulty in restraining his men from firing, but he appears to have succeeded.
Besides the four negroes killed, one was very severely wounded. Two boys are also stated to have been hit.
The sheriff withdrew as soon as the firing began. After the affray the troops marched through the town, and many of the negroes retired to the woods.
Capt. Cade, with Capt. Thomson’s company, from Opelousas, and a deputy sheriff went down the bayou this afternoon. For this reason Capt. Cade has not yet been seen by THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT correspondent.
The number of shots fired is variously estimated at from thirty to 100, but the firing was by no means indiscriminate. The four men killed were all bad characters. Their names are Wash and Dolph Anderson (brothers), Lewis Cooper, brother-in-law of the Andersons, and Robert Wrenn, a negro saloon keeper, who killed a man a year ago within a few yards of the place where he was shot. The dead were buried today by the troops.
The town is guarded and patrolled tonight by cavalry and infantry. It is impossible to move in any direction without being challenged.
Special to The Times-Democrat
FRANKLIN, Nov. 6.—Your special of this date states that “an encounter took place today between a sheriff’s posse, commanded by Hon. Don Caffery, the Attakapas Rangers, under Capt. Cade, and a crowd of negro strikers,” etc. This is not correct. I did not command the posse, it was commanded by Col. E. M. Dubroca, deputy sheriff, when the encounter took place, Sheriff A. G. Frere being present and making the arrests.
Battery B, Louisiana Field Artillery, at Schriever
Special to The Times-Democrat
PATTERSONVILLE, Nov. 6.—Battery B, Louisiana Field Artillery, under Capt. Beanham, and accompanied by Gen. Pierce, arrived at Schriever from Thibodaux today to afford protection to the laborers who have been employed by surrounding planters to fill the places of the strikers. A twelve-pounder gun was brought to Schriever from Franklin by a detachment of the St. Mary Volunteers, who afterward returned to Franklin. Capt. Avery’s company is also at Schreiver.
All Quiet in Lafourche
There were no developments in the strike on the plantations yesterday, as far as could be learned from persons visiting in the city.
Gen. Billiu, of Lafourche, who arrived here last evening, stated to a TIMES-DEMOCRAT reporter that all was quiet in that parish. The General says that the majority of plantations are in full operation, and that the minority of the planters, against whom the strike still continues, are firmly determined not to grant the advance.
Mr. John R. Gheens, of Lafourche, is also in town. He corroborates Gen. Billiu’s statement as to the quietness of the situation in that parish.
Mr. Wm. L. Ferris arrived from St. Mary last evening, but could give no further information as to the conflict at Pattersonville on Saturday, the details of which were given in yesterday’s TIMES-DEMOCRAT. He stated that all was quiet and no further trouble anticipated when he left there yesterday.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 7, 1887.
ADDITIONAL PARTICULARS REGARDING THE PATTERSONVILLE AFFAIR
Interviews with Capt. Cade, Hon. Don Caffery and Sheriff Frere—The Militia Did Not Fire
Special to The Times-Democrat
PATTERSONVILLE, Nov. 7.—Capt. Cade, with Capt. Thompson’s company, accompanied by Major A. J. de Cair, who is acting as deputy sheriff and represents the civil authority here, returned last night from their expedition down the bayou. They found all quiet at Berwick, the menacing crowds which were reported as gathered there having dispersed on hearing of the approach of the troops.
Capt. Cade was interviewed this morning, and his version of the Pattersonville affray agreed in the main with the account given in last night’s dispatch. It appears, however, that this account contained some minor inaccuracies. The statement that all the whites taking part in or present at the shooting were mounted is incorrect. Only some twelve or fifteen were on horseback, the remainder, including Capt. Cade’s men, of whom about a dozen were there, were on foot. According to Capt. Cade’s account the whole affair was a good deal of melee, and things were pretty well mixed up for awhile. He reports hearing some scattering shots a short time after the general fusilade, but does not know who fired them. He believes that none of his own men fired, and thinks that if they had fired he must have known it, as he was with them all the time.
Hon. Don Caffery was appointed deputy by Sheriff Frere immediately after the affray, but the authority was either withdrawn or resigned, and on the sheriff’s departure for Franklin Mayor de Cuir was left in command.
Some of the negroes are dropping back into town today, but yesterday the streets were absolutely deserted by the blacks. Previous to the shooting the streets are reported to have been for days crowded with negroes, who jeered at the troops on their arrival, and said they were a German band and that their guns would not shoot. In marching up from the depot one of the companies was compelled to force its way through the crowd. The negroes outnumber the whites fully ten to one in this neighborhood.
Interviews with Hon. Don Caffery and Sheriff Frere
Special to The Times-Democrat
FRANKLIN, Nov. 7.—Ten men of Capt. Cade’s company were sent up to Jeanerette by the evening train under a subaltern officer, threatened trouble being reported on one of the neighboring plantations. No details received.
Hon. Don Caffery, on being interviewed here this evening as to the part taken by him in the Pattersonville trouble of Saturday, made the following statement to THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT correspondent:
“On the day of the trouble Sheriff Frere, with about seventy men from Franklin and vicinity, and Capt. Cade’s company, moved down on Pattersonville in response to an appeal from the citizens that the negroes were assembled there in large forces. Col. Dubroca was appointed deputy sheriff and placed in command of the whole by general consent. I was one of the posse. The citizens of Pattersonville stated that a collision with the negroes was inevitable. The troops and posse were formed in column, the militia in rear, irregular cavalry of posse in front, moved on into the town with two assistants, and made several arrests and turned the prisoners over to the irregulars. The prisoners were being marched down the road toward the posse when desultory firing suddenly broke out far ahead in the centre of Pattersonville. It sounded like the musketry of a skirmish line, and every man in the posse believed that it was a deliberate attack by the negroes. As the firing proceeded a prominent citizen ordered the negroes who were gathered round in considerable number to disperse to their homes. The prisoners are stated to have attempted to escape at this juncture. Indiscriminate and rapid fire instantly began, and the prisoners were shot down apparently for that reason. The men arrested and shot were ringleaders in the movement against the whites, and known to be desperate characters.
“After the firing, to prevent which I exercised my best efforts, rushing out of the ranks and calling aloud to cease fire. Col. Dubroca and Sheriff Frere retired and said they would have nothing more to do with the matter. At least half the posse followed them to the steamboat. The confusion being great and the men without a leader and the town reported full of armed negroes, I assumed command, put the men in line and marched to points where negroes were said to be in force. The firing had, however, dispersed them, and after marching completely through the town, and to all points reported as held by negroes, Sheriff Frere sent me by an orderly an appointment as deputy sheriff an hour and a half after the firing occurred. I immediately ordered Capts. Marsh and Cade with their detachment and began another search for rioters. I captured only one, whom I protected against the posse. Then after making provision for the interment of the slain and medical treatment for the wounded man, I ordered the troops to return to quarters.
“My authority was rescinded by the sheriff soon after it was given by an order left with Acting Adjutant G. B. Gay. I returned to Franklin the next day.”
Being questioned, Mr. Caffery added: “I saw no negroes fire. I do not know if any arms were found on the dead negroes, but it was reported to that effect. Some of our men fired in the air. Seventy-five to one hundred shots were discharged. Everybody thought the negroes were attacking the posse when firing was heard in front. I am informed that this firing was really done by some of the white citizens, who were presumably drunk at the time.
“The negro arrested stated to me that the negroes had assembled in their hall for several nights previous and that they had been egged on by their leaders to attack the whites at the first opportunity. They were mustered, he said, about 300 strong.”
SHERIFF FRERE STATED:
“At the time the fire from the posse occurred I had gone on into the town with a warrant of arrest against six negroes on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder and arson and threatening to burn the town of Pattersonville. The warrant was signed by J. M. Charpentier, justice of the peace. I arrested three men, and handed them over to Mr. Shelby Sanders to take back to the posse. As they retired toward the posse the firing suddenly broke out, and three prisoners and another were shot down. I was about 200 yards from the posse at the time, and could not see who fired on account of the smoke and dust raised by the mounted men.
“I returned to Franklin because of a report that trouble was expected in the immediate vicinity, leaving Col. Dubroca in charge as deputy. The negroes in this immediate neighborhood are at work on all the plantations.”
The Strike Reaches Plaquemines, La.
Special to The Times-Democrat
PLAQUEMINES, Nov. 7.—The strike of the laborers on the plantations has reached this parish. Only one plantation, the Everglades, near this place, is so far affected. Should the strike spread and continue planters will suffer to a great extent, as a large amount of the crop is still in the field.
No Chance in the Situation Around Houma
Special to The Times-Democrat
HOUMA, Nov. 7.—The strike has assumed no new aspect since Saturday. On several plantations evictions were made this morning without difficulty. Labor from abroad is pouring in to take the places of the strikers and planters are confident of resuming operations this week.
The presence of the Iberia Guards, no doubt, has a most wholesome influence in preventing any resistance to the civil authorities. A gun detachment of the New Iberia Guards, Lieut. Pharr in command, arrived last evening to reinforce the company stationed here. Capt. Avery and his men have met with a most cordial reception from the citizens, and grateful appreciation of their services is everywhere manifested.
It is believed that the backbone of the strike is broken. The plantation laborers are not so much to blame for the unfortunate situation as a few designing men who have made them the victims of their irrational disturbance.
The Morgan City Company Ordered Home
Special to The Times-Democrat
FRANKLIN, La., Nov. 7.—The Morgan City Company, Capt. Wise in command, returned home by the noon train today. Most of the plantation between Pattersonville and Tigerville resumed work today, though, as a rule, with less than their full force. The men working were in most instances strikers, who have withdrawn their demands. The Pattersonville negroes are still badly scared, and many of them remain obstinately out in the woods.
Capt. May’s Command Off
Yesterday at 12:15 Capt. Eugene May’s command of the Washington Artillery, consisting of Battery B and numbering thirty-five men, left for Schriever Station, with instructions to report to Gen. Wm Pierce, who is in command of the militia forces there. They will be held ready to reinforce any point between New Orleans and Berwicks Bay, and will relieve Battery B, L.F.A., Capt. Beanham.
One of the Wounded
On Saturday morning twenty-two laborers were sent from this city to work on the Bay Side plantation, the property of Dr. Gay, near Jeanerette, to take the place of strikers. Among these men was a young man named Thomas White. Last evening White returned to the city with a bullet in his left leg, a little below the knee.
To a TIMES-DEMOCRAT reporter, who met him, Mr. White told the following story:
“We left the city Saturday morning, after having been assured that the negroes would not interfere with us, and that we would be fully protected while at work. We reached our destination in the evening. That very night, while a number of us were eating supper about 8 o’clock one of the men, who had stepped out of the room, saw a black man stealing up toward the door. Before he could realize the man’s intention and give an alarm the negro raised a gun to his shoulder, fired and fled into the darkness. The shot struck me in the leg, as you see. There was no clue to the fellow’s identity, nor could we tell whether he was alone or one of a party. The men who went up with me are all returning.”
Interview with Mr. Pierce Butler
The situation in the parishes continues to attract attention. The reports reaching the city yesterday were somewhat conflicting. There were rumors that the strike had extended to Assumption parish, where the plantation hands have been receiving $1.15 per day, but the report ran, would demand the same wages asked by the laborers in the other parishes.
Among those arriving by last evening’s train was Mr. Pierce Butler, a planter from near Terrebonne. He declared that scarcely any of the plantations were doing anything, both planters and laborers being determined to hold out.
“Are the strikers being evicted?” asked THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT reporter.
“Yes, sir,” replied Mr. Butler, “and are giving no trouble. I told my men Sunday that they must either go to work or leave the place today. This morning they all packed up and went. They are quiet now, but what assurance have we that when the weather changes and these people who are now camped all along the bayous, without shelter, will remain so? The outlook is very gloomy in my opinion. The prospects were fine for a large crop, and men who have been losing money for several years past were looking forward with much hopefulness a few weeks ago. Now, unless we are favored unusually, we shall lose a large part of our crops. Nothing has been done on-my place for two weeks and I estimate my losses at one-third of my entire crop. The only thing that will prevent this loss is the continuance of this fine weather and the speedy return to work of the strikers.”
“No one in your neighborhood has given in to the men?”
“No, sir. One man did grant the advance a few days ago. The men worked half a day and demanded $1.40, and seventy-five cents for watch. Of course he could not grant that, and so has declined to pay anything more than the original wages—$1, and forty cents watch.”
Mr. Butler had heard nothing of the rumored strike in Assumption parish.
Hon. E. J. Gay
Hon. E. J. Gay arrived here late last night from Iberville parish. He reports that there is no danger of any trouble in that vicinity. His plantation has nearly its full complement of hands and the work is going ahead steadily. The advance has not been granted on his place, nor had he heard of others yielding. Near Thibodaux, he said, he thought the planters were firmer than anywhere else. On nearly or quite all the plantations there is a nucleus of men who have remained at work, and about this nucleus, Mr. Gay believes others will form until enough to do the work are secured. If a kindly feeling is manifested by the planters he thinks the strikers will all go back. Mr. Gay thinks the presence of troops has been of incalculable value in preserving the peace in the strike districts.
Interview with Mr. Rousseau
Mr. P. O. Rousseau, of Thibodaux, arrived in the city last evening. He reports that work on nearly every plantation from Raceland to Lockport is at a standstill. This also applies to Major Lagarde’s place. “Below that point,” said Mr. Rousseau, all the planters have given in and the men are working at the new rates. At Raceland Mr. Godchaux has granted the advance, as have also the owners of Utopia plantation. Hon. E. J. Gay’s plantation Arcadia, is working nearly a full force at the new rates. The advance has also been conceded by Whiteland & Kent, of the Eddy plantation, near Thibodaux; Joe Clodet & Bro., a short distance above Thibodaux, and Joe Toupes & Bro., in the same vicinity.
Mr. Rousseau said that men were being evicted everywhere. None refused to go, but quietly pack their few movables and move out in the woods or camp alongside the road. Others make for the towns. Thibodaux is crowded with these refugees. Every church has become a lodging-house for the homeless negroes. The cabins are filled to double their capacity and every empty building is filled.
He believes it was the intention of the negroes in Assumption parish to strike yesterday. One man who had been working there, and is thought to be a leader on one of the plantations, was at Mr. Rousseau’s place yesterday morning, and when asked why he did not go to his work answered evasively, giving Mr. Rousseau the impression that a strike had been ordered.
Mr. Rousseau reports all quiet in his neighborhood.
The Morgan City Rifles returned from Pattersonville to Morgan City, and a body of militia from Houma were at Schriever Station when the evening train passed there.
Joseph Lombas, of Lockport, also came in last evening. He says the situation there is unchanged. The negroes are quiet and the town and vicinity absolutely without excitement.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 8, 1887.
Some of the Northern papers are sermonizing on the sugar strike in this State, and seeking to demonstrate that labor is without rights in the South. Here is one of the Globe-Democrat’s remarkable and erroneous statements on this subject:
The strike of the laborers on the Louisiana plantations is to be regretted in so far as it may endanger the finest sugar crop ever grown in the State; but it has its agreeable side, nevertheless, when considered in a general way. It shows that the labor element of the South is beginning to understand that it has certain rights which it may enforce in spite of bad laws and systematic methods of injustice and oppression. Up to this time, the employers have practically had things their own way, and the employes have simply taken what they could get in a tame and forlorn fashion. It is notorious that the wages paid to working people in all the Southern States has barely sufficed to prevent starvation. Louisiana has been more liberal than some of the others, owing to special necessities; but she has been very careful at the same time to deny her laborers every advantage that she possibly could. The whole system of labor in the South since the war has been made as nearly like slavery as the conditions would allow; and the victims have submitted to it mainly from force of habit and want of acquaintance with the means to assert and protect themselves.
The tribute here paid to Louisiana is a just one, for it has been especially considerate of its labor; but all the other statements in the article are wide of the mark. It is a vain attempt to work up the question here in which the Republicans think they see an advantage, for they have undoubtedly benefited by politico-labor movements in the North.
Judge Kelley and nearly all the prominent Northerners who have been in this section of late have commented on the infrequency of strikes and the generally friendly relations existing between labor and capital, and have counted this among the great advantages this section offered. This relation extended not to agricultural labor alone, but to that engaged in manufacture; and while there was no doubt of the fact that the wages paid are smaller here than in the North and West, the difference is more than offset, those gentlemen showed, by the smaller cost of living, and generally by the fact that the labor is not as skilled, particularly the factory labor, as in New England. The cotton-mill hands in Massachusetts get more than those in Georgia; but at the same time they turn out a larger average production of goods.
But with regard to the agricultural labor, on which the Globe-Democrat principally dwells, it needs only refer to the last report of the Commissioner of Agriculture on agricultural wages, which draws the following comparison between the amounts paid laborers in the different sections:
“Thus, during twenty years past, wages were higher in 1866 than at the date of any other inquiry, except on the Pacific coast and in the South. The decline continued to 1879, and amounted to 39 per cent in the Eastern States, 35 in the Middle States, 30 in the Western States, and 17 in the Southern States.”
Since 1879 there has been an advance all along the line, except on the Pacific coast—the advance in the South being 7 and in the West 1 per cent.
Relative to the pay of hands in the sugar district during harvest season, the following is of interest:
There is not much difference here, and the Globe-Democrat will find it difficult to prove that the South is harsh with its labor or pays it ill. Its manifest purpose is to stir up disturbances; indeed, it does not even conceal this, but announces that if the laborers strike often enough, even though their strikes may be mistaken, “they will find the employers more and more willing to listen to them; and ultimately, if they persevere, the South will be forced to yield to labor the same consideration given it in the North.”
It will not need a long series of strikes, as the Globe-Democrat proposes, to accomplish that result. The South gives labor due consideration today. There are few fortunes built up in the South by capital; and that the planters and farmers have paid as high wages as the present prices of their products would allow is well shown by their bank books.
That the condition of affairs here is not such as the Globe-Democrat represents is well proved by the fact that a great many hands have come down here from the West to work in the factories, the mines and the sugar district of Louisiana, where white labor is far more abundant than it ever was before. The number thus seeking employment has increased each year, and it will be very difficult to demonstrate, as the Globe-Democrat pretends, that they are leaving a region where the laborer receives every consideration for one where he is ill-treated and tyrannized over and half starved. Its suggestion that what the South needs is more strikes, is not likely to recommend itself to any intelligent men.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 8, 1887.
In vivid contrast to the idyllic pictures of the laborers’ life on the Louisiana sugar plantations portrayed in the November Century are the strikes reported the past few weeks in the same sections. The daily newspapers gave alarming apprehensions of violence from the strikers accompanied by destruction of property, but the following from Southern Industry, a labor paper published in New Orleans, places a different face on the matter:
A gentleman who had just returned from the scene of the strikes in the Teche country, informs us that the ordering out of the militia was entirely uncalled for. The men were advised at the meetings of their assemblies to quit work quietly, if the planters refused their demands, and to leave the plantations without making any demonstration. This our informant says, was done, and that at no time was violence comtemplated.
The Southwestern Christian Advocate has the following in the same vein:
Fortunately the order of Gov. McEnery to forward troops to the town of Schriever, La., was countermanded. It is not clear why it was ever issued, for there was no disturbance of public order, or no threat of one beyond the ability of ordinary process issued by civil authorities. There was a labor strike by plantation hands, who wanted a slight advance in wages. Providing no contracts are broken, men have a right to work or not.
The Louisiana Standard takes issue with the New Orleans Times-Democrat for its defence of Governor McEnery’s action and says:
There has been no disturbance of the peace by the strikers, nor turbulence of any kind. The truth is, the laborers, believing that they had worked long enough at starvation wages, decided to ask for an advance, and this they did in respectful terms.
Later dispatches from Pattersonville, La., apprise us of the shooting of four Negroes in the vicinity of that town last Saturday by a sheriff’s posse, who appear to have opened hostilities with murderous haste. It is denied that the militia took any part in the slaughter, although they were present guarding the town.
The situation is evidently one requiring cool judgment and discretion to avert the unnecessary spilling of further blood and it is to be feared that these qualities are not to be found among the authorities of the State or parishes.
New York Freeman, November 12, 1887.
SANCTUARY DISTRICT ASSMB’Y
No. 102, Knights of Labor,
New Orleans, Nov. 11, 1887.
At a meeting of District Assembly No. 102, Knights of Labor, held on the above date, the following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted and ordered published:
‘Whereas, it has come to the knowledge of this District Assembly, officially and through the daily press, that a circular emanating from the Joint Local Executive Board, Knights of Labor, parish of Lafourche, asking an increase in wages, in conformity with a scale of wages established by District Assembly No. 194, was presented to the sugar planters; and
Whereas, said circular, couched in respectful and courteous language, was entirely ignored by said planters and treated with contempt; and
Whereas, said planters, in meeting assembled, did agree to earnestly combine and resolve that under no circumstances would they recognize any labor organization or pay the wages, or to the manner of payment, asked for in the circular; and that said planters did further resolve to eject all of their employees who would go on strike, from their plantations and blacklist said employees; and
Whereas, without color of authority or necessity, the Chief Executive of the State of Louisiana ordered out State troops to enforce the aggressive and arbitrary will of said planters; and
Whereas, we are informed that said sheriff’s posse, detectives or police, backed by State troops, killed four or more laborers, without provocation, while said laborers were under arrest; and
Whereas, we are reliably informed that the laborers were ready to leave, and did leave the plantations whenever requested; therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is our belief that said laborers, in the employ of the aforesaid sugar planters in the parish of Lafourche and adjoining parishes, had no other recourse to obtain their just demand but to discontinue work until their demands were satisfied or a hearing given them. Be it further
Resolved, That we condemn and censure the actions of the chief executive of the State, Sam’l D. McEnery, in ordering out the State troops to be uncalled for, and without authority or precedent, and that we admonish the governor of the State of Louisiana that he shall not override the rights of her citizens to peaceably assemble and ask a fair conpensation for their honest labor. And that he must respect the constitution and laws of this State, and cease the offensive display or use of military force during a controversy between employer and employee, when no attempt is made or intended to violate law and the peace and dignity of the State. Be it further
Resolved, That from information in our possession, we believe that the lawless destruction of human life by the armed force employed was assassination, and we pronounce against it and demand that the legal constituted authorities, by the process of law, do thoroughly investigate the killing of the laborers at Pattersonville, and bring the slayers before the bar of justice for such punishment as they may be found deserving. Be it further
Resolved, That as District Assembly 102 and the whole order of the Knights of Labor have pronounced in unmistakable language against Anarchy and the unlawful taking of human life, we, also pronounce against any armed force of men, whether sheriff’s posse, detectives, police or military troops taking the life of inoffensive citizens while peacefully exercising their rights.
Be it further resolved, That this District Assembly, in unmeasured terms, deplore the action of the Planters’ Association, and in deploring we give them fair warning that “When Greek meets Greek then comes the tug of war.” And we will at once appeal to our millions of workingmen to ask at the hands of Congress the repeal of the duties on sugar, which will in the end bring them to a sense of justice and of the rights of others and benefit the whole people of these United States.
Be it further resolved, That this District Assembly appoint a committee to immediately investigate all matters concerned, herewith expressed in these resolutions, and see that perfect justice is done. And that this District Assembly use every endeavor to assist the committee in the furtherance of this object.
Be it further resolved, That the Executive Board take such steps as will materially aid the committee in accomplishing the end sought for, and that we pledge our entire moral and financial support in the direction.’
The Weekly Pelican, November 19, 1887.
NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 7.—To the Editor:—The Times-Democrat of New Orleans, in discussing an editorial which recently appeared in your paper concerning the present sugar tariff, undertakes to refute your argument, based partly on the statement of Congressman Scott, in relation to the wages of sugar plantation hands. The plain facts are that the hands on our sugar plantations are not much, if any, better paid and cared for than the pauper labor of Europe. To illustrate: First-class laborers on sugar plantations are paid from January to grinding season (about the 1st of November) at the rate of 65 cents per day, subject to deductions for all days or parts of days lost for any cause. They are furnished a cabin or room 12 x 15, in which themselves and families may reside. Out of these wages the laborer has to “feed” and clothe himself and family. I am readily informed by experienced overseers that after all deductions for lost time are made the average laborer makes about twenty days per month, provided he does not fall sick; he therefore receives in pasteboard tickets an average of $13 per month. These tickets are not transferable, and can only be negotiated at the plantation store, where they are exchanged for meat, bread, etc., at the prices fixed by the storekeeper, who generally represents the planter. These prices are usually fixed at about 100 per cent over the wholesale cost of the goods; there fore the planter gets back through his plantation store in profits on his goods about one-half of the wages which he pays the laborer, which makes the actual wages paid by the planter about $6.50 per month.
This rate and mode of payment generally prevail until sugar-making commences, when the wages are increased to 75 cents and $1 per day, and 50 cents for an extra six hours’ work at night, which is called “a watch.”
The laborer continues to receive his pay in tickets, but continues to buy his meat, bread, and other necessaries at the plantation store. At the end of the year he is as “poor as a church mouse,” and the demands of his stomach are such that he is compelled to enter into a new contract for another year.
The strike which is now going on in the Teche and Lafourche sugar district was brought about—as I understand it—by the action of the Knights of Labor, who in the name and in behalf of these poor pauper laborers, composed principally of colored people, demanded $1.25 per day and 60 cents per watch of six hours for first-class laborers, sugh wages to be paid in money instead of tickets. Considering all the circumstances, this demand seems reasonable,—especially so the present year, owing to a fine crop and yield of sugar,—yet the planters have organized themselves, advised and caused the governor to order out the State troops, and refused to pay the wages demanded by the laborers, several of whom were shot and killed at Pattersonville last Saturday. The outlook at present is gloomy for hundreds of the laborers, who have been driven from the cabins and are now without food or shelter other than such as has been given them in the towns by those of their own color, who are poorly able to provide for themselves.
There are some honorable exceptions to the manner of paying laborers, some planters paying in money and allowing their hands to trade wherever they please.
The “I owe you” ticket method has been the largest factor in bringing on the present strike, and as it is in direct violation of section 3583 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, which imposes a penalty of fine and imprisonment for its violation, I trust that the publicity herein given to the matter will reach the department of justice, and that the offenders will be dealt with in such manner as law, justice, fair play, and humanity demand.
I leave the question of “does the tariff on sugar protect the laborer” who, by the sweat of his brow, makes it to gentlemen who are better posted on the subject than I am, leaving them to apply the facts stated, and sustained by the average overseer’s time book, to the whole question at issue, and then reach their own conclusions on the subject.
In order that the plantation store profit may be fairly averaged, I suggest the following question to any live country dealer, viz: Suppose you had absolute control of the trade of five hundred men whose credit outside of your store was entirely worthless, and from whom no one could make a cent by process of law, and your trade was to be exclusively with those one hundred people, what rate of profit would you charge them on the goods you sold them, considering their gross trade to be worth $1300 per month?—W. B. Merchant in Chicago Times.
The Weekly Pelican, November 19, 1887.
The Sugar Planters’ Association of Louisiana is divided into branches, one of which is composed of the parishes of Iberia, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Terrebonne. This district produces one-third of the sugar made in Louisiana. The population is about 110,000 souls, slightly the larger part of these souls encased in black bodies.
The sugar planters in the association number about fifty or sixty persons, and require the labor of several thousand men to cultivate their plantations. The work of sugar making lasts from ten to twelve weeks, commencing generally in the early part of October and ending in the latter part of December.
The work of cutting the cane and making the sugar has to be done in this short period to prevent damage by frosts, and the laborers’ work from daylight to dark, and even longer, fourteen and sixteen hours being the usual length of a day’s work.
These fifty or sixty sugar planters met and settled the prices they would pay for this kind of labor, and it was the enormous sum of one dollar per day and fifty cents for watching at night.
All the laborers are negroes, and most of them ignorant and poor. Some one told them of the advantages derived from organization, and they became Knights of Labor. Last month they made a schedule of prices, asking $1.25 a day for labor and 60 cents a night for watching. This was refused and they struck.
Immediately, and without a call from the civil authorities of the parishes, Gov. McEnery troops with a Gatling gun to the “Teche” country, and there men have been forced, at the point of the bayonet and the muzzle of a Gatling gun, to return to work at the wages dictated by the sugar planters, behind whom is the power of the State of Louisiana.
Do the workingmen of the country understand the significance of this movement? The negroes of the “Teche” are practically disfranchised. Their votes are of no value, and for that reason they can be forced to work at starvation wages in the richest spot of land under the American flag.
The servile labor of the south is servile and controlled by bayonets and Gatling guns, because the white voters of the north—the men who labor with their hands—do not protect their ignorant fellow-workingmen in the rights which the constitution guarantees them, and allows Democrats to control the country.
The Weekly Pelican, November 19, 1887.
A Bad State of Affairs in Lafourche
Several Cases of Attempted Assassination Reported
Action Taken by a Mass Meeting of Citizens Called to Consider the Situation
A Committee on Law and Order Formed
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 20.—[Special]—Unfortunately the labor troubles are not over. For several weeks hands working peacefully under can sheds have been fired into. Several were wounded and one has since died. The outlook is very dark. The people of Thibodaux can no longer put up with the strain. The town is full of idle negroes, who each day become more and more audacious.
A number of the citizens of the parish for the past three weeks have been holding daily meetings and have been doing everything in their power to maintain peace and order. This is with the greatest difficulty, for many who attended the meetings are young men, who impatiently wait for the moment to put a stop to this state of affairs.
This morning an alarm of a riot was reported at the back of town, and within a very short space of time over 100 men fully armed marched to the place where the disorder was said to exist. Fortunately there was no appearance of trouble, for it would have gone badly with the participants.
This evening a much larger meeting assembled.
The inhabitants of Thibodaux feel a little more secure, for many who for three weeks have been standing by as quiet spectators to the terrible struggle between planters and laborers have come to the conclusion to give help. What is the cause of this sudden change is not as yet known, and planters are glad to see the interest taken in them even at this late date, and are thankful for it.
The town will be patrolled tonight and all the people trust there will be no trouble, but all are so wrought up that at this moment the most trifling incident will bring on a terrible massacre.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE MASS MEETING AT THIBODAUX
THIBODAUX, La., via Schriever, La., Nov. 20.—[Special]—A mass meeting of the citizens of the parish of Lafourche, composed of about 300 of the most prominent residents, was held in the town hall of the town of Thibodaux this afternoon.
The meeting was called to order by Major S. F. Grissmore, who requested Lieutenant Governor Clay Knobloch to preside.
On taking the chair the governor said that he was sorry to say that circumstances required such a meeting. Here were assembled men representing all trades and professions. The good citizens of the community assembled to take counsel together concerning the state of lawlessness in this section. For the past few days would-be assassins were prowling about at night shooting into sugar-houses; on one occasion shooting at a horseman on the public highway. Several persons have already been wounded by those night prowlers. One man died from the effects of the wounds received, and another lost an eye. Such lawless acts must be put down at all hazards.
He hoped the meeting would calmly discuss the situation, not indulge in violent or intemperate language, but take such action as would surely discover the guilty parties and bring them to speedy justice. In this effort he knew that all good citizens would make common cause.
Mr. O. Naquin presented the following resolutions:
“Whereas, certain parties, in violation of law, order and decency, have, from time to time, been firing upon various parties in this parish and wounding others, and have been making threats of violence against other parties; and, whereas, this state of affairs is a disgrace to the parish and a reproach upon its good name for law and order; now, therefore, we, the good and law-abiding citizens of the parish of Lafourche, in mass meeting assembled, do resolve that this state of disorder shall and must cease, and that we all, regardless of calling, avocation or pursuit, do now pledge ourselves and each other to use every means in our power to bring the guilty parties, and those who may have advised such lawlessness, to a speedy detection and punishment.
“Resolved, further, That we now offer a reward of $250 for the detection of the party or parties guilty of those offenses.
“Resolved, That for the better preservation of the peace the sheriff be requested to swear in deputies, and that he shall have a patrol to make vigilant search day and night for the guilty parties.
“Resolved, That a committee on peace and order be now appointed to represent this body, and to co-operate with the law officers in ferreting out the guilty and in preserving the peace, and that full powers be granted said committee.”
The resolutions were adopted.
The chairman appointed the following persons on said committee: Judge Beattie, Major Lagarde, Emile Morvant, Andrew Price, L. A. Trosclair, Ozeme Naquin, Ellis Brand, Lawrence Keefe, Dr. Dansereau, Dr. J. H. Fleetwood, Louis Julian, E. G. Curtis, John Seely, H. W. Tabor, Alceste Bourgeois, Taylor Legarde, A. Molaisson, L. D. Moore, Thomas Beary. The name of the chairman was added to the committee.
The meeting was then addressed by Messrs. I. D. Moore, Judge Beattie, Lewis Guion, Andrew Price, J. M. Howell, W. H. Price and S. T. Grissmore, when the committee on peace and order retired for consultation.
In due time the committee reported through Mr. Moore that they had taken action to suppress the prevailing lawlessness, and advised against any individual action—that every person should obey the law and the law officers and aid in preserving good order, but leave all movements to be arranged by the committee.
On motion, the secretary was directed to telegraph these proceedings to the Times-Democrat and New Orleans Picayune for publication tomorrow.
The sheriff then swore in thirty deputies when the meeting adjourned.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 21, 1887.
PICKETS GUARDING THE TOWN ATTACKED BY NEGROES
Two White Men Seriously Wounded—The Fire Returned by an Armed Guard and Citizens—-Six Negroes Killed and Five Wounded.
Special to The Times-Democrat.
THIBODAUX, Nov. 23.—The continued threats of the negro strikers in this parish to attack this town culminated this morning in a bloody fight, in which six of the negroes were killed and five wounded, and two young white men seriously hurt.
After the meeting of the sugar planters and other prominent citizens on Sunday, the more violent of the negroes openly made threats to burn the town and commit other depredations. The citizens of Thibodaux, knowing the inflamed condition of the strikers, at once took steps to protect their lives and property. For the past few days white citizens from all parts of the parish have been coming to Thibodaux.
On Sunday night the situation had become so serious that a number of the best young men of the town and parish were sworn in as deputy sheriffs and picketed on the approaches to the place.
Monday afternoon and night alarming reports continued to come in and the excitement increased. Householders, not feeling secure even with the protection of the cordon around the town, stood guard all night or only caught brief snatches of sleep. More timid women were unable to sleep at all, and many have not closed their eyes since they arose Monday morning. The whole town has been under a strain of great uneasiness which was increased from the fact that no one knew when the attack would take place.
Yesterday evening information was received from reliable sources that the negroes were combining and that the attack would be made last night. The cordon of pickets was strengthened, and the coming of the negroes anxiously awaited. The night wore on, however, and there was no sign of trouble. The day dawned, the sun arose, and the men who had stood guard all night over the lives and property of their kindred were preparing to go to their homes, when the sharp crack of rifles, mingled with the rattle of shotguns, awoke the few citizens of the town who were asleep and told the men on guard that the fight had begun.
The outmost picket guarding the town consisted of two of Thibodaux’s most respectable young men—Messrs. John J. Gorman and Henry Moiaison. These two were posted considerably in advance of the others, and, the night being chilly, had built a bonfire and were standing near it. About 7 o’clock they were fired upon by a party of negroes in ambush, who had evidently concealed themselves during the night near the bonfire. As the report of the guns rang out both men fell to the ground seriously wounded, Mr. Gorman with a bullet in his head, which entered near the eye, and Mr. Moiaison with a severe wound in the leg.
As already stated, this volley alarmed the rest of the guard and the whole town, and the former immediately rushed to the scene of the firing. Two young men posted near the wounded men soon reached them, and immediately took steps looking to their relief. While they were thus assisting the wounded another volley was fired upon them by the negroes, but fortunately it did no damage.
In a few minutes the entire guard around the town had rushed to the danger point, and other citizens began to assemble with such weapons as they could hurriedly lay their hands on. As they assembled around the wounded men, half of them unconscious of how the wounds had been received, there came a third volley from the negroes in ambush. This volley, like the second, did no damage, but served to unmask the assailants and to indicate to the citizens, who had gathered hastily with the knowledge only that there was danger somewhere, exactly where that danger lay.
There was an instant and prompt reply to the volley, and a general fusilade was poured into the ranks of the negroes. In a few minutes the fight had ended. The negroes replied feebly to the fire of the whites at first, but soon became panic-stricken and fled to the woods.
After the battle the wildest rumors were afloat as to the number killed. At first it was stated that from fifteen to twenty-five negroes had lost their lives and that a large number were wounded. After thorough search by the coroner, assisted by other citizens, however, it was found that only six of the attacking party had been killed and five wounded. The two young men who went down under the first volley were the only white men hurt.
There was a great deal of excitement in town and throughout this section during the day, but tonight all is quiet. As a matter of precaution, however, the town is still guarded by a cordon of armed pickets, and all the white men in town are under arms, acting as deputy sheriffs.
THE THIBODAUX WAR
Interview with a Number of White Residents of the Town Who Fled for Safety, Fearing a Further Attack by Negroes.
The regular Morgan Railroad train, en route to New Orleans, left Thibodaux at 12:45 o’clock. The departure of the train was anxiously awaited by many women and children who were “on pins and needles” to leave the place, fearing that the riotous negroes would carry out their avowed threats of burning the houses and murdering the women and children.
The shooting yesterday morning sent a shock of terror to the hearts of many women and children, hence their fleeing from their homes to the city to seek shelter with friends and relatives.
As soon as the train stopped every available seat was quickly taken. About twenty ladies, accompanied by their children, a number of white men and a large concourse of negroes boarded the train and were soon speeding toward the city. The conductor of the train had his hands full, for but few, if any of the passengers had secured tickets, all having but one purpose to accomplish, and that was to get away from Thibodaux just as fast as the iron horse could carry them off.
The majority of the white people came to the city, but at every station the negroes left the train in squads of five and ten until the city was reached, when but few were left. Among the negroes who came here notably were two of the ringleaders, Marshall Ricar and Christian Banks. When they alighted from the train they were noticed by a Creole gentleman who is well acquainted in Thibodaux, and whose business at the train was to meet some of his relatives. The gentleman, calling the negroes by name, said: “Here you are—you two rascals have been the ringleaders in all the trouble. They ought to have kept both of you in jail and hung you.” To this the negroes made no reply, but simply ran out Esplanade street as fast as their feet could carry them.
Among the passengers arriving yesterday was the Hoffman family, consisting of Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. A. Bouron, three daughters and two sons. At the train they were met by Mr. Bouron, the well-known gun maker, who resides on Chartres, near Jefferson street, where a TIMES-DEMOCRAT reporter called last evening at 7:30 o’clock. All the visitors had retired for the night. Mr. Bouron was interviewed by the writer. He disliked awakening the ladies who were very tired, but if the reporter insisted he said that he would comply. He said further that the ladies had not had a night’s rest for the last three weeks, being afraid to venture to sleep, fearing that the oft-repeated threats to kill them and burn their buildings would be carried out.
Mrs. Hoffman’s husband keeps a furniture store, and Mr. Bouron keeps a gun store in Thibodaux. Mr. Bouron’s store has been carefully guarded by the citizens and militia for the last three weeks, it having been reported that the negroes had decided to set his place on fire, and then plunder the establishment of all the arms in the place. The ladies stated to Mr. Bouron that everything was quiet up to 5 o’clock, when two of the guards were fired at, and the result was that a number of negroes were killed. They heard the shooting, and momentarily awaited the burning of their homes.
A few families came to the city and everything was quiet when they left. Mrs. Edgar Rivier, her mother and three sisters, and Mrs. Rivier’s children were among those who came in on the train last evening. Mrs. Rivier was met at the train by Mr. Lajeau, a merchant residing on Decatur, between Jefferson and Toulouse streets, who is closely related to the ladies and at whose residence they are staying.
Mrs. Rivier was visited by a reporter of THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT last evening. She said that there were some fifteen or seventeen negroes killed. She and a number of other women and children came away from Thibodaux. A large crowd of negroes left Thibodaux, but at every point they left the train in squads of five and ten. The train arrived in the city at 5 o’clock, and Mrs. Rivier was glad to get to New Orleans.
“The reason for killing the negroes was because they shot at the guards, who had been watching the city, because it was threatened to burn the houses and kill the women and children. We were afraid that they were going to burn the houses and murder us when we heard the shooting.
“After the shooting everything was quiet, and by 11 o’clock all the negroes had fled from the town. The negroes don’t want peace; they want to fight; and when they get into a fight they run away. All the trouble is caused by several darkies and white leaders. These leaders do no work and get up disturbances among the field hands and then leave the field hands to fight it out.”
In conclusion, the lady stated that she, as well as other women, were compelled to leave for fear of the negroes carrying out their threat to burn the houses and murder the women and children. Her husband, Mr. Edgar Rivier, and brother-in-law, Mr. A. Bouron, are members of the militia, and they were on duty yesterday when their families left for the city.
Mr. Lejeau stated to the writter that he learned through the telephone that two of the negro leaders who had been jailed and were last evening taken from the jail and shot openly. The gentleman endeavored to obtain further particulars by telephone about 6 o’clock last evening, but the telephone office was closed.
A TALK WITH NEGRO REFUGEES
As soon as the news of the fight reached the city a reporter of THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT was dispatched to meet the incoming train at Gretna.
The train was boarded at the Gretna station by the reporter at 3:30 p.m. There were several parties in one of the coaches who had come from Thibodaux, but as they were refugees and had not been in the fight, they did not possess a very extensive fund of information.
H. Franklin, a colored man, was pointed out as having been one of the agitators, and he was interviewed.
He said: “So far as I know, two men who constituted the outer patrol of citizens—J. G. Gorman and Henry Mellaison—were fired into this morning about daybreak and seriously wounded. A bullet entered Gorman’s right eye and came out of his mouth, while Mellaison received a shot in the knee. The firing was done by colored people who were out on the strike.”
“As soon as this occurred the citizens of the town turned out en masse and attacked the strikers wherever they met them. I don’t know how many were killed, but heard it estimated at fully twenty-five. The shooting was quite general. I don’t know if the parties who did the firing at the pickets were caught or not. I don’t think there is any doubt about the pickets having been shot while around their bonfire. I left Thibodaux because I thought I would be safer away from there.”
Mr. Sidney F. Lewis, of the State Board of Engineers, who was also on the train, told the reporter that when he passed through Thibodaux Tuesday night he found the citizens much excited, alarmed and under arms. It looked as if trouble was brewing and they were making preparations to protect themselves against any overt action on the part of the strikers. He did not remain in the town, but his assistant, Bob Smith, did.
Bob Smith, who was also on the train, said he had slept last night in the courthouse and heard random shots during the night. That the strikers were encamped in the town in a big brick house, and the people felt much alarmed over the state of affairs, especially after the shooting into the sugar-houses on Monday night.
“This morning,” he continued, “about 5 o’clock, while the outer pickets were around their bonfire, they were fired into by the negroes and two of them badly wounded. The news spread rapidly, and the Clay Knobloch Guards fell in and marched to the front. The citizens hastily collected many of them mounted, and hurried to the scene.
“Shooting soon commenced and in a short while the strikers had disappeared. Several of them were killed, the majority fleeing for parts unknown.
“All of the agitators and strikers have been ordered out of town, and have obeyed without loss of time. There are between 200 and 300 citizens under arms, and do not intend to stand any more trifling, intimidation or threats.”
Charles Lussian, a white man, who had been pointed out as an agitator, was next spoken to. He was rolling a cigarette and talking to some negroes. His wife and child were with him. He was a slight-built man of sallow complexion, of about medium height, wearing a small dark mustache. He wore a slouch hat, good clothes, although his shirt collar was wilted, and was minus a cravat.
He said that he had kept a market in Thibodaux, and did a large business with the negroes, but knew nothing of the trouble. He had seen some shooting near his place, in which the colored people were getting the worst of it.
The citizens had warned him to depart from there instantly, and he had taken the train as soon as it came along.
From general conversation with several who had heard of the state of affairs, the reporter learned that the citizens, right after the shooting in the morning, had notified all agitators, irrespective of color or nationality, to quit town within twenty-four hours, and the most of them had availed themselves of the opportunity.
They have also forbidden any of the strikers to enter Thibodaux under any pretext whatever, and it was said that the citizens had declared their intention of putting an end to the labor troubles in that vicinity without more ado.
Everything was quiet when the train left and business had entirely ceased.
THE MILITIA ORDERED OUT
Last night Capt. Adams, of the Louisiana Rifles, stated that he had received orders to start for Thibodaux today on the 12:15 train with his command.
Capt. Adams last night issued the following orders:
QUARTERS COMPANY A, LOUISIANA RIFLES, New Orleans, Nov. 23, 1887.
Pursuant to general orders the members of this command will assemble Thursday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m. sharp, fully equipped for duty in field.
By order of Capt. C. H. Adams.
L. J. FALLON, First Sergeant.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 24, 1887.
ARRIVAL OF THE TROOPS AT THIBODAUX
Re-enforcements from Houma
The Pickets Again Fired Upon
The Wounded Men Doing as Well as Could be Expected
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 24.—[Special]—Everything is exceedingly quiet in Lafourche parish today. At 4 o’clock the train from New Orleans brought as passengers the Louisiana Rifles and a detachment of the Washington Artillery, the latter having with them a Gatling gun, served by Sergeant Vaughan and Private Blackman, Rhoderdar, Ashbey, Rube and Kelly. Captain Adams commanded the rifles with Lieutenant Moer and Oviatt, Sergeants Famou, Duffy and Moses, Corporals Beyer and Remy and Privates Bonnecaze, Wirth, Bernard, Fallon, Munroe, Blaise, Calhoun, Barfa, Lazard, Viosa, Marks, Hart, Williams, Hernandez, Talgo, May, Dowler, Mumer, Mayers, Vierre, Reisberg and Reynoir.
The troops were met at the depot by Judge Taylor Beattie and escorted to the courthouse, where they were quartered.
Last night at about 8 o’clock, shortly after the pickets were posted, and a short distance from where Gorman and Molaison were fired upon the night previous, the outlaws fired upon the pickets, and rumors of the disturbances here reached Houma, and Messrs. Winder, Southon, Nelan, Williams, W. F. Gray, Peter Berger, and other courageous gentlemen taking conveyances, arrived in town about 9 o’clock. They were about fifteen in all. The contingent greatly relieved the home guard, for these gentlemen immediately placed themselves at the dispostion of Judge T. Beattie, and were assigned to their various posts of duty.
The hands have returned to work, each one endeavoring to throw the blame on the other, as is usual under such circumstances. The prime movers of the shooting into the hands under the canesheds at night time, and several of the agitators in general have escaped the punishment they so richly deserved, and left their tools to pay for the folly of their rowdyhood. The people at large are fully satisfied that the law has in no manner been violated by these who acted in behalf of peace and order.
Much credit is due to Judge Taylor Beattie for the admirable manner in which everything has been conducted. A thorough soldier, having passed his full time in the confederate army, all the militia of the patrol, picket, sentinel and other soldierly duties were fully observed and the men well held in hand, and not one shot unjustifiable or uncalled for was fired from the beginning to the end of the difficulty. Judge Beattie has impressed upon the whole people of Lafourche the fact that he is a judge with the power and innate will to see the laws obeyed to the letter.
The Picayune’s representative called upon J. J. Gorman and Henry Melaison, the two wounded white men. They are both doing well. Gorman is the head of an interesting family—a wife and five little children. He is about 34 years of age and belongs to the firm of Naquin & Gorman, boilermakers. Melaison, a younger man, clerks for his father, Adrien Melaison, who conducts a general feed store. Gorman formerly resided in New Orleans, but removed to Thibodaux about four years ago; he is a brave, courageous and unassuming gentleman.
An investigation into the particulars of the shooting of Wednesday morning has resulted substantially the same as that published in yesterday’s Picayune. Gorman and Melaison were doing picket duty when fired upon by the negro outlaws. Gorman, who was shot in the right eye, walked away from the spot, but Melaison, who received a slug in the leg, laid in the ditch. Frank Zernott, a prominent jeweler of the town, who was on guard, ran to Melaison’s assistance and was fired upon. The general shooting then took place.
In conversation with a prominent citizen it was learned that for three weeks past the negro women of the town have been making threats to the effect that if the white men resorted to arms they would burn the town and the lives of the white women and children with their cane knives.
The plantations in the immediate vicinity of Thibodaux, which have been affected by the troubles, are those of John T. Moore, Jr.’s, Waubun plantation, Logard’s Coudet Bros., Tresclair & Robichaux, Lewis Guion and Ernest Rogers. The few hands on these places who had consented to work were fired into by the outlaws last week and the result was that not a single hand would go to work. It was no longer a question of capital against labor, but one of law-abiding citizens against assassins. The laboring hands here are not recognized Knights of Labor, but a combination headed as far as their circular goes by the most worthless of men the parish contains.
A prominent citizen here in an interview stated that the trouble had been brewing for some weeks among the colored people, resulting from the labor troubles. Ten days ago T. Boiblis, a sugar boiler, was fired upon by negroes. Lewis Guion’s Ridgefield sugar-house, in which a number of white men were working, was also subjected to the same ordeal. The overseer on the Leighton plantation was shot in the face, but not severely injured. The hands under the cane sheds in numerous places were fired on.
Things changed for the worse, and citizens were afraid to go out upon the public highway for fear of being shot from ambush.
The Lafourche Sugar Planters’ Association sent out a committee of five to wait upon the leaders of the Knights of Labor, who were the instigators of the shooting in Lafourche, and notified them that the shooting had to cease.
On that very same night there was shooting from ambush on five different places, and on the following night there was shooting on two or three other places.
The negroes who had left the plantations and taken refuge in the town of Thibodaux were being put up night and day to do acts of violence. Some negro women made threats to burn the town down. During the latter part of last week a person could not go out into the streets without seeing congregations of negroes that wrought no good to the peace and order of the town.
Some of the negroes boasted openly that if a fight was brought about they were fully prepared for it.
Reports came into town to the effect that the negroes would make an attack upon it.
A report reached headquarters on Sunday that the negroes had collected quite a number of arms on St. Charles street. The whites then saw the necessity of being thoroughly organized to meet the emergency, and the citizens of the whole town, by reason of all these dangers surrounding them, came together for the purpose of maintaining peace and order in the country.
A mass meeting was held on Sunday evening and a volunteer company was organized to picket the town and stop the midnight disturbances. The pickets were placed in position all around town.
The negroes were repeatedly warned by several of the citizens that these lawless deeds at night had to stop at all hazards, and also the incendiary talk. A large body of mounted men prepared for any emergency patrolled the town on Sunday, but abstained from any act of violence until they ascertained the effects of the mass meeting.
On Monday the negroes became insolent, and sneered at the soldiers and citizens on the streets. They proclaimed publicly that the white people were afraid to fire upon them, and that they were prepared.
At night some unknown persons went to Franklin’s barroom where there were some negroes. An attack was made upon the white visitors and in the firing that ensued two negroes were wounded. Watson, one of the negroes, after running some distance, fell; the other, Page, went to his home and is doing well.
On Tuesday morning following a large number of people came into town from the surrounding country in order to help preserve the peace. During the day the two Cox brothers, being leaders of the combination were arrested for incendiary language and jailed. Towards evening the negroes appeared to have given up the contest and being entirely subdued they went home and abandoned the streets.
The night passed off quietly, but at 5 o’clock Wednesday morning the pickets were fired upon with the result already known.
The organized citizens and the C. K. Guards proceeded to the scene of the disturbance, when the citizen posse opened fire on the negroes, searched their homes for arms and ammunition, and in a little more than a quarter of an hour closed the whole affair.
Nine negroes were buried today, and one more will die probably tonight.
A large number of negroes escaped through the fields and have not returned. The women who had come into the city are returning to the plantations from whence they came.
At 9 o’clock tonight the town is very quiet, the stillness of the night being disturbed only by the patrol of armed citizens and soldiers.
Judge Taylor Beattie, who has made the courthouse his headquarters, is in consultation with the several officers of the military as to how to divide the forces. While this was going on the rumor reached there that a large number of armed negroes were congregating on Terrebonne road, about a mile and a quarter distant from the town. Armed citizens proceeded to the place indicated and their approach dispersed the crowd.
In the event of an attack upon the town, the result will be disastrous to the negroes.
One of the Wounded
Yesterday morning a colored man named Thomas G. Cunio was brought to the city on the Morgan train from Thibodaux, suffering from a gunshot wound of the left hand. The ambulance was called and conveyed him to the hospital, where the wound was examined and pronounced severe, the bullet having passed through the hand.
Cunio stated that about 7 o’clock Wednesday morning as he was getting out of his bed he heard some calling at his front gate to him to come out quick and let them in. As he opened his parlor door he saw a body of men standing there armed with guns. He went to open the gate and found that he had the wrong key, and they threatened to break in if he did not hurry up and let them in. Cunio told them to go around and he would let them in through the rear of his store. Some of them did so, and on entering they informed him that they were looking for arms and fugitives.
They searched the place but failed to find what they were looking for, and then ordered him behind the counter, and as he went there they fired several shots at him, one of which struck hin in the hand and some of the others grazed his feet. He fell, and while lying on the floor in front of his iron safe he says they fired several more shots at him after which they left the place. He claims that he does not know the men, nor would he be able to identify them if he ever saw them again, as he was very much excited at the time.
Cunio’s statement, when first seen, was that the men drove him from the house, and then shot him. His house is located in the eastern limits of Thibodaux where he formerly kept a grocery store. He next went to selling furniture on the installment plan, and now he is engaged in buying furs.
He has resided in this town for a long while, and it is strange that he does not know his assailants who belong in Thibodaux.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 25, 1887.
A Detailed Account of the Fight Wednesday
The Threats and Overt Acts of the Negroes Which Led Up to the Tragedy—Death of Four of the Wounded Negroes—Further Trouble Expected.
Special to The Times-Democrat.
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 23.—The Louisiana Rifles, twenty-six in number, in command of Capt. Adams, and a detachment of the Washington Artillery, with a Gatling gun and other necessary equipment, arrived here at 3:30 p.m. today. The trip from New Orleans to this city was devoid of special interest. The effects of the recent riot, however, could be seen all along the line. The depots and stations on the line of the Southern Pacific in Lafourche were crowded with negroes, eager and anxious to get out of the country. Trains bound for the Crescent City were crowded with darkies.
The troops from New Orleans were received at the depot by a large number of the prominent citizens of Thibodaux, including the Clay Knobloch Guards and the volunteers. There was not a negro to be seen in any direction.
The excitement has to a considerable extent subsided, and the leaders of the rioters, it is generally understood, have quit the country. At least they have not been seen since the affair of Wednesday. The citizens are determined to preserve the peace and have organized to that end.
It appears that the trouble leading on to the riot of Wednesday commenced about ten days ago, when negroes fired on a white man named Theodore Baille, passing on the levee. Baille is a sugar boiler, and he was fired upon a mile below town. There was some firing also on Lewis Guion’s sugarhouse, in which quite a number of white men were lodged. Several shots were fired at white laborers on the Leighton plantation, and the overseer was struck in the face by small shot, but fortunately not seriously injured. Between Thibodaux and Houma hands under cane sheds were fired upon.
Indeed things had got to such a point that citizens were afraid to go out on the public highway, for fear of being shot at by negroes in ambush. The Sugar Planters’ Association of Lafourche appointed a committee of five to wait on the five men who were suspected of being the instigators of the shooting in Lafourche, and notified them that their followers must preserve the peace. On that night shooting occurred at five different sugarhouses in Lafourche, the parties being in ambush, and on the succeeding nights shots were fired at three other sugarhouses.
The colored people, who had been moved away from their respective plantations, and who had taken refuge in the town of Thibodaux, were being harangued day and night for the purpose of inspiring them to deeds of violence. Some of the colored women made open threats against the people and the community, declaring that they would destroy any house in the town. One could hardly go on the streets without seeing clusters of negroes at the different thoroughfares, indulging in conversation that boded no good to the peace and order of the community. Not a few of the negroes boasted that in case a fight was made they were fully prepared for it. Reports were frequent to the effect that the negroes proposed to make an attack upon the town, and on Sunday morning it was reported in the country that the negroes had assembled on St. Charles street and were thoroughly armed.
It was at this time that the whites saw the necessity of organization for the protection of their lives and property, and to meet any emergency that might possibly arise out of the present difficulties. Hence it was that in view of existing dangers the citizens of Thibodaux organized for the purpose of maintaining peace and good order.
On Sunday at 3 p.m., a mass meeting was called and a patrol organized, with a view of stopping lawlessness and crime. A company of volunteers was also organized to picket the town. The pickets were located in every portion of Thibodaux and kept up a nightly watch.
The negroes were repeatedly warned by several of the prominent and influential citizens of the place that lawlessness at night must cease, and that good order must be restored and maintained. During Sunday large bodies of mounted men were in waiting for any emergency. On Monday the negroes were insolent, sneering at the soldiers and citizens alike, and proclaiming publicly the white people were afraid to fire on them, and that, under any circumstances, they were prepared. Monday night some unknown persons sent into Franklin’s coffee-house, where there were some negroes playing cards.
The negroes made an attack upon the whites, when firing was commenced, resulting in the shooting of two negroes. Watson, one of the negroes, ran two squares and died, and the other, Morris Page, went to his home, painfully but not fatally wounded.
On Tuesday morning large crowds of white people, planters and others, from the surrounding country came into town armed, and with a determination to maintain peace and order. During the day the two Cox brothers, who were reported to be the leaders of the disturbing element, were arrested and jailed, the people being evidently determined to put an end to future trouble. Toward evening the negroes appeared to have been subdued, and the poor people were led to believe that the trouble was happily ended, and that there would be no further violence.
The night passed off quietly, but at 5 a.m. a guard of five men, at the intersection of St. Charles street and the railroad, at the south end of the town, was fired upon by a squad of negroes in ambush. The wounded men were J. J. Gorman and Henry Molaison. Gorman was shot in the left cheek with a slug, which took a downward tendency and passed out through his mouth. When seen this evening he was resting easy, but was not permitted to speak. Mr. Molaison received four shots in the right leg, only two of which have thus far been abstracted. His coat and pants were perforated in fourteen different places.
MR. MOLAISON’S STATEMENT
Relative to the shooting, Mr. Molaison said in an interview with a representative of THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT this evening: “ I was one of the pickets stationed at the terminus of St. Charles street. My watch was from 12 until 6 a.m. We had quite a fire built, but none of us were near it at the time of the shooting. Myself, Gorman, Anslett and Gruneburg were fully 250 yards from the fire, discussing matters and things, when a shot was fired and Gorman rolled over into the ditch near by. Gorman was shot about 5 a.m. I thought it was a pistol-shot. Mr. Marouge accompanied Mr. Gorman home. Both were gone about five minutes, when I told Messrs. Anslett and Gruneburg to take my place, as I wished to assist Mr. Gorman. I had gone about 200 yards from Anslett when I was shot down.”
The shooters were in ambush in a cornfield situated about 100 yards from the picket lines. Who they were is not known, except that they were negroes. Mr. Molaison is doing well.
When the fact of the shooting was made known in Thibodaux the citizens organized for self-protection a company of volunteers, and the Clay Knobloch Guards immediately proceeded in the direction of the negroes settlement and opened fire upon the mob and searched their houses for arms and ammunition, and in about twenty minutes closed the affair, after having captured a number of shotguns loaded with slugs and buckshot. Six negroes were killed outright and four have since died of their wounds.
The people of the town of Thibodaux and the parish generally regret the necessity which brought about this bloody affair. Indeed they deeply deplore it, but nevertheless feel that it was necessary to take immediate and vigorous steps to eradicate an evil which threatened to destroy not only the peace and good order, but the lives and property of a whole community.
Lieut. Gov. Clay Knobloch, Judge Taylor Beatty, Sheriff Thibodaux, Col. I. D. Moore and others who were seen express the deepest regrets at the present condition of things, and hope for an early and satisfactory solution of existing complications.
The planters whose places have been made the scene of trouble thus far are as follows: C. Lagard, Claudet Bros., Ernest Roger, the Guion place, David Calder’s, Orange Grove, Trosclair & Robichaux, John T. Moore, Jr., and Peter Bergers.
The members of the Louisiana Rifles, who arrived yesterday, are Capt. C. H. Adams, First Lieutenant O. T. Maier, Second Lieutenant H. T. Oviatt, First Sergeant L. J. Fellows, Second Sergeant John Duffy, Third Sergeant Moses, Corporals Beye and Rolling, and Privates Bonnecaze, Auth, Renaud, Fallon, Munroe, Blaise, Calhoun, Barba, Longard, Viosea, Marks, Hart, Williams, Hernandez, Falgo, May, Dowler, Muller, Meyers, Viene, Reinberg and Reynoir.
The following is that detachment from the Washington Artillery: Sergeant Vaughan, E. O. Blackmar, H. Rhoderdom, Ashby, Fred A. Rube and Dan Kelly.
As previously stated, there was not a single negro to be seen on the streets of Thibodaux upon the arrival of the troops. Very little business was being transacted, and the burden of conversation had special bearing on the riot of yesterday morning. For weeks the negroes had been making every character of threat, lurking in out-of-the-way places and firing upon innocent and inoffensive citizens. Laborers from abroad were fired upon while in the fields and driven therefrom, and there was no possible guarantee for the safety of either life or property under the then existing condition of things. On some few of the plantations the negroes have already returned to work, but the great majority of them are still in the woods or have abandoned the country entirely.
Mr. Gorman, one of the victims of yesterday’s affair, was formerly a citizen of New Orleans, having moved to this place four years ago. He is the head of an interesting family and runs one of the largest boiler establishments in this section. Mr. Molaison is quite a young man. He is clerking for his father in the general feed business.
Tonight all is quiet. About 8 o’clock last evening there was a rumor to the effect that the negroes were massing on the Terrebonne, about a mile and a half from the city. It was further rumored that they were thoroughly equipped and an attack upon the city was imminent. A squad of citizens immediately repaired to the scene of the threatened danger, but the crowd had dispersed. An attack upon the city is momentarily expected, and citizens and soldiers are alike prepared for any emergency that may arise. A guard placed upon the outskirts of the town was fired upon last night by a negro concealed in a ditch.
THE TROOPS OFF
The following orders were issued from brigade headquarters yesterday:
Nov. 24, 1887
Special Orders No. 10.
I. In obedience to special orders No. 6., headquarters L.S.N.G., First Military District, Capt. C. H. Adams, Louisiana Rifles, will proceed with his company of not less than twenty-six men, armed and equipped for field duty, by the 12:15 p.m. train today to Thibodaux, and will report on his arrival at Thibodaux to Judge Taylor Beattie.
II. Lieut. Col. J. B. Richardson, Washington Artillery, will furnish a detachment of not less than eight men, with Gatling gun and harness, in charge of a competent officer, to move on the same train, to act in conjunction with and report to Capt. Adams.
III. The force is instructed to be used subsidiary to and only in aid of the civil authority, acting in strict conformity to law, as provided in special orders No. 17, A.G.O., dated 23d instant, copy of which is here inclosed.
By command of Brig. Gen. Adolph Meyer.
W. F. PINCKARD, A.A.A.G.
In obedience to the above orders Capt. Adams left on the 12:15 train yesterday, in command of the Louisiana Rifles. A detachment of the Washington Artillery also went to the scene of the trouble.
WHAT A VISITOR THERE SAYS ABOUT THE SITUATION
A TIMES-DEMOCRAT reporter boarded the inward bound Morgan train at Gretna yesterday evening and obtained the following particulars from Md. Louderbough, a gentleman who stopped over in Thibodaux the day of the riot: Everything is quiet today. Hardly any negroes could be seen on the streets. A number of them have decided to go back to work on the plantations, and had furniture wagons to haul their furniture. All business was suspended the day of the riot and the town was wild with excitement. The negroes have scattered and taken to the swamps. The dead negroes were buried by the corporation. A militia company of Thibodaux was called out last night, and, with a number of citizens, quarded the place. The people are determined not to have any more trouble, and will use all means possible to prevent it. The two wounded young men are doing well, and the prospect for their recovery is good. All the stores opened up this morning. Barrooms were ordered to remain closed and not to sell any liquors. The riot is the topic of conversation, and women and children are still very nervous. It is stated that the majority of the negroes killed were rioters.
A few other passengers who passed through Thibodaux yesterday stated that everything was quiet there, but no information regarding the riot could be learned.
Col. Rivers, of the St. Charles Hotel, yesterday sent six negro laborers to his plantation, “Grand Wood,” on Bayou Teche. These negroes were brought from Mobile, having finished cotton picking in Alabama and being idle. Mr. Rivers declares that he can get any number from the same vicinity, and others may be brought from there if the strike does not end very soon. Mr. Rivers employs about a hundred men, and as fifteen of the old hands remained at work, he has now nearly a full complement and will at once begin windrowing to prevent further loss from frost. He says there has been no trouble at all on his place, the hands quietly leaving when ordered to go, and he anticipates no opposition to the new men that he is sending up.
THE SITUATION IN ASCENSION
We had hoped that Ascension was to escape an attack of the “strike fever” prevalent in other portions of the sugar district, but it was not to be. Fortunately, however, ours has been so far only a mild case and the patient seems at this writing to be in a state of convalescence bordering on total recovery, with little apparent danger of a relapse.
On Tuesday last, hands on Mr. L. Picard’s Live Oak plantation, at Dutchtown, quit work and made a demand for an advance of wages, which was refused. The laborers thought better of their movement and resumed work next day at the former rates.
Strikes in quick succession at Mt. Houmas (Messrs. Grossley & Sons’ place), Mr. Adlard Landry’s, Mr. J. Emile St. Martin’s Pelico, Mr. Oliver Beirne’s Ascension and New Hope, Mr. Richard McCall’s McMannor and Mr. Leon Godchaux’s Souvenir plantation, on all of which work was suspended Tuesday and Wednesday. The demands for higher wages were refused in each case, and a number of the leading strikers were notified to leave the plantations on which they had been employed. Five of the most obstreperous—two from Mt. Houmas, two from McManor and one from Souvenir—were arrested for trepass, threats, incendiary and obscene language, and for bulldozing laborers who were disposed to keep at work. Judge Durtel accorded the prisoners a hearing yesterday and fixed their bonds at nominal amounts $25 in three cases and %15 in the other two—reading them a lecture as to the law bearing on such conduct as that with which they were charged. The men all expressed a determination to behave themselves, and three of them readily furnished bail. The two prisoners from Mt. Houmas were still in jail last evening.
On all the places mentioned excepting Mount Houmas a large majority of the strikers have returned to work, and many of them expressed regret for having participated in the movement. Violence was threatened on several places, but wiser counsels and prompt action of the authorities combined to prevent any outbreak, a circumstance upon which all concerned are to be congratulated.
Some of the teamsters on Capt. John T. Nolan’s St. Elizabeth plantation also struck on Tuesday, but there was no stoppage of work there and the strikers subsequently asked to be re-employed.
The action of the local authorities of the Knights of Labor, as indicated by the subjoined handbill—issued as soon as the news of the strikes reached town—entitles them to the thanks of the community, and bears out their previous declarations that their organization would countenance no strike in this district during the present grinding:
NOTICE TO KNIGHTS OF LABOR AND WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.
KNIGHTS OF LABOR HALL,
Donaldsonville, La., Nov. 15, 1887
Notice is hereby given that the strikes reported to have taken place on the sugar plantations in this parish have not been ordered by this organization and will not be countenanced thereby. If any members of this order have participated in these strikes they are notified to resume work at once or suffer the penalty provided by the laws of the Knights of Labor.
Chairman of Joint Committee
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 25, 1887.
The situation in Lafourche is still somewhat critical and further disturbances may grow out of the excitement prevailing. But it looks as if the worst had passed, and that with the precautions now taken, order will be soon restored. The terrible experience of the deluded negro laborers at Thibodaux will no doubt have its effect upon all the surrounding districts, and at once suppress the lawlessness which existed.
The negroes have fallen under the leadership of bad men and attempted to terrorize not only the white planters but their fellow-laborers who desired to work on the plantations. Encouraged by their escape from capture in their midnight acts of vandalism, such as the firing into sugar-houses from ambush, they grew bolder and precipitated the contest of Wednesday.
Judge Taylor Beattie, who occupies the bench of that district and is a Republican, had command of the citizen patrol during the trouble, and sustains their action as necessary to the preservation of the peace and the protection of property. He is a fair and just man, and would not have sanctioned any deliberate outrage upon the colored people.
The citizens in the two parishes most affected are thoroughly aroused, and vigorous measures will no doubt be taken to rid the country of the leaders who are inciting the negroes to deeds of violence. As soon as that is accomplished there need be no further apprehensions.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 25, 1887.
Bodies of Three More Dead Men Found
Negro Women Continue to Make Threats, But No Further Trouble Probable—The Cox Brothers Released from Jail.
Special to The Times-Democrat
THIBODAUX, Nov. 25.—Today Thibodaux enjoyed a day of comparative quiet, and a better feeling is existing among all classes. There has been no relaxation, however, of the vigilance of citizens and military for the preservation of law and order in this community and parish. Throughout the day guards were on the watch, and the entire town and its outskirts were thoroughly patrolled. Few negroes are to be seen, although no objection has been urged against the presence here of those peaceably inclined.
This morning a representative of THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT, with some of the military, visited a number of the plantations in the vicinity of Thibodaux, with a view of ascertaining the exact condition of things in these localities. Mr. R. H. Allen has one of the largest plantations in Lafourche. It is situated immediately in front of the town and employes about 300 laborers. Mr. Allen said the strike had cost him about one-third of his crop, and that the demoralization among his negroes was so great that some of those remaining were rendered totally unfit for duty. He doesn’t blame the negroes so much as the walking delegate, whose chief business for the past few months, he says, has been to harangue and ill-advise his less intelligent brother.
The splendid plantation of Mr. Andrew Price, about a mile and a half from the city, was also visited. Mr. Price said that he lost about one-third of his sugar crop in consequence of the strike, but that there had been no trouble on his place. The action of the negroes, he said, was a surprise to him, especially as he had made arrangements with his hands for the grinding season. For two weeks they had worked with seeming satisfaction and no complaining was made. When he found that the strike had actually been ordered and the laborers had withdrawn from the fields he endeavored to arrive at some amicable adjustment of existing difficulties, whatever they might be. The negroes, nevertheless, left the place.
Within the past day or two the old hands have been returning, and whenever a proposition to return was made in good faith Mr. Price has never failed to accept it. He charges all the recent misunderstandings between the whites and blacks to negro school teachers and barbers in the town of Thibodaux. These people, he says, are really doing nothing but inspiring the ignorant and hard-working negro element to lawlessness and strife.
A negro by the name of Lawless, who was seen by the correspondent, rents several acres of land from Mr. Price, and is working twenty-six hands on his own account. He is not a striker, but, on the contrary, is working faithfully and industriously. He makes $3000 worth of cane every year, which he sells to Mr. Price. He deprecates the present strike, saying that there was no cause whatever for it.
Felix and Mat Brooks, two of the returned strikers on Mr. Price’s place, syat that they were urged to a strike by the Knights of Labor of Thibodaux, of which they were members. The Knights insisted on the strike, promising six pounds of meat and a peck of meal to each striker while out of employment. The first week they kept their promise, but after that time confessed their inability to further provide for the strikers.
Mr. B. A. Wormald’s Laurel Valley place was also visited. His laborers were quietly returning with the promise of protection. The woods and cane thickets in the immediate vicinity of Thibodaux are filled with fugitive negroes who have abandoned their homes in the town. A number of volunteers out looking for bodies of negroes supposed to be killed in the affair of Wednesday, report the negro women as still threatening the peace of this community.
The bodies of three dead negroes were found this afternoon in a thicket on Mr. Allen’s Rienze plantation, on the other side of the bayou. They had evidently been shot in the affray of Wednesday, and taking refuge in the thicket died there without assistance of any kind. The report of the coroner is anxiously awaited, and although promised today had not up to a late hour this evening been forthcoming.
It is, however, understood that fully thirty negroes have sacrificed their lives in the riot of Wednesday, although returns thus far have not equaled that number. Quite a number of darkies are accounted as missing, but whether they have been killed or “skipped the country” is not known.
Yesterday morning Judge Taylor Beattie received an anonymous communication to the effect that his life was in jeopardy. Judge Beattie has incurred the enmity of the negroes by the part he has taken in the present affair. In a conversation with a representative of THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT yesterday, the judge stated that he had several times been warned that the assassin was on the watch for him and that his life was in his own hands.
He further stated that he had exhausted every means within reason to bring the negro to a sense of his real condition; that he had advised him time and again to beware of and avoid those who would plunge him into difficulties with which he was wholly unable to cope; that he would afford him the largest protection with respect both to life and property, but that when the shot of Monday night was fired there was nothing further left for him to do save that of assisting the good citizens in the preservation of law and order. These people, it was stated, had been the means of doing incalculable damage in the parish. Their attack upon the people, he said, was not only unwarranted, but premeditated and malicious, so that question of the supremacy of the whites over the blacks or vice versa became the all-absorbing question.
Capt. Adams, of the Louisiana Rifles, proffered the service of his force to protect the jail in case Williams, one of the agitators, against whom there is much feeling, and who surrendered today, was incarcerated therein, but the sheriff, consideration of the fact that there was no legal justification for his arrest, concluded to avoid the responsibility of holding him.
On all the plantations, as far as heard from, the laborers are returning to the fields, and express themselves as ready and willing to resume work.
At noon yesterday some shooting from ambush by negroes was reported about two miles from town, on the other side of the bayou. The attack, it is stated, was made on recently imported laborers, none of whom were injured. A detachment of the military visited the scene of the shooting, but could ascertain nothing beyond what is stated above.
A rumor was afloat today that there was about to be an uprising of the colored people in Terrebonne parish, brought about by the same causes as those which produced the riot in this place. The white people, however, are fully prepared for any attack that may be made in that parish.
Messrs. Gorman and Molaison, who were injured in the affair of Wednesday, are rapidly on the mend. The Louisiana Rifles and a detachment of the Washington Artillery are stationed at the courthouse, but at night are picketed on the suburbs of the town.
Gov. McEnery, who it was thought, would be here today, was telegraphed by Lieut. Gov. Knobloch that his presence at this time was unnecessary, peace being to a great extent restored. About 8:30 o’clock tonight the notorious Cox brothers were dismissed from the jail and led out to Bayou Lafourche where they swam the stream and made their escape in the thicket. beyond.
A Patrol Established at Houma
Special to The Times-Democrat
HOUMA, Nov. 25.—The Thibodaux riot has created some excitement here, and measures have been taken by the authorities to prevent a similar outbreak in Houma. The town is patroled every night by special guards, and the utmost vigilance is exercised by the citizens. Vague rumors are heard on the streets of threatened violence and incendiarism on the part of the negroes, but these receive only the measure of consideration that they deserve. The prevailing feeling is that no outbreak will occur, but it is thought best to be provided against any contingency that may arise. A negro from the country was reported as trying to purchase a quantity of ammunition this morning, and was immediately notified by Mayor Smith to leave town.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 26, 1887.
Guarded by Citizens and Soldiers
A Ringleader Whose Surrender Was Not Accepted
A Tour of the Plantations
No Official Knowledge of the Number Killed in the Recent Riot
Judge Beattie’s Life Threatened
THIBODAUX, La., Nov. 25.—[Special]—The town was last night strongly guarded by the citizens and military, who prevented any further disturbances. Pickets were placed at points outside the town proper, and sentinels stood at almost every corner, requiring passers-by to give accounts of themselves.
The Louisiana Rifles and the gun detachment of the Washington Artillery were on duty all night and ready for any emergency.
At break of day the same condition of things existed. The negroes who have taken to the swamps have not returned to the town, but many have gone to work again on the several plantations in the immediate vicinity of Thibodaux.
There was a trifle of excitement shortly before noon caused by the coming into town of Sol Williams, one of the most loud-mouthed agitators and leaders of the strikers, who some days ago threatened everything that was white. Williams did not work on any sugar plantation, being a wood cutter by trade, but nevertheless was one of the prime movers in all matters of dissension among the laborers. He came to town, sought the sheriff and wished to surrender. The sheriff told him that he could not protect him for the reason that there was no charge against him, and that, moreover, even the jail could not protect him. Williams then left, swam bayou Lafourche and took to the swamps on the other side. It is not probable that he will ever return to Thibodaux, as the feeling against him is very bitter.
The Picayune correspondent spent the entire day visiting plantations neighboring the town and conversing with planters and laborers in the field alike.
Mr. Andrew Price’s Acadia plantation, about two miles from town, was visited. It was learned that owing to the vigilance and care of Mr. Price the estate had not suffered as much as others, still it is estimated that only about two-thirds of the quantity of sugar that should have been up to date was actually harvested. Since the strike the place has been worked with a two-thirds force.
Threats were made to stop the hands on the place from working, but extra guards with Winchester rifles were placed in position. After Wednesday morning’s riot, and after the citizens of Thibodaux had shown their determination to keep the peace and order of the country many hands, strikers since three weeks, returned to the Acadia plantation and were reinstated to their happy satisfaction.
They regretted the course they had taken, and asserted that they would no longer be influenced by the leaders of the strike.
Phil Lawless, a colored man, works the front portion of Acadia on the tenant system and sells his cane to the plantation owner by the ton. Last year he sold $3000 worth of cane and cultivated large quantities of corn and peas. Zach Conner, a driver on the plantation for a number of years, superintends the cane-cutting gang, about 125 strong. He was spoken to and said that the negroes though greatly frightened were returning to work.
Dick Williams, a negro who came from the Teche country with 35 hands, said everything was working serenely.
An interview with two negro strikers—Felix Boyd and Matt Brooks—who have returned to work, was quite interesting. They could not say who had prompted them to strike. When they did so they came to town where they remained three weeks. During that time their assembly was to have cared for them. However, only six pounds of meat were given to each of them during the first five days. On the sixth day the assembly failed to give them any rations and they were compelled to look out for themselves. They have returned to work in good earnest and will no longer be deceived.
There were a number of negroes on the place who refused to strike, being thoroughly satisfied with the treatment they were receiving, and many of them defied their colored brethren to interfere with them.
The handsome estate of Mr. R. H. Allen, situated opposite Thibodaux, was called at. Everything is in operation there, but still the delay caused by the strike will work some injury to the crops. The hands of the place are entirely satisfied with the wages they are receiving. On this, as on all other plantations in this section, laborers are paid $1 a day, given comforts, quarters and fuel, and 50 cents addition for each watch. Some hands are boarded and therefore only receive 75 cents a day.
Judge Taylor Beattie, who has taken a very prominent part in the defense of the town against the blacks, this morning received information that he would be murdered. The threatening of the judge has had but one effect, and that is to rally his numerous admirers to his protection. These threats were recently made against other prominent citizens.
There was great anxiety expressed during the day as to what would be the coroner’s report. Up to a late hour this evening that official had not been heard from. It is not positively known how many negroes were killed in the riot of Wednesday morning. A careful search in the swamps might result in the discovery of other dead than those already reported.
Gorman and Molaison, the two wounded pickets, are doing finely, but it is thought that the former, who was wounded in the right eye, will have to be taken to New Orleans for treatment.
Henry Hoffman, cabinet maker, and A. Bouron, gunsmith, did not leave Thibodaux, as reported, but simply sent their families to New Orleans.
Governor McEnery was expected here today, but did not come, as Lieutenant Gov. Knobloch telegraphed him not to do so.
In conversation tonight with a prominent young gentleman residing here, who constituted one of a party that during the day searched the thickets and swamp edges for bodies of negroes in all probability killed on Wednesday morning, it was learned that three corpses were found on Mr. Allen’s Rienzi plantation. It is believed that these negroes were wounded in the riot and escaped to the other side of bayou Lafourche, where they died.
The negroes who were met on the outside of the city continue their threats about burning the place. Many persons who are in a position to know something about the matter say it would not be amazing if more than a score of darkies perished in the last encounter.
Tonight the town is extremely quiet. The Louisiana Rifles, the detachment of Washington Artillery and the C.K. Guards are stationed at the courthouse in readiness for any emergency.
At 9 o’clock tonight it was learned by the authorities that an attack was contemplated upon the jail in which the Cox brothers, two of the leading strikers, were confined for protection.
The two prisoners were let loose and made their escape over bayou Lafourche. The object of the attack was to get possession of the two black men so as to lynch them.
Enoch Adams, also a promoter of the present disturbance, who is at large, will be sought and if found will suffer the same penalty.
The Vigilance of the People
HOUMA, La., Nov. 25.—[Special]—The riot in Thibodaux has awakened the citizens of Houma to the necessity for increased vigilance and the town is now patrolled nightly by a special guard. There is but little apprehension of an outbreak, but preventive measures are thought necessary.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 26, 1887.
Letter from Judge Taylor Beattie
THIBODAUX, Dec. 1, 1887
Editor of Picayune—In your issue of the 20th ult., under the heading of “Thibodaux,” you give a statement of the return to your city of the troops commanded by Captain Adams, and a statement as to certain incidents in our troubles at this place. In this statement are certain inaccuracies which I think best to correct. The Sol Williams incident is incorrectly reported. He was not released by me and I did not see him. There were no charges against him, but he is known to have been one of the principal instigators of the ruffianism lately prevalent in this parish. He came to the courthouse and sought protection, so Captain Adams informed me. He was escorted to the bayou and told to make his escape. It was feared he might be harmed if met upon the streets. I think this was the best that could have been done, for he had outraged the public sentiment of the community and it might have been unsafe for him to be at large. But he did walk through the town that morning, so I am informed, and was not harmed. This speaks volumes for the forbearance of our people.
Until your publication I never heard that any attempt was made to shoot him whilst in the courthouse. No such report was made to me. The Cox brothers did not escape from jail. I released them in the presence of the sheriff, one of his chief deputies and of Captain Adams. We escorted them to the outskirts of the town and bade them shift for themselves. The charge against them was for a minor offense, and they were arrested before the firing upon our guards. They were strongly suspected of being engaged in the firing upon the sugar-houses in this parish, but at that time we had no proof. Had I known as much as I do now, I would not have released them. They were released at night; not from any fear of an attack upon the jail, but to prevent their being attacked upon their release.
No attack was threatened upon the jail while Captain Adams’ command was here. The troops were under my orders and I do not think they would have fired on anyone without the orders of the civil authorities. I have too much respect for the discipline of the company to think otherwise.
I will end by saying that no community in the United States would have stood for three weeks what our people did. These three weeks are a standing testimony to the law-abiding spirit prevailing in this parish. Whatever has been done was done after forbearance had utterly ceased to be a virtue and when force was actually necessary to repel the midnight attack upon the guards placed over the town to prevent a threatened attack, and to prevent the attempted murder of peaceful citizens guarding their homes and firesides.
This state of affairs was brought about by a secret, oath-bound association of ignorant and degraded barbarians, who have refused and continually refuse to obey the laws of their country by testifying as to the lawlessness prevalent, and who give as a reason that they are bound by their oaths not to tell.
Our people seek no justification outside of their own consciences, and are as ready, willing and prepared now as in the past to defend their lives and firesides whenever the necessity arises, and this whether inside or outside of the mere forms of law.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, December 3, 1887.
There is now peace and quiet throughout Lafourche, where lately riot and disturbance prevailed. The negroes have gone to work, and those who have taken the place of the strikers are now protected from violence and are becoming reassured and confident again. The return of the militia to the parish and the vigorous efforts of the citizens of Thibodaux have brought about these good results. Had there been no outcry against the sending of troops, had no attempt been made to drag politics into the strike, and, for partisan purposes, to attack the wise course of the Governor in taking the precautions he did, the unfortunate disturbance of Tuesday might have been avoided. But some of the enemies of Gov. McEnery were short of issues, as they have been throughout the campaign, and they seized on this just as they did on the third term and like issues which they took up; and protested to the country against the use of militia to keep the peace. The supporters of Gen. Nicholis in the Knights of Labor who favored the late manifesto of the District Assembly denouncing the Governor and the sugar planters, have had nothing to say about the disturbances that have occurred in Lafourche for more than a week past, the frequent firing into the sugar houses, the killing of two and wounding of a dozen hands, because they chose to work instead of striking. Perhaps in their view these outrages did not warrant the sending troops to Thibodaux; perhaps they do not think that the militia, should be sent there even, today. But if they think this, they have not said and are not likely to say anything to that effect. The people of the State recognize and appreciate the wisdom and foresight of the Governor, whereas some of his reckless opponents are partly responsible for the lawlessness in Lafourche since they insisted on the removal of the militia; and the negro strikers have flattered themselves with the idea that they had white sympathizers and backers in New Orleans. It was a great mistake that politics should have been dragged into this affair, and that some ill-advised supporters of Gen. Nicholis should have denounced the sending of troops to Thibodaux and demanded their recall, thus leading the ignorant negroes to believe that they had nothing to fear on account of their lawlessness.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 26, 1887.
The negroes of the south found themselves at the close of the war emancipated from chattel slavery only to enter into a condition of competitive wage slavery, a little more disguised but even more miserable than their former position. It has often been openly declared by their masters that they (the masters) prefer the present state of affairs to the old, for now the negro must keep himself as he can; they are not responsible for his support when they do not want him.
The sugar-planters of Louisiana have been loud in their demands for protective tariffs—in the interest of their workmen. But as is always the case, “protection” has enriched the proprietor but has failed in every way to protect the toilers.
The inevitable result is now being accomplished. A miserable, half-starved mob of black wretches have undertaken to right the balances by strikes. They have met force by force and death by death. Their leaders have been taken to prison, and without a semblance of law from the prison to the nearest tree. How long will the people be blind?
Labor Enquirer (Chicago), November 26, 1887.
The St. Louis Republican sees in all violent attempts by striking laborers to settle their differences with employers about wages the self-same causes and effects as have been made apparent in the outbreaks of anarchism. Commenting on the recent disturbances in the sugar districts of Louisiana, it says:
At this distance from Louisiana it is easy to see both sides of the trouble which may yet cause more. The terrible specter of anarchy is present before the white people there just as it has been in Chicago. The only difference is that the Louisiana protection is black and not as well educated as the scientific and transcendental proletarian of Chicago. The African proletarian may in time strive to “realize the ideal” by “improved scientific methods,” but at present he “attacks society” by firing on it from behind a fence with an old army musket loaded with slugs. Society returns the fire and with deadly effect.
Unfortunately for the negroes their ignorance makes them the easy victims of bad men. In Chicago the leaders of the anarchists were hunted down and made to suffer the penalty of their crimes, but it is to be regretted that just punishment was not visited upon the instigators of the bloody disorders at Thibodaux. The wicked causers of these troubles appear to have escaped entirely, while the avenging blow fell upon their miserable dupes, the victims of their own deplorable ignorance and of the criminal ambition of others.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, November 30, 1887.
Meet in Mass Meeting to Denounce the Killing of Men of Their Race in the Sugar Districts
Last evening the hall on Jackson, near Franklin street, held about 300 colored men, assembled to denounce the shooting of the negroes in Thibodaux and Pattersonville.
Addresses were made by A. J. Kemp, R. Richards, president of the Cotton Yardman; E. S. Sqan, president of the Longshoremen; Dan Macon, T. W. Wickham, Hon. T. B. Stamps, R. W. B. Gould and Rev. C. H. Thompson, denouncing the killing as murder, condemning the action of the administration in not using proper civil authority before calling out the military, and calling upon the colored people, by all lawful means, to avenge the killing of the fellow-blacks by demanding the trial of those who did the killing.
H. H. Blenk, Wm. White, Jeff Green, T. W. Wickham and T. J. Boswell, the committee on resolutions, reported that as the unjust killing of negroes at Pattersonville and Thibodaux is deplorable in the extreme, and that this condition of affairs is not only robbing men of the fruits of their labor, but tends to disrupt the labor system and the agricultural interests of Louisiana, therefore the constitutional authorities and the congress of the United States be petitioned to speedily investigate the trouble and bring the guilty to punishment; and further, that a committee of five be appointed to co-operate with citizens and associations to prepare an address setting forth the outrage against the laboring people of Louisiana.
The resolutions were adopted after much discussion, and the meeting adjourned.
New Orleans Daily Picayune, December 3, 1887.
The killing of twelve colored men at Thibodaux last week, also the murder of the two Cox brothers, who were arrested on Tuesday as agitators charged with making incendiary speeches, and taken from the jail by the whites and shot to death, are reported as growing out of the Louisiana sugar strikes. The Coxes were leaders in the strike and prominent in the labor organizations. Even if the Coxes were leaders in the strike, by what right were they taken from the custody of the law and riddled with bullets? The whites who participated in the shooting of the Cox brothers were a more pronounced gang of law-breakers than were these brothers. They dyed their hands in innocent blood and stamped upon themselves the brand of cowardice, because they, a party of supposed law-abiding citizens, overstepped the bounds of law by taking unarmed men out of the hands of the constituted authorities, and giving vent to their pent up anger by filling their bodies with bullets. Such a cowardly act could only be performed by bands of sneaking cutthroats, which permeate nearly every one of the Southern States. The law holds every one charged with crime innocent until proven guilty; therefore the Cox brothers were innocent until they had been accorded a fair and impartial trial and adjudged guilty by a jury of their peers. No body of citizens has any right to constitute themselves into a tribunal of justice, and especially such a body as this Louisiana rabble proved itself to be.
The most notable feature about this shooting affair is that, as is usually the case, the majority of the slain, if not all of them, were colored. This is another example of Mr. Grady’s “New South.” The usages which oppression have been inflicted upon the inoffensive colored people from the dawn of their freedom still follow close and fast upon their heels; and the question may be asked in all seriousness how much longer is this going to last? Do the whites of the South suppose that colored people are going to continue to submit without a practical protest against their inhuman treatment? If they do, they are basing their supposition upon a frail foundation. They may as well make up their minds at once that the colored people will not in the future continue to be led as lambs to the slaughter. Education is enabling them to know and appreciate their rights as American citizens, and in the future they will not be backward in claiming these rights and insisting upon a fair and impartial interpretation of the laws which govern this country.
Power is a dangerous weapon, especially when it is possessed by unscrupulous men. The oppressed always sooner or later arise and shake off the galling chains of oppression, and they do this even if they cause rivers of blood to follow in their wake. Unscrupulous men who possess power which has been obtained by usurpation and fraud should be careful how they exercise it. The whites of the South should take warning in time, or they may have to repent when repentance will avail them naught.
New York Age, December 3, 1887.
The attitude of the Knights of Labor of Louisiana regarding the riots at Thibodaux, substantiates the reports of the kindly feeling existing between the white and the colored members of the Order. The Knights are very powerful in New Orleans, and they are using their influence to protect the rights as well as the lives of the colored brethren. They denounce in strong terms the killing of the negroes at Pattersonville, and will lay the whole matter before Congress at its coming session. The District Assembly will also appeal to the Order everywhere to ask for the repeal of duties on sugar which will have the effect of bringing the planters to a sense of justice as well as benefiting the people of the country. This resolution has caused great excitement among the planters and every effort has been made to induce the Knights to withdraw it, but they steadily refuse to do so. It is a significant fact that the publication of this manifesto by the sugar planters in St Mary, in which parish the town of Pattersonville is situated, have generally granted the increase of wages asked by the negroes, the refusal of which led to the strike and the killing of the colored Knights. If with so powerful an organization at their back the colored people are unable to protect their rights, what must be their condition unorganized and alone to meet the opposition of powerful syndicates and combinations? Let those workingmen who think they can get along without organization, simply because they have at the present time no trouble to command good wages, ask themselves what they would do to protect themselves in case that happy time should cease. It is then organization proves its worth.
Journal of United Labor, December 3, 1887.
Washington, D.C., December 11, 1887
Hon. T. V. Powderly:
Dear Sir: I know you will pardon the liberty I assume in thus addressing you when I state the motive that prompts me to do so. Although I have been for nearly thirty years a member of a Trades Union, I am not a member of the Knights of Labor, but I assume that all labor organizations are striving to the accomplishment of the same end in the elevation and protection of the masses.
For the past month or more the press of the country have contained daily accounts of the shooting down in cold blood (by so-called posses, summoned by “officers of the law”) of colored men in Louisiana, who have had the “audacity” to exercise the right of American citizens in protesting against oppression, by striking against what they deem to be injustice and wrong. And though it is said these men are members of the order over which you have the honor to preside, and no doubt believe they are but obeying the obligation they assumed when they became members of your order, not one word of protest, so far as I am aprized, has gone forth from you or anyone connected with the order, against the cruel, brutal, unjust and unlawful treatment inflicted upon these poor creatures. Is a man, because he is not of Caucasian blood, denied the protection of your order, although he may fulfill every obligation imposed upon him by your laws? I think not. And, therefore, I believe it to be your solmn duty to protest against—nay denounce, these outrages in language that cannot be misunderstood. I believe you have the moral courage to do this, and that you will. The moral courage you displayed in the position you assume on the liquor question, is sufficient evidence that you are not lacking in that particular. Although I am not a temperance man in the true acceptance of that term, there is nothing I so much admire in your whole course as the decision, firmness, and moral rectitude you have displayed in your position on this question.
Hoping this may be received in the spirit in which it is written, I am yours in fraternity and justice.
Powderly Papers, Catholic University of America.
The Workingmen of New Orleans on Parade
Sixth Anniversary of the Trades and Labor Assembly Celebrated Yesterday—The Several Associations Warmly Greeted Along the Line.
Had the clerk of the weather been consulted no more pleasant day could have been selected by the Trades and Labor Assembly for their annual celebration. The atmosphere was damp; the clouds obscured the sun, which made it pleasant for walking.
The streets presented an animated appearance and everybody wore a pleasant smile. The sweet sounds of music, the beating of drums, all showed that it was an unusual day and an occasion of rare interest.
The occasion yesterday was the celebration of the sixth anniversary of the combined representatives of the Central Trades and Labor Assembly of New Orleans, which comprises thousands of STRONG, EARNEST, IRON-SINEWED SPECIMENS of the laboring element of the Crescent City.
The Trades Assembly of New Orleans is noted the world over as being the most thoroughly organized and the largest and most influential body of workingmen in the entire South, and merits compliment in that New Orleans has never been the scene of any of those gatherings and conflicts such as are frequently witnessed in Northern and Western cities, and this can only be attributed to the temper of the class of men who belong to the different organizations who are opposed to strikes, and when they occur are always quick in having matters amicably settled, always discountenancing demonstrations and advising peace and quiet.
Yesterday many classes of labor were represented in the pageant, which was a very imposing display.
This is the busy season of the year, and the laborer is afforded but little opportunity for preparations for the holiday, but still they have during the past few weeks managed to make ample and complete preparations, the results of which were witnessed yesterday. Every detail was complete to the letter, and the day proved to be one of the most pleasant ever spent by the New Orleans laboring man, and will be remembered in the future as a part of the history of the labor unions of New Orleans.
The entire parade of yesterday was under charge of John A. McMahon, grand marshal, who is a member of the Screwmen’s Benevolent Association No. 1.
The various organizations represented in the Trades and Labor Assembly, according to the published order of the day issued by Grand Marshal McMahon, commenced assembling on Canal street as early as 9 o’clock, where a large crowd of ladies and children had assembled to get a sight at the hard-fisted sons of toil.
The grand marshal and his chief aids, W. J. Barrett and Patrick A. Wilson, were stationed at the Grand Opera House, and upon the arrival of an association on Canal street it would pass in review before the grand marshal and chief aids, who would assign them a place, and the aid from that association to the grand marshal would drop out and take his position with the grand marshal. This worked like a machine, and gave those assembled on Canal street a chance to witness each body before it was placed in line.
The various organizations were divided into three divisions, as follows: Screwmen’s Benevolent Association No. 1, Cotton Yard Men No. 1 and Cotton Yard Men No. 2 comprised the first division. The second division was composed of the Teamsters and Loaders, Screwmen No. 2 and Typographical Union No. 17.
Third Division—Associations and delegations in carriages in the following order: Pressmen’s Union, Retail Dry Goods Clerks, Ship Carpenters and Joiners, and Oyster Dischargers’ Union. . . .
As the clock struck the hour of 11, Grand Marshal McMahon gave the signal for starting. Turning to his chief aids, Barrett and Wilson, he asked, “Are they all ready?” The responses were in the affirmative, and the grand marshal said, “Let her go Gallagher.” The signal was immediately taken up and passed along the line, and the procession of men, horsemen, carriages with flags and banners flying, and music playing, commenced moving. . . .
All along the route over which the long procession passed, the banquettes, street cars, vehicles and balconies were crowded, and in many sections of the city street cars had to stop to let the parade go by uninterrupted.
The procession was led by Grand Marshal McMahon, who was mounted on a fiery steed. The saddle blanket on the horse was blue silk, trimmed with old gold. The marshal’s sash was of blue and gold. Blue is the emblem of labor, and the gold trimming represented gold. Labor makes gold.
To the right of the grand marshal rode Assistant Aid Barrett, and to the left Assistant Aid Wilson. Following the grand marshal and chief aids were the aids from the different organizations. Following the marshals came a brass band and carriages containing Thomas Agnew, president of the Trades Assembly and Messrs. Wm. J. Hammond, J. H. Conners, James Roach, John Delaney, M. E. Brower and Will I. O’Donnell, invited guests of the Trades Assembly. Delegates to the New Cotton Men’s Executive Council and Trades Assembly were seated in carriages.
THE TRADES AND LABOR ASSEMBLY
Mr. Agnew has long been connected with the Screwmen’s Association, and today, in addition to holding the important trust of president of the Trades and Labor Assembly, is president of the Screwmen’s Benevolent Association No. 1, one of the strongest and most wealthy labor organizations, as far as known, in the world.
Under instructions the New Orleans Typographical Union No. 17, in the summer of 1881, appointed a committee to correspond with other unions in New Orleans, with a view to arranging preliminaries to the formation of a central organization for the workingmen of New Orleans. At the regular meeting of the typos, in September of 1881, this committee made a report, in which they recommended the election of two delegates and requested other associations to do the same.
Representatives of nearly all the labor organizations met at Screwmen’s Hall on Oct. 16, 1881, and, after appointing W. J. Hammond chairman and J. L. Brown secretary pro tem., appointed a committee on constitution and the adjourned subject to call.
P. A. Graham, the present vice president of the assembly, was for many years president of the Teamsters and Loaders’ Association, and has also held other important trusts in the Cotton Council and other labor bodies.
Several meetings were held, and on July 12, 1882, the report of the committee on constitution and by-laws was submitted, the report adopted and a permanent organization was effected. The following officers were elected: President, W. J. Hammond; first vice president, Fendel Horn; second vice president, M. E. Brower; recording secretary, J. L. Brown; financial secretary, A. E. Larouge; treasurer, Thos. H. Hilbert.
The present officers of the Assembly are: Thomas Agnew, president, who is also president of the Screwmen’s Benevolent Association No. 1; P. A. Graham, first vice president, who has been president of the Teamsters and Loaders’; James Beggs, of the Typographical Union, is second vice president; John H. Windelkin, employed by the New Orleans Gaslight Company, is recording secretary; D. D. Welthers, financial secretary; J. M. Cressey, treasurer, of the Clerks’ Association, and M. Sansovich, sergeant-at-arms.
Mr. J. M. Cressey, employed in the house of D. H. Holmes & Co., is the treasurer of the assembly, and also president of the Retail Dry Goods Clerks’ Association. His term of office will expire next month. At the last election he declined a re-election. He is one of the most prominent and hardest workers in the entire body. He is possessed of rare administrative ability, and has frequently been called in to settle differences, which he succeeded in doing in the most pleasant and fair manner—always making friends with both parties.
THE FIRST DIVISION
For thirty-seven years the Screwmen’s Benevolent Association has been in existence, during which time it has managed to bear the enviable reputation of being one of the largest, wealthiest and best organizations of its kind in America, if not in the entire world.
The day was a cold one. It was Nov. 18, 1850, when 150 solid sons of toil hied themselves to the residence of Mr. John Chantil, a stevedore, residing in the Third District, to organize a screwmen’s benevolent association, and from this the present organization has sprung, growing stronger every year.
The screwmen were not tardy in completing their organization, for one week later at the same place a meeting was held at which the constitution and by-laws were unanimously adopted and officers were elected. The officers elected were: President, Geo. Hooper; first vice president, James Campbell; second vice president, James Fitzgerald; treasurer, Henry Bier, and secretary, E. A. F. Mitchell.
The Legislature, by act, incorporated the association in April 1851, the act being signed by his Excellency Gov. Joseph Walker, and attested by Hon. Charles Gayaree, Secretary of State.
After holding several meetings at Mr. Chantil’s residence, the membership grew so enormously that larger quarters had to be secured, and the association changed its meeting place to Eagle Fire Company No. 7’s engine-house, then situated on Old Levee street, between Bienville and Customhouse streets. From there they removed to the corner of Crossman and Front, where they remained until a few years ago, when they purchased and fitted up the Screwmen’s Hall, corner of Exchange alley and Bienville streets, which has become the headquarters of nearly all the labor organizations and many benevolent associations, and frequently social gatherings are given there.
When the war broke out the Screwmen did not remain at home. From the association was organized two companies known as Screwmen Guards, Company A. Capt. Sam J. Risk, and Company B. Capt. Batchellor, and numbering some 350 men. During the entire war twelve members kept the association up, carried on the business and provided for sick members. Since then the membership has been increasing, and now they have over 1,000 active, hard-working men on the rolls.
Prior to the organization, on 4th July, 1850, the Screwmen had a parade, at which time it was suggested that they form an association.
From the date of organization to the present time, the following gentlemen have held the office of president of the association: George H. Hooper, Samuel J. Risk, James Douglas, John Spencer, Henry Houlgrave, Charles Murray, Daniel Murphy, John Delaney, David Lester, E. M. Gannon, Thos. Dennis, James Palmer and Thomas Agnew.
The objects of the association is one principally of benevolence, and annually large sums of money are expended in the relief of their sick and distressed, burial of deceased members and relief for widows and orphans, and for these purposes they have a standing capital of over $100,000.
The screwmen yesterday were divided into four divisions, and as usual made a very fine display.
At the head rode Grand Marshal James Quinn, Sr. He was followed by his aids—John Ellwood, Henry Gilmore, Geo. W. Burgess, Wm. Caldwell, Thos. B. Begg, James J. Savage, M. J. Fitzpatrick, James Quin, Jr., Joseph Quinn, John McGuinn, John M. Livingston, James Eagan.
A band of music followed the aids and a strong screwman bearing a handsome union jack. The officers of the association came next. They are: Thomas Agnew, president; John Breen, first vice president; August Miller, second vice president; John A. Davilla, recording secretary; George J. Burns, financial secretary; Patrick Powell, Jr., assistant financial secretary; John Houlgrave, treasurer. Finance committee—Robert J. Cambias, chairman; Richard A. White, John F. Hureau. Ex-presidents of the association. Exempt members of the association in carriages. Committee of arrangements. Standing and special committees. Banner of the association in carriage.
THE ASSOCIATION BANNER
The banner is of heavy navy blue silk, and is mounted on a magnificent rosewood pole with gold mountings. On the front side of the banner is a beautiful oil painting of a full-rigged ship with all sail set. This picture is surrounded by a double gold cord, handmade, and a border of leaves and cotton bolls just bursting open. Above is a kind of curtain with open cotton bolls, leaves and the buds of cotton plant, and surmounted by a fine gold fringe with acorn pendants. Wrought in white silk, above and below the picture, are the words; “Screwmen’s Benevolent Association of New Orleans, La.” On the obverse side was a picture representing Charity, containing five figures of a widow and four children. Above are the words: “Organized Nov. 25, 1850,” and underneath: “Incorporated April 24, 1850.”
The picture is also surrounded with a double gold cord, handmade, and about half an inch wide, and on the side is a spray wrought in silk of a cotton plant, and on the other oak leaves and acorns, all magnificently wrought and designed.
COTTON YARD MEN NO. 1
The Cotton Yard Men’s Benevolent Association, or cotton rollers, as they are commonly called, is one of the strongest and most influential bodies in the city. They were organized in December, 1879, at Odd Fellows’ Hall, and incorporated in 1880. The first president of the association was Mr. Pat Mealey.
He maintained the position up to 1885, when he declined a re-election, and was succeeded by Mr. Will I. O’Donnel, at which time he had the honor conferred upon him by an election to the office of honorary president. Today he is the presiding officer.
The association numbers about 700 active men in good standing, the major portion of whom were out in parade yesterday.
The association was divided into two divisions, Wm. Sheridan, grand marshal, and his aids. John Carroll, James Ahearn, Richard Kiley, J. Regan, Pat Healey, George Menter, led the cotton rollers. They were followed by Grand Marshal Bat Galvin, of Division No. 1, and William Fritz, William Farrell, W. Ahearn, Pat Carr, his aids. The beautiful and costly banner of the association was guarded by four members in a carriage, after which came the Newsboys’ Brass Band, under the leadership of Prof. Fred Kuntz. The finance and governing committee and members of the association were next in line.
The second division was in charge of Marshal Bernard J. Reilly and his aids, W. A. Athens, A. Werlein, John Haggerty and Thomas Owens. A band of music preceded a carriage in which four members held a State flag, and then marched members of the association.
The Cotton Yard Men were very neatly attired in black broadcloth and silk hats, and presented a fine appearance.
Cotton Yard Men No. 2 followed Typographical Union No. 17. The colored cotton rollers do the same class of work as their white brothers. The association was organized through the instrumentality of M. E. Brower, Edward Harrison, John Roach and others of Branch No. 1, on 11th January, 1880, and was incorporated on 5th May, 1880. Today it has a membership of over 500 toilers, the purposes being mainly to mutually aid its members, mostly cotton rollers, scale hands, etc., both as a benevolent society and workingman’s body.
J. M. Richards is the president of this organization, and he has during his occupancy of the chair shown himself to be an intelligent presiding officer.
In the parade yesterday the colored rollers turned out in large numbers. Just behind the band and in front of the members marched the sons of some of the members.
Next followed a long line of carriages containing delegates from the Clerks, Pressmen, Ship Carpenters and Joiners and Oyster Dischargers’ unions.
THE DRY GOODS CLERKS
The Retail Dry Goods Clerks’ Protective Association was organized the 22d of October, 1882. In 1883 it was incorporated, and today has a membership of nearly 500 male and 300 female members. When sick, members are paid a weekly benefit of $5.25, a physician and medicines are furnished, and the association in case of death defrays the entire expense of burial, and in addition to this a stipulated sum of money is awarded to the family of a deceased member.
The president of the association is J. M. Cressey, who is also treasurer of the Trades Assembly. His term of office expires on Dec. 1. His successor is Mr. F. Leonce Fazande, who has been elected to serve one year, commencing Dec. 1, 1887, and ending Dec. 1, 1888, and whose likeness is here given. He has been a member of the association since its organization, and has done much toward bringing it up to its present standard.
The object of this union, which is composed of pressmen, is one of protection and benevolence. They organized this union on the 15th of April, 1884, under the laws of the International Typographical Union, and in May, 1884, they received a charter. The first and present president of the union is William Russell, who is a first-class workman and a man who was instrumental in organizing the union, which is in a fair condition.
SHIP CARPENTERS AND JOINERS
The domicile of the Ship Carpenters and Joiners’ Benevolent Association is in Algiers, where the dry docks are located. The organization is a representative one, and its members have not been troubled with a strike for a long time. Every member is a thorough mechanic in the true sense and meaning of the word, and what’s more, they are faithful toilers and very popular with their employers.
The president of the association is Mr. August Kevlin, who has occupied this position since 1885. In 1881, on the 27th day of July, the association was organized, and today its membership is somewhere in the two hundreds. Wm. Jones was president in 1882 and 1882, R. Kammerer in 1884, and since 1885 August Kevlin has presided.
OYSTER DISCHARGERS’ ASSOCIATION
The last association on the published programme was the Oyster Dischargers’ Association, of which Mr. M. Sansovich is the president. The members being unable to parade in a body sent a delegation to represent them in the parade. These men discharge oysters from the luggers, and at the present time their services are in demand on account of the large cargoes continually arriving.
TYPOGRAPHICAL UNION NO. 17
For the purpose of obtaining a fair and uniform tariff of prices and of settling differences arising among themselves, in May, 1835, was organized in this city the New Orleans Typographical Society by the printers employed in the city.
Owing to differences among members in the winter of 1844, by a vote the society was disbanded, but in the fall of 1845 was reorganized. The object of reorganization was to try and heal the differences, but to no avail and another disbandment followed. After various fruitless efforts, in May, 1852, the present union was organized with Gerald Stith as president, who afterward was elected Mayor of the city.
In 1853 W. B. Tebo was elected president, and Mr. Stith was appointed to meet delegates from other societies in the United States for the formation of a general organization, and during that year, in the city of Pittsburg, the International Typographical Union was organized. From this body a charter was obtained and the present Union No. 17 was inaugurated.
Delegates were elected in 1881, and, by resolution, requested other labor bodies to do the same, and by this means the present Trades and Labor Assembly commenced its career.
With flags and banners flying came the second division.
TEAMSTERS AND LOADERS
The members of the Teamsters and Loaders’ Union Benevolent Association play an important part in the commerce of this port. Each man, be he a teamster or loader, must be an experienced hand before he can belong to the association, and many years an apprenticeship ‘ere being admitted.
The roll of membership contains over 500, with a rapid growth. It has at present over $2000 invested in real estate.
The first president of the association, elected in 1880, was Thomas Redwood, who was re-elected in 1881; Sam Chapman in 1883 and 1884, and D. M. Fee was his successor.
Fully 500 men were in line yesterday and they made a very credible showing. They wore neat black suits and silk hats.
SCREWMEN NO. 2
followed. The colored screwmen are the strongest, largest and most prominent colored organization in the City of New Orleans. They follow their white brothers and never make a move without first consulting them. The association is seven years old, and during its existence has gradually increased in wealth and influence. It affords ample protection to its members and its benevolence and charity has often been the subject of commendation.
J. W. Dickinson, the president, is a very intelligent and educated colored man. He toils in the hold of a ship daily and is counted as one of the hardest workers in the association and in a ship.
The secretary of the association is Mr. Lazarus Thompson, who is truly a representative laboring man. He has served as a delegate in the Cotton Men’s Executive Council in the Trades Assembly, and has been a member of several important committees, and is secretary of the new Cotton Men’s Council.
THE THIRD DIVISION
This division was made up entirely of carriages containing delegations from the different unions represented in the assembly, and aged members of the various association.
Every association in line halted in front of and serenaded THE TIMES-DEMOCRAT.
It rained in the evening while the procession was returning to Canal street, causing it to disband at Congo Square.
New Orleans Times-Democrat, November 26, 1887.
Senator William E. Chandler (New Hampshire):31
. . . I find in the New Orleans Daily Picayune of Monday morning, September 17, 1888, the following account:
LOUISIANA—BREAUX BRIDGE—CRIME COMMITTED ON NEGRO WOMEN—THE WHITE PEOPLE IN MASS MEETING DECLARE SUCH PROCEEDINGS SHALL STOP.
BREAUX BRIDGE, LA., ST. MARTIN’S PARISH, September 16.
An awful crime was perpetrated in this vicinity Friday night. A gang supposed to be composed of five thus far unknown parties assaulted a negro cabin, and shooting through the walls mortally wounded a black woman, who died a few hours afterwards. From this place they went to another cabin, outraged a black woman, and then whipped a black man.
The negroes have made no affidavits yet. The white population is very much excited over this matter, and held last night an indignation meeting. About three hundred white men were present. Hon. Charles Delhommer made a stirring speech, in which he denounced such parties and such actions in the most virulent language. He was warmly applauded, and resolutions were immediately and unanimously passed that these negroes will be fully protected, so as to enable them to make the proper affidavits declaring all those whom they may have recognized, so that they may be duly arrested, delivered to the courts, and dealt with to the utmost rigor of the law. . . .
NEW ORLEANS, September 16.
A Picayune special from Breaux Bridge, La., says that on Friday night five unknown men attacked a negro cabin, and shooting through the walls, killed a colored woman. At another cabin they outraged a colored woman and whipped a colored man.
A mass meeting of three hundred white men was held Saturday night to express indignation at the outrages. Resolutions were adopted pledging protection to the colored people and punishment to the perpetrators of the crime.
I make the prediction, as I did on a previous occasion, that the indignation will end in resolutions. There will be no indictment and no punishment of the perpetrators of these outrages upon these negroes, the object of which is to affect the approaching Presidential election, when the parish of St. Martin is to be converted from a Republican parish into a Democratic parish. . . .
The Louisiana Standard of September 22 gives the following account of this Breaux Bridge atrocity:
DEMOCRATIC MURDER—AN EPIDEMIC OF ASSASSINATION—ORGANIZED GANGS OF DEMOCRATIC MURDERERS MAKING THE KILLING OF NEGROES A PASTIME—HOW LOUISIANA NEGROES ARE BEING REDUCED TO MEXICAN PEONAGE—ASSASSINATION ITEMS AS TOLD IN DEMOCRATIC SPECIALS—NO POLITICS IN IT, BUT THE MURDERERS ALL GOOD DEMOCRATS.
ST. MARTINSVILLE, LA., September 17, 1888
“News reached here this morning of one of the most cowardly crimes that ever was committed in this parish.” Friday night, at about 11 o’clock, in the vicinity of Breaux Bridge, a gang of four or five parties, some of them so far “unknown, whipped a black man, criminally assaulted one black woman, and killed another.”
The particulars gathered from the mother of the dead woman are about as follows:
On Friday night the gang called at the door of the woman’s house and knocked, saying it was the sheriff. She opened the door and recognized one of the parties, Sam Polk. She shut the door on them. They then fired through the door several shots, one of them taking effect in the woman’s abdomen and she died next morning.
The coroner’s inquest revealed “the fact that she bore seven months’ twins, one of them having the ball through the head. The man Polk was recognized as having engaged in the three crimes. His hat was also found at the door of the cabin. He was not found when search was made for him.
“The white people are indignant and very much excited. Warrants have been issued against Polk and three other parties suspected to have participated in the crimes. The white people will see that the colored people are protected and justice done.”
This is well enough in its way, in its recounting the damnable crime. All that about the white people being so terribly indignant is so much bosh. The parish has been a hell for the negroes for months. Democratic outlaws, called Regulators, have been and are in control of the parish. The killing and outraging of negroes has been their pastime. The planters have been and are helpless to afford their laborers any protection. The laborers are justly getting generally alarmed.
Those who can are showing the disposition to get away. The grinding season is coming on. The cane has to be gathered, and the sugar to be made. A large increase of laborers is wanted. The parish is getting to be known for the Democratic hell that it is. There is the growing fear that the needed laborers cannot be had, that those now on hand will get out. All this means ruin. These Democratic murders, again, this epidemic of assassination of helpless negroes are reaching the North, may affect the coming election. There is the seeming desire to call a halt, to hold up until the grinding season and the election shall be well over. That is about the measure of the excitement among the whites. It is all fear and gammon. Nobody will be hurt for murdering negroes.
AND YET ANOTHER ITEM
ST. MARTINSVILLE, September 18, 1888
“Vilmont Hollier, Decliere Hollier, Detour Hollier, Numa Boudreaux were arrested last night by Sheriff Gardemal and the citizens of Breaux Bridge, for the murder of the negro woman. Sam Polk is still at large and the officers are in pursuit. Vilmont Hollier is an ex-convict, having been pardoned last year.”
This closes the present chapter of Democratic specials; maybe something may be done with that “ex-convict.” Something evidently must be done, or that sugar crop goes to the demolition bow-wows—there won’t be any laborers in the parish to make it.
That “ex-convict” will do to make an example of. There is nothing like an example, you know. The poor devil, as an “ex-convict,” is not to be presumed as having any friends. Clean him out. The negroes will be satisfied that they are to be duly protected.
Bah! Why not go for the Democratic chivalry, the sons of the first families, the organized gangs of “regulators?” These are but the later and the smaller crimes. Why not attack that Democratic damnable verdict “parties unknown,” covering the assassins of Freetown?
It is no use, gentlemen. Louisiana is overridden with Democratic assassins. You may not wipe out the facts.
The outside world is coming to understand them. You have your Democratic government, installed by force and fraud. Your authorities are in the hands of those who forcibly and fraudulently put them in power. Your bulldozers and ballot-box stuffers are running the State. They are making the State a Democratic hell by murdering and outraging Republican negroes. Your State is virtually damned, is accursed because of an assassin Democracy. The negroes must look out for themselves. They must get out of the State.
The Washington Post of August 27 has the following:
Race troubles in Louisiana—
This case is one of those which the Senator from Louisiana calls the petty grievances with which the Senate of the United States ought not to be troubled. He would score, he says, if any petty grievance of this kind should happen in the State of New Hampshire to unworthyily and in an undignified and unpleasant manner bring it before this lofty body, of which he has the honor to be a member—
NEW ORLEANS, LA., August 26.
A dispatch from St. Martinsville says: “For three or four weeks past wild rumors have been spreading all over the parish that the negroes were arming and that a conflict of races was imminent. These rumors induced whites to organize for protection and safety.
The 1,631 whites of St. Martin are in danger of having the 1,771 colored voters arm themselves and assail and assault, kill and murder these poor, innocent, quiet, well-behaved and peaceful Democrats of that parish; so for protection and safety they decide as follows:
As a measure of preservation, the whites decided to disarm some of the negroes. The whites left yesterday for the Fifth ward, and completed the work of disarming without any resistance, except in one instance, where the whites were fired upon by two negroes, Albert Harris and his son, who were intrenched in a cabin.
The whites of Louisiana, if they hear that two poor negroes have possession of guns in an humble cabin in which they live, forthwith declare that these two negroes are intrenched in their cabin and that the whites are in danger, and thereupon they organize a posse—if there are two negroes, generally of about one hundred and fifty whites—and they go to the cabin and disarm these terrible negroes!
The negroes fired fifteen or twenty shots, which were returned by the whites. After firing for ten minutes the negroes surrendered. One of them was wounded in the arm. They were escorted out of the parish and warned never to return. The work of disarming was continued in a section of the Fifth ward where trouble was anticipated, but the rumor proved to be unfounded. Two bad characters were ordered to leave the parish within a specified time.
I have not the slightest doubt that they were going to vote the Republican ticket if they had stayed there, and according to the modern Louisiana doctrine which the Senator has avowed and attempted to justify upon the floor of this Senate today, if a man wants to vote the Republican ticket he is a bad character, and is to be notified to leave.
The weapons taken from the negroes were mostly old shotguns. A few rifles were found, but there was nothing showing an aggressive armament, except in the case of Albert Harris —one of these two negroes—who had a new Winchester rifle and a good supply of ammunition. All is now quiet.
Undoubtedly all is now quiet, and that kind of quiet will continue until the 6th of November, when the votes for Grover Cleveland in that parish have been counted and the votes for Benjamin Harrison have not been counted, and then the negroes may have some measure of real rest and peace until the approach of another election.
Here is a telegram from Shreveport, La. This is from the Daily Picayune of September 18; no old bones, or time-worn stories, or rotten timber in any of these extracts from the current Southern newspapers. The picayune says:
SHREVEPORT—NEGRO MURDERERS SUE FOR A CHANGE OF VENUE—SHREVEPORT’S DELEGATES FOR BLANCHARD
SHREVEPORT, LA., September 17.
The arguments in the case of Henry Brown et al. for a change of venue were heard this morning in the district court. A number of witnesses, all summoned by the defendants, testified that a fair trial could not be secured in Shreveport for the accused. The case was continued until tomorrow for further evidence. The accused are held for conspiracy and murder.
They are charged with killing Ed. Scott, a negro Saturday night, September 1, while he was at his home in bed. The crime is one of the darkest and most deliberate ever perpetrated in this community.
The primary election for delegates to the Congressional convention, fixed to convene on September 28, was very quiet. Less than 100 votes were cast throughout the city. All the delegates elected favor BLANCHARD’S return to Congress from this district. He will have no opposition.
TWO MORE NEGROES TAKEN OUT AND SHOT TO DEATH
OPELOUSAS, LA., September 17.
Yesterday morning at Villa Platte prairie a crowd of armed men rode to the house of two negroes named Jean Pierre-Salet and Sidairo, and after leading them a short distance riddled them with buckshot, killing both men instantly. This killing is supposed to have been brought about by the incendiary language recently used by these two negroes.
The affair created intense excitement in the neighborhood where it occurred.
Doubtless the incendiary language used by these negroes was something like the encendiary language which the Senator from Wisconsin [Mr. Spooner] showed the other day was used by the negroes in Texas, of which complaint was made, which was, I believe, that they argued in favor of a protective tariff.
Since this resolution was before the Senate on a previous occasion I have found one or two accounts in other papers of the Freetown affair, which I desire to incorporate in my remarks at the risk of disturbing the sensibilities of the Senator from Louisiana. This is from the Weekly Messenger at St. Martinsville, La.:
A RIOT—E. PAYSON SMITH KILLED AND ANOTHER MAN SLIGHTLY WOUNDED—TWENTY-FIVE NEGROES KILLED
The news came here yesterday morning of a riot which took place in the parish of Iberia during the evening of Thursday. The particulars we got at the time of going to press are about as follows: It was reported that the negroes were arming and drilling in the section where the riot took place, and Captain Cades, in command of a detachment of his company, went there to quiet and disarm the negroes. The negroes, it appears, were congregated in a cabin, and when Captain Cades informed them of his mission the negroes from within the cabin opened fire on him and his men, killing Mr. E. Payson Smith and slightly wounding another man. Captain Cades then ordered his men to return the fire, and twenty-five negroes fell dead.
The body of Mr. Smith was immediately taken to New Iberia.
At the time we go to press everything is reported quiet.
NEW IBERIA—VERDICT OF THE CORONER’S JURY ON THE NEGROES SLAIN IN THE FREETOWN RIOT
[From the Louisiana Standard, New Orleans, August 25, 1888.—Correspondence]
NEW IBERIA, LA., August 23.
The coroner’s jury reached a verdict yesterday evening in the case of the killing of the ten negroes in the Freetown riot on the 16th instant. Two days were spent in collecting evidence, which resulted in the following verdict:
“We, the jury impaneled to hold an inquest on the body of Tom Simon, deceased, come to the conclusion that he met his death by a gunshot wound inflicted by parties unknown to the jury. From the evidence collected the jury is further led to the conclusion that the following also met their deaths by gunshot wounds inflicted at the same time and place by parties likewise unknown to us: Sam Cahill, Louis Simon, Edw. Simon, Eugene Green, Alex Valere, Edw. Valere, and others. This at Freetown, parish of Iberia, on the 15th day of August, 1888.”
Here is the damning outcome. The verdict of the coroner’s jury but smoothed over a wholesale massacre. It is a palpable, damning lie. Do the members of this jury realize the position in which this verdict places them? Do they realize that they must stand self-convicted as perjurers before God and man? Where is the honor of a community? Where the honesty of a juryman’s oath? Where is the honor of Governor Nicholls? “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.”
I also have in the Picayune an account of this “Iberia riot,” as it is called, which I desire to insert in the RECORD. The account of the beginning of the affray here given is that the white people of the section began to feel alarmed about the negroes at Freetown, and this is what they did:
The citizens rode into Freetown and found, as rumored, a large number of armed negroes quartered there. They asked its meaning and the negroes were silent. They then demanded a surrender of their arms, with the promise that when they learned to behave themselves—
I judge that means only that when they learned to submit to the policy that has been outlined here today by the Senator from Louisiana of having no ticket in the field except the Democratic ticket—they would be returned, and that the negroes should at once disperse. The great majority of them accepted the terms of the party and surrendered their arms, which were found without exception to be loaded with ball or buckshot.
The negroes took possession, it appears, of Rev. Mr. Nora’s house. Then follows the brutal massacre which was described in the Times-Democrat, published with my remarks the other day:
THE IBERIA RIOT—TWENTY NEGROES AND ONE WHITE MAN SLAIN—GLOWING DETAILS OF THE BATTLE—THE NEGROES BARRICADED IN THE PREACHER’S HOUSE—NONE LEFT ALIVE TO TELL THE STORY—SOME INNOCENT MEN WHO SUFFERED WITH THE GUILTY—THE NAMES OF THE SLAIN—THE FUNERAL OF MR. SMITH IN NEW IBERIA—POLITICS NOT A FACTOR IN THE FIGHT.
NEW IBERIA, LA., August 17.
Today all is quiet again. This morning a large number of men from various sections of the country and neighboring towns were here, but nearly all of them returned to their homes during the forenoon.
The morning the remains of Mr. E. P. Smith were removed to the Episcopal church. He was forty-two years of age and a native of Ohio, and a bachelor. The funeral services were conducted at the church by Rev. C. C. Kramer. The edifice was crowded to a jam, and the yard and walks in front of the church were also crowded. After the regular service at the church the funeral cortage was formed, as follows: The Iberia Guards, the Attakapas Rangers (of which the deceased was a member), the hearse, the Phoenix Bucket Fire Company (of which the deceased was also a member), Iberia Steam Fire Company, No. 1; American Steam Fire Company, No. 2; followed by many friends and acquaintances on foot and in carriages.
A large number of ladies were in attendance, and their floral offerings were profuse and tasty. Palm leaves figured conspicuously among the evergreens.
At the grave Rev. Kramer finished the services, after which followed a salute of three volleys by a detachment of the Iberia Guards. Thus were the last tributes of respect paid to the departed—a noble spirit, a fast friend, a congenial companion.
The trouble of yesterday grew out of a spirit of revenge on the part of the negroes. The better element of this and neighboring parishes had found it impossible to longer tolerate a certain element of idle and immoral characters. This latter class were ordered away from the various sections and many of them found refuge at Freetown, a small village composed entirely of negro families. There they told their stories to their friends and nursed their growing anger. On Monday last the report reached this place that the negroes were arming and congregating at Freetown. Their number was estimated at from 500 to 600 strong, mounted. Tuesday they had received re-enforcements sufficient to fully double their numbers, and feeling their strength they assumed a threatening attitude, boldly declaring the refugees should not leave the parish and should not be molested.
On Wednesday their numbers were further increased, and the people of the surrounding country began to feel some alarm lest these negroes, overestimating their strength, should attempt some acts of violence.
On Thursday matters had not improved up to noon. By this time the residents and property-owners of this section began to collect at a point a short distance from Freetown, their object to disperse these negroes without violence and to send those who did not belong there to their homes and business.
Rev. H. Nora, a colored minister, left Freetown in the morning to attend a conference of ministers at this place, and during his absence his residence was taken possession of by a number of the armed negroes. This house refused to surrender, returning word that they were not to be taken. The whites then sent a second messenger to the house, saying they would give them twenty minutes in which to lay down their weapons. The negroes again refused.
In this house, situated but a short distance from the main road or street, were quartered some twelve or fifteen negroes, among the number their leaders.
A squad of mounted white citizens were some 150 yards from the house, waiting the expiration of the twenty minutes, and before the given time had expired a door of the house was thrown open and a volley fired at them. One horse was wounded.
This was a surprise to all, and immediately the firing became general. The door of the house was again closed, but a constant fire was kept up from windows and doors partly open for quite an interval. Later the fire was carried on by spurts by both sides, lasting in all for nearly an hour and a half.
At this time Mr. Smith broke from his lines and made for the house. His comrades implored him to return, but, deaf to their entreaties, he went on. The house was reached, the door was forced, and he fell. At his side was a comrade who had followed him on his fatal errand; but when Mr. Smith fell his comrade retreated backwards, keeping up a constant fire from a repeating rifle, and escaped unhurt.
At this stage of the fight the negroes became panic-stricken and attempted to flee from the house, and the deadly work was soon brought to a close.
After the fight closed the bodies of eight negroes were found in the house and five others outside.
Others say three or four more were killed. It is thought by some that a few made their escape, while others who were at the scene deny this.
One of the negroes who shot Mr. Smith was named Smith and was recognized among the dead by Mr. Smith’s comrade today.
Coroner J. Wolf called a jury as follows: Mr. William Lamb, Dr. James A. Lee, Messrs. Zenon, Decair, Doud, Laughlin and William R. Burke, and proceeded with them to Freetown to the remains of the negroes.
They returned this evening and have deferred taking testimony until a later date.
From the above statement of facts, it will be clearly seen that politics have played no part; that the negroes brought the trouble on themselves; that they fired the first shot; that they shed the first blood, and that they bore the consequences of their acts.
The negroes who surrendered were not harmed in any way.
FREETOWN—WHERE THE BATTLE WAS FOUGHT—THE FIGHT AND ITS VICTIMS
LAFAYETTE, LA., August 17.
The riot briefly reported from this point at a late hour last night as occurring at Cade’s Station really occurred about 6 miles southwest of that point, at Freetown, which is located in the corner of Iberia Parish and only a short distance from St. Martin’s Lafayette, and Vermillion Parishes. This section is more properly located 4 miles southwest of Burk station on the Morgan Road, and about 10 miles from New Iberia.
Freetown is a little town of negroes, but more of a neighborhood, as it covers about 4 square miles, with fifteen families living in small hut-like houses from 100 to 400 yards apart, with small fields attached, from which they are supposed to make a living, and the houses and fields usually belong to the family using them.
About the center of the settlement is a store kept by a negro, a Baptist church, and a school-house. But a few white families live in the range of this neighborhood. There are but few houses there which could be called comfortable negro houses.
It is understood that for some years back considerable foraging and depredations in stealing of cattle corn, and cotton on the outlying white neighborhood has been carried on, and supposed to have been done by some of those at Freetown. This is said to have been known to be true of Andy Smith and one or two of Tom Simon’s sons. Several of these negroes are reported to have been whipped for it, but it was not possible to detect the ringleader, Andy Smith.
It is said that a few days since the regulators of that neighborhood sent him word that they were going to whip him. He immediately drew around him sixteen to eighteen negroes of the neighborhood, all of whom were armed with Winchester rifles, old muskets, and double-barreled shotguns, numbers of the latter of recent purchase in New Iberia. This was but a few days since. He then sent word to the white people to come on, that he and his friends were ready for them, and, it is said, threatened the lives of four or five white men near by.
Andy Smith, the leader of the blacks in this trouble, has shot two or three white men in the past four years, and is known to be of desperate courage and meanness.
The four or five whites receiving this defiant message believed their lives were in danger, and sent a few messengers to New Iberia and Abbeville, across the line and into Lafayette, to the effect that they would be killed and appealed for help.
In response to this call about 150 to 200 men from these three sections reached Freetown after the dinner hour of yesterday. They found these armed negroes, about eighteen in number, barricaded in a new four-room frame house, built by their pastor, Rev. Cleste Noop, who was at the time in New Iberia, holding a protracted meeting among his people. These negroes had sent Noop’s wife away and were its sole occupants at the time.
The house was surrounded by the whites, and a half hour’s delay occurred in a parley on the part of the whites, who assured Smith and his crowd that it was peace, if it was desired, and not violence, and if the negroes would surrender their arms the whites would take them away for the present, but at a subsequent time, when peace was fully established, they should be returned to their owners, and guaranteed no violence to any one of the party.
In the interest of this purpose, the whites secured the services of old man Tom Simmons, father-in-law of Smith, and father of Louis and Edward Simmons, two of the occupants of the house, and also old man Sam Cohit, each of whom besought the barricaded negroes to comply with the request to surrender their arms and prevent any one from being hurt. Surly silence was the only response. The pacifying efforts were ineffectual. The whites were about 20 feet from the house. Payson Smith and Alfred Lasalle, of the whites, approached the house, and as Lasalle opened one of the doors, poor young Smith stuck his head in and was immediately shot down by Andy Smith.
This was the first signal for a general firing from inside by the blacks and outside by the whites. The house is new and unceiled and therefore has very thin walls. The doors and windows being closed, the firing was at and through this thin wall. The blacks standing close up the wall fired outside, and before it reached the whites the force of the ball was spent in passing through the wall. The whites at a long range penetrated the walls easier and only had a few feet to reach those on the inside, and hence proved more effectual in killing those for whom they shot. There were, it is estimated, four hundred to five hundred shots fired, and when the battle was over the walls from 4 inches to 5 feet above the floor were riddled with bullet-holes. Several of the negroes during the fight escaped and were shot while running, but most of them fell when they opened battle in the house.
It is understood when the battle was ended there were over twenty guns found in the house.
In addition to the killing of Payson Smith, the white forces suffered a slight wound in the wrist of Mr. Manard, a young creole from New Iberia Station.
In reference to the results on the side of the negroes, it is not absolutely certain, but from two sources it is made up as follows: A prominent gentleman who went to the grounds this morning says that he went into the negro church, when he found there were eight dead negroes who were left there to await the coroner’s inquest. These were Sam Cahil, Earnest Grient, Andy Smith, Paul Charles, Louis Simmons and three others whom the gentleman did not know. He was informed that old man Tom Simon had been killed and carried to his own house. He was also informed that an unknown negro was wounded and died last night, which would make ten killed. He was informed that four others were missing and unaccounted for—whether absent or dead was not known.
There was one wounded, Alex Lee, a colored school teacher, who called Dr. B. T. Mosely to attend him. This would make a total of fifteen. Dr. Mosely says Lee is seriously wounded in the jaw and throat, and has a flesh wound in the breast. The other information is denied.
From a negro from Freetown, who was today at Cade’s station: He says that there were originally thirteen dead negroes in the church, but that five were carried away, and that Tom Simmons, the unknown negro who died last night, and the school teacher would make sixteen, and the four missing would make a total of twenty.
In addition to the names of the dead first given the negro informant gives those of Edward Simon, son of old man Tom Simon and brother-in-law Andy Smith; Edward Vallier, Jr., Alex Vallier, and T. Pochelle.
Violence is always an important fact in reaching intelligent conclusions, but this case is somewhat independent. Beyond the fact that Andy Smith for his general bad character was threatened with a whipping in retaliation armed himself and friends and defied the white people, and fired the first shot, in the face of the fact that there were ten whites to one, thus manifesting his dare-devil rascality in the last moment of life, as death must have seemed inevitable to him after his killing young Smith.
This information is obtained by a buggy ride of nearly 40 miles today through mud and hot sun and a scarcity of intelligence to furnish it.
LAFAYETTE—THE EXCITEMENT IN A NEIGHBORING PARISH
LAFAYETTE, LA., August 17.
Some excitement prevails here today consequent of the agitation in Abbeville and the unfortunate affair at Cade Station, in the lower portion of this parish. There is great uneasiness among the negroes, who fear a repetition of violent acts in this quarter. Many of the whites are supplying themselves with arms and ammunition in case of need, while it is rumored that there is a move to organize a guard for the protection of the town. This trouble seemingly originated in St. Mary and Vermillion Parishes, and to some extent has spread over this parish, but your correspondent has been unable so far to gather definite information in regard to it. Several parties here, so says Dame Rumor, who have been guilty of miscegenation have been waited upon and ordered to leave. It is safe to say, however, that no blood shed need be feared at this place, so the sober judgment of our citizens may be relied on to tide over the present uneasy state of affairs.
The farmers must necessarily suffer under this deplorable state of excitement, as the negroes will not leave their homes for fear of being waylaid. Everything is quiet tonight, and the outlook betokens an early subsidence of the regnant perturbation. . . .
ARTICLES FROM THE LOUISIANA STANDARD, T. B. STAMPS, PROPRIETOR, NEW ORLEANS, AUGUST 25, 1888
If the colored man in this State has a spark of spirit in his body, and desires to be practically free, as is guaranteed by the national Constitution, he must leave here and go at once. Go North, East, or West, where you will be treated at least like a human being born according to God’s laws.
We hope to publish next week the fact that the negro has started the immigration from this cut-throat slice of the solid South; that he will demonstrate that he means to be free by leaving a State where he is held now as much a slave as ever before the emancipation proclamation of God’s great Christian servant, Abraham Lincoln.
On our front page will be found a letter from Mr. L. A. Martinet, the leading colored Democrat of the South and editor of the Progress, in which he scathingly and manfully denounces the Democratic methods and the coldblooded butchery of negroes and diabolical outrages on Republicans by the Democrats.
MARTINET ON HAND IN CONDEMNATION OF NEGRO BUTCHERY—HE CANNOT CONDONE DEMOCRATIC METHODS AND DECLINES FURTHER FEALTY WITH THE PARTY OF OPPRESSION.
NEW ORLEANS, LA., August 23, 1888
To the Progress Publishing Company:
GENTLEMEN: When Saturday I read in the morning papers of the massacre of the negroes at Freetown, Iberia Parish, I was shocked and horrified. It was a ruthless and brutal butchery of human beings, without cause, reason, or sense. Moreover, there exists in the parishes surrounding that section a reign of terror and lawlessness that is a shame to civilization. Colored people are unmercifully beaten and whipped for no cause or reason; they cannot be out at night after 9 o’clock with safety; their property is forcibly taken from them in broad daylight; and old and respectable residents and families are dirven away from their homes, the latter because the husbands happen to be white.
In view of the fact that every act of violence against negroes in the South is charged in the North to the Democratic party, and of all that there is at stake for the Democratic party in the pending national contest, it does seem as if the perpetrators of these unheard-of outrages, who are said to be Democrats, have gone mad.
I called on the governor Monday and yesterday again, with a view of securing some official action for the protection of these injured and outraged people, or for putting a stop to this lawlessness. I explained to him how critical the situation is, but I regret exceedingly to say that he does not think that a case has yet arisen where he has the authority to interfere, and he seems apprehensive that if he does interfere now it might make matters worse.
Well, if the negroes are to be butchered, flogged, and driven from their homes under a Democratic administration, without cause or provocation, and the authorities are not able to speak one word in their behalf for humanity’s sake, or in censure or condemnation of the atrocious deeds, then there is no reason that I know of why they should change their politics, and thus try to remove what we believed a bar to relations of amity between their white fellow-citizens and themselves, especially when it is known that even those who have voted the Democratic ticket are not exempt from brutal treatment. Even personal friends of ours of irreproachable character have been molested and driven away. I mention this to illustrate better the deplorable state of affairs—not that we would think our friends more sacred than others. If we favored a Democratic government it was specially for the purpose of assuring protection to our people. This failing, we see no way in which they are benefited by it.
I confess I am not only disappointed, but pained and grieved beyond expression. My faith in Governor Nicholls was such that I never could once believe that such outrages could be committed under his administration without at least immediate rebuke and condemnation. My faith in him is not altogether shaken, and I yet have the hope that he will take some action.
It is all a sad return for our unselfish and disinterested efforts to establish permanent relations of peace and harmony between the races, an end for which I have labored long, endured much vexation, and made great personal sacrifices.
A task that forced itself upon the Progress at the outset was to defend the election of the present State administration against the exaggerated charges of fraud, of rancorous political opponents. That we have not been entirely unsuccessful is shown by the readiness with which our articles have been quoted in the United States Senate and the extensiveness with which they have been reproduced by the Democratic press.
Thoroughly acquainted with the incapacity of the negro voters in their present untutored state to govern, and knowing how easy a prey they are to designing and unprincipled politicians and demagogues, we have labored hard to convince them that it was best for their interests that the people who own the property and possessed the intelligence, as I thought, should rule. Through it all we have been honest and conscientious. We have borne uncomplainingly the ostracism of our people and the odium that, among them, attaches to the colored man who professes himself a Democrat, and we have never asked nor expected personal reward in any shape or manner.
Our sole aim and endeavor has been to promote, in our feeble way, the good and welfare of the whole people. Conscious of having striven to perform what we considered a public duty, of having, in the interest of what we believed to be the cause of good government, labored to enable these people to control the mass of illiterate voters in their midst without a resort to violence or unlawful means, we could rest perfectly satisfied with the little appreciation our efforts have received from those who were to be first benefited by them. But I will not, I can not, condone the shedding of innocent blood.
Knowing the worthlessness of professional negro politicians, and how hurtful they are to their own race, I have been, with your approval, unsparing in denouncing them, going to the length of palliating, if not always justifying the illegal measures taken to rid the community of them, when no bodily harm or injury was done. But I cannot, I will not silently countenance the ruthless butchery and cruel whipping of defenseless and innocent people, the despoiling them of their property, and the running away of others from their homes because they chose to marry or unite according to their individual tastes.
The right of people to marry to suit themselves is the most sacred that I know. It is a divine right, and no one has rightfully the authority to interfere with the contracting parties. I could not say less on this point without, as it were, submitting to the desecration of the cherished memory of my dead parents, and condemning their holy union and marriage, of which I am the product.
No matter what the governor’s personal feelings may be concerning these outrages—he has a strong sense of right and justice, and I know he deplores and condemns them in his heart—yet it seems to me that his silence will create on the outside world the false impression that this lawless condition of affairs is not so extensive, widespread, and critical as it really is, which would be wrong; or, worse, it may be taken by the “regulators” as warrant to go on in their nefarious course.
It must be remembered, too, that the Picayune, which may be regarded as the organ of the administration, has unqualifiedly pronounced itself upon the question of miscegenation, encouraging the inhuman crusade against it which is spreading all over the State, and from which spring so many acts of violence.
The Progress has no circulation outside of the State. It is not a factor in the Presidential contest—and there is something more sacred than politics in this matter. A question of humanity is involved. The party that would use the perpetration of such outrages merely for campaign purposes, as a steppingstone to power, ought not to succeed; and the party that is too weak and pusilanimous to denounce them ought not to be intrusted with power. Also, our efforts to establish and maintain peace and harmony, between the races have, it seems to me, not only proved futile, but may be, under the circumstances, considered officious. Therefore, unless the policy of the paper can be so directed as to deal with this lawlessness as it should be dealt with, I beg you to accept my resignation as editor.
L. A. MARTINET
AN EARNEST PROTEST AGAINST THE WHOLESALE SLAUGHTER OF INNOCENT AND INOFFENSIVE COLORED MEN—MEMORIAL MASS MEETING IN GEDDES HALL—ABLE ADDRESS OF REV. E. LYON—MATTERS IN DETAIL.
Wednesday night Geddes Hall was filled by a large assemblage of prominent divines and citizens who assembled to enter their protest against the indiscriminate slaughter of innocent negroes in adjoining parishes. A large number of ladies were present.
The meeting was called to order by Hon. T. B. Stamps, who announced the subject of the meeting and read the following list of officers:
Rev. J. W. Hudson, president; Hon. George D. Geddes, honorary president; vice presidents, Revs. F. T. Chinn, John Marks, A. E. P. Albert, I. H. Norwood, Graham Bell, C. H. Thompson, D.D.; J. W. Hudson, J. T. Newman, M.D.; Rev. R. Thompson, Messrs. H. C. Nichols, E. Brower, Robert W. B. Gould, Revs. A. S. Jackson, J. L. Burrell, Maj. C. F. Ladd, Hon. D. F. Diaz, Col. James Lewis, Rev. T. P. Jackson, Col. R. B. Baquet, Rev. Hon. George Devezin, Hon. Thomas W. Wickham, Rev. Charles Williams, Rev. M. Dale, Mr. Frank C. Taylor, Rev. Guy Watson, Hon. L. D. Thompson, Rev. C. H. Claiborne, Mr. Paul Alexandria, George Landry, esq., Mr. John B. Williams, Rev. B. Brown, Mr. C. C. Wilson, Mr. J. W. Hilton, Hon. C. F. Brown, G. W. Wilson, esq., Rev. L. W. Oldfield, Rev. W. S. Wilson, Mr. Hope Dennis, J. H. Coker, M.D., Drs. Chris. Graves, Robert J. Estes, Rev. Dick Richard, Mr. W. A. Halston, Mr. J. D. Brooks, Rev. H. Taylor, Mr. H. Dixon, Mr. H. C. Green, Mr. Ramie Hawkins, Rev. R. Frazier, Mr. Thomas Wesley, Mr. B. B. Dixon, Jr., Rev. C. Monroe, Mr. H. Powells, Rev. Dave Young, Hon. Henry Demas, E. Duconge, esq., Frank Farrer, Capt. N. D. Bush, Capt. D. D. Wethers, Mr. B. Boguille, Mr. L. J. Joubert, Mr. Walter Cohen, Rev. J. A. Wilson, Mr. Joseph H. Fuller, Mr. Paul Bruce, Capt. Peter Joseph, Capts. Charles Lewis, D. M. Moor, Hons. W. S. Posey, Frank Farrell, Messrs. A. L. Chapman, Rev. Henry Davis, Mr. Arthur W. Woods, Mr. Edward Gaudet, Rev. M. C. Camfield, Mr. John Marshall, Mr. Alexander Plique, Capt. William Cobb, Capt. J. W. Edwards, Capt. Taylor Mc Keethen, Capt. Dand Wilson, C. B. Wilson, James F. Thomas; secretary, Rev. Ernest Lyons; assistants, Paul Green, M. J. Simms, R. C. Cammack.
The meeting was opened by divine services, prayers being offered by Rev. Henderson, pastor of the Central Congregational Church. The following committee was appointed to prepare an address: Revs. Ernest Lyon, A. E. P. Albert, M. C. B. Mason, J. H. Coker, M.D., T. B. Stamps, W. Paul Green, James D. Kennedy, Charles B. Wilson.
The committee retired, and in a few moments submitted the following report:
“To the people of the United States:
“We, citizens of New Orleans, as well as of neighboring parishes, from which we have been driven away without warrant or law, assembled in mass meeting at New Orleans, La., on Wednesday, August 22, at Geddes Hall, declare and assert: That a reign of terror exists in many parts of the State; that the laws are suspended and the officers of the government, from the governor down, afford no protection to the lives and property of the people against armed bodies of whites, who shed innocent blood and commit deeds of savagery unsurpassed in the dark ages of mankind.
“For the past twelve years we have been most effectively disfranchised and robbed of our political rights. While denied the privilege in many places of voting for the party and the candidates of our choice, acts of violence have been committed to compel us to vote against the dictates of our conscience for the Democratic party, and Republican ballots cast by us have been counted for the Democratic candidates. The press, the pulpit, the commercial organizations, and executive authority of the State have given both open and silent approval of all these crimes. In addition to these methods, there seems to be a deep laid scheme to reduce the negroes of the State to a condition of abject serfdom and peonage.
“It is being executed by armed bodies of men, styling themselves regulators, all of whom are white, except when a negro is occasionally forced to join them to give color to the pretense that they represent the virtue of their communities in the suppression impartially of vicious and immoral persons. With that pretense as a cloak these lawless bands make night hideous with their unblushing outrages and murders of inoffensive colored citizens. They go out on nightly raids, order peaceable citizens away never to return, whip some, fire into houses of others—endangering the defenseless lives of women and children—and no attempt is even made to indict them. No virtuous element in the State is found among the whites to rise up in their might and sternly repress these outrageous crimes.
“These acts are done in deliberate defiance of the Constitution and laws of the United States, which are so thoroughly nullified that the negroes who bore arms in defense of the Union have no protection or shelter from them within the borders of Louisiana. During the past twelve months our people have suffered from the lawless regulators as never before since the carnival of bloodshed conducted by the Democratic party in 1868, and which prompted the late and lamented General Phillip Sheridan, in an official report, to style the whites as banditti. Fully aware of their utter helplessness, unarmed and unable to offer resistance to an overpowering force which varies from a ‘band of whites’ to ‘a sheriff’s posse’ or the ‘militia,’ but which in reality is simply the Democratic party assembled with military precision and armed with rifles of the latest improved patents, toilers forbidden to follow occupations of their choice, compelled to desist from the discussing of labor questions, and been whipped and butchered when in a defenseless condition.
“In the instances where negroes have attempted to defend themselves, as at Pattersonville and Thibodaux, they have been traduced in a spirit of savage malignity, the governor of the State, with scarce an observance of the forms of law has hastened his mercenaries or militia to the scene with cannon and rifles ostensibly to preserve the peace, but actually to re-enforce the already too well fortified negro murderers falsely assuming to be lawful posses.
A single volume would scarcely afford sufficient space to enumerate the outrages our people have suffered, and are daily suffering at the hand of their oppressors. They are flagrantly deprived of every right guaranteed them by the Constitution; in many parts of the State they are free only in name; they cannot assemble in peace to indicate and discuss an equitable rate of wages for their labor; they do not feel safe as property-holders and tax-payers; and are permitted to enjoy but very few public conveniences.
“The latest wholesale murder, rivaling the most horrifying brutalities of the Comanches, took place only a few nights ago near Cade Station, in the parish of Iberia, in the negro village of Freetown. This place is owned exclusively by colored people, who were conceded to be industrious and respectable. They were charged with hiding and protecting in their midst some negroes from other parts of the parish whom the regulators wanted to whip. When this news was spread abroad a sheriff, fraudulently installed, with his men, without any warrant or shadow of law, at the hour of midnight invaded that quiet village, attacked a house wherein a number of negroes expecting the assault had gathered for self-defense, and deliberately slaughtered the inmates. No arrests will follow. The civil authorities are in sympathy with and applaud the crime.
“The governor has shown no disposition to afford our people any protection, because of this and other kindred wrongs, and our sad experience leads us to expect no redress from that source.
“The papers daily record lynchings, whippings, and murders of people on various pretenses, such as are not considered sufficient cause for lynch law for whites under the like circumstances, and tidings pour in upon us like a flood, of brutalities the record of which is suppressed from the public print because of the supposed political effect they would have upon the Presidential and Congressional campaigns in the Northern States.
“We have exhausted all means in our power to have our wrongs redressed by those whose sworn duty it is to impartially execute the laws, but all in vain, until now, because of our murdered fellow-citizens, and apprehensive for our own safety, we appeal to the awakened conscience, the sense of justice and sympathy of the civilized world, and of the American people in particular, to assist us with such moral and material support, as to secure the removal of our people, penniless as many of them are under the feudal system under which they live, to the public lands and other places of the Northwest where they can enjoy some security for their persons and property.
“To this end we have organized a bureau of immigration. We have so done under the following resolution:
“Be it resolved. That a bureau of immigration be composed of J. H. Coker, M.D., president; Rev. Ernest Lyon, A.B. secretary; W. P. Green, esq., M. J. Simms, assistant secretaries; Rev. C. B. Mason, A.B., treasurer; Rev. A. E. P. Albert, D.D., George D. Geddes, esq.; Rev. A. S. Jackson, Hon. T. B. Stamps, D. D. Wethert, esq.; Rev. J. L. Burrell, C. B. Wilson, esq. To our people we advise calmness and a strict regard for law and order. If your homes are invaded expect no mercy, for none will be shown, and if doomed to die, then die defending your life and home to the best of your ability. If convinced that you will not be permitted to live where you are in peace and perfect security quietly go away. If you are without other means to travel take to the public roads or through the swamps and walk away.
“Steam-boats and railroads are inventions of recent years; your forefathers dared the bloodhounds, the patrollers, and innumberable obstacles, lived in the woods on roots and berries in making their way to Canadian borders.
“Invoking the guiding favor of Almighty God and the sympathy of mankind, we are your brethren in affliction and the common bond of humanity,
“Rev. M.C.B. MASON.
“Rev. W. Paul Green.
“Rev. J. D. Kennedy,
“Rev. C. B. Wilson
“Rev. ERNEST LYON.
“Rev. A. E. P. Albert
“Rev. J. H. Coker, M.D.
“Rev. T. B. Stamps
The following resolutions, offered by Mr. Marshall J. Simms, were adopted:
“Resolved, That the immigration bureau be, and they are hereby requested to open immediate communication with the immigration and kindred organizations in California, Kansas, and the Northwestern States and Territories and to adopt such other plans as will afford the information and relief for our oppressed people.
“Resolved, That every possible method be utilized to inform our people and neighboring States of the terrorism which reigns in the disturbed sections of this State, especially in Iberia, St. Martin, Lafourche, St. Mary, Assumption, Terrebonne, and Vermillion, so that they may be duly warned against endangering their lives and liberty by going to these places.”
Stirring addresses were made by Revs. Ernest Lyon, A. S. Jackson, A.E.P. Albert, E. S. Swan, J. D. Kennedy, Miss S.A.E. Locket, Rev. M.C.B. Mason, and others. Meeting then adjourned.
REV. E. LYON’S ADDRESS—THE YOUNG DIVINE HANDLES THE OUTRAGE QUESTION WITH GREAT SKILL
The following is the able address of Rev. E. Lyon delivered at Geddes Hall:
When will deliverance come? is the question which is being asked by the most concerned of our people.
The diabolical system of wholesale and unprovoked murder of our people in the country parishes continues on the increase. The peaceful and law-abiding colored citizens of the State thought that after “danger was over” that affairs would assume their usual tranquility; that after the murder and giving up of negroes, whose only crime seems to be, from facts obtained, the attempts on their part to exercise their liberty within the borders of a free Republic, that innocent and defenseless negroes would be allowed to pursue their daily avocation in peace, in order that they may provide for the necessities of their families. But alas! scarcely a wind blows but what it brings the intelligence of murder and bloodshed—murder and bloodshed confined invariably within the ranks of a certain class of the people, namely, the poor and unsuspecting members of the colored race. In all of these engagements the whites have always succeeded in escaping scot-free. This does not look reasonable. There is foul play somewhere, and the whole world begins to believe it.
For a decade of years the innocent and unsuspecting negroes have been made the victims of a cruel fate. The present year dawned upon us, and found the State rent from center to circumference by perplexing political issues. Issues which by a strange admixture of political circumstance, assumed the semblance of labor troubles. Whatever might have been the real causes of these troubles a bloody massacre was the result. A sham attack was shrewdly instituted by the whites on paper only, with the negroes as aggressors. This was only the pretense for the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children which followed. A mother in Israel, bowed down with many summers, who remained faithfully at home during the war to watch her master’s children till the battle was over, was mercilessly shot down with impunity within the very heart of a Christian country.
The intelligent members of the race watched with silence and waited with patience to hear the secular press and pulpits of the State, either in mild or in measured terms, denounce the inhuman ravages upon life and property. But to their disappointment that period has not yet come. Again, we are startled by the sad intelligence of weeping and mourning, of murder and bloodshed at Freetown, a village within the very shade of the capitol of the State. Eleven families in mourning. Eleven wives made widows by a band of white hoodlums claiming to be regulators. This village is largely inhabited by colored people who are industrious and law-abiding. The murder marks one of the bloodiest and most thrilling chapters in the history of crimes.
The offense for which these innocent and helpless people were butchered was the protection they offered to some of the members of the race who were flying from the murderous chase of midnight regulators. Confined within their own premises, they determined to give protection to their fellows in distress. There was nothing wrong in this. It would be just what the white people would be too glad to do under like circumstances. But of course such manhood on the part of the negroes is exceedingly offensive to the whites, and they must die. These negroes it must be understood were not lawless or clamorous insurrectionists. They were industrious peaceful, and law-abiding citizens armed to defend their rights and property at the sacrifice of their own lives. They were murdered. Nothing less could be expected. The odds were against them. But before they welcomed death and shook hands with immortality they evinced to the cowardly whites courage and heroism worthy the race whose image they so nobly bore.
All honor to the brave men, therefore, who so nobly defended themselves at Freetown. May the hands that were swift in shedding their blood receive speedy retribution, and may the soil which drank their blood, as a fitting evidence of nature’s displeasure, be barren forever. We ask, are not the laws enacted by the Legislature, composed of competent men, elected by the people, able to protect the State without the interference of regulators? Who are these regulators, and what are they? Are they acting under the official sanction of the governor of the State?
If they are not, why does he allow without his official protest this uncivilized system of affairs which places the whole people in juxtaposition to the Hottentots of the African reservation. The facts as given to the public by the daily journals and telegraph operator who are white men must be taken for what they are worth. What right has the sheriff posse to compel negroes to give up their arms in the defense of their person and property? Would the white people of the State in like position submit to such a glaring piece of injustice perpetrated on themselves?
If the negroes are to be disarmed, should not the regulators be disarmed also? And if their actions are inharmonious to the constitution of the State, they should be apprehended and punishment inflicted. It is time that the better class of our white friends speak out and clear in the defense of right and justice. There is no protection for the negro. If he attempts to protect himself the riot act is read. His arms are demanded. The militia is called out. A sheriff posse is organized and assisted by regulators, who murder the poor and unfortunate negroes with impunity. An investigation into the cause of the Freetown tragedy should be made; a committee should be appointed by the governor, composed of members of both races, charged with this solemn duty. We would advise the most calm, cool, and prudent of our representative men, both in church and in state, to meet and adopt measures whereby to relieve our people in these suffering districts.
They should wait immediately on his excellency the governor and ask him to appoint a committee of investigation, and if this righteous and godly demand is refused the people who are thus abused should be advised to leave these miserable hells upon earth.
In the days of slavery, when they were surrounded by enemies on every hand, with blood-hounds to hunt their tracks, they ventured to flee for refuge, amid perils indescribable. Guided by the Northern star of liberty, they reached the Canadian shores and Northern asylums.
And now, since freedom has come and every man is supposed to be a man, why not seek homes among those people who will accord to them the common rights of humanity?
If they have to leave with no patrimony but a single potatoe in their pockets, let them take their wives and children by the hand and lead them out of these Sodoms and Gomorrahs. Better die a free man than live a slave.
Geddes Hall was filled on Wednesday night with representatives of our people, including wives and daughters. The meeting was called for the purpose of taking suitable action on the late murders committed on the unfortunate colored people in Lafourche and other parishes.
The meeting was governed by that calm feeling and deliberation which was warranted by the circumstances and which is so necessary to occasions of like serious import. The memorial address, which we print in another column, shows in unmistakable terms the past and present situation of affairs in Louisiana with reference to the colored people.
This was no political meeting, no body of people gotten together for the purpose of hashing out buncombe for political aspirants, no conclave of “bloody-shirt” shakers gotten up to fire the Northern heart in the interest of campaign capital, but a meeting composed of the ministry and representative men and women, who had no other cause at heart than to seek a remedy and its application in the shape of escape from further murders. The address of Rev. M. C. B. Mason, Hon. T. B. Stamps, R. W. B. Gould, James D. Kennedy, and others were splendid efforts, and gave very pointedly the horrible details connected with the late butcheries. The calm reasoning with which they held the ear of the audience will certainly be fruitful.
We are glad to record the fact that in obedience to resolution offered a bureau of immigration was organized, which will take immediate steps in the matter of providing information, etc., regarding homes elsewhere.
A great deal can be said of the possible good, effect of this commencement in behalf of the colored people, but lack of space forbids a further dissertation on the Geddes Hall meeting; suffice it to say the ball has been started on a roll and it must be kept rolling until we can place the colored people out of further harm’s way. Emigrate at once. Don’t wait for another butchery.
The colored man is doing himself and his family a great wrong by remaining in this murder-ridden State any longer. We say to you, emigrate to some other State and risk no longer being slaughtered for being a negro. You are worse enslaved in Louisiana than you ever were before. Leave and leave at once.
“KEEP ON WITH IT.”
We copy a head-line from the Times-Democrat. Certain Northern journals are pleased with the conviction of Dennis Kirby for running away with the keys of a New Orleans ballot-box. The Times-Democrat is happy over the good work. It advises that we “keep on with it.”
We echo the sentiment. The Times-Democrat, however, is content with small cases. We would advise attention to the far more important. There is the murder of William Adams, in Monroe, his throat cut from ear to ear, for peddling Republican tickets. No arrests, no investigations. Would the Times-Democrat confine itself to the more trivial matters of stealing ballots?
Well, so be it. Take the case of Madison Parish. A return of 3,500 votes for Nicholls—Warmoth without the single vote. Vote, as actually cast; Nicholls, 588; Warmoth, 2,817—Warmoth with a majority of 2,229; a dead steal, in effect, of 5,734 votes in the single parish. Will the Times-Democrat take the case in hand? Dare it challenge the proofs?
What of the present Democratic hell, again, in the Third district? A white man, killed by whom? Certainly not by the negroes. A dozen negroes shot down like dogs. No politics in it. Where’s the fool that don’t know better? “Why should the prosecution of these criminals be interrupted or delayed?” We quote the Times-Democrat again. Echo answers, why?
PACK UP AND MOVE
That is our advice to the negroes in the Louisiana bulldozed parishes. We mean it exactly as we say it. Pack up and move.
There is no other remedy. New Orleans is filling up with refugees. They are flocking in from the several different parishes and localities. They are not of the ignorant, or helpless class. They are generally intelligent, are the owners of their own little homes. They have been driven from home and family at peril of their lives.
They have been so driven because of their intelligence; because of their independence. They are not of the old-time class, to be held as servile dogs. That is why they are driven out. Every negro leader, every negro property-holder, every negro who can read and write, is branded as dangerous, must be got rid of. That is the edict openly promulgated and well understood. Take the situation as it is. You may not return as free men. Free men you must live and die. You have no protection under the laws. You have no earthly chance in seeking to protect yourself. There is the one resource. Take it, and at once. Pack up and move.
We want to be heard and heeded in every bulldozed parish and locality.
We say to the negroes, You have the one and only remedy in your hands. You are the only producers. You raise the cotton and the sugar. You are the supporters, in fact, of the men who persecute you. Without your labor they must themselves go to work or starve. Give them the chance. Let them try the working or the starving. Let them have the field. Pack up and move.
We don’t advise any general exodus. That would entail possible privation and suffering. Let the remedy be gradually applied. Let the young men and women set the ball in motion. The movement begun makes the certain better chances for those who stay. There is no single, able-bodied negro too ignorant to know that his two hands will certainly make him an honest living.
He knows they will earn it anywhere on the civilized earth. So, too, with the single, able-bodied woman. She is sure of an honest living anywhere. She has but to work for it. Let the young man and woman get out. We say it, and we mean it. Pack and move.
Stand not upon the order of going, but go. Don’t wait upon any growing crops, or promises of pay. Steal out through the cane-breaks if you must. Any way to get out. Don’t flock to New Orleans or to any town. Set your faces toward a free land, a land where an honest life will insure the honest dues of free men and free women. Go to California, to Arizona, or to any like place where there is room. You can work your way there if you will. The will alone is wanted. Pack up and move.
In any other State, North, East, or West, its governor would seek and demand in person a reason for the atrocious butcheries which have occurred in this State in the last two or three weeks. But we suppose the governor of Louisiana knew how the “law was suspended” in his interest and has forgotten that the “danger has passed,” or has forgotten his cue and don’t know when to say, “Let up now.”
There was a time when some people, were led to believe that the Republican party got up these negro-killing matches for political effect. What say these people now? Look at the butchery being continued in this wretchedly-governed State and say whether or not the fact is true that the negro is being slaughtered for no other reason than that he is a negro by the Southern banditti, the never-licked and unwhipped Confederate spirit.
The history of the colored people in Louisiana, as in other States of the solid South, has many pages in mourning commemorating the violent deaths they have suffered at the hands of murderous whelps under one pretext or another. For years the colored citizen of the State of Louisiana has contended with barbarous inflictions, the like of which we read in history of ancient eras, when cruel slaughter was rewarded by crown and scepter.
The negro has suffered death or banishment for exercising his rights of citizenship given him by a nation on whose soil poured the blood of millions of loyal soldiers and statesmen that this American Union might be saved, and that all its citizens might be free, as they were created by the Almighty God. These murders of colored people are the outcome of a lurking feeling of resentment of and refusal to accept of the issues of the late rebellion. A spirit akin to the animus engendered in behalf of the Confederacy, which, though subdued on the field of battle, is cowardly resorting to a warfare of extermination under the cover of civil government.
The pen is again taken up to record another chapter of slaughter and butchery on the unfortunate colored people of Louisiana, the latest deeds occurring at Lockport, New Iberia, Freetown, and adjacent localities where the dastardly idea is rampant that the negro is obnoxious, and they must leave failing to do which he is to die by the assassin’s bullet, the midnight marauder’s bludgeon. What a horrible state of affairs to record against a government in which crime is suppressed.
On Saturday, August 11 at night time, a hand of white banditti, all mounted, went out the Bayou road from Raceland to Robert William’s house, surrounded it, and concealing themselves in the cane, called for Williams to come out. Upon coming out, and seeing the state of affairs, attempted to escape, when he was shot from ambuscade, and died the next morning. After this piece of butchery, and the same night, they drove up to another colored man’s home, Augustave Antoine, took him off some distance, hung him up to a tree and riddled his body with bullets, and before doing this they shot and killed his brother Eugene.
Another case in view is that of a mulatto, who became obnoxious for some reason or another only known to the murderers, who was flogged in regular slave style and given notice to leave the hallowed precincts of New Iberia. He, terror-stricken, left for Freetown, to where some of his friends resided for protection. On learning that he was in Freetown, a leader of the banditti, named Cade, organized an alleged military company for the purpose of slaughtering the colored man’s friends, who had collected together in their own defense, and in short order butchered up at least a score of colored people.
We could mention many other instances of like character, but enough is here said, backed by authority, to warrant attention to this deplorable state of affairs.
We say to the colored people that they must leave this State.
The negroes of St. Martin, Iberia, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Vermillion, Lafourche, Assumption Parishes, can never expect anything else than a continuance of this inhuman warfare, and if they have to walk they owe it to themselves and families to leave these parts, for the planter is powerless to protect you as a workman and the governor of the State is apparently indifferent to this condition. We say to you colored people to emigrate to California, Arizona, anywhere else where God’s law is respected and man’s inhumanity to man in the light of Louisiana methods is unknown and never expected.
Do not wait longer; you have suffered sufficiently long and if you remain you will certainly imperil your own life. Emigrate and leave this infernal hell-hole on earth.
[Extracts from the Louisiana Standard, New Orleans, September 1, 1888.] THE GOOD WORK GOES BRAVELY ON
Killing and outraging negroes is the order of the day. We ask of the Northern journals that they scan well the certain dispatches as seen in our New Orleans dailies. We mean those purporting to recount the troubles with dangerous and unruly negroes. We mean particularly those as just now appearing from certain sections in the parishes of Terrebonne, Iberia, and St. Martin. Let them read and ponder. The very dispatches of themselves are enough to damn the communities from whence they come.
Here are the armed organizations of whites going about as assumed regulators. Their mission is seen as wholly confined to the negroes. They are themselves outside the pale of all law. They represent no authority whatever save that of organized brute force. They constitute, in fact, nothing more nor less than outlaws; are in honesty to be viewed in no other light.
Here are the armed gangs of outlaws, then, riding roughshod over the country at large hunting negroes to the death. The negroes are largely on their own ground; they appear as living in their own little hard-earned homes.
This was particularly the case in Freetown. The little town was invaded by these armed outlaws. There was the pretense of the sheltering of certain refugees in hiding from the outlaws’ threats. A dozen, at least, of negroes were brutally murdered. They were shot down as so many dogs in their kennels. It was the cowardly work of a gang of cowardly murderers. A coroner’s jury, as cowardly as the murderers, but serves as the murderers shield. It signs a verdict to the effect that the negroes were killed by parties unknown.
This late hellish work is mainly confined to parishes in the Third Congressional district.
It appears as in effect the beginning of the Democratic Congressional campaign. The three particular parishes are strongly Republican. The latest official registration with returns of the late election may be in order.
The blacks are seen as having the majority vote of 2,347. There is the return of 1,524 majority for the Republican ticket. The voters absent and failing to vote are, for the three parishes, respectively, 1,591, 2,369, and 943, a total of 4,903.
There is here with the free and fair election the large white Republican vote. The 4,903 absentees were unquestionably two-thirds Republican. The three parishes are honestly Republican by fully 3,000 majority.
The bulldozing began previous to election. It was both rampant and fierce on election day. It was by no means confined to the blacks. There were the white Republican leaders coming in for their share. Hon. W. B. Merchant, ex-Republican postmaster in New Orleans, is mentioned for instance by Hon. Senator CHANDLER. Mr. Merchant, as notorious, was outrageously bulldozed; was held a prisoner by an armed body of bulldozers; has since left the State in disgust; is now resident in El Paso, Texas. The election as such was an outrage and a fraud.
The bulldozing broke out afresh immediately following the election in the parish of Terrebonne. Senator INGALLS recounted some of the cases in his famous speech in reply to Senator EUSTIS. An armed band of “regulators” sought to reap their vengeance for being defeated. It appeared, as in evidence, in lead of a brother of Senator GIBSON. The negroes were shot and outraged in every conceivable way. Dozens were driven from their little hard-earned homes in fear of their lives. There are the dozens, so made refugees, in New Orleans today.
Terrebonne, Iberia and St. Martin are virtually in the hands of the outlaws. They have converted these parishes into a veritable hell.
They are riding rough-shod over the country at large. Their path is marked with blood; is strewn with the bodies of a full score of murdered negroes.
These organizations of murderous outlaws are organizations of Louisiana Democrats. They are in effect shielded by the Democratic authorities. Their murders are glossed over and palliated by the Louisiana Democratic press. They are practically a part of the Democratic political methods, murder and outrage for opinion’s sake. And still the good work goes bravely on.
We recommend to the colored voters of the country to peruse the letter of Mr. L. A. Martinet, editor of the Progress, published last week in this paper. We address ourselves more particularly to the colored voters of the North, because it matters not how the negroes vote in the South, the result is the same—the South is always solid, through fraud and murder for Democracy—whereas in the North, in several States, they hold the balance of power. The letter presents a mild picture of the fiendish outrages and the condition worse than actual slavery to which our people are subjected in this State, and the colored man who, after reading it, will vote the Democratic ticket is an enemy to his race.
We recommend especially to the colored press, Republican and Democratic, to reproduce this truthful statement from a Democratic source, not with a view of helping one party and injuring the other, but for the sake of humanity and for the purpose of placing the helpless and sorrowful condition of our people in the South before the American people in its true light. It is the more necessary that the colored press should do this as we cannot rely upon the Democratic press to publish the truth about the diabolical outrages perpetrated upon our people. All their accounts are colored so as not to incur the regulators’ displeasure, and they will publish no impartial statement from any one, colored or white.
There is not a colored man in the State that stood higher in Democratic estimation than Mr. Martinet, yet the Democratic press would not publish his letter, though couched in moderate language; nor would they publish the able and considerate address to the American people on the same subject adopted at the mass meeting of our people held here last week, and which also appeared in our last Saturday’s paper. They even made no mention in their local columns that such a meeting was held, notwithstanding that there were reporters present; and yet it was one of the most notable meetings ever held in this city. All our prominent men and ministers were there and the attendance was exceedingly large. Hence for the dissemination of the truth about those outrages on our people we must rely especially on the negro press.
Now, regarding the political bearing the circulation of such facts will have in the North, it is a matter of secondary consideration with us. As a Republican, we are sincerely and staunchly in favor of Harrison and Morton’s election, but we will not use the perpetration of such infernal crimes solely to advance the interests of the party. Our primary object is to make our helpless and pitiable condition known with the view that the humane sentiment of the nation will devise means to alleviate the wrongs to which we are subjected by the Bourbonism of the South.
But we will be frank in saying that the re-election of Grover Cleveland will be taken by the murderers and destroyers of our people as sanctioning their deeds, and will encourage them to go on in their career of blood and extermination, and they will go on with renewed vigor; whereas the success of the Republican party will show that the healthy public sentiment of the country condemns those outrages, and will throw a damper and act as a check on the perpetrators.
This is no surmising. It is clearly shown by the contrast which the administration of Grover Cleveland and that of President Arthur affords. Compare the two administrations and see for yourselves. Under the quiet and peaceable administration of President Arthur, the rough edges of the war having been smoothed and its wounds almost healed by the long and beneficent Republican rule, angry passions were gradually cooling down and a better condition of affairs was quietly taking place in the South. While here and there at the time of an election some trouble might arise, it was always local and its effect temporary. Republicanism was undoubtedly fast gaining ground; prominent white men were continually proclaiming a change of faith and declaring their adherence to the Republican party, and we confidently looked to a day not far distant when it would be safe for a colored man to be a Democrat and when both parties would be composed of whites and blacks alike.
But the election of Cleveland put a stop to all this. It threw us back into the seventies. It did not cause a reaction in sentiment, but it effectually put a check on its manifestation, and Bourbonism once more became rampant and overbearing. His election will give it unlimited sway and will throw us back in the sixties; while the elction of Harrison will restore the country for an era of peace, harmony, and prosperity.
Therefore, we say again, colored men, read Mr. Martinet’s letter. His statements cannot be contradicted. The Democrats have everywhere proclaimed his integrity and veracity, and they cannot today impeach his testimony. Read his letter and vote the Republican ticket.
OUR MURDERED DEAD—A REQUIEM FOR OUR MURDERED DEAD
Let all join in commemorating the victims of the Freetown massacre. Let the roll of the murdered dead be held a lasting roll of honor. Let their names not be forgotten; John Simon, Thomas Simon, Peter Simon, Lewis Simon, Eugene Green, Edward Valere, Alexander Valere, Antoine Michel, Samuel Kokee, Ransom Livingston, Jr. They died, as died the veritable martyrs of old. They died for daring to assert their rights as free men.
They were murdered for giving shelter and protection to the outraged and hunted of their race. They gave up their lives in proof of their manhood. They are so many martyrs to Democratic hate. Let them be so held and revered. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.”
We assert unhesitatingly that the last Louisiana election was simply an outrageous wholesale steal; that men were murdered for distributing Republican tickets; that Republican voters were generally bulldozed or defrauded of their ballots; that the officials generally were installed through fraud; that the State is run practically by bulldozers and ballot-box stuffers.
We further assert that there exists today in certain sections of the State a reign of terror; that the country is overrun by gangs of outlaws known as regulators; that negroes are being hunted as so many animals; that they are being shot down by dozens, murdered in cold blood for daring to presume upon their rights as men; that scores again are being driven from their hard-earned homes, for all of which we challenge the proofs.
We favor emigration in lieu of immigration. We favor, as far as may be, the general emigration of the negroes.
We don’t object to the Northern immigrants. They are of those willing to concede the negro his rights. We won’d do any lying to induce them to come. We want the negroes to get out. They have no protection under the laws. The late outrageous verdict of a coroner’s jury over a dozen murdered negroes at Freetown is abundant proof. We tell them they have no rights the Louisiana bulldozer is bound to respect. They may be murdered and outraged at will. They are certain to be murdered and outraged until reduced to a state of peonage. The only alternative is to pack up and move.
Let the move begin with the young men and women. Let them get out. Let them stand not upon the order, but go.
THE ASSASSINS LIE
No politics in it; that’s the story in connection with the Freetown massacre. Where’s the fool who don’t know it to be a lie out of whole cloth. The assassins are Democrats. The victims are Republicans. That tells the story. It is the “Old Third.” The district is honestly Republican by 8,000 majority. It was carried two years ago by Democrats boodle, and amounted to say $60,000 in cash. The boodle candidate is now out of the race. There are no $60,000 this time in the Democratic bag. The want of it must be made good somehow. There’s no other way for it but in killing Republican negroes. That is the one sure way of keeping Republican voters from the polls. The Democratic game has begun. A round dozen or so of negroes have been murdered. It is the beginning of the Third district campaign. That’s the meaning of the Freetown massacre.
A CIRCULAR FROM THE BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION
Fellow-citizens and brethren:
After receiving intelligence through the columns of the daily journals of the terrible outrages and cold-blooded murders of our fellow-citizens at Freetown and other portions of the State, from time to time, without any attempt on the part of the executive authorities to bring the murderers to justice, we felt that patience on our part has ceased to become a virtue, and that the present dangerous crisis to which matters have been allowed to reach in the country demanded immediate action on the part of those located in more favoring districts to adopt measures whereby to relieve those of our fellow-citizens suffering under a reign of terror and brutalism in the disturbed portions of the State.
Being bound by the ties of duty, as well as of those of race affinities, memorial meeting was held to contribute honor to those who died in defense of their lives and property, thus winning for themselves an honorable place among the number of martyrs who poured out their life-blood as a precious libation upon the shrine of liberty.
In accordance with this meeting an immigration bureau was organized, with authority to communicate with kindred organizations in California and New Mexico, in order to remove our suffering brethren to regions equally favored in fertile resources, and among a people who are willing to accord to us the common rights of humanity.
It was therefore agreed at a meeting of the board that before such a step is taken a pioneer be sent to the above-mentioned places, whose duty it shall be in surveying the country and make arrangements with the planters of that region so that our people instead of moving on a wild goose chase, will have something definite and sure before them.
It was also agreed by a series of resolutions, both at this board meeting and at the memorial meeting, that an appeal be made to every church organization, secret society, and benevolent association, and every friend of the race to contribute little or much towards defraying the expenses of such an individual upon so important a mission. The board promises to use care and discretion in the choice of such a man.
In accordance, therefore, with those resolutions, we issue this circular, calling upon you in the name of God and the name of common humanity to come to the help of the Lord against the mighty. We need not say to you that the uncivilized methods of regulators are creeping all over the State, like a cancer creeps all over the human body, and that this now peaceful region may soon be disturbed by the hideous yells and the murderous fires of lawless regulators, and you likewise may be found on your way to some safe region where you and your family can dwell together in peace.
Send contributions to J. H. Coker, M.D., president, or Rev. Ernest Lyon, secretary. Office Geddes Hall, No. 220 Erato street.
All contributions will be acknowledged in the S.W.C.A., the Standard and Pelican.
We are your brethren in distress.
J. H. COKER, President,
ERNEST LYON, Secretary,
M. J. SIMMS,
Remember Iberia. Let negro laborers give the parish of Iberia a wide berth. Let the Democratic bulldozers go to work. Leave them to gather the cane and make the sugar. You can have no protection for your lives. Avoid Iberia as you would avoid a pestilence. Go somewhere else for work. Let those already there get out. Let everyone who can, pack up and move.
At Opelousas last week another negro was riddled with bullets by white assassins for the reason that it was thought he had purchased buckshot. The mayor of the city gave them the right of way and a carte blanche. And so the cruel work goes on. Colored people, you must emigrate. The respectable white people of this State deplore the condition of affairs, but they are powerless to stop this murdering. It is in order for Mr. Nicholls to petition Congress for more power to carry out the laws of this State.
Boycott Terrebonne. Let the colored laborers boycott the parish of Terrebonne. That’s the word that with the Irish means the next thing to anathema. It fills the bill. Terrebonne is overrun with Democratic bulldozers. They are hunting and killing Republican negroes. Don’t give them a chance at you. Keep away. Get your work elsewhere. Let the bulldozers make their own sugar. Let those who are there get out. Every man who can, take the cane-breaks, if need be, and get away.
Shun St. Martin. Don’t go there for work. Leave the cane and the sugar to the bulldozers. Let them go to work, or starve. They propose to reduce you to the status of the Mexican peons. Let them have the field to themselves. Go to California, to Arizona, anywhere outside of bulldozed Louisiana.
[Extracts from the Louisiana Standard, New Orleans, September 22, 1888.]
WHAT ARE THEY GOING TO DO?
What are they going to do about it? That is the question for our Louisiana negroes to decide. They are citizens and men in the eyes of the law. There is even the special clause in both national and State constitutions pledging them their rights. The law, in so far as they are concerned, is but a cheat and a lie. The national and State constitutions, as applicable to them, amount to naught. There is for the negro absolutely no protection for life or property in Louisiana. He is shot down with as little compunction as is the veriest mangy cur. No one ever hears of his murderer being punished for the crime. He is even hunted down as is the wild beast and shot at sight for no earthly offense but daring to presume upon his lawful rights. He is open to every outrage and contumely; his wife, sisters, and children to every insult and abuse. He has in point of fact not even the protection accorded him in the days when held a slave. He had then his lawful masters at least interested in seeing him free from the abuse of others.
A goodly proportion of Louisiana today is for the Louisiana negroes a veritable hell. In the parishes of Terrebonne, St. Martin, Iberia and portions of Lafayette, in particular, there exists a reign of terror. All of law is here practically suspended. Gangs of outlaws, known as regulators, are the law unto themselves. Negroes have been wantonly massacred by the wholesale in broad light of day, as evidenced in the shooting down in cold blood of no less than ten in the massacre at Freetown.
Negroes are being hunted as so many wild beasts, are being as mercilessly murdered. Negroes everywhere are being driven from their little, hard-earned homes, are everywhere being wantonly outraged and abused. The infection of lawlessness is spreading, is heard of daily in some new locality.
Governor Nichols has so far done nothing. He cannot plead ignorance of the facts. They are being daily reported in the press. They are matters of common notoriety. His attention, again, has been specially invited, and that, too, by prominent citizens and friends. He was talked to and plead with by Hon. L. A. Martinet.
We have it on good authority, too, that no less a man than Hon. Mr. Breaux, elected with Governor Nicholls as State superintendent of education, has specially interested himself in the matter. We have it that he talked with Governor Nicholls, and plainly enough told him of the terrible massacres, of the outrageous and general lawlessness, of the serious injury it was doing, of the disgrace it was certain to entail, and besought the governor to interfere in behalf of law and order.
Governor Nicholls sits with folded hands while the murders, the whippings and the outrages against Louisiana negro citizens are being daily carried on. He overlooks both the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of Louisiana.
He appears as giving no heed to enforcement of the laws, as ignoring all obligation as a man, as forgetting his registered oath.
These massacres, these daily murders and outrages, are crying aloud to Heaven. They are being registered beside the oath pledging the law’s protection to life and property. Governor Nicholls the while joins in the devotions of the faithful, chanting the anthems ascending before the same High Throne. Is that registered oath to count as nothing? Is there no responsibility for these continued murders? Are these church professions and communions to be measured as sacrilege? Is Francis T. Nicholls to command respect as governor of Louisiana? Is he governor only in name?
By reference to the columns of the Northern and Western press it has been seen that the Geddes Hall address made a profound impression whereever read. Editors who heretofore have received intelligence of Southern crimes with a feeling of incredulity accept the vigorous protest of a large and respectable mass meeting as conclusive evidence of their perpetration.
From the country parishes it is learned that in at least two places the whites, after reading the address, came together and resolved to assure colored laborers that bulldozing should be stopped and they would guarantee protection of life and property. But so great is the mistrust of the people that little reliance is placed upon those pledges.
It has been felt for many months that the colored people of the State should organize in some manner for common defense, precisely as the Irish do, who suffer in many respects under similar conditions of oppression.
The organization of a bureau of emigration is approved in the country parishes as a practical measure of redress; and many inquiries have been made as to means at hand to convey out of the State the hundreds of laborers who are willing to go. A question has arisen in the minds of some whether to go at once or wait until after the crops are gathered; but the good sense of the people tells them that to await the gathering of the crops is largely to defeat the primary object of an exodus of labor, namely, the embarrassment of those planters who aid and direct the marauders against their lives and homes.
It having been demonstrated that the whites are without tender consciences on the Thibodaux and Freetown massacres and other numerous outrages, the idea now is to touch them sorely in their pocket-books and bank accounts by depriving them of sufficient labor to gather their crops. Let this purpose be openly avowed and energetically carried out.
Timid counselors have said that the plan will fail, because other laborers will rush to take the places of those who go. Our advices show that such is not the experience of several planters who are already in distress. They offer high wages, but liberty of citizenship is not being sold by the negroes to undergo experiences of the kind visited upon the departed laborers, a very little will probably satisfy them, while those who enjoy their freedom in Northern States will extend them their sympathy.
A letter has been received from a United States Senator, in which inquiry is made in regard to the operations of the bureau of emigration. When it opens up communication with leading Republicans and capitalists, the way for effective work will be made clear. Let the bureau be sustained by words of cheer and liberal contributions.
[Extract from the Telegraph, Monroe, La., August 18, 1888.]
It would be a mistake to confound the principle of white primaries with that of representation in Democratic conventions.
We do not hesitate to concede that under normal social and political conditions, the Democratic vote is the fairest basis.
But have we normal social and political conditions in the Fifth Congressional district?
On the contrary, are these conditions not emphatically and pre-eminently abnormal?
We have white parishes and we have black parishes, each class widely and notoriously different with respect to these conditions.
The purpose of this discussion do not require that we analyze, reiterate, and enumerate these differences. They are well known and well understood throughout the district.
These two classes of parishes are not dissimilar in one important feature—they all return safe Democratic majorities.
For political purposes they are all Democratic parishes.
[Extract from the Post, Washington, September 20, 1888.]
It is an undoubted fact that in a number of the Southern States the negroes have been practically disfranchised. The honest men of the South admit this. * * * It is an undeniable fact that in the disfranchisement of the blacks in the South the effect is not confined to local government, but extends to national affairs, and thus becomes a matter of serious interest to the people of all the States. The people of Oregon are as directly interested in the election of Congressmen and Presidential electors in Mississippi as in similar elections in their own States.
If the political complexion of the Federal Government is changed by suppression of the ballot, to just the extent of that change the Federal Government is wrested from its constitutional basis.
We have stated these facts because they are facts, the facts of a very ugly situation viewed from any possible standpoint. If it be true, as we think it is, that black rule is intolerable to the whites of this country, if it be true also that in eliminating that which is locally intolerable the National Government is necessarily vitiated by fraud, what is to be the outcome? It strikes us that this is one of the most serious problems ever presented to the statesmen of the Republic. It ought to be discussed without malice and with a recognition not of a part but of all the facts we have cited. It is a two-sided question, apparently as far from a solution today as it was a dozen years ago.
Congressional Record, 50th Congress, 1st Session, September 27, 1888, XIX, Appendix, pp. 8989–97.