Friday, July 12, 2013

"and all of them are acting but in the assertion of the right of the people to keep and bear arms"

   Chester, S.C., October 7, 1876.
   To A. C. Haskell, Chairman State Democratic Executive Committee, Columbia, S.C.:
   In reply to your inquiry of this date, I would state that peace and order prevail throughout the limits of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, embracing the four counties of York, Chester, Fairfield and Lancaster. In this circuit no armed organizations obstruct judicial proceedings, and no resistance has been offered to the due execution of legal process. In charging the grand jury of York on last Monday, I stated that if any citizen, whatever might be his race, color or party, had been threatened with loss of employment or put in terror because of his political opinions, he should make complaint before the grand jury, or in open court, and the laws should be put in motion to sustain him in the free and untrammeled exorcise of all his rights of citizenship. The grand jury, consisting of nine white and six colored citizens, reported unanimously on last Wednesday night that no organizations, either armed or otherwise, having for their object the exhibition of force to control the free exercise of the elective franchise, existed in that county, and no complaint charging the existence of such organizations had been made to them. The same is true of each and every county in this circuit. The only case of political intimidation that has transpired in this circuit was tried at York on last Thursday, the defendant being one Edward McDonald, colored, charged with threatening the life of one Henry Lowry, also colored, became he had joined a Democratic club, and had declared his purpose to vote the Democratic ticket. The jury consisted of six Republican colored citizens and six white men, one of whom is also an avowed Republican. The prisoner was ably defended by W.B. Williams; Esq., himself a candidate on the Democratic ticket. The jury were charged by me that they were the sole judges of the evidence, and that the guilt of the prisoner must be established beyond a reasonable doubt to warrant a conviction. They rendered a verdict of guilty, and I sentenced the prisoner to three months in jail--the lowest penalty prescribed by law for the offense. I have traversed many counties in the State canvassing for Hayes and Wheeler, and in favor of Chamberlain for Governor during the past sixty days, and I have nowhere seen an attempt on the part of any portion of the population to suppress the right of free speech by armed violence. I solemnly protest against the proclamation of Governor Chamberlain as absolutely false in so far as it imputes to the inhabitants within the limits of this circuit any purpose to obstruct the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or to resist in any manner the due execution of the laws for the protection of life, property or the rights of citizenship; and I have good and sufficient reasons to believe and do believe that the said proclamation is equally false in imputing such insurrectionary purpose to the white population in the other circuits of this State. I regard the proclamation as symbolizing fitly a formidable conspiracy against the rights of the people, having for its object the carrying of this State for D. H. Chamberlain and his candidates, which conspiracy is further typified by a Board of State Canvassers, or Election Returning Board, the majority of whose members are candidates on Chamberlain's ticket, and by ninety-six Commissioners of Election in the several counties, seventy of whom are Chamberlaiu's declared partisans, and of which last number some forty are County Treasurers and Auditors or Trial Justices, holding lucrative offices by his appointment, and removable from office at his pleasure, or are known to him as declared candidates for office endorsing his ticket, who unseat themselves if they make a declaration of the election which seats the candidates opposed to Chamberlain and his ticket. The rifle clubs that he has ordered disbanded are in the main organizations chartered under the act of the Republican Legislature in 1874, and all of them are acting but in the assertion of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, guaranteed against infringement in the second article of amendments to the constitution of the United States, and all assert their loyalty to the Union, and obedience to its laws, and respect and uphold its flag.
                                                                T.J. MACKEY,
                                        Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of
                                          South Carolina

- The Anderson Intelligencer, Anderson, S.C. Thursday, October 12, 1876. Vol. XII--NO. 13. Pg. 2

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