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be sacrificed to pay their debts. They were, therefore, obliged to take whatever money the bankers thought proper to give them. As a substitute for specie and small change, the paper-money makers issued small notes, to as low an amount as two-pence farthing each. To these notes the people gave the name of “ shin-plasters,” an appropriate though not very delicate appellation. The filthy term is, however, used by governors in their messages, and by all classes in the Union. of circulation these “shin-plasters” become exceedingly filthy; insomuch so, indeed, that I have known ladies, who, in their purchases, were obliged to receive them in change for larger notes, take with them a small pair of tongs, or tweezers, with which they laid hold of the shinplasters, and placed them in a box, which, when shut, would keep from their eyes the filthy sight, and from their noses the effluvia, which, if I was able, I should not like in this place to describe.
These shin-plasters were so easily to be got at, that, after all, to pay debts with, they were really very convenient, for, if you possessed thirty dollars in silver, with them you could purchase, in some cases, a hundred dollars of “shin-plasters," and your creditor dare not refuse to take them in payment, lest he should be “ Lynched.” See what terms one is obliged to make use of, to make one's self understood when talking of American republicanism !
But let me explain this word. Lynching, Sir, is taking the obnoxious individual on the spot, and, without trial, judge, or jury, inflicting such punishment on him as you may think he deserves. I will give you one instance, out of thousands that I have known, and I take it from the Louisiana Advertiser, dated some time in August, 1835.
“ Some difficulty arose at the public dinner given in celebration of the 4th of July, as too often - happens on similar occasions, between Mr, Fisher, who belongs to the Volunteer Company, and Mr. Francis Cobler. From words they proceeded to blows. Mr. C. having drawn a knife
company, taking the part of their comrade, seized him, bound him to a tree, and inflicted thirty-two lashes on
“Not considering this sufficient, they tarred and feathered him, alleging that he was a gambler. He entreated them to shoot him, rather than disgrace him in that manner; and begged of them not to let the tar fall into his eyes as they poured it over his head: but the person he addressed, instead of complying with his request, struck him violently with a stick across the eyes. He was then released, and ordered to quit the city in twenty-four hours.
“The next day, in order to appear consistent, and to continue the work of civilization (as they called it) they went forth armed, in military array, to pull down, tear out, and demolish, everything appertaining to
gambling; and to tar and feather any who should oppose them, law or no law notwithstanding. Some wished to protect their property; but their hearts failed them when they saw the state of excitement of the vôlunteers. One at length determined to stay in Mr. North's house, to protect himself from being tarred, and to secure the house and grocery from destruction. He had fastened the doors, but on Dr. Bodley's kicking one of them open, some shots were exchanged; the consequence of which was that the doctor was killed upon the spot, and one of the inmates of the house, a person named Collum, or, as we have heard since, Helmes, was so wounded as to have been totally insensible to the subsequent punishment inflicted on his body, whilst suspended with the rest upon the gallows. He was hauled upon a dray and thrown upon the scaffold, disfigured as he was, and covered with blood!
“ Three more individuals were taken in the house; the bar-keeper, called Dutch Bill, Mr. Samuel Smith, and Mr. M'Call. North, who had previously quitted it, and was endeavouring to make his escape by water, was arrested about a mile from the city and brought back; his hands were tied behind him, and he was obliged to walk with the rest, who had been similarly bound, each having a rope about his neck, which was frequently jerked so violently as nearly to choke them. In this manner they were conducted to the scaffold, which is a permanent building, and executed without further interruption. No cap nor other covering was used, and the unfortunate sufferers presented such a horrible appearance, that the passers by. were moved even to tears! Some of them endeavoured to interfere, but were threatened with a similar punishment, and obliged to desist.
“These unfortunate men claimed to the last the privilege of American citizens, the trial by jury, and professed willingly to submit to anything their country would legally inflict upon them; but we are sorry to say their petition was in vain. The black musicians were ordered to strike up, and the voice of the supplicants were drowned by the fife and the drum. Mr. Riddell, the cashier of the planter's barik, ordered them to play Yankee Doodle! The unhappy sufferers frequently implored a drink of water ; they were refused. Mr. North seems to have had some presentment of the violence to which they would proceed, as he requested a friend of his, Mr. Mitchell, to protect his family if anything happened to him.
“Dr. Bodley's brother, or Mr. Hest, his brother-in-law, is stated to have cut the rope by which four of the unfortunate men were launched into eternity. Mr. Winfield threw the nearly lifeless body of Helmes from the scaffold, which presented a sight shocking to humanity; they were hanged with their faces uncovered.
“ The company, consisting of thirty or forty persons, commanded by
Captain Baumyard, and armed by the United States for a rery different purpose, that of protecting their fellow-citizens, and maintaining the supremacy of the laws. Such conduct would disgrace Algiers, and could hardly have occurred in a barbarous state.
“ The wife of one of the sufferers, half distracted at the cruel treatment and murder of her husband, trembling for her own safety, in tears begged permission to inter her husband's body; it was refused. She was afterwards compelled to fly, with her orphan child, in an open skiff, for her personal security. The same fate was threatened to any person who should dare to cut down the bodies before the expiration of twentyfour hours. At eleven o'clock the next day they were cut down and thrown into a hole which had been dug near the gallows, without coffins or any preparation, except a box into which one of them was put.
“ Thus ended the disgusting and horrible occurrence. We understand, the magistrates attempted to interfere, but were cautioned at their peril not to intermeddle in the affair.
"If such things are not speedily repressed, we may bid adieu to that liberty which our forefathers purchased with their blood; our venerated republic will crumble into the dust, and verify the history of all preceding popular governments."
There, Sir, that is a sample of " Lynching ;' not a man of them concerned in these murders was ever brought to justice. No one in the United States is ever punished by law, whatever his crime, except it be the poorest of the poor, who have no property, nor any power or influence in elections. Such men only fill the bastiles, a thousand of which at this moment, in the county of Philadelphia, for trifling offences, are now immured in those solitary 'cells, nobody knowing any more about them than of those who were found at the breaking up of the old bastile of France, and who had been put there under lettres de cachet.
I mention this case of Lynching for two reasons; first, because the Lynchers were the first men in those parts, headed by a captain in the United States army; secondly, because the most blood-thirsty among them was a cashier of the planters' bank, and the planters are the leading men of the state. If we find such conduct in them, what can we expect from the mass ? Is it to be wondered at, when these powerful bankers tell us that we shall not go to market without taking their bits of paper to transact our business with, which is the same thing as if we were not to be allowed to eat or to wear without first obtaining from them a licence to do so ? Is it to be wondered at, when we think of their power to Lynch, that we should stand aghast without knowing what to do, or what to leave undone ? Why, Sir, one of these bankers, the other day, being Speaker of one of the houses of legislature, actually walked down
from his seat, took out his "bowie knife," and stabbed to the heart a member who was then on the floor addressing the chair, and, unguardedly, reflecting upon the system of banking to which this Speaker belonged ; and, incredible as it will appear to you, the jury found a verdict of justifiable homicide.
The constitution of the United States says, that nothing but silver and gold shall be a lawful tender, and, moreover, when we lend our money on mortgage, the deed expresses that it shall be returned in Spanish milled dollars. But when these bankers think proper to "suspend," our lives are in danger if we demand any other than their assignats in payment. I know a gentleman in Philadelphia, who, in foreclosing a mortgage, demanded his money according to law, and the under sheriff told him, that the man that desired specie, in such a state of things, ought to be Lynched; "the word made me shudder," said he, “and I dropped the subject immediately."
Now, I hope that what I am about to say will not be considered as boasting of my personal courage; but as having a desire to make clear to you the manner in which justice, or rather injustice, is administered in this famed republic. At the time of the bank suspension, I had, like others, payments to make, and I was determined, if possible, to make them in money, and not in worthless trash. But how was this to be done? There were two ways; either buying the silver at an enormous premium, or suing the bankers at the risk of your life for payment of their notes. But the law runs so, that, if you sued for more than five dollars at a time, the bankers could appeal from the decision of a magistrate, and carry the suit from court to court; several of such suits having been commenced in May, 1837, and have not yet, or ever will be determined, Well, then, the only way left was to sue for five dollars, about a pound sterling, and to continually harass them, until they compromised; that is, until they agreed, occasionally, to pay a note in silver, &c. But there was but one magistrate in the city or county that dare give judgment against them. It was before him, Alderman Thompson, that I undertook to contend against the band of defrauders. My best friends begged of me not to do it. I, however, was determined not to be thus openly robbed, without a struggle, and demanded payment of the fivedollar notes that I possessed. They refused to pay them. I then stated the case to the said Alderman Thompson (then a stranger to me, but I had heard that he was considered an honest magistrate, and therefore a very singular character), when I demanded summonses of him against them. “If you persist in it,” said he, " I will do my duty; but I am exceedingly sorry that you have applied to me; I have a family, and I am afraid that giving judgment against the banks will be the ruin of me.”
I met five of the bankers the first day, I intended to have them one after
the other, and gave them notice accordingly; but they all sent their lawyers at the same time, thinking to frighten me by such an array of “ ters of tongue-fence.” I could not afford, you know, to employ a lawyer; I sued but for five dollars, and he would have taken, as a fee, the exact amount, and sold me to the bankers after all. So, knowing my case to be as just as I thought it was simple, I undertook, in spite of the old adage, (he who is his own lawyer having a fool for his client,) to plead for myself against half a dozen “ Philadelphia lawyers,” renowned as they are for their extraordinary cunning. Of course I had but one suit before his honour at a time, but still the lawyers, engaged in the different suits, would all lend their assistance, to interrupt and annoy me; and one of them, who was not engaged in the cause before the court, told me that no man who had not a foreign (English) accent on his tongue, would have dared to sue the banks, and, being an Englishman, he thought I ought not to recover. There was not a subterfuge but what these “Philadelphia lawyers" availed themselves of. I subpoenaed the Teller of the Pennsylvania Bank to prove the note, and being about to swear him, “ Stop,” says the lawyer, "you have not paid that witness." “Well," said I, “he is my witness ; when he complains it will be time enough to pay him.” Now, they knew that there was scarcely such thing as lawful money in the whole community, and that I could not pay this witness for want of such money; and he, having had the hint, demanded it. I had plenty of notes, and offered them a five-dollar note of their own bank.
Sir,” said the lawyer, " that is not a lawful tender.” He then triumphantly demanded a nonsuit; but the magistrate said No, he would adjourn the court for three days. He did so, and I furnished myself with silver enough to get over this difficulty. But, on offering the witness the Bible again, “Stop,” says the lawyer, “this Teller is a stock-holder; he, therefore, cannot give evidence against himself.” To which the magistrate agreed, but said, that I might examine him as to when, and for what motive, he became a stock-holder. He was then sworn, and I asked him when he became a stock-holder. Answer: “I don't know exactly when.”—Question: "Was it as long ago as a month?” A. “I don't know."-Q. " Was it a week?" A. “I can
“ Were you not made a stock-holder since you were here before, and were you not made one on purpose that you might not give evidence in this case ? remember that you have sworn to tell the truth." Here the fellow showed himself unfit for the service of his employers, and tremblingly acknowledged that such was the case. He then testified as to the validity of the note; upon which the lawyer raised another bar, and called upon me to prove the charter, which, he said, could not be done but by a written copy of the same, signed by the secretary of state with the seal of the commonwealth. I was not in possession of