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[242] they had a perfect right to do,) but they became lawless, when they compelled the contract hands to stop work also. It is a high-handed outrage, becoming so common all over the country as to be acquiring the force of unwritten law—a practice which strikes at the root of all civilization, by making the will of an unreasoning mob, the superior law of the land. As soon as men resort to violence to bend others to their wills, all considerations but that of order must give way to the higher one of saving the country from anarchy, and even if the cause is originally right, it becomes thoroughly vitiated when it is attempted to enforce it by violence.

The Governor failed to adopt those decisive measures, which alone could restore order. A trial justice was appointed to arrest the ringleaders and bring them to punishment, and he issued, through the sheriff, a proclamation full of wisdom and good counsel, but, unfortunately, an offer of amnesty if the rioters would desist. The appointment of this trial justice seemed to give offence to the negroes, but it does not appear that he took any steps to quell the disturbance, and, indeed, when the Governor promised immunity to the guilty, what was the use of proceeding against any one? Whatever may have been the cause of the disturbance, it was soon converted into a conflict of races, and the hostility of the blacks was excited by all sorts of devices. Among these was the following parody of a popular hymn, which was sung when the rioters wished to stimulate themselves and encourage others to join them:

A charge to keep I have,
     A negro to maintain,
A never dying thirst for power,
     To bind him with a chain.

To sever the present age,
     Our pockets we must fill;
We'll make them work for wages now
     And never pay the bill.

Arm me with zealous care
     To make him know his place;
And oh thy servants, Lord, prepare
     To rule the negro race.

Help us to rob and shoot
     The nigger on the sly,
Assured if they don't vote for us,
     They shall forever die.

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