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[243] This precious parody bears on its face the mark of a white radical. The war of races was already begun in the rice-field districts. The disturbances continued for a fortnight, and ended seemingly because, after the negroes had manifested their power, and found that the Governor was either unable or unwilling to repress them, they were willing to leave the country quiet until a later season, when they could renew the disturbances and do more mischief.

About the same time an incident occurred in Edgefield which grew out of the mistrust entertained by the people against the trial by jury as practised in the State. It was an act of will-justice perpetrated by white men, with no consideration of party politics, and which was used with telling effect in the bitter contest approaching for the chief magistracy of the Union. An aged couple named Harmon, living on the border of Edgefield and Abbeville, were found one morning murdered, and there were manifest signs that robbery had been committed and arson attempted. Suspicion against certain negroes was soon converted into certainty by the confession of one of them, and six men and two women were brought before the coroner. A verdict of guilty of murder was brought in against all of them, and the coroner delivered the prisoners to the Sheriff to be taken for trial to Edgefield jail. Some two hundred white men were now present on the occasion. As soon as the sheriff had received his prisoners he was approached by some men disguised, a sheet thrown around him. He was conveyed to a neighboring house and locked in. Meanwhile the prisoners, all but the women, were led off into the woods and quietly shot. Neither the sheriff nor any one else seemed to know the persons who committed this act of violence; but it would be unfair not to add that the public mind was not displeased that summary justice had speedily overtaken the perpetrators of the outrage upon the unhappy old couple, and were not allowed the chance of escape, which a jury trial made so very probable. When law is lax or impotent, society is forced to recur to first principles. This is, unfortunately, too often done all over the United States; but that which in a Northern or Western State is regarded as an occasional and regrettable act of violence, is held, when done at the South, as the result of deep design and of premeditated mischief. The governor again issued a proclamation, full of moral and political wisdom, but directed against no one. He wrote to Carpenter, the circuit judge, to urge him to discover the perpetrators of the outrages, and to bring to trial the women who had been found guilty by the coroner's inquest, but spared by the lynchers.

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