Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Affray and Murder in Kentucky


I have wanted to read David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World for quite some time now. When I was in Chattanooga a couple weekends ago I found a copy at McKay's used book store for $2.00, so I snatched it up.

If you don't know about Walker you should take a minute and do a quick search. He is quite the interesting figure. His slim volume came out in 1829 and caused quite the stir for its call to black militancy. Rather early in the book Walker wrote about how slaves had historically betrayed their fellow blacks by assisting whites in some way when resistance was attempted. To illustrate the point he included a newspaper story from an incident that happened in Kentucky in 1829. The news story was titled "Affray and Murder," and was originally reported from Portsmouth, Ohio. It reads:

"A most shocking outrage was committed in Kentucky, about eight miles from this place, on 14th inst. A negro driver, by the name of Gordon, who had purchased in Maryland about about sixty negroes, was taking them, assisted by an associate named Allen, and the wagoner who conveyed the baggage, to the Mississippi [River]. The men were hand-cuffed and chained together, in the usual manner for driving those poor wretches, while the women and children were suffered to proceed without incumbrance. It appears that, by means of a file the negroes, unobserved, had succeeded in separating the iron which bound their hands, in such a way as to be able to throw them off at any moment. About 8 o'clock in the morning, while proceeding on the state road leading from Greenup to Vanceburg, two of them dropped their shackles and commenced a fight, when the wagoner (Petit) rushed in with his whip to compel them to desist. At this moment, every negro was found to be perfectly at liberty; and one of them seizing a club, gave Petit a violent blow on the head, and laid him dead at his feet; and Allen, who came to his assistance, met a similar fate from the contents of a pistol fired by another of the negroes, whilst another fired twice at him with a pistol, the ball of which each time grazed his head, but not proving effectual, he was beaten with clubs, and left for dead. They then commenced pillaging the wagon, and with an axe split open the trunk of Gordon, and rifled it of the money, about $2,400. Sixteen of the negroes then took to the woods; Gordon, in the mean time, not being materially injured, was enabled, by the assistance of one of the women, to mount his horse and flee; pursued however, by one of the gang on another horse, with a drawn pistol; fortunately he escaped with his life barely, arriving at a plantation, as the negro came in sight; who then turned about and retreated. 

The neighborhood was immediately rallied, and  a hot pursuit given - which, we understand, has resulted in the capture of the whole gang and the recovery of the greatest part of the money. Seven of the negro men and one woman, it is said were engaged in the murders, and will be brought to trial at the next court in Greenupsburg."

2 comments:

  1. I’ll probably be back to read more of your works. It’s quite good and I enjoyed reading them.

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