Okay, I'm back from a couple weeks down in the South. Most of the time I had to actually do work, but I made it to a few new places and got some photos. People seemed to like the brick factory shots and I went back there and got some more. There's plenty of survey flags, but the bulldozers aren't rolling yet. If the pictures turn out well I might put some more of the factory up. Yes, IF. I don't have a digital camera and I don't know what the shots look like until I develop them. Remember that feeling? Some of the pictures I've posted were even taken with a disposable, which is a good way to uselessly burn through a lot of money.
Anyway, above is a photo of a house in the woods off of Buena Vista in N. Augusta, SC. As usual, the occupants left lots of belongings, including a strange mannequin torso. The last two shots in the series are of a tarpaper shack just beyond the house in an overgrown powerline cut. This shack was kinda creepy and the trash was stacked high on the floor, making walking difficult (and dangerous). The most recent date found was off a football sports page from 1982. Don't panic, that's a DOLL lying in the filth. It was about 3 feet tall. Otherwise, I don't have much to say about this place. Who knows who lived there, what they did, or why they left? So, it being the night before Christmas and all, I thought I'd tell you the charming tale of the Hamburg Riot of 1876. Just throw another log on the fire, curl up with your favorite blanket, and enjoy a glimpse of history from the ghost of race relations past.
In the 1870's Federal troops were leaving the South and Reconstruction was losing momentum. Some southern states had reverted to keeping blacks from voting and the all-white Democratic administrations that followed were called "Redeemer" governments. However, South Carolina was one of only three states where the US Army was still present, preventing a "Redeemer" administration, and racial tensions were high. Some in the state argued that each white Democrat should find a way to keep at least one black man from voting, thus making it more likely that a Democratic candidate would be elected to office. Remember, Lincoln was a Republican. However, the Democratic Party was generally in disarray and couldn't even agree on candidates. It was against this political backdrop that the Hamburg Riot took place.
Further skirmishes erupted in Aiken, where 5000 men on horseback were reported to have gathered to aid 60 men being charged with murder. Despite this account coming from a Clemson College publication, the overtly racist tone of the source makes me question the figures. In any case, serious violence also followed in Ellenton, SC on September 15, 1876. According to Benjamin Tillman, "no one ever knew how many Negroes were killed, but there were forty or fifty or a hundred." The period around the Hamburg Riot was the beginning of the "red-shirt" movement, in which Democrats wore red shirts to protest "scalawags," considered traitors for cooperating with US troops, and "carpetbaggers," who came from the North, at least ostensibly to aid with Reconstruction. These events galvanized the white people of South Carolina and they were able to elect a Democratic governor, Wade Hampton III, later that year. (Remember, his family once owned the Goodale Inn.) Thus South Carolina became a "Redeemed" state, and the Hamburg Riot a symbol of racist violence to the North and self-determination to the South. Seven white men were indicted for the murders committed during the Hamburg Riot, but as soon as the new administration assumed office, all charges were dropped. The riot also kick-started the career of Benjamin Tillman, known affectionately as Pitchfork Ben after he threatened to stick a pitchfork in President Grover Cleveland.
"The purpose of our visit was to strike terror, and the next morning when the negroes who had fled to the swamp returned to the town, the ghastly sight which met their gaze of seven dead negroes lying stark and stiff certainly had its effect. The state of South Carolina has disenfranchised all of the colored race that it could under the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. We have done our level best, we have scratched our heads to find out how we could eliminate the last one of them, and we would have done it if we could, we took the government away. We stuffed ballot boxes. We shot them. We are not ashamed of it."
Or this, in a Congressional address:
"I have three daughters, but so help me God, I had rather find either one of them killed by a tiger or a bear and gather up her bones and bury them, conscious that she had died in the purity of her maidenhood, than to have her crawl to me and tell me the horrid story that she had been robbed of the jewel of her womanhood by a black fiend."
If you want a bit more information, within the context of violence in America, go here. A cartoon drawn at that time, featuring Lady Justice holding unbalanced scales of men killed in the riot, is here. Finally, a book has been written about Tillman, called "Tightening the Noose: Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy," by Stephen Kantrowitz. I haven't read it yet, but would like to. A review of the book, including more quotes and biography, is here.
Merry Christmas. And to all, a good night.