A Dastardly Murder-The Kuklux-Republican Organization ~1872

    Transcribed by Mollie Gainey-Stanley

    Interest in the Election-A Dastardly Murder-The Kuklux-Republican Organization.
    From Our Special Correspondent.
    RALEIGH, Thursday, July 25, 1872. 
    Only those who are in the center of this political cauldron can form a correct idea of how 
    it seethes. No one who tarries here even for a day can fail to see how general and intense 
    is the interest in the election of Thursday next, which is to decide the control, not only of 
    North Carolina, but of the nation during the next four years. Each side being firmly 
    convinced that this is the case, is straining every nerve to obtain the victory, and is using 
    every appliance known to honorable political warfare to accomplish that result. Except in 
    the notable case of the employment by the Greeley Committee at New-York of such 
    disreputable tools as Wm. P. Wood and Jacob Blumenburg, and the attempt here by the 
    Democracy to manufacture an intimidation case out of an ordinary street fight between a 
    Negro man and a Negro boy. I know of nothing illegitimate which either side has attempted 
    during this canvass. Both are supplied with money, which so far as I have been able to 
    learn, is being properly used for the legitimate expenses that attach to a political campaign, 
    except in the case of Wood, and the cry of fraud and corruption, which is already raised to 
    explain the crushing defeat which the Democracy see they are certain to meet here, is 
    more baseless than such cries generally are. 
    But while the general action of both sides through leaders and State Committees is thus 
    commendable, there have been many individual acts that are without excuse. The facts 
    concerning some of these have come out slowly, and this is notably the case in reference 
    to the murder of a colored man named George Pearsall, in Sancta township, Duplin County, 
    on the 10th instant. This affair was first represented as the slaying of a conservative, and 
    when this version was doubted, the Democrats had a vast deal to say about a base 
    Republican howl about the revival of Kukluxism. As a tragedy has been thus misrepresented, 
    I think it best to give the precise facts as derived from a private letter received here today 
    from the scene of the massacre. On the 10th of July the Duplin County candidate had a 
    joint discussion at Sancta. Whiskey was abundant, and during the day a white man named 
    Edward Williams, who was under its influence, struck several negroes with a stick in drunken 
    sport. No one was seriously injured by his frolic, but George Pearsall, whose father had been 
    struck, became offended, and said he would allow no white man to hit him. Pearsall had also 
    been drinking, and nothing but angry words occurred between him and Williams. Late in the 
    afternoon, when Pearsall started to go home, he was taken in charge by three white men, 
    George Mercer, John Baker, and Thomas Hall, two of whom took an arm each of Pearsall, 
    and the other pushed him on from behind. In this way the party proceeded down the road, 
    Pearsall constantly struggling to free himself, and the others constantly forcing him on. 
    About a mile from the place of meeting the party disappeared from the public road. Not long 
    afterward the report of fire-arms was heard, but no one appears to have paid any attention to 
    the matter, and it was not until the following Monday, when the wife of Pearsall had become 
    alarmed by his long absence, that the murder was discovered by finding the body of Pearsall 
    in the woods, near to the spot where his captors dragged him from the high road. The body 
    was pierced with three pistol balls, the skull was fractured, and after this bloody work the 
    savages had mutilated the body by cutting the head entirely from the trunk. They had then 
    left the spot without any attempt to bury the body of their victim, and when found it had been 
    partly devoured by buzzards. 
    There was a Coroner’s inquest held, and, the jury rendering a verdict that Pearsall had come 
    to his death at the hands of George Mercer, John Baker, and Thomas Hall, there was some 
    pretense made by the Sheriff of searching for them to arrest them, but is scarcely necessary 
    to say that they were still at large four days ago, which was ten days after the murder, 
    although they are understood to be still in the county. This fact alone would establish the 
    case as a political murder, but in addition it is undeniable that the victim was a black 
    Republican and the murderers are white Democrats. Pearsall was known as one abjectly 
    poor, so there could be no hope of plunder as an incentive to the crime, and his murder 
    coming close upon his trifling dispute with Williams, there is no denial in the region where it 
    occurred that this was prompted solely by partisan malignity. Many Democrats of the county 
    have expressed their sincere abhorrence at this diabolical crime, but there are, unfortunately, 
    many others who only think it particularly unfortunate at this particular time, and the 
    Democratic Press of the State has been so busy with denying the facts, that there has not 
    been time for it to denounce the spirit to which such deeds are due. The Republicans look 
    dolefully upon this mangled corpse as a first fruit of the unholy alliance between Greeleyism 
    and Democracy, and if such a thing as the triumph of the alliance could possibly occur on 
    Thursday next, thousands of them would be already flying from the State to save their lives, 
    not because the Greeley leaders desire any wholesale butchery, but because that success 
    would inevitably lead, in despite of the Democratic chiefs, to the revival and dominance in the 
    State of the Kuklux. 
    Nothing can utterly crush out the spirit of Kukluxism, which is only that of the rebellion 
    concentrated, but the ascendancy in the nation of the party which defeated the rebellion 
    in armed conflict. There is everywhere manifested here the spirit which drove this State 
    into secession, and since the war has moistened her soul with the blood of her best 
    citizens, shed by midnight assassins for political reasons. Although the Democratic 
    leaders may endeavor, from motives of policy, to restrain these miscreants, just now 
    they find it a very difficult task, and after the election of Greeley impossible. Precisely 
    the same results would follow that election as would have attended that of Seymour in 
    1868, and no one more forcibly portrayed the horrors such an event would have brought 
    upon the country than the present Democratic candidate. Even the nomination of Greeley, 
    which is deemed an evidence of the disintegration of the Republican Party, and its 
    consequent destruction, has been attended with evil results, as it has emboldened the 
    Kuklux to hope for success, and they already show more signs of life than they have 
    exhibited since their dens were broken up by the enforcement of the Kuklux law. I have 
    said that this election is the one the most free of any which has occurred in the State 
    since the war, and while this is true, its result will be to some extent determined by 
    Kuklux terrorism deterring Republicans from voting, at least in the Counties of Caswell, 
    Chatham and Duplin, and perhaps in some other localities. The Democrats are also 
    using everywhere a means of preventing a full Republican vote, which has been used by 
    both parties in many of the States, which, however legitimate it may be, will undoubtedly 
    lead to some scenes of violence here and prevent a full Republican vote. The plan is to 
    have two bitter partisans at every polling-place to challenge every Republican voter, and 
    thus in the counties having a large colored population prevent the vote from being polled 
    by the time which will be consumed in this challenging. In Democratic counties it is 
    expected that the mere facts that their votes will be challenged will deter some of the 
    more timid Republicans from approaching the polls for fear of personal violence. It is also 
    expected that in some places these challengers will be men who are intent upon violence, 
    and will neglect nothing that will tend to produce it. To guard against the danger to be 
    apprehended from this challenging two reliable, discreet Republicans have been selected 
    for each township, who will do all this is possible to protect their voters, and take care 
    that the Democrats keep within the letter of the law in the exercise of their right of 
    challenging. There has been no charge so far as I have been able to learn, on either side, 
    of intended election fraud, except that provoked by the appearance of such characters 
    as Wood and Blumenberg, and consequently, there is no cause for challenging, and it 
    can have no other purpose than to prevent a full Republican vote from being polled. 
    But there is good reason to hope that even this democratic device for preventing an 
    expression of popular opinion will have very little effect. All the advantages of thorough 
    organization are upon the Republican side. No man ever labored so zealously and 
    efficiently in a political campaign as has Senator John Pool in this, and it is no small 
    compliment that, while the Press of the State is reeking with charges of corruption and 
    infamous conduct on the part of nearly all of both sides who are prominent in the 
    canvass, no charge of a serious character has been made against him. He has some 
    able assistants in managing the campaign, prominent among whom are Gen. Joseph C. 
    Abbott, of Wilmington, formerly a Senator; Col. I.J. Young, of Raleigh, and Thomas D. 
    Keogh, of Greensboro. The candidates for Congress, but especially Judge Thomas, 
    Judge Settle, Mayor-Smith and Mr. Dockeney are active and efficient, and have by the 
    speeches which they have made in nearly every township of their respective districts 
    done a work of incalculable value in the enlightenment of the people. Gov. Caldwell has 
    also been of great service, especially in the western part of the State, where he has done 
    most of his canvassing, and where he is yet engaged in his work. The labors of all these 
    leaders have had the effect of thoroughly arousing the Republicans to the importance of 
    the pending contest, and as a consequence there has been in most localities a thorough 
    organization of the party by townships and counties. Except in the more violent Kuklux 
    counties, there is no need to doubt that nearly the full Republican vote will be polled. The 
    frequent and exhaustive discussions of the questions at issue as usual have had the effect 
    to recruit the Republican ranks, as the Democracy cannot stand the light here any better 
    than elsewhere, nor so well. In addition there are many who are apathetic in consequence 
    of the nomination of Greeley, and, while this will have much greater effect upon the vote in 
    November than now, it will still cause some defections in this campaign. All these causes 
    combined cannot fail to give the Republicans a very large majority. The Democrats have 
    indeed given up all pretense of being able to carry the State, even with the aid of their 
    challenging trick, and are correspondingly despondent and desperate. They decline to 
    show their letters from the various portions of the State, giving the conditions of public 
    sentiment, and in their distress seek relief in the stale device of striking off and putting up 
    posters announcing Schurz, Trumbull and Thurman as speakers. If these gentlemen fill all 
    the appointments which have been made for them they will be kept extremely busy from 
    now until the election, as each of them is billed for several speeches each day at points 
    many miles apart. In consequence of this recklessness in announcing them, it is believed 
    that neither of them will be here at all, and that they are billed with knowledge of this fact 
    solely for the purpose of gathering crowds for the home Democrats and such liberal 
    Republicans as Detective Wood and Convict Blumenburg. Unless poor Tipton is wandering 
    about the country somewhere, amusing himself and making Republican votes by abusing 
    Gen. Grant, all the prominent men from abroad who came here to help swell the Democratic 
    majority have gone home thoroughly disgusted. Senator Stockton, being a man of sense, 
    saw at once that there was no such majority to be swelled, but Doolittle, who thought he 
    was going to be elected Governor of Wisconsin last Fall, required several additional days 
    to discover the same fact, but he, too, finally departed. It is a remarkable fact that wherever 
    Doolittle talks there is a decided increase in Republican majorities, and the fact must be 
    due to that popular detestation of James R. Doolittle, his works and his ways, which Mr. 
    Greeley declared to be the cause of the increase of the Republican majority in Wisconsin. 
    Doolittle, it is understood, is engaged to speak in Maine for the Amalgamation, and the 
    Republican majority there can be confidently reckoned at fifteen thousand, instead of ten 
    thousand, as last year. Poor Tipton is equally unfortunate, and with these two as their 
    principal two distinguished speakers from abroad-excepting always “Detective” Wood and 
    Convict Blumenberg, specially engaged by Ethan Allen-it is no wonder the disgusted 
    Democracy despair of success. Some of them are beginning to lose their temper at the 
    prospect, and are following an example of flagrant discourtesy set them by Tipton and 
    Doolittle, when they attempted to intrude upon a Republican meeting by their demand 
    upon Secretary Boutwell to “divide time.” Judge Fowle stuck to Senator Wilson with 
    singular pertinacity, asking for a division of time at Beaufort, and again at Goldsboro, but 
    it was reserved for Secretary Delano to be flagrantly insulted by the demand of “Detective” 
    Wood to “divide time.” In no one case has a distinguished Republican arrived at the place 
    he was announced to speak, but he was met with a demand from somebody for a division 
    of time, and invited to descent into the scurrilities of political discussion. Such persistence 
    in these attempts to intrude upon Republican meetings show how desperate has become 
    the condition of the Democracy, and how greatly they dread the presentation of Republican 
    truth to the people. 
    I have in this letter endeavored to present some views of the campaign which have heretofore 
    been neglected, with the hope that they may assist the public in arriving at a correct idea of 
    the influence at work here, upon which the result is largely dependent. While the dread of 
    the Kuklux and the Democratic expedients, which have been mentioned, may have the effect 
    of somewhat decreasing the Republican majority, there is no cause as yet to change my 
    previous estimate that the majority will be at least ten thousand. There is one fact which is 
    indisputable, and to which those Republicans in the North who propose to vote against their 
    party can not give too much attention: There is not in the entire State of North Carolina a 
    score of men who have heretofore acted with the Republican Party who have gone off to 
    Greeley. Here, where the issue of the contest can be most clearly seen, the Republican 
    Party has formed in solid phalanx around Gen. Grant, and presents an unbroken front to 
    its enemy. 
    The New York Times
    Published: July 29, 1872

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