Title: Amos T. Akerman to Charles Prossner, 9 November 1871
Date: November 9, 1871
Source: Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: National Archives and Records Administration
Whitman Archive ID: nar.02574
Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and John Schwaninger
Nov. 9, 1871.
Mr. Charles Prossner,
Wilmington, N. C.
The President has referred to me the communication of Alfred Rogel and four others who represent themselves as citizens of Simpson County, in North Carolina, and in danger of death, or other injury, for testifying before U. S. Courts.
The President fully sympathizes with persons who are in the condition described by these men, and will do all in his power to protect them. Unless, however, the combination against them in the county of their residence shall be of the extraordinary character described in the act of Congress of last April, he has no power to aid them, in the premises, beyond that of requiring all the officers of the United States in those parts to use their endeavors to protect them, and if they are injured, to bring the offenders to justice. If any effort to intimidate these peoples from testifying in U. S. Courts are made, I suggest that you make the fact known to Mr. Starbuck or to Mr. Phillips, the Dist. Attorney and Ass't. Dist. Attorney respectively for North Carolina.
I will, also, say, that while aware of the danger to which these men will expose themselves by returning to their homes, yet I think it may be better, and really safer for them to go home and fearlessly (not insolently,) to defy the bad men who are threatening them with injury for the truth. They run a risk by doing this, but they run a greater risk by quailing before the lawless temper of bad men. A spirited, yes, a desperate contest with bad men is, in my judgment, the most expedient course for the friends of government in the South. As long as these bad men believe you are unable to protect yourselves, they will cherish the purpose of injuring you, as soon as the hand of the Government shall be withdrawn. But if you take the position that the country is as much yours as it is theirs—that you have as good a right to live in it as they—and that you are determined to live in it, and enjoy all your rights; or to die in it, bravely asserting your rights, when the law cannot protect you, you will teach them that you have a strength of your own; and this, in the end, they will respect more than the temporary exertion of the power of the U. S. Government.
A. T. Akerman,
Outrages in N. C.