In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to William M. Thomas, 7 November 1871

Date: November 7, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.02562

Source: National Archives and Records Administration. 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.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and John Schwaninger

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Nov. 7, 1871.

Hon. Wm. M. Thomas,

Chester, S. C.


I have received your letters of the 2d and 4th instants.

As to the suggestion in the former of a visit to Washington for the purpose of inducing an amendment to the plan of reconstruction, I must say, that while it would be very agreeable to me personally to see you here, I do not think it at all likely that you could succeed in an effort to procure such an amendment.

In my interview with a gentleman connected with the New York Times, I gave an outline of my observations in York county. If in his report, he said Chester, it was probably his mistake for York. Whether his version of my conversation was accurate in all other particulars, I cannot at this moment say, not having it before me.

I certainly did state to him in effect that in York county, within the past fifteen months a horrible amount of crime has been committed—that the State law has punished but a very little of it—and that of the greater of the crimes popularly known as Ku Klux crimes, of which I have reason to believe that several hundred have been committed in that county within that time, few, if any, have been presented by Grand Juries. These crimes were perpetrated under such circumstances as would have made detection and punishment easy, if the officers, jurors, and influential citizens had in good faith sought to detect and punish them.

You inform me that between fifteen hundred and two thousand persons have left—meaning, I suppose, that they have fled from the counties of York, Chester, etc. in consequence of recent arrests.

This single statement indicates the energetic action which the government has taken in those parts. Under the circumstances flight is confession; for I took pains to make it known that no innocent person would be arrested; and in regard to the arrests in York I could not learn that any respectable person asserted, while I was there, a belief of the innocence of a single person arrested, except perhaps in one or two instances of mistaken identity, where the error was promptly corrected. If fifteen hundred persons, besides those who have been arrested, have been engaged in unlawful conspiracies, and few or none of them all have been proceeded against by the State authorities, the necessity of the interposition of the Government of the United States in behalf of the oppressed citizens, is made clearly manifest.

Very respectfully,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

Southern affairs, &c.
S. C.


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