In Whitman's Hand

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Title: Amos T. Akerman to Todd R. Caldwell, 26 December 1871

Date: December 26, 1871

Whitman Archive ID: nar.02695

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, John Schwaninger, Anthony Dreesen, and Melanie Krupa

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Dec. 26, 1871.

His Excellency Todd R. Caldwell,

Raleigh, N. C.


On the first instant the President referred to me, for investigation, a memorial endorsed by you from certain officials and citizens of the county of Cleveland, N. C., complaining of the arrest and imprisonment of one Allen Bettis, Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of that county.

I have made investigation, and learn that Bettis was arrested by the military upon overwhelming proof of his connection with the Ku Klux Klan in York county, South Carolina. At the time of his arrest it was supposed by the officer that he was a citizen of South Carolina; but it was afterwards learned that he lived in Cleveland, N. C., and very near the State line. On the 24th of November last, he was turned over to the U.S. Marshal, and by the Marshal taken before Samuel T. Poinier, U.S. Commissioner, and released by the Commissioner on giving bail to appear before the U.S. Circuit Court for South Carolina, and answer to any indictment that might be preferred against him for violation of the Enforcement Acts of Congress.

It appears that no law has been violated by the U.S. authorities in the case of Mr. Bettis, and that he is held to answer a regular accusation of crime.

The statement of the memorialists that Bettis is willing to be tried by his peers in his own State, and claims that he, in justice, should be tried in his own State, is entirely inapplicable to the facts. His alleged offenses having been committed in South Carolina, he is liable for them in that State only.

The memorialists probably conceived that under the Enforcement Law, no arrest could be made by the military outside of the District in which the habeas corpus is suspended. You will perceive, however, by the examination of Section third of the Act of April 20th, 1871, that the right to employ the military in making arrests is not limited to such District. In the present case the President being authorized to use the military for the suppression of the unlawful combination in South Carolina, a member of such a combination in that State is not protected from military arrest by getting over the State line. Mr. Bettis has been delivered to the Marshal of the proper District, to be dealt with according to law, which is exactly what the third section directs to be done. The proper District is that in which the alleged offences were committed.

Very respectfully,

A. T. Akerman,

Attorney General.

Case of Allen Bettis,
N. C. (S. C.)
see Ex B'k A, 407


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