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engaged in a conspiracy against the rights of persons of color, contrary to the act of Congress, of March 30, 1870, known as the Enforcement act. There being a commissioner at Laurens, the accused waived a preliminary examination and desired to be admitted to bail. This was refused, and the prisoners were taken to Columbia and subjected to treatment that was extraordinary and oppressive throughout. They were duly charged in the United States court, but upon every indictment the grand jury returned "no bill.” The accused were thereupon discharged.
A JUDGE IN. TROUBLE.
Immediately upon the discharges above mentioned, the gentlemen were again arrested by Hubbard, now acting as chief constable of the State, upon a warrant issued upon his own affidavit, charging the parties with murder. Committed to the jail of Richland County, they promptly applied to Judge Vernon of the Seventh Circuit for a writ of habeas corpus. The writ was issued, and the Richland sheriff was in the act of obeying, when, waiting at the station with his prisoners, on his way to Laurens (where Judge Vernon had made the writ returnable), he was served with an order from Joseph Crews, requiring his instant attendance before the committee appointed to "investigate the official conduct” of Judge Vernon-Crews being its chairman. Resistance appearing to the sheriff useless, he found it necessary to return the prisoners to the Richland jail. A few days afterwards the judge himself was summoned to appear before the Crews committee.
Judge Vernon promptly went to Columbia, where the writ issued by his order was duly executed, and the prisoners were brought before him. The hearing was practically over when, sitting on the bench, he was served with the House resolution impeaching him of "high crimes and misdemeanors." Proceeding with the business in hand, the judge signed an order admitting the prisoners to bail. The bonds were promptly given and the accused set at liberty. They were never tried.
Judge Vernon was formally impeached—the board of managers appointed by the House consisting of W. J. Whipper, F. J. Moses, Jr., Warren D. Wilkes, of Anderson, Aaron Logan, of Charleston, and Joseph Crews. Mr. Wilkes was elected to the House as a "Conservative" or "Independent,” was a man of some ability and of
personal integrity. Every other member of the "board” was even then notoriously corrupt.
The charges had reference chiefly to Judge Vernon's personal habits, and were grossly unjust. So also was the charge of neglect of official duty. The charge that he had carelessly issued habeas corpus writs in blank was a mere fabrication. His real offense lay in according to the Laurens prisoners charged with murder the right of examination and the right of bail.
Mr. Joseph Daniel Pope and Col. A. C. Haskell appeared for Judge Vernon, and he pleaded not guilty. After further consideration, and on the advice of friends, he resigned. The resignation accepted, the impeachment was at an end.
One feature of the proceedings was the employment of one H. G. Worthington, a carpetbag lawyer and professional lobbyist, and R. B. Elliott, as counsel for the managers of the impeachment. Elliott received a fee of $1,000 and Worthington $500. A resolution (by Whipper) to make Worthington's fee $2,000 and Elliott's $1,500 was killed.
A GANG OF ROUGHS.
The personnel of the State constabulary, already referred to, was illustrated by the special employment of a gang of New York roughs, ostensibly to aid in making arrests in Laurens County—that being the object as stated by the Radical organ published in Charleston. The formal enrollment of the gang into the constabulary force was admitted, and there were statements as to the services to be performed, which tended to show that Scott and his fellows had in view the terrorizing of the white people in some parts of the State by a resort to assassinations. The chief of the New York detachment was one "Col.” James E. Kerrigan, a genuinely tough personage, and he, along with six or seven of his squad, made oath that they were brought to South Carolina to defend Scott and his friends and kill off their enemies—among the latter being several prominent Democrats in Laurens and Union. For each Democratic leader thus disposed of the gang was to receive $10,000, coupled with the assurance of immunity from punishment in the event of exposure. The affiants further swore that the offers of money were expressly made to them by Joe Crews and W. F. Hague (a mouthy and insolent carpetbagger employed by Scott as private secretary) and confirmed
by C. C. Puffer, C. C. Baker, and J. H. Runkle—all white carpetbaggers. Puffer attained notoriety chiefly as receiver of the Bank of the State, in which relation he "feathered his nest" satisfactorily and corruptly. Baker was working (or pretending to work) a gold mine in Union, and the New York gang were first told that they were to guard that property. Baker, by the way, was a lieutenantcolonel in the negro militia. Runkle was a pettifogger who then held some place in the revenue service of the Federal Government, and who afterwards disgraced the office of solicitor of the Fifth Circuit by ignorance so flagrant that it was more than once suspected that his alleged mistakes were induced by bribery or other corrupt means. The New York affiants swore that the trio mentioned furnished a list of about seventy citizens of Union County whom they were to "clean out."
Each of the five worthies accused swore that the statements of Kerrigan and his men were altogether false. Whilst the character of each of the five was such as to disentitle him to be believed on oath, yet it is probable that their talks to the Kerrigan party were but forms of "bluff" intended to impress the roughs with the bad character of the native citizens and with the importance of keeping the white people down. If, however, the New York fellows swore falsely, that fact but shows the sort of men whom Governor Scott, by his agent, Baker, selected to execute his orders in South Carolina. The episode made but little impression on the white people, except to confirm their estimate of Scott's character and purposes—though, really, nobody ever believed him bloodthirsty enough to contemplate the "cleaning out” of which some of his mouthy followers had undoubtedly talked.
The claim of the Kerrigan gang for their services, paid by the State, was over $6,000.
Not relying wholly upon his militia or his constabulary, Governor Scott, previous to the October election, applied to President Grant for Federal troops, and several additional companies were ordered into the State. After the election he made a further appeal, in response to which the President declared that the Governor should have all the troops he wanted. Senator Robertson urged that more troops be furnished and charged that the troubles in Laurens arose from the attempts of the Reformers to destroy the ballot boxes. Very soon the number of United States soldiers on duty in South Carolina was considerably increased.
SCOTT'S SECOND TERM. The General Assembly elected along with Scott and Ransier (onehalf of the Senators of course holding over) met November 22, 1870. C. W. Montgomery, of Newberry, was reelected president pro tem. of the Senate and Josephus Woodruff, clerk. F. J. Moses, Jr., was reelected Speaker of the House, and A. O. Jones, clerk.
Conspicuous among the members were some who, as was afterwards disclosed, were active in the several schemes of robbery that were initiated or consummated at this session-Senators W. Beverly Nash (colored), of Richland; S. A. Swails (colored), of Williamsburg; John Wimbush (colored), of Chester; George F. McIntyre, of Colleton; Robert Smalls (colored), of Beaufort; B. F. Whittemore, of Darlington; and C. P. Leslie, of Barnwell; Representatives C. D. Hayne (colored), of Barnwell; W. J. Whipper (colored), and N. B. Myers (colored), of Beaufort; William R. Jervay (colored), Timothy Hurley, John B. Dennis, H. H. Hunter (colored), B. A. Bosemon (colored), Aaron Logan (colored), of Charleston ; William M. Thomas (colored), of Colleton; Samuel J. Lee (colored), Prince R. Rivers (colored), Lawrence Cain (colored), of Edgefield; William H. Jones (colored), James A. Bowley (colored), of Georgetown; Joseph Crews, of Laurens; Joseph D. Boston (colored), John T. Henderson (colored), of Newberry; Benjamin Byas (colored), of Orangeburg; Samuel B. Thompson (colored), William Simons (colored), of Richland; Franklin J. Moses, Jr., of Sumter; Junius H. Mobley (colored), of Union; J. Hannibal White (colored), John W. Mead (colored), of York.
In the Senate were one "independent,” John Wilson of Anderson, and five Democrats-Diedrich Biemann, of Oconee; J. S. Burroughs, of Horry; G. W. Duvall, of Chesterfield; Joel Foster, of Spartanburg, and W. E. Holcombe, of Pickens.
In the House the opposition was maintained by three "independents" from Anderson-John Wilson, Warren D. Wilkes, William Perry—and by "Union Reformers” as follows:
Chesterfield-M. J. Hough, B. C. Evans. (These members were unseated by a resolution passed February 3, 1871, and two colored Republicans were declared to have been lawfully elected.)
Greenville-S. S. Crittenden, George W. Taylor, Hewlett Sullivan, Leonard Williams.
Horry-George T. Litchfield, James E. Dusenbury.
Spartanburg-Robert M. Smith, J. Banks Lyle, John L. Wofford, David R. Duncan.
Of the Senate eleven and of the House eighty-three were new men. Of the Senate eleven and of the House seventy-five were colored. On joint ballot the Republicans had a majority of 118, the blacks a majority of sixteen.
The Senate and the House each elected a chaplain, to draw the same pay as a member.
On Wednesday after the opening day both houses adjourned (for Thanksgiving) till the Monday following.
The vote for Governor was formally declared in joint sessionScott, 85,071 ; Carpenter, 51,537. The Governor and the LieutenantGovernor were inaugurated November 28.
The Governor's message contained some items of note.
The entire debt of the State was put (Oct. 31, 1870) at $7,665,908, with assets held by the State on that date, $2,290,700—thus making it appear that the entire debt was actually $5,375,208.98.
“The land commission,” declared the Governor, "was undoubtedly one of the wisest and most beneficent projects of the State, but from the odium which has been brought upon it by charges freely made of peculation and personal purposes in its administration the results have not been commensurate with the sagacity and philanthropy of its objects. About $600,000 has been expended and thousands of acres of land have been purchased, but up to this time only a comparatively small portion of the land has been sold to actual settlers, and the tardiness of the commission should be a subject of investigation thorough and searching by intelligent and honest men, who should examine fairly and fearlessly into alleged abuses which have excited widespread comment and denunciation.”
Suggestions were made touching the different branches of the State government, with some references also to county matters, but all these were of the usual order-recommending, in general terms, economy, efficiency and fidelity.