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Black Legislators: Primary Sources

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  The 1866 Civil Rights Act | The 1875 Civil Rights Act | Laws Fail to Protect Us
  The Work of Reconstruction


Laws Fail to Protect Us

The increasing violence against them as the fall 1867 election approached caused the African American citizens of Calhoun, Georgia, to request protection from federal troops of the Third Military District.

Calhoun, Georgia, August 25, 1867


We the Colored people of the town of Calhoun and County of Gordon desire to call your attention to the State of Affairs that now exist in our midst.

On the 16th day of the month, the Union Republican Party held a Meeting which the Colored people of the County attended en masse. Since that time we seem to have the particular hatred and spite of that class who were opposed to the principles set forth in that meeting.

Their first act was to deprive us the privilege to worship any longer in the Church. Since we have procured one of our own, they threaten us if we hold meetings in it.

There has been houses broken open, windows smashed and doors broken down in the dead hours of the night, men rushing in, cursing and swearing and discharging their Pistols inside the house. Men have been knocked down and unmercifully beaten and yet the authorities do not notice it at all. We would open a school here, but are almost afraid to do so, not knowing that we have any protection for life or limb.

We wish to do right, obey the Laws and live in peace and quietude but when we are assailed at the midnight hour, our lives threatened and the Laws fail to protect or assist us we can but defend ourselves, let the consequences be what they may. Yet we wish to avoid all such collisions.

We would respectfully ask that a few soldiers be sent here, believing it is the only way we can live in peace until after the Elections this fall.

[Twenty-four signatures]

Excerpt from Dorothy Sterling, ed., Trouble They Seen: The Story of Reconstruction in the Word of African Americans. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.

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Reconstruction: The Second Civil War
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