After Slavery: Educator Resources

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6. Governor Scott is Warned of Impending Clashes in the South Carolina Upcountry

The following educational document corresponds with Unit Nine: Coercion, Paramilitary Terror, and Resistance in the After Slavery exhibition. Note the "Questions to Consider" section included at the end of each document.

Faced with a sustained campaign of violence and frustrated by the absence of a sense of urgency among the white Republican moderates in control of state governments in the Carolinas, black Carolinians occasionally took matters into their own hands, and organized local self defense when the state failed to offer organized protection. Here it appears that two local officials from Unionville (possibly sheriffs or constables) are informing South Carolina Governor Robert K. Scott of an impending clash between whites and blacks. The recent incidents recounted near the end of the document help to place this development in context.

Governor Scott is Warned of Impending Clashes in the South Carolina Upcountry

Union Vill So Ca

July 25 1868

sir I have the oppituity to inform you of the effect that your ordersa hav taken here I under stand from the Whites that ar of the opinion that you hadent gav me any such orders and I hav recev orders from Mr. James H. Goss of near the same as I recev from you and tha say that tha ar going to put it Down and tha ar holding A meeting toDay and geting men to sign and rais arms to fight us next satterday and We are looking for it to commence Evory day tha preparing and We ar redei When tha start with us We are going to try to meet them Right & all that wonst to see the Negors & Rebels fight can com up here they say that War has to start & it had gest as Well start now as any time tha say that We shell not march our men throw the strtes With Guns & We say that We Will and if you all down Thare hav any thing to say let us here it soon for We Wont have no time for chating When We get started in to this Grat Batel.

No Moer yours & True
Robert L. Martin

H W Duncan sinet

Thar is A Man in Gale here for cuting A Rebel it resulted in this Way so I under stand the Rebel attacked the colerd man in the Rod & grabbed his knife & the colerd man run & the Rebel cort him and the colerd man Drawn his knif & cut him survurly tho the Whit man is well & at Work &, the colerd mans crop is going to Destruction the nams are kemp & the colerd man samul Hill.

The Rebels here say that tha hav herd that the Freedman ar coming to union from the cuntray & tak this man out of Gale thar is no sich Repot and the cuntray as I no of thar is no sich Repot.

Thar was A Woman found murded at hills plot farm yestday & We sent A trup to see about it & she Was gon befor the trups got thar & tha tracked wher she had Ben Draged A muel track & the Blood was follerd for it bout two mils tha will Bee very apt to fin out all about it today A colored Woman Nam Bety Gregra

The Demes [Democrats] gav it Barbacue out at Mr. Bob McBeth's on the 24 an had A Big fight with the Radaculs fik to kill one of the colerd Radaculs I hav not found out Right About it yet the nams Bill Bates & Ben Bates.
Writ to me soon[.]

aProbably a reference to orders relating to the upcoming fall elections. Scott later expressed concern that conservatives were organizing armed militias and importing weaponry from out-of-state to intimidate freedpeople from voting. He would briefly sanction the organization of state militias in 1870, but later disbanded them under pressure from conservatives.

Source: Robert L. Martin, H. W. Duncan [Unionville] to Governor R. K. Scott, 25 July 1868; Governor Scott Papers, South Carolina Department of Archives and History


Questions to Consider

  1. The letter, transcribed as it appears in the original, was obviously composed by someone with very basic literacy skills. Assuming that Martin has been assigned to a policing role by Governor Scott, does his illiteracy seem to prevent him from being a competent official?

  2. According to Martin's report, whites are preparing for a confrontation with local freedpeople. What seems to be the main basis for the whites' objections? What course of action does Martin intend to pursue? What factors may be influencing his response?

  3. Judging from the evidence contained in the document, what role does rumor play in intensifying antagonisms between blacks and whites?

  4. Is there any evidence that the pending elections are having an effect on relations between blacks and whites in the upcountry?

Return to Exhibition: Unit Nine