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   Chapter 4 THE CLANS GATHER.

Unfettered By Sutton E. Griggs Characters: 9855

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

News of the fight between Lemuel Dalton and Harry Dalton soon spread throughout the surrounding regions. The diffusion of news was so rapid because in the country each person regarded himself as a courier in duty bound to convey word to his immediate neighbors. The white farmers abandoned their tasks, armed themselves and hurried to the Dalton house.

At nightfall the Negro farm hands from far and near hastened to Stephen Dalton's home, secreting in their clothes such weapons as pistols, hatchets, razors, bowie knives, clubs, etc.

Thus, what was originally a personal encounter between two individuals contained the germs of a race war.

When a sufficient number of the whites had gathered at the Dalton house to justify it, an informal meeting was held in the large front room. 'Squire Mullen, a short, fat man, with a face of full length but somewhat narrower than it might have been, assumed the leadership of the meeting. His upper lip was shaved clean, while his chin supported a beard about three inches long. He spoke in a quick, jerky fashion, addressing Lemuel Dalton in the name of the assemblage as follows:

"We have heard of the difficulty between you and one of the darkeys on your place. We have come to learn from you the particulars about it, to find out just what action must be taken by us. We are not seeking to interfere with your affairs, but darkeys must be made to feel always that whatever any one of them does to one white man is considered as done to all white men; we shall be pleased, therefore, to receive any information that you may see fit to give."

In response to this address Lemuel Dalton gave to the assemblage a full and truthful account of the happening. When he was through, 'Squire Mullen sprang to his feet saying, "Permit me, sir, to voice the sentiments of my fellows. We did not come here to sit in judgment on your action. We came here under the inspiration of the Anglo-Saxon motto, which is summed up in these words, 'My country, may she be always right. But, right or wrong, my country.' We came here, sir, to take up your cause; but your account shows that you have struck us a blow in the face-square in the face."

"You will, of course, explain your remarks," interposed Lemuel Dalton, in a tone which signified his non-acceptance of 'Squire Mullen's view of matters.

"Certainly, certainly, sir. In the midst of circumstances such as exist in the South, the greatest force that makes for peace is the cultivation in the white man of a sense of superiority and in the darkey a sense of inferiority. Engender in the darkey a sense of his inferiority and it will paralyze his aggressiveness and do more to keep him down than a standing army. What we practice in the South is racial hypnotism. We erect signs everywhere, notifying the darkey of his inferiority. To be effective this work must be co-operated in by practically the whole body of white men. That's why we object to any white man's attempt to disabuse the Negro's mind of this sense of inferiority. You, sir, have acted in a manner to cause us to lose the aid of this sense of inferiority in dealing with our darkeys. You have made our task of controlling them the harder. You have thus done us harm and the darkeys harm."

"You have not yet shown how my actions transgress your mode of procedure," said Lemuel Dalton.

"Why, sir, you fought the darkey on terms of equality. You fought him man to man. You should have sat on your horse and scolded him. If he had spoken insultingly, you should have used your horsewhip on him. If he had proven dangerous, it was your duty to have shot him without further ado. A fisticuff between a white man and a darkey savors too much of equality, a feeling that must be kept out of the Negro at all hazards."

"Permit me to add a word," requested a feeble-voiced young man, rising in a most timid manner, rubbing his hands together nervously.

'Squire Mullen gave him a reassuring look and he proceeded.

"I simply wish to reinforce what 'Squire Mullen has said by a historical incident. On a certain occasion when the Scythians were returning from a war in which they had been engaged, they received news that the servants whom they had left behind had mutinied and taken possession of the city and the households of their former masters. The Scythians were preparing to attack the slaves with a full accoutrement of arms when one of their number protested. He told his fellows that the best way to conquer the slaves was to discard arms and go with whips simply. He held that arms would suggest equality, while whips would be a reminder to the slaves as to what they were. The experiment succeeded and the Scythians effected a re-enslavement without any bloodshed. So, I agree with 'Squire Mullen that it is a great help to superiors to keep alive in inferiors a well developed sense of their inferiority. It certainly helps to keep them in subj

ection. The Scythian whips, which had as an aid the feeling of inferiority, were more successful than arms would have been, carrying along with them the idea of equality.

"A profound thinker of our day sets forth this idea in these words:

"'There are the respective mental traits produced by daily exercise of power and by daily submission to power. The ideas, and sentiments, and modes of behavior, perpetually repeated, generate on the one side an inherited fitness for command, and on the other side an inherited fitness for obedience; with the result that, in course of time, there arises on both sides the belief that the established relations of classes are the natural ones.'"

The young man dropped into his seat and looked around rather bashfully and wistfully, hoping that he would be regarded as having made an acceptable contribution to the dominant thought of the occasion.

All eyes were now directed to Lemuel Dalton, awaiting his reply.

"Gentlemen," said he, "if you will but go a little deeper into the subject you will see that my action was in accordance with and not contrary to the philosophy which you enunciate."

There was a slight bustle of astonishment at this claim, but Lemuel proceeded without regard thereto.

"When I was a lad, that Negro insulted and then beat me. No doubt he carried with him for years the thought that he was physically my superior. I was determined to wrest from him this conception. Had I proceeded against him on terms which he regarded as unfair, he would not have inwardly restored to me the palm which he wrested from me years ago. But, proceeding against him on terms of equality as I did, he is forced to acknowledge in his innermost consciousness that I am physically his superior. I, for one, think that we white men make a mistake in not seeking by physical culture to maintain even our physical superiority. I am in favor of the doctrine of Anglo-Saxon superiority in all realms, even the physical."

'Squire Mullen, with a smile upon his face, came forward and grasped Lemuel Dalton by the hand.

"We understand you better now, sir. We are proud of you, sir. Lads, hear what he says. In developing brain don't forget brawn. The darkey now has brawn. His strong physique and reproductive powers, show that he is in the world to stay to the end of time. If, in the years to come, he adds mental to physical endowment, we may be in the lurch unless we take care of the physical side of our development. Give me your hand again, sir," said 'Squire Mullen, once more shaking hands with Lemuel Dalton.

This matter having been disposed of, consideration was now given to Harry and Beulah. It was the concensus of opinion that the education which Harry and Beulah had received was mainly responsible for what the whites termed "arrogant assumption of equality."

The advisability and inadvisability of educating the Negro was gone into and the conclusion reached that the only safe education for the Negro was the education that taught him better how to work. It was decided that Harry had been punished equitably for his offense against Lemuel Dalton as an individual. They held that something must be done however, to avenge the insult to the white race, perpetrated when one of their number was assailed.

As a result of their deliberations, lasting well up into the night, it was decided to drive Harry and Beulah out of the settlement, both as a punishment for their offense and as a warning to other Negroes against "impudence towards their superiors."

In the meanwhile the Negroes had been coming and going at Stephen Dalton's. They came in part from curiosity, in part to see if they were in danger, and in part out of sympathy. They all listened critically to Beulah's recital of the trouble.

The practically unanimous verdict was that Beulah and Harry could and should have avoided the conflict. Arriving at this conclusion they all left, not being disposed to help in a case where all of the blame was not on the white man. In the dead of the night the whites rode up to the house and tacked thereon a notice, warning Harry and Beulah Dalton to remove from the settlement forever before the dawn of day on the first of January of the incoming year. When the Negroes heard of this decree they were incensed.

"Ernuf is ernuf," said one. "An' a nigger ain't er dog. 'Twuz ernuf ter shoot de nigger. We didun't do nuffin' 'bout dat, kase de niggers wuz some'ut ter blame. But dey ez carrin' de thing too fur. Ernuf is ernuf!"

This sentiment was universal among the Negroes, and they decided, one and all, to retaliate by leaving the settlement along with Harry and Beulah.

About thirty miles distant was the city of R--, the great commercial center of all the surrounding sections. This city now became the Mecca of these Negroes. But other troubles were to ensue ere they accomplished their design to enter R--.

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