Clarion-Ledger clipping

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Letter From “Free State.”

BRANDON, June 8th 1868.

Editor Clarion: – The Democratic Association of Rankin county, met pursuant to adjournment last Saturday. Dr. D. B. Gunn, U. Bourne, Esq., Capt. J. M. Smith and J. H. Whitfield, Esq., were appointed to address the people. But information having been received that Rev. James Lynch and E. A. Peyton, Esq., the Radical candidates for the State Senate, would probably be present and claim time, all these gentlemen did not expect to speak. Instead of commencing at the usual hour, the meeting was not called to order until the arrival of the cars, that these Radical orators might have a fair chance.

After 12 o’clock it was announced, that Lynch was coming on and would be here.

Dr. Gunn delivered an exceedingly well written speech from the manuscript before him, which illustrated his positions by reference to maps he had prepared, which were adapted to the comprehension of all present. He took strong grounds and maintained them by facts and reason, to prove that the Southern white man was the true friend to the negro. He gave the negroes wholesome and sound advice and dealt the Rev. Lynch, some hard blows. Among other things, the Dr. stated that last year he heard Lynch assert, that the Radicals were not governed by the Constitution of the United States, and that Lynch illustrates their position by saying if the small pox should break out in any incorporated town, and the corporation charter did not give relief, the people would lay it aside, as there would be no time to wait. Dr. Gunn was listened to with attention.

It was then announced by the President, A. G. Mayers, Esq., that an arrangement had been made by which Rev. Mr. Lynch, would address the people for an hour and a half, that Gen. Lowry would reply in a speech of one hout and three quarters, then Rev. Mr. Lynch, would speak 20 minutes and General Lowry to conclude with ten minutes, and all were requested to remain and listen patiently to the discussion.

Lynch then ascended the rostrum and spent a good deal of time in attempted ridicule of the address of Dr. Gunn.

That day having been fixed on for the nomination of a candidate on the Radical ticket with Cyrus Myers for Representation from Rankin, in place of D. G. Cooper, who declined to run, Cyrus had a large number of the faithful with him well prepared to do the applauding, and there was also a slight infusion of the Jackson aristocracy present. They applauded Lynch most lustily. Lynch declaimed most eloquently in quite a theatrical style, but during the whole of his speech he did not attempt to defend or even discuss the proposed constitution. He told of a remark made by his old master who cursed him when he was a boy, for trying to learn; and the manner and style of Lynch, the ferocious expression of his countenance and the malignant gleam of his restlers eyes, told the tale on him, that his mission to this land of poor negroes, is not one of peace. This part of his speech and his manner, was the most noticeable and marked of all his utterances and gestures. He indulged in a manner and style of expression well calculated, as no doubt it was designed, to excite hostile feelings in the blacks towards the whites, though he cunningly uttered disclaimer after disclaimer that such was his object. He said he admitted he received $2500 per year from the Methodist Church North, for his services which as every body knows is as bitter and cruel towards the whites of the South as any political organization in the North, and in fact was a confession that he was the hired tool of those who hate us, to breed discord and strife, and perhaps excite a war of races in the South, all under the sacred name of a minister of the gospel of peace. He appealed to the negroes to vote for the Constitution as it gave them their rights, and if those who were disfranchised would ask it at the proper time their disabilities would be removed. He was severe on the Democratic party, said its papers, particularly the Republican, which he said the leading editors in the North thought wanting in discretion, and such did the party more harm than good. (The Editor of the Republican was absent.) He said the Clarion was ably edited but had dealt him some hard blows and called him hard names and that if he had been a white man and had not been a minister he would have called on the writer &c. (It seems to plain people who read the Clarion that it has said equally as plain-spoken opinions about the compeers of Lynch who are white men and who are not ministers.) He was permitted to exceed his time several minutes because there was no desire to abruptly bring him to a close.

Gen. Lowry then ascended the stand and expressed his surprise that Mr. Lynch had not attempted to discuss the main issues before the country. He began to ask Lynch questions which Lynch did not seem to relish. He asked Lynch if the proposed Constitution was voted down, would not we all stand just as we are now? Lynch said No! He repeated it and Lynch denied flatly and positively that such would be the case. Gen Lowry stated the fact which all know, and no one better than Lynch, that it is not the scallawag Constitution, but the act of Congress that gives the negro the right to vote, and if the Constitution is defeated, our State will remain as it is until changed by Congress, yet Lynch most unblushingly denied it! But Gen. Lowry showed up his insincerity and disposition to gull his colored friends. Gen. L. also asked him if the late Chicago Convention did not say the white people of the North could have negro votes or not as they saw proper, but the negro must vote in the South? Lynch denied that too! But it was also proved on him and he saw that falsehood was no relief to him. He then told the negroes that Lynch was hired to come here and get up ill-feelings between us and them, that Lynch was after taking care of himself and cared but little for them. He pursued his theme in showing up the Reverend Minister, who professed to come here to preach the gospel of peace, when in fact he was the hired tool of wicked men who wished to ruin both white and black at the South. Lynch became very restive. He showed evident signs of defeat and mortification. He told a gentleman he desired to return to Jackson, and would be glad to wind up the discussion and leave. Gen. Lowry was advised of his desire, but insisted on his remaining, for Gen. L., at that time, had nearly one hour to speak. He asked Lynch why he insisted to return, and Lynch replied he wished to leave for Canton at 3 P.M., the next day, to attend a Quarterly Meeting, and had a hired team, etc. Gen. L. told him he would pay the expenses of himself and team, if he would stay; but Lynch would not agree to that, but said he would meet Gen. L on Monday morning, and discuss the questions! Gen. L. told him “No sir, now is the time to finish it.” This proposition of Lynch will appear exceedingly cool, when it is remembered that he had to leave Jackson, for Canton, at 3 o’clock, Sunday evening, and hold his Quarterly Meeting, but would agree to be back to this place, early Monday morning which, time and distance, would render impossible! He became very restless, and paced up and down, and around, betraying the fact that he felt most keenly the felling blows he was receiving.

Lynch stated to a democrat, that he did not wish to travel at night, but he was assured he would not be hurt. Still, he insisted on leaving, and at last, Gen. L. agreed to suspend his reply, and give Lynch ten minutes, and take ten minutes himself. Lynch then repeated his appeal to his colored friends to vote for the Constitution – but made no points – showing plainly that, tho’ his friends yelled for him, he felt himself vanquished. Lynch told of the murder, by the democrats, of Ashburn, of Columbus, George. But General Lowry told them who Ashburn was, and that he was killed by his own sort, in a negro house of ill-fame. – Lynch tried to make the negroes believe that Caldwell was about to be assassinated because he was a Radical; and his whole “drift” seemed to be to stir up the strife between the races, though he denied that was his object.

Gen. Lowry, in conclusion, stated he had charged him with doing his colored friends injury, and he would ask him if he had not induced Henry Henry to join the Loyal League, and thereby caused him much injury. Lynch, of course, denied that too. – Gen. Lowry then read a certificate from Anna Henry, a colored woman, stating that her son, Henry Henry was a barber in this place, and was doing a good business, and quite popular, until Rev. James Lynch and Henry Mayson came here and induced him to join the Loyal League, by which he lost his custom, and was forced to go to another State, to make his living – leaving her to get along as best she could, and he was her sole support and protector, in her old age! Jim rather wilted under this certificate.

Just before the meeting closed, an old negro man stepped up to Lynch and asked him if negroes could vote in Pennsylvania, where he came from? Lynch said they could vote up to 1835, when the democrats got the Legislature, and broke it up. A white man, in the crowd, said out “that’s a d—d lie, I am a Pennsylvanian, myself.” This created some confusion, and the President instantly called the house to order and assured Lynch there was no danger of its repetition. Other whites assured him likewise, and one went so far – democrat as he is – as to pledge himself, publicly, to protect him from personal harm. Lynch then stated that if he had said anything improper during the discussion, he was very sorry for it, and he asked all those who were in favor of the Republican party to hold up their hands, and a majority of the negroes did so. But mark you, Cyrus had his crowd with him, for the occasion. Lynch showed he had gained nothing by the discussion, and though he was treated with courtesy, he will hardly have the temerity to come here again to speak Radicalism. As to the impression entertained of Lynch, I will give it to you: He had been represented as a man of very superior ability – a natural orator – and the most talented man of all the carpet-baggers in the State, (and that was saving but little for him) – Great curiosity was expressed to hear him. The general impression, after the speaking was over, was that, he is, for a mulatto, a very talented man – a speaker of extraordinary force before a crowd that can be swayed by appeals to their passions rather than their reason, and whose sympathies can be aroused for the “poor negro,” as he would occasionally style himself. That he cannot argue any question logically, and lacks concentration. That he is a man of vindictive feelings, but restrained by cowardice. That he is a demagogue of “the first water,” a shrewd cunning and mischievous man, dangerous when he dares to act, but harmless when boldly confronted. He cannot compete with the well informed, practical, white man, who will hold him to the issue.




Clarion-Ledger, “Clarion-Ledger clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed September 27, 2023,

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