OCR Interpretation

The Newberry herald. (Newberry, S.C.) 1865-1884, September 12, 1866, Image 1

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At Newberry 0. H.,
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Special and LPga1 Notices, 81 per square each
Governor's Message.
Executive Department, So. Ca.,
Columbia, Sept. 4, 1S66.
oGentlemen of the Senate
and House of Representatives:
I have convened the General Assembly in
ext'raordinary session, for the purpose of
recom,mending such modifications of exist
ing laws with reference to persons of color
as will emrtitle the tribunals of this State to
exercise jurisdiction over them in all cases;
such a re-organization of these tribunals as
may be best adapted to this end; such en
actments as will effect greater certainty, as
well as economy, in the punishment of crime
amongst all classes ; and lastly, such meas
ures of relief as, in nv judgment, are neces
sary, in view of the present condition of the
It i. a striking anomaly, that more than
one half of dl the inhabitants of the State
are not amenable to trial before the State
tribunals, and are exempt from all liability
to punishment under State laws. In a ma
iority of the Districts, neither Provost nor
freedmen's Courts are in existence, and
persons of color perpetrate crime with im
punity. Some of their gravest offences
ngainst society are tried before Military
Commissions, but the long delay in bringing
the crimin.il to justice, the necessity often
times of removing him to a remote place,
where a Commission is organized for trial,
the difficulty of securing the attendance of
witiiessee, and the expense developed upon
the prosecutor, con-pire to render such tri
bunals wholly inefficient in punishing the
guilty, or deterring others from perpetrating
Where Provost Courts are organized, the
punishments imposed on freedmen for crime
are not in conformity to our laws, and are
nuch lighter than punishments imlposed by
State Courts upon white men for the same
offences. The laws of every well-regulated
State should operate equally upon all the
inhabitants, and if a white man is punish
able by death for arson or burglary, there
is no justice or propriety in permitting a
freedman to escape for a like offence with a
fne or light imprisonment. When our
laws are so modified that all persons may be
tried before the same tribunal, and, upon
conviction, subjected to the saine punish
ment fan the same class of offences, all rea
son for the interference of Federal authority
with the administration ofjr.stice will have
ceased, and no impediment will exist to the
jurisdiction of the State Courts over all
cases, civil and criminal.I
In the series of Acts, passed in December
last, known as the Code, there are various
discriminations against freedmen, which
should be repealed, and civil rights and lia
bilities as to crime should be accorded to
all inhabitaznts alike.
The last section of the Act to establish
District Courts provides that "the Jndges
elected under this Act shall not be commis
sioned until the Government shall be satis
fied that they will be permitted to exercise
the jurisdiction committed to them."
The Judges have not been commissioned,
having satisfied myself that they would
not he permitted by the mihtary authorities
to exercise jurisdiction over persons of
color, which was the main purpose in estab
lishinig the Courts. The D)istrict Court may,
however, be made invaluable, by increasingj
its jurisdiction in civil, and restr icting it in
criminal cases to offences punishable with
less than death, thereby relieving the supe
rior Courts of many cases which retard the
desparch of more important business.
I therefore recommend that the sittings
.of the Court be quarterly, or oftener, if ne
cessary; that aill misdemeanors and felonies
now punishable by fine, imprisonment or
whipping, by whomsoever committed, be
tried in that Court ; that all felonmes punish
able by death, including the different de
g rees of homicide, be tried by the Court of
General Sessions ; that the offices of a grandl
jury be dispensed with in the District Court,
and defendants tried on indictments without
presentment or true bill ; that, with the con
sent of the parties in civil cases, or of the
diefendant in criminal cases, the presiding
Judge may hear and determine any cause or
indictment without the intervention of a
petit jury ; that the petit jury shall consist
,of twelNe, and the venire of eighteen; that~
in case of the acquittal of the defendant,
the Judge be authorized to certify, if in his
opinion the facts justify it, that the prose
.cution was frivolous or groundless, and
when su.ch certificate is given, that the
prosecutor be liable for all the costs incur
red; that no other security to prosecute he
required by a Magistrate from a complain
ant than his own recognizan ce; that thi
jurisdiction of the Court in civil cases be ex
tended to $-200; and that the jury be paid
for their services by a fee taxed on each
.case they may try.
By the thirtieth section of the "Act to
establish District Courts" it is provided
"'that in every case, civil and criminal, in
which a person of color is a party, or which
affct eu prso or propert of a person or
color, persons of color shall be competent
witnesses." The accused in such a criminal
case, and the parties in every such civil
case, may be witnesses, and so may every
other person who is a competent witness,
The first paragraph of this section, admit
ting persons of color to testify in all cases
where themselves or their race are directly
concerned, and excluding them by implica
tion in all cases where they are not interest
ed, cannot be reconciled with sound pohcy
or just discrimination. They are admitted
in that class of cases where their interest,
sympathy, association and feelings would
be most likely to pervert their consciences
and invite to false swearing, and are exclu
ded from testifying in all cases where no
motive could exist to swear falsely, except
that of a depraved heart. The distinction
is illogical and indefensible, and it cannot
be denied that it has its foundation in a
prejudice against the caste of the negro. If
the rules of evidence in all the Courts were
so modified as to make all persons and par
ties competent witnesses in their own and
all other cases, no possible danger could re
sult from it. Many of the States of the
Union, and several of the civilized countries
of the old world, have tried the experi
ment, and the result proves that the cause
of truth and justice has been thereby pro
mnoted. The object of every judicial inves
tigation is to ascertain the truth, and when
found, to dispense justice in conformity
the Eto. With intelligent Judges and dis
criminating ju es, correct conclusions will
be more certainly attained by hearing every
fict, whatever may be the character or
color of the witness.
In the second paragraph of the section
already quoted, the General Assembly have
'reached the same conclusion ; for in all
cases where persons of color are allowed to
testify, all persons, including parties, are
declared competent witnesses. Would it
not be eminently wise to adopt the same
rule in all Courts, and ext.-nd it to all per
sons ?
In civii cases, the testimony of persons of
color is oftentimes requisite to elucidate the
facts and secure a just decision. They con
stitute a mnajority of the entire population
of the State, and of necessity are often sole
witnesses of contracts and transactions be
tween white persons. SiaAl the parties in
such cases be denied justice, by excluding
the only evidence to secure it, because of
an apprehension that it may be in a meas
ure unreliable ? Would it not be more in
accordance with an established rule, to re
ceive the evidence and weigh its value ? In
the law of evidence, the character and
standing of a witness goes to affect his credi
bility, and not his competency. Why not,
in the case of the person of color, follow
this rule to its logical conclusion ?
In eriminal ca'ses, these cotnsiderations
weigh wtih peculiar force. The negro is
readily d eceive2d and corrupted, and be
comecs an easy prey to the machination of
depraved "bite meni; and past experience
teaches that he is employed to execute the
most dish onest purposes, and with impunity
to the principal, beca use of his exclusion as
a witness from the Courts of' the comnmis
sion of' crime, and t.hey go unwhipped of'
justice, bec;iuse thme law for'bids that the
testimiony of thle negro shall be heard.
Does not the exclusion of persons of color
mi ske them invaluable accessories to the
per'petr'ation of crime ? IIow can society'
be protected against that large class of in
famous crimes, now so prevalent in this
State, unless by making the negro a comn
petent witness, we avail ourselves of'all nc
eessible evidence to convict thme offenders ?
A mi will the law of the State continue to
oiler a reward to the dishonest to further
tempt and corr'upt the negro? The well
being of the State materially depends upon
the elevation of this class of our popul'ation,
and if there w~as no other argument in be
half of their' admisssahility to our' Courts,
the tendencv ot sneh a measure to elevate
thteir mnoral anid intellectual character would
be sufficient.
The dishcunest may objet to the extension
of this right to all cases, because it reduces
the field for his nefairious operations, but if
the good and virtuous are protected, society
is amply coinpensated for' the change. Men
of' probity and integrity have no reason to
apprehend any evdl consequences 1mrom the
change. The discrimination of intelligent
Judg~es and jur'ies will be a shield against
unjust charges supported by false swearmig,
and the same intelligence will bring the
really guilty to con dign punishment. The
great increase oferitne among the freedmen,
and the inadequate punishment inflicted by
existing tribunals, make it a high and im
portant duty devolved on you to so modify
existing legislation as will secure a transfer
ofjurisdictioni to the State Courts. If the
suggestions I have made do not meet the
appi oval of your judgment, 1 will cordially
co-operatc with you in attaining the end in
any way which you r superior wisdom may
The prevalence of crime among the
whites, as well as blacks, in every part of
the State, admonish us that the criminal
code is defective, and that the punishments
imposed by it are inadequate to deter of
fenders. The penalties attaching to the
crime are fine, imprisonment, whipping, and
death. The death penmalty is imposed on
conviction for murder, arson, burglary and
other crinmes; but the repugnance of juries
to convict and impose that fearful penalty,
except fotr murder and two or three other
enormous crimes against society, often cua
bles the guilty to escape under the most
trifling pretext ; and even when persons are
convicted in such cases, the verdict is usu
ally accompanied by reccommendation to ex
ecutive clemencv.
the laws of this State, for high misdemean
ors and petty felonies. None of the jails of
the State are constructed for work-houses,
and convicts sentenced to imprisonment
spend their time in idleness. The expense
to the State is very great, and, in our im
poverished condition, the people cannot
well bear the heavy taxation necessary to
support these convicts in idleness. There
are many convicts who find themselves
comfortably housed and well-fed, and who,
exempt from all labor, do not regard im
prisonment as a punishment. They are
vicious, depraved non-producers; and the
effort to punish them is really a punishment
to the honest tax-payers, whose labor, in
part at least, is given to support them in in
dolence. The number of convicts will here
after be greatly increased, and, if the' pres
ent system of punishment be continued, the
appropriations to jailors, for dieting prison
ers, will be greater than the expenditure
for either of the departments of the State
Covernment. To remedy all these evils, I
respectfully recommend that you provide
for the establishment of a penitentiary, at
Columbia, and appropriate not less than
$20,000 to erect a wall around the peniten
tiary buildings, and to riake cells for con
victs. Much of the labor, in erecting the
necessary buildings, can be performed by
the convicts themselves. If a favorable site
should be selected, convenient to sufficient
water power to drive all the machinery that
may be requisite to carry on manufactures
in wood, leather, iron, yarns and cloth, the
penitentiary may be made nearly if not
quite self-supporting. Punishments may
then be imposed according to the enormity
of the offence; juries will have no aversion
to convicting the guilty, and convicts, while
undergoing purgation for their crimes, will
be compelled to earn their subsistence.
The completion of the prison and the in
troduction of the requisite machinery will,
of course, be a work of time ; but, if proper
economy is practised in building and stock
ing it, the expense will hardly be felt; and,
in the meantime, the convicts can be sub
sisted as cheaply as in the District jails,
whilst the labor of such as are not required
on the buildings can be devoted to the va
rious manufactures of leather. wood and
iron, yielding a fund to the State to meet
the expense of theirsubsistance.
If you should determine to establish a
penitentiary, it will be necessary that the
punishments now inposed by law be so
changed as to conform to the new prison
systen. Before passing from the subject of
the criminal law, I desire to invite your at
tention to the necessity for more stringent
legislation for the suppressian of vagrancy.
The law should not only provide for the
punishment of idle and dissolute persons,
who are permanently domiciled, but should
extend to transient persors wandering over
the State, and who have no visible means of
mpport; and the duty of enforcing the law
should be devolved, under stringent pen
lties, upon the Cletks, Sheriffs, Magistrates
and Constables of the several Districts.
Since your adjournment in December last,
the Court of Errors in this State have, with
a single dissenting opinion, declared the
Stav Law andl all amendments thereto un
constitutional. The decision has produced
retiveness and dissatisfaction in many parts
of the State. Public meetings have been
held in several Districts, and the Legislature
has been appealed to, to furnish some pro
tection to the debtor class, who anticipate
general sucing in the fall term of the Courts.
After a careful examination oft he opinion
of the able and learned Chief Justice, as
well as other authorities, I feel it my duty
t1 say that I concur fully in the opinion of
the Court, and believe that their exposition
of the constitutional question is unanswer
The people of South Carolina have been
proverbially law abiding ; and when anarchy
reigned supreme, after the fall of' the Con
federacy, lawlessness was universally dis
:ouraged by the better classes in every
community. Now when civil law is re
stored and wc are remitted to our own laws
ndl Courts to protect rights and redress
wrongs; surely no citizen of good repute
will advise tumult and violence against the
solemn judgment of the highest judicial tri
bunals in the State.
In view of the circumstances surrounding
as-wvhen it is remembered that the State
has just emerged from a long and disastrous
war, in which not only her sons hut her re
ources were prodigally bestowed ; that our
banks have all been destroyed ; that more
than three hundlred millions of property
have been annihilated ; that all the fountains
>f credit and property have been broken up;
that our system of labor has been thoroughly
:isorganized ; that the refreshing and re
vivifying showers have been withheld from
parched ard exhausted soil, and that want,
if not famine, will keepghastly vigils in man
sion and in hovel; when it is remembered
that nearly all of the merchants of the State
have been able to compromise their indebt
dness to Northern merchants on most lib
ral terms-surely, the creditor class will
practice forbearance arid give their debtors
still further indulgence. If compelled to
nforce collections, they should, in the same
fair and liberal spirit, make compromises
ith debtors, so as not to drive them and
heir families from home, kindred and
frien ds.
The existing embarrassments growing out
f the indebtedness of the country will, li!-e
ther evils, produce beneficial resuiLs.
Debtors will find it to their interest to make
inal adjustment of their dlebts, even though
hey are compelled to surrender their pro
erty.. As long as their debts remain, in
erest will be accu.aulating to culminate in
nore dlisastrous bankruptcy. If' they sur
ender their property, now, to creditors,
Lhc' cn re-ume their occupations and labor
with cheerfulness-knowing that its proceeds
will, sooner or later, rebuild their broken
The debtor who desires to compromise
with his creditors has the means of compell
ing the veriest Shylock to accept fair terms,
or exclude him in all share of his estate by
assignnient, giving liberal creditors the pre
ference, or by voluntary confession of judg
Believing that no Stay Law can be passed,
embracing antecedent debts, that will not
conflict with that clause of the Constitution
of the United States declaring that "no
State shall pass any law impairing the obli
gations of contracts," I respectfully recom
mend for your consideration for the relief
of debtors:
1st. That imprisonment for debt, on
mense or final process, be abolished, ex
cept in case of fraud ; and then, as a punish
ishment for the crime rather than as a
means of enforcing payment of the debt.
2d. That no costs be taxed against a de
fendant, either for the officers of the Court
or for the Attorney.
3d. That the Insolvent Debtor's Laws be
so extended as that any debtor may, by pe
tition, after due notice, summon in all his
creditors, and, upon assigning his estate
and effects for their benefit, be discharged
from all further liability, not only to sneing,
but to all other creditors. Being thus re
leived iron the incubus resting on him, the
honest and enterprising debtor will go to
work with alacrity and prove himself a use
ful member to society.
The Congress of the United States has
authority, under the Constitution, to pass
uniform laws of bankruptcy ; but there is no
prohibition upon the States, and as Congress
has not exercised the authority delegated
to them, the States may, with great propriety,
paso such laws-and they will continue of
force, until Congress adopts a general bank
rupt act-which would supercede all State
legislation on the subject.
The General Bankrupt Act of 1841, passed
by the Congress of the United States, extend
ed its provisions to antecedent debts, and its
constitutionality was not controverted by
the Courts. No Constitutional obstacle,
therefore, would preclude the General As
sembly from incorporating the same feature
in their legislation.
It is proper here to remark, that if a Stay
Law could be passed which could be free
from all coustitutional objections, it would
not protect debtors from suit in the Federal
Courts. A creditor residing in the State
who had determined to enforce the pay
ment of his debt, could readily transfer it to
a non-resident, and if the sum exceeded five
hundred dollars, such non-resident could at
once institute suit in the United States Court,
recover judgment, issue execution and sell
the debtor's property, notwithstanding the
existence of a Stay Law. Such a law would
not be recognized or enforced in a Federal
The complete disorganization of the labor
of the State in 1865, resulted in the produc
tion of very short provision crops; and to
supply the deficiency, large quantities of
breadstuffs have already been imported into
the State, at enormous cost. The imperfect
organization of the system of free labor, and
the unprecedented drought which has pre
vailed during the months of July and Au
gust, throughout the State, as well as an un
usually short wheat crop, foreshadow a
gloomy future for the people for the next
year. Coming as you do from every District,
you have the means of making an estimate,
approximating accuracy, of the extent of
the failure of the provision crop, and what
amount of supplies will be needed to save
the poor, dependent and helpless from star
vation. I invite your earnest and prompt
consideration of the subject.
Sound political econy ordinarily con
demns the feeding of its population by the
Government, as the inevitable consequences
are to increase idleness, pauperism and crime.
But where the provision crop of a whole
country is destroyed by blight, or where
production is suspended by long continued
drought, and the deficiency is traceable to
these causes rather than to the idleness of
the population, humanity and sound policy
alike justify the Government in lending or
giving its nme'ns to save the people from
starvation-to arrest that increase of crime,
which want always produces, and to stay
emigration to more favored localities. The
present population is insufBicient to till the
soil of the State, and to develop its resourcss;
and it is a high duty of the Government to
remove, as far as possible, the necessity for
emigration beyond its borders. The em
barrassment ofsuppllying food for the needy
will be greatly increased after the first of
October, when the Freedmen's Bureau will
cease to issue rations for the indigent and
helpless whites and freedmen, who have
been heretofore furnished with subsistence.
You may find it necessary to increase the
powers, duties and responsibilities of the
Commissioners of the Poor, and to organize
such bodies in all Districts, of the State.
In most of the Distr:cts, land and buildings
have heretofore been acquired and erected
for the whites, but they must be enlarged,
so as to provide accommodations for pauper,
idiotic and helpless freedmen.
The failure of the Boards of Commissioners
of the Poor to provide for the helpless, is a
great crime against humanity, and addition
al penalties should be imposed by law against
such a neglect or refasal to perform prop
erly this philanthropic duty.
The capitation tax imposed by you, at the
last session of the Legislature, on freedmen,
has not generally been collected. The
Comptroller-General, following a suggestion
made by me at,d approved by the Attorney
Ceneral, instructed the Tax-Collectors not to
issue executions against the freedmen, for
th apittinn tan unil the nreent esio)n of
the Legislature. This was to avoid all con
flict with the military authorities, arising
out of the fact that our courts were not used
for the protection of the freedmen, and no
provision was made for the support of the
infirm and helpless. Whenever your legis
lation remits tbe custody of persons of color
to the State laws, these executions may be
issued Proper diligence by the Sheriff's
will enforce the satisfaction of most of these
executions, and the fund may then be ap
propriated exclusively to the support of the
class from which it is derived.
If you should, in your wisdom, determine
to make an appropriation to buy subsistence
for the indigent white and colored, the sev
eral Boards of Commissioners of the Poor,
would be, perhaps, the best agent for its
To meet any appropriation made, there
is no resource available, and the funds can
only be raised by issuing and selling State
bonds. The credit of the State has hereto
fore been untarnished, and a reasonable hop
is ente. rtained that bonds issued for such a
purpose will command nearly par, in the
money markets of the United States of
As the present is a called session, and you
may desire to return to your homes at the
earliest day compatible with your public
duties, I shall defer, until the regularsession,
bringing to your attention the general fi
nancial condition of the State, or making
any recommendations for putting it on a
safe and satisfactory basis. Under the au
thority of your Act authorizing the issue of
bills receivable, in payment of the indebted
ness of the State, the Treasurer had'engraved
and printed bills to the amount of $390,000,
and has paid out, to the public officers and
other creditors of the State, only $150,000.
Most of the Tax-Collectors have made their
returns, and the legal tender United States
notes paid into the Treasury, together with
the bills receivable not yet issued, will enable'
its operations to be conducted without em
barrassment until your regular session. Of
the bills issued, there have already been re
deemed, in payment of taxes, $72,000.
No appropriation was made to defray the
} expenses of engraving and printing the bills,
but the Treasurer, acting upon my recom
mendation, advanced the expenses incurred
from proceeds of the loan heretofore au
thorized to be made. The amount paid by
him was 84,436.12. I recommend that an
appropriation be made to cover this amount. -
If the Treasurer had declined to make the'
payment in advance of the appropriation,'
the Act could not have been carried into'
execution, without convening an extra
session of the Ceneral Assembly.
At the last session os the General Assem
sembly, "full power and authority" was giv
en the Governer to make "such regulations
as in his opinion might be necessary to pre
vent the entrance and spread of Asiatic
cholera in this State. In February last, I
opened a correspondence with Major-Gene
ral Sickles, with reference to the establish
mient of a rigid quarantine at all the sea
ports in the State, which resulted in the
military authorities undertaking to estab
lish and enforce proper quarantine regula
tions. I am happy to say to you that the
duties, under orders fron General Sickles,
have been well performed, and not a single
case of cholera or yellow fever has occurred
within the limits of the Staite.
The work of re-organizition and recon
struction is progresssing slo#ly, but stLadily.
Our Senators and Representatives have not
been admitted to seats in the Federal Con
gress, and we have received no relaxation
from onerous taxation, notwithstanding we
have been denied representation. It is
believed, however, that our fellow-citizens
in the North and West will not much longer
permit this flagrant injustice to be continued.
The State Government is entirely re-organ
ized-the law Gourts held their regulal
sessions in the spring, and despatched much
business, which has been accumulating for
years, and very generally cleared the'
criminal dockets. The Courts of Chancery
have also been regularly held on all the'
circuits. The machinery of justice is in full'
operation, and private rights and public
wrongs can be enforced and punished.
However much all may deplore that the:
progress of the State has been retarded,.
and its prosperity paralyzed by loss of for-.
tune and credit, and by short crops, the wise
and manly course for our people is to re
double their energy-banish unavailing
regrets-meet adversity with a stout heart
an d brave hands, and through the approving
smiles of gracious Heav'en, our venerable
mother will again be prosperous, and her
children contented and happy.
A correspondent of the Nation gives
an estimate of the value of the famous
Bremen rosewine, which in the year 1624
cost $165 per cask, and is now two hun
dred and forty-two years old. Calculating
the original outlay at ten per cent. com
pound interest, he states that in 1845 the
value of each cask was $231,883,905,000,
or nearly ninety times the present debt
of the United States; whilst each bottle
was worth $161,030,499, very nearly
the sum realized from duties on imports
in the United States last year. Each
glass was worth $20,000,000, and. each:
drop $20,000. We should think thatt
this wine has been kept almost too longs,
and the owners had better "realize" soong,
unless they want to lose on it.
A revival is in progress at Palmetto, Cam~p
bell county, which has thus far resulted
forty additions to the Methodiet chngch*
that village. We hope thev will aX1ay~
vert nnd not hbalide~

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