This week’s column represents the climax of terror in the South, as bands of roaming run-away slaves reek havoc on water supplies as wells are poisoned, fires are set that destroy entire cities, and the general fear associated with the abolitionists’ war against the Southern people reaches ever-higher. This reminds the editor of the old H.G. Wells radio program “War Of The Worlds” where Americans were tricked into believing that an alien invasion was underway. The slave rebellion of July-August, 1860 appears to be similar in scope: trick the South into believing they were under attack.
The past few weeks, this column has traced the 1860 holocaust from the leveling of the city of Dallas, Tx. to the razing of several other Texas towns, including Quitman, Tx. as Arkansans prepare for battle. One interesting note about this week’s column is that the author of the following primary source found in an August 1860 Arkansas newspaper notes that “The above is a true copy—we have no comments to offer—we are all vigilant here.”.
The purpose of the inclusion of the primary source material is to give the reader an educated opportunity to read and interpret the goings-on in August of 1860 for themselves. The editor sees these events as a means of propaganda to begin mobilizing the fears and apprehensions in order of preparation for an “impending emergency”. The recipe for disaster is one part truth and 10 parts embellishment:
[LITTLE ROCK] ARKANSAS TRUE DEMOCRAT, August 25, 1860, p. 1, c. 8
Henderson in Ashes—the Incendiary
Work Still Going On.
We have just received news of the most startling character, and hasten to lay it before our readers, that they may be prepared for the worst.
Through the kindness of our friend, Hon. L. G. Harman, of Tarrant, Hopkins county, we are in possession of the following startling intelligence:
Quitman, Aug. 7th, 1860.
Z. G. Matthews:–Dear Sir: I write to apprise you that the work of desolating the country is yet going on. Henderson was burned to ashes on Sunday night, while the guard were at supper. It was fired in eight places. Many wells have been poisoned and the slaves are running away. Be wide awake. These things are perfectly reliable.
Tarrant, August 8th.
The above is a true copy—we have no comments to offer—we are all vigilant here.
Wm. M. Ewing.
The above speaks for itself, and tells a deplorable tale. We have not time for much comment, but comment is unnecessary. We say to the patrol and public generally, be vigilant. Let every nook and corner be guarded constantly.
On yesterday morning, a man by the name of Peers, hailing from Sulphur Springs, from which place he was driven as an abolitionist, left, or pretended to leave this place. Perhaps he is still lurking in our midst. He is a cabinet workman by trade, heavy built, about 30 or 35 years old, dark complexion, talks politics, and sometimes speaks of having been engaged in the mercantile business. We learn that he left Shreveport at one time in haste, for forgery and swindling. He is ordinarily dressed, and wore while here, shoes without socks.—Texas Ex.