Framing Bill Grimes.

Here is a fuller — and more lurid — account of the Bill Grimes incident:


Wilmington Morning Star, 1 September 1868.

As set out in Lowcountry Digital History Initiative’s on-line educator resource material, on November 10, 1868, in an article entitled “Spirit of the Southern Democracy,” the Cincinnati Daily Gazette ran an unattributed excerpt from a letter :

“A gentleman writing from Edgecombe county, North Carolina, to a friend in Philadelphia, on the 28th ult., says: ‘Cases are frequently reported to me of physicians refusing to attend the sick, because their relatives were Republicans, or expressed their intention to vote for Grant and Colfax. One man came into my office and told me that his little boy died on Monday for want of medical aid. No physician in the part of the country where he lived would attend the boy, because he was a Radical; one store keeper kept him from eight o’clock in the morning until two o’clock in the afternoon, and would not sell him any thing, because he persistently said he would vote for Grant. One man asked me to send for a Northern physician, because the faculty of the country would not attend his wife, and she was at the point of death. Did I tell you about the affair in Wilson county, a few weeks ago? The authorities, all rebels, and equal to Ku-Klux, arrested a colored man named Grimes, on the charge of burning a barn, but Grimes proved himself to any reasonable and unprejudiced mind perfectly innocent. But he is the leader of the Union League, and they wanted to rake him up, as he had made a severe speech against them and in favor of the Radicals the day before. A delegation of colored men came for me twenty miles. I went.

“‘I asked for a hearing for Grimes in my presence. It was not granted. I offered to bail him. This offer was rejected. A rebel drew his revolver on me in the court house, behind my back. Some one more prudent stopped his shooting. I left, telling them I would have Grimes out, and the next morning they released him to prevent my having the gratification of doing it, so I was told. Grimes wouldn’t promise them to vote for Seymour and Blair, but the next day he raised a company and went to the Raleigh Convention.'”


The gentleman from Edgecombe County was not identified.

Who comprised the delegation of colored men?

Former New York governor Horace Seymour was the Democratic nominee for President in 1868. He lost to Ulysses S. Grant. Francis P. Blair of Missouri, Seymour’s vice-presidential candidate, gained notoriety for stump speeches in which he cast pro-Reconstruction Republicans as a “a semi-barbarous race of blacks who are worshipers of fetishes and poligamists” and wanted to “subject the white women to their unbridled lust.”

The “Raleigh Convention” was the state nominating convention.

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