Keeping in mind that John Murrell gave this kind of speech to people he later murdered, if Stewart was telling the truth, or didn’t give this speech at all if Stewart was a big fat liar, liar pants-on-fire, it still fucking blows my mind. Here’s what Murrell was going to say to slaves as he attempted to incite them into a nation-wide rebellion:
We find the most vicious and wicked disposed ones, on large farms and poison their minds by telling them how they are mistreated, and that they are entitled to their freedom as much as their masters, and that all the wealth of the country is the proceeds of the black people’s labor; we remind them of the pomp and splendor of their masters, and then refer them to their own degraded situation, and tell them that it is power and tyranny which rivets their chains of bondage, and not because they are an inferior race of people. We tell them that all Europe has abandoned slaver, and that the West Indies are all free; and that they got their freedom by rebelling a few times and slaughtering the whites, and convince them, that if they will follow the example of the West India negroes, that they will obtain their liberty and become as much respected as if they were white, and that they can marry white women when they are all put on a level. In addition to this, get them to believe, that the most of people are in favor of their being free, and that the free States, in the United States, would not interfere with the negroes, if they were to butcher every white man in the slave-holding States.
I remain stunned to see someone so clearly articulate that the wealth of this country comes from black people’s labor in 1835. Even if they meant it to be evil and ridiculous.
Interesting that it’s from 1835. That’s the year of hyper-paranoia in the South about abolitionist activity, prompted by the Great Postal Campaign of 1835. Abolitionists sent over 175k copies of 4 different anti-slavery pamphlets directly by mail to slaveholders all over the South. Most of them got intercepted in Charleston’s post office or other southern central mail offices, but it prompted outrage all over the South, torchlight parades, vigilance committees, the whipping of any white person seen carrying or distributing same….so that’s kind of interesting that Murrell is using the opportunity to create his own kind of mayhem.
Bridgett, I’m not quite ready to call it yet, but I don’t think John Murrell, not this John Murrell, ever existed. A lot of historians straight up assume he didn’t–that Virgil Stewart made up almost everything about him and possibly framed him in the first place–and it’s hard to spend longer than thirty seconds reading the pamphlets that Stewart obviously wrote and not start to wonder. One historian I read flat out proceeds as if Virgil Stewart wrote a dime novel that a few idiots took seriously.
But, no, I think Stewart framed Murrell. Not that Murrell wasn’t a bad guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was. But I feel fairly certain that the guy who said the above thing was a character Stewart created.
Which means, when they started hanging Mystic Clan members in Mississippi and then taking Stewart out to great thank-you dinners for exposing the Clan, Stewart knew they were killing men he’d framed.He ate fine anyway.
Stewart’s rapidly becoming my second-least favorite person in this book.