October 29, 1869 – In Georgia, White Mob Beats Black Legislator for Advocating for Equal Rights

Abram Colby, born into slavery in Georgia in 1817, was emancipated fifteen years before the end of American slavery and became a Radical Republican. He was elected to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1866, and harassed on and off thereafter by the Ku Klux Klan.

On October 29, 1869, Klansman took Colby from his home (threatening his family in the process) and brutally attacked Colby, then 52, whipping him for some three hours and leaving him for dead.

He was so injured he was unable to work and did not seek re-election. As he later testified in 1872 before a joint U.S. House and Senate committee investigating Southern violence, “Sometimes I cannot get up and down off my bed, and my left hand is not of much use to me.”

The following is an excerpt from his testimony:

Question: What is the character of those men who were engaged in whipping you?

Colby: Some are first-class men in our town. One is a lawyer, one a doctor, and some are farmers. They had their pistols and they took me in my night-clothes and carried me from home. They hit me five thousand blows. I told President Grant the same that I tell you now. They told me to take off my shirt. I said, ‘I never do that for any man.’ My drawers fell down about my feet and they took hold of them and tripped me up. Then they pulled my shirt up over my head. They said I had voted for Grant and had carried the Negroes against them. About two days before they whipped me they offered me $5,000 to go with them and said they would pay me $2,500 in cash if I would let another man go to the legislature in my place. I told them that I would not do it if they would give me all the county was worth.

The worst thing was my mother, wife and daughter were in the room when they came. My little daughter begged them not to carry me away. They drew up a gun and actually frightened her to death. She never got over it until she died. That was the part that grieves me the most.”

You can read more excerpts from his testimony here.


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