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Assassination of Hon 

James Hinds, 




On Friday, January 33, 1869. 





HOH. LOGAM Ho hoot: 

Mr. Speaker — 

The sad subject occupying the attention of this 
honorable body is one that bears upon my mind with 
peculiar force I was personally acquainted with 
James Hinds during a busy portion of his eventful life, 
and it was in the district that I have the honor to 
represent in Which he met his terrible death by 
political assassination. 

His life, though short, was long enough for many 
hundreds to have become so endeared as to have wished 
it longer. His life, though short, was long enough to 
afford a wonderfully instructive lesson of encourage- 
ment to all those in this crowded world struggling 
against the barriers of poverty, Its history is an ac- 
count of the child of poverty, developed into the hon- 
ored man by its own exertions. Its history recounts 
what mighty results may be accomplished on no 
other capital that a clear intellect under the impetus 
of an indomitable will. Generally, when one falls so 
young the exclamation is, " Oh ! what might have 
been." In this instance imagination might feast itself 
on such a theme ad libitum ; but that is not necessary, 
it is grand enough to say, " See what was ! " 

Only twenty years ago James Hinds was a fatherless, 
penniless lad. But so determined was he to acquire 


knowledge that he attended school when he only did 
so by hiring a room, doing his own housekeeping, and 
working enough beside outside of scliool hours to earn 
the means of paying for his school expenses and daily 
living. Such earnest perseverance created success even 
under the most lowering clouds of adversity. 

Traveling by such rugged steps he did not come 
upon the stage of manhood a mere hot-house production 
of opulence, but an earnest, laborious youth, gradually 
developed into a self-made, self-reliant man. Experi- 
ence taught him to never wait for the coming of suc- 
cess or friends, but first make success, and then friends 
would come. His nature and training alike rendered 
it equally impossible for him to play sycophant to the 
rich or oppressor to the poor. His warm sympathy 
with the oppressed and downtrodden touched a respon- 
sive chord in men's hearts that returned him in a 
remarkable degree the affection of the masses. The 

humblest and most friendless loved him without fear 
of being repulsed, and learned to regard him as their 
especial champion. 

When the great struggle came between human op- 
pression and the nation's life, he was at once found 
positively on the side of his country, and he went forth 
to do battle upon the side of loyalty, of freedom, and 
justice to humanity. 

It is now, though, nearly four years since the happy 
moment arrived when he considered the struggle ended 
We all proudly felt that henceforth free speech and 
free men were to be as universal south of Mason and 


Dixon's line as they long had been north. It was at 
that happy period that Mr. Hinds was allured by the 
genial clime and inviting features of the Southwest to 
make his home in Arkansas, and engaged in the 
practice of his profession with an assiduity that re- 
ceived merited success. 

Alas ! it was not long until the fact was developed 
that the fierce fires built on human oppression to de- 
stroy and keep destroyed the relations of the State to 
the nation were not extinguished, but only smoldering ; 
compressed and changed, but not abated. When this 
fact was developed, and the question arose as to 
whether or not Arkansas should make an effort to regain 
her lost sisterhood in the great family of States, notwith- 
standintj the odium and dangers with which those who 
had severed the State from her proper relations cast 
about such a course, James Hinds became an earnest 
advocate of her return to the loyal household. Elected 
to the Constitutional donvention by one of the largest 
majorities in the State, he soon became recognized as 
one of the prominent leaders, and to him the humble, 
toiling citizen of that State owes a debt of gratitude 
he can never repay ; for in the construction of the 
fundamental law of the State he was most active in the 
introduction and riveting of those points which are 
barriers of protection for the many weak against the 
few strong, and for the securing to the humblest all 
the rights of citizenship granted to the proudest. 

After the adjournment of the convention and the 
submittal of its work to the people, he was elected by 


a remarkably large vote to a seat in this body, and 
even in the brief period of his presence here he exhib- 
ited a lively interest in th» welfare of the State and 
indefatigable efforts to promote her good without fail- 
ing to strive for the greatest weal of the whole nation. 
Immediately upon the closing of the summer session 
he went to his home and entered vigorously into the 
canvass for freedom, peace, and prosperity against 
caste, oppression, revolution, and murder. I know, 
sirs, many of you may think that the party which Mr. 
Hinds opposed was equally anxious for peace with the 
party whose principles he espoused. That might have 
been the case in other places, but in Arkansas, at least, 
their acts showed that the Republican party advocated 
peace with a desire that the beloved white-winged 
spirit of peace might settle and abide in the land. But 
when the Democracy did for a moment advocate peace, 
their desire seemed to be for pieces of Radical skulls. 
To advocate real peace was not entering upon a holi- 
day pleasure excursion, but was to brave death and 
tread on the very verge of eternity. All this James 
Hinds knew, yet faltered not. A few days before his 
death he wrote to a friend : 

"We must win the election, stand a fight, or leave the State, and it is 
sad to think that many of our number, perhaps myself included, must be 
murdered before seeing the ides of November, to know whether we win, 
fight, or leave." 

On the day of his murder he w^s in a county which 
he considered less dangerous than some through which 
he had traversed, and he so expressed himself, but 
added : 


" With men all over the couBtry bound hy terrible oaths to take Radi- 
cal lives, we do not know where there is any safety. Oh t it is terrible. 
But it may be that it is all for the best, for they s^y the ' blood of the mar- 
tyr is the seed of the church,' and it may be that the loyal blood now 
drenching this land will arouse those criminally timid men who bad the 
power and withheld the grant of arms to our State authorities, and arouse 
the patriotic masses to realize it is the nation's duty to protect the nation's 

Oh ! little did he think at that moment- that ere the 
sunlight of that beautiful October day should give way 
to the cold dew of night his own soul would be driven 
from his body by the cold damp of death. He was 
traveling with Hon. Joseph Brooks, another tried and 
valiant soldier in the great cause of freedom and equal 
rights. They. were to speak that day about six miles 
from the village of Indian Bay. They had been re- 
fused passage on a steamboat because they were Radi- 
cals, and so were belated. Some hundreds of eager, 
expectant Kepublicans were awaiting their arrival. 
To this meeting the officers of the Democratic club 
had gone as advocates of the adoption of "joint peace 
resolutions." The Republicans said that several Radi- 
cals had then recently been killed in the county and 
no Democrats ; and therefore they thought if the De- 
mocracy had suddenly acquired a desire for peace no 
resolutions were necessary ; but although some of them 
thought it merely a cloak for Democratic villany, they 
were willing to bind themselves in resolutions to do 
what they intended doing anyhow, and they therefore 
unanimously adopted the resolutions. One of the 
principle signers and most apparently earnest advocates 
was George W. Clark, secretary of the Democratic 
club. But as soon as he had signed them he returned 


to his home, arriving there before Messrs Brooks and 
Hinds had reached that far, and himself gave the fated 
ones direction as to the road. When they had ridden 
on he got his gun, saddled his horse, and rode after 
them. The intended victims were riding along with 
their greatest solicitude at the moment, being anxious 
though to reach the waiting crowd. The horses 
being differently gaited, Mr. Brooks was at the mo- 
ment some fifty yards ahead. The man with grayish 
suit on rode up near, but a very little in the rear of 
Mr. Hinds, smiling as Judas may have smiled when 
he kissed his Lord and Master, he engaged in pleasant 
conversation. For a second the three thus rode on, 
the victims wholly unsuspecting, and the smiling mur- 
derer, with cold-blooded calculation, waiting for a bet- 
ter opportunity to make sure of both. An illustration 
of the meaning of Democratic peace resolutions is 
about to be made. The same hand which a few hours 
before signed peace resolutions now grasps the assas- 
sin's weapon, within a very few fee't of Mr. Hinds' 
back, the gun is suddenly raised. Click, click, hear 
the triggers ! Oh ! the terrible instant ! bang, bang, 
goes the gun. Mr. Brooks's horse, stung with buck- 
shot, bounds ahead with a wounded rider, while the 
second horse madly leaps forward riderless, and James 
Hinds lies on the ground motionless, dying. Another 
order of the Ku-Kiux-Klan has been executed ; smil- 
ing with a fiend's smile upon his features stands the 
Democratic assassin ; the soul of another martyr is sent 
unshriven before the arbitrator of eternity ; dying, shot 


in the back, lies the Radical Congressman, Would to 
God the curtain of oblivion might drop over the scene 
forever ! 

James Hinds' spirit has passed from earth, but his 
life, deeds, and death will not soon pass from memory, 
so well he lived, so hard he toiled, so young was he 
gathered into the unseen fold, that when we think of 
him we cannot avoid to lament that: 

" The hand of the reaper 

Takes the ears that are hoary, 
But the voice of the weeper 
Wails manhood in glory." 

He had so many noble qualities and won so many 
strong friends -we can very easily drop the veil of char- 
ity over his faults, whatever they may have been. Had 
he been faultless he could not have been human. It 
is said a death-bed is a detector of human hearts. If 
so, it is pleasing to know that in his expiring moments, 
lying with no more friendly touch than the breast of 
mother earth, his few words were not concerning his 
own death tortures, but were expressions of solicitude 
for his wife and two sweet daughters whom he loved 
so dearly. Could you, sirs, have seen the hundreds of 
compressed lips and wet eyes which spoke in an elo- 
quence and intensity of grief words could not be framed 
to utter when his remains passed through the City of 
Little Rock. You would have exclaimed, " Behold, 
how they loved him," and certainly he who has thus 
won the love of man must have a strong claim on the 
mercy of God. 

But ceremonies in honor of the dead can only be 
beneficial in so far as they affect the actions of the liv- 

ing. Could the spirit of James Hinds speak to us to- 
day it would not be with an effort to induce fulsome 
eulogies upon those who are beyond mortal aid, but 
from the portals of the dead he would say protect the 

The nation has the power to obey such a request, 
and when the people arose in their might and majesty 
on the 3d day of November, it was to declare in un- 
mistakable terms their heartfelt approbation of the 
promise of him whom they felt had the power to exe- 
cute the promise that freedom and protection should be 
guarantied as well on the warm gulf coast as on the 
cold lake shores. That was the key-note of the entire 
canvass. The mighty leader of the loyal hosts was a 
popular man, remarkably, deservedly popular for his 
glorious services to his country. But he was most 
popular from the full confidence that the people had 
in him that he had the will and the power to speak 
into peace and tranquility the angry waves of prejudice 
and passion that were raging in the South, crimsoned 
with human gore. It was the embodiment of that will 
and power for which the nation in such overwhelming 
numbers spoke its preference, and the present is an 
auspicious moment to inaugurate obedience to the peo 
pie's behests. Many good men who have always 
wanted peace, but could not tear themselves loose from 
political thraldom in the heat of political excitement, 
now express their earnest, anxious longing for protec- 
tion of life and the restoration of peace to the country. 

The very leaders of the political assassinations them- 


selves seem now to be partially revolting from the 
horrible atrocities of the execution of their own schemes 
and orders, which feeling, added to the wholesome be- 
lief they have that the authorities will be sustained, 
lives will be protected, and peace will be maintained, 
is making even them for the time converts to the great 
loyal heart's desire for restoration of peace and protec- 

It is not indemnification for the past that is asked, it 
is only security for the future. The murdered cannot 
be brought to life, but the murderers can be made to 
spare the living. Honeyed words alone cannot accom- 
plish this, but m.en must be made to feel that protection 
will prove more profitable than assassination ; kind 
words may do the work if it is positively known that 
the nation supports the State authorities, so that there 
is a reserve of sterner power which can be brought to 
the support of kindness on any instant of emergency. 
Let party lines be obliterated in this desire for the 
maintainance of peace and protection. Let partisans 
now be absorbed in patriots, so that all men, Repub- 
licans and Democrats alike, will feel an inspiration of 
such God-given patriotism as found utterance from the 
steps of this building when nearly four years ago he 
who spake as one with less in him of earth than 
heaven, said : " With malice toward none, with charity 
for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to 
see the right, let us strive to do all which may achieve 
and cherish a just and lasting peace." His words fell 
with magic eff'ect, because, while he extended the olive- 
branch with the left, in his right hand he wielded the 


great American Army, the most potential power on the 
face of the earth. The olive-branch should still be ex- 
tended, but it will only be to loose the hand that oifers 
it unless it is demonstrated that the strong arm of 
power will be used whenever necessary to overwhelm 
the crushing tyranny of lawlessness and oppression. 

Ages gone the great Omnipotent who snatched time 
from eternity and spoke system from chaos, said " Let 
there be light,' and the sacred chronicler informs us 
"■ there was light." To-day the mighty people who 
have saved the nation's life in the sanguinary struggle 
and declared freedom in the kingdom of slavery, have 
said " let us have peace." Shall not the historian 
who records the doings of this year be allowed to say 
" there was peace 1 " 

Oh, shall it not be so ! The spirit of James Hinds 
unites with hundreds (you know not how many) of 
other spirits of treacherously murdered men in be-- 
seechingly asking the question. Their suffering 
widows and orphans, without even the little comforting 
crumb of a Government pension, are weepingly asking 
the question. The hundreds of thousands of maimed 
and crippled loyal men who fought and suffered beside 
comrads who, fighting, fell to establish peace and pro- 
tection, are earnestly asking the question. Thirty-eight 
million inhabitants in these United States whose pros- 
perity can only be commensurate with the maintenance 
of peace and protection, all join in prayerfully asking 
the question. The countless lovers of freedom 
throughout the whole world with one accord are look- 
ing to this nation and anxiously asking the question. 
And, sirs, remember the Representatives of the people 
and the Government must be responsible for the an-