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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: October 16, 1860

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: Column 7 is mostly illegible.

The Late Slave Murder Case
(Column 6)
Summary: Story about a man from Mecklenburg County convicted of murdering one of his female slaves, who died after he tied her to a tree and whipped her for three hours.
Full Text of Article:

At the term of the Circuit Court of Mecklenburg county, Va., Charles Hudson was tried for the murder of his slave woman Jane, convicted of murder in the second degree, and sentenced to the Penitentiary for eighteen years.

The Tobacco Plant says very truly that it is one of those cases which thoroughly vindicate the Southern character against the aspersions cast upon us by our enemies at the North. It develops what is as true of us as of any other people on the civilized globe, that we utterly detest and abhor cruelty and barbarity, whether to whites or blacks.

The evidence in the case was that on the morning of the 4th of July last, at 8 o'clock, one of the hottest days of the past Summer, Hudson stripped the woman, naked as she came into the world, tied her to a persimmon tree, and whipped her for three consecutive hours, with occasional intermissions of a few minutes, until he had worn out to stump fifty-two switches, and until the bark of the body of the tree was rubbed smooth and greasy by the attrition of the body of the victim. The ground around the tree for seven or eight feet, though it had been freshly plowed, was trodden hard. One witness testified that he heard distinctly, at the distance of six hundred yards, both the noise of the switches and the screams and entreaties of the woman. The poor creature was buried the same afternoon only some ten inches beneath the ground, in a rough box, without any shroud. The overseer suggested that the neighbors had better be sent for to see the body before burial, but Hudson dissented.

The body was exhumed on Friday, two days afterwards, but was in such a state of decomposition that the external marks of violence were well nigh obliterated. But the testimony of the physician, who dissected the body, and of several other physicians, who were examined as experts, was distinct and positive that the violence used was sufficient to produce death. It was also in evidence that, after the protracted punishment, Hudson untied the woman and sent her to the creek, some one hundred and fifty yards distant, to wash herself, accompanied by a negro boy, with instructions to bring her back to him; that she complained of great thirst, and was seen to go down to the water's edge; that she remained there about fifteen minutes; that on her return she stopped two or three times, and complained of having a severe colic; that finally she stopped and could proceed no further, when the negro boy, at the command of his master, took hold of one hand and Hudson of the other, and dragged her towards the tree.

The main argument of the defense was based upon the idea that the woman went into the creek, remained there fifteen minutes, drank to great excess, and that this, in all probability, brought on a congestion of the vitals and produced death.

Such is an imperfect account of this horrible transaction. The jury hesitated much between a conviction for murder in the first and murder in the second degree. But finally they agreed and ascertained the term of imprisonment in the Penitentiary at eighteen years--the longest term known to the law. Hudson is now sixty-eight years old, and there is scarcely a probability that he can survive his confinement. Indeed he is already exceedingly prostrated.

On Monday morning, the last day of the Court, Judge Gholson pronounced sentence upon him, as follows:

"Charles Hudson--You have been regularly tried for the murder of your own slave. You have been defended with great ability, and a jury of your own country have found you guilty of murder in the second degree, and fixed the term of your confinement in the Penitentiary at eighteen years. In this verdict this Court entirely concurs. I will not go into the details of the shocking deed. You tied and stripped a female, who dared not raise her hand against you--whose only protector in this world you should have been. For three hours did you, in one of the hottest days of the summer, cruelly whip and torture this helpless woman, until, in the language of counsel, 'the angel of death delivered her from the hands of her tormentor.' You have thus committed a great crime against both human and divine law. You have outraged the feelings of the community among whom you lived. You have enabled their enemies to fan the flame of fanaticism, by charging against them the enormity and cruelty of your hard and unfeeling heart, although that community cordially loathe and condemn cruelty and oppression towards black or white.

"But, if your crime has been great, your punishment will be heavy. You are an old man. In all human probability, before eighteen years have expired, you will be dead. The remnant of your days are to be spent within prison walls. The labors of the day will never be followed by the pleasures of home and friends--but night after night, until the last night of your earthly existence, will you be carried to your narrow cell, and hear, as the prison house keeper departs, the harsh grating of the heavy key that keeps safe the door of your dungeon. From man you have nothing to expect. Your doom is fixed. A murderer, you are now a convict and prisoner for life, and your sentence is just, nay merciful. Nor is there hope for you beyond the grave, unless you truly and deeply repent.

"If you will sincerely repent yourself of this horrible deed and your other sins--if you will bow your head to this deserved punishment, and pray Almighty God to pardon your sins, and soften and regenerate your heart, there is hope. Yes--if your repentance is sincere, it is certain that God will pardon you--for rest assured that the same power which translated the criminal from the Cross to Heaven, can and will save alive the penitent convict. Desolate and dreary beyond description is your present condition.--With a hard and unfeeling heart, human blood resting upon your head, and your limbs fettered with a felon's chains, whenever weary and tired you may ask: 'When shall I be free? this verdict of eighteen years will answer--'Never'--'never.'

"Then I will, with deep humility and sincere repentance, feel and confess your crime and sins, and that this sentence may prove the means of saving your soul."

Plea for Old Maids
(Column 6)
Summary: Defends women who have not married, commonly called "old maids." The article argues that such women have the character traits of the perfect wife.

-Page 02-

Description of Page: Bottom left is illegible. Page has assorted short political articles on various topics. Excerpted speech of Yancey, column 3. Article excerpted from the Staunton Vindicator about William Yancey, column 4.

Grand Union Rally!
(Column 1)
Summary: Announcement for the Union rally scheduled on October 19, with list of expected speakers.
(Names in announcement: Mr. Stuart, Mr. Baldwin)
Mowry's Mill
(Column 1)
Summary: A Bell/Everett Club has been organized in Mowry's Mill.
(Names in announcement: H.W. Sheffey, Capt. Doyle)
Staunton Club
(Column 1)
Summary: Announcement of a meeting of the Staunton Bell/Everett Club.
(Names in announcement: Chapman Johnson, Bolivar Christian)
Mt. Solon Club
(Column 1)
Summary: Report of a Bell/Everett Club meeting in Mt. Solon.
(Names in announcement: Bolivar Christian, R. Mauzy)
Club at Spring Hill
(Column 1)
Summary: A Bell/Everett Club has been organized in Spring Hill.
(Names in announcement: Bolivar Christian, R. Mauzy)
Hon. Wm. L. Yancey
(Column 1)
Summary: Article mocking William Yancey's refusal to split his speaking time with anyone who might debate him.
(Names in announcement: Col. Baldwin)
Discussion at Louisa C. House
(Column 1)
Summary: Report of a debate at the Louisa Court House involving A.H.H. Stuart.
(Names in announcement: A.H.H. Stuart)
The Union Rally
(Column 2)
Summary: Planned schedule for the upcoming rally.
(Names in announcement: Alex. Stuart, Robert Guy, George CochranSr., Nathaniel Massie, John McCue, Elijah Hogshead, J. Givens Fulton, J.D. Imboden, Maj. James Walker, John Crawford, John Hamilton, J.G. Guthrie, J.M. Lewis, George Bruce, Col. William Wilson, B.F. Hailman, F. St. C. Roberts, Ephraim Geeding, Bailey Shumate, Jacob Beck, D. Newton Van Lear, Jacob Crist, David Crousehorn, Col. Rudolph Turk, Col. William Tate, J. Marshall Hanger, William Guy, George Imboden, R. Mauzy, William Gilkeson, G.A. Armentrout, James McClung, James Baskins, A.S. Gilkeson, John Evans, James Waters, John Clarke, William Shumate, James Frazier, S.H. Lushbaugh, H.R. Matthews, James Suthard, John Parent, George Hudson, E.M. Cushing, George Price, Alexander Kinney, John Woods, Philip Trout, Dr. William Young, C.T. Cochran, Chapman Johnson, John Bledsoe, H.W. Sheffey, H.M. Bell, N.K. Trout, E.M. Taylor, J.N. Hendren, N.P. Catlett, C. R. Mason, Joseph Waddell, R.L. Doyle, Powell Harrison, H.K. Cochran, Archibald Kinney, Maj. R.D. Lilley, A.S. Fultz, James Bumgardner, Dr. James Gilkeson, James Cochran, J. Emmett Guy, William Points, Bolivar Christian)
Attention Greenville!
(Column 2)
Summary: Criticizes Greenville for being the only precinct in Augusta County without a Bell/Everett Club. Spectator argues that it is too late to form a club, but it is not too late for Greenville to demonstrate its patriotism with a strong showing at the Union rally.
Huzza! for Staunton.
(Column 3)
Summary: List of prizes won by Staunton residents at the Rockbridge Agricultural and Mechanical Fair, in Lexington.
(Names in announcement: William Shumate, J.M. Hardy, Joseph Tannehill, G. Raymond)
Useful Instrument
(Column 3)
Summary: Article singing the praises of an agricultural invention of James Lilley.
(Names in announcement: Col. James Lilley)
Agricultural Fair
(Column 3)
Summary: Announcement about the county fair.
(Names in announcement: Bolivar Christian)
For the Spectator
(Column 4)
Summary: Reported proceedings of Bell/Everett Club meeting at Hamilton's School House.
(Names in announcement: John Hamilton, Thomas Calbreath, W.C. McCue, George Imboden, J.M. Hanger, James Cochran, J.W. Hamilton, James Bumgardner, John Guthrie)
Trailer: John G. Guthrie, Chairman. John C. Hamilton, Secretary
[No Title]
(Column 4)
Summary: Short notice critical of the Wide Awake Republican clubs of Massachusetts, who recently advocated their support for black equality.
For the Spectator
(Column 5)
Summary: Bell/Everett Club meeting in Middlebrook.
(Names in announcement: B.F. Hailman, M.W.D. Hogshead, E. Hogshead, A.S. Craig, Col. W.S. Sproul, Dr. James Dunlap, George Fix, Bolivar Christian, James Grove, John McCurdy, Addison McCutchen, W.W. Cale, Joseph Fix, James Snyder, Washington Hess, A.A. Sproul, William BeardJr., W. Henry Dull, R.B. Dunlap, Samuel Harris, H.J. Williams, George Miller, James Beard)
Trailer: B.F. Hailman, President. M.W.D. Hogshead, Secretary pro tem.
For the Spectator
(Column 5)
Summary: Correspondent reports on the proceedings of the Annual Fair of the Rockbridge Agricultural and Mechanical Society.
(Names in announcement: William Shumate, John Hardy)
Trailer: Visitor
For the Spectator
(Column 5)
Summary: Announced meeting of the Mt. Sidney Bell/Everett Club.
(Names in announcement: J. Cyrus McCue)
Trailer: Mt. Sidney

-Page 03-

Description of Page: Political pieces, column 1. Page is mostly ads, land sales, etc.

The Negro Excitement--Quiet Restored
(Column 1)
Summary: Despite considerable fear and precaution, there was no slave uprising in Norfolk on the day anticipated.
(Column 2)
Summary: Married on October 9.
(Names in announcement: Rev. W.C. McCarty, Capt. Henry Peck, Christiana Hunter)
(Column 2)
Summary: Marriage notice of V.L. Hall, married at her mother's home on October 9.
(Names in announcement: Rev. W.G. Campbell, Miss V.L. Hall, Thomas Thompson)
(Column 2)
Summary: Com. Charles W. Skinner of the U.S. Navy died at his home, "Sailor's Rest," on October 14 in Augusta County at age 72.
(Names in announcement: Com. Charles Skinner)

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Description of Page: Advertisements. Bottom left illegible.