Violence and the rights of African Americans in Civil War-era Indiana

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History and Philosophy


Recounts and comments on the race relations ramifications of an 1859 beating of a black man by whites in Franklin County, Indiana. James Hays, the victim, sued his employer, George W. Kimble, a local Republican, for unstated civil redress, accusing Kimble of having arranged the beating. Unable to secure witnesses to the assault, Hays eventually withdrew his complaint. In an initial response, however, Kimble's attorneys cited the 'Dred Scott' case, claiming Hays, as a black, had no standing in state or federal court. A grand jury issued no criminal indictment. Simultaneously, Hays successfully sued his wife, Elizabeth, for divorce, charging her with adultery with a white man. The author discusses the relationship between Kimble and Elizabeth, defense of Hays by the local Democratic newspaper, and ill will toward Hays by his white neighbors.

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