14 August 2010

Sketch of the Life of the Late Joseph Bond, Part IV (Finale)

[In 1872, thirteen years after the death of Joseph Bond, the following sketch was written as a "Letter to the Editor" to the Macon Weekly Telegraph by a friend of Mr. Bond. It is a very long article filled with much fluff I will break up into parts. It is an interesting read however, for a few reasons. The death of Mr. Bond was not natural, he was killed by an overseer from a neighboring plantation. This article tells of this incident while also speaking to the character of Mr. Bond and his relationship with his slaves. Go to Part I ~ Go to Part II ~ Go to Part III.]

Macon Weekly Telegraph
24 September 1872
(Viewed online at GenealogyBank.)

Sketch of the Life of the Late Joseph Bond [finale, Part IV]

"Cross Examination - Bond did not pause for a reply from prisoner. Witness does not think Brown had time to reply to Bond's remark about his whipping his negro. Brown was near the place he fell, after being struck, when he fired. Brown made no attempt to draw his pistol at the first or second blow given him. Witness was in the field near him and could have seen him if he had. Brown drew his pistol as he was getting up after receiving the third blow. Brown was in Beall's field attending to the hands who were at work -- he was overseeing for Beall. The place was across a lot of land from any public road. Bond's "Whitehill" place was some three miles from where the difficulty took place. [Stick exhibited as before.] If a walking stick, it was used by a short man; thinks it would take a very hard lick to kill a man with it. When Brown said 'come over here, Sellers,' he did not know whether prisoner meant to come over and help, or the separate them."

"Jesse Beall sworn: "Witness and prisoner were talking. Prisoner said that 'Cheek (Bond's overseer) had told Uncle Joe lies on him, and that if he could ever get the law on his side he would make a flutter down there,' or words to that effect. At the time, witness thought he had reference to Cheek. In a conversation between Brown and a negro on Friday night in the hearing of witness, in which Brown acknowledged owing the negro one dollar and a half, Brown remarked to the negro he had better come and get it on Sunday, as he might run away. After the whipping of Bond's negro on Tuesday, Brown told witness he was certain that Bond was mad with him for doing it. On Thursday night witness took tea over at Bond's, and on his return Brown asked him if he 'heard anything of that fuss;' thought Brown referred to his whipping the negro. After the negro was whipped -- thinks it was on Friday night before the killing -- Brown remarked to witness that he had taken more from Col. Bond than he would ever take from any man. Beall allowed all of Bond's negroes to visit his place, so that they behaved themselves. Brown, the overseer, did not allow some of them to come; among the rest a blacksmith who had a daughter belonging to Beall -- a house girl. They were favorite negroes of Bond's as he got them from his wife's father's estate; have heard Brown say often that Henderson and Wash (the girl's father and brother) should not come on the place. The negro whipped by Brown on Tuesday belonged on the Fowl Town place, and had drove the baggage wagon down to the White Hill place, from which he was returning; blacksmith shop on the road; one door opened on the road and the other into the yard."

I have quoted only enough of the evidence to show the cause of the difficulty, how it occurred, and the animus of Brown. His whipping the wagoner in the manner he did, without any fault or provocation on the negro's part; his conversation with Jesse Beall afterwards, on Thursday night, before the homicide which was committed on Saturday morning; asking him if he heard anything about that "fuss," on his return from tea at Bond's; his conversation with the negro in which he told him to come for his dollar and a half as he might run away; and then his remark to Jesse Beall on Friday night (the night before the homicide), in which he stated that "he had taken more from Colonel Bond than he would ever take any more from him or any man;" all goes to show that he was expecting just what took place. And, getting the law on his side, he intended to "make a flutter down there." That was the purpose he had in view when he whipped the negro at the shop on the roadside, to offer Col. Bond such provocation, as would induce him to make the attack. He knew that Col. Bond would be as good as his word, when he said to him, "if you whip one of my negroes again without cause, I will whip you."

And then the manner in which he armed and prepared himself was another and stronger evidence of his murderous intent. The pistol with which he committed the deed was not one of the common sort. It was a rifled pistol with barrel about six inches in length, carrying a large ball -- large enough to make a hole where it entered in the breast of the deceased, according to the evidence of one of the witnesses, the size of a silver half-dollar -- and self cocking; that it to say, it would fire by simply pulling the trigger.

It was very unfortunate, not only for Colonel Bond and his family, but also for the public, that he placed himself in such a position in this affair, as the assailant, that the law could not vindicate his death. Under the evidence in the case two successive grand juries ignored bills against his murderer. Counsel for the prosecution thought then, and still think, that a true bill for murder should have been returned into court and Brown put upon trial.

Mr. Bond was not a violent or law-breaking man in any sense of the word. On the contrary, he was a man of peaceful disposition. The difficulty which resulted so fatally to him was, so far as the writer knows, the only one in which he was ever engaged; and that was undoubtedly provoked by his slayer for a purpose. A trap was laid for him, into which he unfortunately fell, without sufficient caution or reflection. Arriving at home on Friday night, and then for the first time hearing of the outrage Brown had perpetrated upon his innocent and unoffending servant, on the Tuesday previous, taken in connection with Brown's previous conduct towards other servants, so inflamed his passion that he resolved, without imparting that resolve to any one, to punish him for it.

This resolve "leaned to virtue's side." One of his slaves, dependent upon him for protection, had been most brutally assailed and beaten by a person who had previously warned not to do so. If the master did not protect his own slave, who would? It was due to himself, as well as to his slave, that he should punish the perpetrator of the wrong in some way. But how? To have sued him at law for damages, would have amounted to nothing. Force was the only argument -- as he knew -- that Brown would appreciate, and hence he determined to employ that argument, without weighing and considering the fact that he might place himself at a disadvantage in making an attack upon him. Brave himself, and, as a brave man, above taking advantage of any one, it never entered his mind that Brown would coolly and deliberately lay a snare to take his life, without incurring the law's penalty. Mr. Bond thought that brute force should be met and repelled by brute force; that such was the only argument Brown would appreciate, and hence his course, which resulted so fatally to himself.

Requiescat in pace! The marble monument nor the green sod does not rest upon a form in our beautiful cemetery that, at one time, contained a soul so noble, so generous, so brave, and so true to the responsibilities of the hour as the soul of Joseph Bond. He was a MAN, in the true acceptance of the term, and we shall never look upon his like again. In this day, when the new order of things is popular both North and South; while there is no one in the South who would restore the old order of things if they could; when the institution of slavery is buried so deep that the hand of resurrection can never reach it -- in these States at least, it is refreshing to look upon the bright side of a picture, which, to some persons, appeared dark and dark only. Slavery had its evils, none will deny that. But there was a virtuous side to that system also. The affection for the master by the slave, manifested in so many ways, was one virtue. The care of the master for the slave, and his protection afforded to his slave, in loco parentis, as it were, as manifested by Col. Bond in the last act of his life, was another virtue. Oh how many of his former slaves would now gladly return to servitude under him, and rejoice once more to meet him and salute him as "Mass Joe." But the light which once shone on the "old plantation," and gave joy to the negro, the master and family, has been extinguished forever. No more shall we behold it. No more shall the sons of Africa experience its benefits, or feel its power. But, in the light of the far distant future, our posterity alone shall be able to judge whether the change has been beneficial to the one race or to the other. -- A TRUE FRIEND

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