Testimony of Robert J. Adams (February 19, 1884)

Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections, given on February 19, 1884, Robert J. Adams, an African American police officer in Danville, explains his role in the so-called Danville Riot of November 3, 1883, which left at least five people dead. The questioners are the committee’s chairman, John Sherman, a Republican from Ohio; Zebulon Vance, a Democrat of North Carolina; and Elbridge G. Lapham, a Republican from New York. The following transcript contains racial epithets.

Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

R. J. Adams sworn and examined.

By the Chairman:

Question. Where do you reside?—Answer. Danville, Va.

Q. Are you a brother of [Charles Adams] the witness just sworn?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. What has been your occupation in Danville?—A. I was a policeman for six months. Before being a policeman I was a tobacco roller.

Q. You were in the tobacco business and then you were a policeman for six months?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. When did you cease to be a policeman?—A. First of January.

— page 238 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

Q. Then you were a policeman during the time of what is called the Danville riot?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Where [sic] you there present on that occasion?—A. Yes; I was there that day.

Q. Well, you may state when you first knew of the affray going on.—A. That day, I think it was about 3 o’clock, as near as 1 can recollect, I was at Mr. White & Everett’s store, on the corner just below Market street.

Q. Corner of Market and Main?—A. Yes, sir; I stepped in and spoke to Mr. White; just as I stepped in and spoke to him 1 heard someone holler “murder.” I thought at first it was fire, but I ran right up the street as hard as I could; by the time I got there I saw two pistols like this [indicating].

Q. Held up in the air?—A. Yes, sir; just so, and a double-barrel shot-gun, and just as I run up of course I started right on to separate the men that were fighting.

Q. Where did you see the double-barrel shot-gun?—A. Dance, I think his name is, standing in the door of the insurance office.

Q. Just opposite where this crowd was?—A. Right at the place, and the position he was standing was just beyond the two men who were fighting.

Q. Who held pistols?— A. Mr. [George A.] Lea and Mr. Taylor, I think.

Q. Who were then engaged in a fight?—A. [Charles D.] Noel and [Hense] Lawson.

Q. Who was it cried out “murder”?—A. That was somebody outside; neither one of the men that was fighting; some of the boys outside hollered “murder,” and of course I run on to part the men. and just as I run up Mr. Lea hollered out, “Damn it all, no man touch.” I says, “Gentlemen, I am an officer of the peace and want to separate, the men.” Then Mr. Corbin spoke and said, “That man is an officer; let’s part ’em.”

Q. Who is Mr. Corbin?—A. Jeff Corbin, who was here last night a week. He says: “He is an officer, let’s part ’em.” Lea says: “He can part them if he don’t strike.” I says, “Gentlemen, its not my business to strike, its my business to keep peace.” Then I took hold of the two men and separated them, and got them loose, or was about to get them loose, and that time the scuffle occurred between Lea and George Adams. George Adams snatched Lea off the sidewalk down in the gutter; seemed to be trying to get his pistol out of his hand; I didn’t see how it come, I was noticing the two men I had hold of, and as Lea raised out of the gutter he shot, and then the crowd scattered for a few minutes.

Q. Lea shot at who?—A. At George Adams. Then the crowd scattered for a few moments.

Q. Did Lea pursue Adams or did he stay there?—A. Not at that time. You see when he shot of course the crowd of colored people scattered. There was not more than two or three white people there then, the first time, and but six or seven colored people. It was about the time the factories was out in Danville, and Saturday evening there is always a crowd on the street.

Q. Two or three white people and half a dozen colored people?—A. At the first of it, yes; and the shooting of that one pistol caused people to come from each side of the street, both white and black, and I went up to the corner to blow my whistle, and send over to the chief, who was at the mayor’s office; they were trying some cases over there and somebody told him, “Somebody come out and help;” if they didn’t there would be a fuss out there.

— page 239 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

Q. What kind of a call had you; a telephone?—A. No; a whistle.

Q. You blew your whistle?—A. Yes, sir; by that time a crowd came from the court house and from the opera house. The whites came from the court house and the opera house, and of course the colored people were going on up, children and women and men.

Q. There were not any white women?—A. I don’t recollect seeing any white women on the street that Saturday; don’t know the reason of it, but there was no white women there at all.

Q. But the colored people gathered up, men, women, and children?—A. Yes, sir, as they always do whenever they hear a policeman has a man. If a policeman has arrested a man you will find before they get to jail twenty-five women and children will follow on going to see what you are going to do with them. That’s the way the crowd ran up that day.

Q. Were Mr. Hatcher, Oliver, and Motley there?—A. Yes; they came from the opera house.

Q. They were the persons who have been examined here?—A. I don’t know whether they have been here or not; I think they have.

Q. Hatcher has.—A. He is the one, then. They were trying Mr. Oliver over before the court-house about having a concealed weapon on Friday night, and as he came down the street he walloed to me, “Damn it, get off the street.”

Q. That is, Captain Oliver to you?—A. Yes, sir; he says, “Damn you all get off the street.” Says I, “I am trying to keep the peace the best I can ;” he says, “We don’t want none of your damn peace; get out of the way.” Then my younger brother, he steps up and says, “Bob, you get out of the crowd, because one of them men will kill you directly and you won’t have any protection at all.” That was before I got uneasy; I was trying to keep the peace, and they all saw I was trying to keep the peace; then I looked at it and thought over it, and sort of stepped back, and then I said to the colored people, “You had all better leave here. Of course you aint doing nothing to raise disturbance, but you better leave.” Hatcher came up and says, “Damn it, make these niggers get off the street.” Freeman says “The colored people aint doing nothing if you all don’t bother them they won’t bother you.” Hatcher says, “Damn it, we are going to kill them and all their backers,” just so.

By Mr. Vance:

Q. Who is that?—A. Hatcher. Then Mr. Freeman, I reckon he must have got scared, left from where the white people was, stepped back of them, getting on the outside of the colored people, and of course all that was on the outside; he did advise to leave; I told them all to leave, and some got away. I saw from the spirit of the white people that they was going to attack them some way or other.

By the Chairman:

Q. At the time Mr. Hatcher made this remark, was he armed?—A. Yes, sir; he had his pistol.

Q. At the time how many white people were armed?—A. Everybody up there had pistols.

Q. How many were there at that time?—A. Fifteen or twenty.

Q. That was before the general firing?—A. Yes, sir; that was between the one shot and the general firing.

Q. No one had fired except Lea?—A. Except Lea, up to that time.

Q. Now let me ask you if any of the colored people at that time had arms?—A. I was the only man that had a pistol that I saw. We gen-

— page 240 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

erally wear two kinds of uniform down there. I had a sack blue coat, and had my pistol in my breast pocket, where it could be seen.

Q. Had you that exposed?—A. No; it was in my pocket. If I had pulled it out I would have been killed before I got it out; never thought of pulling it out; never put my hand on my pistol at all.

Q. What had you in your hand?—A. I had my billy. The pistol was in my pocket like this. [Indicating.] Mr. Motley says, “I see you have got your pistol; but, damn you, it will not do you any good in this crowd.”

Q. How many, if any, of the colored people were armed?—A I did see one armed; I did after the shooting; I saw one man run and fall, and as he fell he dropped his pistol somehow or another. That is the only pistol I saw amongst the colored people.

Q. Did you see any drawn, though?—A. No, sir; there was not one drawn.

Q. Had they any sticks or staves, or anything of that kind?—A. No; didn’t have anything at all that I saw.

Q. You say they were all just out from the factory. Were they in their working clothes?—A. Working clothes; just coming from the factories.

Q. What threats were they making, if any?—A. Were not making any threats. This George Adams said more than anybody I heard, and all he said was, “It was a pity to let one man beat another dead,” and he said to me, “I would like to show you the man that shot at me.”

Q. Who said this?—A. George Adams.

Q. That was the one who testified first here. He said I would like you to see the man who shot?—A. I would like to show you the man who shot at me.

Q. Was that addressed to you?—A. I says, “George, you must go away from here.” I says, “If you all keep on fooling round here you are going to get hurt.” He says, “All I want to do is to show you the man,” and then I heard Lea say, “Yes, damn you, I am the man.”

Q. Did Lea step forward then to the curb?—A. I don’t know whether he stepped forward or not. I heard him say, “Damn it, I’m the man,” and the firing commenced. I don’t know who was the first man who fired.

Q. Then Adams ran?—A. Everybody run.

Q. Did yon see him run?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Where did the firing commence? Who fired the first shot?—A. I can’t tell who fired first shot; they all came near about at once.

Q. Did you hear any cry to fire?—A. No, sir; all I heard I heard him say “Damn it, I’m the man,” and the shooting commenced about that time.

Q. From whom did the shooting commence?—A. From the white people.

Q. By whom, so far as you observed?—A. I thought all that was there was firing from the way it was.

Q. What became of the colored people then?—A. They scattered each side of the street.

Q. How many shots were fired?—A. About one hundred and fifty or two hundred.

Q. Did you see any colored people fire then?—A. No, sir, they didn’t have time to fire then; they run.

Q. Where did they go?—A. Some through the market, some up street, some down street.

Q. They dispersed.—A. Yes, sir; as quick as possible.

— page 241 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

Q. How long did that firing continue?—A. Not more than two minutes, I don’t think. It just continued about long enough for everybody to fire around what was in their pistols.

Q. Were these five-shooters?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. They all disappeared; where did you go then?—A. When the first shooting commenced I know I was standing sort of off the pavement. I runs down there and stopped at the corner, where I could see what they were doing. After the shooting was over I saw Captain Graves making way to where I was. I was the only colored man there just at that time. He made way to where I was, and I thought he was after me. Then I moved down street further. Just as I moved down street my brother Charles came out of the door

Q. Out of the door of Nicholas & Hessberg’s.—A. And I heard the captain holler, “Look out; I am going to shoot.”

Q. Who?—A. Captain Graves.

Q. That is the gentleman who is sitting on your left now.—A. Yes, sir. Of course I knew there was no one down there but three men. That was another man that passed me and my brother. He was coming and of course I made way on down street and he fired, and when he fired the first time I kept going, and I thought I was shot, but wasn’t; he fired again the second time; there were only two balls fired down Market street; two balls came down. Captain Graves shot down that street twice.

Q. You say one of these balls struck Charles Adams?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you ran on farther?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Could you see where Captain Graves was pointing his pistol?—A. He was pointing it directly down that street.

Q. And you and your brother were the only persons there?—A. Me and my brother and another person that works for Captain Graves. I didn’t hear any more firing and made right back to the street again. By the time I got back there of course all the men that had pistols had done shot them out, and had been and got double-barrel shot-guns.

Q. Did you hear your brother say anything?—A. No, sir; I couldn’t understand what he said. I heard the captain say, “Look out,” and I thought he was after me. I didn’t know who he was after.

Q. Then the white men came back with double barrel shot-guns and the colored people all disappeared?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Let me ask you if the colored people showed any signs of resistance at the time they were first fired upon; when Lee first stepped out and made that remark.—A. No, sir; the first shot that he shot the colored people run; they left at the first shot.

Q. About how many pistols were fired in that first volley?—A. Only one, that Lea first fired.

Q. I mean when he came out on the pavement there and said, “I am the man.”—A. That is about the time there was ten or fifteen.

Q. Was there any firing then from among the colored people?—A. No, sir; there was not.

Q. You say white people were coming out of the opera house, did they form a line over on the corner of Main and Market, across from the other firing?—A. Of course; they stood on the sidewalk on the north side of Main.

Q. Well, as I understand, the other firing was on the south side of Main.—A. No, sir; it was on the north side that the firing was.

Q. [Exhibiting map.] Here is the opera house, and here’s where the firing first commenced.—A. No; you have got this a little wrong.

— page 242 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

Q. Fix it, and satisfy yourself so that you will understand it. Here’s where the firing first commenced, and here was the opera house?—A. Yes.

Q. Now, where was Captain Graves at the time you saw him.—A. When I first saw him he was right up in here, near where the people were firing.

Q. Where the next time?—A. The next time he run to this corner, to right here, where Charles stepped out of the door, and I was down right about there.

Q. Now, if Captain Graves was standing there chance shots from the white crowd would come right towards him, wouldn’t they?—A. Yes; the white people were shooting right down this way, across this way. and up that way.

Q. Now these people that came out of the opera house, were they firing any?—A. I don’t think they were all from this direction.

Q. Then the firing from that crowd would be about toward where Captain Graves was.—A. Yes, sir; the colored people were here; there was a ball right in this door here, coming from that way.

Q. Diagonally?—A. Yes, sir; it struck Nicholas’s door and is there now.

Q. I will ask you if there was any expectation on the part of the colored people of any fight that day, so far as you know.—A. No, sir; the colored people—on Friday there was some threats made by the white people the time that Mr. [W. E.] Sims [the white county chairman of the Readjuster Party] was speaking [against the Danville Circular], and it was thought that the white people were going to tackle Mr. Sims, not the colored people, and in the morning of course everybody thought Mr. Sims was going to be tackled before he left town. Then of course after he left they was not thinking about any attack upon any one else.

Q. There was no expectation of this fight so far as you know?—A. No. The colored people knew they hadn’t said nothing and it was because of what Mr. Sims said that the white people was mad.

Q. And no preparations were made?—A. No; the colored people didn’t make any.

Q. You were engaged in performing your ordinary duty as a policeman at the time this occurred?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. I will ask you as a policeman whether the white people were in any danger from this crowd of colored people before they commenced firing.—A. No, sir; because the colored people would never have thought of attacking the white people.

Q. The white people were armed, you say?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. And they were not?—A. No, sir. About two months before the election they held court in Danville and the grand jury indicted the old police force and everybody they knew for carrying pistols, for carrying concealed weapons, and you know of course the colored people being poor they couldn’t pay for carrying a pistol 15, 18, or 20 dollars when they didn’t have the money, and of course that scared them, and those that had been carrying pistols stopped, and I don’t believe there was five pistols in the whole crowd of colored people if they had been searched.

Q. About two months before this time the policemen were indicted for carrying concealed weapons?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were other people indicted for carrying concealed weapons?—A. Some.

Q. And white people?—A. Yes, sir; some white people.

Q. And that prevented them from carrying concealed weapons?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did it prevent the white people?—A. Of course not; they were

— page 243 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

 able to pay the fine. At the time I don’t suppose there was a white man went on the streets without a pistol.

Q. Did you vote at the election [on November 6, three days after the violence]?—A. I did.

Q. You voted at the election in Danville?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did the colored people generally vote?—A. No, sir. On Monday, the day before the election, the mayor issued a proclamation.

Q. 1 didn’t know anything about that.—A. I was going to tell yon what the colored people had said about voting.

Q. All right —A. The proclamation was issued, and I had them carrying round. I carried them to the people; some of them say, “Do you think we be safe on the day of election?” I say, “Probably you may.” They say that that proclamation was only written up to get them to come out that day, and the most of them said they wouldn’t vote; the most of the colored people round there thought it was a sham to get them killed. I felt of course myself that as 1 was on the street near the crowds through the whole riot probably I might stand it, and I went up and voted.

Q. What proportion of the colored people voted on that day, as near as you can tell?—A. 1 don’t think there was more than half a dozen or a dozen.

Q. How many colored voters are there in Danville?—A. I think, if I am not mistaken—I have forgotten—but I think the Readjuster party at that time was 300 majority.

Q. How many votes altogether could they poll?—A. About 900, I think. About 300 majority.

Q. About 600 of the Democrats then?—A. Yes, sir. Of course I am not positive about how many votes there are.

Q. Did you see any persons armed on the day of election?—A. Yes, I saw white people were walking about, some of them with arms.

Q. With pistols or with muskets—guns?—A. Some of them pistols and some muskets.

Q- Were they at the polls, did you see!—A. No, sir: I didn’t see them at the polls.

By Mr. Vance:

Q. You say that the colored people ran at the first fire of Lea’s pistol?—A. They did.

Q. Was there after that some considerable effort made by you all to get the black people to disperse?—A. There was.

Q. Why did you try to get people to disperse that had already run?—A. 1 told you the first fire the people scattered, but at the fire of the pistol other people come.

Q. I understood you to say to Mr. Sherman [the committee chairman] that the crowd dispersed and run on the first fire of Lea’s pistol?—A. So it did.

Q. And when they came back?—A. They came back.

Q. When they came back was the time the efforts were made to keep the peace?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did Mr. Freeman try and help you keep the peace that day?—A. Mr. Freeman stood by in the crowd and Mr. Hatcher spoke to him and told him to make them damn niggers get back. Mr. Freeman said they wasn’t doing anything, and Mr. Hatcher said if you don’t make them get back I will kill them and all their backers. Then Mr. Freeman moved on out of the crowd.

Q. Didn’t Freeman try to get them to disperse?—A. He spoke to white and balck people both.

Q. That is what I wanted you to say.—A. Yes, he did.

— page 244 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

Q. And when he saw they wouldn’t he got back?—A. He got back.

Q. Did Mr. Peter Booth try to get the people to disperse, too?—A. I don’t recollect whether he did or not.

Q. Didn’t you see him in the crowd of colored people talking to the crowd personally?—A. I did not.

Q. Did you see Mr. Corbin?—A. Yes; he did all he could to try and keep the peace.

Q. What did he say?—A. He said tell the colored people to go away; if they didn’t go away they would get hurt.

Q. What did the colored people say?—A. They said they wasn’t doing anything, just standing about to see what was going to happen.

Q. Did you hear Captain Oliver make any remarks to the crowd and propose that the white folks would go away if the colored would?—A. I didn’t hear that. He told me I must go away, but whether he said that or not I don’t know, I didn’t hear; I don’t say he didn’t say it.

Q. He came up from the opera house, didn’t he?—A. No, sir; he came from the court-house.

Q. There had been a trial up thereabout carrying concealed weapons?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. When he first came up was his talk and attitude hostile, or did he try and stop it?—A. He come mad, cursing, and saying get back.

Q. At that time I understood you to tell Mr. Sherman there was only two or three white men there?—A. Only two or three white men.

Q. And a large number of colored people?—A. Yes, sir; there were two or three white men and four or five colored men when Mr. Oliver got there.

Q. Well, before the firing became general, how many colored people, and how many whites, in your best judgment?—A. I thought there was about twenty-five white people and forty or fifty colored people; both women and children was in the crowd of colored people.

Q. They were in the rear of the crowd; they were not standing up next to where the quarrel was going on?—A. All right long there together; all mixed up.

Q. Were they in front taking part in the row, or standing back on the outskirts of the crowd?—A. Standing right there in the street, between one side of the street and the other. Of course they was not right jam up in the crowd.

Q. You don’t understand my question. Was there anybody but men in the front part of the crowd that was talking to the white people?—A. There were boys all in the crowd.

Q. Were there any women?—A. The women were standing sort of on the outside. Of course they wasn’t in front.

Q. That is the very question; that is the way they were standing?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Don’t you think there was more than forty or fifty when the firing began?—A. I don’t think so. My testimony before the grand jury was that I didn’t think there was over forty or fifty.

Q. That is your best judgment?—A. That is my judgment, of course.

Q. Did you see the scuffle between Adams and Lea? I think you testified to that.—A. I saw Adams when he snatched Lea out in the gutter.

Q. They came down on the ground, didn’t they?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. With Adams on top of Lea?—A. No, I think Lea was on top; neither one didn’t fall.

Q. Did the pistol fire before Lea got up?—A. He fired the pistol as he was raising.

— page 245 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

Q. Was Adams up then, or was he down on the ground?—A. Adams was up and going.

Q. Did Lea take after him and pursue him?—A. No; not at that time.

Q. Well, when did he?—A. I don’t know, but if he run after him at all it was after the firing commenced. That was when Adams came up and said, “I want to show you the man that shot at me.” If he run after him at all it was at that time.

Q. You didn’t see that, though?—A. No, sir; I didn’t see him run after him.

Q. When the general firing began Lea was present, wasn’t he?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. And one of the chief men that did the firing?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. Well, where your brother was shot was down the street after the firing was over?—A. After the firing was over there might have been some stray shots after that, but after the volley was over then occurred that shot.

Q. Were you near your brother when he was shot?—A. I guess I was beyond him about as far as from here to the door.

Q. You say you thought he was shooting at you?—A. That is what I thought; yes, sir.

Q. And he called out “Look out; I am going to shoot?”—A. That’s what he said.

Q. Well, why would a man warn a man that he was going to kill?— A. That’s what I don’t know.

Q. You didn’t hear him call out for your brother to go into the house?—A. I heard him call out; I didn’t hear him call out any names.

Q. You didn’t hear anybody say, “Go in the house; go in the house” twice?—A. No, sir; I didn’t hear that.

Q. Was there anybody near Captain Graves at that time?—A. I. don’t think there was; I didn’t see any one else.

Q. Did you hear any other pistols but his at that time?—A. Two fires were made down there, and I thought both were his.

Q. Did you turn around to see who it was?—A. Of course I looked back to see what it was, but kept running; of course, I had to get out of the way.

Q. What I want to know is, did you look back to see if there was any one else but Captain Graves there?—A. I didn’t see any one else.

Q. He was by himself?—A. Yes, sir; all the shooting was over, and I guess he had about a couple of balls in his pistol and wanted to get them out, too. I reckon I told some of the gentlemen there that I thought he shot at me, but he said he didn’t; he said nobody pointed at me. I told him I didn’t think they ought to shoot at me because I was trying to keep the peace as much as anybody that was there.

Q. What’s the name of that other man that dropped his pistol?—A. His name was Howson Keene, I think.

Q. Where is he now?—A. In Danville.

Q. Has he been summoned here as you know?—A. I don’t know.

Q. You saw no other man with a pistol?—A. I did not.

Q. Did you see Davis Lewellyn have one?—A. I did not; I saw him, but didn’t see him have a pistol.

Q. Did you see any marks of bullets on the houses after the fight was over?—A. I did.

Q. What houses?—A. There was some on Nicholas’s and some on the opposite side of the street.

Q. What others on the same side of the street with Nicholas’s?—A. 

— page 246 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

I don’t think I saw any on that side except Nicholas’s—yes; there was one there on the barber-shop.

Q. Is Nicholas’s a wooden house?—A. Yes, sir; no, sir; a brick house, but a wooden frame, the front made of wood.

Q. Did you see any on Woolfolk & Blair’s?—A. I don’t recollect seeing any. I never noticed; I don’t think any one was looking toward Woolfolk & Blair’s, and I never noticed.

Q. Did you hear any of the colored people say when the crowd was first told to disperse, “We are going to have it out right here?”—A. No, sir; I didn’t hear them.

Q. Why didn’t they go away when so many were urging them and counseling them to go away, including yourself and Freeman, both officers of the law?—A. I don’t know.

Q. About these indictments, you don’t mean to say that only colored people were indicted for carrying weapons?—A. I didn’t say that. The police force was not composed of colored people, you know.

Q. Well, the police force were not fined, were they, for having pistols?—A. No, sir; they wasn’t fined; for you see we were indicted, and it went on for about a couple of months; but since then they got out of it somehow; I don’t know.

Q. I will ask you if there wasn’t a nol. pros. [nolle prosequi, or do not prosecute] entered as to all the policemen?—A. Yes, sir; they wasn’t fined.

Q. And numbers of the white people were indicted at the same time?—A. Yes, sir; and found for it, I think.

Q. As a general rule, didn’t you find that the colored people had arms as well as the white people?—A. No, sir.

Q. In your dealings with them there didn’t you find a great many of them with pistols?—A. No, sir; very seldom ever saw a colored man with a pistol about him.

Q. Didn’t you know a great many of them had them, although they didn’t show them?—A. I know some of the boys had pistols which they kept at home, sometimes in their breast pockets.

Q. Didn’t a great many of them have guns at home?—A. Yes; some had guns.

Q. In proportion to the numbers, didn’t as many colored people have guns as white people?—A. No, sir.

Q. Didn’t more of the colored people spend their time hunting than white people?—A. There may be more hunt than white people, but don’t more of them have guns than white people.

Q. You mean that they didn’t hunt with guns?—A. Oh, yes; when they hunt they hunt with guns; but you see all the white people had guns in town.

Q. I am talking now about the habit of buying guns; the hardware stores would sell them to colored people?—A. Of course; but that day they wouldn’t let them have them. They can buy them now as quick as any other man.

Q. And could before?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. That day they shut down on them?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. You didn’t see any white men armed that day of the election at the polls?—A. No, sir; I was off duty that day, and went home and went to bed after I voted.

Q. You say when you carried around the mayor’s proclamation, when the colored people asked you if you thought they would be safe, you thought they might be?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. You didn’t assure them they would b?—A. No, sir.

Q. Well, was not that calculated to scare them, although the mayor

— page 247 —
Reports of the Committees of the Senate of the United States (1884)

 assured the people that they would be safe?—A. He didn’t say so in his circular.

Q. Then he was in doubt himself?—A. Yes, sir.

Q. He was very doubtful about it?—A. I don’t know: I won’t say as to that.

Q. You did say he was.—A. Well, I take that back; of course I can’t know his thoughts; I only say what I know is true.

Q. Do you think any colored man would have been hindered if he had voted that day?—A. No, sir; the majority of colored people had left there; wasn’t anybody left to vote.

Q. Where had they gone?—A. Oh, they commenced leaving Saturday night.

Q. Went away off in the country, had they?—A. Yes; left Danville.

Q. Couldn’t they get back?—A. They couldn’t get back at election.

Q. How far had they gone?—A. I don’t know.

Q. You don’t know how far any of them went, do you?—A. Yes, I know.

Q. Did you go with them?—A. Only as I heard from them.

Q. But that is hearsay; you don’t know anything about it but what you heard of it?—A. That’s all.

Q. Did you see that one woman was shot?—A. I did not.

Q. Did you know of any woman that was shot?—A. I did not know of any woman that was shot. Of course there was some several wounded that I didn’t find out; little flesh wounds; I saw one man that said he was shot in the pants, or something of that kind. There was only four men that died from their wounds that I know about; three killed on the ground, and one died afterwards.

By Mr. Lapham:

Q. Do you know who made the complaint against the policemen for bearing arms?—A. I think it was the magistrate was the first man. They taken him in there on his oath.

Q. You mean he was the first called before the grand jury?—A. Yes; he was called before the grand jury.

Q. Do you know who started it?—A. I don’t.

Q. You say they were never prosecuted?—A. No, the policemen were not.

Q. When were they discontinued, before or after the election?—A. Since the election.

Q. Those indictments were kept over the police from the time they were found until the election?—A. Yes, sir.

APA Citation:
U.S. Senate. Testimony of Robert J. Adams (February 19, 1884). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
U.S. Senate. "Testimony of Robert J. Adams (February 19, 1884)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 21 Jul. 2024
Last updated: 2021, January 28
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.