Beck focuses his rebuttal on the man’s character and the comments made of him. Also one might glean something from Beck’s reference to “the only white man” indicating there may have been affidavits made by Negroes attesting to fraud. Recall that subsequent to the election, the “committee of five” was overwhelmed by Negroes coming to Jackson [the committee of five had sent for them] and conferring behind closed doors to fraud and intimidation—then signing their prepared statements with an “x.” I do admit to have an interest in seeing those affidavits—did they all read similarly, for instance? Beck, as a member of the reconstruction committee no doubt read them. His point of following up with the case of Harriman and Wiseman and their likes was to ascertain what kind of white men made these statements in contradiction to hand-chosen registrars and judges? I assume members of the committee automatically determined the bulk of the Negro testimony fabricated or indeterminate, and therefore the white testimony the more compelling of the two. On the subject of Wiseman, the sheriff of Desoto County, Joseph Rogers, reported to James Beck that Wiseman was another of those “ex” Freedmen’s Bureau fellas. He’d been cashiered by General Gillem himself for abuse of authority in office—he apparently had been charging fines and pocketing the money. He was working as a commissioner (yeah, you guessed it—one of the “committee of five’s” hand-picked commissioners) at the Desoto County poll, when an individual he’d illegally fined spied him and challenged him with the wrong [and I can’t help but believe the individual pointed out to everyone present this thief was acting as a “commissioner” at a Mississippi polling booth in support, obviously, of Republican interests]. The sheriff stated that the altercation in no way hindered/prevented anyone from voting. Other than that one instance, voting went off without a hitch.
So, the man did understand some things, now if he’d only understood that the vision of the men framing that constitution was not for the good of the people of Mississippi, he might have understood how others manipulate the self-righteousness of New England Yankees. But, my bitter opinions aside, here’s the really good part of the Reverend William’s letter:
I’ll finish up the Butler Bill next time.