Wednesday, March 30, 2011

North Carolina: Trivial Pardon Killer

The Caswell Messanger has an interesting story on Sterling Carter, "local teen" who is now being credited with having sunk the attempt by the North Carolina legislature to further trivialize the pardon power by granting a pardon to someone most North Carolinians have never even heard of, and who died many years ago.

Carter is reported to have been "taken aback" when heard of the attempt to grant a posthumous pardon to former North Carolina governor William Holden (who was impeached). The stated reason for the pardon was that Holden tried to "stop the violence being caused by the Ku Klux Klan." Which is to say that, in addition to being purely irrelevant symbolic nonsense, it was also an opportunity to cast aspersions on anyone and everyone who did not sheepishly go along with the dance.

Carter notes - as we have previously - that Holden himself opposed efforts on his behalf to obtain pardon. Carter also notes Holden actually sent soldiers into North Carolina counties to "spy" on Klan activity, which did not include violence. When violence did erupt, it was caused by Holden's spies. See full story here.


John Thacker said...

While I oppose the trivial pardon, it's nonsense to say that the Klan activity Holden was responding to "did not include violence." See for example from the Centennial History of Alamance County.

They had lynched Wyatt Outlaw, a black police officer who was head of the Union League, an anti-Ku Klux Group in the Alamance County. As the book says, 'His death had been determined by certain members of one of the Klan orders. A party of them rode into Graham on the night of February 26, 1870, seized Outlaw in his home, and carried him to a tree in the courthouse square. There they hanged him, leaving on his breast the inscription: "Beware, ye guilty, both black and white."'

John Thacker said...

I think it's reasonable to argue that one prominent lynching or two didn't justify the wholesale violations of civil liberties in Holden's response, but it's silly to claim that the lynching of Wyatt Outlaw by Klan members wasn't violence, and that lynching preceded Holden's actions.

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