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Old News Stories
Col. Bishop Controls Murray Election, 1837

From the Georgia Messenger
Aug. 25, 1837.

(ELECTION AT SPRING PLACE)

"During the administration of Wilson Lumpkin, William N. Bishop received from his Excellency the appointment of Indian Agent, in the place of William Springer. During that year (1834,) the said governor gave the command of a company of men, 40 in number, to the said W.N. Bishop, to be selected by him, and armed with the muskets of the State. This band was organized for the special purpose of keeping the Cherokees in subjection, and although it is a notorious fact that the Cherokees in the neighborhood of Spring Place were peaceable and by no means refractory, the said band were kept there, and seldom made any excursion whatever out of the county of Murray. It is also a notorious fact, that the said band, from the day of their organization, never permitted a citizen of Murray county opposed to the dominant party of Georgia, to exercise the right of suffrage at any election whatever. From that period to the last of January election, the said band appeared at the polls with the arms of the State, rejecting every vote that "was not of the true stripe," as they called it. That they frequently seized and dragged to the polls honest citizens, and compelled them to vote contrary to their will.

"Such acts of arbitrary despotism were tolerated by the administration. Appeals from the citizens of Murray county brought them no relief--and incensed at such outrages, they determined on the first Monday in January last, to turn out and elect such Judges of the Inferior Court and county officers, as would be above the control of Bishop, that he might thereby be prevented from packing such a jury as he chose to try him for his brutal and unconstitutional outrages on their rights. Accordingly on Sunday evening previous to the election, about twenty citizens who lived a distance from the county site, came in unarmed and unprepared for battle, intending to remain in town, vote in the morning and return home. They were met by Bishop and his State band, and asked by the former ‘whether they were for peace or war.' They unanimously responded, "we are for peace:' At that moment Bishop ordered a fire, and instantly _every musket of his band was discharged on those citizens, 5 of whom were wounded, and others escaped with bullet holes in their clothes. Not satisfied with the outrage, _they dragged an aged man from his wagon and beat him nearly to death.

"In this way the voters were driven from Spring Place, and before day light the next morning, the polls were opened by order of Bishop, and soon after sun rise they were closed; Bishop having ascertained that the band and Schley men had all voted. A runner was then dispatched to Milledgeville, and received from Governor Schley commissions for those self-made officers of Bishop's, two of whom have since runaway, and the rest have been called on by the citizens of the county to resign, being each members of Bishop's band, and doubtless runaways from other States.

"After these outrages, Bishop apprehending an appeal to the judiciary on the part of the injured citizens of Murray county, had a jury drawn to suit him and appointed one of his band Clerk of the Superior Court. For these acts, the Governor and officers of the Central Bank rewarded him with an office in the Bank of the State, since which his own jury found eleven true bills against him."

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