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(title page) Book for the People! To Be Read by All Voters, Black and White, with Thrilling Events of the Life of Norvel Blair, of Grundy County, State of Illinois. Written and Published by Him, and with the Money He Earned by His Own Labor, and Is Sent Out with the Sincere Hope that if Carefully Read, It Will Tend to Put a Stop to Northern Bull-Dozing and Will Give to All a Free Ballot, without Fear, Favor or Affection and Respect
JOLIET DAILY RECORD STEAM PRINT,
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My name is Norvel Blair. I now live in Morris, Grundy County, State of Illinois. I publish this little book for the purpose of doing good; that both the blacks and the whites of America may know the truth and behold the deceptions of the Republican party, who claim to be the especial friends of the colored race. I say here that they are not the friends of the colored race and that they are entitled to no credit for the freedom of our race, as I will show before I finish this book. They only make pretentions to love and protect our race--all for the purpose of getting our votes.
Now, I will give a detail of my life, with a hope in God that it may open the eyes of my race to their true interests. I am a colored man, was born in the year 1825, in the State of Tennessee, of colored parents. My first owner was an orphan girl--her name was Mary Keteral. When I was eight years old I was sold to a man by the name of Urich Lyson, and afterwards he sold me to a man by the name of Adam Dixon, and he swapped me off to a man by the name of Gulley Wilson. I was swapped so that I might stay with my wife and family, I then went from Tennessee to Arkansas, stayed five years, and then moved back to Tennessee; settled
in Stuart county, and lived there until the year 1863. Came from there to St. Louis, Missouri. I left St. Louis and came to Grundy County, Illinois, in the same year, 1863, where I now reside with my family. I worked here one year for a Mr. Gorham, for $12 a month, I then rented a farm from James Smith, and after that I rented a farm from Jerry Collins, and made money and accumulated a large amount of property. Mr. Collins was a very strong Republican, and claimed to be a friend of the colored man, but, to my surprise, he undertook to, and did, cheat me out of my hard earnings. He and his attorney got me to sign a note for $900 which, on account of my ignorance, I did not understand anything about, only as they told me, and, as God is my judge, Jerry Collins and his attorney did deceive me and got me to sign the note as drawn by Sanford, the attorney. Then they commenced a suit against me to recover this fraudulent note of $900, and in defending the said suit it cost me about $4,000. He (Collins) drove off my stock and sold it in ten days, and at the time I was unable to give bonds. Afterwards the court decided that I owed Collins nothing. But as he was a man worth $200,000, and a Republican, and had taken my property and left me and my family penniless, I was unable to follow him with the law, and was compelled to lose all I had earned by years of hard labor. They even coming into court, had the $900 MARKED PAID, and I had no recourse for the want of means. Collins turned me and my family out of doors, without anything, and he at the same time claimed to be the greatest Republican in Illinois, and the great friend of the colored man. I leave you, dear reader, to judge if he and his attorney Sanford are the friends of and encouragers
of the colored race. I give this statement and refer to the records of Grundy County, Illinois, and also the names of some of the best citizens of Grundy County, whose names will be found elsewhere appended in this book.
After being robbed of all I had by Collins and his attorney, I moved, with my family, south of the river. one miles from Morris, in Waupansee, and there I bought 80 acres of land on credit, and lived on it two years and improved it, and then sold it to the man I purchased of. Then I moved to the old Hopkins farm, on the bottom, owned by a man by the name of John G. Reading, but I have reason to believe that it was really owned by J. N. Reading. After I got started and had farmed about three years, I made money, because I worked night and day. Then comes to me this James N. Redding, and he asked me who did I owe? I told him Mr. M. K. Keller was the only man I owed anything, as I knowed of. He, Redding; then said: "I was mistaken; and that he held a note against me for five hundred and fifty dollars, in favor of McNellis," and said that he was McNellis's attorney. This was ail news to me, and I told him I owed McNellis nothing, but that McNellis was largely indebted to me for corn I had stored with him at his Auxable warehouse. Now, when Collins and myself was in dispute, Collins wanted a receipt, he claiming my corn; but McNellis forbid his clerk giving him a receipt, and also forbid him giving me a receipt, and, therefore I lost my thirteen hundred dollars' worth of corn, because McNellis failed shortly after and became worthless. I never had any dealings with McNellis only as I sold him corn, and, therefore, did not owe him a cent. At this
time, in my trouble and ignorance, I employed Reading by his insisting on my doing so, as my attorney, and he told me he could get me out of my trouble, as I did not owe the note. He gave me advice and I took it and relied upon it, to my great sorrow and financial destruction. His advice was this: "Give to my son-in-law, L. B. Ray, a mortgage on all you have and he will defend and protect you." I told him I owed L. B. Ray nothing. He said it did not make any difference, so that I would trade with Ray and give him the mortgage until I became indebted to him. He assured me that that was my only way that I could save my property from the judgment note that I had no knowledge of and never gave to the best of my knowledge, because I owed McNellis nothing and the note was a fraud, and Redding advised me as my attorney to fight the McNellis note. I gave Ray the mortgage on my property, so as to get rid of the McMellis fraudulent note, and did not owe Ray a cent. The mortgage that Redding get me to make to his son-in-law, L. B. Ray, run for several years, and I raised large crops and worked hard and had about thirty-two-head of fine horses, and as fast as I accumulated property it was put into that mortgage of Rays. I had thirty-five head of fine cattle, seventy head of hogs and about five hundred dollars' worth of farming utensils to carry on the farm. I bought all that property with my own money and from my hard earnings in the sweat of my brow. This property as I accumulated it was put into the Ray mortgage, And of my stock that died was kept in the mortgage same as if it was living. Reading would come out on the farm and ask the boys who such stock belonged to. He would have his little day-book and take it out of his pocket and put
down the ages of my stock and who they belonged to as they would tell him. And then he would go and till out the mortgage without my consent, he claiming that he was my attorney, but as my attorney I never supposed that he was taking my property without consideration until the whole thing was brought upon me to my ruin and then I found that Redding had been acting, instead of for me, against me, and to the ruin of myself and family, by taking from me all my property under cover that he was my attorney. In a word, he took advantage of my ignorance. I confided in Mr. Reading and I gave him control of all my property, believing him to be an honest, fair and good man, but he deceived me and took from me all I had earned for years. He, Reading, did business for me as my attorney for five years or thereabouts. Then my oldest son was dissatisfied, and said to me: Father, it is time to look up and see how your affairs stand. He was very well educated and knew I was not, and he felt a great interest in my welfare. I was glad my son took hold of my affairs because I was not qualified to do so. My son then wanted Reading to show him the papers that he might see how my business stood. Then Reading refused and said "he would have nothing to do with my son Ben," and would show him none of the papers. Ben then said to me: "Father, there must be something wrong, and as for me, I will never sign another mortgage." I then said to Ben: "The old man (Reading) would certainly take no advantage of a poor, hard-working colored man, and he the attorney for me." Ben then said: "Father, that last mortgage we signed will take all we have in the world." I then said to Ben: "That can't be possible, for the old man (Reading) I don't think would do that,
I think he is an honest man and I talked with him about my affairs, and he (Reading told me not to be troubled and to say nothing to outsiders and other people and that the mortgage I gave to L. B. Ray was only to protect my property against the fraudulent note and judgment of McNellis. So I believed the old man (Reading) and thought he was my friend, sure." But Ben had no confidence in him and would sign no more mortgages. Ben said: "Father, he is mean enough in my opinion to take everything you have worked so hard for these many years." This was the prediction of my son Ben. But I could not believe that Reading would wrong me and my family when he knew how hard I had worked and he professed to be such a good friend of the colored race--therefore, I did not take the advice of my son Ben, because I had all my confidence and all my property in the hands and under the control of Mr. Redding, and was only an ignorant negro and knew nothing about law,--all I knew was to work hard day and night, and take Redding's advice, as my attorney, to watch over and talk of my interests. This is the honest truth. But he basely decieved me.
Reading and me would settle up little affairs when I owed Ray. Then I asked the judge, Redding, what would be the consequence if McNellis jumped on the mortgage, and he told me he had that all fixed and that McNellis could do nothing, because he obtained the judgment note by fraud. He also told me to let the writ run until the time was out on the place. Then I, for the first time, discovered that Redding, my attorney in fact, was laying a scheme to take advantage of me and my family and take all I had worked hard for in the past years of my best life. I having cultivated and
raised from sixteen to eighteen thousand bushels of corn per year, and all the money I got from sales of hogs and other stock off the farm I loaned to Redding. I had every confidence in him and let him have every dollar I had My confidence in him was such that I never asked him for a note, for I thought and took him to be an honorable gentleman, and that his word was just as good as his note. I had a large amount of stock and other property in my possession, and my credit was good in any bank or store in the city of Morris before this man Redding commenced the warfare against me, aided by his son-in-law, L. B. Ray.
I told Redding that I would either settle the McNellis note so as not to have it hang over me as a dark cloud, and that I wanted to make no more mortgages. I saw McNellis and stated the whole facts to him, and told him I wanted to do something to get a receipt of my papers, and asked him what he would take, and he said one hundred and eighty dollars. I knew that McNellis could neither read nor write and I took him down to Canal street to John Barr's warehouse and there I made an agreement with him (McNellis) before John Barr, who is now the Mayor of the city of Morris, that I would pay him, the said McNellis, one hundred and eighty dollars rather than have any further litigation, but, at the same time, I knew I did not owe McNellis a cent, but I and my family was tired out lawing and I thought it best to loose this one hundred and eighty dollars rather than go to court and pay lawers' fees and loose my time off my farm. McNellis to take one hundred and eighty dollars and I was to deliver the amount in corn to John Barr and he was to pay to him the money. Then Redding goes and tells McNellis to sell
my note and McNellis did so to constable Card, and he levied on my property, and then Redding advised me to commenee suit agalnst Card. I hired Judge Harris to assist Redding and paid him fifty dollars, and was defeated in the circuit court through Redding, who acted falsely as my attorney. He assured me that if I would employ judge Harris they would win, for, he added, the judgment was null and void and could never be collected. I believed him, and it was to my ruin. I wanted to settle the McNellis claim, as I said before, but he McNellis, got my attorney. Redding to sell it, and then Redding lets the mortgage run out, I then came in to see my attorney Redding after my property was levied upon, wanting to know of him what all this meant, and he told me it would not amount to anything, that the execution was bought from McNellis for one hundred and fifty dollars, and then Redding again told me to employ Judge Harris, and said that him and the judge could and would beat the claim without a doubt or any trouble to me, as the claim was void. Well, I commenced the suit as advised by Redding, in the circuit court, and it cost me one thousand dollars and I was defeated. They broke the mortgage that Ray held and it was pronounced a fraud and it was made for the purpose of protecting me against that judgment of McNellis, and I was induced to give the mortgage by the advice of Redding who was my attorney and he assuring me that L. B. Ray, his son-in-law, would protect me against the judgment. But instead of doing that, as Redding, my attorney promised, he said to constable Card, "He was the cause of beating me on that mortgage." My God, dear readers, just look and think of it! My own sworn attorney,
Moses, recreant to a poor colored man, who could at the time, neither read or write. He also said, that he "worked against Old Blair," and if I had not, he said "Old Blair would have beat." This was just what Redding said to constable Card.
Now, then, in the Spring, came my plowing and working time, and I sued Reeding on the preceding mortgage and the last one. Now, this is the kind of justice a poor hard-working man receives from a cold-hearted Northern Republican lawyer. He gets my money for his fees then takes my property that I worked and toiled so hard for with my poor old wife and children, and puts me out to starve in my old days. These are the facts, and all the people of Grundy County know it, and now other people and my colored friends shall know it; and let's see who is the worst, the Southern buldoser, or the Northern cut-throat, or the cold blooded Northern Yankee lawyer. I want to give truth, and nothing but the truth. I and my family have been basely robbed, and I am determined the world shall know it, and, therefore, I publish this book, and do it at my own expense, and pay for it with the money myself, boys and girls and old wife earned this summer, and by the help of the good Lord we will work and get more, and then I will write another book. But I am not done with this, and will give more facts.
I, of course, am an ignorant man, of African descent, but I have learned many things from the white folks. I learned one thing from Judge Redding, who was my paid attorney; that was, that a Northern Yankee lawyer is very uncertain when he could rob a poor ignorant colored man, his wife and children, to enrich his pompous son-in-law, L. B. Ray, the man I voted for to go
to the Legislature to make laws. I am mighty sorry now I did it, but you see they fools me, as they are foolin' all our colored people, and makes us believe they freed us, and that they are our special friends. Well, they is not, only to get our labor; they's no friend of the colored man. They gets us here, and makes great big promises, and when we gets something they comes in and steals it--gets us to sign papers we don't understand, and then takes all, jist like Redding and Ray did with me. Now I tells you the truth, and am not half done. Don't you, my colored friends, never trust one of these Northern Republican Yankees; they is bad medicine, and they goes through you sure, and takes all you works for; they lays the plan just as Judge Redding, of Morris, Grundy County, did with me, and then says root nigger or die; that's the nigger's fate.
Now, as I said before, I sued Redding, and was beat for the sakes of a white man to beat me, a poor colored man. They made the mortgage bad against me and good for themselves. This is an evidence of the love they have for the poor colored man just out of Southern bondage, who comes among them to make a living for his wife and children--yes, comes here to act honest and to deal fair with all men, but I was taken advantage of by Judge Redding and his son-in-law, L. B. Ray. They's the worst peoples in the world, and I wants my colored friends to know it, that this is the way a Northern Yankee lawyer treats a colored man after he gets his money and his confidence. He steals from me seven long years of my earnings and that of my wife and dear children all of seventeen thousand dollars--the earnings of a poor colored man, his wife, and his children. The Judge before whom my cases came off was Judge McRoberts,
and my attorneys were Perry Armstrong, Judge Aldin, Judge Grant, and Judge Reading, the arch-fiend and traitor to my case. Also, Tracey Harris and his father, Judge Harris, Needham, Captain Hill, of Joliet; George House and Major Munn, of Joliet; Hunter and Page, of Chicago, and Judge Hopkins, of Morris, and Burten C. Cook, of Chicago, and my case is still in the courts, and me and my family are working to make the money to paylawyers and court fees until we gets justice, and that's all we asks; and colored people as we are we's going to have it, and goen to see if the colored man has any rights to be respected by the courts, and if he and his wife and children can get justice and stand on his freedom as an American citizen; and if the prejudice against his race and color is such, in our court, that he cannot get justice, the sooner it is known the better we will be as a race.
I write this book for the purpose, as before named, to do good. Just here I must name a fact: I made a positive contract for the printing and publishing of this book in the town of Morris, Grundy Co., but the Republicans brought the pressure to bear, and I got one small proof-sheet and was notified that the office would do no more. They did not dare do it because their masters brought down on them the Republican lash (money). So I takes the train and goes where printers are not afraid of the Rays and Judge Reading.
Now I will resume. But don't you see that a colored man in the State of Illinois, and in the town of Morris, Grundy County, cannot even have a book printed to defend himself, wife and children from Republicans--they have the money to buy up and subsadise the press, that I have been taught to believe could not be bought; but
in Morris it was bought, and I hold the evidence and soon I will give it publicity. It goes to show that the colored race cannot rely on a Republican for anything. I have tried and trusted them to my sorrow.
I have gone from the lower courts to the higher courts. There are but few colored men would have been able to prosecute as I have--but I am going on till I see if a colored man has any rights before the law. I have now two cases in the Supreme Court, and gave bonds for eleven thousand dollars, and if I lose that the Republicans will get all my earnings of sixteen years, and I am an old man now, with quite a family and most of them dependent on me for a living. I commenced this suit against Reading, Ray and Schroder, and they employed all the attorneys in Morris except Judge Hopkins. Reading gave his money freely as retaining fee to keep attorneys from taking my case, and went around among the colored people and beseeched them to assist him in defeating me, and some of them promised to swear against me and they got frightened and left the State. Then Judge Reading, my paid attorney, wanted me to sware that the mortgage of his son-in-law, L. B. Ray, was just and true, and if I would say so he would cut out the McNellis claim, as he was only an old Irish Catholic Democrat and he couldn't get a cent. I told Reading that his word was worth nothing with me and I would nor swear to a lie. He said if I swore to it it would be just as good as the truth if I stood to it. I told him I never got any money under that fraudulent mortgage and I would not sware I did. He, Ray, then put an injunction on my crop of corn, when the snow in the field was about eighteen inches deep. I had then about 65 head of stock, and had my old father and mother, aged
about 86 years, dependent on me for a living, besides my own wife and children. Ray left me without a bushel of corn, nothing to burn in the way of fuel, and nothing for us to eat; and he is the Republican I voted for to go to the Legislater of Illinois. Now, if God gives me life, I votes for no more such Republicans who takes advantage of a colored man that has an old father and mother and wife and children to support by his honest industry. I thought these Republicans was good men; but they deceived me and I wants my people to know them. They come at the hour of midnight and riddled my house with bullets. There was seventeen persons in all in my house, and as God is to judge me in the great day, none of us ever harmed anyone. We worked hard to accumulate some property, and as soon as we did so by honest industry, and assured that we were safe in the North, then we were robbed and the Republican thieves come to take our lives and and our property, too. I knows what I am talking about. They steals every cent that an honest colored man works an earns, and then they gives him no justice in the courts, because the courts are controlled by the Bepublicans, and the colored man must be the voting chattel and must give their earnings to the Northern Republican aristocrat, and if he refuses, then they say: "WHY WE FREED YOU, and you are nothing but a damed set of niggers." I say the Republicans did not free us--we fought on the battlefield for our freedom, and the North would never have gained the battles had it not been for the colored people and the Democrats. Now they said we were freemen, but only freemen so long as they can vote us and get our labor for nothing. I wants to be a freeman in the highest sense, and wuold just as soon be
a Southern slave as the slave of a Northern Republican, who gets no justice unless he is willing to be a slave and to let um take all of his hard earnings. See now what they did, and gives you nothing but facts. I had six horses shot and put to death by unknown parties, all because I quit the Republican party and was determined to vote as a FREEMAN and be the judge of my own ballot. One gray stallion that they shot I would not have taken three hundred dollars for, and one black mare that I would not have sold for one hundred dollars. I had no enemies except the Republicans, and had no enemies in or among any other class of men in Grundy county. And I and my family have tried to live a peaceable life with all the people.
The sheriff with a posse of twelve or thirteen men in all come to my place of residence and took all my stock except one mare, and the night of the same day they come back and took her, without any authority of law. I replevied all my property and the case is, as pertaining to my rights, undecided. I took it to the Supreme Court by appeal, and God my Father only knows what the result thereof will be; but I hope, emplore and ask for nothing but justice and my rights.
They burned up and destroyed so much of my property that I was unable to get any insurance in any responsible insurance company, and for this reason: That I lived in a republican neighborhood, and a majority of them were down on me and were my enemies, and therefore no company would insure what little I had left, and this the insurance company wrote me; and therefore I was left without any protection to my property. Now my dear readers look at the condition the Republicans have put me and my family in, when they were my
trusted friends, and the ones I looked to that would protect me and my race and lift us up to a higher state after promising so much: but instead; these freedom screeching Republicans are pulling all the colored people that comes North away down and making greater slaves than we were under our Southern masters. For myself I am tired of them. I works hard and have educated my children and supported my old father and mother, and have acted honestly and fair with everyone. When I was a slave and since I become a freeman I have acted honest and have been sober and industrious, as I will show by numerous certificates appended to this book, by the signatures of some of the best citizens in Morris, Grundy county, Illinois, as to my integrity, and I want all to enquire as to my character and standing and that of my family, also my old-aged father and mother, who I am supporting, and who will never go to to the poor house while their son Norvel is able to work. All I want is to have my rights under the law and to see my race dealt justly with.
When my lawsuit commenced Judge Hopkins advised me to employ Capt. Hill, of Joliet, with him, and he being the attorney who prosecuted the villains who shot into my house, I employed him to act with Judge Hopkins in the suit I had then commenced with Reading, and who was my legal attorney until he deceived me and I found he was not true to me. Hill come and my son Ben found him in Judge Reading's office, Then I went myself and was surprised to find him in Judge Reading's office, as I had employed him in my suit against Reading. I knocked at the door and it was opened, and he shook hands with me, and smiled, and told me that his relations with Reading were such that he could not take
a case against him, and he begged off after I employed him, and asked me to get some other attorney. The fact was, in my opinion, that Reading bought him with money. Then I and my son went to Chicago and employed Page & Hunter. They told me that Judge Hopkins was a true friend and attorney, and I have always found him so, as you will see by his certificate elsewhere in this book. And these are the facts, and I say here, that Judge Hopkins is a Republican, but he always acted justly by me, and that's why old Reading hates Judge Hopkins. The Republicans have cursed Judge Hopkins because, as an honest attorney, he took my case, knowing that I and my family was being robbed of all our earnings of years. He is a good man and I shall ever respect him, and teach my family to do the same. He was maliciously lied about because he took it. He was the only attorney left in Morris that I could employ. Now the people of Morris and Grundy county have changed their minds, and say if I had been a white man I would not have been treated so. With my contract with Reading the half of the fall feed was mine, and I sold it to Holderman, and it amounted to 152 dollars. After the feed was eat off Holderman stopped at my house and wanted me to come into town with him, he was ready to pay me for the feed. And I was sick at the time, but I sent my son Ben to collect the same by my orders. Holderman said he would just as soon pay it to him as me if I said so, and I told him to pay it to the boy; so they come to town together, and Ben went into Ray's store and Holderman told him he would go to the bank and get the money; and Holderman goes and gets the money, and counts it out and lays it on the counter--lays the money down, and by some means or
other Ray sneaks up and grabs the money, Ben holding one end. But Ray succeeded in getting the money and Ray said he did not know who the money belonged to. He had no orders from any parties to take the money, but he did take the money, and my boy and him had a considerable quarrel about it. Holderman said he saw Ray take the money and there was a dispute over the money and he walked out and left them. Ray said he carried the money to the Judge, and if the Judge said the money was mine it was all right. But I lost the money and Ray captured it; and that money is in litigation before the higher court, and I may lose it with all else I have. If I had done such things I would have been in the penitentiary to-day. But the man who got my money walks the streets of Morris, and boasts that he was a member of the legislature of Illinois, and all us colored folks voted for him because we thought then he was a Republican and was an honest man. But my bitter experience tells me that he was not and never was the friend of the colored race.
During the trial before the Master in Chancery, Reading said the money belonged to the landlord, and then the trial was moved to Joliet and there was a special court for a week, then my case was called and there Reading said that he was mistaken in his former testimony about the money; that one half of it did belong to Norvel Blair.
But he never paid me back a cent, because I being a colored man I had no rights that the law, in his opinion, was bound to respect. But I had then spent about seventeen thousand dollars in paying witnesses that was brought to testify against me, and they were brought from all parts of the country. And they were men who
knew nothing about my business only as they were told by Reading. I never spoke a word to them about my business. They came and swore to whatever Reading told them and one of them heard Reading say he was going to break up the black skunk.
Now, the reason of all my trouble is this: I put all my confidence in Republicans when I first came into the State of Illinois. I thought they was true friends and they tells me to have nothing to do with the Democrats, and so I takes their advice. They said the Democrats would mob and with shot-guns shoot me and my family. But now I see it's just the other way, and that it is the Republicans that are after the colored man's honest earnings, and they think of nothing but putting their hands into the pockets of the poor colored man. Now if they would have left me alone I would have been worth this day fifty thousand dollars. They charged me ten per cent. interest on my own money and then ten per cent. on the mortgaged property that belonged to me. And it was the same mortgage that was made to keep me from paying a fraudulent judgment.
This man Reading commenced working against me when he saw I was not willing to see my race, who come here with good intentions, imposed upon and made voting cattle of, so as to elect to office Reading's son-in-law, Ray, and he and me argued the points and we could never agree, and then he got mad and I was determined to stand for my rights and that of my race, even to the end of time. He told me the men on the bottom was down on me, and that they were sure of carrying the elections for the Republicans. He had a lot of colored men down on the bottom farm, and I was using my influence with them and got them to vote the Democratic
ticket, and did it without fee or reward. I did it because I honestly and religiously believed that it was the best for the colored people, and therefore we votes for L. F. Beach and Jim Lawrence, and by so doing we carried the election, and he, Reading, gets mad with them and would not give them another day's work, and the poor creatures had nothing in the world to live upon and would have starved if I had not helped them. There was a horse died in the bottom, and these poor people that lived on Reading's bottom farm took the dead horse, skinned and ate it. And after that no white man would hire them or give them work, because they ate the carrion, and the poor souls had nothing else to eat. Now this shows what Republicans are doing in the North to bulldoze niggers who come from the South to the North, when they won't vote the Republican ticket and be tools for Republican demagogues. And then they claim that this is a free government; but I say it is not and cannot be so long as one race is to be ostracised because they will not vote according to the dictation of the dominant party. I want, so far as I am concerned and my race is concerned that we have equal and exact justice before the law and the right to cast our votes for whom we please, without any intimidation from Northern bulldozers. I want it distinctly understood that I am an American citizen and shall stand for my rights and the rights of my race. I have been an industrious citizen and an honest man, and earn my living by industry and believe in throwing no man out of employment who is industrious, and do not want to see any man so badly treated as I have been. I think it hard when men of my race are driven to necessity to eat carrion because of the want of getting work, and because
they refused to vote the Republican ticket. What the country wants is a free ballot in the North as well as the South, and don't throw men out of employment because of their political sentiments.
Since I come to Illinois I have raised 96,000 bushels of corn, and more than any other renter in the State ever raised in the same number of years, and it has all been stolen from me. I stood as the champion corn-raiser of the state. I don't drink any kind of liquor, don't smoke or chew tobacco, and none of my family does, and we have no bad habits and works all the time, and now you see all my earnings of years is gone. I have plenty of friends, who will testify to my honesty and industry, right here in Grundy county, and will give names and certificates of the best citizens, and they are not all Democrats, most of them are Republicans, and all are honest and good men, who knows how I have been treated, just because I wanted to be a man and raise and educate my children to be gentlemen and ladies, and to know what their rights were, and to stand for them and not be tools for any party, but to grow and be an honor to their race and their color.
Just here I gives a certificate from some of the very best men in Morris, Grundy county, State of Illinois, and all signed by themselves, and I hold the original and give my readers a copy from it. It is as follows:
Morris, Grundy County, Illinois,
January 16, 1878.
To Whom IT MAY Concern:
We hereby certify that we have been for the past ten years acquainted with Norval Blair, who has resided here, and know that he is an active, industrious and successful
farmer, and a man of good habits and will labor honestly to fulfill any contracts he may make.
E. STANSBERRY, (formerly assessor).
S. W. CLAYPOOL.
M. K. KELLER.
N. MCBRIDE, Justice of the Peace.
I have known Norval Blair for the past thirteen years. I endorse all said above and more. He is not only a faithful and successful farmer, and that he would not be in a law case now if he had not fallen into the hands of James N. Reading, who not only took all of his earnings for five years, but took all he had earned before that time. Blair is worthy and deserving of your confidence.
W. T. HOPKINS.
Late Judge of Grundy County.
Now I will give the names of more gentlemen. Hon. John Barr, the Mayor of the city of Morris, and L. Jo Beach, and John Canear, and hundreds more that will testify as regards to my character, and my standing for honesty, sobriety and industry. When C. H. Gould went on the witness-stand he acted the perfect gentleman, and said he knew nothing against me, and Frank Hall, the grain man said the same, and that he had known me for 16 years and had always found me an honest man. And so said George Lane. The whole facts as before stated, I could not honestly support the Republican party, and therefore I have been thus badly and basely treated because I honestly feel that me and my race have all to expect as to future legislation from the Democratic party, and therefore I stand, with my family,
for the party that we think is for the whole people, without regard to race or color, and of course I do it with the understanding that I and my family must go through great persecutions.
My Sister's child, a man called Carey Olin, who was a colored man, came to my house on a Sunday morning, drunk, and cursing and swearing, and said that Judge Reading told him to shoot me or any of my boys, and that he would protect him from the violation of the law. I did not know whether it was so or not, and threatened him if he did not keep still I would have him put in jail. I followed him to town a mile and a half, afraid he would shoot some of my boys, and on the way he snapped a seven shooter at me, and he goes straight to his protector, and while I was looking up the officers in town he disappeared out of my sight, and I found his horse hitched in Ray's yard. Some person told me he had gone to Sandford's, and sure enough we started there, me and the officors, and he saw us coming and came staggering out of Sandford's gate, and there we captured the intended murderer and put him in jail; and so many people was known to the case the witnesses would have been sufficient to send him to the state's prison. Being as it was my sister's own child, and she a poor, ignorant negro, I thought it best to drop it, he was so misled by Reading that rather than see him go to the penitentiary I paid the costs and let him go home to his wife and children. My life here has been one continued martyrdom. I have earned, owned and been swindled out of more than fifty thousand dollars property, and that is all a poor black man can expect from Northorn Repubcans.
I hereby certify that I lived and ate off rotten coons
in the bottom on Judge Redding's farm, and did it because no one would give me a day's work only Norvel Blair. I am in Morris to day and will be back very soon and tell more about Judge Reading.
Dan'l E, Carpenter.
Witness Wm. G. Miller.Sept. 7, 1680.
I got the above from the poor boy Carpenter, who ate the rotten coons to keep from starving, and when I found out his condition I gave him work. He is traveling with Van Amberg's show and will soon be in Morris to stand up and tell the facts in person. The colored race are no longer going to eat the putrified flesh of horses and coons.
There was one thing I had forgotten, and that was this That a colored man who was my own sister's child, told me that he had been persuaded to get my stock into the barn and to burn it up, because I had given sufficient bonds when I replevied the property, and he afterward left the country when he found that I was going to bring him into court; and he was persuaded to do this by Republicans, and I can prove it.
Now I say there is no question as to which party the colored race should work for. I boldly say that the only hope of the colored race is by and through the Democratic party. Therefore I stand for that party. I am not afraid to say boldly that I am battling and will continue to battle for its success.
If anyone doubts as to the parties whom I have named in this book, I refer them to Dr. Hand, an old practicing physician, of Morris, Grundy County, Illinois. I am no fraudulent nigger; I am a nigger for the rights of my wife, my old father, mother, and my sons and daughters
and the race to which I belong, and that so much was promised by the Republican party when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
What I think is the greatest wrong and appeal to the readers of this book, that Reading was my paid attorney, and then he goes and confesses a judgment in favor of John McNellis without my knowledge or consent, to the amount of $552.80, and knows that I did not ever get any consideration for the said judgment note, and that I told him so, and that I executed the said judgment note through ignorance, and was badly deceived, that is, if I ever did execute it, it was with the understanding that I was only signing a bill of sale in reference to certain business matters between McNellis and myself. Now, this is the truth, before God, and Reading knows it, because he told me as my attorney, that it was a fraud practiced on me, and he would defend and get me out of it. Now, I and my son leased and moved on the Reading farm, and then, as our paid attorney, he commenced the fraudulent scheme of gradually getting control of our property, and getting, step by step, all we produced on the farm, and assured us that he was not only our attorney, but that he was the attorney of McNellis, and that he would see that we would not have to pay that fraudulent judgment of McNellis; we being ignorant of law and Reading being our attorney and the professed friend of our race, we confided in him, and to our great sorrow. His plan was this: He got me and my son, Benjamin P. Blair, to sign a mortgage to him for the sum of $450; with interest at ten per cent., payable annually, and directed me and my son, Ben, as our PAID attorney to sign a note, and for Ben to execute a chattel mortgage with me, and of even date
with the said note, ($450), and we did so, because he was our attorney, and we having paid him, and confided in him, thought he was doing it for our good and for our protection. He got the mortgage on all our cattle, horses, and also all we had in this great world, of our honest living.
And more, this man Reading, who was my paid attorney, went to the grain dealers and forbid them purchasing my grain, and thereby I was for a time prevented from having a living after I had earned it. I charge more against Reading. While he was my paid attorney I paid him sums of money amounting in all to a thousand dollars, and did so as loans, and did not owe him a cent; but he threatened me that if I did not do it he would bring the McNellis judgment and levy on my property--he got me scared and I did just whatever he told me to do. He got my money and earnings in this way, under the pretense that he was my very dear friend and attorney, in fact, and I had paid him so much that I did not think it possible that he would take advantage of me; but he did, and I now have my case submitted to the Supreme Court of Illinois for adjudication.
Now then, I went to Reading, my paid attorney, and told him that I was dissatisfied in the way he was getting my property into the hands of his son-in-law, L. B. Ray, and that I was ready to settle the judgment, and that Card, who then held the judgment, had agreed with me to take $350; but Reading, as my paid attorney, would not let me settle and pay it
Now then on Wednesday night, the 15th of September, 1880, I sends for Dr. Palmer--I thought my child was dangerously ill--and he promised my son he would come, but he did not, and on Thursday I meets him in his
office and asked him why, after promising my son, he he did not come to see my child and she so sick. He replied that he was afraid he would not get his pay. I asked for the name and he said he was advised by a Republican, but would not tell the name, and this is the cause of his not coming. I owe no doctor a cent, as I recollect of, but I being a nigger, and having refused to vote and act with the Republican party, I cannot get a Republican doctor to attend my sick child. Now then, what is this country coming to, after all the promises the Redublicans have made to me and my race. I ask in all my soul if this is freedom, and if it is, I would rather be back on the old plantation of my former masters, and there live and there die, as to submit longer to Northern dominations. If me and my race are freemen, for God's sake let us know it. We are determined to have our rights. We fought for them, and feel that we cannot longer be the tools of Northern freedom shriekers. This crew in Morris, the father-in-law and his son-in-law, have got my earnings by base deception, and I now wait the action of the Supreme Court to see if I can get it back.
I appeal to the people
of the Democratic party and all good citizens to assist me in the
circulation of these facts, that my race may have a perfect understanding
of what their treatment will be if they come North and get in with
Republicans. They seek only to get our labor, and in return think we ought
to be satisfied with with old clothes and to live
on carrion. And
when we get ahead and work, then they lay plans to get it away from us. These are
PLAIN AND HONEST FACTS
For the voters, white and black, of the United States of
America, compiled by myself and published for the benefit of my race, in this year 1880, with the hope that my people may see the deceptions of the Republican party and in the future avoid it and have nothing to do with it. They only make pretentions to love the black man to get his vote and his labor, and then rob him. This is my experience. Now I have given a detail of my life, past and present; and appeal to all good people if I am right or wrong. God made me and my race. The good and great ABRAHAM LINCOLN freed us from our bondage--not to be slaves--but my experience is that the party who cried so loud for our freedom is the ones who oppress us more than our old masters did, therefore I makes this statement and publishes this little book.
Now I have given a plain statement of facts and will answer for the truthfulness of the same before my God. Will the people listen to the facts as I have given them? In the name of God and justice am I to be wronged when I was plead with by my own attorney, Reading, who was my confidential legal adviser, to sign papers that I was ignorant of, only as he told me, and by the signing of which I was cheated and defrauded And as God is my judge, I had no idea that I was signing away my property, and that by signing such papers I am a poor ruined colored man, and have had no consideration whatever.
My attention since writing the above has been called to the case in Galesburg, Illinois, where a negro married a Miss Chase, and an attempt is being made now to separate the couple, and the negro is in jail. They were married under the laws as made by the Republicans. Now is it right when Republicans make such laws, giving
the negro the right under the law to marry any woman who will marry him, whether her complexion be black, brown, yellow or white? Now in this case the negro married a white girl, and they have thrown him into prison. Where do they find the law to take this man's wife from him? Is he not entitled to the same protection as a white man? We have been blaming the Southern people for not dealing fairly with the negro. Now we find the State of Illinois arresting a colored man and imprisoning him because a white girl fell in love with and married him. Now if this had happened in a Southern state, these same Republicans would use it as an argument why we niggers should not vote the democratic ticket. Now this only goes to show the inconsistency of the Republicans who made the laws and made us their equals in all things. But when we come to demand our rights under the law, we find that the Caucassian holds that we have no rights under the law as made by the Republican party, and therefore the proclamation of the good Abraham Lincoln must have been a fraud, and that the laws made in pursuance thereof was not made in sincerity and truth, and therefore the Republican party is a fraud, and therefore I am no longer a Republican, and so help me God I never will be, and I advise my race to abandon the party and cling to the party of the country that will deal out equal and exact justice to all men, without regard to race or color.
As another fact, I sent my boys out to see to my stock, and on their way back they were met by Rube Runnels and John Runnels, and because they voted the Democratic ticket they stopped them on the highway and drew their revolvers on them. They were Republicans, and the only reason they could of had was that the boys
voted the Democratic ticket. These parties were indicted before the grand jury, but when brought before the Republican court they were dismissed.
Again, after me and my boys had voted the Republican ticket for ten years, and then when we changed and voted the Democratic ticket, they compelled us to swear our votes in at the same place where had always voted, and our right was never questioned to vote until the Republicans found we had changed our politics. Now, what is to be thought of the Northern bulldozers? Compare them with the South.
The colored race is deceived everywhere, but God our Father will lead us and care for us, and all we have to do is to stand firmly for our rights under the laws. We have rights under the laws as made by the Republican party, and if we stand firm for the maintainance of them we will have a perfect freedom, otherwise we will be the slaves of Northern Yankees. We have the voting power. Now let us exercise it for our own and our children's future good. Our race is yet to make a great mark in the future, and if not, God made a great mistake when he said. "He made all men of the same flesh and the same blood."
Now, I close this book with an earnest appeal to all my race to stand for the laws, and to no longer vote for the Republican party. They are not our friends, and have gone back on the promises and laws they made under the pretense to protect our race.
I am, etc.,
NORVEL BLAIR,Morris. Grundy County, Illinois.
Great God, my Heavenly Father, who knowest every thing that happens in this great, big world, listen to the cry of the poor black man, and reward our persecuters as they deserve. Thou God of justice and of right, thou great giver of every good and perfect gift, do not see us trampled upon, because Thou, in Thy great wisdom, saw fit to make us black, but let Thy sun of righteousness shine upon us, and aid us in discomforting our many foes. Lord, their is a great army against us, and we are in sore distress: yea, we are compassed about by legions of devils, and, from the debths of despair, we cry, Help! Lord, help, yes, help us Lord, and we will sing praises unto Thee as long as Thou permittest our breath to last. We are in the great, dark valley, but come, Thou Balm of Gilead, and heal our wounds so that we may be enabled to take our harps from the willows and tune them again to Thy praise and glory.
Lord, we long for Thy coming to hasten our departure for that quiet and sure haven of refuge, where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest, Singing praises around Thy throne and joining in the grand chorus as it swells on high, Hosanna to the Lord in the highest.