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Lay This Body Down: The 1921 Murders of Eleven Plantation Slaves Hardcover – September 1, 1999
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From Library Journal
Fifty-six years after the end of the Civil War, John Williams, a Georgian plantation owner facing a federal investigation of his use of "peons" (poor blacks bailed out of local jails), decided to kill 11 black men to prevent them from testifying against him. With the help of Clyde Manning, his black overseer, he embarked on a series of cold-blooded murders that resulted in two major trials. Based on extensive newspaper coverage, reports from a federal investigation, and trial testimony, this moving narrative account is arguably the most complete history of this event available. Freeman, a writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, concludes that this event helped to define "a complex and crucial, yet almost forgotten, moment in history"Aa moment when, although the South had fulfilled some of the worst assumptions of outsiders, "the citizens of Georgia stood up and declared their limits." Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries.ARobert C. Jones, Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Fifty years after slavery was believed to have ended in the U.S., John S. Williams, a Georgia plantation owner, was convicted of murdering 11 "slaves" held in peonage on his property. Also convicted was Clyde Manning, the black overseer who had been raised and used by Williams since childhood. Manning, who supplied crucial testimony against Williams, claimed that he was forced to kill most of the men on threat of his own death. The murders were meant to cover the practice of peonage, the forced indefinite labor of black men charged mostly with vagrancy. Peonage was an open secret in the South as late as the 1920s, when the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, precursor to the FBI, began investigating the illegal practice. Freeman, who has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, uses newspaper articles and court documents to render a compelling account of the murders, the sensational trial in rural Georgia, and the social mores of the time and the region. And he explores, to chilling effect, the personalities of Williams and Manning. Vanessa Bush
Top customer reviews
However, it is essential to learn these horrors if one really wants to understand the truth of American culture instead of the myth of American Exceptionalism. It is always better to know the truth, see your nation and culture as it IS, and then work to improve it than simply accept the past as proving our perfection and blithely progressing through life as a fool.
It is so hard to understand the mindset of the people in this book...yet you know it was true. It did happen. And it was horrible. The author has well portrayed the incidents and well as the impact this had on the people of Jasper, Walton and Rockdale Counties, as well as all of Georgia. Its a tough read because of the content, but worth it for those who believe we must study the past to prevent it from recurring in the future.