Alexander Boyd (county solicitor)

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Alexander Boyd (September 8, 1834 – March 31, 1870) was notable as the Republican County Solicitor and Register in Chancery of Greene County, Alabama in 1870 during Reconstruction who was murdered by a lynching party of Ku Klux Klan members. He was fatally shot on March 31, 1870 in Eutaw, the county seat. The Klan members apparently intended to hang him in the square in a public lynching, to demonstrate their power during this period and their threat to Republicans.[1]

Boyd fiercely resisted their taking him from his hotel room. In the armed confrontation, he was shot and killed there. As was typical of most Klan attacks, his murderers were never brought to justice. That same night, prominent black Republican James Martin was shot and killed at his home in Union, Alabama, also in Greene County.[1]

Early life[edit]

Boyd was born in South Carolina, and later lived in Alabama. He was among thousands of Klan victims who were killed or wounded in Alabama and other Southern states during the Reconstruction era. The Klan's primary targets were freedmen and free blacks from the North, but they also attacked and intimidated white Republican officeholders, teachers, and other freedman sympathizers.

Similarly, the Greene County Courthouse was burned in 1868, and some suspect it was arson to destroy such records of suits by freedmen against planters.

Death[edit]

On the night of Boyd's murder, thirty masked, armed, and costumed Klansmen were observed riding into the town square of Eutaw, the county seat of Greene County. A number of the men entered George Cleveland's hotel and demanded to be shown to Boyd's room. Boyd put up unexpected resistance and a gunfight broke out. He was wounded and left the room, and was fatally shot in the hallway. It is believed that he was attacked to prevent prosecution of suits by freedmen against planters.[2] That same night, James Martin, a black Republican prominent in the county, was shot by gunmen near his home in Union, Alabama, who took him away rather than let him be treated; he was never seen again.

Aftermath[edit]

In the fall of 1870 before elections, two black politicians were killed in Greene County. An estimated four blacks were killed by whites in the Eutaw riot, which took place in the town square.[3][4]

President Ulysses S. Grant gained congressional passage of the 1870 Enforcement Acts, intended to authorize the federal government to suppress Klan violence. While the Klan was suppressed, rifle leagues and such insurgent groups as the White League in Louisiana and Red Shirts in Mississippi and the Carolinas developed as other paramilitary insurgent groups.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Newton, Michael (2004-01-01). The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816069880.
  2. ^ Rogers, William Warren (2013-01-02). "The Boyd Incident: Black Belt Violence During Reconstruction". Civil War History. 21 (4): 309–329. doi:10.1353/cwh.1975.0009. ISSN 1533-6271.
  3. ^ Hennessey, Melinda M. (1980). "Political Terrorism in the Black Belt: The Eutaw Riot". Alabama Review. 33: 35–48.
  4. ^ Waldrep, Christopher (2011). Jury Discrimination: The Supreme Court, Public Opinion, and a Grassroots Fight for Racial Equality in Mississippi. U of Georgia P. p. 137. ISBN 9780820341941.