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Series: The Police Reporter
Show: Program #3 (The Georgia Slave Murders)
Date: Jan 04 1935

CAST:
ANNOUNCER
THE POLICE REPORTER
AGENT
GUS CHAPMAN
JOHN S. WILLIAMS
CLYDE MANNING

MUSIC:

THEME ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

The Police Reporter!

MUSIC:

FILLS A LONG PAUSE ... THEN OUT BEHIND--

ANNOUNCER:

Once more, the Police Reporter brings to you one of his strange stories of authentic happenings.

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THREE CHIMES ... FOR A TRANSITION

REPORTER:

Early in the winter of Nineteen Twenty-One, a case was brought to the attention of the Department of Justice in Atlanta, Georgia, which for horror and cruelty is almost without parallel. On a brisk winter morning, a Negro is being questioned by an agent of that federal department.

AGENT:

What's your name?

CHAPMAN:

Gus Chapman, sir.

AGENT:

Well, Gus, what is it you think I ought to know?

CHAPMAN:

Well, sir, about six months ago, I got in a fight and they arrested me.

AGENT:

Well now, you've come up to complain about the way they treated you in the chain gang, is that it?

CHAPMAN:

No, no, sir. 'Tain't that, sir.

AGENT:

Well, what is it, then?

CHAPMAN:

They fined me a hundred dollars or six months on the chain gang, and, well, I didn't have the hundred dollars, but a man came up to me in the courtroom and he said [he'd] pay my fine if'n I'd work it out on his plantation. He said he'd pay me thirty dollars a month and my keep.

AGENT:

So you let the man pay your fine and went to work on his plantation?

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir.

AGENT:

Nothing illegal in that.

CHAPMAN:

No, sir. But I went to work for the man six months ago and I ain't never got a chance to run off till last week.

AGENT:

What do you mean "run off"?

CHAPMAN:

Well, I had to run off. The man wouldn't let me go.

AGENT:

Well, how could he keep you if you didn't want to stay?

CHAPMAN:

Well, he just locked us all up in the cabins and the stockade and we just couldn't get away.

AGENT:

Locked ya up in a stockade?

CHAPMAN:

Well, it's a big wall that he got built around the cabins so's ya can't run away in the night.

AGENT:

Well, if he didn't put any restrictions on you, how could he keep you from running away before you'd worked out your fine?

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir, but I done worked out my fine over two months ago and he wouldn't let me leave. He owes me over fifty dollars now.

AGENT:

Did you ever ask him for it?

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir.

AGENT:

What'd he say?

CHAPMAN:

He told me to get back to work and shut up.

AGENT:

Why didn't you report him to the police?

CHAPMAN:

Well, how could I? I couldn't get to town.

AGENT:

You mean he wouldn't let you go?

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir.

AGENT:

You should have insisted.

CHAPMAN:

Well, I did. I told him if he didn't let me go, I'd tell the po-lice.

AGENT:

Then what happened?

CHAPMAN:

Puh-lenty.

AGENT:

What?

CHAPMAN:

I'll show you what happened. Look at my back.

AGENT:

(HORRIFIED) Good God, man! You've been horsewhipped.

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir. And that's why I run away and come to you. White folks ain't allowed to make slaves out of us colored folks no more. Is they, mister?

AGENT:

Of course not, Gus.

CHAPMAN:

Well, that's why I came to you, sir, and - and that's why I want you to do somethin'.

AGENT:

Say, what was the name of this man that did all this to you, Gus?

CHAPMAN:

A man by the name of John S. Williams. Got a plantation down on the Yellow River.

AGENT:

Well, now, let me see if I've got this straight. You went to John S. Williams' plantation to work out a fine, and he kept you locked up in a stockade?

CHAPMAN:

Mm hm. Yes, sir. And every night, we was put in there and locked up.

AGENT:

And when you insisted on leaving, he horsewhipped you.

CHAPMAN:

He didn't whip us hisself. He got one of the boys on the place what does it.

AGENT:

Gus, I'm going out to see John S. Williams, and if what you've told me is true--

CHAPMAN:

Oh, it is true, sir! Every bit of it!

AGENT:

Well, then, we'll put him in a place where he'll find out how it feels to be locked up. He'll find out the government meant business when they passed laws forbidding slavery and peonage.

MUSIC:

THREE CHIMES ... FOR A TRANSITION

REPORTER:

A few days later, the Department of Justice agent went down to the sinister plantation on Yellow River. We find him standing with the owner, John S. Williams.

AGENT:

We've had a complaint against you, Mr. Williams, which, if it's true, marks you guilty of violating the United States slavery and peonage laws.

WILLIAMS:

What does that mean?

AGENT:

It means that you're holding Negroes here against their wills.

WILLIAMS:

Whoever said that's a liar.

AGENT:

You do keep them locked up inside that stockade at night, don't you?

WILLIAMS:

I've got to. These men are chain gang niggers. If I let them out at night, they'd get into all kinds of mischief.

AGENT:

(WRY) Of course, you don't keep them locked in so they can't run away.

WILLIAMS:

I've got to do something to protect myself. I paid big fines on these men and they've got to work them out, that's all. There ain't nothin' wrong in doin' that.

AGENT:

Well, that isn't what Gus Chapman told us.

WILLIAMS:

You don't believe that no-'count, lazy trash, do you?

AGENT:

You horsewhipped him, Williams. Don't deny it, because I saw his back.

WILLIAMS:

I had to whip him. It was the only way I could keep him from fightin' with the rest of the help.

AGENT:

How many men you got on the place?

WILLIAMS:

Right now I've got twelve.

AGENT:

Well, I want to see the men's quarters, Williams.

WILLIAMS:

Sure. Come right in.

AGENT:

And, uh, these here are the cabins where the men live, I suppose.

WILLIAMS:

Yes, sir.

AGENT:

What's this one?

WILLIAMS:

Uh, the men sleep in here.

AGENT:

How many men to a cabin?

WILLIAMS:

Four.

AGENT:

You don't trust that stockade a great deal, do you, Williams? Put bars on the windows, I see.

WILLIAMS:

I don't take any chances. I've got my family to think about.

AGENT:

So four men live in here?

WILLIAMS:

Yes, sir.

AGENT:

If you hadn'ta told me, I'd've thought it was a pig pen.

WILLIAMS:

I can't help it if the men won't take care of their quarters, can I?

AGENT:

Are any of the men around?

WILLIAMS:

They're all out in the field, exceptin' Clyde Manning. He's workin' in the shop.

AGENT:

Shop? What kind of a shop?

WILLIAMS:

We have to keep the harnesses all fixed and the men's shoes in shape. Can't work in the fields with bad shoes so I got this little shop where we fix things up.

AGENT:

Is this it?

WILLIAMS:

Yes, sir. Go right in.

AGENT:

Quite a complete little place. A lot cleaner than the living quarters, too. This is Clyde, I suppose.

MANNING:

(WARMLY) Clyde Manning, sir.

AGENT:

Well, Clyde, uh, how do you like it here?

MANNING:

(UNCERTAIN) Well, I don't, uh--

WILLIAMS:

Go ahead and tell the man, Clyde.

MANNING:

I like it fine here, Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams, he always been powerful good to me.

AGENT:

How long you been here, Clyde?

MANNING:

Oh, about two years, sir.

AGENT:

Have you ever wanted to leave?

MANNING:

No, sir. I knows when I got me a good job and this one is it.

AGENT:

Do you remember Gus Chapman, Clyde?

MANNING:

Yes, sir, I 'members him. He's a no-'count.

AGENT:

He says he was horsewhipped for asking Mr. Williams for his wages. Is that true?

MANNING:

No, it ain't. He was horsewhipped for fightin'.

AGENT:

Who horsewhipped him?

MANNING:

I did. We tied him to that pole over there and I laid it on. I gave him plenty. And there's the whip I done it with. I wanted to use that one over there, but Mr. Williams wouldn't let me. Said I might cut his skin. Would have done that Gus Chapman good to have some of his black blood runnin' down his back. Might have kept him from bein' so uppity. A good bleedin' sure has a powerful influence on a man.

WILLIAMS:

That's enough, Clyde.

MANNING:

Yassuh.

AGENT:

Say, Clyde, what do you do with all these automobile tires?

MANNING:

I uses them to fix shoes.

AGENT:

You half-sole shoes with old tires?

MANNING:

Yes, sir, and they're awful good for that, too. Just like them fancy rubber-soled shoes on store-boughten shoes.

AGENT:

(INSINUATING) You could make an awful good whip out of a length of tire, couldn't you, Clyde?

MANNING:

(TOO ENTHUSIASTIC) Yes, sir! I could make one that'd cut their backs wide open! But Mr. Williams won't let me. He too kind-hearted. If I was him, I'd beat them niggers plenty! I'd make 'em bleed and I'd just laugh! (LAUGHS HEARTILY)

MUSIC:

THREE CHIMES ... FOR A TRANSITION

REPORTER:

The Department of Justice agent could not find enough evidence to bring charges against John S. Williams, but in his own mind he was sure of the man's guilt. Things were far from what they seemed on that silent, brooding plantation tucked away on the Yellow River. A few weeks later, he was sitting in his office.

SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR

AGENT:

Come in!

CHAPMAN:

Po-liceman said you wanted to see me, sir.

AGENT:

Yes, Gus. It's about that Williams case. I want to see your shoes.

CHAPMAN:

My shoes?

AGENT:

Yes.

CHAPMAN:

You want I should take 'em off, sir?

AGENT:

No. Just let me take a look at the soles.

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir. (BEAT) Thar they is, sir.

AGENT:

Mm hm. Made from automobile tires, aren't they?

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir. That there Clyde Manning on Mr. Williams' place, he fix 'em that way.

AGENT:

That's all I want to know, Gus. You can go now.

CHAPMAN:

Thank you, sir.

AGENT:

Oh, Gus. I'm thinking of arresting Mr. Williams and I need you as a witness. You won't run off, will you?

CHAPMAN:

No, sir!

AGENT:

You'll be around where I can get you when I want you?

CHAPMAN:

Yes, sir! I wants to see that man get some of the medicines he's been handin' out so long!

AGENT:

Well, he'll get it now because we've got the goods on him.

CHAPMAN:

How come you t'ink you got him now when you didn't t'ink you did a couple days ago?

AGENT:

Well, yesterday morning, the bodies of two men were washed up on the shores of the Yellow River. Those two men were murdered.

CHAPMAN:

Oh, I read about it in this morning's paper, sir. They was chained together, back-to-back, so's they jest natur'lly had to drown.

AGENT:

Those two men came from the Williams plantation.

CHAPMAN:

How you know that? They ain't been 'dentified, sir.

AGENT:

I know they're a couple of Williams' men because the shoes they were wearing were soled with pieces of automobile tires!

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THREE CHIMES ... FOR A TRANSITION

REPORTER:

Once more, the Department of Justice agent made the trip to Williams' plantation.

WILLIAMS:

I tell ya, mister -- I turned all them niggers loose.

AGENT:

Why?

WILLIAMS:

They worked out their time and I got my cotton all made, so they ain't nothin' for 'em to do here.

AGENT:

Well, where are they now?

WILLIAMS:

I don't know. When they walk off my place, I'm through with 'em.

AGENT:

Well, you'll have to do better than that, Williams. There hasn't been a stranger in any of the villages around here for weeks. They couldn't leave this place without going through one of them.

WILLIAMS:

(SARCASTIC) Maybe I got 'em all hid somewhere on this plantation.

AGENT:

Yeah, maybe you have at that. Those two murdered Negroes came from here; we got proof of that.

WILLIAMS:

Well, I didn't kill them.

AGENT:

I'm holding you for court just the same, Williams.

MANNING:

You want me, sir?

WILLIAMS:

Keep your mouth shut, Clyde. This man's a policeman.

AGENT:

(SARCASTIC) That's a smart thing to say, Williams.

WILLIAMS:

Clyde's crazy; he'll admit to anything.

AGENT:

(TO MANNING) Clyde? Where are all the men who used to work here?

MANNING:

Uh, they left, sir.

AGENT:

Where'd they go?

MANNING:

Oh, different places.

AGENT:

Yeah. Such as the bottom of the river?

MANNING:

What are you talkin' 'bout, mister?

AGENT:

'Bout the two men you chained back-to-back and threw in the Yellow River.

MANNING:

Who done that?!

AGENT:

You did! You thought it'd be a lot of fun to watch 'em drown, didn't you?

WILLIAMS:

(CAREFULLY) Did you do that, Clyde? If you did, you will hang.

MANNING:

I only did what you told me to.

WILLIAMS:

I never told you to do anything like that and you knows it.

MANNING:

I know you didn't, Mr. Williams.

WILLIAMS:

(TRIUMPHANT, TO AGENT) There! You see, mister?

MANNING:

You told me to kill 'em first, and then throw 'em in the river.

WILLIAMS:

(PANICS) I didn't! I didn't!

MANNING:

Yes, you did, Mr. Williams.

AGENT:

But you thought it'd be more fun to chain 'em together and throw 'em in alive, huh? Is that it, Clyde?

MANNING:

Yassuh. I got tired of just shootin' 'em and hittin' 'em on the head with a' ax.

AGENT:

Are you tellin' me that all of the eleven men who were on this place have been murdered?

MANNING:

Yassuh.

AGENT:

And you killed them all?

MANNING:

Yassuh.

AGENT:

Why?!

MANNING:

'Cause Mr. Williams told me to.

WILLIAMS:

I told you Clyde was crazy; he likes to talk about killin' folks.

MANNING:

I ain't crazy. And I did kill 'em. And if you don't believe it, I'll show you where they's all hid. I got 'em all put away just like Mr. Williams told me to do. He can't say I'm crazy, 'cause I ain't!

AGENT:

Why did Mr. Williams want you to kill 'em?

MANNING:

Mr. Williams said if you found out he was keepin' them niggers when they didn't want to stay, you'd put him in the penitentiary, and I'd lose my job here. I don't have to work hard. And I has lots of fun.

AGENT:

Fun?

MANNING:

Yeah! Whuppin' niggers. I loves to whup niggers.

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THREE CHIMES ... FOR A TRANSITION

REPORTER:

Both men were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. After five years, Clyde Manning died on a chain gang and, a year later, John S. Williams was killed when he tried to prevent some other prisoners from escaping. Even in death, automobile tires played an important part -- for he was run over by a truck, and he went to his grave with their prints on his face!

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THEME ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard another presentation brought to you by the Police Reporter! This is a Radio Release Production.

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THEME ... TILL END