“Letter from Gov. Smith.”

Source Type: Newspaper
Author: William H. Smith
Publisher: The West Alabamian
Place of publication: Carrollton, Alabama
Date of publication: Apr 27, 1869 11:50 pm

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, STATE OF ALABAMA, Montgomery, April 28, 1869. T. P. Lewis, Esq., Sheriff of Tuscaloosa County: Sir–Letters have been received at this Department representing that much lawlessness is being perpetrated by organized bands of disguised men in your county. It is alleged that, within the last few days, several persons have been murdered in or near the city of Tuskaloosa, This state of things is intolerable. These lawless bands must be put down at all hazards. It is your duty to summarily arrest all violators of law, without exceptions and in order that you be enabled to enforce the law in this regard, you must not hesitate to exercise all the authority conferred upon you, as an executive officer, and a conservator of the peace. The Constitution makes it the duty of the Governor to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. I therefore deem it a duty to direct that you immediately take steps to ascertain, if possible, who have already violated law, and have them arrested. You will also adopt the most rigorous measures for maintaining the public peace, and protecting citizens against lawlessness of every kind. In these measures for vindicating and maintaining law, you will have the co- operation and direct assistance of all good citizens. Yon have the legal right to demand the aid of as many citizens as may be necessary to enable you to perform all your official duties. Therefore, you must promptly summon sufficient posse comitatus to overcome all rĂ©sistance to law. Every man who refuses or hesitates to serve when legally called upon, will be held to a rigid accountability as an enemy to law and order. Should you find any person so lost to sense of public duty as to refuse obedience to your summons, you will report their names to this Department, and the proper means will be taken to have inflicted upon them punishment to which such refusal subjects them, You will please communicate with this Department immediately, and furnish full information upon the questions herein referred to. I desire to be informed particularly as to your ability to preserve order and enforce the law. It is my sincere wish that this be done by the ‘local authorities of the country. But if they are unable to accomplish the desired end, it must and shall be done by some other means. Very respectfully, Your obedient servant, William H. Smith, Governor of Alabama.