Thursday, September 24, 2015

White Caps and Blue Bills



First Hint: This is not about baseball:

White capping had its origin in Sevier county with a class of people whose intentions were good and while they knew it was a violation of law, they persuaded themselves that it was to say the worst of it only a mild violation and a pardonable step, to take in order to right an existing evil. In Sevier County, like all other counties, there are citizens whose morals are not as good as they ought to be, men and women whose habits are lewd and who live adulterous lives. It is always unfortunate for any community to number among its citizens persons of this character. And while it is and has always been a violation of law in Tennessee for people to live in adultery, yet that law has not always been efficacious in protecting the good and punishing the bad. The evildoer seeks in every way to evade the law, and conceal his deeds from those who are likely to be called upon to testify against him. In this way the law is cheated. Indictments if found are not sustained, the guilty go unpunished and society suffers.
In this regard Sevier county has not been an exception. About the year 1892, certain communities in Sevier county had become infested with lewd characters whose conduct was very obnoxious to the good citizens, and after repeated but unsuccessful efforts by legal methods to punish these evil doers in the courts, the good citizens became disheartened feeling that the law was not furnishing that protection to society that it should. Thereupon certain persons with good intentions, but mistaken judgments and more unwise than they then thought, began to discuss the advisability of getting rid of the immoral characters above referred to by some other method than through the courts- the only legal channels. 


I do solemnly swear before God and man that if I reveal anything concerning our organization or anything we may do, the penalty shall be to receive one hundred lashes, and leave the county within ten days or be put to death. Now I take this oath freely and voluntarily, and am willing to abide by the obligation in every respect. I further agree and swear before God, that if I reveal anything concerning our organization, I will suffer my throat to be cut, my heart to be shot out, and my body to be burned, that I will forfeit my life, my property, and all that I may have in this world and in the world to come: So help me God 

What could possibly go wrong? 

(Source: The White-caps: A History of the Organization in Sevier County, E. W. Crozier, Bean, Warters & Gaut, 1899)

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