A Rare Scene in the Mayor's Court

May 7, 1868


Men, Women, Black, White, and other nationalities are all gathered to voice their displeasures towards Mayor Mayo.


A Rare Scene in the Mayor's Court- Seventy Parties, White and Black, Arraigned In One Case.-The first stationhouse and Mayor's court-room presented on yesterday a scene that can hardly be described. As one approached the stationhouse his ears were almost deafened with the clatter of tongues and the shuffling of feet; and as he entered, a sight for hours of contemplation greeted his eyes. There were assembled seventy personages-male and female, white and black,-mixed incongruously, and each sustaining his or lier misfortune after their own disposition. Here was a white man who tried to put on the best face he could in such company, there another who made no attempt to hide his shame, but hung his head low and asked, for the sake of his family, not to have his name put in the paper. A curlyheaded mulatto barber boy shook his head and exclaimed : " Dis is too had ; my customers hear of it, and I'll have to break up my shop." A genteel-looking house servant said: "D-n it, jess my luck; I nuver went nowhar whar I had no business widout bein caught." A dozen negro fellows walked boldly about, affecting indifference and crying out: "I don't care a -; I can git bail I reckin. Don't sot dis nigger hack 'bout nothin in de creek. The scene thus far is disgusting, but the heart grows heavy with sadness and throbs with pain as we cast our eyes in yonder corner, where is crouched a shivering feniale form clad in silk and velvet. The figure is a very fine one-there is something attractive about it. The face is buried in her hands, and she is sobbing bitterly. Presently she raises her head. Good heavens! she is white! And there is beauty in that face, though the features are somewhat bloated and the eyes bleared by dissipation. Poor stricken creature, is there no one to save you ? Would to God you had no further to go on the road to ruin and degradation ! Suddenly we are startled by rude tones from the mouth of a brazen piece, whose face is white: "Bill, you fool, didn't I tell you to leave the ball before the police came. A d-1 of a scrape you've gotten me into." Bill mumbles in reply : " No use cryin' over spilt milk, Sail." These sentences were abundantly interlarded with oaths and filthy expressions. We pass from this scene into the courtroom, where are gathered an immense crowd, which fills the space allotted to the spectators, and the galleries too. What is he meaning of all this? The police made a descent on John Clark's negro dancehouse, on Cary street, last Tuesday night, and the creatures we have just passed were bagged as participants in a noisy, rowdy ball. This was the first case brought before the new Mayor. Seventy of this salt-and-pep-per-mixed party, looking headachy, blouted, and played out, were marched into the pri soner's box, and from thence before his Honor. There were thirty-three negro men, twenty negro women, twelve white men, and three white women. Among them we noticed John Watson, bullet-headed mulatto member of the late black-and-tan Convention. Ah! John, you've been caught napping rather late in life. Besides him, there were a number ot members of the Radical Nominating Convention, whose names we were unable to find out. The evidence given by the policeman who arrested the party showed that they were doing nothing but " kicking up a row generally," and as they were only "kicking up a row generally," without hurting anybody, the Mayor discharged the whole crowd. They made their exit, together with the majority of the vast assemblage in the "parquette," in a most boisterous manner, and for a time the confusion of Babel would have appeared as harmony and quiet by comparison with this scene.
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Joshua Hurlburt




“A Rare Scene in the Mayor's Court,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1030.