September 19, 1866
Republicans in the city are accused of tricking the "ignorant negro" into believing the recent cholera outbreak affecting the city is actually being caused by the white Richmonders poisoning the black residents. A large crowd is gathering outside the home of one black family that fell ill.
Negro Gullibility.--Some malicious "loyalist" in this city has been endeavoring to inflame the minds of the negro population by telling them that the disease now prevalent is not cholera, but in reality the effect of poison administered by the "white folks" that the latter have been engaged in poisoning the wells, fruits, and food--and, ridiculous as this story is, it has found many believers among the more ignorant classes of the blacks. The negro is emphatically a gullible being, but we hardly thought he could be made to believe such a barefaced lie as this. The instigator of the story has even gone farther, and convinced them that the druggists put some villainous concoction into their prescriptions and thus hurry the unfortunate darkies out of the world in little less than no time. We have the best authority for stating that the negroes have set on foot a subscription for the purpose of bringing on a colored apothecary from the North, with a stock of "colored" drugs, in the hope of checking the mortality now prevailing. the more intelligent of our black population however, will have nothing to do with it, they having sense enough to see and comprehend the absurdity of the whole Yesterday morning, a negro man, his wife and child, living on Broad between Seventeenth and Eighteenth streets, were taken suddenly ill shortly after eating their breakfast and immediately became convinced that they were poisoned. The report spread like wildfire, and the house was soon surrounded by a throng of blacks, who continued to come and go all day. They were much excited, gesticulated in a violent manner, and uttered the most direful threats of vengeance for the supposed outrage. It appears that the negro family above alluded to purchased yesterday morning a small quantity of flour from John Gallaher, a baker, on Seventeenth street. This was made into bread, and all partook heartily of it except the negro girl who made it up, who positively refused to eat. Late in the afternoon this girl was taken with a violent fit of hysterics and it was found necessary to resort to asafetida and mustard remedies to restore her to her equilibrium. The other patients were all doing well at half-past 8 o' clock last night, with a good prospect of speedy recovery. The flour which was alleged to have been poisoned was partially analyzed yesterday afternoon by Mr. John Hancock, clerk at Mr. Frayser's drug store, and nothing wrong was discovered. It is the opinion of medical gentlemen who saw the negroes that they were suffering from an attack of bilious cholic.
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“Negro Gullibility,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 21, 2020, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/331.