Panic in Hopkinsville, KY
At the end of 1856, a messenger from Lafayette, KY, came to Hopkinsville, KY, seeking help in defending Lafayette against an expected attack by 600 African Americans from the Iron District on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. Hopkinsville formed Vigilance Committees and posted armed guards. Eight to ten thousand slaves worked in the iron works. The telegraph poles were cut down, leaving the city cut-off from communications. African Americans thought to be members of the plot were hanged, shot, or jailed in Kentucky and Tennessee. A white man who had been "passing" was discovered during the roundup of African American men. The man had been painting himself black and living among the African Americans for some time. He was accused by his captors of being the prime instigator and organizer of the insurrection and was taken into the woods and whipped to death. The anticipated insurrection never occurred. For more see "Negro Insurrections in Southern Kentucky and Tennessee," New York Daily Times, 12/11/1856, p. 1; and additional New York Daily Times' articles from 1856: December 12, 23, 25, and 27.