"A sickening state of things"

Wilmington Octr 9th 1831—

You have no doubt heard of the alarm we have experienced on the subject of insurrection — many of the reports were totally false, others excessively exaggerated, that is, as to their being actually in arms, & on their way to commit savages, but the appalling fact admits of no doubt, that there was a deep laid & extensive plot formed, & that an early period in the present month had been fixed on for its perpetration. — The disclosure was made by a mulatto, a freeman, to a gentleman in So Washington. Several have been executed in Duplin, Samson & here, & the jail is now crowded with the accused. It is a sickening state of things — one to which we are always in a more or less degree liable, & it will require more than a herculeanA herculean effort is an effort worthy of Hercules, who in Greek myth performed twelve labors, or tasks, requiring tremendous strength. In one, he diverted a river to clean the greatest stables in Greece. In another, he fought a lion whose skin made him invulnerable to arrows or spears; Hercules strangled the lion to death with his bare hands. So, obviously, to say that your efforts are “herculean” is hyperbole, or exaggeration. effort in ourselves to [illegible] the fetters of our slave population & to transport them to their own landThat is, to Africa. During the antebellum period, several attempts were made to buy slaves, free them, and send them “back” to Africa. In 1847, a group of freed slaves founded the colony of Liberia, on the coast of West Africa. But by 1831, few African Americans had been born in Africa. Most thought of the United States as their home and would not have agreed that Africa was “their own land.”. — Till this is resolved on & executed we can have no security but in a state of unremitted vigilance. I do not know if you remember Billy an African belonging to Mr. L— he & another man of ours are among the accused. They have confessed among other things that their plot had been formed & was just ready to be put into execution 12 months ago, but that some informations were given which caused the removal of Jacob [illegible] who was to have been their leader & they gave it up till they could fix on another. This Jacob was sold by his master to a speculator who took him to Mobile, where he now is. He has written by mail to his wife here. I am particular in mentioning this because I think it will be well to let the proper authorities know, that such a character is in their vicinity.…