The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging

agitated by an unexplained civil commotion. Early in the after-
noon of Sunday, July 8, a series of fires broke out at almost
the same moment in Dallas, Denton, Pilot Point, Waxahachie,
Kaufman, and several other towns in North Texas. No one knew,
or would admit, who started the blazes. The economic loss, par-
ticularly in Dallas where the fire got beyond control, was heavy.
Although Governor Houston minimized the importance of
the fires, pro-Southern leaders of the area pointed to them as
part of a projected slave uprising planned and fostered, it was
charged, by Abolitionist preachers. At Dallas a vigilante com-
mittee of fifty-two tried and hanged three Negro slaves accused
of complicity. At Fort Worth, another mob captured and hanged
the Reverend Anthony Bewley, following discovery of a letter
purporting to link the presiding elder of the Northern Methodist
Church with a secret order, referred to as the Red Circle. The
order was said to be dedicated to the extinction of Texas slave
owners and their followers.
Lincoln's election in November led to demands for immediate
secession in Texas and other Southern states, but the firm Unionist
stand by Governor Houston delayed the issue from coming to a
head in Texas until February 23, 1861. On that date, a state-
wide referendum was held on an ordinance adopted by the state
secession convention at Austin to sever the union of Texas with
the United States. James J. Diamond was one of Cooke County's
three delegates to that convention. He also was named a member
of the convention's Committee of Public Safety which, during
a six-weeks' recess of the convention, became in effect the revo-
lutionary government of Texas. Through its agents and armed
forces, it compelled the surrender of all United States troops
and forts in the state even before the statewide vote on seces-
sion was taken.
Although Texas as a whole voted for secession by a margin of
44,317 to 13,o2o ballots, nineteen of the 122 organized counties
cast majorities against it. Eight of these opposing counties were
in North Texas, including Cooke County, which voted 221 to
137 against withdrawing from the Union. Grayson, Collin, Mon-
tague, Fannin, Wise, Jack, and Lamar counties also rejected the
ordinance of secession. But Dallas, where the worst of the fires

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed August 29, 2014.