Abbeville Scimitar

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The Abbeville Scimitar
Type newspaper
Publisher William P. Beard
Founded July 11, 1914
Language English
Ceased publication November 1917
OCLC number 28483678

The Abbeville Scimitar was a short-lived newspaper of Abbeville, South Carolina in the early 20th century,[1] notable chiefly for its outspokenly racist publisher, William P. "Bull Moose" Beard,[2] an ally of Coleman Livingston Blease, a South Carolina politician known for his racist rhetoric.[3] The Scimitar was published weekly upon its debut on July 11, 1914, but became a bi-weekly from June 15, 1915, until the paper's close in November 1917.[4]

In modern sources, the Scimitar is remembered most often in connection to its stance on the lynching of wealthy African-American landowner and Abbeville resident Anthony Crawford in October 1916, and the related statements and editorials it published about the event, in which the paper unabashedly endorsed the lynching and opposed the criminal prosecution of the men responsible for the act.[5] Ironically, some historians have claimed that the output of the Scimitar offered the most frank appraisal of lynching, explicitly defining it as a tool of racist oppression by whites, rather than cloaking it in euphemism, as was typical for most contemporary newspaper accounts of lynchings.[6] Regarding the incident, and lynching in general, Beard wrote in the Scimitar: "Know that when white men cease to whip or kill negroes who become obnoxious, that they will take advantage of the laxity, and soon make this state untenable for whites of all kinds."[5][6]

In 1917, the paper vehemently opposed United States involvement in World War I, often on similarly racist grounds. In numerous editorials, William Beard wrote that white men were obligated to oppose the war, because of the challenge it posed to white supremacy, specifically how white enlisted men might theoretically ever have to salute a black officer, and how this might affect the relations between the two once the war was over. In one typical editorial on the subject, Beard mused "I wonder if the old pine tree at the baseball park would hold them all if that bunch of sassy nigger preachers had made such talk at the courthouse here."[3] Because of his anti-war diatribes, Beard was convicted of sedition in November 1917, and the Scimitar was shut down for good.[3][7]


  1. ^ Library of Congress. "About this Newspaper: The scimitar.". Chronicling America. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  2. ^ Dray, Philip (2002). At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America. New York City: Modern Library. pp. 227–228. ISBN 978-0-375-75445-6. OCLC 51330092. 
  3. ^ a b c Hamer, Fritz P. (2007). Forward Together: South Carolinians in the Great War. Charleston: The History Press. pp. 16–17. ISBN 1-59629-244-X. OCLC 85622942. 
  4. ^ "University of South Carolina library catalog". Abbeville Scimitar. University of South Carolina. Retrieved 2010-03-22. 
  5. ^ a b Spierenburg, Petrus Cornelis (1998). Men and violence: gender, honor, and rituals in modern Europe and America. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. pp. 240–241. ISBN 0-8142-0752-9. OCLC 37432851. 
  6. ^ a b Brundage, William Fitzhugh (1997). Under sentence of death: lynching in the South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 210. ISBN 0-8078-4636-8. OCLC 35008230. 
  7. ^ Lander, Ernest McPherson (1970). A history of South Carolina, 1865-1960, 2nd edition. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. p. 57. OCLC 4130456.