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April 14 , 2010

Murder in the Courthouse

Reconstruction and Redemption in the North Carolina Piedmont


No suspect was ever indicted or tried for the murder of scalawag politician John W. “Chicken” Stephens in a North Carolina courthouse; and the Ku Klux Klan not only rid itself of a troublesome adversary, but also set up a showdown between the state’s old guard and the radical regime of Governor William Woods Holden. Follow this little-known tale from the murder, through the “Kirk-Holden War,” through the courts and to the finale, when Holden became the United States’ first governor impeached and removed from office. Newspaper reporter and historical columnist Jim Wise takes us beyond the final days of the Civil War in North Carolina, amidst the destruction and poverty and debt, to chronicle the men whose clashing agendas and personalities shaped a violent era and laid foundations for the Jim Crow century to come.

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