White supremacy shaped John McCain's life

Jr. | 4/12/2011, 4:33 p.m.

Within a week of the ratification of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the Ku Klux

Klan was formed in Pulaski, Tennessee. The founder was former Confederate general Nathan B. Forrest, who also led the Fort Pillow Massacre. After Forrest secured a truce with Union troops, he slaughtered 238 Black soldiers at Fort Pillow.

With the KKK leading America's first war on terrorism, slave power was transferred from private ownership to states' rights. The local custodians for newly emancipated Blacks were local sheriffs. Courthouses were the local headquarters for white supremacy. Black Codes would supplant the slave codes.

Nearly 100 years later, the legal structure of the South remains unaltered. James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman found it out the hard way. The local sheriff and a posse of Klansmen intercepted them on June 21,1964.Their bodies were later found near Philadelphia, Mississippi. Sheriffs in Mississippi were, invariably, members of the KKK.

On March 17, 1886, Blacks had assembled at the Carroll County, Mississippi, courthouse to support or to give testimony on behalf of two brothers who had been charged with assaulting a white lawyer with intent to kill. The white lawyer had assaulted Ed Brown. A gunfight ensued, with gunshot wounds to the lawyer, James Liddell. Ed and Charley Brown were vigorously prosecuted in Carroll County.

While Sheriff T.T. Hamilton was conveniently at home,a white mob entered the Carroll County Courthouse and proceeded to murder 23 defenseless Blacks. A grand jury would later fault the Black victims for their own demise. Even after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, Blacks enjoyed no right of self-defense.

Every white official in the state, including Sen. John McCain's great-grandfather, applauded the massacre. Sen.Blanche K.Bruce and Cong. John R. Lynch of Mississippi went to the White House to protest the Carrolton Courthouse Massacre to President Grover Cleveland, who would cite to them the Supreme Court ruling in Cruikshank v.United States.

In February 1886, Sheriff Hamilton had already given the keys to the jail at the courthouse to a white mob. Will McKinney had been convicted of killing Charlie Broadway. The mob dragged McKinney out of the jail, shot and lynched him on the courthouse square.The courthouse had also served as the county's auction block and all slave records were housed in it.

Sen. John McCain co-authored "Faith of My Fathers." It is mostly about Sen. McCain, his father and his grandfather. However, he described his anonymous, great-grandfather in the book as "inspiring his sons, my grandfather and great-uncle, to pursue careers as professional officers."

McCain's father and grandfather became admirals. McCain had a career in the Navy, but opted out for politics and became a carpetbagger. He chose Arizona as his political home. Arizona had been a territory of the Confederate States of America.

Interestingly, McCain failed to reveal the name of his great-grandfather in the book and for good reason. He was an arch white supremacist. In four other books written about Sen. McCain, none of them even mentioned his great-grandfather.