The first newspaper report of the meeting between Conway, Turner, and President Hayes emphasized the president’s warm support of the Exodus and the rescue plan. He was said to have endorsed the charter boat project as a move of “justice and humanity.” When asked whether the federal government could be relied upon to grant protection in the event the mission was opposed by violent means, the president reportedly replied, “with considerable spirit and earnestness, ‘such resistance to a lawful business carried on on a national highway, such as the Mississippi is, would be rebellion, and there would be no doubt but that the government would afford its protection.’” The following day, however, spokesman for the president retracted the original version of the interview, which they ascribed to General Conway. Hayes had been misrepresented, they said, for he had not supposed that thousands of Blacks actually waited on the riverbanks and “he did not advise chartering or sending steamboats to carry them away.”14
- 14- Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean, May 26,27, 31,1879; St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 27, 29,1879.
- P.229, Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter, ISBN 0-393-00951-3