Abram Colby, a former slave and member of the Georgia legislature, was called to Washington in 1872 to testify before a joint House and Senate committee investigating reports of Southern violence.
Members of the Ku Klux Klan had beaten Colby savagely in 1869 in an attempt to end his political activities as a Radical Republican, after earlier efforts to bribe the black legislator had failed. Colby, permanently injured by the assault which had nearly killed him, defied intimidation to remain active in eastern Georgia politics.
Colby: On the 29th of October 1869, [the Klansmen] broke my door open, took me out of bed, took me to the woods and whipped me three hours or more and left me for dead. They said to me, "Do you think you will ever vote another damned Radical ticket?" I said, "If there was an election tomorrow, I would vote the Radical ticket." They set in and whipped me a thousand licks more, with sticks and straps that had buckles on the ends of them.
Question: Did you make a general canvas there last fall?
Colby: No, sir. I was not allowed to. No man can make a free speech in my county. I do not believe it can be done anywhere in Georgia.
Question: You say no man can do it?
Colby: I mean no Republican,either white or colored.