The kind of heat that opens cotton bolls and splits pomegranates hung over Minden, La. (pop. 6,677) in the backwoods 265 miles northwest of New Orleans. Flies buzzed behind drawn curtains. People walked slowly, kept to the shade of the great spreading oaks beneath which Edmund Kirby-Smith's rebel troops had marched in '64. It was a quiet week. There was a little gossip about a Negro named John Johnson, who had been lynched; but nothing the folks in Minden felt was really worth talking about.

John Johnson had been a soldier in Europe,...

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