Illinois During the Gilded Age
Pictures and Illustrations.
Hon. Frederick Douglass' Letter.
DEAR MISS WELLS,
Let me give you thanks for your faithful paper on the lynch abomination now generally practised against coloured people in the South. There has been no word equal to it in convincing power. I have spoken, but my word is feeble in comparison. You give us what you know and testify from actual knowledge. You have dealt with the facts with cool, painstaking fidelity, and left those naked and uncontradicted facts to speak for themselves.
Brave woman! you have done your people and mine a service which can neither be weighed nor measured. If American conscience were only half alive — if the American Church and Clergy were only half Christianized — if American moral sensibility were not hardened be persistent infliction of outrage and crime against coloured people — a scream of horror, shame, and indignation would rise to Heaven whenever your pamphlet shall be read.
But alas! even crime has power to reproduce itself and create conditions favourable to its own existence. It sometimes seems we are deserted by earth and Heaven — yet we must still think, speak, and work, and trust in the power of a merciful God for final deliverance.
Very truly and gratefully yours,
CEDAR HILL, ANACOSTIA, D.C., October 25th, 1892.
ALTHOUGH this is neither the time nor place to make an exhaustive defence for the unfortunate Negro race — in the United States of America — for the highly-coloured charges brought against him by the "mean whites," and those who are influenced by their prejudices, I will assume that all the charges are true, and that the Negro "difficulty must last till the way has been found out by which the Ethiopian may change his skin, or till either the white man or the black man departs out of the land." In the meantime, the white man's deadly hatred for the Negro is so great that Mr. W. Laird Clowes observed in 1891 that, "If the racial crimes and outrages which are of daily occurrence in the Southern States were taking place in a semi-civilised part of Europe, and were only half as well advertised as the events in Bulgaria were, the public sentiment of Europe would at once insist upon, and would within six months secure reform, even at the cost of war. Such a situation as sullies the South is a disgrace to the fair name of Anglo-Saxon civilisation." As every effect is said to have a cause, it is only proper that the reader should ask, why do white men murder, torture, and lynch the Negro in the South as they do? If the white man was just and straightforward he would not make the answer which Mr. Laird Clowes has put in his mouth, viz., that it is "Because no white woman is safe from hour to hour in the black country district," because he would have sufficient common sense to know that the chastity of white women is perfectly safe in every country where the Negro is in the majority, and that the real cause lies, not in the Negro's fondness to outrage white women, but in the fact that slavery was abolished by force — physical force, and without compensation to the slaveholder. Seeing that he cannot reek his vengeance upon those who suddenly sprang upon him and forced the Negro's freedom at the point of the bayonet — seeing that he received no compensation, and, therefore, was left a mere pauper to struggle for existence alongside the ex-slave, whom the United States constitution placed upon the same political level as himself, the white man, who aforetime fared sumptuously upon, and at the moral degradation of the Negro, brings, for pure spite, foul charges against him, in the hope that he will once more enslave or exterminate the Negro. Besides, the white man who boasts of superior mental power, must know that the immoral tendencies which he attributes to the Negro of today is greatly due to himself, because for three hundred years he kept him like a horse and bred him as a pig. Is it likely, therefore, that the vice which he so carefully sowed in his nature should be erased by twenty-six years of freedom? Where is the race or nation that was ever regenerated in the same time, or anyway near it? Is it not expecting too much from a people who are said to be ever so much inferior to the white man? How is it we do not find similar charges brought against the West Indian Negroes, as the trumped-up stories of rape and outrage in the southern states? How is it that missionaries in Africa do not impeach the Negroes who are much more savage than those in the South? Moreover, if it is true that Negroes thus misconduct themselves, what right have white men to withhold a fair trial in a Court of Law, or brutally Lynch men who could be easily convicted, if the charges are true? That their ruthless barbarity will not go on for ever is obvious, for already some Southern whites are crying shame upon the reckless lynchers, and justice for the Negro. Mr. W. Laird Clowes was good enough to publish the following in 1891, which appeared in the Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle of January 5th, 1890: —
"Laws are powerless either to prevent the commission of crimes or to punish criminals, unless public sentiment forbids the one and commands the other. Where there is little regard for human life, and we fear this is the case in many portions of our country, the Courts are often to blame for not hanging those who slay their fellowmen. Is it not a fact that it is almost impossible to convict a man of the crime of murder who has any social position or means to defend himself. Fortunately, crimes of this sort do not often occur, but if they did, public sentiment is so demoralised that the Courts would fail of conviction. This is true as to white men who kill their equals. If a Negro kills a white man, he is pretty sure to be lynched or hung; but if a white man slays a Negro, he is in no danger of being lynched, and as to his being hung for the crime, there is no such probability."
There is not a word said about a Negro outraging white women here; it is a mere statement of the evil effects of racial hatred in the South. If a white man thinks that a Negro has offended him, that is quite enough; he kills the Negro with perfect impunity; and the more it is done without punishment, the more it will be done. I do not ask for cantish sympathy for the Negro, but justice — the common birthright of every man. What a hubbub there would be in Europe if the Africans were to turn upon the whites in any part of Africa, under similar pretence, and kill white people without their having the option of defending themselves. Let a Turkish Pasha issue an edict against American missionaries and see how the United States and other representatives will busy themselves in endeavouring to secure justice for the white man and Christian. The Negro did not go to America by choice, he had very little to say in securing his freedom, his moral character has been formed for him by the slaveholder, which character suffered in consequence of the condition in which he lived; the Negro has adopted his
viireligion and language, his tastes and habits, the same as the English copied somebody else's. In short, the Negro is exactly what the slave system made him; is it likely that in the short period of emancipation he should become a better man than the ex-slave-holder? Is not the life of a Negro as precious to him as the white man's, is to himself and his friends? If the Negro abuses the law under which he lives, he should be tried and punished according to that law, and conversely, because the white man violates the law of the country by murders, lynches, and other outrages, he, too, should be tried and punished accordingly. The Negro asks for nothing more than justice. He does not require another Civil War to settle the vexed racial question, because experience has taught that "Peace hath her own victories, no less renowned than war," and the object of the present pamphlet is to create a strong public feeling against injustice, and to awaken the right kind of sympathy for a people who under the most provoking circumstances have on the whole, shown much more forbearance than many other races would have done under like circumstances. It is believed that by giving this pamphlet to the English people, it will not only direct attention to a condition of things which have been allowed to continue too long, but it will, I hope, awaken the love of fairness in the mind of every Englishman, so that influence — moral and religious influences — will be brought to bear upon the American Government, as it was their good fortune to bring upon the Turks, and thereby ameliorated the condition of the Bulgarians and Egyptians, and conferred untold blessings upon a people who will ever be grateful to England. I know how grateful the Negroes of Canada and the West Indies are to English people, and it is certain that those of the United States will be equally so, if this nation will use her mighty moral and religious influence on their behalf. In collecting her facts, Miss Ida B. Wells has taken the greatest possible care, and, knowing the strong hatred of the race, and their general disabilities in the South, I trust that her pamphlet will have a very wide circulation, and awaken public sympathy, such as will tend to secure justice for the poor down-trodden Negro, on whose behalf it is written.
S. J. CELESTINE EDWARDS. (Editor of Lux.)
18, PATERNOSTER Row,
LONDON, E. C.
Chapter I. — The Offence.
ON Wednesday evening, May 25th, 1892, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, was filled with excitement. Editorials in the daily papers of that date caused a meeting to be held in the Cotton Exchange Building; a committee was sent for the editors of the Free Speech, an Afro-American journal published in that city, and the only reason the open threats of lynching that were made were not carried out was because the editors could not be found. The cause of all this commotion was the following editorial published in the Free Speech,May 21st, 1892, on the Saturday previous: —
"Eight Negroes lynched since last issue of Free Speech,one at Little Rock, Arkansas, last Saturday morning where the citizens broke (?) into the penitentiary and got their man; three near Anniston, Alabama, one near New Orleans; and three at Clarksville, Georgia, the last three for killing a white man, and five on the same old racket — the new alarm about raping white women. The same programme of hanging, then shooting bullets into the lifeless bodies, was carried out to the letter. Nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread-bare lie that Negro men rape white women. If Southern white men are not careful, they will overreach themselves and public sentiment will have a reaction; a conclusion will then be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputation of their women."
The Daily Commercial of Wednesday following, May 25th, contained the following leader; —
"Those Negroes who are attempting to make the lynching of individuals of their race, a means for arousing the worst passions of their kind, are playing with a dangerous sentiment. The Negroes may as well understand that there is no mercy for the Negro rapist and little patience with his defenders. A Negro organ printed in this city, in a recent issue publishes the following atrocious paragraph: ‘Nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread-bare lie that Negro men rape white women. If Southern white men are not careful they will overreach themselves, and public sentiment will have a reaction; and a conclusion will be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputation of their women.’ The fact
that a black scoundrel is allowed to live and utter such loathsome and repulsive calumnies is a volume of evidence as to the wonderful patience of Southern whites. But we have had enough of it. There are some things that the Southern white man will not tolerate, and the obscene intimations of the foregoing have brought the writer to the very outermost limit of public patience. We hope we have said enough."
The Evening Scimitar of game date, copied the Commercial's editorial with these words of comment: "Patience under such circumstances is not a virtue. If the Negroes themselves do not apply the remedy without delay, it will be the duty of those whom he has attacked to tie the wretch who utters these calumnies to a stake at the intersection of Main and Madison States, brand him in the forehead with a hot iron, and perform upon him a surgical operation with a pair of tailor's shears."
Acting upon this advice, the leading citizens met in the Cotton Exchange Building the same evening, and threats of lynching were freely indulged — not by the lawless element upon which the devilry of the South is usually saddled, but by the leading business men, in their leading business centre. Mr. Fleming, the business manager and owner of a half interest in Free Speech, had to leave town to escape the mob, and was afterwards ordered not to return; letters and telegrams sent me in New York, where I was spending my vacation, advised me that bodily harm awaited my return. Creditors took possession of the office and sold the outfit, and the Free Speech was as if it had never been.
The editorial in question was prompted by the many inhuman and fiendish lynchings of Afro-Americans which have recently taken place, and was meant as a warning. Eight lynched in one week, and five of them charged with rape! The thinking public will not easily believe freedom and education more brutalising than slavery, and the world knows that the crime of rape was unknown during the four years of civil war, when the white women of the South were at the mercy of the race, which is all at once charged with being a bestial one.
Since my business has been destroyed, and I am an exile from home because of that editorial, the issue has been forced, and as the writer of it I feel that the race and the public generally should have a statement of the facts as they exist. They will serve at the same time as a defence for the Afro-American Sampsons who suffer themselves to be betrayed by white Delilahs.
The whites of Montgomery, Alabama, knew Mr. J. C. Duke sounded the key-note of the situation — which they would gladly hide from the world, when he said in his paper, The Herald, five years ago: " Why is it that white women attract Negro men now more than in former days? There was a time when such a thing was unheard of. There is a secret to this thing, and we greatly suspect it is to the growing appreciation of white Juliets for coloured Romeos." Mr. Duke, like the Free Speech proprietors, was forced to leave the city for reflecting on the "honour" of white women, and his paper was suppressed.
The editor of the Free Speech has no disclaimer to enter, but asserts instead that there are many white women in the South who would marry coloured men if such an act would not place them at once beyond the pale of society, and within the clutches of the law. The miscegenation laws of the South only operate against the legitimate union of the races; they leave the white man free to seduce all the coloured girls he can, but it is death to the coloured man who yields to the force and advances of a similar attraction in white women. White men lynch the offending Afro-American not because he is a despoiler of virtue, but because he succumbs to the smiles of white women. Before leaving Montgomery Mr. Duke signed a card, disclaiming any intention of slandering white women, but the truth remains that Afro-American men do not always violate white women without their consent.
Chapter II. — The Black and White of it.
The Cleveland Gazette, of January 16, 1892, publishes a case in point. Mrs. J. S. Underwood, the wife of a minister of Elyria, Ohio, accused an Afro-American of rape. She told her husband that during his absence in 1888, while stumping the State for the Prohibition Party, the man came to the kitchen door, forced his way in the house and insulted her. She tried to drive him out with a heavy poker, but he overpowered and chloroformed her, and when she revived her clothing was torn and she was in a horrible condition. She did not know the man, but could identify him. She pointed out William Offett, a married man, who was arrested, and, being in Ohio, was granted a trial.
The prisoner vehemently denied the charge against him, but confessed he went to Mrs. Underwood's residence at her invitation and was criminally intimate with her at her request. This availed him nothing against the sworn testimony of a minister's wife, a lady of the highest respectability. He was found guilty, and entered the penitentiary, December 14, 1888, for fifteen years. Some time afterwards the woman's remorse led her to confess to her husband that the man was innocent.
These are her words: — "I met Offett at the Post Office. It was raining. He was polite to me, and as I had several bundles in
4my arms he offered to carry them home for me, which he did. He had a strange fascination for me, and I invited him to call on me. He called, bringing chestnuts and candy for the children. By this means we got them to leave us alone in the room. Then I sat on his lap. He made a proposal to me and I readily consented. Why I did so I do not know, but that I did is true. He visited me several times after that, and each time I was indiscreet. I did not care after the first time. In fact I could not have resisted, and had no desire to resist."
When asked by the husband why she told him she had been outraged, she said: — "I had several reasons for telling you. One was the neighbours saw the fellow here; another was, I was afraid I had contracted a loathsome disease; and still another was that I feared I might give birth to a negro baby. I hoped to save my reputation by telling you a deliberate lie." Her husband, horrified by the confession, had Offett, who had already served four years, released, and secured a divorce.
There are thousands of such cases throughout the South, with the difference that the Southern white men in insatiate fury wreak their vengeance without intervention of law upon the Afro-Americans who consort with their women. A few instances to substantiate the assertion that some white women love the company of the Afro-American will not be out of place. Most of these cases were reported by the daily papers of the South.
In the winter of 1885-6 the wife of a practising physician in Memphis, in good social standing, whose name has escaped me, left home, husband, and children, and ran away with her black coachman. She was with him a month before her husband found and brought her home. The coachman could not be found. The doctor moved his family away from Memphis, and is living in another city under an assumed name.
In the same city last year a white girl in the dusk of evening screamed at the approach of some parties that a Negro had assaulted her on the street. He was captured, tried by a white judge and jury, that acquitted him of the charge. It is needless to add if there had been a scrap of evidence on which to convict him of so grave a charge he would have been convicted.
Sarah Clark, of Memphis, loved a black man, and lived openly with him. When she was indicted last spring for miscegenation, she swore in Court that she was not a white woman. This she did to escape the penitentiary, and continue her illicit relation undisturbed. That she is of the lower class of whites does not disturb the fact that she is a white woman. "The leading citizens" of Memphis are defending the "honour" of all white women, demi-monde included.
Since the manager of the Free Speech has been driven from Memphis by the guardians of the honour of Southern white women, a young girl living on Poplar Street, who was discovered in intimate relations with a handsome mulatto, Will Morgan by name, stole her father's money to send the young man away from that father's wrath. She has since joined him in Chicago.
The Memphis Ledger for June 8th has the following: —
"If Lillie Bailey, a rather pretty white girl, seventeen years of age, who is now at the City Hospital, would be somewhat less reserved about her disgrace
there would be some very nauseating details in the story of her life. She is the mother of a little coon. The truth might reveal fearful depravity or the evidence of a rank outrage. She will not divulge the name of the man who has left such black evidence of her disgrace, and, in fact, says it is a matter in which there can be no interest to the outside world. She came to Memphis nearly three months ago, and was taken in at the Women's Refuge in the southern part of the city. She remained there until a few weeks ago, when the child was born. The ladies in charge of the Refuge were horrified. The girl was at once sent to the City Hospital, where she has been since May 30th. She is a country girl. She came to Memphis from her father's farm, a short distance from Hernando, Mississippi. Just when she left there she would not say. In fact, she says she came to Memphis from Arkansas, and says her home is in that State. She is rather good-looking, has blue eyes, a low forehead, and dark-red, hair. The ladies at the Woman's Refuge do not know anything about the girl further than what they learned when she was an inmate of the institution; and she would not tell much. When the child was born an attempt was made to get the girl to reveal the name of the Negro who had disgraced her, she obstinately refused, and it was impossible to elicit any information from her on the subject."
Note the wording: — "The truth might reveal fearful depravity or rank outrage." If it had been a white child, or if Lillie Bailey had told a pitiful story of Negro outrage, it would have been a case of woman's weakness or assault, and she could have remained at the Women's Refuge. But a Negro child, and to withhold it's father's name and thus prevent the killing of another Negro "rapist." A case of "fearful depravity."
The very week the "leading citizens" of Memphis were making a spectacle of themselves in defence of all white women of every kind, an Afro-American, M. Stricklin, was found in a white woman's room in that city. Although she made no outcry of violence, he was jailed, and would have been lynched, but the woman stated she bought curtains of him (he was a furnitute dealer), and his business in her room that night was to put them up. A white woman's word was taken as absolutely in this case as when the cry of outrage is made, and he was freed.
What is true of Memphis is true of the entire south. The daily papers last year reported that a farmer's wife in Alabama had given birth to a Negro child. When the Negro farm hand who was ploughing in the field heard it, he took the mule from the plough and fled. The despatches also told of a woman in South Carolina who gave birth to a Negro child and charged three men with being its father, every one of whom has since disappeared, In Tuscumbia, Alabama, the coloured boy who was lynched there last year for assaulting a white girl told her before his accusers that he had met her there in the woods often before.
Frank Weems, of Chattanooga, who was not lynched in May only because the prominent citizens became his bodyguard until the doors of the penitentiary closed on him, had letters in his pocket from the white woman in the case, making the appointment with him.
Edward Coy, who was burned alive in Texarkana, January 1, 1892, died protesting his innocence. Investigation since as given by "Bystander" in the Chicago Inter-Ocean, October 1, proves: —
"1. The woman who was paraded as a victim of violence was of bad character; her husband was a drunkard and a gambler."
"2. She was publicly reported and generally known to have been criminally intimate with Coy for more than a year previous."
"3. She was compelled by threats, if not by violence, to make the charge against the victim."
"4. When she came to apply the match, Coy asked her if she would burn him after they had ‘been sweethearting’ so long."
"5. A large majority of the ‘superior’ white men prominent in the affair are the reputed fathers of mulatto children."
"These are not pleasant facts, but they are illustrative of the vital phase of the so-called ‘race question,’ which should properly be designated an earnest inquiry as to the best methods by which religion, science, law, and political power may be employed to excuse injustice, barbarity, and crime done to a people because of race and colour. There can be no possible belief that these people were inspired by any consuming zeal to vindicate God's law against miscegenationists of the most practical sort. The woman was a willing partner in the victim's guilt, and being of the ‘ superior’ race must naturally have been more guilty."
In Natchez, Mississippi, Mrs. Marshall, one of the crÄme de la crÄme of the city, created a tremendous sensation several years ago. She had a black coachman who was married, and had been in her employ several years. During this time she gave birth to a child whose colour was remarked, but traced to some brunette ancestor, and one of the fashionable dames of the city was its godmother. Mrs. Marshall's social position was unquestioned, and wealth showered every dainty on this child which was idolised, with its brothers and sisters, by its white papa. In course of time another child appeared on the scene, but it was unmistakably dark. All were alarmed, and "rush of blood, strangulation," were the conjectures, but the doctor, when asked the cause, grimly told them it was a Negro child, There was a family conclave, the coachman heard of it, and, leaving his own family, went West, and has never returned. As soon as Mrs. Marshall was able to travel she was sent away in deep disgrace. Her husband died within the year of a broken heart.
Ebenezer Fowler, the wealthiest coloured man in Issaquena County, Mississippi, was shot down on the street in Mayersville, January 30, 1885, just before dark by an armed body of white men, who filled his body with bullets. They charged him with writing a note to a white woman of the place, which they intercepted, and which proved there was an intimacy existing between them.
Hundreds of such cases might be cited, but enough have been given to prove the assertion that there are white women in the South who love the Afro-American's company, even as there are white men notorious for their preference for Afro-American women.
There is hardly a town in the South which has not an instance of the kind which is well-known, and hence the assertion is reiterated that "nobody in the South believes the old thread-bare lie that Negro men rape white women." There is, therefore, a growing demand among Afro-Americans that the guilt or innocence of parties accused of outrage be fully established. They know the men of the section of the country who refuse this are not so desirous of punishing such an action as they pretend. The utterances of the leading white men show that with them it is not the crime, but the class. Bishop Fitzgerald has become apologist for lynchers of the rapists of white women only. Governor Tillman, of South Carolina, in the month of June, standing under the tree in Barnwell, S. C., on which eight Afro-Americans were hung last year, declared that "he would lead a mob to lynch a negro who raped a white woman." So
7say the pulpits, officials, and newspapers of the South. But when the victim is a coloured woman it is different.
Last winter in Baltimore, Maryland, three white ruffians assaulted a Miss Camphor, a young Afro-American girl, while out walking with a young man of her own race. They held her escort and outraged the girl. It was a deed dastardly enough to arouse Southern blood, which gives its horror of such an action as excuse for lawlessness, but she was an Afro-American. The case went to the Courts, an Afro-American lawyer defended the men, and they were acquitted.
In Nashville, Tennessee, there is a white man, Pat Hanifan, who outraged a little Afro-American girl, and, from the physical injuries received, she has been ruined for life. He was committed to gaol for six months, discharged, and is now a detective in that city. In the same city, last May, a white man outraged an Afro-American girl in a drug store. He was arrested and released on bail at the trial. It was rumoured that five hundred Afro-Americans had organised to lynch him. Two hundred and fifty white citizens armed themselves with Winchesters and guarded him. A cannon was placed in front of his home, and the Buchanan Rifles (State Militia) ordered to the scene for his protection. The Afro-American mob did not show up. Only two weeks before Ephraim Grizzard, who had only been charged with rape upon a white woman, had been taken from the gaol, with Governor Buchanan and the police and militia standing by, dragged through the streets in broad daylight, knives plunged into him at every step, and with every fiendish cruelty a frenzied mob could devise, he was at last swung out on the bridge with hands cut to pieces as he tried to climb up the stanchions. A naked, bloody example of the blood-thirstiness of the nineteenth century civilisation of the Athens of the South! No cannon nor military were called out in his defence. He dared to visit a white woman.
At the very moment when these civilised whites were announcing their determination "to protect their wives and daughters" by murdering Grizzard, a white man was in the same gaol for outraging eight-year-old Maggie Reese, an Afro-American girl. He was not harmed. The "honour" of grown women who were glad enough to be supported by the Grizzard boys and Edward Coy, as long as the liaison was not known, needed protection — they were white. The outrage upon helpless childhood needed no avenging in this case — she was black.
A white man in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, two months ago inflicted such injuries upon another Afro-American child that she died. He was not punished, but an attempt was made in the same town in the month of June to lynch an Afro-American who visited a white woman.
In Memphis, Tennessee, in the month of June, Mr. Ellerton L. Dorr, who is the husband of Russell Hancock's widow, was arrested for attempted assault on Mattie Cole, a neighbour's cook; he was only prevented from accomplishing his purpose, by the appearance of Mattie's employer. Dorr's friends say he was drunk and not responsible for his actions. The grand jury refused to indict him and he was discharged.
Chapter III. — The New Guy.
THE appeal of Southern whites to Northern sympathy and sanction as well as the adroit, insiduous plea made by Bishop Fitzgerald for suspension of judgment because those "who condemn lynching express no sympathy for the white woman in the case," falls to the ground in the light of the foregoing.
From this exposition of the race issue in lynch law, the whole matter is explained by the well-known opposition growing out of slavery to the progress of the race. This is crystallised in the oft-repeated phrase — This is a white man's country and the white man must rule. The South resented giving the Afro-American his freedom, the ballot-box, and the Civil Rights Law. The raids of the Ku-Klux and White Liners to subvert reconstruction government, the Hamburg and Ellerton, South Carolina murders; the Copiah County, Mississippi, and the Layfayette Parish, Louisina, massacres, were excused as the natural resentment of intelligence against government by ignorance!
Honest white men practically conceded the necessity of intelligence murdering ignorance to correct the mistake of the general government, and so the dark race was left to the tender mercies of the solid South. Thoughtful Afro-Americans, with the strong arm of the government withdrawn and with the hope to stop such wholesale massacres, urged the race to sacrifice its political rights for sake of peace. They honestly believed the race should fit itself for government, and when that should be done, the objection to race participation in politics would be removed.
But the sacrifice did not remove the trouble, nor move the South to justice. One by one the Southern States have legally (?) disfranchised the Afro-American, and since the repeal of the Civil Rights Law nearly every Southern State has passed separate car laws, with a penalty against their infringement. The race sneered at as regardless of advancement is penned into filthy stifling partitions cut off from smoking cars. All the while, although the political cause has been removed, the butcheries of black men at Barnwell, South Carolina; Carrolton, Mississippi; Waycross, Georgia; and Memphis, Tennessee; have gone on; also the flaying alive of a man in Kentucky, the burning of one in Arkansas, the hanging of a fifteen-year-old girl in Louisiana, a woman in Jackson, Tennessee, and one in Hollendale, Mississippi, until the dark and bloody record of the South shows 728 Afro-Americans lynched during the past eight years. Not 50 of these were for political causes. The rest were for all manner of accusations, from that of outrage of white women to the case of the boy Will Lewis who was hanged at Tullahoma, Tennessee, last year for being drunk and "sassy" to white folks.
These statistics, compiled by the Chicago Tribune, were given the first of last year (1892). Since then not less than 150 have been known to have met with violent deaths at the hands of cruel bloodthirsty mobs during the past nine months.
To palliate this record (which grows worse as the Afro-American becomes intelligent) and excuse some of the most heinous crimes that ever stained the history of a country, the South is shielding itself behind the plausible screen of defending the honour of its women. This, too, in the face of the fact that only one-third of the 728 victims to mobs have been charged with such an offence, to say nothing of those of that one-third who were innocent of the charge. A white correspondent of the Baltimore Sun declares that the Afro-American who was lynched at Chestertown, Maryland, in May, for assault on a white girl was innocent — that the deed was done by a white man, who had since disappeared. The girl herself maintained that her assailant was a white man. When that poor Afro-American was murdered the whites excused their refusal of trial on the ground that they wished to spare the white girl the mortification of having to testify in court.
This cry has had its effect. It has closed the heart, stifled the conscience, warped the judgment, and hushed the voice of Press and Pulpit on the subject of lynch law throughout this "land of liberty." Men who stand high in the esteem of the public for Christian character, for moral and physical courage, for devotion to the principles of equal and exact justice to all, and for great sagacity, stand as cowards who fear to open their mouths before this great outrage. They do not see that by their tacit encouragement, their silent acquiescence, the black shadow of lawlessness in the form of lynch law is spreading its wings over the whole country. Men, who, like Governor Tillman, start the ball of lynch law rolling for a certain crime, are powerless to stop it when drunken or criminal white roughs feel like hanging an Afro-American on any pretext.
To the better class of Afro-Americans themselves the violation of women is so revolting that they have too often taken the white man's word, and given Lynch Law neither the investigation nor condemnation it deserved. They forget that a concession of the right to lynch a man for a certain crime, not only concedes the right to lynch any person for any crime, but — so frequently is the cry of outrage now raised — it is in a fair way to stamp us as a race of bestial desperadoes. They have gone on hoping and believing that general education and financial strength would solve the difficulty, and are devoting their energies to the accumulation of both.
But the mob spirit has grown with the increasing intelligence of the Afro-American. It has left the out-of-the-way places where ignorance prevails, has thrown off the mask, and with this new cry it stalks in broad daylight in large cities — the centres of civilisation — and is encouraged by the "leading citizens" and the Press.
Chapter IV. — The Malicious and Untruthful White Press.
The Daily Commercial and Evening Scimitar of Memphis, Tennessee, are owned by leading business men of that city, and yet, in spite of the fact that there had been no white woman in Memphis outraged by an Afro-American, and that Memphis possessed a thrifty, law-abiding, property-owning class of Afro-Americans, the Commercial of May 17th, under the head of "More Rapes, More Lynchings," gave utterance to the following: —
"The lynching of three Negro scoundrels reported in our dispatches from Anniston, Alabama, for a brutal outrage committed upon a white woman will be a text for much comment on ‘Southern Barbarism’ by Northern newspapers; but we fancy it will hardly prove effective for campaign purposes among intelligent people. The frequency of these lynchings calls attention to the frequency of the crimes which causes lynching. The ‘Southern barbarism’ which deserves the serious attention of all people North and South, is the barbarism, which preys upon weak and defenceless women. Nothing but the most prompt, speedy, and extreme punishment can hold in check the horrible and bestial propensities of the Negro race. There is a strange similarity about a number of cases of this character which has lately occurred. In each case the crime was deliberately planned and perpetrated by several Negroes. They watched for an opportunity when the women were left without a protector. It was not a sudden yielding to a fit of passion, but the consummation of a devilish purpose which has been seeking and waiting for the opportunity. This feature of the crime not only makes it the most fiendishly brutal, but it adds to the terror of the situation in the thinly settled country communities. No man can leave his family at night without the dread that some roving Negro ruffian is watching and waiting for this opportunity. The swift punishment which invariably follows these horrible crimes, doubtless acts as a deterring effect upon the Negroes in that immediate neighbourhood for a short time. But the lesson is not widely learned nor long remembered. Then such crimes, equally atrocious, have happened in quick succession, one in Tennessee, one in Arkansas, and one in Alabama. The facts of the crime appear to appeal more to the Negro's lustful imagination than the facts of the punishment do to his fears. He sets aside all fear of death in any form when opportunity is found for the gratification of his bestial desires. There is small reason to hope for any change for the better. The commission of this crime grows more frequent every year. The generation of Negroes which has grown up since the war, has lost in large measure the traditional and wholesome awe of the white race which kept the Negroes in subjection, even when their masters were in the army, and their families left unprotected except by the slaves themselves. There is no longer a restraint upon the brute passion of the Negro. What is to be done? The crime of rape is always
horrible, but to the Southern man there is nothing which so fills the soul with horror, loathing, and fury as the outraging of a white woman by a Negro. It is the race question in the ugliest, vilest, most dangerous aspect. The Negro as a political factor can be controlled. But neither laws nor lynchings can subdue his lusts. Sooner or later it will force a crisis. We do not know in what form it will come."
In its issue of June 4th, the Memphis Evening Scimitar gives the following excuse for lynch law: —
"Aside from the violation of white women by Negroes, which is the outcropping of a bestial perversion of instinct, the chief cause of trouble between the races in the South is the Negro's lack of manners. In the state of slavery he learned politeness from association with white people, who took pains to teach him. Since the emancipation came and the tie of mutual interest and regard between master and servant was broken, the Negro has drifted away into a state which is neither freedom nor bondage. Lacking the proper inspiration of the one and the restraining force of the other, he has taken up the idea that boorish insolence is independence, and the exercise of a decent degree of breeding toward white people is identical with servile submission. In consequence of the prevalence of this notion there are many Negroes who use every opportunity to make themselves offensive, particularly when they think it can be done with impunity. We have had too many instances right here in Memphis to doubt this, and our experience is not exceptional. The white people won't stand this sort of thing, and whether they be insulted as individuals or as a race, the response will be prompt and effectual. The bloody riot of 1866, in which so many Negroes perished, was brought on principally by the outrageous conduct of the blacks towards the whites on the streets. It is also a remarkable and discouraging fact that the majority of such scoundrels are Negroes who have received educational advantages at the hands of the white taxpayers. They have got just enough of learning to make them realise how hopelessly their race is behind the other in everything that makes a great people, and they attempt to ‘get even’ by insolence, which is ever the resentment of inferiors. There are well-bred Negroes among us, and it is truly unfortunate that they should have to pay, even in part, the penalty of the offences committed by the baser sort, but this is the way of the world. The innocent must suffer for the guilty. If the Negroes as a people possessed a hundredth part of the self-respect which is evidenced by the courteous bearing of some that the Scimitar could name, the friction between the races would be reduced to a minimum. It will not do to beg the question by pleading that many white men are also stirring up strife. The Caucasian blackguard simply obeys the promptings of a depraved disposition, and he is seldom deliberately rough or offensive toward strangers or unprotected women. The Negro rough, on the contrary is given to just that kind of offending, and he almost invariably singles out white people as his victims."
On March 9th, 1892, there were lynched in the same city three of the best specimens of young Afro-American manhood since the war. They were peaceful, law-abiding citizens and energetic business men. They believed the problem was to be solved by
12eschewing politics and putting money in the purse. They owned a flourishing grocery business in a thickly populated suburb of Memphis, and a white man named Barrett had one on the opposite corner. After a personal difficulty which Barrett had sought by going into the "People's grocery" and drawing a pistol and getting thrashed by Calvin M'Dowell, he (Barrett) threatened to "Clean them out." These men were a mile beyond the city limits and police protection; so on hearing that Barrett's crowd was coming to attack them on Saturday night, they mustered forces and prepared to defend themselves against the attack.
When Barrett came, he led a posse of officers, twelve in number who afterward claimed to be hunting a man for whom they had a warrant. [Why twelve men in citizen's clothes should think it necessary to go in the night to hunt one man who had never before been arrested, or made any record as a criminal, has never been explained.] When they entered the back door the young men thought the threatened attack was on, and fired into them. Three of the officers were wounded, and when the defending party found it was officers of the law upon whom they had fired, they ceased firing and got away. Thirty-one men were arrested and thrown in gaol as "conspirators," although they all declared more than once they did not know they were firing on officers. Excitement was at fever heat, until the morning papers, two days after, announced that the wounded deputy sheriffs were recovering. This hindered rather than helped the plans of the whites. There was no law on the statue books which would execute an Afro-American for wounding a white man, but the "unwritten law" did. Three of these men, the president, the manager, and the clerk of the grocery — "the leaders of the conspiracy" — were secretly taken from gaol and lynched in a shockingly brutal manner. "The Negroes are getting too independent," they say, "we must teach them a lesson." What lesson? The lesson of subordination. "Kill the leaders, and it will cow the Negro who dares to shoot a white man, even in self-defence."
Although the race was wild over the outrage, and the mockery of law and justice which disarmed men and locked them up in gaols where they could be easily and safely reached by the mob, the Afro-American ministers, newspapers and leaders counselled obedience to the law which did not protect them. Their counsel was heeded, and not a hand was uplifted to resent the outrage; following the advice of the Free Speech, people left the city in great numbers.
The "dailies" and associated press reports heralded the dead men to the country as "toughs" (roughs) and "Negro desperadoes who kept a low dive." This same press service printed that a Negro who was lynched at Indianola, Mississippi, in May, had outraged the sheriff's eight-year-old daughter. This girl was more than eighteen years old, and was found by her father in this man's room, who was a servant on the place! Not content with misrepresenting the race, the mob-spirit was not to be satisfied until the paper which was doing all it could to counteract this impression was silenced. The
13coloured people were resenting their bad treatment in a way to make itself felt, yet gave the mob no excuse for further murder, until the appearance of the editorial which is construed as a reflection on the "honour" of the Southern white women. It is not half so libellous as that of the Commercial which appeared four days before, and that which has been given in these pages. They would have lynched the manager of the Free Speech for exercising the right of free speech (if they had found him) as quickly as they would have hung any scoundrel guilty of outrage, and been glad of the excuse to do so. The owners were ordered not to return, as Free Speech was suspended with as little compunction as the business of the "People's Grocery" had been broken up and its proprietors murdered.
Chapter V. — The South's Position.
MR. HENRY W. GRADY, in his well-remembered speeches in New England and New York, pictured the Afro-American as incapable of self-government. Through him and other leading men the cry of the South to the country has been "Hands off! Leave us to solve our problem." To the Afro-American the South says," The white man must and will rule." There is little difference between the Ante-bellum South and the New South. Her white citizens are wedded to any method however revolting, any measure however extreme, for the subjugation of the young manhood of the dark race. They have cheated him out of his ballot, deprived him of civil rights or redress in the Civil Courts thereof, robbed him of the fruits of his labour, and are still murdering, burning, and lynching him.
The result is a growing disregard of human life. Lynch Law has spread its insiduous influence till men in New York State, Pennsylvania and on the free Western plains feel they can take the law in their own hands with impunity, especially where an Afro-American is concerned. The South is brutalised to a degree not realised by its own inhabitants, and the very foundation of government, law, and order are imperilled.
Public sentiment has had a slight "reaction," though not sufficient to stop the crusade of lawlessness and lynching. The spirit of Christianity of the great M. E. Church was sufficiently aroused by the frequent and revolting crimes against a powerless people, to pass strong
14condemnatory resolutions at its General Conference in Omaha last May. The spirit of justice of the grand old party asserted itself sufficiently to secure a denunciation of the wrongs, and a feeble declaration of the belief in human rights in the Republican platform at Minneapolis, June 7th. A few of the great "dailies" and "weeklies" have swung into line declaring that Lynch Law must go. The President of the United States issued a proclamation that it be not tolerated in the territories over which he has jurisdiction. Governor Northern and Chief Justice Bleckley, of Georgia, have proclaimed against it. The citizens of Chattanooga, Tennessee, have set a worthy example in that they not only condemn Lynch Law, but her public men demanded a trial for Weems, who was accused of outrage, and guarded him while the trial was in progress. The trial only lasted ten minutes, and Weems chose to plead guilty, and accept twenty-one years sentence, rather than invite the certain death which awaited him outside that cordon of police if he had told the truth and shown the letters he had received from the white woman in the case.
Colonel A.S. Colyar, of Nashville, Tennessee, is so overcome with the horrible state of affairs that he addressed the following earnest letter to the Nashville American: — "Nothing since I have been a reading man has so impressed me with the decay of manhood among the people of Tennessee as the dastardly submission to the mob reign. We have reached the unprecedent low level; the awful criminal depravity of substituting the mob for the Court and jury, of giving up the gaol keys to the mob whenever they are demanded. We do it in the largest cities and in the country towns; we do it in midday; we do it after full, not to say formal, notice, and so thoroughly and generally is it acquiesced in that the murderers have discarded the formula, of masks. They go into the town where everybody knows them, sometimes under the gaze of the governor, in the presence of the Courts, in the presence of the sheriff and his deputies, in the presence of the entire police force, take out the prisoner, take his life, often with fiendish glee, and often with acts of cruelty and barbarism which impress the reader with a degeneracy rapidly approaching savage life. That the State is disgraced but faintly expresses the humiliation which has settled upon the once proud people of Tennessee. The State, in its majesty, through its organised life, for which the people pay liberally, makes but one record, but one note, and that a criminal falsehood, was hung by persons to the jury unknown. The murder at Shelbyville is only a verification of what every intelligent man knew would come, because with a mob rumour is as good as a proof."
These efforts brought forth apologies and a short halt, but the lynching mania has raged again through the past twelve months with unabated fury. The strong arm of the law must be brought to bear upon lynchers in severe punishment, but this cannot and will not be done unless a healthy public sentiment demands and sustains such action. The men and women in the South who disapprove of lynching and remain silent on the perpetration of such outrages are particeps criminis — accomplices, accessories before and after the fact, equally guilty with the actual law-breakers who would not persist if they did not know that neither the law nor militia would be employed against them.
Chapter VI. — Self Help.
IN the creation of this healthier public sentiment, the Afro-American can do for himself what no one else can do for him. The world looks on with wonder that we have conceded so much, and remain law-abiding under such great outrage and provocation.
To Northern capital and Afro-American labour the South owes its rehabilitation. If labour is withdrawn capital will not remain. The Afro-American is thus the backbone of the South. A thorough knowledge and judicious exercise of this power in lynching localities could many times effect a bloodless revolution. The white man's dollar is his god, and to stop this will be to stop outrages in many localities.
The Afro-Americans of Memphis denounced the lynching of three of their best citizens, and urged and waited for the authorities to act in the matter, and bring the lynchers to justice. No attempt was made to do so, and the black men left the city by thousands, bringing about great stagnation in every branch of business. Those who remained so injured the business of the street car company by staying off the cars, that the superintendent, manager, and treasurer called personally on the editors of the Free Speech, and asked them to urge our people to give them their patronage again. Other business men became alarmed over the situation, and the Free Speech was suppressed that the coloured people might be more easily controlled. A meeting of white citizens in June, three months after the lynching, passed resolutions for the first time condemning it. But they did not punish the lynchers. Every one of them was known by name because they had been selected to do the dirty work by some of the very citizens who passed these resolutions! Memphis is fast losing her black population, who proclaim as they go that there is no protection for the life and property of any Afro-American citizen in Memphis who will not be a slave.
The Afro-American citizens of Kentucky, whose intellectual and financial improvement has been phenomenal, have never had a separate car law until now. Delegations and petitions poured into the Legislature against it, yet the Bill passed, and the Jim Crow Car of Kentucky is a legalised institution. Will the great mass of Negroes continue to patronise the railroad? A special from Covington, Kentucky, says: —
"Covington, June 13th. — The railroads of the State are beginning to feel very markedly the effects of the separate coach Bill recently passed by the Legislature. No class of people in the State have so many and so largely attended excursions as the blacks. All these have been abandoned, and regular travel is reduced to a minimum." A competent authority says the loss to the various roads will reach 1,000,000 dols. this year.
A call to a State Conference in Lexington, Kentucky, last June, had delegates from every county in the State. Those delegates, the ministers, teachers, heads of secret and other orders, and the heads of families should pass the word around for every member of the race in Kentucky
16to stay off railroads unless obliged to ride. If they did so, and their advice was followed persistently, the Convention would not need to petition the Legislature to repeal the law or raise money to file a suit. The railroad corporations would be so affected they would, in self defence, "lobby" to have the separate car law repealed. On the other hand, as long as the railroads can get Afro-American excursions they will always have plenty of money to fight all the suits brought against them. They will be aided in so doing by the same partisan public sentiment which passed the law. White men passed the law, and white judges and juries would pass upon the suits against the law, and render judgment in line with their prejudices, and in deference to the greater financial power.
The appeal to the white man's pocket has ever been more effectual than all the appeals ever made to his conscience. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is to be gained by a further sacrifice of manhood and self-respect. By the right exercise of his power as the industrial factor of the South, the Afro-American can demand and secure his rights, the punishment of lynchers, and a fair trial for members of his race accused of outrage.
Of the many inhuman outrages of this present year, the only case where the proposed lynching did not occur, was where the men armed themselves in Jacksonville, Florida, and Paducah, Kentucky, and prevented it. The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun, and used it in self-defence. The lesson this teaches, and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honour in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man, who is always the aggressor, knows he runs as great risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged, and lynched.
The assertion has been substantiated throughout these pages that the Press contains unreliable and doctored reports of lynchings, and one of the most necessary things for the race to do is to get these facts before the public. The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the Press.
The Afro-American papers are the only ones which will print the truth, and they lack means to employ agents and detectives to get at the facts. The race must rally a mighty host to the support of their journals, and thus enable them to do much in the way of investigation.
A lynching occurred at Port Jarvis, New York, the first week in June. A white and a coloured man were implicated in the assault upon a white girl. It was charged that the white man paid the coloured boy to make the assault, which he did on the public highway in broad day time, and was lynched. This, too, was done by "parties unknown." The white man in the case still lives. He was imprisoned, and promises to fight the case on trial. At the preliminary examination, it developed that he had been a suitor of the girl's. She had repulsed and refused him, yet had given him money, and he had sent threatening letters demanding more. The day before this examination she was so wrought up, she left home and wandered miles away. When found she said she did so because she
17was afraid of the man's testimony. Why should she be afraid of the prisoner? Why should she yield to his demands for money if not to prevent him exposing something he knew? It seems explainable only on the hypothesis that a liasonexisted between the coloured boy and the girl, and the white man knew of it. The press is singularly silent. Has it a motive? We owe it to ourselves to find out.
The story comes from Larned, Kansas, October 1st, that a young white lady held at bay until daylight, without alarming any one in the house, "a burly Negro," who entered her room and bed. The "burly Negro" was promptly lynched without investigation or examination of the accuracy of the statement.
A house was found burned down near Montgomery, Alabama, in Monroe County, a few weeks ago — also the burned bodies of the owners and melted piles of gold and silver. These discoveries led to the conclusion that the awful crime was not prompted by motives of robbery. The suggestion of the whites was that "brutal lust was the incentive, and as there are nearly 200 Negroes living within a radius of five miles of the place the conclusion was inevitable that some of them were the perpetrators." Upon this "suggestion," probably made by the real criminal, the mob acted upon the "conclusion," and arrested ten Afro-Americans, four of whom, they tell the world, confessed to the deed of murdering Richard L. Johnson and outraging his daughter, Jeanette. These four men, Berrell Jones, Moses Johnson, Jim and John Packer, none of them 25 years of age, upon this conclusion, were taken from gaol, hanged, shot, and burned while yet alive, the night of October 12th. The same report says that Mr. Johnson was on the best of terms with his Negro tenants.
The race thus outraged must find out the facts of this awful hurling of men into eternity on supposition, and give them to the indifferent and apathetic country. We feel this to be a garbled report, but how can we prove it?
Near Vicksburg, Mississippi, a murder was committed by a gang of burglars. Of course only Negroes could have committed the crime, and Negroes were arrested for it. It is believed that the two men, Smith Tooley and John Adams, belonged to a gang controlled by white men, who feared exposure, so on the night of July 4th they were hanged in the Court House yard by those interested in silencing them. Robberies since committed in the same vicinity have been known to be by white men who had their faces blackened. We strongly believe in the innocence of these murdered men, but we have no proof. No other news goes out to the world save that which stamps us as a race of cutthroats, robbers, and lustful wild beasts.
So great is Southern hate and prejudice, that they legally (?) hung poor little thirteen-year-old Mildred Brown at Columbia, South Carolina, October 7th, on the circumstantial evidence that she poisoned a white infant. If her guilt had been proven unmistakably, had she been white, Mildred Brown would never have been hung, the country would have been aroused and South Carolina disgraced for ever for such a crime. The Afro-American himself did not know as he should have known, as his journals should be in a position to have him know and act.
Nothing is more definitely settled than that he must act for himself. I have shown how he may employ the "boycott," emigration, and the Press; and I feel that by a combination of all these agencies Lynch Law — the last relic of barbarism and slavery — can be effectually stamped out. "The gods help those who help themselves."
THE following details of lynching from 1882 to 1891 inclusive, is proof of all that has been said in the preceeding pages. During these years the South has had full control of the political, legislative, judicial, and executive machinery. With the judges, juries, and prosecuting attorneys all Southern white men, no Negro has ever been known to escape the penalty of the law for any crime he commits. It is only the wealthy white man, with money and influence, who fails of conviction for his crimes. There is not, and never has been, any fear by the mob that a Negro would not receive full punishment for all crimes of which he is convicted. But if this state of affairs did prevail, as the Rev. Thos. Dixon falsely declares it does, clearly the laws or those who are paid to enforce them are at fault. Hence, those who make such inoperative laws, or the officials who fail to do their duty, and not the criminals, should be lynched. But the reverse is true. The gaols, penitentaries, and convict farms are filled with race criminals who are too poor and weak to avert such a fate. Yet of this race there were lynched in —
1882 — 52
1883 — 39
1884 — 53
1885 — 77
1886 — 73
1887 — 70
1888 — 72
1889 — 95
1890 — 100
1891 — 169
Of this number only 269 were charged with outrage; 253 with murder; 44 with robbery; 37 with incendiarism; 32 with reasons unstated [not necessary to give a reason for lynching a Negro]; 27 with "race prejudice "; 13 with quarreling with white men; 10 with making threats; 7 with rioting; 5 with miscegenation; 4 with burglary. One of the men lynched in 1891 was Will Lewis at Tullahoma, Tennessee. The reason given for his lynching was that "he was drunk and saucy to white folks."A woman was one of the 73 victims in 1886. She was hung at Jackson, Tennessee, because the white women for whom she cooked died of poisoning. A post mortemexamination revealed traces of arsenical poisoning. A search at the cook's house resulted in finding rat poison, and on this evidence (?) solely she was arrested and thrown into gaol. When the mob, led by the husband of the poisoned woman, got ready for her, this poor coloured woman was dragged out of gaol, every stitch of clothing torn from her body, and she was hung in the public court-house square in sight of everybody. That white woman's husband has since died in the insane asylum a raving maniac, and his ravings show that he, and not that poor cook, was the poisoner of his wife! A woman, Lou Stevens, was hung at Hollendale, Mississippi, in the fall of 1891 by a mob. She was hung from a bridge by the side of a male companion of her own race. She was charged with being an accomplice in the murder of her white paramour, who had abused her. The coloured man who was hung with her was accused of the murder.
At Clinton, Alabama, a mob hung a coloured man charged with murdering a white boy for 25 cents. Afterwards the mob ranged itself under the body of the man before it was cut down, and had its picture taken. This picture, which is reproduced in the beginning of this pamphlet, was sent to Judge Tourgee by "the committee" with the words, "Here's Your Martyr," underneath, and a very insulting and obscene message on the back.
The following is the lynching record of the Southern States from January 1st, 1892, to January 1st, 1893: —
"Chicago, Illinois, January 27th.— Judge Lynch has been very busy during 1892. The record is a dark one for this country, and if steps are not soon taken to check the blood-thirsty brutes in the South the people of the United States will be looked upon, and rightly too, as a nation of murderers. The judgment of the remainder of mankind all over the civilised world cannot be otherwise, when it is honestly rendered. I have watched carefully all during 1892 in my travels, and gathered all the information possible as to the number of persons lynched in the several States in 1892. I have just finished going over 194 clippings, which I have gathered from January 1st, 1892, to December 31st, 1892. I dislike very much to bother the good reader with figures, but they are necessary in this case to explain the truth and to convey an everlasting idea. A large number of lynching of coloured men during 1892 was the most brutal, the most savage, and the most hellish the world has ever seen. I made many personal investigations of the lynchings, and many of them surpass the hotpotting ceremonies in the story of ‘She,’ by H. Rider Haggard."
"Of the many coloured men, women, and children that were lynched and murdered in cold blood by the Christian (?) white people of the South there were several cases that no white man or woman in the North would believe. On February 20th, 1892, a coloured man, Edward Coy, was tied to a stump of an old tree, a great pile of sticks and small brush was piled on and around him. Coal oil was then poured all over the sticks, and a civilised woman struck a match and ten thousand (estimated) white men stood around and saw the victim burn up to a small pile of ashes! Mrs. Jewell applied the match, and the citizens of Texarkana supported her in doing so. She is still living at Texarkana, Arkansas."
"At Jonesville, Louisiana, lived a small family, consisting of father, son, and young daughter. On November 1st, a white man was killed. It was laid on the Hastings family, which is the family referred to above. The father only was accused, but on November 2nd, the best white citizens took the fourteen-year-old girl and a boy sixteen out and swung them up to the nearest limb and shot their bodies full of holes. November 5th, Mr. Hastings was served likewise. So the whole family was wiped out without judge, trial, jury, or witness; two of them were not even accused of any offence."
"Here is the record: —
Alabama — 22
Arkansas — 25
California — 5
Montana — 4
New York — 1
North Carolina — 5
Florida — 11
Georgia — 17
Idaho — 8
Illinois — 1
Kansas — 3
Kentucky — 9
Louisiana — 29
Maryland — 1
Mississippi — 16
Missouri — 6
North Dakota — 1
Ohio — 3
South Carolina — 5
Tennessee — 28
Texas — 15
Virginia — 7
West Virginia — 5
Wyoming — 9
Arizona — 3
Oklahoma — 2"
"There were 241 persons lynched in 1892. There were 159 Afro-Americans among the victims. Four of this number were lynched in the North. One at Oxford, Ohio; 1 at Port Jervis, New York; 1 at Larned; and 1 at Hiawatha, Kansas. One was reported as being lynched at Millersburgh, Ohio, but that was evidently an error."
"The South claims 206 of the victims, and the North 35. There were 80 whites, 1 Indian, and 5 women. The South has claimed that they only lynched coloured men for committing rape upon the white women of that section. But unfortunately, the record is against them. Here it is: —
Rape — 40
Murder — 58
Rioting — 3
Race prejudice — 6
No cause given — 4
Robbery — 6
Assault — 1
Attempted murder — 2
Attempted rape — 9
Suspected robbery — 4
Larceny — 1
Alleged rape — 1
Self- defence — 1
Insulting Women — 2
Suspected rape — 1
For being desperadoes — 6
No offence, boy and girl — 2
Fraud — 1"
"The above figures do not include the four coloured men lynched in the North. Louisiana lynched 29. The population of the State is, 1,118,587, dividing that by 29, it shows that one person in every 38,572 in that State took part in a lynching. Although the whites have entire control of the machinery of the law."
"If coloured men were in control, the world would hear an awful howl about Negro inferiority and his incapacity to govern. Another thing is very clearly shown and that is only about one-fifth of the number lynched in the South were charged with the crime of rape. Probably 190 of the number murdered by mobs in the South were entirely innocent of any crime. Mobs are not organised to find out whether a man or woman is guilty or innocent, but they are organised for the sole purpose to condemn and kill."
"There is no doubt but that not less than 400 coloured persons were murdered in the South in 1892. In many cases it is worth a man's life to send one line from certain sections of the South about any ordinary or a private killing, especially when the victim is a coloured man. I had several cases to come under my personal observation in Texas during October and November."
"Early in October a coloured man was picking cotton near Wiley, Texas, several young white men went out and shot him dead for pastime and told the telegraph operator to say nothing about it, if he did they would run him away."
"Near Temple, Texas, a Mr. Baker on November 2nd, shot a coloured man dead whom he said insulted his wife. Nothing was said about it."
"It is a shame and a disgrace to any civilised government to allow any such doings to go on without putting a stop to it. Talk about Hayti, but Hayti is far and away ahead of us when it comes to respect for law and justice. Every Sheriff that permits a prisoner to be taken out of his charge and murdered ought to be punished for it. And every man that is a member of the mob is a murderer just as much as if an individual did it alone."
"Afro-Americans what are you going to do about it?"
"M. W. CALDWELL."
Of the five coloured women lynched, in 1892 one was a fifteen-year-old girl, at Rayville, Louisiana. She was lynched on the same charge of poisoning as the woman at Jackson, Tennessee, and with no greater proof of guilt. South Carolina distinguished herself in October of this same year by legally (?) hanging thirteen-year-old Mildrey Brown on the same charge. Governor Tillman refused to interfere. A young woman, twenty years old, was also executed in this same State.
The year 1892 had over 150 Negro victims to lynch law, and the year 1893, though only three months old (April 1st), has already written twenty-five names on Judge Lynch's death-roll. The most shocking and horrible of them all was the case of Henry Smith at Paris, Texas, February 1st. This man was charged with murder and outrage of the four-year-old daughter of Policeman Vance. Nothing has been given to the world which proves this man's guilt. When he was captured in Arkansas great preparations were made in Paris, and it was publicly announced that he was to be burnt at the stake. No efforts were spent in proving the man's guilt, but great preparations for his execution. A scaffold was built ten feet high, so everybody could see, a float was prepared on which the doomed man was drawn through the streets of the city on exhibition. Schools were dismissed that the children might witness the sight, and crowds gathered from the country round. At every stop made by the train which carried the prisoner to Paris, he was forced to show himself to the crowds who gathered to see him; special coaches were put on, and a free ride given to everybody who wanted to go to see the sight. When the train reached Paris — but let the New York Sunof February 2nd, tell the rest of the horrible story: —
"Smith seemed indifferent to his fate at first, and could not be brought to understand that fearful vengeance would come upon him. When he was told that his death was inevitable, and would come by the most cruel manner human ingenuity could devise, he weakened and begged the officers to save him."
"He first asked to be spared, and then sought any other death than burning. He was told that this was impossible, for the people last night at a mass meeting had determined on his fate. He said he wanted to be shot. When asked if he was willing to have Mr. Vance shoot him, he said he was not, and asked that Marshall Shanklin might do that work."
"He was told that Mr. Shanklin could not and would not kill him. His next choice of his executioner was Mayor Cate. He finally asked that Colonel C. M. Ragland be allowed to shoot him, but the citizens insisted that he must die at the stake."
"When the train pulled up at Texas Pacific Station 15,000 persons were there to receive him. Hundreds of people had poured into the city from the adjoining country. The word had been passed from lip to lip that death by fire was to be the penalty."
"Curious and sympathising alike came on trains and waggons, on horse and on foot, to see the sight. Whisky shops were closed, unruly mobs were dispersed, and schools were dismissed by a proclamation from the Mayor."
"When the train stopped District Attorney H. B. Birmingham of the escort made a brief address." He said: —
" ‘ Fellow Citizens: There is not an officer now on this train who has any control over the prisoner, Henry Smith. Twenty-five of your citizens went in reply to telegrams from your County Attorney to meet him, and see that the prisoner was protected and delivered here without injury. We have done that thing; we have not deceived or misled you; we are not officers, but merely citizens; we have no authority to hold the prisoner against you or any one, and shall make no effort to do so. As citizens we merely wish to surrender the prisoner. We believe you will do what is right. Whatever may be done, let it be done as the people of Lamar county have done everything, in a law-abiding, peaceable, and patriotic way. We cannot, if we would, resist the thousands assembled here. The prisoner has admitted his guilt in the presence of a dozen good and true men. This is all we can say.’"
"Smith was placed upon a carnival float in mockery of a king upon his throne, and, followed by the immense crowd, was escorted through the city so that all might see the monster. He was firmly lashed to the seat."
"The line of march was up Main Street to the Square, around the Square, down Clarksville Street to Church Street, thence to the open prairie, about 300 yards from the Texas and Pacific Station."
"Here a scaffold, ten feet high, had been erected. Around this was a surging throng a hundred and fifty yards in each direction. A cold, drizzling rain was falling, that froze as it fell."
"The cowering wretch was forced up the steps, when he was pinned to a stake. His coat and shirt were torn off piece by piece, and thrown to the crowd, where they were eagerly seized as relics."
"When stripped to the waist, Henry Vance, the father of Smith's victim, Vance's son, and two uncles of the child gathered around him and began to thrust red-hot irons under his feet. Every contortion of his body and every groan that escaped his lips brought forth shouts of approval."
"Vainly he begged for mercy; vainly he protested that he did not know that it was Vance's child he killed. The red-hot irons burned into his flesh deeper and deeper. He uttered terrible cries. Finally the irons were rolled up and down the abdomen and on the back and arms. The crowd kept shouting its approval to the torturers."
"The climax was reached when the irons were thrust into Smith's eyes, burning them out. Then the irons were thrust down his throat. The Vances then declared their vengeance satisfied."
"The combustible material was placed under the scaffold, oil was poured over Smith and the platform, and a match applied. For a time he was enveloped in smoke. As this disappeared and the flames shot up, Smith was seen to sway back and forth."
"Then he became still, and all thought he was dead. The fire burned the ropes that bound him, and he fell upon the burning platform. He then began to roll about the platform. It seemed impossible that anything could live in that furnace."
"To the surprise of all, with a desperate struggle he pulled himself up by the railing of the scaffold, stood up, passed his hand over his face, and then jumped from the scaffold, and rolled out of the fire below. Men on the ground thrust him into the burning mass again, and life became extinct."
"Hundreds had turned away in horror from the spectacle, but thousands shouted with satisfaction and with demonstrations of delight. People were here from every part of this section. They came from Dallas, Fort Worth, Sherman, Denison, Bonham, Texarkana; Fort Smith, Arkadelphia, and a party came from Arkansas, where Smith was captured. Every train that came in was loaded to its utmost capacity."
"There were demands at many points for special trains. When the news reached here yesterday of the arrest it spread through the country like wildfire. At every country town anvils and bells were sounded. People poured in here in a constant stream all night and day on horseback. After the execution the throng dispersed quietly."
"On Thursday last Smith picked up little Myrtle Vance near the residence of her father, Policeman Henry Vance, and giving her candy, carried her through the central portion of the city to Gibbon's pasture, just within the corporate limits."
"He was asked by several persons what he was doing with the child. He replied that she was Mr. Williams' little girl, and he was taking her to the doctor. Arriving at the pasture he assaulted the babe, and then literally tore her in pieces."
"It was in revenge, because her father had arrested him recently. Covering the body with leaves and brush, he lay down and slept the night by the side of his victim. About seven o'clock on Friday through morning Smith awakened, and went to the house of his wife, and compelled her to cook him breakfast. She asked him what had become of that white child."
"He replied: ‘I ain't seen no white child, and don't have nothing to do with white folks.’ He ate his breakfast, and was not seen any more until his capture."
"About two o'clock on Friday a mass meeting was called at the Court House, and captains were appointed to search for the child. As soon as the body was discovered the Railroads put up bulletins offering free transportations to those who would join in the search."
"Posses went out in every direction. Smith was tracked to Detroit on foot, where he jumped on a freight train, left for his old home in
Hempstead County, Arkansas. To this county he was tracked and captured. He denied everything at first, but blood stains revealed the crime. Then he confessed."
According to Press reports written by mob sympathisers nearly every one confesses the crime for which the mob murders him. "Blood stains" were sufficient evidence of guilt to these lawless men. The following week, in no way deterred by Governor Hogg's message and threats of punishment of the lynchers, the mob lynched Will Butler, the nephew or step-son of Henry Smith. The only reason alleged in the dispatches was that "he had made himself notorious during the search for Smith by professing to know Smith's whereabouts which he refused to reveal." In the Texas Legislature immediately after receiving Governor Hogg's message, in which he implored that something be done to punish the lynchers, a Bill was offered in that body to legalise lynching!
Commenting on Governor Hogg's telegram to the County Attorney and Sheriff next day after the burning, in which he urged the arrest of every person connected therewith, the Dallas (Texas) News of February 2nd, said: —
"The telegram of Governor Hogg to County Attorney Sturgeon to get the names of all who participated in the affair and prosecute them is looked upon as a joke. It is not believed that he means it."
"The fact that he telegraphed Sheriff Hammond at one o'clock yesterday, after the Negro was actually in the hands of the mob, offering to aid him in protecting Smith, looks as if he was winking at the whole affair. Where was the Governor to get men to help the Sheriff at that hour who was trying to do his duty? They were certainly not here, and it is doubtful if a corporal's guard could have been obtained within fifty miles of Paris. Everybody knows he must have been joking in what appears to be a scrupulous devotion to the letter of the law, else he would have used all precautions several days ago to save the life of Smith. Ever since 3.30 last Friday, when Myrtle Vance's mutilated body was found, everybody here has known that Smith would be publicly burned. It was stated in Sunday's News that Smith's execution only awaited his capture. No protest against that, so far as the public knows, ever came here from the Governor. Tuesday's News said it was the general sentiment that Smith would be burned at the stake."
An equally cold-blooded, though not so barbarous, lynching, took place in Shelby County, Tennessee, February 11th, in this year of grace 1893, and again the account taken from their own papers is given. In the Memphis (Tennessee) Daily Scimitar of February 13th, occurs the billowing statement: —
"As the Scimitar stated on Saturday, the Negro, Richard Neal, who outraged Mrs. Jack White near Forrest Hill, in this county, was lynched by a mob of about 200 white citizens of the neighbourhood. Sheriff M'Lendon, accompanied by Deputies Perkins, App, and Harvey, and a Scimitar reporter, arrived on the scene of the execution about 3.30 o'clock in the afternoon. The body was suspended from the first limb of a post oak tree by a new quarter-inch grass rope. A hangman's knot, evidently tied by an expert, fitted snugly under the left ear of the corpse,
and a new ham-string pinioned the victim's arms behind him. His legs were not tied. The body was perfectly limber when the Sheriff's posse cut it down, and retained enough heat to warm the feet of Deputy Perkins, whose road cart was converted into a hearse. On arriving with the body at Forrest Hill, the Sheriff made a bargain with a stalwart young man with a blonde moustache and deep blue eyes, who told the Scimitar reporter that he was the leader of the mob, to haul the body to Germantown for three dollars."
"When within half-a-mile of Germantown, the Sheriff and posse were overtaken by Squire M'Donald of Collierville, who had come down to hold the inquest. The Squire had his jury with him, and it was agreed for the convenience of all parties that he should proceed with the corpse to Germantown, and conduct the inquiry as to the cause of death. He did so, and a verdict of death from hanging by parties unknown was returned in due form."
"The execution of Neal was done deliberately, and by the best people of the Collierville, Germantown, and Forrest Hill neighbourhoods, without passion or exhibition of anger. It was the result of an unalterable and unanimous conviction that retribution for his crime must be as swift as terrible."
"He was arrested on Friday about ten o'clock, by Constable Bob Cash, who carried him before Mrs. Smith. She said: ‘I think he is the man. I am almost certain of it. If he isn't the man, he is exactly like him.’ The woman's husband drew a pistol at this juncture to kill the Negro, but was caught and disarmed by Mr. Cash, who, with other cool and deliberate men, said the Negro should not be harmed unless his guilt was proved beyond a reasonable doubt. On Friday night Neal was kept in a house near Forrest Hill, and on Saturday morning at nine o'clock a mass meeting of citizens was held in a grove near the station."
"A chairman was elected and the mob called to order. There were about 200 men present, one-fourth of whom were Negroes. On motion the chairman appointed a committee of five to take the Negro before Mrs. Smith again with other men of similar physique to see if she could identify him. Another committee was appointed to guard the roads and prevent interference by the Sheriff. It was resolved that that official should be detained until guilt or innocence of the accused should be established and judgment executed."
"The first committee found Mrs. Smith more composed than she was the day before, and she identified Neal positively. The Negro's coat was torn also, and there were other circumstances against him. The committee returned and made its report, and the chairman put the question of guilt or innocence to a vote."
"All who thought the proof strong enough to warrant execution were invited to cross over to the other side of the road. Everybody but four or five Negroes crossed over."
"The committee then placed Neal on a mule with his arms tied behind him, and proceeded to the scene of the crime, followed by the mob. The rope, with a noose already prepared, was tied to the limb nearest the spot where the unpardonable sin was committed,
and the doomed man's mule was brought to a standstill beneath it."
"Then Neal confessed. He said he was the right man, but denied that he used force or threats to accomplish his purpose. It was a matter of purchase, he claimed; and said the price paid was 25 cents. He warned the coloured men present to beware of white women and resist temptation, for to yield to their blandishments or to the passions of men meant death."
"While he was speaking, Mrs. White came from home, and, calling Constable Cash to one side, asked if he could not save the Negro's life. The reply was ‘No,’ and Mrs. White returned to the house."
"When all was in readiness, the husband of Neal's victim leaped up on the mule's back, and adjusted the rope round the Negro's neck. No cap was used, and Neal showed no fear, nor did he beg for mercy. The mule was struck with a whip, and bounded out from under Neal, leaving him suspended in the air with his feet about three feet from the ground."
"Not a shot was fired at the dangling form, and death resulted from strangulation. As soon as it was certain that Neal was dead, the mob dispersed, and when the Sheriff's posse arrived half-an-hour later, not a living soul could be found within half-a-mile of the corpse. White and his family had left their home, and gone to stay with relatives."
"The dead man was a small Negro, weighing about 120 pounds, and aged about 35. He leaves a wife and two children. For several years he drove Mr. H. L. Bedford's carriage, and at the time of the rape was supposed to be hauling wood from a lot near the scene."
For this awful record of blood no one has been punished, no indemnity given to the relatives of the murdered persons. The National Government has taken no notice of this wholesale carnage. The President says he can do nothing with the lawlessness of the Southern States. When eleven Italians were lynched at New Orleans March, 1891, the American Government told Italy the same thing, Louisiana proved the lynched Italians were criminals and members of a secret organization whose object was murder and revenge, and a jury found the lynching had been done by "parties unknown to the jury." Yet with all this, Secretary Blaine sent the following to the Italian Minister at Washington, Marquis Imperiali: —
"DEPARTMENT OF STATE,"
"WASHINGTON April 12, 1892."
"SIR. — I congratulate you that the difficulty existing between the United States and Italy, growing out of the lamentable massacre at New Orleans in March of last year, is about to be terminated. The President, feeling that for such an injury there should be ample indemnity, instructs me to tender you 125,000 francs. The Italian Government will distribute this sum among the families of the victims."
"While the injury was not inflicted directly by the United States, the President nevertheless feels that it is the solemn duty, as well
as the great pleasure, of the National Government to pay a satisfactory indemnity. Moreover, the President's instructions carry with them the hope that the transaction of to-day may efface all memory of the unhappy tragedy; that the old and friendly relations of the United States and Italy may be restored; and that nothing untoward may ever again occur to disturb their harmonious friendship."
"JAMES G. BLAINE."
Having thus established the precedent that the whole people should be taxed to pay for the wrong-doing of those of one State (over which the General Government has no control), it may have to be done again. Lynching is still going on, though most of the victims are coloured people who are citizens of this country. They ask for no indemnity; they only ask that a fair trial for life and liberty be granted those charged with crime.
Shall they have it? It is for Christian, liberty-loving civilisation to answer.