(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Judge Lynch, his first hundred years"



11 





FRANK SHAY 



From the collection of the 



n m 



PreTinger 

v JJibrary 
p 



San Francisco, California 
2006 



JUDGE LYNCH 



By the Same Author 

IRON MEN AND WOODEN SHIPS 

MY PIOUS FRIENDS AND DRUNKEN 
COMPANIONS 

HERE'S AUDACITY! 
INCREDIBLE PIZARRO 
PIRATE WENCH 
etc., etc. 



JUDGE LYNCH 



HIS FIRST HUNDRED YEARS 



BY FRANK SHAY 




IVES WASHBDRN, INC. NEW YORK 



By the Same Author 

IRON MEN AND WOODEN SHIPS 

MY PIOUS FRIENDS AND DRUNKEN 
COMPANIONS 

HERE'S AUDACITY! 
INCREDIBLE PIZARRO 
PIRATE WENCH 
etc., etc. 



JUDGE LYNCH 



HIS FIRST HUNDRED YEARS 



BY FRANK SHAY 




IVES WASHBURN, INC. NEW YORK 



COPYRIGHT, 1938, BY FRANK SHAY 

All rights reserved 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY THE VAIL-BALLOU PRESS, INC., BINGHAMTON, N. Y. 



Contents 

Preface: 

"To HELL WITH THE LAW" 7 

Chapter One: 

THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH ... 15 

Chapter TIVO: 

THE EARLY LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE LYNCH 27 

Chapter Three: 

JUDGE LYNCH'S CODE . . . . . . . . 77 

Chapter Four: 

JUDGE LYNCH'S JURORS . . . * . v . . 84 

Chapter Five: 

THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH .... 99 

Chapter Six: 

SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH'S CASES: 

(A) Judge Lynch's Cause Celebre-Leo 

Frank . . > *53 

(B) The Mob Was Orderly-New Or- 

leans Mafia l61 

(C) The Burning of Henry Lowry . .168 

5 



CONTENTS 

(D) The Law Never Had a Chance- 

Claude Neal 178 

(E) The Five Thousandth Raymond 

Gunn 187 

(F) Twice Lynched in Texas George 

Hughes 197 

(G) Three Governors Go Into Action 

1933 2 7 

(H) Those Who Defied the Bosses . . 220 

(I) 1937 2 45 

Chapter Seven: 

THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH . . . .251 

Lynch-Executions in the United States, 1882-1937 . 273 

Bibliography 276 

Index 283 



Preface 

"TO HELL WITH THE LAW" 

LYNCHING has many legal definitions: It means one 
thing in Kentucky and North Carolina and another in 
Virginia or Minnesota. For the purpose of this work 
it is defined as the execution without process of the 
law, by a mob, of any individual suspected or con- 
victed of a crime or accused of an offense against the 
prevailing social customs. The state of Minnesota 
clearly defines it as the killing of a human being by the 
act or procurement of a mob. In Kentucky and North 
Carolina the lynch-victim must have been in the hands 
of the law or there was no lynching. Virginia defines 
it simply as murder and ordains that every person 
composing the mob, upon conviction, shall be pun- 
ished by death. 

There is more than the simple dictionary definition 
of lynching. Behind every lynching, beyond the de- 
struction of the unfortunate victim, is the debasement 
of citizenship, the crucifixion of justice and democra- 
tic government, the prostitution of public officials, 

7 



PREFACE 



and the depraved behavior of the mob-members. The 
effects of a lynching on the mind of an observer, es- 
pecially a child, cannot be estimated. The conse- 
quences of sadistic practices put human relations on a 
considerably lower plane. Dr. A. A. Brill states: "Any- 
one taking part in or witnessing a lynching cannot re- 
main a civilized person." 

It is seldom that a mob gives voice to its creed as 
did the one outside Covington, Tennessee, in August, 
1937: when urged by the sheriff to let the law take its 
course, it cried, "To hell with the law!" It is not only 
the cry of the lyncher but of every other type of 
criminal. 

Since 1882, when lynchings were first recorded, 
through 1937, the toll of the mob has been 5,1 12 vic- 
tims. More than four fifths of these were Negroes, of 
whom less than one sixth were accused of rape. 
Lynchings have declined from a high of 235 in 1892 
to a low of eight for 1937. The decrease was not con- 
stant: in 1932 the number fell to ten only to rise to 
twenty-eight in the following year. It is an inevitable 
fact that during the coming years certain Americans 
will meet their deaths at the hands of mobs. 

Lynchers are criminals in the same sense that mur- 
derers and kidnapers are criminals: lynching is a crimi- 
nal activity, and to be put down it must be considered 
as such. Obviously law enactment is not enough; rigid 

8 



PREFACE 



enforcement is necessary and it must be backed up by 
a public sentiment against the crime. Even the most 
serious protagonists for a Federal law against lynching 
do not believe that it will stop the practice. They point 
out that proposed Federal legislation leaves the appre- 
hension and punishment of lynchers to the state, that it 
only makes recalcitrant states abandon their do-noth- 
ing policy, and that it forces peace officers to resist 
the mob beforehand and to prosecute it afterwards. 
It seeks to guarantee the humblest citizen the due pro- 
cess of the law and the equal protection assured him by 
the national Constitution. It provides that cowardly 
and unfaithful public officials may be fined and impris- 
oned, and that the people of the county who permitted 
the murder be made liable for monetary damages. 

Such a law will not eradicate the crime of lynching, 
but it will convince peace officers that they must not 
release their prisoners to a mob and that the lynch- 
minded must suppress their sadistic desires: it will 
serve as an effective curb on a crime that many Ameri- 
cans condone. 



It is almost impossible to verify statistics relating to 
lynchings. For this work the author has gone to several 
sources: from 1882 to 1888 the accepted totals are 
those compiled by Cutler from the files of the Chicago 



PREFACE 

Tribune, and from 1889 to 1937 the records are those 
of the National Association for the Advancement of 
Colored People. Some independent research has not 
materially changed these figures. For prevented lynch- 
ings, the estimates of Monroe N. Work, of the Depart- 
ment of Records and Research at Tuskegee, have been 
accepted. In many communities there are forces strong 
enough to suppress news of lynch-executions; in 
others the bodies of the victims are destroyed or 
secretly buried, and the members of the small mobs 
sworn to silence. 



For my research I have used the published material 
of many individuals and organizations. That I have 
been materially aided by the work of James Elbert 
Cutler, Walter White, Arthur F. Raper, and James 
Harmon Chadbourn is apparent and herewith ac- 
knowledged. Organizations such as the National As- 
sociation for the Advancement of Colored People, the 
Southern Commission on the Study of Lynching, the 
American Civil Liberties Union, the Industrial Work- 
ers of the World, the International Labor Defense, 
and the Workers' Defense League have been helpful 
in letters and documents loaned. To the Federal Writ- 
ers' Project thanks are due for a leave of absence to 
complete this work. 

10 



PREFACE 

To Alfred Hartog I am indebted for considerable 
aid and valuable time devoted to research, to Miss 
Richetta G. Randolph and Julian B. Thomas for the 
loan of valuable material and helpful suggestions. To 
my wife, Edith Shay, my thanks for counsel and help 
in the arrangement of material and for the compila- 
tion of the bibliography and index. 

F. S. 



ii 



JUDGE LYNCH 



Chapter One 



THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH 

IT was not until forty years after his death that the 
name of a Virginia soldier in the War for Independ- 
ence was given to the practice of summary punishment 
he had introduced as a war-time measure. It is a long 
way from the mild, repressive measures of Colonel 
Charles Lynch, who was known to some as Judge 
Lynch, to the legendary figure bearing his name 
whose known victims now number 5,112,* many of 
whom went to their deaths by methods almost incon- 
ceivable. Judge Lynch, the real, was an honorable 
patriot, a Quaker whose religious scruples forbade the 
taking of human life even in war; Judge Lynch, the 
legend, whose code contains only the sentence of 
death, is a savage American whose practices bring 
shame to all other Americans. 

A century of lynching, with more than 5,000 re- 
corded victims in a little more than half that time, has 
placed America in an unenviable position before the 

1 January i, 1938. 



JUDGE LYNCH 

entire world. It has done incalculable harm not only to 
our reputation as a civilized country but to ourselves, 
our manner of thinking, and the welfare of future gen- 
erations. 

No nation, ancient or modern, has been entirely free 
from mobs and "mobocracy." But mob-law is not 
necessarily lynch-law, whereas lynch-law is always 
executed by mobs. The mob is always the result of a 
temporary or permanent breakdown or failure of a 
social system; it is invariably accompanied by violent 
death, be it the death of an individual or of a class. 
That there are justifiable mobs is beside the point; cer- 
tain diseases are cured by inoculating the patient with 
a virus that, if administered to one in good health, 
would in itself produce death. 

Aberrations of justice are not distinctively Ameri- 
can. Summary justice has been meted to individuals 
throughout history. There are isolated instances in 
modern Europe, but these bear the stamp of genuinely 
spontaneous action on the part of the people who, 
outraged by his criminality, fell upon the offender and 
put him to death. The imperfect evidence at hand 
would indicate that it was invariably the guilty person 
who was lynched and not, as is so often the case in this 
country, one who was merely suspected or accused of 
criminality. 

Other commentators and historians have sought to 

16 



THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH 

connect American lynching practices with those that 
existed in Europe before and shortly after America 
was settled. They have discovered a likeness in such in- 
stitutions as the feudal Vehmgerichte of Westphalia, 
but the Fehmic courts were secret tribunals established 
for the preservation of the true faith, the promotion 
of peace, and the suppression of crime. All their opera- 
tions were veiled in mystery: their secret spies pene- 
trated to the remotest corners of Germany, their judges 
were unknown, their judgments were swift and their 
execution certain. The Vehmgerichte bear a closer 
resemblance to our Ku Klux Klan and other repressive 
groups than to our general and more democratic prac- 
tice of lynch-executions. 

The Lydford laws, gibbet or Halifax law, Cowper 
and Jeddart justice, and the Scotch burlaw bear a 
strong resemblance to our Frontier Justice, to the Vig- 
ilantes in their original conduct. All these practices 
originated in a genuine and popular need and through 
the lack of regularly constituted law courts. That they 
were later prostituted to ulterior and selfish purposes is 
within this thesis. Venice's Council of Ten, Castile and 
Aragon's Holy Brotherhood were regularly consti- 
tuted and legal, even if repressive, bodies, and their 
edicts were accepted laws. Only in Czarist Russia did 
the practice of lynch-executions somewhat similar to 
ours prevail. It was the custom to take horse-thieves 



JUDGE LYNCH 

and club them to death, to tie them to the tails of young 
horses, which were ridden off at a gallop; or the lynch- 
ers would fasten the victim to a log while the women 
punctured his skin with sharp instruments until death 
ensued. 

What is now known as lynch-law, the court of 
Judge Lynch, and Judge Lynch himself were un- 
known to the earliest colonists. Summary justice was 
meted to misbehavers of almost every type and to those 
guilty of offenses not covered in the common law. It 
was an accepted practice, not because there was no 
formal law, but because formal law was undergoing a 
severe change. Today the stool-pigeon is the accepted 
accomplice of all police regulation; in those early days 
an informer was invariably in the service of the crown 
and therefore anathema to all patriots who, when he 
was unmasked, undertook to flog him and to hold him 
up to popular exposure and contempt. But the man 
who laid on the lash, who applied the tar and feathers, 
or who ordained that the victim be carried on a rail 
was known as Squire Birch. 

Many New England communities had officials 
known as "warners-off," whose duty comprised the 
investigation of all newcomers as to character, religion, 
goods, and other local requirements. If in their wisdom 
they felt the newcomer was not one who would add 

18 



THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH 

luster and wealth to the community, or if his family- 
were liable to become public charges, the warners-off 
went into action, giving a five-day warning to clear 
out. Beyond that their powers of office did not carry 
them. If the ostracized did not leave within the pre- 
scribed time, the people figuratively took the matter 
into their own hands and brought the head of the fam- 
ily before Squire Birch, who ordained the method of 
chastisement. After the administration of justice, the 
offender was taken to the town's limits and ordered 
never to return, under penalty of "worser" treatment. 
Summary punishment was also exercised against 
Indians who overstepped treaty bounds, against 
chronic drunkards and wife-beaters, and, in certain 
communities, against non-churchgoers and, in others, 
tobacco smokers. Later, when matters became tense 
between the colonists and their British oppressors, 
violent treatment was used against loyalists informers 
who accepted the crown awards for pointing out 
patriots or revealing the persons and lairs of smugglers. 



The origin of the legendary Judge Lynch has been 
obscured by the legend-makers. Ploughing through 
histories and memoirs, the last words of oldest inhabit- 
ants and first settlers, folklore, and the works of con- 

19 



JUDGE LYNCH 

temporary writers brings out the fact that there was a 
Judge Lynch and that an act of the Virginia legisla- 
ture was known as Lynch's Law. 

Charles Lynch, who was to give his name to a juris- 
prudence he never practised nor would have tolerated, 
was born in 1736, at Chestnut Hill, his father's estate 
in Bedford County, upon which a part of the city of 
Lynchburg now stands. Lynchburg was not named for 
Charles Lynch but for his elder brother, James. The fa- 
ther, an Irish redemptioner, had been sold to a planter, 
and the young immigrant, when his redemption period 
was completed, married Sarah, the daughter of the 
house, a professed Quaker. After the planter's death, 
the mother joined the Society of Friends; James, the 
oldest son, became possessor of the estate; and the two 
younger sons, John and Charles, took parcels of the 
family land that lay near the border. Charles followed 
his mother into the Cedar Creek Quaker meeting, and 
the records of the congregation show that on Decem- 
ber 14, 1754, the young man and Anne Terrill first 
published their intentions of marriage. Later the young 
couple established their home on the Staunton River, 
in what is now Campbell County. 2 

For some years Charles was an active member of the 

2 "The Real Judge Lynch," by Thomas Walker Page, Atlantic 
Monthly, December, 1901. 

20 



THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH 

Society of Friends and, for a time, clerk of the monthly 
meetings. Later the exigencies of the times, 1767, 
caused him to accept public office, and he became un- 
satisfactory to the peace-loving Quakers, who dis- 
owned him for taking solemn oaths, contrary to the 
order and discipline of the Friends. It was in that year 
that Charles Lynch was elected to the House of Bur- 
gesses, where he held his seat until the colony became 
independent. In 1776 he was a member of the conven- 
tion that sent the instructions to the delegates from 
Virginia to the Continental Congress, which exercised 
a decisive influence on the movement for independ- 
ence. 

At the beginning of the War for Independence his 
Quaker principles still influenced his actions to the ex- 
tent of keeping him out of active military service. Mr. 
Page says: "He did not enlist in the army, partly be- 
cause of his Quaker principles, but chiefly because his 
presence was imperatively necessary at home. He had 
to rouse the spirit of his constituents to support the ac- 
tion he had advocated in the convention. He had to 
raise and equip troops for the army. He had, as it were, 
to mobilize the forces of his country, and attend to all 
the duties of a commissary department. In addition, 
he had to make some provision in the event of an attack 
from hostile Indians." 

21 



JUDGE LYNCH 

In 1778 he had sufficiently stifled his Quaker scru- 
ples to accept a commission as Colonel of Militia and 
to organize a regiment. 

It was as officer commanding this home-guard or- 
ganization that his name was given to a species of sum- 
mary justice. The theater of war had shifted to the 
South, and both armies were in desperate need of 
horses. The prices paid were so high that gangs of 
rustlers made horse stealing a lucrative practice. The 
local courts were only examining courts and the single 
court for final trial of felonies sat at Williamsburg, 
more than two hundred miles away. 3 To take the pris- 
oners thither, and the witnesses necessary to convict 
them, was next to impossible. Frequently the officers 
in charge of prisoners would be attacked by outlaws 
and forced to release their men, or be captured by 
British troops and themselves made prisoners. 

As practically all of the horses were stolen from 
American farmers to be sold to the British forces, the 
thieves were, for the greater part, Tories. Colonel 
Lynch placed the matter before his friends and neigh- 
bors, and it was decided to take things into their own 
hands, to punish lawlessness of all kinds, and, so far as 
possible, to restore order and security to their com- 
munity. It was not the "Vehmgericht" in any sense, 
but a war-time measure. Colonel Lynch was appointed 

3 Cutler: Lynch-Law. 

22 



THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH 

presiding justice, and three neighbors, Captain Robert 
Adams, Jr., Colonel James Callaway, and William 
Preston, associate justices. Colonel Lynch's home was 
to be their courthouse. 

It was the custom of this court to have the accused 
brought face to face with his accuser, permit him to 
hear testimony against himself, and allow him to sum- 
mon witnesses in his own defense. If acquitted, he 
was allowed to go, with apologies, his inalienable 
right to sue for false arrest intact. If he was con- 
victed, he was sentenced to receive the Law of Moses, 
which is forty lashes less one, on the bared back; if 
he did not then shout "Liberty forever!" he was 
strung up by the thumbs until he did so. The most 
convinced Tory shouted for liberty without further 
ado. 

The chorus of a once popular patriotic song cur- 
rent in Virginia after the war runs as follows: 

"Hurrah for Colonel Lynch, 
Captain Bob and Callaway! 
They never turned a Tory loose, 
Until he cried out 'Liberty.' " 

Later the Tories were greatly encouraged by the 
news of the British invasion of Virginia, and they 
proposed to seize and hold for Lord Cornwallis the 
stores collected by Lynch for General Greene's army 

23 



JUDGE LYNCH 

in North Carolina. Colonel Lynch, with his regiment, 
was on the point of setting out to oppose a British 
army under Benedict Arnold when news of the con- 
spiracy was brought to him. Manifestly it would not 
do to whip the conspirators, make them shout "Lib- 
erty forever!" and turn them loose, nor could he 
order them put in irons and taken along with the 
regiment. The Colonel sought the advice of his fel- 
low-justices, and it was decided to sentence them to 
terms of imprisonment of from one to five years, and 
the leader, Robert Cowan, was additionally fined 
; 2 0,000, due to war-time inflation less than $1,000. 

That was the real Judge Lynch. 

After the war, the Tories who had suffered at the 
hands of Colonel Lynch and his associates, threatened 
to prosecute them. To avoid lawsuits and to settle a 
war-time affair for the future, Colonel Lynch laid 
the whole matter before the Virginia legislature. After 
a long debate, for there were many unreconstructed 
Tories yet in the legislature, the following act was 
passed in October, 1782: 

AN ACT TO INDEMNIFY CERTAIN PER- 
SONS IN SUPPRESSING A CONSPIRACY 
AGAINST THIS STATE: 

I. WHEREAS divers evil-disposed persons in the year 
one thousand seven hundred and eighty, formed a 
conspiracy and did actually attempt to levy war against 

2 4 



THERE WAS A JUDGE NAMED LYNCH 

this commonwealth; and it is represented to the present 
general assembly, that William Preston, Robert Adams, 
junior, James Callaway, and Charles Lynch, and other 
faithful citizens, aided by detachments of volunteers from 
different parts of the state, did, by timely and effectual 
measures, suppress such conspiracy: And whereas the 
measures taken for that purpose may not be strictly war- 
ranted by law, although justifiable from the imminence of 
the danger; 

II. BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED, That the said William 
Preston, Robert Adams, junior, James Callaway, and 
Charles Lynch, and all other persons whatsoever, con- 
cerned in suppressing said conspiracy, or in advising, 
issuing or executing any orders, or measures taken for 
that purpose, stand indemnified and exonerated of and 
from all pains, penalties, prosecutions, actions, suits, and 
damages on account thereof. And that if any indictment, 
prosecution, action, or suit shall be laid or brought against 
them or any of them, for any act or thing done therein, 
the defendant, or defendants may plead in bar, or in 
general issue, and give this act in evidence. 

And, according to Mr. Page, the proceedings were 
imitated widely throughout the former colonies and 
came to be known by the name of Lynch's Law. 

To the reader this historical precedent for the vilest 
of modern practices may seem a bit far-fetched. The 
legendry of lynching has many more interesting and 
plausible accounts of its origin, but all of them appear, 
upon investigation, to be spun of shoddy and other 

25 



JUDGE LYNCH 

synthetic fabrics unable to bear up under any sort of 
scrutiny. The story of the patriotic Colonel's activi- 
ties bears the stamp of authenticity, which the folk 
tales of the old men and women who "knew him 
when" do not. 

It is a far cry from Lynch's patriotic activities, 
which gave a new verb to the American language and 
another personality to our list of legendary characters, 
to present-day lynch-executions, with their barbarous 
forms of torture and cruel death and carnivals of 
sadism. It is a still further cry from the efforts of the 
original Lynch to maintain order and security in the 
face of armed invasion to the Judge Lynch of today, 
who, in a peaceful nation, is a constant menace to 
the order of our society and the security of more 
than fifteen millions of our citizens. 



26 



Chapter Two 



THE EARLY LIFE AND TIMES OF 
JUDGE LYNCH 

THE career of the legendary Judge Lynch is an 
American saga. Early in life he took over the office 
so competently filled by Squire Birch, and performed 
the duties of the lower court with a promptness and 
energy that won for him the admiration of his more 
impatient and energetic fellow-citizens. No untried 
cases clogged the Judge's docket, there were no post- 
ponements or other delays, his decisions were quick 
and their execution never delayed. There were few 
appeals from his decisions, and practically no rever- 
sals. So effective was his handling of the cases brought 
before him that when the opportunity presented it- 
self he was elevated to the bench of the Court of 
Uncommon Pleas, the court from which there is no 
appeal. 

During the early years of the nineteenth century 
the practice of lynching followed along the traditional 
lines of flogging and tarring and feathering. In cer- 
tain cases the sentence was death by flogging or hang- 

27 



JUDGE LYNCH 

ing, occasionally by burning. In the succeeding years, 
the Judge narrowed his decisions to death and sought 
variety only in a refinement and intensification of 
the methods of executing the sentence. Before long 
in his new berth he became known far and wide as 
"the hanging judge," and his jurisdiction spread across 
the American continent, confined only by the two 
oceans and the two borders. Within these confines 
he rides his circuit, and neither distance nor weather 
halts his grisly progress. 



The earlier work of Judge Lynch was confined to 
those calls made upon him by the better people of 
the community to try offenders of public morals, 
offenders against prevailing social customs, and, on 
occasion, persons who had committed acts of out- 
rageous criminality. His code was flexible to a degree; 
invariably the accused was permitted a defense and at 
times convinced the court of his innocence or was 
able to show extenuating influences or justification. 

There was a period between the surrender of the 
British at Yorktown and the breakdown of the Crown 
judicial system and the subsequent development of 
an American code, based on the various courts. The 
transition was not accomplished overnight: in the 
more developed sections it was achieved with a de- 

28 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

gree of dispatch that made the change almost imper- 
ceptible; in the sparsely settled and the newly settled 
sections it required many years. Courts in some of 
these places were of limited authority, others did not 
know how far under a democracy their authority 
carried and were often arbitrary beyond their powers. 
In the unsettled communities close to the frontiers, 
the people were too busy defending themselves from 
the Indians to worry much about law, and often 
founded sizable communities that had to depend for 
their court on some distant county seat. 

As the towns prospered and became populated, the 
lack of a law court, civil and criminal, became evident, 
and sometimes they awaited long the appointment of 
a judge or the visits of the circuit justices. In the mean- 
time the people took the law into their own hands 
and tried the guilty themselves. Lacking jails and the 
time to transport the accused to distant courthouses 
for further trial, they resorted to the extra-legal meth- 
ods of Judge Lynch. Punishment for criminality of 
all types became corporal; a man was beaten or he was 
hanged. This type of justice followed the frontier 
from east to west and continued in existence until the 
frontier was closed, approximately in the eighteen 
nineties; yet, as late as 1915 and 1916 we find records 
of hangings on charges of desperadism in western 
states. 

29 



JUDGE LYNCH 

It is safe to estimate that by the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, law enforcement and observa- 
tion were prevalent in all but frontier localities. This 
period has been termed an era of good feeling, pros- 
perity, and the expansion of industry and markets; 
we see in it the gradual demand and awarding of more 
and more democratic processes. No property restric- 
tions to suffrage and the caucus system of selecting 
candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency 
were finding adherents throughout the country. 
Democracy was in full swing, and Andrew Jackson 
was its high priest and holy prophet. 

Democracy's lay-preachers were going up and 
down the land assuring the people that every man was 
a king. Everyman was believing it and, looking about 
him with his royal eye, found much that displeased 
him. He assumed that it was his kingly prerogative to 
change the things he didn't like, but his authority, he 
sadly learned, was confined to his own person and to 
small local groups who thought as he did. He had 
never thoroughly learned the theory of democracy 
and, therefore, was never able to practise it. Where 
he could not get his way by diplomacy, he brought 
in force and violence; he had won everything that 
way, and it seemed the correct way. 

The things that displeased every man were social 
and economic. He disliked the aliens who were flock- 

30 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

ing in, particularly the Irish and their church, whom 
he tried to rout. In the North he joined his southern 
brothers in disliking the Negro; but he disliked him 
especially because he was a slave, and slave labor was 
having an unfavorable effect on the entire country. 
From the North he loosed upon the South a flood of 
anti-slavery advocates, most of them self-appointed 
and self -financed. 

The South at first paid little attention to these 
propagandists, for their efforts were confined almost 
entirely to the whites, masters of slaves, and to the 
ministry. It was not until 1829 that David Walker, a 
free Negro living in Boston, published his pamphlet, 
Walker's Appeal. The author had been born in South 
Carolina, the son of a free Negress and a slave. He had 
acquired enough education to read and write, and had 
come to Boston, where he opened a second-hand cloth- 
ing store. 

The appeal comprised four articles and a preamble 
addressed to "the Colored Citizens of the World," 
but, in particular and very expressly, to those of 
the United States of America. The pamphlet was 
circulated through the mails at the expense of the 
author. Copies found their way into the hands of city 
officials in Atlanta and Richmond and were referred 
to the Governors of Georgia and Virginia, who in 
turn submitted them to their respective legislatures. 

3* 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Official protests were sent to Mayor Otis of Boston, 
demanding immediate suppression of the subversive 
booklet. Otis replied that the pamphlet had been 
written by a free black man, whose true name it bore; 
that it had not been circulated in Boston; that he did 
not personally or officially subscribe to its sentiments 
nor could he prohibit its circulation through the mails. 
He would, and did, publish a general warning to ship 
captains and others not to expose themselves to the 
consequences of carrying the incendiary booklet or 
other similar writings into the southern states. 

The Georgia legislature, not satisfied with the 
Mayor of Boston's answer, framed and passed a 
measure providing for forty days' quarantine of all 
vessels having free Negroes on board, prohibiting in- 
tercourse with such vessels by free Negroes or slaves, 
and making the teaching of free Negroes to read 
and write a penal offense. In Virginia, at a secret ses- 
sion of the House of Deputies, a bill was passed mak- 
ing it a misdemeanor to teach or permit free Negroes, 
slaves, or mulattoes to be taught to read or write; it 
also prescribed fine, imprisonment, flogging, or death 
for any white person, free Negro, slave, or mulatto 
who should write, print, or circulate among slaves, 
free Negroes, or mulattoes any paper, book, or pam- 
phlet tending to incite insurrection or rebellion. The 
bill did not pass the Senate. 

3 2 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

In Louisiana, where copies of Walker's Appeal had 
been discovered, the legislature enacted a law forbid- 
ding free Negroes to enter the State of Louisiana and 
commanding all who had entered since 1825 to leave 
within sixty days. 

However, the passing of laws and the death of 
Walker a year after his pamphlet was published did 
not stop the flow of anti-slavery literature into the 
southern states. In 183 1, on New Year's day, William 
Lloyd Garrison issued the first number of what was 
later to become the most powerful and influential 
abolitionist weapon, The Liberator. Free Negroes 
gave it their hearty support from the beginning, and 
by the whites it was attacked and denounced as in- 
cendiary and, with Walker's Appeal, credited as one 
of the chief causes of the frightful Southampton mas- 
sacre. 

The southern states were not strangers to Negro 
or slave revolts. Previous to the Southampton out- 
break, Virginia had had seven slave rebellions, South 
Carolina seven, North Carolina three, Georgia two, 
and Maryland and Louisiana one each. All of them 
were suppressed or nipped in the bud, but they served 
the purpose of keeping the South on its guard. In 1 800, 
Gabriel, a slave belonging to Thomas Prosser, resid- 
ing near the city of Richmond, made his plans quietly 
and in secrecy and his revolt was already in motion 

33 



JUDGE LYNCH 

before it was discovered. Negroes, to the number of 
eleven hundred, had gathered in the night at a brook 
some six miles from the city. Under the general 
leadership of Gabriel they were divided into several 
divisions, each with an objective: one was to seize 
the penitentiary, containing several thousand stand 
of arms; a second was to take the powder house; 
while the main body was to press on and take the 
Capitol building, which was to be used as a rallying 
point and a stronghold. From there on the rebels 
were to commence the work of slaughter: not a white, 
save the French inhabitants, was to be spared. 

All conditions at first conspired to make the insur- 
rection a success. Richmond was not even in a good 
defensive position; it would be easy to capture, and, 
if the objectives were taken, easier to hold. Secrecy 
stood in Gabriel's favor until the last hour, when, 
already on the march, the rebels were forced by a 
swollen stream to stop. The pause gave sufficient time 
for two slaves to divulge the plot to the white masters 
and the revolt was put down. Patrols were estab- 
lished in Richmond and surrounding towns; on plan- 
tations strict surveillance of Negro quarters was main- 
tained. Arrests, brief hearings, and executions quickly 
followed, from five to fifteen slaves being hanged at 
a time. Gabriel eluded arrest, and three hundred dol- 

34 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

lars was offered for his apprehension. He was later 
captured in Norfolk, after having lain in a vessel's 
hold for eleven days, and was hanged on October 7, 
1800. 

Each executed slave meant a property loss to his 
owner that was not entirely repaid by the state. As 
Virginia lands grew less productive and the planters 
faced a future with limited incomes, breeding slaves 
for the market gradually assumed the proportions of 
a leading industry, a matter of some four million dol- 
lars annually in the late eighteen fifties. Publicity of 
the slave revolts would have practically destroyed the 
market value of Negroes bred in Virginia, and, though 
there are frequent references to incipient revolts in 
letters, all public information was suppressed. In 1816 
the slaves of Fredericksburg planned a revolt, but 
the leaders were betrayed and later hanged. 

In June, 1822, Charleston, South Carolina, heard 
rumors of a slave uprising. Denmark Vesey, a free 
Negro, aided by a Peter Poyas, had enlisted Negroes 
of from forty to fifty miles about the city in a con- 
spiracy to slaughter the whites and free the blacks. 
Poyas alone had enlisted no less than six hundred 
slaves, and it was one of these, a household servant, 
who revealed the plot to his master. After a month's 
investigation, only fifty of the thousand supposed to 

35 



JUDGE LYNCH 

have been concerned were apprehended. Denmark 
Vesey, Peter Poyas, and thirty-three others were put 
to death without revealing their secrets. 

In 1830 the South wanted the Negro, free and 
slave, under control, and the flood of abolitionist 
literature, addressed as it was, for the greater part, to 
the Negro, was regarded as a menace. Few slaves 
could read, but many free Negroes and some slaves 
whose masters, through kindness, had given them the 
rudiments of education, could and did carry the mes- 
sage of the anti-slavery advocates. The entire South 
was frightened; the slaves lived a different life, spoke 
almost a different language from their masters; and, 
as long as the subversive literature was being circu- 
lated, there was no security for the whites. The only 
hope of the southern states was to choke it off at the 
source. 

Each revolt was unsuccessful, yet each one served 
to put the Negro farther back in his struggle for 
education and independence. The laws enacted by 
South Carolina as a result of Denmark Vesey 's con- 
spiracy were unusually severe. All persons of color 
were debarred from education in its simplest forms; 
all free Negroes coming into the state were to be im- 
prisoned. Numbers of colored men, some of them 
citizens from the free states, were seized from vessels 
in South Carolina ports, imprisoned, and finally sold 

36 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

into slavery to pay the costs of trial and imprisonment. 

The free states, egged on by the abolitionists, pro- 
tested, and Massachusetts sent the Hon. Samuel Hoar, 
an eminent attorney, to Charleston to effect and pro- 
cure the release of several colored men, citizens of 
the Bay State, imprisoned under this ordinance. Mr. 
Hoar, accompanied by his daughter, proceeded upon 
his mission, but was compelled to retire in haste from 
Charleston under threats of personal violence. No one, 
black or white man, from a northern state was per- 
mitted to enter South Carolina's jurisdiction if he 
proposed to question the validity of her acts. 

Southern ground was being prepared for the ad- 
vent of Judge Lynch. 



The insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia, 
in August, 183 1, was unlike any of the previous slave 
uprisings in that it was not the result of a carefully 
elaborated plan. It was the result of one man's inspira- 
tion, of a single night's conference in the woods by 
seven black men who proceeded to the work of 
slaughter almost as soon it was determined upon and 
the first steps arranged. Nat Turner, the leader, was, 
like his predecessors, Gabriel and Vesey, a "good 
nigger." 

On Sunday, August 2 1, six slaves met in the woods 

37 



JUDGE LYNCH 

on the plantation of Joseph Travis, ostensibly for a 
barbecue. The Travis plantation was located in the 
neighborhood known as Cross Keys, about fifteen 
miles from Jerusalem Court House and about the 
same distance from Petersburg. When the roasted 
pig was ready, the six who had prepared it were 
joined by a seventh, a dark mulatto in the prime of 
life, powerfully built, with strongly marked African 
features and a face indicative of intelligence and res- 
olution. This was Nat Turner. 

After the pig was eaten, Turner harangued his 
fellows in earnest, moving rhetoric depicting the 
wretchedness of the Negroes' lot and proving by 
Scripture that he had been called to free his brothers. 
All conceded the truth of his assumption and declared 
themselves ready to follow him. The conference con- 
tinued for several hours. 

"It was agreed," said Turner later in his confession, 
"that we should commence at home that night and, 
until we had armed and equipped ourselves and gained 
sufficient force, neither age nor sex was to be spared, 
which was invariably adhered to." The general design 
was to conquer Southampton County first and then 
the rest of the state. In case of defeat they could re- 
treat to the Dismal Swamp, which was about twenty- 
five miles distant, in whose fastnesses they felt they 
could find security. 

38 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

The Negroes left their retreat after midnight, and 
before dawn were well started on their short career 
of death and destruction. The house of a widow was 
first visited, and the family of five whites murdered. 
A neighbor hearing their screams hurried to the scene 
to find all five dead; on his return to his own home, 
he was informed by his Negro houseboy that his own 
wife and child had been murdered. The family of 
Turner's master were the next victims, and the leader, 
with new recruits by dawn, continued his work of 
slaughter. 

In one thing the Negroes were more humane than 
Indians or white men fighting against Indians: there 
was no gratuitous outrage beyond the death blow 
itself, no insult, no mutilation. But in every house they 
entered the blow fell on men, women, and children; 
no one with a white skin escaped. From every house 
they took arms and ammunition, and from a few, 
money. On every farm and plantation they secured 
recruits. The mob increased from house to house, 
first to fifteen, then to forty, finally to sixty-odd. 
Some were armed with muskets, others with axes and 
even scythes; some commandeered their dead masters' 
horses. Before the day closed, fifty-five whites men, 
women, and children had been killed. 

The other whites, driven from their homes, aban- 
doned everything in the desire to get away from 

39 



JUDGE LYNCH 

danger and to shut from their eyes the sight of the 
vengeful Negroes. Annoyed by the slow progress of 
his men and realizing that delay would bring armed 
whites from other districts, Turner decided to strike 
out for Jerusalem Court House to intercept fugitives 
and cut off communication with Norfolk and Fortress 
Monroe. His men, still three miles from the Court 
House, decided to stop and enlist the many slaves of 
a Mr. Parker. The halt proved disastrous. Eighteen 
white men, mounted and armed, rode up and con- 
fronted the whole body of blacks. In the pitched bat- 
tle that followed, the Negroes drove off the whites, 
pursuing them and killing and wounding several. A 
fresh band of whites coming up at that moment stayed 
the pursuit, gave fresh battle, and compelled the 
blacks to break and run. Those on foot scattered, 
leaving their leader and about twenty others to fight 
it out. Turner saw that his cause was lost, that more 
and more white men were arriving, and gave the 
order to scatter and seek shelter. A few were told 
where they were to meet him. The mob dispersed as 
though into air, many members returning to their 
homes as though nothing of import had occurred. 

Roving bands of armed white men sought out the 
Negroes; many of the rebellious slaves were shot on 
sight, and some innocent Negroes suffered. Some 

40 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

prisoners, taken near Cross Keys by troops from 
Fortress Monroe, were shot and their heads left for 
weeks stuck on poles as a warning to others who might 
undertake a similar course. It is alleged that the cap- 
tain of the marines, on his way back to the barracks, 
bore the head of a Negro on his sword; it was a good 
trick, no matter how he managed it. Another re- 
vealing story is that of a Negress who attempted to 
kill her mistress: she was dragged out after she had 
been taken prisoner, tied to a tree, and her body rid- 
dled with bullets. It is said that some slaves suffered 
fearfxd tortures, being burnt with red-hot irons and 
their bodies being horribly mutilated before death 
came to their relief. 1 

The patrols continued for days, destroying every 
black man they met with. "It was," said a member of 
the House of Delegates, "with the utmost difficulty 
and at the hazard of personal popularity and esteem, 
that the coolest and most judicious among us could 
exert an influence sufficient to restrain the indis- 
criminate slaughter of the blacks who were sus- 
pected." A letter from a clergyman on the spot said: 
"There are thousands of troops searching in every 
direction, and many Negroes are killed every day: 
the exact number will never be ascertained. Men 

1 Cutler: Lynch-Law. 

41 



JUDGE LYNCH 

were tortured to death, burned, maimed and subjected 
to nameless atrocities." 2 

Slave owners, those who had not been destroyed 
by Turner and his mob, began riling claims for com- 
pensation for slaves killed to the number of over one 
hundred this, in face of the fact that the widest 
estimate of Turner's forces gave the number at sixty- 
odd. Nor was the slaughter of blacks stayed until 
slave owners threatened to shoot down any "patrol" 
found on their premises. Not a few of these self- 
constituted guardians of the peace later boasted that 
they had killed their "share of the niggers." 

Fifty-five slaves were arrested for trial, of whom 
seventeen were convicted and hanged, twelve trans- 
ported to the deep south, twenty acquitted, and others 
held for further examination. Turner evaded capture 
for six weeks; his retreat was a hole in the ground 
under a pile of fence rails. When he was taken he was 
persecuted in various ways, whipped, and sentenced 
to be hanged. His confession implicated no others, 
assumed all the blame, and asked the mercy of his 
God. His body, after death, was turned over to sur- 
geons for dissection. For the benefit of other slaves 
who might seek freedom through insurrection, the 
news was broadcast that his skin had been tanned 
for leather and his body rendered to grease. 

2 Victor: History of American Conspiracies. 

42 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

Despite Turner's confession, there was no doubt 
in the minds of the Southerners as to who was re- 
sponsible for Nat Turner's insurrection. As though 
by universal accord, the accusing fingers of the entire 
South were pointed in the direction of William Lloyd 
Garrison, Arthur Tappan, and George Thompson. 
Copies of their papers were burned and their agents 
were mobbed and beaten whenever discovered. The 
insurrection only served to fasten the chains of ig- 
norance more firmly upon the Negro; too, it deprived 
him of the confidence of his masters, it restricted his 
little liberties, and substituted violence and cruelty. 
After that day, for a colored man to be caught con- 
ning a spelling book was to bare his back to the lash. 

There was a more grievous indictment of the 
whites than of their rebelling slaves. Where Turner 
had killed cleanly, the whites in retaliation tortured, 
mutilated, and burned, conducting themselves like 
barbarians. In offenses committed by Negroes and 
Abolitionists, the orderly processes of the law no 
longer sufficed; the law was too slow. 

The education of Judge Lynch was progressing. 

The governors of the slave states did nothing to 
ameliorate conditions. Despite Turner's confession, 
the Governor of Virginia told the legislature that 
there was much reason to believe that the insurrec- 
tion in Southampton and the plots discovered else- 

43 



JUDGE LYNCH 

where had been "designed, planned and matured by 
unrestrained fanatics in some of the neighboring 
States, who find facilities in distributing their views 
and plans amongst our populaton, either through the 
postoffice, or by agents sent for that purpose through- 
out our territory." 

Other governors of southern states wrote to the 
executives of the free states from which the incen- 
diary publications had been issued, asking that they 
be suppressed, or that they at least not be sent into 
the slave states. Refusal to make use of every possible 
means to achieve these demands would be evidence 
of a spirit "hostile to that friendship and good under- 
standing which should characterize sister States." 
Almost to a man the governors of the offending states 
pointed out that the writers and publishers were free 
citizens, that their respective state constitutions up- 
held the right of free speech and a free press, and that 
they, regrettably, could do nothing. The people of 
the South realized, too, that under the law they could 
do little to prevent the invasion and circulation of 
abolitionist literature, and they turned to violence and 
asked the young Judge Lynch to hear some of their 
cases. 

According to Garrison's The Liberator of October, 
1831, a dispatch dated Wilmington, North Carolina, 
September 28, said: "Three ringleaders of the late 

44 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

diabolical conspiracy were executed at Onslow Court 
House on Friday evening last, 23rd instant, by the 
people." The news was followed by the editor's bit- 
ter comment that "executed by the people doubtless 
means executed by a mob on suspicion of guilt, with- 
out investigation or trial." 



In what were known as the free states of the North, 
the abolitionists were no happier than in the slave 
states. In 1833 a meeting in Clinton Hall, New York 
City, was called to demand the immediate emancipa- 
tion of the slaves and the formation of an Anti-Slavery 
Society. The call had gone out to those sympathetic 
to the cause, but before it was opened, the hall was 
taken over by those opposed to the movement. The 
owners ordered it closed, and the meeting adjourned 
to Tammany Hall, where resolutions were adopted 
declaring it improper and inexpedient to agitate the 
question of slavery and assuring the South of a fixed 
and unalterable determination to resist every attempt 
to interfere with the relation of master and slave. 

It was during the immediate excitement of this 
episode that William Lloyd Garrison returned from 
England, determined to open his great anti-slavery 
campaign in New York City. He abandoned his in- 
tention at once and hurried on to Boston, but word 

45 



JUDGE LYNCH 

of the Tammany Hall meeting had preceded him, 
and his arrival was met with an attempt to mob him. 
A handbill was distributed urging all true Americans 
to attend the greeting armed with plenty of tar and 
feathers. 

That year Garrison succeeded in forming the 
American Anti-Slavery Society, with the avowed 
purpose of organizing subsidiary societies in every 
city, town, and village in the land, to send forth agents, 
circulate tracts and pamphlets, enlist the pulpit and 
press in the cause of the slave, give preference to the 
products of free labor over those of slaves, and bring 
the nation to a speedy repentance. 

In the southern states the agents were met by mobs 
and beaten, tarred and feathered, and taken to the 
city or county line and warned that further offense 
would be treated more violently. In the North the 
reaction was against the Negroes, and a mania for 
Negro-mobbing broke out: there were riots at Co- 
lumbia and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Trenton and 
Bloomfield, New Jersey, and Rochester, New York. 
In Philadelphia, several persons were killed and others 
wounded, and thirty houses were destroyed. Investi- 
gation showed that the riots were due to the fact that 
many employers preferred the cheaper black labor 
and so made it difficult for white working men to sup- 
port their families. Among other causes were the 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

demonstrations by Negroes whenever a fugitive 
slave was tried in the courts. 

While in England, Garrison had invited George 
Thompson, a distinguished orator in the cause of 
abolition in Great Britain, to lecture in America. 
Thompson arrived in New York in September, 1834. 
He was greeted by a warning in the Courier and En- 
quirer not to lecture in that city, and was ejected 
from his suite in the Atlantic Hotel at the demand of 
an angry Southerner. He then began a lecture tour 
of New England and fared no better. In Augusta, 
Maine, the windows of his lodging were stoned and 
he was requested to leave town under penalty of a 
mobbing; at Concord his meeting was broken up, 
and in Lowell he was prevented from speaking by a 
mob that later adopted a resolution assuring the South 
that its rights would not be interfered with by the 
North. 

For all these adverse reactions, the Abolitionists 
went on with their work. In 1 835 the American Anti- 
Slavery Society sent an appeal to the local societies 
asking for $30,000 for more agents, more literature, 
and wider distribution. Most of the money was sub- 
scribed at once, and twenty-five thousand copies of 
The Slave's Friend and fifty thousand each of Human 
Rights, Anti-Slavery Record, and The Emancipator 
were sent into southern states. None was addressed 

47 



JUDGE LYNCH 

directly to free Negroes or to slaves, though the 
zealous agents were not instructed to limit their dis- 
tribution to the whites. 

Almost simultaneously with this flood of aboli- 
tionist literature into the southern states, two Negroes 
in Lexington, Mississippi, were overheard talking of 
a planned insurrection among the slaves. Rumors al- 
ready afloat indicated that the infamous Murrell gang 
was planning a revolt of the blacks. The two Negroes 
were examined at public meeting, and so improbable 
were their stories that they were remanded to jail to 
await further developments. A mob immediately 
formed and, fearing the Negroes would be set free, 
seized and hanged them. 

This was excellent training for young Judge Lynch. 
Too, it was excellent mob action: the investigation 
now had to proceed without its two most important 
witnesses. The mob action continued with the ap- 
pointment of a vigilance committee vested with full 
power to arrest, try, condemn, and execute. Two 
white men, named Cotton and Saunders, itinerant 
steam doctors by profession, were arrested, placed on 
trial, and ordered hanged. One, before the noose was 
tightened, made a confession in which he boasted 
that he had agents on every plantation and warned 
the committee to beware of the Fourth of July, nam- 
ing several black and white confederates. Those named 

48 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

were seized, and some were hanged and others slicked 
that is, stripped naked, laid on their stomachs with 
their hands and feet bound to pegs driven into the 
ground, and flogged. In all, three white men and an 
undetermined number of Negroes were hanged with- 
out due process of the law. 

It was in the state of Mississippi that Judge Lynch 
first mounted the bench, and it is not remarkable that 
he is still the court of final justice in that state. Since 
1882 it has consistently led all the other states in the 
number of cases it has referred to Judge Lynch, and 
it has accepted his decision no less than 549 times 
(December i, 1937). But the Judge's services were 
in too great demand to permit him to remain in a 
single state; a whole section of the country was call- 
ing for him. Before he left, however, he took another 
case in Mississippi. 

Vicksburg was long a noted gambling town, har- 
boring a nest of gamblers who had become so power- 
ful that they dominated the political life of the city 
and terrorized all who were not sympathetic to their 
activities. During the Fourth of July celebration of 
1835, one of the gamblers became so insulting that he 
was taken into the woods, tied to a tree, flogged, and 
ordered to leave town within twenty-four hours. The 
underworld at once showed its teeth, and, before the 
day's festivities were over, a great mass meeting of 

49 



JUDGE LYNCH 

indignant citizens was held. "For years past, the 
gamblers have made our city their place of rendezvous. 
They support a large number of tippling-houses . . . 
no citizen is ever secure from their villainy. Our 
streets are ever resounding with the echoes of their 
drunken mirth. . . ." 3 A set of resolutions was sub- 
mitted and adopted by unanimous acclaim: 

"Resolved: That notice be given to all professional gam- 
blers, that the citizens of Vicksburg are resolved to ex- 
clude them from this place and this vicinity; and that 
twenty-four hours' notice be given them to leave the 
place. 

"Resolved: That all persons permitting faro-dealing in 
their houses, be also notified they will be prosecuted 
therefor. 

"Resolved: That 100 copies of the foregoing resolutions 
be printed and stuck up at the corners of the streets 
and that this publication be deemed notice." 

Some fifty of the gamblers took heed and fled, but 
they were the small fry, easily frightened; the top 
men, the worst characters, remained, and on the night 
of the fifth, another was taken out and treated like 
his fellow of the day before. More left, but five re- 
mained, and, deciding to give the mob a dose of its 
own medicine, barricaded themselves in the tavern of 
John North, ready for anything. On the sixth, the 

3 Coates: The Outlaw Years. 

5 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

mob reassembled and, followed by a crowd of towns- 
men, marched to the barricaded gin mill and de- 
manded the unconditional surrender of the gamblers. 
This was refused. 

The tavern was surrounded, and an effort made to 
force an entrance. As the door was burst open, the 
gamblers replied with gunfire, and Dr. Hugh S. Bod- 
ley went forward to parley. A shot from an upper 
window killed him, and the fight was on. Incensed, 
the mob rushed into the building and overcame the 
gamblers by force of numbers. Five were captured, 
including the owner of the tavern, and they were 
dragged out, pummeled, and strung up in convenient 
doorways along the street. Orders were issued that 
their bodies were to hang for twenty-four hours, "as a 
warning against those that had escaped." Later the 
bodies were cut down and buried in a ditch. 

The year 1835, his first on the bench, was a heavy 
one for Judge Lynch. His jurisdiction was broaden- 
ing and he was being requested to hear cases of all 
types, all over the South. Many of the lesser cases 
were turned over to Squire Birch. The Judge con- 
fined his interests to cases having racial, politico- 
economic backgrounds, and those involving religious 
controversy. But, he insisted, they must be capital 
cases or referred to the lower court of Squire Birch. 
Niles' Weekly Register, in its issue of September 5, 

5 1 



JUDGE LYNCH 

1835, commented upon the activities both of Lynch 
and Birch. 

"During the last and present week we have cut out 
and laid aside more than 500 articles, relating to the various 
excitements now acting upon the people of the United 
States, public and private! Society seems everywhere un- 
hinged, and the demon of 'blood and slaughter' has been 
let loose upon us! We have the slave question in many 
different forms, including the proceedings of kidnapers 
and manstealers and others belonging to the free Ne- 
groes: the proscription and persecution of gamblers: 
with mobs growing out of local matters and a great col- 
lection of acts of violence of a private or personal nature, 
ending in death; and regret to believe, also, that an awful 
political outcry is about to be raised to rally the 'poor 
against the rich'! We have executions and murders and 
riots to the utmost limits of the union. The character 
of our countrymen seems suddenly changed, and thou- 
sands interpret the law in their own way sometimes in 
one case, and then in another, guided apparently only 
by their own will." 



In that year and in the years immediately follow- 
ing, Judge Lynch set the pattern for his entire career. 
Those brought before him were no longer beaten as 
a punitive measure and sent off; if they were beaten, 
it was to the death if they escaped death in that 

5 2 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

manner, it was to meet it by hanging, drowning, or 
burning. Only with the aid of inventions, not yet 
perfected, was the Judge to be able to vary his orders 
in carrying out the death sentence. 

Even before the Niles' Register lament had ap- 
peared, Judge Lynch had been summoned across the 
border into the state of Alabama. The Liberator of 
July 4, 1835, reprinted an item from a Mobile paper. 
Two Negroes were on trial for most barbarously mur- 
dering two children, and obviously guilty. "As the 
Court pronounced the only sentence known to the 
law ... the smothered flame broke forth. The laws 
of the country had never conceived that crimes could 
be perpetrated with such peculiar circumstances of 
barbarity, and had therefore provided no adequate 
punishment. Their lives were justly forfeited to the 
laws of the country, but the peculiar circumstances 
demanded that the ordinary punishment should be de- 
parted from . . . they were seized, taken to the 
place where they perpetrated the act, and burned to 
death." 

It might have been 1935; the story would almost 
read the same. On November 12, 1935, in Colorado, 
Texas, a mob estimated at seven hundred persons took 
two Negroes, accused of the murder of a white girl, 
from the officers of the law and hanged them at the 
scene of their crime. 

53 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Before Judge Lynch had been a year on the bench 
of the higher court, he had struck his full stride. The 
earliest of his many causes celebres first came before 
him for hearing in the spring of 1836, in St. Louis, 
Missouri, and, though an attempt was made to reverse 
his decision, it was upheld by none other than Judge 
Lawless. 

"Greater love hath no man " . . . the tremendous 
implications of the words were not meant for colored 
men, free or slave, black or mulatto. Subsequent to 
the actions of 1836, no Negro may lift his hand in 
defense of another Negro, not if the first Negro's 
opponent is a white man. Too many colored men have 
stretched hemp for aiding their friends to escape from 
the law and from the lawless to make exception to 
this ruling of Judge Lynch. 

In April, 1 836, a colored man was arrested for some 
forgotten offense on a Mississippi river boat. A mu- 
latto, a freeman named Mclntosh, it was alleged, 
aided the prisoner to escape and was in turn arrested 
by the officers. He turned upon the officers, drew a 
knife, and stabbed a deputy sheriff, killing him in- 
stantly, and seriously wounded a constable. Mcln- 
tosh made his escape, but was later captured and 
locked up in a St. Louis jail. Later a mob assembled 
and threatened to tear down the jail if the prisoner 
was not delivered to it, secured the Negro and con- 

54 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

ducted him to the outskirts of St. Louis. His body 
was bound with ropes and fastened to a tree with 
chains, a few feet from the ground. A fire was then 
started beneath him and he was roasted to death. 

Even in those rough and tough days, this atrocity 
was too much for the citizens of St. Louis, and the 
matter was placed before the Grand Jury of St. Louis 
County for action. Judge Lawless made the following 
astounding charge: 

"I have reflected much on this matter, and after weigh- 
ing all the considerations that present themselves as bear- 
ing upon it, I feel it my duty to state my opinion to be, 
that whether the Grand Jury shall act at all, depends 
upon the solution of this preliminary question, namely, 
whether the destruction of Mclntosh was the act of the 
'few' or the act of the 'many.' 

"If on a calm view of the circumstances attending this 
dreadful transaction, you shall be of the opinion that 
it was perpetrated by a definite, and, compared to the 
population of St. Louis, a small number of individuals, 
separate from the mass, and evidently taking upon them- 
selves, as contradistinguished from the multitude, the re- 
sponsibility of the act, my opinion is that you ought to 
indict them all, without a single exception. 

"If on the other hand, the destruction of the murderer 
of Hammond was the act as I have said, of the many of 
the multitude, in the ordinary sense of those words not 
the act of numerable and ascertainable malefactors, but 
of congregated thousands, seized upon and impelled by 

55 



JUDGE LYNCH 

that mysterious, metaphysical and almost electric phrensy, 
which, in all nations and ages, has hurried on the infuriated 
multitude to deeds of death and destruction then I say, 
act not at all in the matter the case transcends your 
jurisdiction it is beyond the reach of human law." 

Which seems as nice a bit of judicial fence-strad- 
dling as one could hope to find in a lifetime's search. 
What Judge Lawless his tribe has increased meant 
was that if two or three do the lynching, it is inde- 
fensible, but that if it is perpetrated by a number, un- 
countable at a glance or undeterminable in the night, 
it is all right. To avoid prosecution in the future, mobs 
must be bigger and better, at least "many." As travel 
conditions improved, the Judge believed, he would 
be able to command mobs numbering more than ten 
thousand. 

The case was not yet finished. For denouncing the 
burning of Mclntosh and violently attacking the 
decision of Judge Lawless in his weekly paper, The 
Observer, The Reverend Elijah F. Lovejoy had his 
printing office destroyed by the mob. The press, how- 
ever, was saved and shipped twenty-five miles up the 
Mississippi to Alton, Illinois, where Lovejoy planned 
to set it up and resume publication. But the mob took 
it from the wharf and dumped it into the river the 
night it arrived. Alton people, led by the Presby- 
terians, held a mass meeting, denounced the action 

5* 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

of the mob, and subscribed money for a new press. 
Lovejoy started The Alton Observer with the state- 
ment: 

"As long as I am an American I shall hold myself 
at liberty to speak, to write, and to publish whatever 
I please on any subject, being amenable to the laws 
of my country for the same." 

He continued his attacks on slavery and lynching 
and, in July, 1837, the mob again destroyed his print- 
ing equipment. A third press was ordered, and when 
it arrived the mob broke it up and threw the pieces 
into the Mississippi. Lovejoy's friends were with him; 
they rallied, and a fourth press was ordered. At three 
in the morning the river boat carrying it made fast 
to the wharf and fifty men escorted the press to the 
stone warehouse. A small mob hooted, blew horns, 
and threw stones, but the precious machine was de- 
livered in safety and a guard placed over it. 

That night the mob re-formed and demanded that 
the press be delivered to them for destruction; when 
this demand was refused, they hurled stones through 
the windows. Then a gun was fired and other shots 
followed. One of the defenders of the press fired his 
piece and killed a man in the mob. The assailants 
withdrew for a time but returned with ladders, which 
were placed against the building, and an attempt was 
made to fire the roof. When Lovejoy and a few of his 

57 



JUDGE LYNCH 

supporters tried to prevent this, the clergyman re- 
ceived five shots in his body and died a few minutes 
later. The men guarding the press, seeing their leader 
down, beat a hasty retreat, and the mob entered the 
warehouse unresisted and threw the offending press 
from the windows. The work of destruction was 
finished with sledge hammers by the mob in the street. 

There was yet another voice raised against Judge 
Lynch. A young lawyer of twenty-eight arose before 
the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, on 
the night of January 27, 1837, to deliver an address 
on "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions." 
Abraham Lincoln, speaking before Lovejoy's death, 
said, in part: 

"Accounts of outrages committed by mobs form 
the everyday news of the times. They have pervaded 
the country from New England to Louisiana. . . . 
It would be tedious as well as useless to recount the 
horrors of all of them. Those happenings in the State 
of Mississippi and at St. Louis are perhaps the most 
dangerous in example and revolting to humanity. In 
the Mississippi case they first commenced by hanging 
the regular gamblers. . . . Next, Negroes suspected 
of conspiring to raise an insurrection were caught up 
and hanged in all parts of the State; then, white men 
supposed to be in league with the Negroes; and, 
finally, strangers from neighboring states, going 

58 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

thither on business, were in many instances subjected 
to the same fate. Thus went on the process of hang- 
ing, from gamblers to Negroes, from Negroes to 
white citizens, and from these to strangers, till dead 
men were literally dangling from the boughs of trees 
by every roadside. . . . Turn then to that horror- 
striking scene at St. Louis. A single victim was sacri- 
ficed there. ... A mulatto man by the name of 
Mclntosh was seized in the street, dragged to the 
suburbs of the city, chained to a tree, and actually 
burned to death; and all within a single hour from 
the time he had been a freeman attending to his own 
business and at peace with the world. 

"Such are the effects of mob law, and such are the 
scenes becoming more and more frequent in this land 
so lately famed for love of law and order, and the 
stories of which have now grown too familiar to at- 
tract anything more than an idle remark." 

In Alton the Grand Jury brought in indictments 
against several men involved in the slaying of the 
Reverend Elijah Lovejoy, but the cases were not 
pressed. When the case of one of the assailants came 
up in the municipal court, the jury considered him 
guilty of all the charges but returned a verdict of 
not guilty on a question of jurisdiction. 

Judge Lynch for a time stuck pretty close to the 
cotton states. He found them fertile fields for his 

59 



JUDGE LYNCH 

peculiar type of justice and, in those early days, he 
was but little concerned with the complexion of his 
victim's skin. In Louisiana a white man killed another 
white man, and the murderer was tried in a summary 
manner and executed by hanging. In 1839 two alleged 
white murderers who had escaped from jail were re- 
taken and remanded to jail to await the collection of 
testimony; the mob was impatient and, without await- 
ing the trial, condemned the pair out of hand and 
hanged them. 

Cutler reprints from N ties' Register of August 24, 
1844: 

"Four men, Rea, Mitchell, White and Jones were 
tried and condemned before his honor, Chief Justice 
Lynch, on the i6th inst. at South Sulphur, Texas, 
for killing two men and one boy of the Delaware 
tribe of friendly Indians. They were executed under 
said sentence the next day, in the presence of a large 
number of persons." 

In 1 845 the Judge was back in Missouri where, in 
September, he hanged without further trial two white 
men on the charge of murder. Early the following 
year he introduced his system of jurisprudence into 
Florida, and he had to stretch matters to make a go 
of it. 

"A man by the name of Yeoman, accused of being 
a noted slave stealer, having been discharged by Judge 

60 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

Warren of Baker County, Georgia, on a writ of 
habeas corpus . . . on his arrival at Jefferson County, 
Florida, ninety citizens assembled and took a formal 
vote, which stood 67 for and 23 against hanging him. 
He was hanged accordingly." 4 

In 1855 Judge Lynch added Tennessee to his list 
with a mass-hanging of Negroes; a year later he in- 
vaded Virginia, but the Old Dominion victim got off 
with a slicking. In all the slave states, Abolitionists, 
when caught, were slicked without further ado, and 
it was only upon occasion that they were put to death. 
Slaves accused of almost any kind of criminality were 
transported, and as a rule only free Negroes were put 
to death. When a slave was destroyed by the mob, 
the state or the community invariably reimbursed the 
owner for his loss. 

By 1860, lynchings had disgraced every one of the 
slave states and many of the free states; the fruit of 
Judge Lynch's decisions hung from many trees. As 
though bored with simple hangings, and even burn- 
ings, the Judge regularly increased the barbarity and 
savagery of the punishments. They began with whip- 
ping, went on to mutilation and half -hanging to burn- 
ing. Today, as in the case Claude Neal, it is not in- 
frequent for the victim to be slowly hoisted by the 
neck and then lowered just before death comes to his 

4 N lies' Weekly Register, January 17, 1846, quoted by Cutler. 

61 



JUDGE LYNCH 

relief and for the torture to be repeated until the 
lynchers weary of their sadism and mercifully if 
the term be permitted in such an instance kill. The 
practice of increasing the severity of the punishment 
continued through the years until, in 1937, a Missis- 
sippi mob brought in an entirely new development 
of torture. 

The Liberator of September 14, 1880, printed an 
extract from a letter written from Houston, Texas. 
It voices a general Southern complaint. 

"Tell your abolition friends to go on and soon they 
will have the pleasure of seeing the Negro reduced to 
such a state of hopeless bondage that they may well 
pity them. I solemnly declare that today the Negro is 
not as free as he was two or five years ago; and why? 
Simply because his master has been goaded on to des- 
peration by incendiary acts and speeches. Now he 
fears the Negro and binds him down as you would 
a savage animal. One year ago all was peace and quiet- 
ness here. The Negro was allowed to go out, to have 
dances and frolics; today one dare not show his head 
after nine o'clock in the evening. Seven companies 
of patrols are organized and guard the city each night, 
sixteen horse-patrol scour the country around. Forty- 
eight vigilance men say live, banish or die, as the 
proof may go to show. . . . Men are hung every day 
by the decision of the planters, lawyers, judges and 

62 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

ministers. It is no hot impetuous act, but cool, stern 
justice." 

Three years before, The Liberator reported that 
a traveler in Texas had seen twelve bodies hanging 
from one tree and five from another. Editorially, 
Garrison had said in 1856: 

"A record of the cases of 'Lynch Law' in the 
Southern States reveals the startling fact that within 
twenty years, over three hundred white persons have 
been murdered upon the accusation in most cases 
unsupported by legal proof of carrying among slave- 
holders arguments addressed expressly to their own 
intellects and consciences, as to the morality and ex- 
pediency of slavery." 

It would be difficult to estimate the number of 
Negroes lynched in the same twenty years, and it is 
possible that any estimate based on the few known 
cases would show that number was considerably less 
than that for the whites. As has been pointed out, the 
Negro was property, each adult male of under forty- 
five being worth approximately $1,500, more if he 
knew a trade, less if he was "a bad nigger." Garrison's 
statement cannot be questioned, for most of the 
white men lynched had been sent to the tasks, to the 
work that earned for them the death they received at 
the hands of the mob, by the American Anti-Slavery 
Society and its branches. Few of the white men were 

63 



JUDGE LYNCH 

offered the indignities to which the Negroes were sub- 
jected; they were politely hanged and their bodies 
left for the coroner to bury. Savagery and brutality 
were reserved for the blacks; even after death their 
bodies were further subjected to mortification. Even 
in those days, before the Civil War, the lynching of 
colored people meant more than reprisals for crimes 
committed, than measures taken to keep the Negro 
in his place, to protect white womanhood. 



Judge Lynch went to California long before gold 
was discovered. His first recorded case was in San 
Diego, a city now ill-famed for its tendency to mob 
action in matters concerned with labor. Like so many 
subsequent Golden State lynchings, it was a jail 
snatch. 

On the night of March 26, 1833, Antonio Alipas, a 
private in the presidial company of Loreto, was in the 
guardhouse for an unrecorded offense. During the 
evening a corporal and his squad, all mounted and 
armed, rode up to the jail and demanded that the 
sergeant deliver Antonio to them. The sergeant re- 
fused, and the soldiers forced the guardhouse and took 
the prisoner for California's first lynching. 

Four years later, in Los Angeles, another snatch 
occurred. Domingo Feliz, a poor but honest cuckold, 

64 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

was murdered by his wife's paramour, Gervasio, 
aided and abetted by the woman. Gervasio and Maria 
del Rosario were duly arrested and incarcerated in 
the local jail. Before they could be brought for trial, 
a mob assembled, but decided that death was too good 
for the pair, and returned to their homes. When the 
funeral of Feliz took place, public clamor demanded 
the blood of the guilty pair, but Holy Week was at 
hand and the impetuous demand was postponed until 
the day after Easter. On Easter Monday it rained and 
public enthusiasm for the lynching was dampened, 
and it was put off until the California climate should 
improve. On Tuesday another postponement threat- 
ened when it was found there was no priest available 
to hear the last confessions of the two sinners. But pub- 
lic clamor could no longer be stilled, and at four-thirty 
in the afternoon Gervasio was hauled out of jail and 
shot. After him came the woman, and California gets 
credit for the first recorded lynching of a woman. 5 

Vigilance as it was conceived was not lynch-law. 
The discovery of gold in California in 1848, the 
change from Spanish law to the absence of American 
law, the indecision about what form of government 
would prevail, and the corruption after the territory 
had been admitted to the Union in 1850 all combined 
to make California a place to be avoided by the peace- 

5 Bancroft: Popular Tribunals. 

65 



JUDGE LYNCH 

loving. The stampede to the gold fields included men 
of the highest types and those whose departure from 
their accustomed haunts brought sighs of content from 
local peace officers. Once in the mines, the search for 
the metal occupied the minds and efforts of all, each 
man using the talents at his command to get rich as 
quickly as possible. Americans competed with Rus- 
sians, Frenchmen, Spanish-Americans, and others 
whose language they did not understand, with crimi- 
nals from Australia and South America, whose ways 
they but partially understood. 

The Americans protested that these foreigners were 
being permitted to dig American wealth from Ameri- 
can soil and take it, without hindrance, to their own 
countries. The cry that "the greasers must go" was 
heard throughout the mines, and a law was passed, 
the Foreign Miners License Tax, requiring all South 
Americans to pay twenty dollars monthly for permis- 
sion to dig for gold. It drove them from the mines into 
the towns, and their places were taken by Chinese and 
Pacific Islanders as employees. Later the China Boys 
and the Kanakas were driven from the mines to the 
settlements and, added to the natural accretion of a 
criminal element, made Sacramento and San Francisco 
nests of crime and criminals. 

The absence of strong governments in the cities 
made criminal activities a profitable venture. Gangs 

66 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

preyed upon merchants and restaurateurs, and when a 
miner came down from the hills, his poke well-filled 
with gold, he too became the prey of the vultures. 
Men of respectability were so absorbed in the accumu- 
lation of wealth they could not spare the time for civic 
activities. When conditions got so bad that they them- 
selves were in danger, they turned and found that the 
criminal element had completely taken over the local 
governments. In 1 85 1 they turned to vigilance and ef- 
fected a superficial and temporary reformation. That 
the committees made errors, that at times the wrong 
man was executed, cannot be denied. Even the most 
firmly established courts err and learn of their mis- 
takes too late for correction. 

Like the kangaroo courts of Judge Lynch, the Vigi- 
lantes superseded the offices held by the regularly con- 
stituted police and peace officers as well as the judi- 
ciary. They apprehended the accused, tried him and 
sentenced him, and, if necessary, executed the duties 
of the hangman. Considering their success in stamp- 
ing out criminality, it is difficult to condemn them; 
they did not take to the execution of summary jus- 
tice until formal justice had broken down. 

Vigilance pursued its way through the West. All 
the coast states and most of the mountain states sought 
in it peace and protection of life and property. When 
the people had stamped out criminality, they returned 

67 



JUDGE LYNCH 

to their gold-grubbing, ignoring the old adage. The 
criminals lost no time in returning to their old haunts, 
and again in 1885 vigilance was called upon to rid 
the communities of their presence. This time it was 
stronger, it was more complete and effective, and, 
when its first tasks were complete, it went on to the 
polls and elected officials who could be trusted, a judi- 
ciary that could not be easily tampered with. The new 
form, radical and permanent, was adopted throughout 
the West and, in too many places, became common 
lynching. Men suspected of crime, others accused of 
criminal activities, some of them already in the hands 
of the law, were taken by pseudo-vigilance committees 
and put to death. 

Hangings became spectacles; the condemned were 
forced to build the scaffolds from which they were 
later hanged. Men and women came great distances to 
witness the executions of five, ten, and even twenty 
robbers and murderers (Idaho). The New York 
Times, on March 19, 1864, commenting upon the ac- 
tivities of the Vigilance Committees throughout the 
mineral territories, said they "are holding Lynch 
courts in extraordinary number, and carrying out the 
decrees of that ferocious judge with unprecedented 
energy." The same editorial mentions that bills had 
been passed in Congress enabling Nevada and two 
other territories to form constitutions preparatory to 

68 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

their admission as states. A condition of admission was 
an irrevocable ordinance prohibiting slavery, and the 
writer added: "we think lynching might have been 
included." 

Horse thieves, murderers, and desperadoes have 
been hanged under the guise of vigilance as late as 
1915 in Arizona, when two alleged bandits were 
lynched at Lonely Gulch; in Texas in 1915, at San 
Benito, when six were hanged on charges of murder 
and desperadism; and in Arkansas in 1916 for highway 
robbery. 



The War Between the States did not interrupt the 
activities of the Vigilance Committees operating in 
the western territories, but it did change, to some de- 
gree, the Southerner's relation to the Negro. After the 
surrender of General Lee, the Thirteenth Amend- 
ment became effective in the former slave states; the 
slave was now free, but he was still a Negro, still ig- 
norant, still loyal in many cases to his former master. 
Governor Walker of Florida said in his inaugural ad- 
dress: 

"Not only in peace but in war they have been faith- 
ful to us. Our women and infant children were left 
almost exclusively to the protection of our slaves and 
they proved true to their trust. Not one case of insult, 

69 



JUDGE LYNCH 

outrage, indignity has come to my knowledge. They 
remained at home. They raised food for our armies. 
We know many were anxious to take up arms in our 
cause. For several years along six hundred miles of 
coast they heard the guns of Federal ships of war, yet 
not a thousand of them left our service to find shelter 
and freedom under the Union flag." 

On the other hand, the former slave states began to 
enact repressive laws barring the free Negro from the 
expression of his rights. Despite the words of the Gov- 
ernor, Florida would give her assent to the Thirteenth 
Amendment only with the understanding that no 
power was given Congress to legislate on "the political 
status of freedmen in this State." Emancipation having 
been forced upon the southern states, they, in retalia- 
tion and without delay, enacted apprentice acts, va- 
grancy laws, black codes to define the economic rights 
of the colored people. To the people of the South the 
freed Negro differed in no way from the plantation 
slave, except that he could not be bought and sold, he 
must be paid for his labor. The sweeping Reconstruc- 
tion policies of the triumphant North, aimed at chang- 
ing the whole fabric of a civilization almost overnight, 
brought about something like chaos in many places. 
As a result, color lines were drawn with added sharp- 
ness, and only such laws for the whites as could with 
safety, from the Southerner's point of view, be ex- 

70 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

tended to the blacks were enacted in the Negro's 
favor. 

He could not serve in the militia, or sit in a jury 
box, or testify in court in civil suits unless he was a 
party to the record, or in criminal actions unless all 
parties were Negroes or if the culprit before justice 
was a white man charged with some act of violence 
to a Negro. He could not carry firearms without a 
permit, nor ride in a railroad car with white passen- 
gers. He could not rent or lease land or houses save in 
segregated areas set aside by whites. All contracts for 
labor, if for longer than a month, must be in writing 
and attested and read to the Negro by a city or 
county officer or two disinterested whites. Should a 
Negro run away from his employer, any person 
might arrest him and bring him back and receive five 
dollars plus ten cents a mile for doing so. Negro chil- 
dren under eighteen who were orphans, or whose 
parents refused to support them, must be apprenticed 
to some suitable person. Freedmen over eighteen who, 
on the second Monday in January, 1866, had no law- 
ful employment were to be treated as vagrants and 
fined fifty dollars. If they did not pay, they were to 
be hired out to any who would pay the fine and costs 
for the shortest times. 6 

6 Laws of Mississippi, 1865. Quoted from McMaster: History of the 
People of the United States During Lincoln's Administration. 

7 1 



JUDGE LYNCH 

The state of Mississippi enacted such laws, and, al- 
though they were promptly set aside by the Freed- 
men's Bureau, many were later re-incorporated into 
the state codes and prevail today in most of the south- 
ern states. 

With repressive laws ruthlessly set aside by the 
Freedmen's Bureau, it was necessary for the southern 
states to call for mob action against any attempt of 
the Negro to assert his new-found freedom. The Ku 
Klux Klan may have been started as a social club with 
no idea of anything but good clean entertainment for 
its members. When men pull masks over their faces 
for anything but a masquerade, they are encroaching 
upon the practices of those engaged in criminal activ- 
ity. The original Klan called itself a social organiza- 
tion, but its conception of society was terrorizing 
Negroes. The newly freed Negro was, as a rule, igno- 
rant as a child, often stupid, and as superstitious as any 
of his race who remained in Africa. The weird Klans- 
men riding about in hoods and nightshirts did make 
the night hideous for him for a time. But the average 
Negro learned quickly that there was nothing to fear 
from their simple appearance, and the Klan, to con- 
tinue its work eff ectively, added whippings and lash- 
ing, later hangings and burnings, to its repertory of 
repressive measures. For a few years it flared across 
the darkened southern skies, terrorizing black and 

72 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

white alike, until the Government had to put it down 
forcibly. 

But the Southerners who despised the Negro, who 
feared him, had learned a valuable lesson. Masks, 
horses, and a sudden foray into the night left no eye- 
witness who could prove recognition, no accusing 
fingers. They achieved in an instant the pseudo-re- 
forms they desired, they wreaked vengeance without 
fear of reprisal. When the Klan was demobilized, it 
was almost a national or, at least, a sectional institu- 
tion, and the local units, realizing their powers as a 
weapon of repression, continued to meet secretly. 
They called themselves by different names: the White 
Camelia, Whitecaps, Night-riders, Regulators, etc. 
The Klan did not need an organization; as such, it 
merely reflected a type of mentality that prevailed 
and would continue to prevail no matter what laws 
were passed. That mentality still prevails, and, 
whether the resurrected Klan of today thrives or fails 
as an organization, the hysterical appeals to uphold 
white supremacy and to protect American woman- 
hood will produce the mob action required. 

The dispersion of the Klan in March, 1 869, did not 
stop the activities charged against the organization, 
and "Ku Klux outrages" continued to be reported in 
the papers. Coupled with executions by lynch-law on 
the frontier, the totals for the entire country must 

73 



JUDGE LYNCH 

have been high. James Elbert Cutler, in his Lynch- 
Laiv, reports that he turned to the files of The New 
York Times for the three years, 1871-1873, and com- 
piled the following statistics. It will be noted that the 
Klan, then legally dead for more than two years, is 
still mentioned. 

KENTUCKY: 2 Negroes hanged for rape, i white man 
hanged for rape, i Negro hanged for murder, 3 Negroes 
shot by masked men, i Negro "murdered" by the Klan. 
TENNESSEE: 2 Negroes hanged for robbery and arson, i 
Negro shot and hanged for robbery and murder, i Negro 
shot for attempted outrage, i Negro hanged and shot for 
murder, i white man shot for murder of wife. 
MISSOURI: 5 horse thieves hanged, i Negro hanged for 
outrage, i white hanged for murder, 3 whites hanged for 
murder and robbery, 3 whites shot for defending and 
being bondsmen of county officials accused of peculation. 
CALIFORNIA: 2 whites hanged for murder, i white hanged 
and shot for murder, i Indian hanged for murder, i Malay 
(steward of steamer) shot and thrown overboard for 
ravishing sick girl, eleven years old. 
MONTANA: 2 whites hanged for murder. 
LOUISIANA: 4 Negroes hanged for murder, 3 horse thieves 
hanged. 

VIRGINIA: i desperado, horse thief and murderer hanged. 
ALABAMA: i white shot for murder. 
SOUTH CAROLINA: 2 whites shot for murder, 10 Negroes 
shot and hanged by the Ku Klux Klan. 

74 



THE EARLY LIFE OF JUDGE LYNCH 

NEVADA: i desperado hanged, i white man hanged for 

murder. 

WISCONSIN: i white hanged for murder. 

INDIANA: 3 Negroes hanged for murder, i desperado and 

i horse thief "killed in jail." 

NEBRASKA: i Negro and i white "killed" for robbery 

and shooting woman. 

KANSAS: 2 whites hanged for murder, i desperado and 

i horse thief "killed in jail." 

COLORADO: 2 whites hanged for keeping gambling outfits. 

MICHIGAN: 2 whites died from beating they received for 

killing a man in a German-Irish riot on the streets. 

OHIO: 2 whites hanged for murder. 

MARYLAND: i Negro hanged for arson. 

Total: 41 whites, 32 Negroes, i Malay, i Indian. 

"The majority of those lynched," says Dr. Cutler, 
"were forcibly taken from officers of the law. In 
some instances, the jails were broken into, and the 
prisoners were taken out and hanged or were killed 
in the jail; in other instances, the prisoners were taken 
from the officers and put to death before they could 
be taken to the jail. Some of the lynchings were car- 
ried on by vigilance societies, others by mobs of 
masked persons or by Ku-Kluxes." 

These statistics, compiled from a single newspaper, 
represent only a small percentage of the persons 
lynched in those years. The total given for three 

75 



JUDGE LYNCH 

years is only seventy-five, and in 1882, the first year 
that a comprehensive effort was made to compile a 
lynch record, we have reported a total of 1 14 lynch- 
executions, both white and black. 

By 1882 the kangaroo court of Judge Lynch was 
firmly established throughout the Union; his juris- 
diction was limited only by the reaches of our own 
states and territories; his code, or body of laws, was 
all-embracing, covering every offense from murder 
down to the thumbing-of-the-nose (Negro to white) 
and merely being unpopular. 



76 



Chapter Three 

JUDGE LYNCH'S CODE 

To attempt to codify the great body of offenses com- 
ing within the purview of Judge Lynch's activities is 
almost impossible, and the result would be useless. 
The formal rules of procedure are dispensed with, his 
advocates do not have to pass any rigorous examina- 
tions before they may practise, and precedents set by 
other cases seldom have any bearing on the one being 
heard. The usual crimes against person and property 
head the list, but they share their places with many 
other offenses, many of which are not recognized in 
the conventional civil and criminal codes of the land. 
One needs only to be suspected or accused of a 
crime to be dragged before Judge Lynch; the trials 
are quick, the defendant is never given a chance to 
defend himself, nor to summon witnesses in his own 
defense or even hear the charge against him. In mo- 
ments of great benevolence the Judge will permit the 
prisoner to plead guilty. Many times the stating of the 
charge would be unnecessary; the prisoner has heard 
it in the lower court, proven his innocence, and been 

77 



JUDGE LYNCH 

acquitted. In too many cases to number the Judge has 
reversed the lower courts, placed the prisoner in 
double jeopardy, and, entirely ignoring the first 
judge, determined the prisoner guilty. Jack West, 
Negro, of Seminole County, Florida, was such a one. 
West was acquitted of the charge of breaking and en- 
tering and of an assault on a white child. As he was 
returning to his home, happily proven innocent of the 
charges, Judge Lynch snatched him from the train 
and lynched him beside the tracks. 

"Not turning out of the road for white boy in 
auto"; "insulting white man"; "activities in politics"; 
"demanding pay for work done"; "being brother of 
a murderer"; "too prosperous"; "too uppity"; "remain- 
ing in town where Negroes are not permitted after 
sunset" these are capital offenses in Judge Lynch's 
court. 

Often when the Judge's advocates can find no 
charge against a victim, they convict him of "suspi- 
cion of rape" or "suspicion of murder," even when 
no assaulted girl is to be found and no corpus delicti 
can be produced. Great numbers of white and black 
men have been lynch-executed for no better reason 
than that they were trying to improve the conditions 
of their fellows and themselves. The spectacle of a 
worker trying to organize a union, of a sharecropper 
going among his fellows seeking to improve their 

78 



JUDGE LYNCH S CODE 

working conditions, of a Negro refusing to remain 
in peonage or not caring to pick cotton, when there 
is cotton in need of picking, sends the hanging judge 
into a fury. 

Murder, rape, assault, arson, theft, desperadism, 
and a wildly assorted list of minor offenses are what 
usually call forth summary action from Judge Lynch, 
but there are also the categories "cause unknown," 
"by accident," "without cause," and "mistaken iden- 
tity." 

Of the seven major causes: 

Murder includes attempted murder, murderous as- 
sault, assault with intent to kill, suspected murder, 
suspicion of murder, alleged murder, accessory to 
murder, conspiracy to murder, complicity in murder. 

Rape includes attempted rape, suspicion of rape, 
alleged rape, aiding and abetting a rapist. 

Assault is usually connected with murder and rape 
and includes assault with intent to kill, assault with in- 
tent to rape. By itself it includes common assault, as- 
sault with intent to rob. 

Theft includes breaking and entering, larceny, 
burglary, robbery, suspected and alleged robbery, 
cattle, mule, and horse stealing. 

Arson includes incendiarism, barn and house burn- 
ing, haystack burning. 

Desperadism includes outlawry, highway robbery, 

79 



JUDGE LYNCH 

train robbery or wrecking in general, the action of a 
desperado. 

Minor offenses are multitudinous and sometimes 
unbelievable. They differ for blacks and whites. For 
instance, in the case of miscegenation, it is only the 
male black who is punished. Those minor offenses for 
which only whites are punished by lynching are 
wife-beating, cruelty, kidnaping, seduction, incest; 
no Negroes are lynched for these offenses as long as 
they are committed against members of their own 
race. Among the many offenses that apply to colored 
offenders are these: 

Turning state's evidence, and refusing to turn 
state's evidence. 

Testifying against a white man. 

Insulting a white man. 

Informing on a white man. 

Writing insulting letters to a white man. 

Writing any kind of letter to a white woman. 

Slandering a white man. 

Asking white woman in marriage. 

Paying attention to a white girl. 

Forcing white boy to commit crime. 

Refusing to give right of way to white persons. 

Riding in train with white passengers. 

Trying to act like a white man. 

Other minor offenses are grave robbery; slander; 

80 



JUDGE LYNCH'S CODE 



self-defense; cutting levees; voodooism; poisoning 
horses, mules, cattle, and swine; incendiary language; 
swindling; colonizing negroes; gambling; quarreling; 
throwing stones; poisoning wells; making threats; be- 
ing troublesome; bad reputation; drunkenness; entic- 
ing a servant away; fraud; strike rioting and strike 
participation; rioting; conspiracy; introducing small- 
pox; conjuring; concealing and aiding criminals to 
escape; passing counterfeit money; disobeying ferry 
regulations; resisting assault; testifying by a Negro 
for another Negro; lawlessness; circulating radical 
literature; being found under bed in white man's 
house; jumping labor contract; insanity; being a rela- 
tive of a man already lynched; peeping in white girl's 
window; not stopping an auto when ordered; organ- 
izing share-croppers; insulting colored girl; and being 
unpopular. 

After the Armistice, many Negroes came home 
who had served in the Army and Navy and learned, 
in the limited freedom given them in the armed serv- 
ices of the country in wartime, that their manhood 
was what they themselves made it; that a "good nig- 
ger" was the Negro who could take care of himself, 
hold up his end, in any company. When they re- 
turned to their homes in the South, they sought to 
practise their new lesson, and, as a result, within the 
first year of the peace, ten Negro veterans, some still 

81 



JUDGE LYNCH 

in their uniforms, were lynch-executed in five south- 
ern states. 1 How many other Negro heroes were 
killed, how many were beaten and barely escaped 
with their lives is not in the record. "Frenchwomen- 
spoiled niggers," the South called them, another way 
of expressing its fear. 

If the reader has persevered and read through this 
amazing list of offenses for which his fellow-citizens 
have paid with their lives, does he recall how many 
times he has merited lynching? Let him take heart; 
few of the persons lynched were destroyed for the 
particular offenses cited. These were but the sparks 
that lighted already smoldering prejudices. 



The Negro is almost consistently the principal per- 
former in American lynch-executions, the victim who 
can no longer state his case before any earthly court. 
But seldom does he pull the rope, never in any re- 
corded case has he lighted the faggots. In 1908, at Pine 
Level, Johnston County, North Carolina, it is re- 
corded that an unnamed Negro entertainer was 
lynched by Negroes for putting on a poor show, and 
it is within the bounds of probability that all were 
drunk; many white performers have felt the ire of 
their cheated audiences. In 1934, at Caddo Parish, 

1 Alabama, i; Arkansas, 2; Florida, i; Georgia, 3; Mississippi, 3. 

82 



JUDGE LYNCH S CODE 

Louisiana, Grafton Page, a thirty-year-old Negro, 
was beaten to death by members of his own race be- 
cause of an alleged insult offered by Page to a colored 
girl who had been out driving with him. 

One of Judge Lynch's most severe reversals was 
when Negroes, at Clarksdale, Tennessee, in 1914, 
lynched a white youth for the rape of a Negress. The 
coroner's jury, believe it or not, brought in a verdict 
of justifiable homicide and freed the blacks. 



Chapter Four 

JUDGE LYNCH'S JURORS 

"He who is not against me, is with me." 
JUDGE LYNCH. 

WE can dismiss as absurd the contention that lynch- 
ings take place only in the backwoods and rural dis- 
tricts of the South. Climate and section do not make 
for lynch-executions any more than does the lack of 
theatres or motion picture houses, merry-go-rounds, 
and symphonic orchestras. There are few places with- 
in the territorial United States where it is impossible 
to rouse a lynch-minded mob, even though it may be 
frustrated by effective police action. The mob is lying 
dormant and needs but the spark of an overt act to 
bring it into snarling action, whether it be in Jack- 
sonville, Florida, San Jose, California, or Duluth, 
Minnesota. Since the Armistice, lynchings have been 
prevented in New Hampshire, New York City, and 
the District of Columbia. 

Nor are Judge Lynch's jurors confined to a single 
class or economic group. The man who pulls the rope 



JUDGE LYNCH'S JURORS 

or strikes the match is no more guilty of murder than 
the police officer who refuses to arrest him, the pro- 
secuting attorney who refuses to seek an indictment, 
the Judge who refuses to convict him; or than those 
sheriffs and deputies, wardens and jailers, and guards 
who, brazenly or with a false play at resistance, re- 
lease their prisoners to the death mobs. Add to these 
those who commit the crime of refusing to recognize 
or of denying recognition of members of the lynch 
mob; those mayors and governors who refuse to call 
out their state troops to protect one or more of their 
citizens; and those coroners whose stereotyped ver- 
dict that "the deceased came to his death at the hands 
of persons unknown" is given in the face of criminal 
knowledge of the actual participants in the murder. 
The guilt reaches to those representatives of the people 
who sit in state legislatures or in Congress at Wash- 
ington and vote against proposed laws to help abolish 
the crime of lynching. 

When the Hanging Judge cries "guilty as charged" 
and utters the sentence of death, it is the jurors, the 
mob, who determine the method by which the sen- 
tence is to be carried out. Americans who but a few 
hours before were going about their usual tasks, 
simple or intricate, become a blood-lusting mob, ex- 
ercising their imaginations to think up new and more 
hideous tortures. Shrieking and dancing, men, women, 

85 



JUDGE LYNCH 

and little children go out to kill or to look on sym- 
pathetically while others kill, indulging in practices 
that would make savages blush. 

These are not the lawless elements; nor are they 
irresponsible mobs, no victory of the lawless over the 
law. The mob is you and me, and every other Ameri- 
can. 



Mobs are created; they are man made and man led; 
they are not the result of spontaneous action, of a sud- 
den uprising of public indignation or community 
sense of outrage. Mobs have been persistent, suffering 
several frustrations, only to return weeks later to 
achieve their determined purpose. Lynch mobs are 
more baffling than other types of mobs: they seem 
not content with the punishment of real or alleged 
offenders, but wish to wreak upon their bodies, both 
before and after death, greater and more horrible 
humiliations. 

The usual lynch mob is made up of three com- 
ponent parts: 

(a) the leaders, who instigate the lynching; 

(b) the lynchers, who perform the lynching; 

(c) the spectator mob, which encourages the 
lynchers. 

The mob leaders are often, as a matter of record, 

86 



JUDGE LYNCH S JURORS 

men of some local importance, of substance and repu- 
tation, prosperous business men and merchants; some- 
times they are leading churchmen; and in instances 
women have been numbered among the leaders. Most 
often they are local and petty politicians, men of easy 
living, good fellows who seem to achieve an excellent 
standard of living with no great amount of mental 
or physical effort. Often, especially in the South, they 
are employing farmers, planters, and landlords. Still 
in the South, they are likely to be members of the 
Democratic party, of either the Baptist or the Meth- 
odist Church; they believe the Klan was, and still is, 
a good idea real Americanism, that every Negro's 
crowning ambition is to rape a white woman, and 
that Negroes can be kept in their place only by oc- 
casional warnings in the form of lynch-executions. 
The southern mob leader also detests Catholics, labor 
leaders, and most Northerners, especially those who 
believe the Negro is entitled to the same rights as the 
whites. In the North the mob leader may belong to 
either major political party, he seldom sees the inside 
of a church, and, though he belongs to no repressive 
clans, he is in entire sympathy with them. He, too, 
hates labor leaders, Communists, "wops," "kikes." In 
the West he follows the general pattern, and his added 
hates are Japanese, Mexicans, and Filipinos. 

The mob leaders, one or more of them, have what 

87 



JUDGE LYNCH 

can be called a working agreement with the Sheriff 
or other officer who has the person of the proposed 
victim. By working agreement is meant that the 
leaders have definite knowledge or assurance of the 
officer's sympathy with their intent; that one or more 
of the leaders have "something on" the officer; that 
they know him to be a coward and a craven; or that, 
because he is seeking political advancement or re- 
election, he will not offer any militant opposition. 

On the part of the officers this working agreement 
may take the form, as it has in certain instances, of 
delivering in advance the keys to the jail; of informing 
the leaders of the proposed route over which the 
prisoner is to be transported; of placing the prisoner 
in charge of deputies acquiescent in the will of the 
mob or willing to be overpowered. Invariably the 
mob leaders have enough information to determine 
the weakest link in the police chain. The snatch is 
made en route to or from the jail, in the jail, at the 
entrance to the courthouse, or in the courtroom it- 
self. The snatch completed, the victim is hurried to 
the place of the proposed execution and delivered or 
released into the hands of the lynch mob. 

The lynch mob is, as a rule, made up of young 
men between their teens and their middle twenties, 
with a sprinkling of morons of all ages. Its members 
are native whites, mostly the underprivileged, the un- 

88 



JUDGE LYNCH'S JURORS 

employed, the dispossessed, and the unattached. Few 
of them have completed high school studies, none of 
them can be classified as adult. They are grocery 
clerks, soda-jerkers, low-paid employees in jobs that 
require neither training nor intelligence; jobs that 
might often be filled more competently by Negroes 
and" at lower wages. In rural communities this mob is 
made up of day-workers and wage-hands, the more 
shiftless type of tenants, those who through birth 
and former position are bound to the locality. The 
hobo or itinerant worker is seldom a mob member. 

The lynch mob, recruited in pool halls and beer 
parlors, is egged on by the leaders and encouraged 
by the spectator mob. Its members give full expres- 
sion to the defeated lusts, to the savage bestiality that 
was engendered in their hangouts. In their defeated 
imaginations they believe, during the progress of the 
lynch-execution, that they are doing a public service, 
that they have at last taken their place alongside the 
leaders. They sense the envy and the approval of the 
spectator mob whose members, in the natural course 
of local affairs, regarded them as loafers and bums. 
It is a foul moment, bringing all classes and types to- 
gether in a sort of vicious brotherhood. 

The spectator mob does not actively participate in 
the lynching, though at times the lynch mob will 
permit members to take part in protracted bestiali- 



JUDGE LYNCH 

ties, before and after the death. Its chief purpose is 
by its presence and voice to lend encouragement to 
the actual lynchers and to urge them on to greater 
and more fiendish actions. Like spectators at a 
baseball game or boxing exhibition, its members shout 
their personal instructions, urging speed or demanding 
that those in front sit down. They chant "burn that 
nigger" and sing that happy days are here again. 

This mob is composed largely of men in their 
thirties and women in their forties. Many, though 
they do not approve lynching in general, are held 
in a strange and morbid enchantment, unable to tear 
themselves away from the sight they will spend years 
in trying to forget, unwilling to lift their voices in 
protest or to shut their eyes to the horror. 

One thing all three parts of the mob hold in com- 
mon is the willingness to accept without qualification 
any and all reports as to the absolute guilt of the 
victim. If the various reports conflict, those that in- 
dicate the possibility of innocence or of mistake are 
rejected. Too often the charge of rape is brought in 
by the spectator mob, even when the original charge 
will not permit it to be considered. 

The mob leaders, actuated by motives best known 
to themselves, recruit the actual lynch mob from the 
pool halls and beer parlors, as has been said. The 

90 



JUDGE LYNCH'S JURORS 

spectator mob is created by the usual methods of the 
ballyhoo. Publicly to whip up the emotions of the 
populace is dangerous; there are too many sane per- 
sons in any community who would seek every means 
to prevent the proposed murder. Only the known 
lynch-minded are informed, and the statement is 
made in the form of a foregone conclusion: "A nigger 
will be lynched at Slayden at sundown." "Be at the 
courthouse at eight. You know why!" Only the 
lynch-minded respond, and the anti-lynchers avoid 
the scene. Should anyone opposed to lynching raise 
his voice, he is warned, boycotted, or labeled "nigger- 
lover." Wisely he remains at home. 

The methods used to produce this audience are 
the conventional advertising of commerce: news- 
paper announcements, telegraph, telephone, the radio, 
word of mouth, and, less commonly, the United States 
mail. It is direct advertising and its appeal is to the 
local carnivora. As each lynch-enthusiast gets the 
news he passes it on, elaborating on the crime the 
victim committed, whetting the listeners' appetite for 
blood by suggesting the methods to be employed. 
Automobile owners make up parties and journey 
long distances to witness a hanging or a burning. An 
announced "slow-burning" will bring out the largest 
crowds. 



JUDGE LYNCH 

As early as 1893, Cutler notes, railways were used 
to augment the spectator mob. On January 31, 1893, 
Henry Smith, a Negro charged with murder, was 
publicly burned at Paris, Lamar County, Texas. Ex- 
cursion trains were run for the occasion and there 
were many women and children in the throng that 
watched the sufferings of the victim. 

The automobile cut deeply into this neglected 
feature of railroading, but modern trainmen, schooled 
in the doctrine of service, may be of help in an in- 
formative way. Witness the lady returning to Mary- 
ville, Missouri, on a Burlington train, Saturday, 
January 10, 1931. "Getting home just in time," said 
the conductor. "They're going to lynch that nigger 
Monday." Sure enough, Raymond Gunn was burned 
to death in Maryville on Monday the twelfth. 

"Memphis, Tennessee, with its men of mighty 
beards, of cowhide boots and bowie-knives, was once 
famous as a boat-landing where captains stopped to 
hang offending travelers." * It is still an important 
lynch center, strategically located; the lynch-minded 
of seven states can be summoned within a few hours. 
If there happen to be hostile officers at the scene of a 
proposed lynching, there is a conjunction of state 
lines that can be crossed with little delay or loss of 
numbers. The Memphis press, through its frequent 

1 Bancroft: Popular Tribunals. 

92 



JUDGE LYNCH S JURORS 

editions, will keep the lynchers posted and direct 
spectators over the shortest route to the rid otto. 

In 1917, Ell Person, a confessed ax-slayer, was 
wanted by the mob. He was being held in Nashville 
for safekeeping when the glad news was printed in 
the newspapers that he would be brought back to 
Memphis the evening of May 21. Fifteen thousand 
persons read and answered the summons. Again in 
1921 The Memphis Press repeated its role of barker 
and made the burning of Henry Lowry an outstand- 
ing lynch success. 2 

When John Hartfield, Negro farm laborer charged 
with assault on a white woman, was snatched from 
the law by a lynch gang at Ellisville, Mississippi, in 
June, 1919, the Jackson Daily News, principal news- 
paper in the state, carried the announcement of the 
exact time and place in the headlines. Ten thousand 
persons attended the burning and were addressed by 
the District Attorney, T. W. Wilson, while the 
lynching was in progress. 

In 1934, the Marianna, Florida, lynching of Claude 
Neal 3 was ballyhooed over the Dothan, Alabama, 
radio station, and seven thousand persons from eleven 
states answered the invitation. In 1935, Ab Young, 

2 See Chapter Six: "Some of Judge Lynch's Cases": The Burning of 
Henry Lowry. 

s See Chapter Six: "Some of Judge Lynch's Cases": The Law Never 
Had a Chance. 

93 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Negro accused of murder, was held by the mob until 
an obliging Memphis newspaper could publish the 
announcement: "Persons around Mt. Pleasant, Missis- 
sippi, are saying that a Negro will be lynched at sun- 
down at Slayden." The Memphis Press-Scimitar sent 
a reporter over the sixty-three miles of road to cover 
the event, and he arrived forty minutes ahead of the 
lynching, even though it was held two hours in ad- 
vance of sundown. The drollery of the County 
Prosecuting Attorney in this case should not be lost: 
"So far as the proof is concerned, we don't know 
whether it was a hanging or a suicide." 

After the ballyhoo has brought the event to the 
point of a great popular uprising, when the spectator 
mob is en route to the carnival or returning to its homes 
and firesides, choking the roads and endangering one 
another's lives, the officers of the law have to be re- 
lieved of other duties to direct traffic. While Matt 
Williams was being barbarously tortured in the pub- 
lic square in Salisbury, Maryland, the police were 
directing traffic so that the lynching would not be 
interrupted. Again, when Gunn was to be burned in 
Maryville, Missouri, the traffic became badly snarled, 
and it was only due to the snappy work of the Mary- 
ville police that the entire mob was able to witness the 
lynching. 

94 



JUDGE LYNCH'S JURORS 

In legal jurisprudence the aim has always been to 
make the punishment fit the crime. An eye for an eye 
has been the yardstick, and it is only when a crime 
becomes too prevalent that a heavier or harsher 
penalty is devised for offenders: the Federal kidnap- 
ing act may be cited as an example. In Judge Lynch's 
court the enormity of the offense has but little re- 
lation to the penalty. Here what counts is opportunity, 
imagination of the mob leaders, the time element. 
Another factor is experience. 

No death seems to be too bad for a Negro; whites 
are seldom burned, seeming to rate the quicker meth- 
ods of shooting, hanging, and drowning. If the mob 
is in complete control of the situation, without fear 
of gubernatorial or other interference, there are op- 
portunities for protracted orgies that are limited only 
by the imagination of the lynchers. If there is danger 
that the National Guardsmen or state troopers may in- 
tervene and time is important, it may be necessary 
to dispose of the victim by the quickest method pos- 
sible. But mobs also become blase; a hanging or other 
quick execution no longer sufficiently satisfies; burn- 
ing, especially protracted tortures followed by slow 
burning, are necessary to attract the spectator-mob 
interest. 

Torture is often resorted to to extract a confession 

95 



JUDGE LYNCH 

from the victim. Confessions so obtained would not 
stand up in any other court. In many cases where the 
prisoner has been taken from jails or courts, after 
he has either been found guilty or confessed to his 
crime, the mob will torture him to extract another 
confession. Raymond Gunn had confessed to the 
County Attorney, and the confession had been pub- 
lished in whole or in part in the Missouri newspapers, 
where it was read by all literate mob members. Yet, 
before Gunn was burned, he was compelled to con- 
fess his hideous crime at the scene. The average mob, 
however, does not need a confession, convinced as 
it usually is that the victim is guilty, that it has the 
right man. 

Torture used to extort a confession and torture 
practised as punishment to fit the crime differ not at 
all. Hanging and lowering just before death, a favorite 
Mississippi practice, is used in both instances. Gouging 
of eyes, cutting off of ears and nose are choice bits 
of mob mayhem, which may be protracted by cutting 
off the fingers and toes joint by joint. While the 
victim is still in the hands of the lynchers, members 
of the spectator mob often invade the sacred circle and 
use their pocket knives to stab and cut. Corkscrews 
have been used to tear the flesh from the body and, 
in 1930, at Ocilla, Georgia, a mob tried to make its 
victim swallow a sharpened pole. Wire-pliers are used 



JUDGE LYNCH S JURORS 

to extract teeth, and gasoline blow-torches, in 1937, 
were introduced to peel the skin from the bodies of 
the mob's two victims. 

Death often mercifully intercedes during the pro- 
tracted tortures, but even death does not stop the 
bestiality. In the case of Claude Neal the mob ex- 
hausted its collective energies in torturing its victim, 
and was at last compelled to put him to death. It 
managed to summon sufficient energy to fasten the 
dead body to the rear of a car and drag it to the scene 
of the original crime, where it was turned over to 
other mobs for further mutilation and indignities. 

Burning with torture has long been reserved as an 
especial death for Negroes. As early as 1708, it was 
recorded that a Negro named Sam, accused of mur- 
dering the family of his white master, was burned 
at the stake at Jamaica, now a part of New York City, 
and put to all possible torments as a terror to others. 
Water was given him from a horn fastened to a pole 
to allay his thirst and so prolong the suffering. 

Lynching by burning is the vengeance of a savage 
past and survives today only in the United States. 
Even the savage did not devise any death so horrible, 
even to the spectator, as slow burning. Fire is started 
at the victim's feet and he is literally burned to death 
by inches, sometimes remaining conscious until the 
lower limbs are already in ashes. In the larger lynch- 

97 



JUDGE LYNCH 

carnivals, especially when the victim is a Negro 
charged with rape upon a white woman, burning is 
used because it is more spectacular and because 
through the shrieks and writhings of the victim the 
spectator mob is brought into a closer relation to the 
criminal lynch mob. 

Part of the ritual of a well-conducted lynching is 
the unsexing of the victim. George Hughes was un- 
sexed after death in the presence of women and chil- 
dren. The symbolism is simple: the mob-desire to 
destroy the symbol of creation. In cases of burning, 
the victim is unsexed before lynching, and in shoot- 
ing and hanging, after death. In the case of Wesley 
Everest the unsexing was an act of purest sadism. 
There is a ritual followed in this perversion, and, at 
a certain moment, one of the mob leaders steps for- 
ward and performs the operation. In certain cases 
he may be the father or husband of the original vic- 
tim. 

White women who have been lynched were not 
degraded before or after death. Negro women who at- 
tract the attention of lynchers are, regardless of age, 
invariably mob-raped before being executed. 



Chapter Five 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

LYNCHING today is as American as apple pie. The 
practice does not prevail in Canada or in Mexico. 
Lynching, hand in hand with the Constitution, fol- 
lows the flag, and follows it across the mountains 
and the seas. Canada could not stand as a bar against 
its introduction into Alaska, and neither the Atlantic 
nor the Pacific Oceans were wide enough or deep 
enough to stop the Hanging Judge. In Cuba, Puerto 
Rico, and the Philippines Judge Lynch set up his 
kangaroo court and brought in his single decision al- 
most from the minute of American occupation. Even 
peaceful Hawaii has known the violence of Judge 
Lynch. 

Though Judge Lynch today finds most of his cases 
in the southern states and the great majority of his 
victims are Negroes, the Judge is ready at all times 
and in all sections to bring in his grisly verdict. From 
Aroostook County, in northern Maine, along the 
Canadian border to the Pacific Coast, down to the 
Rio Grande, no section of the country is without the 
blood-stained marks of lynch-executions. Only four 

99 



JUDGE LYNCH 

states can boldly proclaim that since 1882 Judge 
Lynch has been considered incompetent within their 
borders: Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, 
and Rhode Island. If one could only gloss over the 
condign summary punishment of working men in all 
four states, there might be reason to become lyric over 
their records. 

One finds it difficult to become lyrical over sunny 
California, to stand in admiration of the majestic 
mountainous coast of the Northwest or the breeze- 
swept vistas of old Florida; too many listless, dangling 
shadows, slowly swinging to the winds, mar the pleas- 
ure. The shadows cross and re-cross the land and give 
little comfort to anyone. That they are decreasing 
yearly may be a matter for gratification, but, as the 
chart-lines show a decline in numbers, others show a 
sharp increase in torture and bestiality. 

Five other states are entitled to a but slightly fly- 
specked crown for meritorious conduct. Arizona, 
Idaho, Maine, Nevada, and Wisconsin have no re- 
corded lynchings of Negroes. 

Let's look at the record! 

MISSISSIPPI 

Mississippi's most important crop is cotton, but her 
production of that commodity is surpassed by that of 
Texas. In the matter of lynch-executions and the low 

100 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

degree of bestiality expressed by her mobs, she reigns 
supreme. Since 1882 this state has conducted more 
than 1 1 per cent of all the lynchings in the country, 
591 out of an ignoble total of 5,112, and but forty- 
four of the victims were whites. Only in one recorded 
year, 1932, has the state been without a single lynch- 
ing, but its enviable effort in that year did not in- 
validate its standing. Mississippi leads in the number 
of women lynched fourteen, of whom one was a 
white (1898); in the number lynched whose offenses 
were unknown; and in the number who could not be 
identified after death. She shares with Georgia and 
Texas the records for lynch-executions for no offense 
whatever. She stands alone in the wide number of 
fantastic offenses for which her mobs demand the 
lynch penalty and in originating and putting into 
effect newer and more barbarous forms of torture. 

To this damning indictment may be added the 
episode at Duck Hill, in 1937. 

The Magnolia State has had thirty-three double 
and nine triple lynchings, again topping all other 
states. In her records of multiple lynchings she has on 
six occasions lynched four at a time and has found 
three opportunities to claim five victims. Her various 
centers of civilization and culture have enjoyed some 
excellent lynch-carnivals: Vicksburg, eight; Jackson, 
five; Yazoo City, six. 

101 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Her mobs are responsive and easy to rouse and 
usually large, though on occasion (1934) as few as 
four Mississippians can successfully conduct a lynch- 
ing, especially if the victim is a Negro aged seventy 
who has merely "talked disrespectfully" to his white 
landlord. Her mobs are made up of resolute and 
determined men who are able to outwit the ablest and 
cleverest sheriffs. In one year two Negroes accused 
of murder had been sent to separate jails, miles apart, 
to circumvent any attempt at mob-reprisal. After a 
year in their respective jails, they were being returned 
in separate parties for trial. Two mobs, working like 
teams, were formed and snatched the prisoners from 
the deputy sheriffs, joined forces, and hanged the ac- 
cused men to the same tree. 

In 1918, four Negroes, all of them minors Major 
Clark, 20; Andrew Clark, 15; Maggie Howse, 20, and 
Alma Howse, 1 6 were taken by a mob from a jail 
at Shubuta and lynched from a bridge over the Chick- 
asawha River. They were suspected of having mur- 
dered Dr. E. L. Johnston, a white dentist. 

An investigation conducted by the National As- 
sociation for the Advancement of Colored People 
disclosed the fact that Johnston had been having 
illicit relations with both Maggie and Alma Howse; 
that Major Clark, who worked on Johnston's planta- 
tion, wished to marry Maggie. The dentist had gone 

102 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

to Clark and warned him to leave his woman alone. 
This had led to a quarrel that was made more bitter 
when it was learned that Maggie was to have a child 
by the white man. Later it was revealed that Alma, 
the younger sister, was also pregnant by Johnston. 

Shortly after this episode the dentist was found 
mysteriously murdered. The finger of mob-suspicion 
pointed to Major Clark, though there were some who 
held to the theory that Johnston had been killed by 
another white man who had accused him of seducing 
a white woman. The Mississippi mob was not to be 
cheated by any such theories nor by the fact that both 
girls were pregnant. 

Mississippi mobs prefer the torch and faggot to the 
rope, and even burning alone does not always satisfy 
their sadistic lusts. In 1925, Jim Ivy was taken from 
the officers of the law and burned at the stake for an 
alleged attack on a farmer's daughter. Ivy had been 
taken to the hospital for identification by the attacked 
girl; she was not certain, but he looked like the man 
who had assaulted her. That was identification enough 
for the Rocky Ford mob, and Ivy was taken to the 
scene of the attack and lynched. 

Another outstanding characteristic of Mississippi 
mobs is their determination to get their man; nothing 
is permitted to stand between them and their quarry. 
The chase is part of the rare sport. In 1904, Luther 

103 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Holbert, Negro, of Doddsville, had a quarrel with 
James Eastland, a white man, and with another Negro, 
John Carr. The white planter was killed in the dis- 
pute that arose when he came to Carr's cabin, found 
Holbert there, and ordered him to leave the planta- 
tion. Carr and another Negro named Winters were 
also killed. Holbert and his wife fled the plantation 
and the man hunt was on; two innocent Negroes 
were shot and killed before the mob took the Holberts. 
There was no charge against the woman, but simple 
facts like that do not deter Mississippi's mobs. 

"They were tied to trees, and while the funeral 
pyres were being prepared they were forced to suffer 
the most fiendish tortures. The blacks were forced 
to hold out their hands while one finger at a time was 
chopped off. The fingers were distributed as sou- 
venirs. The ears of the murderers (sic) were cut off. 
Holbert was beaten severely, his skull was fractured, 
and one of his eyes, knocked with a stick, hung by a 
shred from the socket. . . . The most excruciating 
form of punishment consisted in the use of a large 
corkscrew in the hands of some of the mob. This 
instrument was bored into the flesh of the man and 
woman, in the arms, legs, and body, and then pulled 
out, the spirals tearing out big pieces of raw, quivering 
flesh every time it was withdrawn." l 

1 Vicksburg (Mississippi) Evening Post. 

104 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

After the mob had wearied of its sadistic frolic, it 
is supposed, they mercifully burned the Negroes to 
death. 

It is probably easier to get lynched in Mississippi 
than in any other state. The ideal American is sup- 
posedly the man who works with his hands and thus 
prospers, takes loving care of his family, building 
honestly for their future; if he can lend a helping 
hand to his fellowman in passing, so much more to 
his and his community's credit. Not so in Mississippi. 
Take these two cases of March, 1935. 

In Lawrence County the body of R. J. Tyronne, 
a prosperous Negro farmer, was found shot to pieces 
in the woods near his home on the night of the 
twenty-sixth, where he had been lynched by a mob 
of white Mississipians about four days previously. 
Tyronne was said to have been too prosperous for 
his white neighbors. 

Four days later, at Hernando, the body of the 
Reverend T. A. Allen, of Marks, a Negro, was found 
weighted down with a chain in the Coldwater River. 
His only crime had been the effort to organize the 
sharecroppers of his neighborhood. 

Sometimes a Mississippi mob has difficulty in mak- 
ing up its mind as to the best manner of lynching. 
There are various schools of torture. While a Brook- 
haven mob in 1928 decided that the Bearden brothers 

105 



JUDGE LYNCH 

should be hanged, the ritual to be observed caused a 
schism; one was taken by the adherents of one form 
and the second by the dissenters. The first brother was 
tied to the back of an automobile and dragged through 
the city streets before being carried out of town and 
hanged; the other brother was hurried off in a car 
in the opposite direction and hanged from a bridge. 

In 1934, at Hernando, De Soto County, where the 
lynching of Negroes has long been regarded as a 
public necessity, the lynch-execution of three Negroes 
was prevented by the startling expedient of calling 
out the National Guard. Judge Kuykendall apologized 
for the presence of the troops by saying: 

". . . there are now several anti-lynching bills 
pending in Congress. The effect of these bills would 
be to destroy one of the South's most cherished 
possessions the supremacy of the white race and 
I believe a lynching in this case would have effect 
inevitably in the passage of one of these laws by Con- 



gress." 2 



GEORGIA 



Georgia is a proud state and Georgians are a proud 
people. It is a diversified state: Atlanta is known as 
the capital of the New South, and Savannah shares 
with Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Charleston, South 

2 Twenty-fifth Annual Report (1934), The National Association for 
the Advancement of Colored People. 

1 06 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

Carolina, the honor of being one of the last stands of 
the unreconstructed rebels. Georgians the state over 
point with pride to their state's leadership in many 
departments of human endeavor and, for all one 
knows, there may even be a few Georgians who are 
proud of the state's record of lynch-executions. Al- 
though the state has to bow to the superior leader- 
ship of Mississippi in the practice of neck-cracking, 
it can claim that it has lynched fewer white men in 
proportion to blacks than any state in the Union. In 
point of numerical lynchings, it led all the other states 
in the years 1919, 1921, 1930, 1932, 1933, and 1936. 
Since 1882 the Buzzard State has lynched no less 
than 570 persons (November, 1937), of whom only 
thirty-nine were whites; of the 531 Negroes liqui- 
dated, six were women. One was Mary Turner, whose 
killing brought forth one of the most gruesome ex- 
pressions of bestiality recorded in modern times. Of 
the Negroes executed by mobs, two were lynched 
for no reason at all, ten were killed for offenses un- 
known and unrecorded, and sixty-one lynch-victims 
were unknown in the communities in which their 
bodies were found. Negroes have been lynched in 
Georgia because they were unpopular, for throwing 
stones, and for window-peeping. In Salt City, in 1917, 
two Negroes were lynched for disputing a white 
man's word. 

107 



JUDGE LYNCH 

The Gem of the South has had, since 1882, thirty 
double and ten triple lynchings. In her record of 
multiple lynchings Georgia mobs have twice had four 
victims, and on four occasions they have had five. In 
December, 1894, a Brooks County mob lynched 
seven Negroes; in June, 1905, the citizens of Oconee 
County achieved what they believed to be an all- 
time high of eight victims, seven of whom were 
charged with murder and one with rape. In 1918, 
Brooks County was again drenched with blood, and 
Georgia's record for mass-lynchings was established 
with eleven black victims. With this ignominious 
total she shares second place with Louisiana; Arkansas 
still holds the unenviable record of having lynched 
the greatest number at a single ridotto. 

The scenes of Georgia's lynch-executions are well- 
distributed over the state; no one locality, save the 
ill-famed county of Lowndes, can lay claim to dis- 
tinction for any numerical score, nor can the state 
centers of culture and commerce dodge the accusa- 
tion that, at some time within the last fifty years, their 
citizens have on occasion pushed aside the legally 
constituted judiciary and summoned the rump court 
of old Judge Lynch. 

Only in Mississippi and Arkansas do mobs equal 
Georgian barbarity and savagery in lynch-executions. 
In April, 1 899, Samuel Hose, a Negro farm worker, 

108 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

had a quarrel with his employer over wages due. The 
farmer was killed and Sam Hose escaped. The mob 
that sought him lacked, in the minds of the leaders, 
the required ginger, and the man-hunt was pepped up 
with the added charge that Hose had raped his em- 
ployer's widow. When he was captured, the Negro 
confessed to the murder but refused, even under tor- 
ture, to confess to the second crime. 

"In the presence of nearly two thousand people, 
who sent aloft yells of defiance and shouts of joy, 
Sam Hose (a Negro who had committed two of the 
basest acts known to crime) was burned at the stake 
in a public road. . . . Before the torch was applied 
to the pyre, the Negro was deprived of his ears, fingers 
and other portions of his body with surprising forti- 
tude. Before the body was cool, it was cut to pieces, 
the bones were crushed into small bits and even the 
tree upon which the wretch met his fate was torn up 
and disposed of as souvenirs. 

"The Negro's heart was cut in several pieces as 
was also his liver. Those unable to obtain the ghastly 
relics directly, paid more fortunate possessors ex- 
travagant sums for them." 3 

Georgian vengeance is long, and it will go to any 
lengths to achieve its grisly ends. On more than one 
occasion Judge Lynch has proved his court to be the 

8 New York Tribune, April 24, 1899. 

109 



JUDGE LYNCH 

dominant court of that realm, reversing the highest 
courts and setting aside decisions and sentences that 
were not in accord with his own limited views. Judge 
Lynch's court is unlike the legal courts of appeal in 
that he does not wait until cases are brought to him 
for a rehearing; in Georgia he has on occasion gone 
right into the courts of justice and snatched his vic- 
tims from under the nose of the presiding judge. 

In 1904, two Negroes, Paul Reed and Will Cato, 
were on trial in Statesboro, Bulloch County, for the 
atrocious murder of the Hodges, a white family. 
They had already been convicted and were before 
the bench for sentence when the mob broke into the 
courtroom and carried them off. In spite of the plea 
of the brother of the murdered man that the law be 
allowed to take its course, the two Negroes were 
burned to death in the presence of a large crowd. 
That was April 16. The day following was given 
over to rioting in which many citizens were beaten 
because their skins were black, and Albert Roger and 
his son were lynched for no other reason. Miles away, 
in the same Bulloch County but in the town of Portal, 
Sebastian McBride, a respectable Negro, was beaten, 
kicked, and shot to death for trying to defend his 
wife, who was confined with a three days' old baby, 
from a whipping at the hands of a white mob. 

In 1908, Statesboro again gave way to its tradi- 

no 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

tional jitters, and on February 17 lynched an un- 
known Negro on a charge of rape and, a week later, 
another Negro, Gilbert Thompson, on the same 
charge. Later, far too late for the two Negroes, they 
were proved innocent. 

Sidney Johnson was a Negro peon whose fine of 
thirty dollars had been paid by a white farmer. Smith 
had the reputation of ill-treating his Negro employees, 
and Johnson rebelled. After having suffered beatings 
and abuse, the Negro shot and killed his employer as 
he sat in his window at home; he also shot and 
wounded Smith's wife. 

For this crime a mob of Georgia whites scoured the 
surrounding country for more than a week, engaged 
in a hunt for the guilty man. Failing to find him, they 
began to kill every Negro who could even remotely 
be identified with either the victim or his slayer. Will 
Head, Will Thompson, Chime Riley, Eugene Rice, 
Simon Shuman, Hayes Turner, and three unidenti- 
fied Negroes helped expiate Johnson's crime. Mary 
Turner, who was within a month of confinement, 
loudly proclaimed the innocence of her husband, cry- 
ing out maledictions on the mob and threatening to 
swear out warrants for their arrest. She was herself 
taken out and lynched: hanged head downward while 
gasoline and motor oil were thrown on her clothing 
and set afire. Life still lingered in the dead body, and 

in 



JUDGE LYNCH 

a member of the mob stepped forward and with his 
pocket knife opened the abdomen. The prematurely 
born child fell to the ground, and the cruel surgeon 
then crushed its head with his heel. Before the mob 
dispersed, further pleasure was derived from using 
the mother's body as a target for pistol practice. 

The murderer, Sidney Johnson, was at length dis- 
covered in a house in Valdosta. The house was sur- 
rounded by a posse headed by the chief of police, and 
Johnson elected to shoot it out. Before his ammuni- 
tion was exhausted, the fugitive had wounded the 
chief. When the house was entered, he was found 
dead. His body was mutilated. 

When the courts of Georgia are not dominated by 
mobs, as in the Leo Frank case, or overruled by mob 
law as in the Bulloch County case related above, they 
sometimes co-operate with the mob. In 1911, Thomas 
Allen, a Negro, was in jail on a charge of attempted 
rape and Foster Watts was being held on a charge of 
"loitering in a suspicious manner." The Judge ordered 
Allen brought to Monroe for trial and, though the 
Judge knew that citizens had organized a mob to 
lynch the prisoner, refused to accept the troops 
offered him by the Governor. Allen was sent to Mon- 
roe in the charge of two officers; the train was stopped 
and the prisoner hanged beside the tracks. The mob 
then proceeded to Monroe and snatched Watts from 

112 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

the jail and hanged and shot him. Judge Brand on a 
previous occasion had refused proffered troops with 
the statement that he "would not imperil the life of 
one man to save the lives of a hundred Negroes." 4 

It is not necessary to commit a crime nor to be sus- 
pected of one to be lynched in Georgia. As recently 
as 1933, in the town of Newton, the body of T. J. 
Thomas, a middle-aged Negro, was found hanging 
to a tree. No reason for the lynching could be given, 
no clues to the slayers could be found, and no arrests 
were made. Three days later, at the same place, was 
found hanging the body of Richard Marshall, a mid- 
dle-aged Negro. No reasons for the lynching could 
be given, no clues to the slayers were found, and no 
arrests were made. 

These incidents may explain the resolution adopted 
on November 29, 1937, by the Georgia House of 
Representatives and sent at once to the Senate. It 
charged that the Anti-Lynching bill, then pending in 
Congress, was "manifestly unjust, unfair and would 
work an oppressive burden upon the entire South." 

No comment. 

TEXAS 

Recorded lynchings in the Lone Star State are a 
little confused. The totals do not resolve themselves 

4 The Crisis, August, 1911. 



JUDGE LYNCH 

into blacks and whites, but also include Indians and 
Mexicans who may have been either white or In- 
dian. Since 1882 there have been 549 lynchings 
(1937) involving 384 Negroes, 128 whites, 36 Mexi- 
cans, and i Indian. Fifty-five of those lynched were 
unknown by name, twenty-two were lynched for 
no known reason, and one for no reason whatever. 
Seven were women, of whom two were white, and 
one was a case of mistaken identity. 

Texas has had twenty-three double and twelve 
triple lynchings. On three occasions Texas mobs have 
had four victims, one had five, and four had six. In 
1 897, a record was set with seven that was not broken 
until 1908, when eight victims were claimed. Texas 
mobs achieved their all-time high in 1915 when they 
lynched near Brownsville ten Mexicans who were 
charged with train-wrecking and murder. Since the 
Armistice, Texas mobs have lynched sixty victims; 
nineteen were shot, twenty-three were hanged, 
twelve were burned, two were flogged to death, and 
four came to their deaths by means unknown. 

In 1891 a Cass County mob lynched two Negroes 
for being troublesome; others were lynched for gam- 
bling, window-peeping, marrying a white woman, 
and eloping. The latter case was that of a white 
minister, a Reverend Captain Jones, of Paris, Lamar 

114 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

County. Texans are touchy and resent any form of 
irregularity. 

The year, 1922, when Texas romped off with 
numerical dishonors, she achieved a total of sixteen 
out of a national total of sixty-one lynchings. May was 
the banner month in Texas, ten being the total for the 
month of merriment; of the year's total, eight vic- 
tims were taken from officers or jails. 

In August, 1916, the simple citizens of San Benito 
got so much pleasure out of lynching six Mexicans 
on the charge of pillage and murder that they spent 
the next two weeks assembling six more Mexicans 
whom they lynched on the charge of banditry. As a 
matter of record it seems that 1916 was a bad year 
for Mexicans in Texas; twenty-six of their total were 
lynched in that year, but many of these cases were 
the result of border trouble with Mexico. 

Texas mobs have little to distinguish them from 
other mobs. There is a directness about them that is 
not found elsewhere, and only on occasions do they 
stoop to the savagery of their sister states. They do 
err, like others, and at times let Judge Lynch take over 
their most sacred tribunals of law. In 1895 a Negro 
was lynched for riding his horse over a little white 
girl and inflicting serious injuries upon her. Later the 
mob found that the guilty man had escaped and the 

"5 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Negro lynched was innocent, but he was already too 
dead for them to do anything about it. 

Dan Davis, a Negro, was burned at the stake at 
Tyler for the crime of attempted rape, May 25, 1912. 

"There was some disappointment in the crowd and 
criticism of those who had bossed the arrangements, 
because the fire was so slow in reaching the Negro. 
It was really only ten minutes after the fire was 
started that smoking shoe soles and twitching of the 
Negro's feet indicated that his lower extremities 
were burning, but the time seemed much longer. The 
spectators had waited so long to see him tortured 
that they begrudged the ten minutes before his suffer- 
ing really began. 

"The Negro uttered but few words. When he was 
led to where he was to be burned, he said quite 
calmly, 'I wish some of you gentlemen would be 
Christian enough to cut my throat,' but nobody re- 
sponded. When the fire started, he screamed, 'Lord, 
have mercy on my soul,' and that was the last word 
he spoke, though he was conscious for fully twenty 
minutes after that. His exhibition of nerve aroused 
the admiration even of his torturers." 5 

Texas lays claim to one of the largest mobs ever 
assembled, 15,000. There is, of course, a fine distinc- 
tion between the mob and the spectators; the mob does 

5 The Crisis, June, September, 1912. 

116 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

the actual work of securing the victim, making all 
preparations, and finally killing him. In the case of 
Jesse Washington, the actual mob was 1,500 and the 
balance, no one of whom attempted to stop the execu- 
tion, merely accessories before the fact. 

Jesse Washington was a defective Negro boy of 
about nineteen years, unable to read or write; he was 
employed as a farm hand in Robinson, a small town 
near Waco. One day the wife of his employer found 
fault with him, whereupon he struck her on the head 
with a hammer and killed her. There was some, but 
not conclusive, evidence that he had raped her. He 
was arrested, tried, and found guilty, and sentenced 
to death by hanging within ten days of the commis- 
sion of the crime. 

As the sentence was pronounced, a mob of 1,500 
white men, who feared the law's delay, broke into the 
courtroom and seized the prisoner. He was dragged 
through the streets, stabbed, mutilated, and finally 
burned to death in the public square in Waco in the 
presence of a crowd of 15,000 men, women, and chil- 
dren. The Mayor and the Chief of Police witnessed 
the lynching. 6 

In 1930, a mob in Sherman, unable to intimidate 
the officers who were holding the person of George 
Hughes for trial on charges of assaulting a white 

6 Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States. 

117 



JUDGE LYNCH 

woman, achieved their desire by burning the court- 
house in which the Negro was jailed. 

In 1935, in Colorado County, a mob of 700 persons, 
many of them women, took two Negro boys, aged 
fifteen and sixteen, from the officers who were taking 
them to face a charge of murder, and hanged them to 
a tree. The County Attorney, who should have prose- 
cuted the lynchers, said: "I do not call the citizens 
who executed the Negroes a mob. I consider their 
action an expression of the will of the people." The 
County Judge, before whom the lynchers should have 
been tried, said: "I am strongly opposed to mob vio- 
lence and favor orderly process of the law. The fact 
that the Negroes who so brutally murdered Miss Koll- 
man could not be adequately punished by law because 
of their ages prevents me from condemning those citi- 
zens who meted justice to the ravishing murderers 
last night." 7 

Judge Lynch concurring. 

LOUISIANA 

Louisiana, with only 421 lynchings to her credit, 
hardly belongs in the big company dominated by 
Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas. Her high rating is 
hardly justified today, for she has had but thirty-six 
lynchings since the Armistice, and only her previous 

7 The Crisis, January, 1936. 

118 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

numerical strength keeps her so high on the list. Of 
Louisiana's total of 42 1 (1937), sixty-two were white 
men, three were colored women, and one was a white 
woman. Three were lynched for no offense what- 
ever, eleven for offenses that could not be determined 
by investigators, and forty-six victims were unknown 
in the communities in which their bodies were found. 
There have been twenty-nine double and twelve triple 
lynchings since 1882. On three occasions mobs have 
had four victims, and on one, five. In 1891 a New 
Orleans mob invaded a jail and lynched eleven Italians 
who had been convicted of murder. In 1894 a mob 
at Talullah, in Madison Parish, lynched seven Negroes 
charged with murder. 

Such centers of civilization as New Orleans had six 
lynchings with seventeen victims; Shreveport, eleven 
lynchings, each mob content with a single victim; 
Baton Rouge, four. Talullah, with only three lynch- 
ings, rolled up a total of twelve victims, but has had 
no lynch-executions since 1906. 

Louisiana mobs are fallible, like those of other 
states. In 1892 a mob was seeking John Hastings, a 
Negro of Calaboula, for murder. Failing to find John 
at home, they lynched his son and daughter. Three 
days later the mob caught up with the murderer and 
completed the job. Again, in 1899, at Lindsay, a town 
near Jackson, there had been an attempted assault on 

119 



JUDGE LYNCH 

a white woman by a Negro, Val Bages. Mitchell 
Curry, a white farmer, hearing that someone was in 
his cornfield, took two Negroes with him to drive 
away the intruder. He proved to be a large Negro, 
and Curry, becoming convinced that he was Bages, 
gave chase and finally treed him. The man was or- 
dered to remain in the tree while one of his pursu- 
ers went for a rope to hang him, but he slid down and 
was shot to death. Examination showed that his cloth- 
ing was that worn at the State Insane Asylum at Jack- 
son, and investigation proved that he was an inmate 
who had escaped a few days before. Wandering at 
large, he had suffered death for a crime that he had 
not committed. 

In 1914, at Sylvester Station, three Negroes were 
lynched for the murder of the postmaster. One, an 
old man, bore an excellent reputation in the neighbor- 
hood; there was no evidence against him and, under 
duress, he refused to confess to the crime. He was 
burned at the stake in the presence of a large crowd. 

The Houston (Texas) Post, commenting editori- 
ally on the lynching, said: 

"The conviction is irresistible that the old man 
who was burned to death had nothing whatever to do 
with the crime. If he had been guilty, the torture to 
which he was subjected would have forced a confes- 
sion, and the wonder is that he did not confess any- 

120 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

how, in the agony of his roasting flesh, as many inno- 
cent victims have done in the vain hope of escaping 
torture. In all probability the guilty murderers of the 
village postmaster are at large, while the blood of in- 
nocents rests upon the hands of those who took it 
upon themselves to discharge the functions of the 
law." 8 

In 1 897, William Gordon, of Jefferson, was lynched 
for disobeying ferry regulations, and, in 1910, Laura 
Porter, Negress of Monroe, was lynched for keeping 
a disreputable house. 

Lynching offenses in Louisiana include miscegena- 
tion, slapping a child, making threats, insulting a lady, 
vagrancy, and bringing suit against a white man. 

Louisiana can boast one of the few lynchings con- 
ducted by Negroes. On August 3, 1934, at Caddo 
Parish, Grafton Page, a thirty-four-year old Negro, 
was beaten to death by members of his own race be- 
cause of an alleged insult by Page to a colored girl 
who had gone out riding with him. 

ALABAMA 

Alabama sits pleasantly in the deep center of the 
Lynch belt and, through the use of the radio and the 
automobile, her mob-minded citizens can participate 
in and have participated in lynchings in Georgia, 

8 Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States. 

121 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida. The Cotton State 
has an unenviable record of her own: 375 victims, of 
whom fifty-five were whites and eight were colored 
women. Forty-one were unknown in the communi- 
ties where their bodies were found, but only four suf- 
fered death for offenses unknown, and two through 
mistaken identity. Alabama mobs have had fourteen 
double and twelve triple lynchings. Lynch-carnivals 
have claimed four victims four times and five victims 
twice. In 1891 the citizens of Choctaw County got 
together and lynched seven white men for outlawry, 
and therewith established the state's record. 

Since the Armistice was signed there have been 
forty-two persons lynched, of whom twenty-six were 
shot, three hanged, three beaten to death, one cut to 
pieces, and one burned. Eight came to their deaths by 
means unknown to the investigators. Lynching scenes 
are evenly distributed throughout the state, and such 
important centers as Montgomery and Birmingham 
have had seven and four lynchings respectively. Ala- 
bama mobs seldom descend to the bestiality exhibited 
by her sister states of the Lynch belt, and only once 
in recent years has one run hog-wild; when the smoke 
cleared away there were four dead Negroes and two 
dead white men. 

Clarence Boyd, filling station operator at Geiger, 

122 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

seven miles from Emelle, picked a bad time to try to 
collect three dollars and a half that Esau Robinson, 
Negro, owed him for a second-hand battery. It was 
July 4, 1930, and a large number of Negroes had 
gathered at an Emelle Negro church for a picnic. 
Clarence Boyd happened to be there, and he de- 
manded payment for the battery; when it was re- 
fused, he lifted the battery from the Robinson car 
and placed it in a store at Emelle, refusing to let Esau 
have it until he had paid for it. Esau left to get the 
money. 

At four that afternoon Esau returned, accompanied 
by his father, Tom, two brothers, Ollis and King, and 
a cousin also named Robinson. The Negroes were 
armed and were drinking. They searched the stores 
of Emelle until they found Clarence Boyd. Motion- 
ing him outside the store, Esau hit him over the head 
with a bottle. Boyd called to his uncle Grover for 
help, and as the latter approached, old Tom hit him 
with a heavy stick. Grover ran to his car for his pistol 
and began firing at Tom who, though wounded, made 
his escape. While Boyd was still firing at Tom, either 
King or Ollis Robinson came up behind him, took 
aim, and fired. Grover Boyd fell dying, and another 
member of the Robinson family fired several shots 
into him. With the exception of Esau, all the Robin- 

123 



JUDGE LYNCH 

sons made their escape. A white merchant held on to 
Esau and tied him to a post to await the coming of 
the sheriff. 

When the sheriff arrived, he was told that Esau 
was not the man who had killed Grover Boyd. Leav- 
ing the Negro tied to the post, he went in pursuit of 
the fleeing Robinsons. Some time before midnight 
Esau was released from the post and shot to death by 
a mob of less than fifty persons. 

The armed man-hunters converged on the home of 
farmer-preacher John Newton Robinson, brother of 
Tom and uncle of Esau. John would not give up his 
gun nor would he permit his house to be searched. 
In the resulting quarrel he was shot to death and a 
white overseer, a member of the posse, was killed, 
probably unintentionally, by a member of the mob. 
The sheriff, believing that the fugitive Robinsons 
were hiding in the house, ordered it fired. There were 
no Robinsons within, and the mob went on with its 
hunt. On the night of the fifth, Winston Jones, Ne- 
gro, received a fatal shot at Narkeeta, Mississippi, just 
across the state line, for failing to stop when ordered. 
Later in the night a Negro woman, Viola Dial, who 
was in a car with her husband and three other men, 
was shot when the driver refused to stop the car at the 
order of the man-hunters. 

For weeks the search for the fugitives went on, but 

124 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

the mob-minded had deserted and the search was 
brought to an end by State Enforcement Officers. 
Tom Robinson and his sons, Ollis and King, were 
taken to Kilby Prison at Montgomery. Others of the 
Robinson family, including women and children, 
were confined in Kilby for safekeeping and as wit- 
nesses. 

Certain Negroes, familiar with the Emelle com- 
munity, reported that the altercation over the battery 
was the immediate but not the real cause of the out- 
break. According to them, the trouble grew out of 
the insistence of certain white men upon "running 
with" the Robinson and other Negro women. 

The persistence of Alabama mobs and their high 
standing in their communities is best shown by the 
recent ill-smelling Scottsboro cases. Seven colored 
boys were sentenced to death on the testimony of 
two disreputable women, neither of whom knew the 
meaning of the phrase "sexual intercourse" but only 
of the usual gutter term. Even when one of the girls 
recanted her story, only a nationwide clamor could 
obtain new trials for the defendants. 

ARKANSAS 

Although Arkansas has achieved the distinction of 
having been the scene of the largest lynching carnival 
in the history of the industry, her lynch-executions 

125 



JUDGE LYNCH 

lack distinction: her mobs merely take their victims 
out and dispose of them with dispatch. Since 1882 
there have been 315 lynchings; sixty-nine of these 
involved whites, two of them women charged with 
or suspected of murder, and five colored women. 
Only one was lynched through mistaken identity, 
four for offenses unknown; thirty-two were un- 
known in the communities where their bodies were 
found. 

Arkansas mobs have held eleven double and six 
triple lynchings. On four occasions they have had 
four victims and, in 1899, the good folk of Little 
River lynched seven on the charge of murder. In 
1904 the white citizens of St. Charles, Arkansas 
County, went berserk and destroyed thirteen of their 
colored fellowmen in an orgy of race prejudice, es- 
tablishing the state and nation records for known 
lynch-executions. 

Of the state's centers of fashion and culture, Hot 
Springs leads with a total of six lynchings; Pine Bluff 
follows with five, Little Rock with four, and Arkan- 
sas City with two, one of which was a triple lynching. 
Since the Armistice there have been thirty-three per- 
sons lynched; fourteen of these victims were merci- 
fully shot, thirteen were hanged, three burned, and 
three went to their deaths by means unknown to the 
investigators. 

126 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

If there is one thing an Arkansan dislikes more 
than a black skin, it is the white skin of a class- 
conscious sharecropper. So far the record shows that 
the dominant whites are content with slapping such 
about, whipping and beating them out of the state. 
That none have been killed is due only to bad marks- 
manship; enough shots having been fired. 

FLORIDA 

In 1903, when Cutler completed his records of 
lynchings, Florida was placed ninth in numerical or- 
der; in Walter White's records (1927) she was placed 
seventh, a position she still holds. However, in the 
number of lynchings since the Armistice, Florida is 
securely in third place. Of the 290 victims of lynch- 
executions since 1882, only thirty-one were whites; 
three were women. Florida mobs are willing to de- 
stroy for alleged offenses, but none were lynched for 
no offense or through mistaken identity. Forty-six 
were unknown to the communities in which their 
bodies were found, and the offenses of eight were 
undetermined by investigators. 

Florida has had sixteen double and seven triple 
lynchings. On two occasions the mobs have had four 
victims and on one, five. In 1911 and 1916 they had 
six victims, but the state's record was established in 

127 



JUDGE LYNCH 

1897, when eight blacks were executed on the charge 
of murder. 

Since the Armistice, sixty-eight Floridians have 
been lynched, of whom twenty-eight were shot, 
eighteen hanged, seven burned, four drowned, and 
one beaten to death. Ten came to their deaths by 
means unknown. 

While the city of Ocala seems to lead the state in 
number of lynchings, eight with nine victims, Tampa 
has achieved in fewer years the same number of vic- 
tims in but six lynch occasions. Lake City also had 
six lynchings, but with only the same number of vic- 
tims. 

Florida mobs may be distinguished for their direct- 
ness; they will not be put off when they lust for blood. 
In August, 1916, in Newberry, a Negro farmer 
named Boisey Long was accused by white farmers of 
hog stealing. The sheriff and the white man who had 
sworn out the warrant for Long's arrest went to take 
him. Both white men were shot, the sheriff later dy- 
ing of his wound. 

Boisey Long escaped and when the mob came to 
get him they had to be content with his wife, Stella, 
and a friend of hers, Mary Dennis. The two Negresses 
were taken to jail where, it is said, they were tortured 
to secure information. Two other Negroes, Bert Den- 
nis and Andrew McHenry, were arrested and tor- 

128 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

tured. The mob, failing to find Long, had shot a Ne- 
gro named James Dennis, Bert's brother, and when 
Bert had gone to Newberry to get a coffin they had 
seized him and thrown him in jail. The mob contin- 
ued its search and, its blood lust running high, hanged 
a Negro preacher, Josh Haskins, because he happened 
to be a neighbor of Long's. Then they went to the 
jail and secured the four prisoners and took them out 
and hanged them. Mary Dennis was the mother of 
two children and was pregnant; Stella Long had four 
children. 

Long was finally apprehended and indicted for the 
murder of the sheriff and for shooting the man who 
had sworn out the warrant for his arrest. None of the 
lynchers was indicted. 

The other sextuple lynching occurred in Lake 
City in 1911. A Negro named Norris and a white 
man quarreled over some trivial matter, and the white 
man made a murderous attack on the Negro. The 
matter was brought before a justice of the peace, and 
the Negro was exonerated. Later the white man went 
to the Negro's house, accompanied by some of his 
friends, and reopened the quarrel. A shooting affray 
followed, in which one white man was killed and an- 
other wounded. Norris and the friends he had with 
him awaited the coming of the sheriff and surren- 
dered. Six of them were arrested and sent to Lake City 

129 



JUDGE LYNCH 

for safekeeping. A party of lynchers gained admission 
to the jail by means of a forged telegram and secured 
the prisoners under the pretext of taking them to 
Jacksonville for greater protection. They then took 
the Negroes to the outskirts of Lake City and shot 
them to death. 

TENNESSEE 

Though Tennessee stands eighth in numerical or- 
der, she has less than half the number of lynchings of 
Mississippi to her credit. Of Tennessee's 275 lynch- 
executions, only fifty-three involved white men and 
two white women. Three Negresses were lynched; 
twenty-eight victims were unknown by name, and 
six were executed for unknown offenses. Only one 
suffered through mistaken identity. 

Tennessee mobs have had twenty-one double 
lynchings and five triple lynchings. On one occa- 
sion the mob had four victims and on another six. 
Since the Armistice there have been but eighteen 
persons lynched; of these nine were shot and nine 
were hanged. Lynchings have been well distributed 
throughout the state, though a small place named 
Tiptonville has succeeded in rolling up a lynch-total 
of twelve victims in seven lynchings. Memphis has 
had five; Nashville, three; Chattanooga, two; and 

130 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

Knoxville, one. Ripley, another small town, has man- 
aged to stage five lynchings, one a double. 

In 1901, at Rome, a Negro named Crutchfield stole 
a purse. He was taken from the sheriff by a mob and 
started for the place of execution. In some way he 
managed to escape, and this so enraged the mob that 
it took the Negro's sister out and lynched her. 

Tennessee mobs continued their ungallant conduct 
in 1911. Ben Pettigrew, a successful Negro farmer, 
and his two daughters were on their way to Savannah 
(Tennessee), taking a load of seedcotton to a cotton 
gin. On no known provocation they were ambushed 
by four white men who shot the father, hanged the 
daughters, and then drove the load of cotton under 
the tree from which the bodies dangled and set fire to 
it. Two of the white men were ultimately hanged for 
their part in the lynching. 

Tennessee's greatest lynching carnival was held in 
Memphis in May, 1917. Ell Person, confessed ax- 
murderer of a id-year-old white girl, was burned to 
death in the presence of 15,000 men, women, and 
little children. The mother of the murdered child 
cheered the mob as they poured oil on the Negro and 
set him afire. The Memphis Press, in reporting the 
lynching, said that the mob "fought and screamed 
and crowded to get a glimpse of him, and the mob 



JUDGE LYNCH 

closed in and struggled about the fire as the flames 
flared high and the smoke rolled over their heads. 
Two of them hacked off his ears as he burned; an- 
other tried to cut off a toe, but they stopped him." 

Jim Mclllherron was a Negro who resented the 
slights and insults of white men; he went armed, and 
even the sheriff was afraid of him. On February 8, 
1918, at Estill Springs, he got into a quarrel with 
three young white men. Threats were made, and Mc- 
lllherron fired six shots, killing two of the whites. He 
then fled to the home of G. W. Lynch, a colored 
clergyman, who helped him to escape and was him- 
self shot and killed by the mob. Mclllherron was cap- 
tured and arrangements made for a gala lynching. 
Men, women, and children came to Estill Springs 
from a radius of fifty miles. The Negro was chained 
to a hickory tree while the mob howled about him. A 
fire was built a few feet away and the torture began. 
Bars of iron were heated, and members of the mob 
amused themselves by holding them close to the vic- 
tim, at first without touching him. One bar he grasped, 
and as it was torn away all the inside of his hand came 
with it. Then the real torture began, lasting twenty 
minutes. 9 

During this time, while his flesh was slowly roast- 
ing, the Negro never lost his nerve. He cursed those 

9 The Crisis, May, 1918. 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

who tortured him, and almost to his last breath de- 
rided the attempts of the mob to break his spirit. 

In 1934, at Shelbyville, Bedford County, a minor 
lynch center, a mob assembled to take E. K. Harris, 
who was on trial for criminal assault; they were re- 
pulsed by state troops who killed three and wounded 
twenty more. The mob was so enraged at losing its 
victim that it burned down the $150,000 courthouse. 

KENTUCKY 

Since 1882 Kentucky has had 236 lynchings; of 
these eighty-three involved whites, three of them 
women, and two, colored women. Twenty of those 
lynched were unknown in the communities where 
their bodies were found, and six were executed for no 
known offense. Kentucky mobs have staged twelve 
double and three triple lynchings, and on two occa- 
sions have had four victims. On November 13, 1914, 
Night Riders took ten unknown Negroes from the 
town of Rochester and hanged them for reasons best 
known to the riders. Of the three white women 
lynched, one was executed with her husband and two 
other members of her family for making threats, 
one on the charge of murder, and the last as a result 
of mob-indignation. What made the mob indignant 
is not recorded. The two Negresses were charged 
with murder. 

133 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Most Kentucky lynchings have been confined to 
the smaller communities. Among the larger cities, 
Frankfort has had two; Shelby ville, three, with six 
victims; Paducah, three one a double lynching; and 
Bowling Green, two. Since the Armistice there have 
been ten lynchings; four of these were hangings, three 
shootings, and three of the killings were by methods 
unknown. 

Kentucky mobs do their jobs thoroughly. At Shel- 
by ville, in January, 191 1, a mob felt it its duty to give 
two Negroes the hemp cure for insulting white 
women. They took the two young Negroes from the 
jail and then, as a sort of afterthought, returned and 
secured an old Negro who was awaiting death sen- 
tence. The Chicago Tribune, reporting the affair, 
stated: 

"All three Negroes pleaded for their lives but the 
lynchers paid no attention to them. The lynching was 
devoid of the minor brutalities that frequently mark 
such occasions. There was no abuse of the prisoners. 
The mob was made up of quiet, determined men 
whose mission was to execute but not to torture." 

The rope used on the two younger Negroes broke 
and they made a dash for liberty, but were riddled 
with bullets. The mob numbered only twenty men, 
all masked. 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

SOUTH CAROLINA 

Only nine of South Carolina's 180 lynch victims 
were whites. Of the 1 7 1 Negroes, seven were women, 
two were executed through mistaken identity, four- 
teen were unknown in the communities where their 
bodies were found, and one's offense was unknown. 
South Carolina mobs have held thirteen double and 
three triple lynchings; in 1889 they found eight vic- 
tims and again, in 1898, they found eight more. Ai- 
ken, the between-season resort of the bon ton, seems 
to have achieved an unenviable reputation as a lynch- 
center; three carnivals produced seven victims. Co- 
lumbia, the capital, has had but one, and Charleston 
has a clean bill of health. Barnwell and Phoenix share 
honors in octuple lynchings. 

There have been nineteen lynchings since the Armi- 
stice; thirteen of the victims were shot, one hanged, 
two beaten to death, and three died by methods un- 
known to the records. 

The alleged miscarriage of justice is what turns 
honest South Carolinians into mobs. In 1916, at Ab- 
beville, Anthony Crawford, a wealthy Negro farmer, 
came into town to sell a load of cotton. He had an un- 
fortunate run-in with a white storekeeper over the 
price of the cotton, and cursed him. For that he was 

135 



JUDGE LYNCH 

thrown into jail and released on bail of fifteen dollars. 
Enraged at this miscarriage of justice, a mob pursued 
him into a gin mill and became further infuriated 
when he tried to defend himself. He was dragged out, 
beaten, kicked, stabbed, and partially blinded before 
the sheriff rescued him and took him back to jail. 
Later in the afternoon the mob broke into the jail, 
dragged the Negro through the streets to the fair 
grounds, hung him to a tree, and riddled his body 
with bullets. 

Prohibition provided Aiken with its greatest lynch- 
ing bee. A sheriff and three deputies were sent to 
arrest Sam Lowman, who was suspected of selling 
whiskey. Sam was away, but his wife and daughter, 
Bertha, were at home; when they saw the four white 
men, wearing no insignia to indicate their official po- 
sitions, they ran into the house. The officers sur- 
rounded the house and the sheriff entered and struck 
Bertha in the mouth with his fist. The girl's mother 
started to her defense and was shot through the heart 
by one of the deputies. A son and nephew, working 
in a nearby field, heard the screams and shots and 
hurried to the rescue. In the shooting that ensued, the 
sheriff was killed and Bertha, her brother, and her 
cousin seriously wounded. 

The trial of the three Negroes was dominated by 
the Ku Klux Klan, of which the dead sheriff and his 

I3 6 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

deputies were known members. The two Negro boys 
were sentenced to death and Bertha Lowman was 
given life imprisonment. The Supreme Court of 
South Carolina, on the appeal of a Negro lawyer, 
granted the three a new trial. So well was the new 
case prepared that the Judge was forced to direct a 
verdict of not guilty for Demon Lowman, the son. 
Fearing a further miscarriage of justice, the mob 
overpowered the jailer and took the three Negroes 
to a tourist camp on the outskirts of Aiken. 

South Carolina mobs like their little jokes. Before 
2,000 men and women the prisoners were told they 
were free to run as fast as their legs would carry them. 
Off they started, and a volley of bullets brought the 
two boys down. Bertha Lowman, with many bullets 
in her body, was making good her escape when an- 
other round of fifty shots brought her down for good. 

OKLAHOMA 

Oklahoma is the first state outside of the real South 
to get into big company. Since 1882 she has staged 
143 lynchings; ninety-five of the victims were white 
men, two were white women, two Negresses, twelve 
Indians, and two Mexicans. Thirty-one were un- 
known in the communities where their bodies were 
found, and five were lynched for unknown reasons. 

137 



JUDGE LYNCH 

The state has staged nine double and two triple lynch- 
ings, two in which there were four victims, and one 
with five; in 1894 a mob hanged seven horse thieves 
at a single fiesta. Since the Armistice, Oklahoma has 
had ten lynchings; four victims were hanged, four 
shot, one was drowned, and the tenth came to his 
death by means unknown. One white woman was 
lynched by Indians for an unknown reason, and the 
other with her husband for an equally unknown rea- 
son. 

Oklahoma mobs do not require much reason for 
lynching. In 1911, at Okemah, Laura Nelson, Ne- 
gress, was accused of murdering a deputy sheriff who 
had discovered stolen goods in her house. She and her 
son, a boy of fifteen, were taken from the jail, dragged 
about six miles to the Canadian River, and hanged 
from a bridge. The woman was raped by members 
of the mob before she was hanged. 10 

Further example of Oklahoman gallantry: In 1914, 
Marie Scott, seventeen-year-old Negress of Wagoner 
County, was assaulted and raped by white men. She 
was alone in the house when the men entered, but her 
screams brought her brother to the rescue. In the 
fight that ensued, one of the white men was killed. 
The next day the mob came to lynch her brother, 
but, finding he had escaped, lynched Marie instead. 

Crisis, July, 1911. 

138 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

MISSOURI 

With Missouri the lynch record, in order, returns 
to the South. In the 120 lynch-executions, fifty of 
the victims were white men, one was a white woman 
accused of murder, and one a colored woman whose 
offense was unknown. Missouri mobs have witnessed 
eight double and three triple lynchings and have had 
four victims who were unknown in the communi- 
ties in which their bodies were found; five were 
lynched for causes unknown. Since the Armistice, 
Missouri has had eleven lynchings with eight hang- 
ings, one shooting, one burning, and one by means un- 
known. 

Two Missouri lynchings are considered of suffi- 
cient significance to be treated fully in another chap- 
ter. 11 

VIRGINIA 

Of Virginia's 109 lynch victims, twenty-four were 
whites; one of them a woman who was lynched be- 
cause of her disreputable character. Thirteen victims 
were unknown in the communities in which their 
bodies were found, and three were lynched for of- 
fenses known only to the lynchers. There have been 

11 "Some of Judge Lynch's Cases": The Five Thousandth; Three 
Governors Go Into Action. 

139 



JUDGE LYNCH 

five double and one triple lynchings, one with four 
victims, and another with five. Since the Armistice, 
Virginia has had but five recorded lynch-executions, 
and three of these were accomplished by shooting 
and two by hanging. 

Negroes have narrow escapes in the Old Domin- 
ion. In 193 1, William Harper was convicted of crimi- 
nal assault on a white woman and condemned to 
death. At a second trial the "assaulted" woman's es- 
cort courageously came forward and testified that 
she had spent the night of the alleged assault with him. 
The woman was subsequently convicted of perjury. 

NORTH CAROLINA 

Of all the states in the South, North Carolina has 
made the noblest effort to eradicate the crime of 
lynching. Yet she has had 105 recorded lynchings, in 
which only twenty-one of the victims were whites; 
twelve victims were unknown in the communities in 
which their bodies were found and two were lynched 
for undetermined offenses. One white woman, a girl, 
was lynched with an Indian doctor in 1897 for an 
offense that is still unknown. North Carolina mobs 
have held six double lynchings. Since the Armistice, 
nine lynch-executions were achieved by shooting, 
seven by hanging, and two by methods unknown. 

140 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

MONTANA 

Most of Montana's ninety lynchings involved bor- 
der warfare or frontier justice and included but two 
Negroes as principals. One case that is still a stench in 
American nostrils is that of Frank Little, a cripple, 
who in 1917 was brutally lynched in the city of 
Butte. 12 In 1920 a white man named E. P. Lampson 
who was resisting arrest was burned to death in the 
streets of Billings. 

COLORADO 

Since 1882 Colorado has lynched seventy persons, 
of whom sixty-six were white men. The offenses 
meriting lynching that is, inflaming the Coloradoan 
into mob action are, in the case of white men, mur- 
der, bank robbery, and desperadism. Negroes are 
lynched on the usual charges, real or alleged. 

Colorado has had but one lynching since the Armi- 
stice, that of two Mexicans taken from the officers 
of the law and hanged at Pueblo on September 13, 
1919. 

NEBRASKA 

Mob spirit in Nebraska is aroused by murder, 
cattle-rustling, arson, and wife-beating. In 1889 and 

12 "Some of Judge Lynch's Cases": Those Who Defied the Bosses. 

141 



JUDGE LYNCH 

1895 vigilantes rode wild in Keyapaha County and 
hanged four for rustling. Fifty-five of Nebraska's 
fifty-nine victims were white, and she has had but 
one lynching since the Armistice: in 1919 Will 
Brown, Negro, was burned to death in Omaha for 
an alleged attack on a white woman. 

KANSAS 

On fifty-six occasions Kansans have risen in wrath 
and lynch-executed the same number of their fellow- 
citizens; nineteen were Negroes, a high percentage 
for a western state. On four occasions mobs have con- 
ducted double lynchings; murder seems to have been 
the usual cause. Kansas has had three lynchings since 
the Armistice; two of the victims were hanged, and 
the third came to his death by means unknown. 

WEST VIRGINIA 

On the night of December 5, 1 894, Lincoln County 
White Caps took Mrs. T. Arthur, a white woman, 
from her home and lynched her for reasons known 
only to themselves. In 1902, a Negro was lynched for 
conjuring and another through mistaken identity. 
With these exceptions, murder and rape seem to be 
the crimes that rouse mob action in West Virginia. 
Of the state's fifty-six lynchings, twenty-one have 
involved white men; on five occasions mobs have 

142 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

found two victims, and on one, three. Since the Armi- 
stice, five men have been lynched in West Virginia, 
three by hanging and two by shooting. 

In Bluefield, in 1912, Robert Johnson, Negro, was 
accused of rape. He gave an alibi and proved every 
statement he made; when he was taken before the 
girl who had been attacked, she failed to identify 
him. She had previously described very minutely the 
clothes her assailant wore. The Bluefield police took 
Johnson out and dressed him to fit the description, 
and the girl screamed: "That's the man!" A Bluefield 
mob dragged Johnson out and severely abused him 
and then hanged him to a telegraph pole. It was later 
conclusively established that Johnson was innocent. 

INDIANA 

Fifty-four lynchings: forty-one whites, thirteen 
Negroes. 

Long Klan-ridden, the state of Indiana had still 
been free of lynch-executions, though beatings and 
murders were frequent, from 1902 to 1930, when the 
mob spirit flared with shocking intensity. In that year, 
at Marion, two Negroes accused of murder were 
taken from jail and hangdd before a mob estimated to 
number between 10,000 and 15,000. Young girls and 
women, some with babies in their arms, urged on the 
lynchers, and one girl, seated atop an automobile, 

H3 



JUDGE LYNCH 

screamed: "Hang-that-Nigger! Hang-that-Nigger! " 
Unquestionably the finest example of mob-madness 
outside of the Deep South. 

CALIFORNIA 

Fifty-three lynchings: forty-seven whites, two 
Negroes, three Chinese, one Mexican. Two double 
and one triple lynching; two lynchings of four, and 
one of five. 

Since the Armistice, California has had four lynch- 
ings with a total of seven victims, all white. Six came 
to their deaths by hanging and one was beaten to 
death. In 1933, a San Jose mob entered the jail and 
snatched Thurmond and Holmes, confessed kidnap- 
slayers of Brooke Hart, and hanged them in a public 
park. 

WYOMING 

Forty-one lynchings: thirty-seven whites, four 
Negroes. 

Wyoming has had but one lynching since the Armi- 
stice. That was on December 19, 1918, when Ed- 
ward Woodson, a Negro charged with killing a rail- 
road switchman, was lynched at Green River. 

NEW MEXICO 

Thirty-nine lynchings, three Negroes. 

144 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

NORTH AND SOUTH DAKOTA 

Thirty-six lynchings, one a Negro. 

The two Dakotas were linked in lynch-statistics 
before they were admitted to the Union in 1889, and 
no attempt has ever been made to separate them. This 
may be due to the fact that many of the early lynch- 
ings were held at undetermined places. Since the Armi- 
stice there have been no lynchings in South Dakota 
and only one in North Dakota. On January 29, 1931, 
Charles Bannon, white, confessed slayer of six mem- 
bers of the family of A. E. Haven, was taken from 
jail, carried to a bridge two miles east of Schafer, and 
hanged. 

ILLINOIS 

Thirty-two lynchings, nineteen involving Negroes. 

Illinois has had only one lynching since the Armi- 
stice. In 1924, William Bell, Negro, charged with an 
attempted assault on two white girls, was killed by a 
Chicago mob. 

ARIZONA 

Thirty-one lynchings, all involving white men or 
Indians. 

Arizona has had no lynchings since 1917. 

H5 



JUDGE LYNCH 

WASHINGTON 

Twenty-nine lynchings with only one Negro vic- 
tim. 

Washington has had but one known lynching since 
the Armistice. This took place in 1919, when a blood- 
hungry mob of patriots took Wesley Everest from 
the jail at Centralia, mutilated him, and hanged him 
three times. 13 

MARYLAND 

Twenty-nine lynchings with but two white vic- 
tims. 

Maryland has had but two lynchings, two bad out- 
breaks of mob-violence since the Armistice. On De- 
cember 4, 193 1, at Salisbury, Matthew Williams, Ne- 
gro, was snatched from his hospital cot by a lynching 
party of three hundred, dragged three blocks to the 
courthouse square, and hanged to a tree. He is said 
to have confessed to the murder of his employer, stat- 
ing that he was paid but fifteen cents an hour for his 
work in a basket factory. Two years later, at Princess 
Anne, not fifteen miles from Salisbury, George Arm- 
wood, Negro, said to have confessed to waylaying 
and attacking an eighty-two-year-old white woman, 

13 "Some of Judge Lynch's Cases": Those Who Defied the Bosses. 

146 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

was taken from jail and hanged by a mob of nearly 
2,000. His body was dragged through the main thor- 
oughfare for more than half a mile and then tossed on 
a burning pyre. 

OHIO 

Twenty-eight lynchings, twelve white victims. 

Ohio has had but one lynching since the Armistice. 
On June 7, 1932, a mob took Luke Murray from the 
South Point jail, where he was being held for threat- 
ening two white men with a knife. On June 1 1, Mur- 
ray's battered body was found in the Ohio River. 
Four white men were arrested but later exonerated by 
a jury. 

IDAHO 

Twenty-one lynchings, all white victims. 
Idaho has had no recorded lynching since 1911. 

OREGON 

Twenty lynchings, one Negro victim. 
Oregon has had no lynchings since 1914. 

IOWA 

Eighteen lynchings, two Negro victims. 
Iowa has had no lynching since 1907. 

H7 



JUDGE LYNCH 

MICHIGAN 

Ten lynchings: seven white and three Negro vic- 
tims. 

Michigan boasted a slate clean of lynchings from 
1902 until 1935. In that year Silas Coleman, a Negro 
war veteran, was shot to death in a swamp near 
Pinckney by members of the Black Legion "for tar- 
get practice," or "just to see how it feels to kill a nig- 
ger." In 1936, members of this hooded secret order 
of alleged patriots and regulators killed Charles A. 
Poole, a white WPA worker for allegedly beating his 
wife (who later denied she had ever been struck by 
her husband) and hanged Roy Pidcock, white, whose 
only known offense was that he refused to join the 
repressive order. 

Eight persons were sentenced to life terms for the 
lynching of Poole and five received similar sentences 
for the killing of Coleman. As this is being written, 
Virgil F. Effinger, reputed head of les cagoulards, has 
been arrested and will be tried on charges of criminal 
syndicalism and bomb possession. 

MINNESOTA 

Nine lynchings: four white, four Negro and one 
Indian victim. 

148 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

Minnesota had no lynchings from 1896 until 1920, 
when a Duluth mob in June hanged three Negroes. 

PENNSYLVANIA 

Eight lynchings, involving two whites and six Ne- 
groes. 

Pennsylvania's last lynching was in 191 1; the affair 
of that year probably shocked Pennsylvanians out of 
the lynch-madness. 

At Coatesville, Zachariah Walker, Negro, had a 
quarrel with a constable; the officer was killed and 
Walker badly wounded. A mob took him from the 
hospital where he was chained to his cot. The bed- 
stead was broken in half and the man, still chained to 
the lower half, was dragged half a mile through the 
streets, thrown upon a pile of wood, drenched with 
oil, and set afire. When Walker, with superhuman 
strength, burst his bonds and tried to escape, mem- 
bers of the mob drove him back with pitchforks and 
fence rails and held him until his body was burned to 
ashes. 

All attempts to indict members of the mob failed. 
After several who were accused were taken before 
the Grand Jury, they were given an ovation when 
they were freed. 

149 



JUDGE LYNCH 
UTAH 

Eight lynchings, involving six white and two Ne- 
gro victims. 

Utah has had but one lynching since 1900, and 
that was in 1925, when Robert Marshall, Negro slayer 
of a police officer, was taken from jail and hanged 
near Castlegate. 

NEVADA 

Six lynchings, involving four whites, one Indian, 
and one Chinese. 

Nevada has had no lynchings since 1905. 

WISCONSIN 

Six lynchings, all involving white men. 
Wisconsin has had no lynchings since 1903. 

NEW YORK 

Three lynchings, involving two white and one Ne- 
gro victim. 

New York's last lynching was in 1916, in Wash- 
ington County. 

CONNECTICUT 
One white lynched. 

NEW JERSEY 

One Negro lynched in 1900 at Hackensack. 

150 



THE JURISDICTION OF JUDGE LYNCH 

MAINE 

One white man lynched in 1 907 at Bancroft, Aroos- 
took County. 

DELAWARE 
One Negro lynched in 1903, near Wilmington. 

Recapitulation by States 
State Blacks All Others Total 

Mississippi 547 44 591 

Georgia 531 39 570 

Texas 384 165 549 

Louisiana 358 63 421 

Alabama 320 55 375 

Arkansas 246 69 315 

Florida 259 31 290 

Tennessee 220 55 275 

Kentucky 153 83 236 

South Carolina 171 9 180 

Oklahoma 32 in 143 

Missouri 69 51 120 

Virginia 85 24 109 

North Carolina 84 21 105 

Montana 2 88 90 

Colorado 4 66 70 

Nebraska 4 55 59 

Kansas 19 37 56 

West Virginia 35 21 56 

Indiana 13 41 54 



JUDGE LYNCH 



State 


Blacks 


All Others 


Total 


California 


2 


5i 


53 


Wyoming 


4 


37 


41 


New Mexico 


3 


36 


39 


Dakota, North and South 


i 


35 


36 


Illinois 


19 


13 


32 


Arizona 





31 


31 


Washington 


i 


28 


29 


Maryland 


27 


2 


29 


Ohio 


16 


12 


28 


Idaho 





21 


21 


Oregon 


i 


19 


20 


Iowa 


2 


16 


18 


Michigan 


3 


7 


10 


Minnesota 


4 


5 


9 


Pennsylvania 


6 


2 


8 


Utah 


2 


6 


8 


Nevada 





6 


6 


Wisconsin 


O 


6 


6 


New York 


I 


2 


3 


Connecticut 


o 


I 


i 


New Jersey 


I 





i 


Maine 





I 


i 


Delaware 


I 





i 


New Hampshire 











Vermont 








o 


Rhode Island 











Massachusetts 












152 



Chapter Six 

SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH'S CASES 

(A) Judge Lynches Cause Celebre Leo Frank 

ON Sunday morning, April 27, 1913, the body of a 
young girl was found in the cellar of a pencil factory 
in Atlanta, Georgia. It was early identified as that of 
an employee of the factory, pretty little Mary Pha- 
gan. The man who found the body was a Negro, 
Newt Lee, the night watchman. 

A hasty investigation revealed that the crime had 
been committed by a degenerate and rapist, and that 
the last man known to have seen Mary Phagan alive 
was Leo M. Frank, the factory superintendent. Lee 
and Frank were arrested. 

Within twenty-four hours of the commission of 
the crime the orderly processes of the law ceased to 
operate and the mob had take-over the case. From 
the beginning throughout to the end the malignant 
presence of the mob guided the action, and before its 
evil power orderly government cringed and ceased 
to exist. 

153 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Accused of a most atrocious murder, this young 
Jewish superintendent was put on trial the following 
summer. Newt Lee, the night watchman, was exon- 
erated from any share in the guilt. Outraged by the 
barbarity of the crime, certain people in Georgia, and 
particularly in Atlanta, where the crime was com- 
mitted, and in Marietta, where the murdered girl's 
family lived, insisted a victim be found to pay the 
penalty, and they fastened on the young Jew as the 
one whose death would most surely satisfy their de- 
sire for vengeance. The mob, led by Thomas E. Wat- 
son and his weekly paper, The Jeffersonian, at this 
point turned the case over to Judge Lynch in actu- 
ality. 

The flimsiest evidence was admitted as long as it 
was detrimental to the prisoner. Certain facts not in 
the nature of conclusive evidence, such as that Frank 
had phoned the night watchman at seven the evening 
before the discovery of the body to learn if every- 
thing was all right, were seized upon as proof of guilt. 

Whether or not the testimony at the trial was con- 
vincing is entirely immaterial in considering the real 
significance of this case. What made it a noted one 
was the spirit that pervaded the courtroom and the 
vicinity of the courthouse the malevolence of the 
mob. 

The courtroom was thronged with a hostile crowd 

154 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

of people. The jury had to pass through this crowd 
on its way to and from the jury box. Outside the 
courthouse the state militia was deployed for action. 
The local newspapers had lashed the people of the 
vicinity into a lynch-f renzy. The crowd in the court- 
room was demonstrative in approval of the accusers 
and the evidence against Frank. He was a Jew. He 
did not know his place; as superintendent he had had 
true-blue Americans under him. Mary Phagan had 
been an employee; for the employed class this was 
convincing proof that the young girl had been help- 
less. 

Inside the courtroom and outside the courthouse 
the mob spirit was vocal and demonstrative; it yelled 
for blood and it meant, as the end proved, to have 
blood. The trial consumed thirty days and the case 
was turned over to the jury. Can anyone believe that 
those jurors were insensitive to the mob spirit that 
was manifesting itself on all sides? 

When the jury was ready to give its decision, the 
Trial Judge and the Counsel did not dare to have the 
prisoner brought into court; because of the mob 
spirit, his right to be present and face his accusers 
when the verdict was given was denied him. If that 
jury had decided that the evidence they had heard 
and considered was insufficient to convict, if their 
verdict had been "not guilty," there was obvious dan- 



JUDGE LYNCH 

ger to themselves; if their verdict was against Frank, 
there was equally obvious danger to the prisoner. 

The Judge who had presided at the trial in his an- 
swer to a petition for a new trial later gave sufficient 
reason for doubting the verdict of the mob spirit in 
this case: 

"It has given me more concern than any other case 
I was ever in, and I want to say right here that, al- 
though I heard the evidence and arguments during 
those thirty days, I do not know this morning whether 
Leo Frank is innocent or guilty." 

Frank's absence from the courtroom at the time 
of his sentence was one of the grounds upon which 
he appealed his case to the state Supreme Court and 
then to the United States Supreme Court. The state 
Supreme Court held that the question should have 
been raised at a certain stage in the proceedings; since 
it was not raised then, it could not be raised at all. The 
highest court in the land said it was a question of pro- 
cedure that is to be determined solely by the state 
courts. The mob spirit that dictated the verdict and 
the absence of Frank from the courtroom was never 
considered. 

During the whole process of appealing the deci- 
sion, the mob kept up its threats. When the case came 
before the Prison Commission of Georgia, where the 
mob's action and influence could be weighed, the 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

mob itself made its voice heard and menaced those 
who had power to recommend commutation of sen- 
tence. 

The case was finally brought before the Governor. 
Governor Slaton was braver than the mob and he 
dared to ignore its demands. After reviewing the case 
and taking into consideration the refusal of the Prison 
Commission to recommend commutation of sentence, 
he commuted Leo Frank's sentence from death to life 
imprisonment. It was a courageous action; a lone man 
against the mob. Governor Slaton had a legal and 
moral right to do this, and his action did not interfere 
with the prerogatives of the jury or with the author- 
ity of the Prison Commission. He defied the mob and 
the mob snapped and snarled at his heels. Against the 
Governor it was impotent, for he himself saw that 
during the rest of his term it was held in check. 
Within a few days he left office. 

Frank was sent to the State Prison at Milledgeville 
to finish out his natural life. The spirit of the mob in- 
vaded the prison, and soon after Frank entered, his 
throat was slashed by a fellow-prisoner sentenced for 
murder who thought the Jew too vile to live. 

The mob was not yet done with Leo Frank. On 
August 17, 1915, while he was still recovering from 
the attack of his fellow-prisoner, a mob of twenty- 
five, evidently agents selected by the greater mob, 



JUDGE LYNCH 

whose power had been growing all these months, en- 
tered the prison and, with suspicious ease, overawed 
the warden and the guards, dragged Frank from his 
bed in the dormitory, carried him in an automobile 
to within a few miles of the birthplace of Mary Pha- 
gan, and hanged him to a tree. Former Governor 
Slaton was compelled to flee his native state because 
of threats on his own life. 

The lynching was done with fatal deliberation; it 
was the result of no hasty, impulsive passion but of 
cool plottings for weeks in homes and barrooms by 
hundreds of willing murderers. How, one may ask, 
were the twenty-five selected from the greater mob? 
By vote? Or because they knew the interior of the 
State Prison through previous incarceration? Or was 
this an occasion when the actual mob leaders took 
matters into their own hands? 

The lynchers believed they had done a solemn 
duty; in trampling upon the law they believed they 
had executed justice. Listen to the Marietta Journal 
the day after the lynching in its own town: 

"The people demanded that the verdict of the 
court be carried out, and saw to it that it was. We in- 
sist that they were, and are, law-abiding citizens of 
Georgia." 

And race-prejudice got into full flight in Thomas 
Watson's weekly: 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH ? S CASES 

"A Vigilance Committee redeems Georgia and 
carries out the sentence of the law on the Jew who 
raped and murdered the little Gentile girl, Mary Pha- 
gan. . . . Let Jew libertines take notice." 

The mob went even further and let it be known 
throughout Cobb County and the entire state of 
Georgia that it would not be safe to try to discover 
and punish them, for they were determined men. 

The fullest accounts of the lynching appeared in all 
Georgia papers. Every newspaper reader read the 
story of Frank's death ride; each reader, by referring 
to his newspaper, could learn all that had happened 
and all that had been said between Frank and the 
lynching party on their way from the prison to the 
place of hanging; how Frank sat in the automobile 
and how he acted during the trip. The stories re- 
corded every word that had been said to him and 
every word he replied during the seven-hour journey. 
The lynch mob, the stories went on, had not been 
rough with him, and Frank had shown stoicism. 

Yet the very day this story broke, the Coroner's 
jury brought in the verdict that Frank "had come to 
his death at the hands of persons unknown." Many 
witnesses had been summoned, but they all declared 
they knew nothing, had seen nothing, and recognized 
no one. Only one witness ventured to admit that he 
had seen two men step out of an automobile near the 

159 



JUDGE LYNCH 

scene of the lynching and that he had had a pretty 
strong suspicion of what was going on. This slight 
admission evidently made an uncomfortable sensation 
in the courtroom. The Acting Solicitor turned to the 
witness and very slowly asked: 

"You did not recognize anybody?" 

The witness moved nervously in his chair and re- 
plied: 

"Nobody, sir." 

At this word there was audible relaxation in all 
parts of the courtroom. 

The man who wrote the revealing story of the 
lynching, who was either a member of the mob or 
had had his story, not from a single member of the 
mob but from several members, was not called. The 
one witness who could have been made to testify or 
be declared in contempt of court was not called. It 
was the final stigma on the formerly fair name of 
Georgia, the mob's beau geste to law and justice and 
honor. 

The leading newspapers of Georgia, as well as those 
of the rest of the South, condemned the murder of 
Leo Frank and the expression of mob-law it had 
evoked. The general tenor of these writers was that 
it would take the state from twenty-five to one hun- 
dred years to live down the disgrace; that Georgia 
had probably learned its lesson and would, in the fu- 

160 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

ture, refrain from recourse to mob-law and lynch- 
executions. 

Since Frank was hanged, Georgia has had 133 
lynchings, only two of which involved whites. 

(B) The Mob Was Orrferfy-New Orleans Mafia 

Lynching was pretty much an affair entirely our 
own until the beginning of the nineties, when a group 
of Italians was lynched in New Orleans. Since then 
the entire world has watched our homely practice 
with misgivings. Are we an entirely civilized people? 
Missionaries in Africa complain that our continued 
lynching of Negroes seriously interferes with their 
efforts to convert the heathen. Enemies within and 
without make worth-while capital of our uncontrol- 
lable impulse to resolve ourselves into mobs and hoist 
our f ellowmen into the foliage of trees. 

In the late eighties and at the beginning of the nine- 
ties the Sicilian society known as The Mafia held the 
Italian population of many large American cities in 
its power. It was the beginning of racketeering in the 
United States, and, so long as the extortioners worked 
among their own inarticulate people, little could be 
done to stamp out the practice. The victims were 
warned that if they talked it would be bad for them 
and their families. The petty extortion involved even 
the lowliest laborer, who turned over a portion of his 

161 



JUDGE LYNCH 

wages to his padrone; the richest and juiciest plums 
came from those Italians who had been successful in 
business. Here the shakedown ran into the thousands, 
and no one knew how extensive the gross takings 
were. Blackmail followed petty extortion and led to 
kidnaping and even murder. The conditions existed 
in New York, Chicago, and other large cities with 
sizable Italian groups. It was in New Orleans, how- 
ever, that this secret society first exceeded itself. 

In 1890 the four-year-old son of a wealthy Italian 
merchant was kidnaped and held for $75,000 ransom. 
When kidnaped, the child was healthy and robust; a 
month later, when he was returned to his parents, his 
health was so impaired that he died within a short 
time. The case aroused public feeling to such a point 
that the police were compelled to take cognizance of 
the society's criminal activities. Chief of Police David 
C. Hennessey himself took entire charge of the in- 
vestigation. Detectives were sent to Italy to trace the 
records of known members of the order; others were 
sent to Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco, and, 
within a short time, the Chief knew enough to begin 
making arrests and to be assured that he would secure 
convictions. 

Late one foggy night, just before the trap was to 
be sprung, Chief of Police Hennessey was on his way 
home. As he neared his residence, a boy darted out of 

162 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

the fog, shrilled a peculiar whistle, the Mafia signal, 
and a volley of bullets mowed the policeman down. 
He was shot three times in his abdomen, his right 
knee and left hand were shot through, and his 
face and neck were horribly mutilated by gunshot 
wounds. He languished until the next morning, but 
only one word passed his lips: it was the whispered 
"Dagoes." 

The evidence the Chief had secured was used to 
round up the members of the society. One, Pietro 
Monasterio, who lived in a shack within sight of the 
Chief's home, was arrested. In his house were found 
six shotguns, five with sawed-off barrels and with 
stocks hinged so that they might be doubled and car- 
ried under the clothing. The boy who whistled the 
signal and twelve others were arrested; fourteen in all 
were brought to trial. 

The State's case was exceptionally strong and was 
presented by District Attorney Lionel Adams, who 
was considered by bar and laity to be an outstanding 
and able prosecutor. Judge Romon, the presiding jus- 
tice, was uncompromising, dignified, unapproacha- 
ble, and a capable judge. Aside from convincing cir- 
cumstantial evidence, there were eyewitnesses, one 
young couple identifying no less than eight of the 
prisoners. The defense was based on the old reliable 
alibi, backed up with terrorized witnesses. 

163 



JUDGE LYNCH 

In Louisiana the jury is competent to fix the terms 
of punishment in criminal cases and, when this jury 
brought in their written verdict, the Court was 
stunned. Twelve of the defendants were sentenced to 
jail for terms varying from ten to four years and two 
were declared innocent. Judge Romon looked at the 
written verdict with horror and stupefaction. 

"Bribery," was the first cry, while others claimed 
the jury had been intimidated. Public indignation 
flared to such a degree that the convicted prisoners 
and the two who were acquitted were remanded to 
the Parish Prison. The verdict had been rendered on 
Friday, March 13. That evening the New Orleans 
Item and the States, and the following morning the 
Picayune and the Times, carried the following adver- 
tisement: 

MASS MEETING 

All good citizens are invited to attend a mass meeting 
on Saturday, March i4th, at 10 o'clock A. M. at Clay's 
Statue, to take steps to remedy the failure of justice in 
the Hennessey Case. Come prepared for action. 

About Clay's statue the streets were blocked, but 
the people were orderly and attentive. They were 
addressed by many leaders, temperately at first. John 
M. Parker, who later was to become Governor of the 
state and in 1916 the Progressive party's candidate for 

164 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

Vice-President, was one of the earlier speakers. Later 
on the mob leaders took over; one, who remains un- 
named, announced rhetorically: 

"When the law is powerless, the rights delegated 
by the people are relegated back to the people, and 
they are justified in doing what the law has failed 
to do." 

The speaker went on to charge the jury with cor- 
ruption and intimidation and asked if the people were 
ready to follow him. The response of the mob was 
loud and unanimous. Jumping from the platform, he 
shouldered his way toward the Parish Prison, some 
two miles distant. Members of the Washington Artil- 
lery and the Crescent Rifles fell in behind him, and 
the demonstration took on the appearance of a well- 
organized parade, not of a mob out of hand. 

The prison occupied a whole square, its main 
gates giving on Orleans Street. Inside, the wardens 
and guards heard the constantly growing crowd, and 
this, with their knowledge of the protest meeting at 
Clay's statue, warned them what they could expect. 
Carpenters were called and were jeered while they 
hastily barricaded the side entrances. The Mafia sig- 
nal, the shrill whistle, was now used as an expression of 
derision and was on everybody's lips. Then, to those 
within the prison, guards and prisoners, came the sound 
of the tread of footsteps, the cheers of the onlookers as 



JUDGE LYNCH 

the mob hove into sight. Three patrol wagons of City 
Police that had been summoned by the warden were 
disarmed by members of the militia, and the police 
were placed under military guard. 

A nearby lumber yard provided the battering-rams, 
and the work of demolishing the entrances was soon 
finished. The mob leaders admitted not more than 
sixty to the prison and posted armed men at all exits 
with instructions to shoot any prisoner who at- 
tempted to escape. 

Ten of the Italians had been confined in a large 
new steel cell. The mob found it impossible to open 
the lock, the warden having refused to give up the 
keys, and their battering-rams failed to gain them 
admittance. It was decided to shoot the prisoners. 

A few minutes were given them for prayer, and 
then the firing squad went into action. The new steel 
cell became a shambles, one of the prisoners who had 
been a leader of the society receiving sixty-eight 
wounds. The boy who gave the signal on the ap- 
proach of the police chief was spared, as was Mache- 
cia, the second who was acquitted by the jury. The 
other two prisoners were lynched outside the prison. 
Monasterio was hanged to a cottonwood tree in front 
of the prison and his body riddled with bullets. Polo- 
viso, insane from fright, was hanged from a lamp- 
post, but he was too tall and his toes touched the 

166 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

ground. A youngster shinned up the post and, placing 
a knee on each shoulder, jolted him to death. 

The mob then divided into groups with the inten- 
tion of visiting punishment on the jurors who had 
taken part in the trials. No jurymen were found; they 
had all fled the city. 

Unlike so many of our lynch-executions, the affair 
at New Orleans did not end with the demise of the 
victims; three of the lynched Italians were proved to 
be loyal subjects of King Humbert. The Italian Con- 
sul at New Orleans made his protestations, agreeing 
that some of the victims were very bad men indeed, 
but objecting that many of the charges against them 
were unsubstantiated, baseless, that his request for the 
military had been ignored, and that he and his secre- 
tary had been insulted and all but mobbed. The King- 
dom of Italy, too, raised her voice; through the 
Premier, Marquis de Rudin, relayed through Baron 
Fava, the Italian Ambassador to Washington, a de- 
mand was made for heavy indemnity for the families 
of the lynched and the immediate extirpation of the 
lynchers. Mr. Elaine, the Secretary of State, properly 
expressed his horror and regretted the incident, but 
pointed out that his Government did not regard in- 
demnity as a right the Italian Government could de- 
mand. Summary punishment of the lynchers, the Sec- 
retary was able to maintain, would be un-American 

167 



JUDGE LYNCH 

and unreasonable, since the utmost that could be done 
would be to institute judicial proceedings, and this 
function belonged exclusively to the State of Louisi- 
ana. 

There were threats by the Italians of breaking off 
diplomatic relations; Mr. Elaine replied that the Ital- 
ian Government was trying to hurry him in a manner 
contrary to diplomatic usage and that he would an- 
nounce no decision until the case was thoroughly in- 
vestigated. It was, to him, a matter of indifference 
what persons in Italy thought of our institutions. "I 
cannot change them, still less violate them." 

The Italian Government finally accepted $24,330 
to be distributed among the families of the victims, 
offered "out of humane consideration, without refer- 
ence to the question of liability therefor." 

(C) The Burning of Henry Lowry 

If the Emancipation Proclamation meant anything 
to the Negro as a people, it had no place in the life 
of Henry Lowry. As recently as 1920 this Negro was 
as much a slave as if he had been sold on the block in 
the eighteen thirties. But Henry Lowry's master, a 
white landowner named O. T. Craig, of Nodena, 
Arkansas, had a better deal than he could have had one 
hundred years ago. At that time a black of Lowry's 
heft and ability would have cost him at least $1,500. 

168 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

In 1918 Craig got his Negro for nothing, made him 
feed himself, take care of himself and his wife and 
little daughter in sickness and idleness. The nice 
name for it is peonage. 

For two years Henry Lowry had worked for O. 
T. Craig without pay. Came Christmas Day, when 
all the world was gay and merry, but to Lowry it 
was just another day, and the meal at best would be 
side meat and potatoes. He thought of the two years 
of labor without pay; he probably thought, too, that 
the season might loosen the purse strings of his mas- 
ter. Humbly, as befitted a man of his color and station, 
he went to his master with his hat in hand and asked 
for his due. Instead he received curses and blows. 

Henry Lowry fought back. The landlord and his 
son ganged up on him, and the son shot him. Then the 
black drew his own gun and shot and killed his op- 
pressor; he also shot and killed the landlord's daughter, 
who had moved in to protect her father. Two sons of 
O. T. Craig also were wounded, and Henry Lowry 
took to the woods. 

For two days he lay hiding in the cornfield of his 
friend, J. T. Williams, who fed him while another 
friend, Morris Jenkins, raised the money for train 
fare to Mexico. The fugitive managed to get to El 
Paso, on the Mexican border, but, lacking the money 
necessary to get across, he was compelled to change 

169 



JUDGE LYNCH 

his name and seek work in the border city. The job 
he got paid him forty dollars a month, and he wrote 
to Jenkins to go to see his wife, who was staying with 
a third friend, and give her the message that within 
a few months he would be able to send for her and 
their little daughter. That was the worst mistake 
Lowry made. 

The white landlords for miles around Nodena had 
been thoroughly aroused by this rebellion of one of 
their peons. If Lowry was permitted to get away with 
his private revolt, other peons and sharecroppers 
would rebel. Class consciously they formed them- 
selves into an avenging mob, dedicating their entire 
efforts to tracking down this helot and wreaking 
vengeance on him for assailing their feudal rights. So 
complete was their espionage that they managed to 
intercept the letter Lowry wrote to his friend, even 
though it was signed S. M. Thompson. 

El Paso was too far away, too expensive a trip for 
the mob. The information as to Lowry 's whereabouts, 
his alias, even the address in the border city where 
he was living, were given to the police while the mob 
bided its time. Two deputies, Dixon and Greer, were 
sent to bring Lowry back to face Arkansas justice. 
The deputies had instructions, orders, if you please, 
from Governor McRae not to take the fugitive back 
to the scene of his crime nor to the county jail. They 

170 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

were to bring Henry Lowry by the shortest route to 
Little Rock for safekeeping. 

The deputies, it now seems, had a greater loyalty 
to the mob than to their state and their oath. Instead 
of following Governor McRae's instructions, they 
took the fugitive direct to the mob. They brought 
him by way of New Orleans and were taking him into 
Memphis, which is many miles away from Little 
Rock, in a state that had no relation to the crime, and 
could not possibly be considered on the route to 
Little Rock. The mob knew the route the deputies 
would take with their prisoner and stopped the train 
at Sardis, Mississippi, overpowering and disarming 
the surprised officers of the law. 

The actual snatching was done by a handful of 
men early in the morning of January 26, a month 
after Lowry's attack on his white master. The balance 
of the mob awaited their fellows at the Hotel Pea- 
body in Memphis; nearly one hundred of them were 
gathered in the hotel lobby, laughing, talking, and 
preparing to return to Arkansas come evening. This 
was to be no mere hanging: Henry Lowry was not 
to be taken to the nearest tree by an enraged citizenry 
and strung up. Hanging was too good for this Negro. 

The mob dined happily at the Peabody; it was a 
gala occasion. 

In Little Rock Governor McRae was desperately 

171 



JUDGE LYNCH 

seeking a method of stopping the lynching. He said: 
"I can't get in touch with Sheriff Blackwood, so I 
wouldn't know who to send the troops to. 1 under- 
stand that Sheriff Blackwood is at the Peabody Hotel 
in Memphis and I have tried to telephone him there, 
but they say he isn't in his room." * 

The noon edition of The Memphis Press announced 
in a headline the full width of its front page: 

LYNCHING PARTY ON WAY TO 
ARK. TO PASS THRU MEMPHIS 

Negro Who Killed Two on 
Christmas Day Taken From 
Officers at Sardis, Mississippi 

"We are going to parade him through Main Street 
when we pass through Memphis," the leader of the 
mob boasted at Sardis. "Then we are going to take 
him to Arkansas and that will be the end of him." 

The Press insisted upon being helpful to anyone 
interested enough to wish to attend the lynching. Its 
directions were explicit. 

"The mob, it is said, is taking Lowry back to Wil- 
son, Ark., near where he shot and killed two white 
persons on Dec. 25, and is to cross the Harahan 
bridge over the Mississippi here. ... As the roads 

1 Reported in The Memphis Press, January 26, 1921. Italics are 
mine. F. S. 

I 7 2 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

to the Helena ferry are impassable, there is no other 
route by which they can cross the river." 

The home edition of the same paper got into the 
full spirit of the ballyhoo and promised, in front page 
headlines: 

MAY LYNCH 3 TO 6 NEGROES 
THIS EVENING 

LOWRY NEARS TREE ON WHICH 
IT IS PLANNED TO HANG HIM; 
TAKEN THRU MEMPHIS TODAY 

RUMORED OTHERS WILL DIE 

A professional press agent could not have done 
better. "Reports received here," the home edition 
continued hopefully, "indicate that Lowry and three 
or four other negroes perhaps even more are to be 
lynched at Nodena tonight. The other negroes are 
alleged to have aided Lowry to escape. . . ." 

Were the Memphis police planning to stop the 
lynching? After the noon edition had announced the 
route of the lynch mob, the home edition reported: 
"Police immediately guarded all the roads entering 
the city [Memphis] to prevent them from bringing 
the prisoner here. The mob must have learned of this 
en route from Sardis, for as they neared Memphis 
Lowry was turned over to five men in a closed car, 
who skirted the city." In another column the Press 

'73 



JUDGE LYNCH 

gave the latest directions. "It is rumored here that 
the mob will skirt Memphis and cross the Mississippi 
River in launches at Richardson's Landing, Tenn., 
just opposite Nodena." 

Only the Memphis police tried to stop the lynch- 
ing. Governor McRae could have called out the 
Arkansas National Guard, patrolled the river bank, 
and prevented the landing of the lynching party, but 
he could not have saved Henry Lowry. The mob was 
ready to lynch him in any one of three states. But the 
Governor of Arkansas made no effort to save the 
other Negroes, either by reinforcing the guards at 
the penal institutions in which they were incarcerated 
or by moving them to what is known in the South 
as "a lynch-proof jail." No obstructions were placed 
in the way of the mob and its designs save the feeble 
efforts of the Memphis police. 

The Memphis News Scimitar was more explicit. 
In its sixth (final city) edition, it was definitely an- 
nounced that the mob would cross at Richardson's 
Landing, where they would be joined by a party 
waiting on the Arkansas side, "prepared to lynch 
Lowry promptly at six o'clock." The News Scimitar's 
dispatch was from Millington, Tennessee, and refers 
to the mob as "a party of seven in two automobiles 
with Henry Lowry, negro murderer." Later, in the 
same news story: 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

". . . . The party stopped at Fowler's restaurant 
for lunch. The negro was taken into the restaurant 
and kept under observation while the party ate. 

"The negro said nothing, but showed the strain he 
was under. He realized he was on his way to death. 
A number of Millington citizens were attracted to 
the restaurant, and a few accompanied the party to 
the landing. They are not expected to cross the river. 

"Nothing occurred to mar the serenity of the 
journey. The party ate leisurely and after finishing 
went to E. A. Harrold's store, where a quantity of 
rope was purchased. It was said that the rope would 
be used in place of chains for the automobiles. The 
road is very bad and slippery at the approach to the 
landing." 

The Memphis Press had done a good ballyhoo job 
and sent Ralph Roddy, its ace reporter, to cover the 
lynching; he did it admirably, even if a bit inco- 
herently. He knew his sheet and its audience and he 
fed both the pap they most desired. To get the picture 
of the lynching of Henry Lowry as a whole, it is 
necessary to jump about a bit through Roddy's 
story. 

"More than 500 persons," he wrote, "stood by and 
looked on while the negro slowly burned to a crisp. 
A few women were scattered among the crowd of 
Arkansas planters who directed the gruesome work 

175 



JUDGE LYNCH 

of avenging the death of O. T. Craig and his daughter, 
Mrs. C. O. Williamson. 

"Not once did the slayer beg for mercy despite 
the fact that he suffered one of the most horrible 
deaths imaginable. With the negro chained to a log, 
members of the mob placed a small pile of leaves 
around his feet. Gasoline was then poured on the 
leaves, and the carrying out of the death sentence was 
under way. 

"Inch by inch the negro was fairly cooked to death. 
Every few minutes fresh leaves were tossed on the 
funeral pyre until the blaze had passed the waist. . . . 
Even after the flesh had dropped away from his legs 
and the flames were leaping toward his face, Lowry 
retained consciousness. Not once did he whimper 
or beg for mercy. Once or twice he attempted to 
pick up the hot ashes in his hands and thrust them 
in his mouth in order to hasten death. . . . Each 
time the ashes were kicked out of his reach by a 
member of the mob. ... As the flames were eating 
away his abdomen, a member of the mob stepped 
forward and saturated the body with gasoline. It was 
then only a few minutes until the negro had been 
reduced to ashes." 

When Roddy had got all he could from the burn- 
ing, he anticipated the mob and hurried on to Wilson 
and Blytheville, where the other Negroes scheduled 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

by his paper to be lynched were incarcerated. He 
told of his trip and the people he met, but he was 
compelled to admit in blackface type: 

"The almost impassable dirt roads perhaps saved 
all these negroes from death. The mob was too tired 
to try to get over them." 

If Governor McRae had been unable to locate 
Sheriff Dwight H. Blackwood in his room at the 
Hotel Peabody in Memphis, the Press experienced 
no difficulty and was able to secure the following 
statement from that officer: 

"Nearly every man, woman and child in our 
county wanted the negro lynched. When public 
sentiment is that way, there isn't much chance left 
for the officers. Of course, we may believe that the 
Negro ought to be killed, but as officers it is our duty 
to carry out the law. 

"I knew several days ago that they had men at 
Texarkana, Hoxie and Jonesboro, and that we 
wouldn't have a chance of going that way, so we took 
the only route left open. We found later that they 
had men at New Orleans and were tipped off when 
my men left that place. I believe that there were 
some Arkansas men in the crowd but they didn't 
let my men see them." 

In all the lynching records Henry Lowry is carried 
as having been burned for the murder of two whites, 

177 



JUDGE LYNCH 

never for the killing of two fellow humans in what, 
in this America of ours, must always be called self- 
defense. But Lowry's skin was black, and for years 
to come the shadow will darken the state of Arkansas. 

(D) The Law Never Had a Chance Claude Neal 

Marianna is a city in Jackson County, in the north- 
western part of Florida, on the Alabama border. It 
is a shabby, down-at-the-heels sort of place and in- 
habited by shabby people. It is a tourist stopover, 
and only travelers in the shabbier cars stop even for 
a night. It has an imposing hotel and some stores, and 
a few of the tradesmen have built new homes for 
their families. Saturday is Marianna's big day, when 
the rural folk come to trade and do their week's 
shopping, and for that day there is a degree of activity 
that has its attractiveness. The balance of the week 
it is, at best, a very dull town. 

Marianna itself has been the scene of several lynch- 
ings, and Jackson County has many others, two of 
them double lynchings, to its credit. All the lynched 
have been Negroes. Wages are low in Marianna, and 
morals do not achieve an altogether high in Jackson 
County. White men openly run with colored women, 
and white women, not openly at all, are known to 
have colored lovers. The Negroes of Jackson County 
know this and deplore the practice, and when it is 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

mentioned shake their heads and shuffle out of ear- 
shot. The whites deny it and, should the investigator 
pursue the matter, he is answered with vituperation 
and threatened with physical violence. It is a lynch 
country. 

It was that way with Lola Cannidy and Claude 
Neal. Lola was a white girl and Claude a Negro. "For 
some months," says the white investigator for the 
National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People, "and possibly for a period of years, Claude 
Neal and Lola Cannidy had been having intimate re- 
lations with each other. The nature of their relation- 
ship was common knowledge in the Negro com- 
munity." 

Neal's friends had advised him of the danger of 
the relationship and had urged him to discontinue it. 

On the afternoon of October 18, 1934, Lola dis- 
appeared from her home. It is alleged that she told 
her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Cannidy, that she 
was going to water the pigs and to attend to some other 
chores that were part of her tasks about the farm. The 
family took no particular notice of her absence when 
she failed to return in the late afternoon. Her brother, 
who had been working in a nearby field, reported 
that he had seen her talking to someone. When she 
still failed to return that night, a search was begun 
for her in the vicinity of her home. Early the next 

179 



JUDGE LYNCH 

morning her body, fully clothed, was found by an 
uncle, John King, a short distance from her home, 
badly mutilated about the head and arms and partially 
covered with brushwood and pine logs. A watch, a 
ring, a piece of clothing, and a hammer were among 
the articles discovered near the place where she came 
to her death. 

Several boys testified that they had seen Claude 
Neal near the scene of the crime that afternoon, and 
that he had some wounds on his hands that he said 
he had received while repairing a fence. The first 
home visited by the sheriff was that of Annie Smith, 
mother of Claude, just across the road from the 
Cannidy home. The officers claimed to have found 
some bloody garments in the house. 

A search for Claude Neal was started and he was 
arrested on a nearby peanut farm. He confessed and 
implicated another man, Herbert Smith. Smith was 
arrested and with Neal was taken, as is the custom 
in the lynch country, to a nearby woods and ques- 
tioned. It was understood that Neal had had a fight 
with Smith and Herbert had beaten him. Neal finally 
admitted that Smith had nothing to do with the crime 
and that he alone was involved. Smith was subse- 
quently released by the officers. 

What Neal told the officers in the woods was not 
revealed. Later he told a friend that Miss Cannidy had 

1 80 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

informed him that she wanted to break off their 
affair, that she did not want him to speak to her again, 
that if he did so she would tell the whites in the com- 
munity on him. Neal is reported to have said: 

"When she said she didn't want me to speak to her 
and then told me that she'd tell the white men on me, 
I just got mad and killed her." 

With Neal were arrested his mother, Annie Smith, 
and his aunt, Sallie Smith. Sheriff W. F. Chambliss, 
sensing the awakening lynch-spirit, wisely ordered 
that the prisoners be taken to the jail at Chipley for 
safekeeping. 

Lola Cannidy was murdered Thursday, Neal was 
arrested Friday, and the big day in Marianna's week 
became the second biggest day in the city's history 
and the beginning of a week of shameless mob fero- 
city. The county men drove their women to Mari- 
anna as usual and the women did their shopping as 
usual. The men resolved themselves into little groups 
in which the common topic was how to "get the 
nigger." From that moment a bloodthirsty mob re- 
lentlessly pursued Claude Neal. And it must be 
credited to the Jackson County sheriff that he made 
every effort within his power to circumvent the mobs. 
The angry mob at Chipley caused the sheriff to re- 
move Neal to Panama City and the two women to 
Fort Barrancas at Pensacola. Later Neal was removed 

181 



JUDGE LYNCH 

by boat to Pensacola, and when a mob threatened 
that jail, he was moved across the line into Brewton, 
Alabama, two hundred and ten miles from Marianna. 

On October 2 3 the Marianna Daily Times Courier 
said: 

"In a determined effort to locate the three Negroes 
held for the murder of Lola Cannidy near Greenwood 
last Thursday, a relentless mob continued to search 
the jails of West Florida." 

George Cannidy, father of the slain girl, stated to 
a representative of the same paper: 

"The bunch have promised me that they will give 
me first chance at him when they bring him back 
and I'm ready. We'll put those two logs on him and 
ease him off by degrees. . . . When I get my hands 
on that nigger, there isn't any telling what I'll do." 

On the morning of October 26, a mob of a hundred 
armed men stormed the Escambia County jail, at 
Brewton, Alabama, and snatched Claude Neal after 
jailer Mike Shanholster had unlocked his cell. "We'll 
tear your jail up and let all the prisoners out, if you 
don't turn him over to us," the mob leaders had 
threatened. They also told Shanholster that they were 
going to turn Neal "over to the girl's father and let 
him do what he wants with him." The mob came in 
thirty cars all bearing Florida plates, and the prisoner 

182 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

was placed in the first car for the return trip. No 
attempt was made by officers to follow the mob. 

Within an hour of the snatching, the people of 
Marianna, more than 200 miles away, knew that 
Claude Neal was in the hands of the mob, and news- 
papers all over the country were able to print advance 
announcements of the forthcoming lynching. Word 
was passed all over northern Florida and southern 
Alabama that there was to be a "lynching party to 
which all the white people are invited." Others got 
their jubilee invitation through the Dothan, Ala- 
bama, radio station, which scored another "first" for 
the radio. The lynching was to take place in front 
of the Cannidy home. 

How many people responded to the invitation is 
not known. Marianna has a population of about 3,500 
and Jackson County has 30,000 all told. But there 
were cars from eleven states, and the Chipola Hotel 
and the rooming houses had a hard time finding room 
for all the guests. To say that 10,000 attended Mari- 
anna's lynch-carnival would be stating it conserva- 
tively. 

While the mob still held the murderer, it was en- 
couraged by word from the law. Deputy Sheriff S. 
Paul Greene, of Jackson County, stated, "In my 
opinion the mob will not be bothered, either before 

183 



JUDGE LYNCH 

or after the lynching." Editorially the Jackson County 
Floridian feebly said: 

"Although many have strongly favored the court 
of Judge Lynch for the brutal slaying of a Jackson 
County girl this week, local officers have spared no 
effort to uphold their oath of office and to protect their 
prisoner. In many instances this action has been con- 
trary to the wishes of citizens, but the consensus of 
opinion is that one crime in a week is enough." 

The lynch mob, the original group of a hundred 
that had snatched Neal from the Brewton jail, felt 
that the secondary or sight-seeing mob was too large 
for safety, and that it would be better if they attended 
to the lynching themselves. From the time they had 
brought him back to Jackson County they had been 
submitting their victim to various sadistic indignities 
and finally took him to the woods about four miles 
from Greenwood. 

From time to time during the torture a rope would 
be tied around Neal's neck and he was pulled up over 
a limb and held there until he almost choked to death; 
then he would be let down and the torture would be- 
gin all over again. After several hours of this unspeak- 
able torture, "they decided just to kill him." 

After death the body was tied to a rope from the 
rear of an automobile and dragged over the highway 

184 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

to the Cannidy house. Here the sight-seeing mob, 
estimated at between 7,000 and 10,000, took over. 
The rope was cut adrift from the car. A woman came 
out of the Cannidy house and drove a butcher knife 
into the dead man's heart. Then the crowd passed in 
review; some kicked the body and others drove their 
cars over it. Little children, neighbors of the Cannidys, 
waited with sharpened sticks for the return of the 
body and, when it was rolled into the road that night, 
these children drove their weapons deep into the dead 
flesh. 

The sight-seeing mob felt cheated; it had been 
promised participation in the actual lynching and all 
it got was the sight of the already lynched body. The 
explanation given them by one of the lynchers was 
that they were fearful that someone would be injured 
in the melee if they brought the prisoner to the wait- 
ing crowd. A Cannidy kinsman stated, "the nigger 
was too low for anyone to be hurt on his account." 
The secondary mob, to be appeased, burned the home 
of NeaPs mother, Annie Smith, to the ground. 

The horribly mutilated body was next taken to 
Marianna, a distance of ten or twelve miles, and at 
three o'clock in the morning it was hanged to a tree 
in the courthouse square. Scores of citizens viewed the 
body, which was nude until early morning, when 

185 



JUDGE LYNCH 

someone had the decency to hang a burlap sack over 
the middle of the body. It was not cut down until 
about eight-thirty Saturday morning. 

As soon as the body was cut down, the members 
of the mob quickly dispersed. There were not so 
many Negroes in Marianna that Saturday. The entire 
week had been one of terror, and all Negroes who 
could stayed away from the city. Those who were 
compelled to remain kept to themselves. 

Before noon, a white man and a Negro had a scuffle, 
and the sight of a Negro resisting a white man threw 
the crowd of loungers into a fury. The black finally 
tore himself away and took refuge in the courthouse, 
where he was given protection by a friendly group 
of white men. The mob clamored for their victim, 
but were held at bay by a machine gun. The frus- 
trated mob began a systematic attempt to drive all 
Negroes from the town. It attacked men, women, 
and children, and several blind persons were ruth- 
lessly beaten. The Negroes started from the town in 
droves, some running, some crying, all frightened. 
After emptying the streets, stores, and places of busi- 
ness of Negroes, the mob started for the residential 
district to drive out the colored maids. One man, 
whose wife shielded her maid from the mob, said, 
"Saturday was a day of terror and madness, never to 
be forgotten by anyone." 

1 86 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

The mob also drove the policemen of Marianna 
from their posts, and during the rioting the town was 
without police protection. Members of the mob 
threatened to beat up any member of the force they 
found. The Mayor tried to deputize some special 
officers, but was unable to find anyone who would 
serve. Then the Mayor called the Governor in Talla- 
hassee. In response to his request, a detachment of 
guardsmen was ordered from Apalachicola, but a 
rainstorm saved Marianna. At eleven a downpour so 
dampened the spirits of the mob that it probably pre- 
vented further rioting and terrorism. The guardsmen 
arrived at four-thirty and quickly dispersed the rem- 
nants of the mob. 

() The Five ThousandthRaymond Gunn 

A Texas mob, incited by a woman in a red dress, 
burned down a courthouse to lynch its victim, and a 
Missouri mob, led by a man in a red lumber jacket, 
used a school to make a funeral pyre for Raymond 
Gunn, who became Judge Lynch's five thousandth 
recorded victim. Red is a color that irks bulls; it seems 
to be an appropriate color for the garb of mob leaders. 

Raymond Gunn was guilty and he made no effort 
to conceal it. His crime, that of murder, was com- 
mitted in a county that had never before had a lynch- 
ing, had never been laid open to contempt by a mob 

187 



JUDGE LYNCH 

in any form; a county where the courts functioned 
rapidly and peace officers were, supposedly, above re- 
proach and loyal to their oaths. Yet, in 1931, the 
people of Nodaway County, city of Maryville, threw 
off their veneer of civilization and for a time became 
savages of the lowest order. They put aside their 
perfectly good court and filed their case in Judge 
Lynch's Court of Uncommon Pleas. 

Raymond Gunn was known as a bad nigger. In 
1925 he had been convicted of attempted rape and 
sentenced to four years in the state penitentiary. In 
the prison he was rated as a "smart nigger" and he was 
released in January, 1928. After returning to Mary- 
ville, Gunn made two further attempts at assault on 
college girls who refused to push the cases because of 
the notoriety that would result. Shortly after, Gunn 
married a mulatto girl and moved with her to Omaha. 

In 1930, the Negro returned without his wife; she 
had died supposedly of pneumonia but, according 
to many, from the frequent beatings administered by 
her husband. Some opinions are that Gunn had a 
criminal record in Omaha, but it seemed hardly worth 
while to check on that after the Negro had been 
lynched. 

On December 16, 1930, a nineteen-year-old white 
teacher in the little one -room school at Garett, lo- 
cated about three miles from Maryville, was found 

188 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

brutally murdered. Raymond Gunn was immediately 
suspected and warrants for his arrest were sent to all 
nearby peace officers. In two days he was arrested; 
he still had on the bloody clothes worn when he com- 
mitted the crime, and his shoe-print fitted the impres- 
sion found in the soft earth outside the schoolhouse. 
He was given the third degree, but did not confess 
until "they tried religion on him." This brought out a 
complete confession that was heard, in part, by news- 
papermen from St. Joseph, Kansas City, and other 
points. 

Gunn's confession told of how he had been in the 
neighborhood of the school on Monday afternoon, 
passing that day to look at some of his traps, when the 
idea occurred to him to rape the school teacher. Ac- 
cordingly, the following day he returned to the school- 
house to carry out his plan. He lay in hiding until 
the pupils had gone home and then crept to the win- 
dow and watched while the teacher made prepara- 
tions to close the school. She took the coal bucket and 
went to the coal box outside and filled it. Just as she 
was re-entering Gunn appeared at the door. She was 
frightened and he followed her inside. He carried a 
hedge club in his hand. 

In the struggle the teacher bit the Negro's thumb 
and he swung his club and struck her over the head. 
She seized the coal bucket and attempted to strike 

189 



JUDGE LYNCH 

him with it, whereupon he hit her again and knocked 
her down. She fell between the desks and he dragged 
her out into the aisle. 

Here he was interrupted by a passer-by, a girl on 
a bay horse riding down the lane in front of the school- 
house. He watched until she had passed out of sight 
and then returned to the teacher. She had revived, and 
asked him to give her a drink of water; instead, he hit 
her another blow with his club. The examining physi- 
cian later stated that it was this blow that fractured 
her skull and caused her death. Gunn, at this point, 
heard another noise and, again becoming frightened, 
left without performing the intended rape. The ex- 
amining physician again reported that the Negro's 
statement in regard to this was true; there had been no 
rape. Later the prosecuting attorney, after checking 
on Gunn's various statements, stated that the confes- 
sion was complete. 

Lynch-f eeling was high in Mary ville, and Gunn was 
removed at once to St. Joseph for safekeeping. All 
the next day, Friday, crowds milled around Maryville 
talking lynching. Plans were laid to go to St. Joe and 
storm the jail, provided it was not too strong and the 
officers did not put up too much opposition. When 
the mob arrived on Saturday, it found the officers 
ready. A unit of the Missouri National Guard was on 
duty with a machine-gun truck barring entrance to 

190 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

the jail; others were mounted on the roof and dis- 
tributed about the yard. The mob was defeated in its 
purpose, but it set up a great howl, booing, catcalling, 
and demanding the person of the Negro. The machine- 
gun crew on the roof were oiling their weapon; one 
of the crew swung the barrel back and forth in a way 
that suggested he was getting the range of the mob. 
It forgot its booing, evaporated, returned to Nodaway 
County and Maryville, and that night the prisoner 
was taken to Kansas City. 

Raymond Gunn's trial was set for Monday, January 
12. This date was determined by the officials of the 
court and the Prosecuting Attorney. As soon as the 
announcement was made, the mob unofficially an- 
nounced that Monday the twelfth would be the day 
Gunn was lynched. The mob was right. Gunn never 
went on trial, at least not in Maryville, Nodaway 
County, Missouri. Rather, say he was sentenced in 
that center of culture and civilization and executed 
at a little higher than usual cost to the taxpayers. 

The date set for the trial was given full publicity 
in all newspapers in that section of the Ozark state. 
Preparations for the lynching went forward just as 
surely as preparations for the trial progressed in the 
Prosecuting Attorney's office. The lynching was de- 
liberately planned; it was known to all Nodaway 
County that the Negro was not to be brought to trial 

191 



JUDGE LYNCH 

and it cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be 
termed a quick flare-up of mob frenzy. These Mis- 
sourians of Nodaway County were as deliberate in 
this affair as they would be in a horse trade or betting 
on a horse race. The leaders were known, they were 
Maryville and Nodaway County men; they met in 
the heart of Maryville and openly discussed their 
plans. 

The Negro was to be seized at the courthouse. Even 
if the Sheriff and his deputies tried to protect their 
prisoner, which was not expected, one of the con- 
spirators was to pick him off with a rifle. The point on 
which these men commonly agreed was that Ray- 
mond Gunn was not to come to trial. In so far as they 
were concerned, he had already been tried, found 
guilty, and sentenced by the Hanging Judge. 

The spectator mob began forming on the Saturday 
before the trial. Men who came to Maryville for their 
weekly shopping on this day planned to stay and "see 
the fun." Those neighbors who lived in distant parts 
and who did not have first-hand knowledge of the 
coming lynching were informed of developments by 
telephone. All day Sunday they received calls, the gist 
of the message being: "Be at the courthouse at eight. 
You know why! " By Sunday evening every parking- 
space in Maryville was crowded with out-of-town 

192 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

cars and the men sat inside them bundled in great 
coats and sheepskins, for it was very cold. 

The Mayor of Maryville was not ignorant to what 
was going on, and he appealed for reinforcements for 
the local peace officers. The Governor sent the State 
Adjutant General to assist the local authorities in any 
way they might need. The Missouri National Guard 
may be called out to assist in preserving peace and order 
only "at the written request of the sheriff or other 
local authorities." This order the Sheriff steadfastly 
refused to give, insisting that there was not going to 
be any trouble. In view of the common knowledge of 
the proposed lynching, the Sheriff's refusal to give 
the Adjutant General a signed order can have but one 
meaning. The Adjutant General, in the presence of 
the Sheriff, ordered the Captain of the local guard 
unit to mobilize his men and have them in uniform and 
armed by seven-thirty Monday morning. In consider- 
ing the non-use of the militia, one unanswered question 
is why, in the face of the Sheriff's refusal to request 
their use in writing, the Mayor did not give the Adju- 
tant General the required document. 

The guard unit was ready at the appointed time. 
Rifles, side arms, and tear bombs were issued, and the 
men put through their drill inside the armory. The 
mob, too, was ready, and the leaders posted men at 



JUDGE LYNCH 

each door of the courthouse to give warning when 
the prisoner was brought in. In the light of later events, 
that was hardly necessary. The court opened at nine 
and the clerk called the first arraignment, "State versus 
Gunn," and the Court ordered the Sheriff to bring 
in the prisoner. While the Judge and Prosecutor 
waited, the Sheriff left the court, went through the 
crowds to the jail to secure the Negro. There he found 
a car with two deputies awaiting him. Gunn was placed 
in the back seat with one; the Sheriff climbed into 
the front with the other. 

The reporter for the St. Joseph Neivs-Press wrote: 
"It was an amazing sight; here was the prisoner be- 
ing taken straight to the mob waiting for him. I was 
standing there with the editor of the local paper. We 
ran toward the car, and the crowd nearly beat us to it. 
'Here he is!' they yelled, and crowded around the car 
as it came to a stop just opposite the courthouse en- 
trance on that side. 'Grab him!' several men yelled. 
I saw the sheriff open his door, and a big man put an 
arm around him and pulled him over. Another leader 
opened the back door in the meantime and held the 
deputy, while a third reached in and seized the Negro. 
A dozen men swarmed around the prisoner and pulled 
him out into the street. The sheriff picked himself up, 
dusted off his coat and walked back toward the jail. 

194 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

I don't know what happened to the deputies. They 
just sort of melted away." 

The National Guard unit was still in the armory 
awaiting the call that did not come. The mob, as 
though by common assent, did not lead their prisoner 
past the armory but took him through another street. 
Here the arrangements went awry; there had been no 
plans beyond the snatching of the Negro. At this point 
the unknown man in the red mackinaw took command. 
He mounted the running board of an automobile and 
announced that they would take the Negro to the 
scene of his crime and burn him in the schoolhouse. 
The mob yelled its approval. They would march, con- 
tinued the man in the red coat, and they would avoid 
the armory. Miles down the road to the schoolhouse 
marched the mob with their prisoner in chains. 

When they arrived at the schoolhouse, Raymond 
Gunn's face had been badly mutilated; his nose and 
ears had been cut and torn. There were still no signs 
of any resistance on the part of the authorities, al- 
though, from the time that the man in the red coat 
had announced from the running board of the car 
what the mob intended doing with their victim, the 
march had consumed no less than one and a half hours. 
Time for the Sheriff to have gone into action, if he 
had had any intentions of doing so; time, too, for the 

195 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Mayor, who was one of the "other local authorities" 
mentioned in the state law, to see that the Guard was 
sent to protect the Government's prisoner. The mob 
showed far more intelligence than did the city officials. 

The simple announcement that the prisoner was to 
be burned was sufficient for some members of the mob. 
Disregarding the red-coated man's instructions to 
march, many drove at once to the proposed scene of 
the lynching. When the main body of the mob ar- 
rived, it found that much of the work of clearing the 
schoolhouse had been done. 

Gunn was taken into the schoolhouse and made to 
repeat his confession. When he had finished, he asked: 
"Now what are you going to do with me?" 

"Well, nigger," said the leader. "We're going to 
burn you." 

Two members of the mob found a short ladder and 
mounted to the roof of the schoolhouse. They tore 
away some of the shingles on either side of the peak, 
baring the ridge pole. The Negro was pulled up, made 
to lie prone along the ridge pole, and then was chained 
to it. Gasoline was sent up and poured over the vic- 
tim's body and about the top of the roof. Below, car 
tanks were drained and the gasoline thrown inside the 
schoolhouse. Then the leader ordered the crowd to 
fall back while he lighted a paper and tossed it through 
a window. The interior of the schoolhouse was aflame 

196 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

at once, and in another moment the roof burst into 
flames about the victim. There was a single long scream 
from Gunn, then his clothing burned off and the gaso- 
line flames died down. The fire continued and the roof 
caved in within a quarter hour. Just two and one half 
hours after he was snatched, Raymond Gunn was dead; 
they were two and one half hours of sadism that Mary- 
ville, Nodaway County, and the State of Missouri will 
be a long time living down. 

Here was a lynching that could have been prevented 
at any one of a dozen points. One single, determined 
public official the Mayor, the Prosecuting Attorney, 
the Sheriff, the Chief of the police, any one of the 
Selectmen or members of the city council, the County 
Clerk could have summoned the National Guard to 
to protect the prisoner. Even the Adjutant General 
could have disobeyed the law and saved the state's 
honor. The only statement ever made in defense of 
these public servants came from the supine Sheriff, 
who said he was unwilling to turn the guardsmen 
"loose in that crowd with their automatic pistols; 
somebody would be killed or badly injured, and prob- 
ably it would have been the guardsmen." 

(F) Twice Lynched in Texas George Hughes 

Negroes in the South should have learned long be- 
fore 1930 that they must not ask their white employers 

197 



JUDGE LYNCH 

for money due them, no matter how long overdue 
or how badly they may need it. It meant burning to 
death for Henry Lowry in Arkansas and it brought 
death in the same form to George Hughes at Sherman, 
Texas. The law officers of Grayson County tried their 
best to give the accused Negro a fair trial, but the mob, 
instigated by an illiterate bootlegger and incited by a 
woman of questionable reputation, carried the day 
and incidentally destroyed the county courthouse and 
a considerable portion of the Negro-owned property. 
George Hughes, a forty-one-year-old illiterate 
itinerant farm-worker, on Saturday, May 3, 1930, 
went to his employer to collect the six dollars wages 
due him. His employer, a white renter, was not at 
home; his wife informed the worker where her hus- 
band could be found and said that he would not re- 
turn from Sherman until evening. The Negro went 
away but came back less than an hour later armed 
with a double-barreled shotgun and again demanded 
his wages. Again put off, he pushed the woman into 
a bedroom and assaulted her. She begged him to let 
her go and promised him all the money in the house. 
Fearing that her small son might give an alarm, he 
tied her to a bed and told her that he was not through 
with her and would return. The renter's wife man- 
aged to break her bonds and fled across a field to a 
neighbor's house. At once the neighbors went to res- 

198 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

cue the child, and they found Hughes walking aim- 
lessly about the barn. At the approach of the white 
men, he fled. 

A deputy sheriff arrested Hughes in a creek bot- 
tom, and later announced that Hughes had fired at 
him with the shotgun. The Negro confessed his 
crime, agreed to plead guilty, and was taken to a jail 
some miles distant for safekeeping. His trial was set 
for May 9, less than a week from the commission of 
his crime. 

Within two days highly colored rumors about the 
crime were widespread; not only had the Negro 
raped the woman, but he had a venereal disease, her 
throat and breasts were mutilated, she was not ex- 
pected to live. Medical examination of the woman 
and the Negro proved that all the reports except that 
of the rape were untrue. They had served their odious 
purpose and Sherman, by the time the Negro was 
ready for trial, was sufficiently mob-minded to de- 
mand the services of Judge Lynch. 

The law officers of Grayson County sensed the 
growing mob spirit and sought a change of venue, 
but the relatives of the assaulted woman demanded 
that the trial be held in Sherman. Hughes was brought 
into court on schedule, escorted by four members of 
the Texas Rangers. Outside, a constantly growing 
crowd made their opinions vocal as the jury was be- 

199 



JUDGE LYNCH 

ing selected. People from outside Sherman were con- 
stantly arriving and, it was later learned, had been 
urged to attend the trial by an illiterate horse trader 
and bootlegger. Cries of "Let's get the nigger right 
now" were heard, and a woman, dressed in red and un- 
known in Sherman, circulated among the men, chid- 
ing them for their yellowness. A small segment of the 
mob got into the courthouse and tore an American 
flag from a corridor wall and paraded about the build- 
ing; later this group was ejected from the courthouse 
by the use of tear bombs thrown by the Rangers. 

The whipping up of the mob was comparatively 
ineffective until one o'clock. At this time the woman 
who had been attacked was brought from the hospi- 
tal to the courthouse in an ambulance. As she was 
being taken into the courtroom on a stretcher, the 
mob became active, vicious, and uncontrollable. 
Again it charged into the courtroom, and this time 
was dispersed with a single charge of buckshot and 
more tear gas. The leader of the Rangers instructed 
his men not to shoot, and this order was heard by 
members of the mob. Later it was interpreted as an 
order from the Governor and one that applied not 
only to the Rangers and peace officers but also to the 
National Guard, who were summoned later. 

The woman in red continued to rib the young men 
for their lack of courage and, to prove that they were 

200 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

full-grown men with hair on their chests, they threw 
stones through the courthouse windows. At this dem- 
onstration, the trial judge decided on a change of 
venue and the prisoner was hurried into the fireproof 
vault in the district clerk's office on the second floor. 
A pail of water was placed beside him. 

About two-thirty, a young man threw a can of gas- 
oline through one of the broken windows and an- 
other pitched in a lighted match. When the gasoline 
did not ignite, a third lad climbed to the window-sill 
and struck another match. These boys were recog- 
nized as students and former students of the Sherman 
public schools. The fire department used their ladders 
to take people from the second floor of the court- 
house, and the crowd protested only when it was the 
turn of the Judge, Prosecuting Attorney, Sheriffs, 
and Rangers to use the ladders as a means of escape. 
Finally all were removed save the Negro in the fire- 
proof vault. As the firemen sought to control the fire, 
the members of the mob cut their hose. 

Every attempt made by the firemen and police to 
save the courthouse was rebuffed by the mob. "Let 
her burn down; the taxpayers will put her back." By 
late afternoon the courthouse was gutted and the mob 
had grown to include practically all the population 
of Sherman and of the nearby city of Denison. At 
nightfall some doubts were expressed as to whether 

201 



JUDGE LYNCH 

or not the Negro was really in the vault, and arrange- 
ments were made to blast it open. 

Earlier in the evening the Rangers had telephoned 
Governor Moody for reinforcements, and a small de- 
tachment of National Guardsmen arrived at this time. 
The mob greeted the soldiers with hoots and catcalls 
and later with bottles and bricks from the burning 
building. One woman, a mother, held her baby aloft, 
over the heads of those in front of her, and screamed: 

"Shoot it, you yellow, nigger-lovin' soldiers!" 

The militiamen, realizing they were outnumbered, 
retreated to the county jail, some three blocks away. 
At seven, another detachment of more than fifty ar- 
rived from Dallas and were posted as guards about 
the already totally destroyed courthouse. 

The mob still gave credence to the "don't shoot" 
rumor and they wanted the Negro, dead or alive. 
After dark, a pitched battle between the troops and 
the mob took place, and the troops were thrown back 
to their headquarters in the county jail. Several sol- 
diers were badly cut and beaten and many had their 
rifles taken away from them. The mob, again in com- 
plete possession of the scene, sang "Happy Days Are 
Here Again" as a victory song. 

By eight o'clock the embers of the courthouse had 
cooled sufficiently to permit attempts to open the 

202 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

second-story vault. The structure resisted all methods 
until an acetylene torch was applied. A hole was 
made and a charge of dynamite inserted and deton- 
ated. One of the mob leaders entered, and the body 
of George Hughes was thrown to the waiting wolves. 
Whether the Negro was baked to death or killed by 
the dynamite blast is not known; part of his head was 
blown off and the water bucket that had been placed 
in the vault with him was empty. 

The corpse was dragged behind a Ford containing 
two young men and two girls to the Negro section, 
a distance of less than half a mile. The entire mob 
followed, yelling, still singing "Happy Days Are 
Here Again," tooting automobile horns: a gala night 
in the old Lone Star State. These people were not 
through with George Hughes. In the center of the 
Negro business district, in front of the Smith Hotel, 
they paused and hanged his body to a cottonwood 
tree. A further touch of sexual perversion was added 
to the necrophilism of the night when a mob leader 
unsexed the body in the presence of men, women, 
and children. The Smith Hotel, Negro property, was 
denuded of chairs, tables, and other furniture to build 
the pyre under the hanging body. While the body 
was roasting, the mob took everything of value from 
the hotel; chewing gum, confectionery, soft drinks 

203 



JUDGE LYNCH 

were passed about the crowd, and then the hotel was 
fired. The mob resumed its singing and dancing about 
the fires. When the hotel fire died down, the crowd 
went to the Andrews building, a two-story structure 
owned by Negroes, and fired that, deserting the old 
fire for the new. They, the members of the mob, 
openly boasted that they would burn the home of 
every Negro in town, and they proceeded with their 
self-appointed task. 

One house was occupied by a white tenant, though 
owned by a Negro. The mob considerately helped 
the tenant move out his personal goods and then set 
fire to the house. Negro property owners called upon 
the police, the fire department, the Rangers, and the 
National Guard for protection, but the police were 
too busy directing traffic, and the entire attention of 
the fire department was being given to saving white- 
owned property. One white man, named Sofey, 
whose son was later indicted as a member of the 
actual mob, saved a row of Negro-owned residences 
by falsely swearing to the mob that he was the real 
owner. 

At four o'clock in the morning enough troops were 
sent to Sherman to put the mob to rout. Before they 
arrived, the destruction, in addition to the courthouse, 
included a hotel, the Odd Fellows Hall, the Knights 

204 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

of Pythias Building, a life-insurance office, theater, 
two cafes, two undertaking establishments, two den- 
tists' offices, two doctors' offices, two barber shops, a 
drugstore and many residences. 

Meanwhile, all of Sherman's two thousand-odd 
Negro citizens were under cover; some were given 
refuge by white friends and employers. The others 
with babies and the aged and the sick hurried away in 
whatever conveyance they possessed or upon foot. 
Some found refuge with Negro friends in the coun- 
try and adjacent towns, but many spent the night hid- 
den in ditches and ravines and under bushes. 

Dawn found the city of Sherman quiet and under 
martial law. There were threats heard to engage the 
troops in combat and to continue the job of driving 
the Negroes out of town. Dawn, too, found notices 
posted on the homes of Negroes, warning them to 
leave town or suffer the consequences. One white 
employer was notified, by the poster method, to dis- 
charge his Negro workers and replace them with 
whites. The Negro citizens who returned, under the 
protection of the troops, were persecuted and abused 
before the situation became normal again. 

On the following Monday, May 12, a military 
court of investigation was set up for the purpose of 
securing evidence for the Grand Jury. Of sixty-six 

205 



JUDGE LYNCH 

men and women questioned by this court, twenty- 
nine were arrested and jailed to await whatever ac- 
tion the Grand Jury should take. Three women were 
arrested, but no indictments were drawn against them. 
The two young men and two girls whose Ford had 
dragged the body were not identified and the family 
of the victim of the assault was exonerated of all re- 
sponsibility for the lynching and rioting. 

Of the fourteen indicted, only one owned any tax- 
able property, and a new courthouse is costing the 
county $100,000. And there are other items to be 
added to the bill: rent for offices for county officials; 
expenses for guardsmen, Rangers, and other state of- 
ficers sent to the scene; and the salaries of the fifty 
men who served under the Director of Public Safety 
when martial law was lifted. Ironically enough, the 
Negroes who suffered most, losing their life savings 
in fire and smoke, cannot collect on insurance policies 
because of the riot clause. When Hughes' burned 
torso was cut down, it was offered to the town's two 
Negro undertakers, but since both had been burned 
out of business, it was turned over to a white under- 
taker. 

On the night of May 9, 1930, Black Friday as it is 
now known, the city of Sherman gave strength to the 
statement made years ago by old Bill Sherman. He 
said: "If I owned Hell and Texas, I'd rent out Texas." 

206 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCIi's CASES 



(G) Three Governors Go Into Action 

The almost constant decrease in the number of 
lynchings since the high of eighty-one in 1919 to a 
low of eight in 1937 received a severe setback in 
the first year of President Roosevelt's administra- 
tion. Nineteen-thirty-three had twenty-eight known 
lynchings, and during the last four days of Novem- 
ber, American newspapers carried lynch-news almost 
to the total submergence of other matter. During 
those days the Governors of three widely separated 
states, yet each with its capital approximately on the 
line of the thirty-ninth parallel, went into action in 
varying manners and with decidedly varying results. 
In two of the states Negroes had been lynched; in the 
third, two white men had lost the decision before 
Judge Lynch. 

On October 1 8, a Negro, George Armwood, was 
taken from the jail at Princess Anne, Maryland, and 
hanged by a mob of 2,000. After the lynching, the 
body was dragged through the main thoroughfare of 
the town and burned in the public square. Governor 
Albert M. Ritchie demanded the arrest and convic- 
tion of the leaders. After a month of inaction from the 
authorities of Somerset County, he gave the names of 
nine alleged lynchers to the Maryland National 

207 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Guard and sent a provisional battalion of 300 men to 
make the arrests. The Governor did not declare mar- 
tial law; a provision of the Maryland Constitution 
gives him power to use the National Guard to quell 
riots or enforce the law. 

To make the arrests the troops were compelled to 
act with military precision and to employ war-time 
strategy. They moved secretly from Baltimore in a 
fleet of eleven buses, followed by trucks carrying 
field kitchens. At Salisbury they took over the town's 
armory and waited while a detail of State Troopers 
raced along the deserted roads at two in the morning, 
taking over the Princess Anne telephone exchange 
and stopping all calls to prevent word of the arrival of 
the troops from spreading over the wires. Then they 
went to the homes of the nine men for whom they 
had warrants, routed from bed those they could find, 
four all told, bundled them into a truck, and sped 
back to Salisbury. 

Here the prisoners were taken to the armory and 
turned over to the waiting guardsmen. Two of the 
warrants were invalid, one having been made out for 
a fictitious name and another in the man's nickname. 
Of the other alleged leaders for whom warrants had 
been issued, one was in Virginia and two had escaped. 
The bed of one of them was still warm when the 
troopers came for him. 

208 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

In the face of extremely bitter criticism from East- 
ern Shore people, Governor Ritchie defended his ac- 
tion: 

"The State Government cannot stand by and per- 
mit a State's Attorney to decline to arrest persons 
who are reliably charged with crime, and, as long as 
neither he nor the judges would act, it became my 
duty to put in motion the machinery of the law and 
cause the arrests to be made." 

The crowd around the armory in which the four 
prisoners were held increased as the news spread. 
Three thousand heard that the guardsmen were going 
to take their prisoners back to court at Princess Anne 
for a hearing. 

"Like hell they will," one man gave voice to the 
mob's thought. "They're not taking them anywhere." 
This defy was greeted with cheers, and the mob be- 
came menacing. The National Guard officers told off 
a hundred men to fix their bayonets, issued them tear 
bombs, and posted them about the building. This 
show of strength further infuriated the mob and 
there was danger that the press from the rear would 
force those in front into the bristling steel. Suddenly 
the Adjutant General ordered: "Let them have it!" 
The soldiers threw their bombs into the mob, blind- 
ing some to tears and leaving others gasping. The 
bombs had a demoralizing effect for a few minutes, 

209 



JUDGE LYNCH 

and the mob retreated, only to re-form and again ad- 
vance threateningly. A second tear gas barrage was 
more effective, and the mob pressed back out of the 
zone of danger. 

Later in the morning the mob, reinforced by more 
farmers and more oystermen, again attempted to 
break through the line of troops outside the armory, 
but were again repulsed with tear gas; this time it was 
used in such quantity that from then on the mob 
stayed behind what might be called the menacing 
point. The Guard officers and the State Troopers had 
a conference, and it was decided that it would be 
unwise to attempt to take the prisoners to Princess 
Anne, a dozen miles away. The temper of the mob 
was such that anywhere along the route they might 
expect pitched battles or sniping from roadside 
bushes. The four prisoners were hustled into buses 
and, almost before the mob was aware of it, they were 
on their way to Baltimore for, as the phrase goes, safe- 
keeping. 

The mob, cheated, looked about and saw those it 
considered responsible for its predicament: newspa- 
per correspondents, photographers, and newspaper 
trucks. The reporters were forced to flee to cellars; 
the photographers, recognizable by their cameras, 
were easy prey; later, when the delivery trucks were 
bringing papers, they were met, their loads destroyed, 

210 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

and their drivers forced to return to their home 
towns. 

The following day the Governor's prisoners were 
returned to Princess Anne on habeas corpus proceed- 
ings and taken before the very judge who had refused 
to issue warrants for their arrest and freed for lack of 
evidence and witnesses. Governor Ritchie sharply re- 
buked the judges sitting in the case, charging that 
they knew that "evidence entirely sufficient" to war- 
rant holding the accused men "would be promptly 
produced if they were willing to hear it." 

Judge Lynch was not reversed. Governor Ritchie 
and the Free State of Maryland did everything in 
their power to punish the guilty; there is no stain on 
the honor of either. But the people of the Eastern 
Shore, and particularly of Somerset County, respect 
and revere the Hanging Judge and insist that all oth- 
ers accept his decisions without question. 



During this time, far across the American conti- 
nent, indeed as far as one may travel overland, the 
state of California was meeting the problem of lynch- 
executions in an entirely different manner, as radical 
in its way as that of the Free State. California's double 
lynching was in the best moving-picture tradition, a 
quickie that wrote its own scenario and was passed by 

211 



JUDGE LYNCH 

a censorship board of the state's most distinguished 
citizens with only a few dissenters. 

Thomas H. Thurmond confessed that he and John 
Holmes had kidnaped and murdered Brooke Hart, 
young San Jose businessman. It was a brutal affair; 
even a brief review of that part of the crime is revolt- 
ing. Hart was snatched as he drove out of a parking 
lot on the evening of November 9. His abductors 
took him to the San Jose bridge, where they blind- 
folded him with a pillow slip, tied heavy cement 
blocks to his body, slugged him with a revolver, and 
shot him. They then threw him from the bridge and, 
observing his struggles in the water, fired half a dozen 
more shots into his body. 

The kidnap-murderers proposed to collect a ran- 
som of $40,000 from their victim's father, carrying 
on their negotiations almost entirely by telephone. 
The wires were tapped by the police, a trap was set, 
and Thurmond, on November 16, was taken into cus- 
tody. His confession implicated Holmes, who was at 
once arrested, and both were incarcerated in the 
Santa Clara County jail to await trial. A reward of 
$500 for the recovery of Brooke Hart's body was of- 
fered by his father and, on November 26, two duck 
hunters found it in three feet of water in San Fran- 
cisco Bay. 

That night, as peaceful San Josans were returning 

212 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

from the movies and theaters, they saw a mob com- 
posed of men, mostly young and on the hoodlum side, 
attack the county jail. The mob was repeatedly re- 
pulsed with tear bombs hurled by officers stationed 
about the building, and for a time the attack took the 
form of a siege. Then the leaders came forward to 
direct the mob's activities, and an eight-inch iron pipe 
was stripped from the partially completed San Jose 
post office adjoining the jail and used as a battering- 
ram. A second group, realizing the efficacy of the 
instrument, tore another pipe from the post office, 
and together the two crews battered their way into 
the jail. Sheriff Emig, who alone in San Jose seemed 
to know his duty, put up a stiff resistance but was so 
severely beaten that he was later taken to a hospital. 

Once the mob was in the jail yard, there was no 
further resistance; police and guards were brushed 
aside. Thurmond and Holmes had been placed in sep- 
arate cells on the second and third floors, and the mob 
divided to seize them. One group made a mistake and 
snatched the wrong prisoner; learning their error, 
they tossed him aside and returned for the right 
victim. 

Word had spread all over the city, and by the time 
the mob brought their victims to the street, all San 
Jose was in a carnival spirit. The two kidnap- 
murderers were dragged a hundred yards to St. James 

213 



JUDGE LYNCH 

Park; Thurmond had fainted, but Holmes fought for 
his life every inch of the way. The unconscious man 
was hanged without difficulty and to the jeers of 
6,000 spectators. Holmes was a powerful man, weigh- 
ing above 200 pounds, and he put up a valiant strug- 
gle, fighting furiously. He was beaten down repeat- 
edly, only to rise again, his body naked and bleeding. 
At last he was beneath the tree selected as his gallows 
and a rope was thrown around his neck; almost un- 
conscious, he managed to throw it off. Again he was 
beaten down, and once more the noose was slipped 
about his throat, but he freed his hands and again 
threw it off. After a final beating, from which he did 
not revive, he was hauled fifteen feet into the air. 

Six thousand San Josans applauded the hangings 
and 10,000 others, unable to get within sight of the 
lynchings, had to be content with adding their vocal 
approval. Men, women, and children enjoyed the 
barbaric spectacle as they would a circus. The San 
Jose police did their level best to help the affair to a 
successful climax by keeping out of the way and by 
permitting no one to enter St. James Park save the 
6,000 already there. When the lynchings were com- 
pleted, the police kept the crowds moving so that all 
might witness the bodies before they were humanely 
cut down. 

214 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

Photographers were present, and many shots of the 
lynching and the lynchers were made; the actual 
lynchers could have been identified, arrested, and 
prosecuted. But for what purpose? Governor James 
Rolph, Jr., was no Governor Ritchie. Not by far. 
Governor Rolph must have had criminal knowledge 
of the proposed lynching, for he postponed a trip to 
Idaho to attend a conference of governors. 

"7f / had gone away" said Rolph's statement, 
"someone would have called out the troops on me, 
and I promised in Los Angeles I would not do that. 
Why should 1 call out the troops to protect those two 
fellows?" 2 

Why, indeed? It's rather late to be inquiring. Gov- 
ernor Rolph has gone to his reward. The alleged 
spontaneity of the uprising, the flash of public indig- 
nation and outrage, seem to have been phony. It 
approaches criminal conspiracy if the Governor's 
words are to be taken literally. If he had gone away, 
someone would have called out the troops and then 
there would have been no lynching. 

Earlier, Governor Rolph had said, even while the 
bodies of the lynched men were still warm: "This is 
the best lesson that California has ever given to the 
country." 

2 Italics are mine. F. S. 

215 



JUDGE LYNCH 

What is the worst lesson that California ever gave 
the country? 

Later, when public-spirited Calif ornians spoke of 
going over the Governor's head and seeking prosecu- 
tion of the lynchers, Rolph came further to the aid 
of Judge Lynch: "If anyone is arrested for the good 
job, I'll pardon them all." 

For several months it was touch-and-go between 
the pro-lynch Americans and their fellows opposed 
to the decisions of the incompetent judge. The pro- 
lynchers filled the columns of the daily papers with 
words of praise for the San Jose mob and for Gover- 
nor Rolph, contemptuously referring to those who 
protested the outrage as "the right-minded." There 
was one hopeful sign in the fact there were so many 
right-minded, mostly outside California. 



During these days while the Judge was traveling 
his circuit along the thirty-ninth parallel, the state of 
Missouri found another case requiring his attention. 
Approximately half way between Maryland and Cal- 
ifornia, Missouri's Governor Park's method of han- 
dling his affair was approximately half way between 
that of Rolph and Ritchie. Park's method was what 
may be called the traditional one. 

Lloyd Warner, a nineteen-year-old Negro, was 

216 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

snatched from the county jail at St. Joseph and 
lynched on the courthouse lawn. This was the same 
jail in which Raymond Gunn had been confined for 
safekeeping in 1930; the same jail from which a mob 
that had come for Gunn was dispersed by the simple 
expedient of aiming an empty machine gun at it. Fur- 
ther, it may be recalled that Gunn was later moved 
to Kansas City for more safekeeping. Missouri, it 
would seem, does not retain very well; mobs learn 
from other mobs, but most peace officers apparently 
discontinue all mental development after securing 
their appointment. 

On Tuesday, November 28, while the papers of 
the nation were featuring Governor Rolph's defense 
of lynching, Warner was arrested, charged with 
criminal assault on a twenty-one-year-old white girl 
on the previous Sunday night. His victim had been 
kicked and beaten and was found in a lonely alley 
bound with her own stockings. Only six months be- 
fore Warner had narrowly escaped prosecution on a 
charge of assaulting a colored woman. When he was 
arraigned, he was ready, he said, to plead guilty. The 
Judge did not want to rush things and directed the 
case not be taken up until the next day. 

Early that evening a mob began forming and ex- 
pressed its intentions by hurling stones through the 
jail windows. Its members evidently had studied the 

217 



JUDGE LYNCH 

San Jose strategy and believed it effective. When 
they were repulsed with tear gas, a small detachment 
was sent for a five-inch iron pipe. The jail door re- 
sisted and, leadership failing to indicate the plan of 
attack, the mob retired out of range. Governor Park 
had time to order out a unit of the Missouri National 
Guard, specifically the Thirty-fifth Tank Company, 
with about sixty-five men. 

"There appeared not to be time enough," said the 
Governor, "to get National Guardsmen from other 
towns nearby." 

Recalling that a single guardsman with an empty 
machine gun had dispersed the Maryville mob, one 
might have thought sixty-five men with tanks would 
have been enough. 

The tanks rolled up to the county jail, and one tank 
soldier who had failed to lock himself in w r as removed 
from the machine by members of the mob and elimi- 
nated from further participation. Then state highway 
police were ordered to the scene. The mob had by 
this time increased to such vast proportions that it 
was too powerful. The tear gas bombs proved inef- 
fectual, and hundreds of the mob crashed through the 
doors of the jail and raced through the corridors. Of- 
ficers within the jail hurled gas bombs indiscrimi- 
nately, fist fights took place, and shots were fired; 
then the forty officers melted before the mob, and the 

218 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

prisoner was taken. The Negro, Warner, was a pow- 
erful man; he fought and kicked, and it took many 
members of the mob to quiet him. Subdued and 
stripped almost naked, the victim was dragged out by 
four young members of the mob, others who were 
following kicking and beating him. He was rushed to 
a tree about a block away, the mob cheering and 
shouting and cursing. Under the tree the Negro at- 
tempted to talk, but shouts of "string him up" 
drowned out whatever he said. He was pulled about 
eight feet into the air as the crowd cheered. Later 
the mob raided a nearby filling station, saturated the 
body with gasoline, and applied torches. When the 
rope by which the Negro was hanging parted, a fire 
was built about the body. 

Later in Jefferson City, when told of the lynching, 
Governor Park said, "I have no comment to make." 

However, four arrests were made. Two of the 
men were charged with first degree murder, one with 
possession of a pistol stolen from a guard on the night 
of the lynching, and the fourth with malicious de- 
struction of property when the jail was attacked. 
There was none charged with simple obstruction of 
traffic. The four men were discharged the following 
year, after the failure of the jury to convict the one 
man against whom the State had the strongest case. 

Thus three Governors in widely separated states 

219 



JUDGE LYNCH 

met Judge Lynch's incursions in varying ways; all 
of the Governors failed. 

On December 5, President Roosevelt, speaking 
over a nationwide radio hook-up, condemned lynch- 
ing and rebuked Governor Rolph, though he did not 
mention the California executive by name: 

"This new generation, for example, is not content 
with preaching against that vile form of collective 
murder, lynch-law, which has broken out in our 
midst anew. We know that it is murder, and a delib- 
erate and definite disobedience of the commandment, 
'Thou shalt not kill.' We do not excuse those in high 
places or in low who condone lynch-law." 

(H) Those Who Defied the Bosses 

The United States, reputedly the most advanced 
of industrial nations, is probably the most backward 
in its attitude toward labor. Not only are the great 
industrialists themselves reactionary to the point of 
sheer feudalism, but they are backed up by a body of 
public opinion, vocal even if in the minority, that is 
ready to go to any lengths to preserve the present 
order. The basis of lynching Negroes in the South is 
obvious: the law of Judge Lynch is invoked to keep 
the black in his economic and cultural place. It is the 
unreconstructed South's answer to the Thirteenth 
Amendment; the southern Negro today is no less a 

220 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

helot than he was a century ago. This cruel weapon 
has also been found effective against white working 
men who, rising in protest against low wages and vile 
working conditions, threaten the profits of the domi- 
nant whites. The crack-pots of the Ku Klux Klan, 
the apostles of the rope and faggot, are at all times 
ready to put the Judge's bosses' edicts into effect. 

The South is learning, somewhat belatedly, that it 
is a bad way to treat a low-priced labor market. 

Short-sighted northern employers have long en- 
vied the South its control over its workers. They have 
sought to imitate the Klan and the Men of Justice 
with similar organizations. The Crusaders and the 
Sentinals of the Republic do not get down into the 
mud with their victims but they are equally repres- 
sive. The Black Legion and the Silver Shirts were 
ready to do any dirty work required of them so long 
as they could hide behind the flag. Failing to keep 
these groups secret, the employers have been com- 
pelled to institute their own lynch-law through 
company spies and company thugs. Instead of the 
death-penalty they use the yellow-dog contract, the 
shut-out and the blacklist, the Weir plan and the Mo- 
hawk Valley double-cross. 

The northern employers have learned that all 
these repressive measures are ineffective against in- 
dustrially organized workers. It is the workers in the 

221 



JUDGE LYNCH 

jungles of industry, the unorganized and the poorly 
organized, those workers in whose minds the neces- 
sity for union is becoming apparent, who are the vic- 
tims of these repressive measures. 

When any of these workers attempt to organize, 
to form themselves into unions for collective strength 
and open bargaining, to protect their jobs and 
secure better working conditions, these underhanded 
employer-weapons fall upon them with a form of 
lynch-law. There are high motives that send priests 
and missionaries into savage lands, and the motives 
that take labor organizers into the jungles of industry 
are often no less exalted. They are missionaries of a 
better world. These missionaries, who seek to preach 
a better everyday life, are often met with violence 
and death, their temples wrecked, their leaders 
mobbed and beaten or jailed. When the police and 
laws have failed, when the workers become insistent 
upon remedial measures, the embattled industrialist 
summons his old ally, Judge Lynch, and his mob 
jury. Posters are thrown against walls announcing, 
"So and So Is Communistic. Communism Will Not 
Be Tolerated. Ku Klux Klan Rides Again." 

Although Judge Lynch's white victims are not so 
numerous as his black sufferers of the same class, the 
whites would make an impressive total if any compu- 
tation were possible. In labor wars the remains of the 

222 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

lynch-victims are often destroyed by burial in quick- 
lime, in phosphate pits, dropped into abandoned 
mines, or weighted down and thrown in rivers and 
harbors. Only on rare occasions are the bodies left to 
be found by the coroner; a lynched working man is 
propaganda too powerful for the masters. 

Frank Little was lynched. So was Joe Hill, though 
the entire state of Utah and the Mormon Church had 
to get down in the mud to bring it about. Wesley 
Everest was barbarously mutilated before he was 
lynched. Frank Norman and Joseph Shoemaker were 
lynched. It isn't often that Judge Lynch wastes his 
time on cripples; not that he is too gallant to take 
advantage of women or the physically handicapped. 
Little was a barb in the crop of organized greed even 
if he hobbled on crutches. 

Butte, Montana, has always been a wide open town 
for those with money. The bosses gambled and won 
with their profits and the workers lost. Speaking in- 
dustrially, it has been called the city of gunmen and 
widows, of sweatholes and cemeteries. The sweat- 
holes are the mines; they have been on fire for half a 
century, and the temperature averages about 1 1 6 de- 
grees summer and winter. The fires are, officially, un- 
der control; it is only when the flame strikes a pocket 
of gas that things get messed up and some miners are 
picked up in grilled pieces and sent to their bereaved 

223 



JUDGE LYNCH 

families. The mine jobs are considered risky work, 
but there are many men in Butte who are happy to 
have the work. Sometimes conditions get so bad that 
even the most loyal workers are compelled to rebel. 

On June 8, 1917, the aptly named Speculator Mine, 
one of Butte's most important, caught fire, and nearly 
two hundred miners were burned to death. Investiga- 
tion showed that the Montana State Mining Law had 
been violated, that almost two hundred lives had been 
sacrificed for small profits. The solid concrete bulk- 
heads separating the mines did not contain the re- 
quired safety manholes. When the flames broke out, 
the workers swarmed to the lower levels, trying to 
find exits into other mines through the manholes. 
They found instead that the mine owners had saved 
some money by not putting them in, but the discov- 
ery cost them their lives. No mine operator was prose- 
cuted for this violation of the law or for the deaths of 
the workers. 

While the Speculator still stank of burned flesh, the 
miners went on strike, demanding not higher pay or 
shorter hours, but a higher safety standard. They 
didn't want to die while earning their pitiable wages 
in the sweatholes. The Industrial Workers of the 
World sent in Frank Little, a small, crippled fellow 
known from one end of the mining territory to the 
other as a capable organizer. Little had been beaten 

224 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

and had gone through as much persecution as it is 
possible for one man to stand; half -Indian, half -white, 
he did not seem to know the meaning of fear. That his 
efforts in organizing the miners in their fight for 
safety were effective there is no doubt. On the last 
day of July, 1917, he hobbled on his crutch to the 
cheap lodging house where he lived and went to his 
room. It had been a hard day and he discarded only his 
outer clothing and went to sleep. Some time during 
the night a gang of six men came and took him out, 
bound his hands behind his back, tied him to the rear 
of their car, and drove off into the night, dragging 
him through Butte streets. They literally tore off his 
kneecaps. 

What happened after that is not known. The next 
morning Little's body was found hanging from a rail- 
road trestle. It showed evidences of beating and had 
been mutilated. There was no police investigation. 
Frank Little was only a "wobbly," an enemy to 
those who could lose gracefully in Butte's gambling 
halls. 

Little's case was not an isolated one. Other labor 
organizers were informed that they could expect the 
same treatment if they did not at once leave the 
city. They did not go; the strike continued for five 
months, when the workers, defeated by starvation, 
were forced back into the sweatholes. 

225 



JUDGE LYNCH 

What the workers in the outposts of industry, in 
the woods and mines, suffered during America's par- 
ticipation in the World War will never be known. 
Under the whiplash of the patriots, driven by the 
war-time need for immediate materials and the un- 
paralleled opportunity for tremendous profits, many 
a rebellious Worker was sent down the trail, la longue 
traverse. 

The workers, once the Armistice was signed, re- 
sumed organizational activities. The patriots were 
through with their chauvinistic shouting and fag- 
waving; that curse was lifted. If the bosses had har- 
bored any idea of recruiting returned veterans for 
their subversive tactics, they were sadly disillusioned, 
for only in isolated instances did the Legion permit 
itself to be used against the workers. The average 
Legionnaire soon realized that in any battles at home 
he belonged on the side of his fellow workers. 

Centralia was an exception. 



Calling names never does much harm to either op- 
ponent in a quarrel, no matter how apt the epithets 
happen to be. When the union lumber-workers re- 
ferred to the lumber interests as the "timber beast," 
the beast retaliated with "timber wolves." The appel- 
lations were well deserved, and it was only when the 

226 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

stronger "beast" began exterminating the "wolves" 
that war was declared. And the beast showed how 
beastly it could be, and the wolves proved to be only 
so many rabbits, though of a lion-hearted variety. 

In most of the various warring nations the soldiers 
who were fortunate enough to survive returned to 
their home towns and became a part of the civilian 
population, changing their uniforms for mufti and, 
save for a small star in their lapels, becoming indis- 
tinguishable from their non-combatant fellows. In 
America, the returned veteran, whether he had been 
to the battlefields or only to a camp, became a sort 
of demigod. His person, his welfare, and his future 
became the deep concern of the patriots and of the 
Government. Nothing was too good for our brave 
heroes. They had founded a veteran-organization be- 
fore they left France, and no one protested, though 
such an organization might have wielded, under cer- 
tain conditions, a greater influence for evil than the 
Ku Klux Klan. The veteran-organization prospered 
and thrived where labor unions failed. Many towns 
and cities gave their units small endowments, rent- 
free quarters, and many other considerations. 

It was something of a shock to the people who had 
so glorified the veterans to learn that on the first anni- 
versary of their victory four of them had been shot 
down in cold blood by members of a subversive body 

227 



JUDGE LYNCH 

known as the I.W.W. On November n, 1919, the 
Legionnaires of Centralia, Washington, had donned 
their old uniforms and gone forth to parade the 
streets, to celebrate their victory, and to honor the 
memory of those fellows-at-arms who had not re- 
turned. It was a memorial service that was being re- 
peated in every town and city in the land; in the 
minds of most Americans the victims might have been 
their own boys in their own home town. That was 
the way it read in the papers, in the indignant editori- 
als and in the letters to the editors. 

But the story did not begin and end on that No- 
vember n, but went away back to 1912, when the 
beasts and the wolves started calling each other names. 

Armistice Day parades follow a definite program. 
The participants assemble at a predetermined point, 
the band strikes up, and the parade moves over a 
known route, past a reviewing stand and on to the 
dispersal point. In some parades, unloaded or dummy 
rifles are carried by all the participants; in others, 
only the color guard or the guard of honor carry rifles 
loaded with blank cartridges. The parade is a peace- 
time demonstration. 

In no Armistice Day parades are ropes carried nor 
are certain leaders armed with loaded revolvers. 

In 1918, the patriots of Centralia, as a war-time 
measure, had raided and closed the hall of the local 

228 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

Industrial Workers of the World. They were not en- 
tirely a destructive mob; they demolished only what 
they could not use elsewhere. Desks, chairs, and type- 
writers went to true-blue patriots, and the local's 
phonograph was auctioned off for the benefit of the 
Red Cross. The only Wobbly in sight, a blind news- 
paperman, was taken for a ride, tossed out into a 
ditch, and warned not to return. The raid was suc- 
cessful in a way; the patriots were rid of some of the 
wolves, they thought, and in their simple way had 
helped make the world safe for democracy. The chief 
drawback was that the Wobblies secured more desks, 
chairs, and a typewriter and re-opened their head- 
quarters almost immediately. Business went on as 
usual; the literature put out to incite the wolves only 
incited the beast to violence against the union. 

In 1919 the I.W.W. had organized a strike in the 
short log country of eastern Washington and, in 
dread that the strike would spread westward, the 
western Washington lumber owners decided that the 
unions must be driven out for all time. A meeting, 
advertised frankly to achieve this purpose, was held 
in the Elks' lodge rooms in Centralia. After eighteen 
years, the evidence is practically conclusive that the 
Legion, as an organization, was not a party to the plan 
but the tool of certain influential citizens, some of 
them members of the local post. The 1918 raid had 

229 



JUDGE LYNCH 

been conducted under cover of a Red Cross parade; 
the 1919 affair would be covered by the Armistice 
Day services. The idea was to "let the men in uniform 
do it." 

The parade formed and passed down the main 
street; it did not stop at the designated dispersal place, 
but at the command of armed leaders continued for 
several blocks, past the I.W.W. union hall for an- 
other block. Then, again defying parade customs, it 
turned in its tracks and made its way back to the 
union hall. As the Legionnaires of Centralia came 
abreast of the building, a leader shouted the usual 
command: "Let's go! " and some of the paraders broke 
ranks and charged the union headquarters. 

The proposed raid was no secret in Centralia. The 
Wobblies knew it was coming had, in fact, secured 
legal advice that they would be within their rights 
in protecting their property. As the glass of their 
windows crashed and armed men began entering their 
hall, they let go a burst of gunfire. One of the leaders 
of the paraders, Warren Grimm, was shot in the ab- 
domen, and before he died, he said: "It serves me 
right. I had no business there." Others were wounded, 
and during the lull occasioned by the shock, the 
Wobblies retreated through back doors and windows. 

Many of the Wobblies, it may be remembered, 
were veterans themselves. One of these, Wesley Ev- 

230 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH S CASES 

erest, was armed with a forty -five caliber automatic, 
and it is believed that his shots had killed Grimm and 
another veteran, Arthur McElfresh. With his pocket 
full of cartridges, Everest retreated, shooting. He 
would run a hundred yards, followed by the mob, 
turn and shoot. The mob would stop with him and 
resume running when he ran. He was cornered at a 
river bank, made his last stand, and, in self-defense, 
shot and killed Dale Hubbard, a nephew of one of 
the lumber owners. 

"Stand back," he shouted, brandishing his auto- 
matic. "If there are any bulls in the crowd, I'll sub- 
mit to arrest." 

The mob closed in on him, and it was then learned 
what the ropes that had been carried in the parade 
were for. 

"Let's finish the job," said a voice. 

"You haven't got guts enough to lynch a man in 
the daytime," was Everest's defiant comment. 

The rope was placed around his neck, but the cries 
to swing him up were interrupted by a woman who 
brushed through the crowd and threw the rope from 
his neck. 

"You are curs and cowards to treat a man like that! " 

Everest had been shot in the side; he was taken not 
to a hospital but to the city jail, where he was thrown 
into the bull pen. There he lay in a wet heap on the 

231 



JUDGE LYNCH 

cement floor, twitching in agony, only an occasional 
moan escaping his lips. 

That night the lights of Centralia were shut off, 
and under cover of darkness members of the mob 
went to the jail and took the semi-conscious Wesley 
Everest out. They had no trouble finding him; a 
guard called through the darkness: 

"Don't shoot, men! Here is your man." 

Everest knew why the mob had come. He stag- 
gered to his feet defiantly and, as the mob dragged 
him through the corridor, he shouted: 

"Tell the boys I died for my class." 

He was thrown into the back of an automobile, 
pushed to the floor, and hurried to the Chehalis River 
bridge. Before they reached their destination the 
hands of his captors were sticky and red, their trou- 
sers sodden with the blood of their captive. One had 
reached into his pocket, brought out a razor, and for 
a moment fumbled over the body on the floor. Sud- 
denly there was a piercing scream and Everest cried: 

"For Christ's sake, men, shoot me! Don't let me 
suffer like this!" 

The man with the razor finished his work. The car 
sped on to the bridge, where the men hanged him, not 
once but three times. As they lowered him over the 
side of the bridge, his hands convulsively clutched 
the planking, and one stamped on the fingers until 

232 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

the hold was broken. Then they hoisted him up and 
hanged him again and again. The sadistic affair was 
not yet over; flashlights were played upon the hang- 
ing body, and volley after volley of bullets was 
pumped into it. 

The next morning a member of the lynch mob 
went among his fellow-lynchers and advised them: 

"We've got to get that body or the Wobs will find 
it and raise hell over its condition." 

The coroner's report on the death of Wesley Ev- 
erest was not delivered officially to the people of Cen- 
tralia. It was delivered a few nights later at the Elks' 
Club. 

"Everest," he stated, "broke out of jail, went to 
the Chehalis Bridge, and hanged himself. Finding the 
rope too short, he climbed back and, fastening on a 
longer one, jumped off again." 



Whereas the Negro is the chief whipping-boy be- 
low Mason and Dixon's Line, the white working 
man who has the temerity to stick his neck out is 
quite likely to find a noosed rope about it when he 
draws it back. There are definite things the dominant 
whites cannot tolerate: Negroes who refuse to stay 
in the place assigned to them; white workers who 
protest the conditions imposed upon them; anyone 

233 



JUDGE LYNCH 

who questions the voice that constantly intones the 
chant: "We know how to run this part of the coun- 
try." 

When they are unable to corrupt their courts of 
law, they go to a higher authority. They call in the 
Klan. The White Legion. The Men of Justice. Judge 
Lynch. 



Although workers in any part of these United 
States are subject to repressive measures, the chief 
centers of repression are in the South. Harlan County, 
Kentucky coal mining area, is infamous for its flout- 
ing of civil liberties; conditions in eastern Arkansas 
among the farm and cotton sharecroppers are a 
stench in the nostrils of all Americans; the Vigi- 
lantes have spattered the fruit and vegetables of 
southern California with the blood of American and 
Mexican workers. In Atlanta, Birmingham, and New 
Orleans one has only to be denounced as a Red or a 
Communist to have a mob of red-baiters on his heels. 
Number One sore spot is Tampa, Florida. 

Tampa is noted for its cigars, but cigar-making is 
the city's third largest industry. It is the center of a 
citrus-growing country, and an almost steady stream 
of oranges, grapefruit, and sub-tropical vegetables 

2 34 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

passes through the seaport; yet the citrus industry is 
not Tampa's greatest. The fifteen- to twenty-million- 
dollars-a-year industry, the all-year crop, is gambling. 
In Tampa the dominant whites are Klansmen, lead- 
ers who use the rank and file of members to hold their 
positions. The citizens of Tampa differ not at all from 
the citizens of any other American city; they choose 
their mayors and city officials by ballot, the police 
are appointed and patrol the streets, the tax-gatherers 
are just as insistent as anywhere else. Yet the city is 
Klan dominated. It is said that it is useless to seek ap- 
pointment to the police or fire department unless you 
are a Klan member. If a Klan member commits a 
crime, it is difficult to secure an arrest, and it is said 
that if the Klan does not care for you, your house 
may burn for all the fire department cares. 

A few citizens, working men for the most part, 
deplored the situation and thought that something 
should be done to correct it. In 1935, as always, there 
was only the dominant Democratic party, and a pro- 
fessed Republican was no better than an alien. As a 
matter of policy, these protesting citizens decided to 
call their new party the Modern Democrats and, be- 
cause some of them were former Socialists, the Klan- 
dominated opposition charged them as communists. 
The Klan did not don their nightshirts and go after 

2 35 



JUDGE LYNCH 

the Modern Democrats; they were fearless and kept 
on their police uniforms and plain clothes and did it 
all according to the book. 

In a democracy such as ours any individual or 
group has a right to fight, obeying all legal rules, any 
other individual or group. If the Ku Klux Klan de- 
cides to fight communism, it is well within its rights; 
it may fight tooth and nail and no holds barred. The 
Communist party has a right to battle the Klan and its 
fascist implications under the same terms. But the is- 
sues and terms should be clearly defined: the Klan 
may not pursue its own subversive activities by 
merely labeling anything to which it is opposed as 
communism. But reason is too rare and beautiful an 
impulse to expect from a Klansman. 

"All things," says the Klan Kreed, "and matters 
which do not exist within this Order or are not au- 
thorized by or do not come under its jurisdiction shall 
be designated as the 'Alien World.' All persons who 
are not members of this Order shall be designated as 
'Aliens.' " 

The men who organized the Modern Democrats 
were anything but communists: a few had been So- 
cialists, most were industrious working men, all the 
organizers were union members. It is known now that 
many of the citizens of Tampa were sympathetic to 
their movement, but if they were permitted to con- 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

tinue they would become a menace to the Klan- 
machine. 

One evening six of them were to meet in execu- 
tive session. Seated about the living-room table in the 
home of Mrs. A. M. Herald, they were debating the 
form their constitution should take and had decided 
to pattern it after that of the American Legion. They 
were Joseph Shoemaker, chairman, formerly a mem- 
ber of the S.P.; Sam Rogers, WPA worker, an M.D. 
from Loyola College; Walter Roush, president of the 
Sulphur Springs Workers Alliance and a member of 
the S.P.; Charles E. Jensen, a member of the S.P.; and 
J. A. McCaskill, a Tampa fireman whose father was a 
Tampa policeman. The sixth man, who had not yet 
appeared, was Eugene F. Poulnot, formerly presi- 
dent of the Pressmen's Union, A.F. of L., then a 
WPA worker and chairman of the Florida Workers' 
Alliance. McCaskill offered to go after him. 

As soon as Poulnot stepped inside the house, seven 
policemen entered; three came in the front door and 
four in the back. Guns were drawn, papers grabbed, 
and the men were searched. Six men were arrested, 
but only the names of five appeared on the police 
blotter; the name of J. A. McCaskill was missing. They 
were taken to police headquarters and grilled. Later 
they were released, not in a group, but one by one. 
As they left headquarters, they were snatched, one 

2 37 



JUDGE LYNCH 

by one, and shoved into cars and taken to the woods. 
When Poulnot struggled and fought against being 
taken into the automobile, a crowd gathered. One of 
the kidnapers announced: 

"We're taking a crazy man to Chattahoochee." 

Shoemaker was tumbled in on top of Poulnot and 
the car hurried to a point fourteen miles outside 
Tampa. Rogers was taken in another car. For some 
reason Roush and Jensen were not beaten, but were 
permitted to return to their homes. Rogers was 
stripped and placed over a log. His hands and feet 
were held while he was beaten. Then boiling tar was 
applied to his abdomen, sexual organs, and thighs. 

Shoemaker and Poulnot suffered even worse. Poul- 
not was flogged with a chain and a rawhide, then he 
was tarred and feathered. Once, as he revived, one of 

his lynchers said: "The is faking. Let's give it 

to him!" 

The tortures that Shoemaker went through will 
never be known. He was too horribly mutilated ever 
to tell. That he suffered more than Poulnot is evi- 
dent. The boiling tar had been poured over his naked 
body and burned into his lacerated flesh. For seven 
hours he lay beside the road, unconscious through a 
night suddenly turned cold. At the Centro Espanol 
Hospital, to which he was taken, it was possible to 

238 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

warm him only with hot water bottles. A leading 
Tampa surgeon examined him and stated: 

"He was horribly mutilated. I wouldn't beat a hog 
the way that man was whipped. He was beaten until 
he was paralyzed on one side, probably from blows 
on the head. He cannot say anything to you; he does 
not know what happened. He cannot use one arm, 
and I doubt if three square feet would cover the total 
area of bloodshot bruises on his body, not counting 
the parts injured only by tar." 

For days Joseph Shoemaker lingered between life 
and death, suffering terrible agonies. In a final, des- 
perate attempt to save his life, one of his legs was 
amputated. On the ninth day he died. 

The people of Tampa were aroused. On December 
12, three days after Shoemaker's death, the Tampa 
Tribune stated: "The state investigators have found 
evidence that leads them to believe Shoemaker and 
the others were framed." Such a public admission of 
police guilt was unexpected in Tampa. News of the 
outrage had spread throughout the country, and the 
Klan-police knew they had overshot their mark. 
Policemen were warned not to talk. Police Chief 
Tittsworth, devoting all his activities to covering up 
the evidence of the crime, found himself indicted as 
an accessory after the fact. Local public indignation, 

239 



JUDGE LYNCH 

backed by Tampa newspapers, was strong, and in- 
dictments followed on charges of kidnaping and mur- 
der. How great was the power of the Klan was seen 
in the indictments, which were loosely worded and 
provided many legal loop-holes. Still the Klan was 
thoroughly frightened, how frightened may be 
guessed from the fact that the Klan strategists asked 
for a change of venue, 

It was known that the same men who had beaten 
E. F. Poulnot were the murderers of Joseph Shoe- 
maker, yet they were placed on trial charged with the 
kidnaping only of Poulnot. Governor Dave Sholtz 
designated Judge Robert T. Dewell to hear the case, 
and the trial was moved to Bartow, in Polk County, 
on the ground that the Klansmen-police-defendants 
could not hope for a fair hearing in Tampa. The main 
defense argument was that the victims were com- 
munists and therefore not entitled to the protection 
of the law. The trial was marked by the Judge's sym- 
pathy for the defendants to such an extent that the 
Court rallied to the defense attorney's argument that 
unless the sole intent of the kidnaping was to confine 
the victim secretly, the jury could not convict. Here 
the honorable Judge's own words of instruction to 
the jury: 

"Even if you are satisfied from the evidence be- 

240 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

yond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt 
that the defendants, without lawful authority, seized 
the said E. F. Poulnot and illegally and unlawfully 
carried him from the City Hall to the Estuary, and 
there turned him over to other persons, who in turn 
carried him into the country and flogged the said E. F. 
Poulnot, you still could not convict the defendants 
unless you believe beyond every reasonable doubt 
that it was their intention to secretly confine or im- 
prison the said E. F. Poulnot." 

But the jury disagreed with His Honor. Made up 
of working men, it brought in a verdict of guilty. 
The jurors later told newspapermen that they had 
been unanimous on the first ballot. 

The Klan was not beaten, not yet through. The 
convicted Klansmen were given sentences of four 
years, though under the law they could have been 
condemned to serve ten years. Even at that, they did 
not go to jail, but were sent to their homes under 
bond, pending disposition of their appeal in the Su- 
preme Court of Florida. 

The Klan brought their heavy guns into action. 
The best lawyers searched the records for precedents, 
the finest attorneys sent their briefs to the highest 
court in the state and came away with a reversal of 
the convictions on the ground that Judge Dewell 

241 



JUDGE LYNCH 

committed an error in permitting the introduction of 
evidence concerning a conspiracy on the part of the 
defendants to commit the crime of kidnaping. 

The new trial was held in October, 1937, almost 
two years after the flogging, the criminal assault, if 
you insist, and the defendants, again before Judge 
Dewell, were acquitted. 

Earlier, the Klan decided their members would 
not be put on trial for the murder of Joseph Shoe- 
maker. When State's Attorney Rex Farrior appeared 
before Judge Dewell to have the date fixed for the 
murder case, the Court announced that no trial of 
the homicide case would be allowed because the state 
had jailed to pay Polk County the sum of $531.60, 
expenses incurred for bailiff fees and the like in the 
foulnot case. 

Public-spirited citizens became indignant and has- 
tened to contribute the money owed Polk County so 
that the eleven men who were indicted for murder 
might be brought to trial. Somewhat reluctantly, 
Judge Dewell set the murder trial for April 19, 1937, 
later removing it from the calendar; he gave as his 
reasons the failure, at that time, of the higher court 
to pass on the appeal of the five men convicted of kid- 
naping. Even to a layman it must be apparent that the 
murder of Shoemaker had nothing to do with the 
conviction of the men who flogged Poulnot. The 

242 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

Klan works in mysterious ways its wonders to per- 
form. 



The Florida Klan has a better plan than lynching 
to be rid of those they label communistic: it is mys- 
terious disappearance with no traces left. Frank Nor- 
man was an organizer of the United Citrus Workers' 
Union and a thorn in the side of the dominant whites. 
One of his aims was that blacks and whites should 
stick together, each refusing to scab on the other. It 
was bad enough to try to organize the white fruit 
pickers, but to urge them to stand together with Ne- 
groes was too much. 

There was a knock on the door of the Lakeland 
home of Frank Norman, and he answered it to learn 
that three men, calling themselves Sheriff Chase and 
two deputies, wanted him to go down the road 
toward Haines City to identify a Negro who had 
been lynched. They said that Norman's name had 
been found in the victim's pocket. 

Mrs. Norman wanted to go with him but was dis- 
suaded: instead, a friend, Ben Surrency, went with 
Norman to the Sheriff's car. Mr. Surrency was the 
last friend to see Frank Norman: 

"Mr. Norman stepped in the car in the rear seat; I fol- 
lowed in the middle. The supposed Mr. Chase got in 
with us in the back seat. As we drove off a possible one 

2 43 



JUDGE LYNCH 

hundred yards from the house, Mr. Norman asked Mr. 
Chase to show his authority as he did not know whether 
he was the high sheriff or not. The man answered, 'I am 
not Sheriff Chase, but a deputive from Highland City. It 
doesn't matter; the Negro has a card with your name and 
home address on it, and we want you to identify him so 
we can take him down for an inquest.' Mr. Norman says, 
Will you please stop about one hundred yards farther 
down the road so I can pick up another man, as he might 
be a help to identify the Negro?' The man says, 'Sure,' 
and turned on Ingram Avenue instead of following the 
Bartow Road according to Mr. Norman's instructions. 
I judge we drove forty yards when the car came to a 
sudden stop. The man sitting beside the driver covered 
Mr. Norman with a gun. Then he asked me my name. As 
I told him my name was Ben Surrency, he said, 'Get out. 
I don't want you.' I got out as I was told. Mr. Norman 
put up both his hands, asking the man what in the world 
does this mean. Mr. Norman was saying other words as 
I was rushed out of the car and I could not understand 
what he was saying. As I got on the street a gun fired. 
And an awful thumping noise was heard in the car. The 
supposed-to-be Sheriff Chase took me by the shoulder 
and faced me back home and told me not to look. Another 
car forty or fifty feet back of the car I just got out of 
and facing me stopped with their bright lights on. Both 
cars remained still until I had passed the second car some 
distance. Then they both sped on." 

Frank Norman did not return. Nor has his body 
been discovered. It may have been buried in an un- 

244 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

known grave, or burned in a mysterious fire that oc- 
curred a few days later. It may have been weighted 
and sunk in one of the many lakes in the vicinity, or 
dropped into one of the flooded phosphate pits 
close by. 

Frank Norman's fellow-workers know who was 
behind his murder and they were not astonished at 
the apathetic investigation. No one could expect the 
Klan to go around to the courthouse to indict itself. 

(/) '937 

Politely ignoring the records in a burst of guber- 
natorial pride on April 13 of last year, Governor 
Hugh White of Mississippi announced in an address 
before the Farm Chemurgic Conference at Jackson 
that the state had not had a lynching in fifteen months. 
The Governor was wrong: the records show that 
just four months before his declaration, J. B. Grant, 
seventeen-year-old Negro, of Laurel, was shot to 
death by a mob. After his body had been riddled with 
more than a hundred bullets, it was tied to an auto- 
mobile and dragged through the streets, then hanged 
to a trestle. Governor White can read the whole story 
in the Memphis (Tennessee) Press-Scimitar for De- 
cember 5. Even at that, we can forgive the Governor 
his moment of pride, for in the year 1935 his state 

2 45 



JUDGE LYNCH 

had got right down in the mud with a credit of eight 
of the total of twenty-five lynchings for the year. 

But even as the Governor left the platform he was 
given the news that, while he was speaking, two Ne- 
groes were being lynched in the state of Mississippi. 



Only eight men were lynched in 1937; all were 
colored, and only one was accused of a sexual crime. 
All the lynchings were confined to what is known as 
the lynch-belt, and all followed the constant pattern 
of the years. There were two double lynchings, one 
while Congress was debating the Gavagan Bill; a 
brand new method in torture was introduced; one 
Negro lynched was innocent of any crime and was 
thrown by the Sheriff as a sop to the mob. One was 
lynched by a mob seeking another. 

In Alabama, at Abbey ville, on February 2, Wesley 
Johnson, twenty-two, was taken from the Henry 
County jail by a mob of a hundred men. He was 
charged with attempted assault and was taken to the 
scene of the alleged crime and riddled with bullets. 
Later Attorney-General A. A. Carmichael asserted 
he could prove conclusively that Johnson was inno- 
cent of the crime, that the Sheriff knew he was in- 
nocent, but made the arrest to appease the populace. 

246 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCH's CASES 

There were no arrests, though impeachment pro- 
ceedings against the Sheriff were instituted, and no 
convictions. 

At Duck Hill, Mississippi, April 13, two Negroes 
accused of the murder of a country merchant on De- 
cember 30, 1936, were snatched by twelve men from 
the Sheriff and two deputies as they were being re- 
turned to jail. "Boot Jack" MacDaniels and Roosevelt 
Townes, the victims, were hurried to the scene of 
their crime, stripped to the waist, and chained to 
trees. A member of the mob brought out a gasoline 
blow-torch. The torch flames were sprayed on the 
Negroes' bared breasts and they were ordered to 
confess. MacDaniels was the first to feel the searing 
blow-torch and readily confessed that he had robbed 
the merchant after Townes had killed him. He was 
then riddled with bullets. Townes, the Associated 
Press reported, died under the torture of the blow- 
torch. Both men in their confessions implicated an- 
other man, who was later captured and brought to 
the carnival. The third man admitted he had origi- 
nally been a party to the conspiracy but insisted he 
had withdrawn before the crime. He was severely 
beaten and ordered to leave the state. The lynch mob, 
assisted by the hundred spectators, piled brush high 
about the victims and burned their bodies. Governor 

2 47 



JUDGE LYNCH 

White was reported "outraged," but even at that 
there were no arrests, no indictments, and no con- 
victions. 

On July 20, Judge Lynch went to Tallahassee, 
Florida, and snatched Richard Hawkins and Ernest 
Ponder, two young Negroes charged with stabbing 
a policeman, from a jail but two blocks away from 
the Florida capitol. They were taken three miles over 
the Tallahassee-Jacksonville highway and hanged. 
There were no investigations, no arrests, no indict- 
ments, and no convictions. On August 27, the St. Pe- 
tersburg Times commented: 

"An investigation into the lynching of two Ne- 
groes in Tallahassee got nowhere, just as everyone, 
familiar with Florida justice, expected." 

Just about the time that Florida's state capital was 
enjoying its double lynching, Tennesseeans were 
smugly telling themselves that it couldn't happen in 
Tennessee. On July 19, Sheriff Vaughan outraced a 
mob that had formed to lynch Albert Gooden, 
charged with murder, and got his man to Memphis 
for safekeeping. The state was getting credit for a 
prevented lynching when the Sheriff went to bring 
Gooden back to the Marion jail. The Sheriff, it seems, 
brought the prisoner direct to the waiting mob and 
delivered him without any protest. Something had 
happened in the meantime. The Sheriff had been put 

248 



SOME OF JUDGE LYNCHES CASES 

on the spot and did his level best to recapture his pop- 
ular standing with the lynch-minded. There were but 
six members in the mob that on August 17 took 
Gooden away from the peace officer, rushed him to 
a railroad trestle near Covington, hanged him, and 
riddled his body with bullets. There were no arrests, 
no indictments, and, consequently, no convictions. 

On September 3, at Mount Vernon, Georgia, a 
small mob, engaged in a man-hunt for a Negro ac- 
cused of assaulting a white woman, desired to search 
the home of Will Kirby, Negro. Kirby resisted and 
was shot and killed by the mob. The state of Georgia 
indicated by its lack of action in the matter that it 
would like to forget the whole affair. 

Until October 4, Florida was tied with its old rival, 
Mississippi, for the 1937 lynch-dishonors. On that 
day a Crestview mob snatched J. C. Evans, charged 
with robbery and a "crime against nature" involving 
a twelve-year-old boy, from the Sheriff and riddled 
his body with buckshot and pistol bullets. In com- 
menting on the three lynchings in Florida this year, 
the Miami News stated: 

"In each case, prisoners have been seized from 
what appeared to be careless and inadequately 
manned guards. The circumstances in more than one 
case even left room for hints of collusion between 
mobsters and officers of the law. In each case a 'thor- 

249 



JUDGE LYNCH 

ough' investigation has been promised and in each 
case up to the present, the investigators were quite 
unable to 'establish the identity' of the murderers." 
Score: Florida 3; Mississippi 2; Alabama i; Geor- 
gia i; Tennessee i. 



The total membership of all lynch mobs for the 
year was under five hundred; the number of peace of- 
ficers unfaithful to their vows was but seven. This small 
number of criminals has put the lynch-curse on the 
rest of the one hundred and twenty-five million Amer- 
icans and held us up to the contempt and scorn of 
all civilized peoples. 



250 



Chapter Seven 

THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

As a nation we have been conditioned to the lynch- 
spirit. Throughout our lives we shout our disapproval 
of baseball decisions and demand that the umpire be 
killed. When we meet with a new type of criminal, 
or when one of us proposes a too-radical public 
course, we assure one another that the offender should 
be taken out and strung up to the nearest telegraph 
pole. Lynch-spirit is not the monopoly of the South; 
it is firmly fixed in our national psychology. Much of 
our collective thinking ends in thoughts of violence. 
There is but one effective curb on the activities of 
the Hanging Judge, and that is an awakened public 
consciousness of the evil. Lynchings do not happen 
where the people do not want them. Peace officers 
are human; they are politicians dependent upon popu- 
lar support for continuance in office; they give their 
people what they want. Crime in any form must be 
tolerated to exist. As a people, we may not entirely 
approve lynch-executions, but we do tolerate them. 
An extended educational program might correct this 

251 



JUDGE LYNCH 

fault, but it would be a long and costly process, costly 
in the lives that would be destroyed while the program 
was being brought to a conclusion. 

With public opinion failing to end the lynch-spirit, 
dependence must be placed upon better peace officers 
and upon the enactment of more stringent laws. Since 
the Armistice, twice as many threatened lynchings 
have been prevented as have been consummated. But 
a frustrated lynch mob is as much an expression of 
the lynch-spirit as a successful lynching. Lives have 
been saved through the resourcefulness of the peace 
officers, and would-be lynchers have been prevented 
from becoming actual murderers. That the list of 
frustrated lynchings increases annually is a matter for 
satisfaction. 1 

Most lynchings occur either soon after the com- 
mission of the crime, when the criminal has been ar- 
rested, or later, when he is to be brought before the 
court. The earlier mob can usually be handled by 
resolute peace officers. It is the later mob, more de- 
liberate and better organized, that is the more dan- 
gerous. The lynch leaders, having determined upon a 
lynching, survey the situation and make their plans 

1 1919. ..43 

1920. ..84 

1921. .108 

1922. .114 
1923- --56 

Source: Negro Year Book, 1937-1938. 

2 5 2 



1924.. 


.61 


1929. 


34 


1934. 


74 


1925.. 


53 


1930. 


...60 


1935- 


...84 


1926. . 


.40 


1931. 


...91 


1936. 


79 


1927.. 


.68 


1932. 


43 


1937- 


...56 


1928.. 


.40 


1933- 


...48 







THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

strategically. Against such mobs there must be the 
use of legal and official strategy. The weapons are 
available in almost every state, and the competent 
peace officer should know how to use them effec- 
tively. The prisoner may be sent to another and 
stronger jail for safekeeping; a stronger and more 
effective guard accompanies him to and from the 
court; the state police and the militia may be called 
for further protection of the prisoner. Finally, many 
states provide for a change of venue. 

Mobs must be broken up by the use of force. Any 
sheriff worthy of his office is aware of the awakening 
of the mob-spirit, and immediate action can be made 
effective. The actual leaders can be determined and 
arrested before the lynching. The forces of the law 
are and must always be kept stronger than those of 
the lawless. In 1934, at Shelbyville, Tennessee, in a 
county conditioned to lynching, a lynch mob was 
repulsed by state troops who killed three and wounded 
twenty mob members. The intended victim was saved, 
though the mob did burn the courthouse. In Sherman, 
Texas, the lynch-victim could have been saved by a 
similar show of force. Had Henry Lowry been con- 
ducted to jail as the Governor instructed, he would 
have paid the legal penalty for his crime instead of 
the lynch-penalty. Dr. Raper reports a Texas case 
where the Sheriff sought out the man who was or- 

253 



JUDGE LYNCH 



ganizing a lynching and nipped the affair in the bud 
by delivering the leader a hefty blow that knocked 
him off his feet. 



Most legislation relating to lynching is punitive, 
and some of it is prophylactic. The great body of such 
laws are designed for the protection of intended 
lynch-victims who are already in the hands of the 
law. The chief need is for the protection against lynch- 
ing of a person not yet arrested. 

"Lynching has no technical legal meaning. It is 
merely a descriptive phrase used to signify the lawless 
acts of persons who violate established law at the 
time they commit the acts. . . . The offense of 
lynching is unknown to the common law." 2 

Some states have defined lynching and made it a 
crime: Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Virginia, 
and North Carolina. Georgia has made lynching a 
statutory crime, but without defining it. Other states 
have defined mob-violence and made it a crime: Il- 
linois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and West Virginia. 
Of the ten states having statutory definitions of the 
crime of lynching or mob violence, seven have had 

2 Corpus Juris, Vol. XXXVIII, 328. Quoted from Chadbourn: Lynch- 
ing and the Law. 

254 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

lynchings since the respective enactments: Alabama, 
17; Illinois, 8; Kansas, 5; Kentucky, 8; North Carolina, 
38; Virginia i; West Virginia, i. 

ALABAMA: Any number of persons assembled for 
any unlawful purpose and intending to injure any 
person by violence and without authority of the law 
shall be regarded as a mob, and any act of violence 
exercised by such a mob upon the body of any per- 
son shall, when such act results in the death of the 
injured person, constitute the crime of lynching; and 
any person who participates in or actively aids or 
abets such lynching shall, on conviction, suffer death 
or be imprisoned in the penitentiary for not less than 
five years, at the discretion of the jury; and any per- 
son, who, being a member of any such mob and 
present at any such lynching, shall not actively 
participate in the lynching, shall be deemed guilty of 
abetting such lynching, and, on conviction, shall be 
imprisoned for not less than one year nor more than 
twenty-one years, at the discretion of the jury. 

Any Sheriff, deputy sheriff, or jailer who negli- 
gently or through cowardice, allows a prisoner to 
be taken from the jail of his county, or to be taken 
from his custody and put to death by violence, or to 
receive bodily harm, must, on conviction, be fined 
not less than $500 or more than $2,000, and may 

255 



JUDGE LYNCH 

also be sentenced to hard labor for the county for not 
more than two years. 

No provisions are made for the liability of a city 
or county for mob violence causing personal or prop- 
erty damages. 

ARIZONA: No anti-lynching legislation. 

ARKANSAS: No anti-lynching legislation. Change of 
venue and special court terms to avoid mob violence 
in cases involving rape, murder, etc. 

CALIFORNIA: No anti-lynching legislation. Every 
county and municipal corporation is responsible for 
injury to real or personal property within its cor- 
porate limits, done or caused by mobs or riots. 

COLORADO: No anti-lynching legislation. 

CONNECTICUT: No anti-lynching legislation. City or 
borough responsible for all injuries to person and 
property, including injuries causing death, when such 
injuries are caused by an act of violence of any per- 
son or persons while a member of, or acting in con- 
cert with, any assembly of persons engaged in dis- 
turbing the public peace, provided such city or 
borough or the police or other proper authorities 
thereof shall not have exercised reasonable care or 
diligence in the prevention or suppression of such 
mob, riotous assembly, or assembly engaged in dis- 
turbing the public peace. 

256 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

DELAWARE: No anti-lynching legislation. 

FLORIDA: No anti-lynching legislation. Law pro- 
vides for change of venue on the order of the Gov- 
ernor. 

GEORGIA: "And if the evidence submitted shall 
reasonably show that there is probability or danger 
of lynching, or other violence, then it shall be manda- 
tory on said judge to change the venue to such a 
county in the State, as, in his judgment, will avoid 
such lynching. 

". . . . and any person so engaged in mobbing or 
lynching any citizen of this State without due process 
shall be punished by imprisonment in the peniten- 
tiary for not less than one nor more than twenty years, 
and should death result from such mob violence, then 
the prisoner causing such death shall be subject to 
indictment and trial for the offense of murder." 

IDAHO: No anti-lynching legislation. Law provides 
for change of jail and employment of a guard. 

ILLINOIS: Defines a mob: that any collection of 
individuals, five or more in number, assembled for the 
unlawful purpose of offering violence to the person 
or property of anyone supposed to have been guilty 
of a violation of the law, or for the purpose of ex- 
ercising correctional powers or regulative powers 
over any person or persons by violence, and without 

2 57 



JUDGE LYNCH 

lawful authority, shall be regarded and designated as 
a "mob." 

Any person or persons who shall compose a mob, 
with the intent to inflict damage or injury to the 
person or property of any individual charged with 
a crime, or, under the pretense of exercising correc- 
tional powers over such person or persons by violence, 
and without authority of the law, shall be subject to 
a fine of not less than $100 or more than $1,000, and 
may be imprisoned in the county jail not less than 
thirty days nor to exceed twelve months for each 
offense. In case the person or persons composing the 
mob commit injury to a person or damage to property 
they shall be deemed guilty of a felony and suffer 
imprisonment in the penitentiary not exceeding five 
years. 

In the case of the death of the victim, the surviv- 
ing spouse, lineal heirs, or adopted children may re- 
cover from such county or city damages for injuries 
sustained by reason of the loss of life of such person 
a sum not exceeding $5,000. Damage to property by 
mobs may be collected from the county or city to 
an amount not exceeding $5,000. 

The loss by a Sheriff of his prisoner to a lynch mob 
is to be considered prima facie evidence of failure to 
do his duty, and he may be removed by the Governor. 
The law also enables the Sheriff to remove any pris- 

258 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

oner in danger of lynching to another county for 
safekeeping. 

INDIANA: Lynching and mob clearly defined. Any 
number of persons assembled for any unlawful pur- 
pose and intending to injure any person by violence 
and without authority of the law shall be regarded as 
a mob, and any act of violence exercised by such mob 
upon the body of a person shall, when such act results 
in the death of the injured person, constitute the 
crime of lynching; and any person who participates 
in or actively aids or abets such lynching shall, on 
conviction, suffer death or be imprisoned in the state 
prison during life; and any person who, being present 
at any such lynching, shall not actively participate 
in the lynching shall be deemed guilty of abetting 
such lynching, and, on conviction, shall be impris- 
oned in the state prison for not less than two years 
nor more than twenty-one years. 

The law further provides complete protection for 
the Sheriff and his prisoner who is threatened with 
lynching. The prisoner may be sent to another county, 
the Sheriff may "command all bystanders and others 
with whom he can directly communicate to aid and 
assist in defending such prisoner," and he may appeal 
directly to the Governor for further aid by the state's 
military forces. Failure to use all the weapons placed 
at his command and losing his prisoner to the mob 

2 59 



JUDGE LYNCH 

shall be considered prima facie evidence of failure of 
official duty and result in removal and a fine of not 
more than $1,000. 

The law, however, makes no provision for liability 
of city or county for personal or property damage. 

IOWA: No anti-lynching legislation. 

KANSAS: Any collection of individuals assembled 
for an unlawful purpose, intending to injure any per- 
son by violence, and without authority of law, shall 
for the purpose of this act be regarded as a "mob," 
and any act of violence exercised by such mob upon 
the body of any person shall constitute the crime of 
"lynching" when such act or acts of violence result 
in death; and any person who participates in or aids 
or abets such lynching, upon conviction thereof, 
shall be imprisoned in the state prison for not less 
than five years or during life, in the discretion of the 
jury. 

The law further provides that anyone who harbors, 
conceals, or assists any lyncher to escape arrest shall 
be deemed an accessory after the fact, and upon con- 
viction be imprisoned from for two to twenty-one 
years. Complete protection for the Sheriff and his 
prisoner who is threatened with lynching is part of 
the law: the prisoner may be transferred to a state 
prison or reformatory, the peace officer may command 
all bystanders and others with whom he can directly 

260 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

communicate to aid and assist in defending such 
prisoner, and he may call upon the Governor for the 
aid of the state's military forces. Failure to use the 
legal weapons provided will be considered sufficient 
cause for his removal from office by the Governor, 
and a Sheriff so renounced shall not be eligible to either 
election or appointment to the office. Liability of the 
city or county for personal or property damage is 
provided. 

KENTUCKY: Any number of persons more than 
three, assembled for the purpose of doing violence 
or injury to, or for lynching, any person in custody 
of any peace officer or jailer in this Commonwealth 
shall be regarded as a mob. Any person who takes 
part in and with any such mob, with the result that 
the person in custody meets death at the hands of 
any such mob, shall be deemed guilty of lynching; 
or if the result be that the person does not meet death, 
any person who takes part in or with the mob shall 
be guilty of attempted lynching. The penalty for 
lynching shall be death or life imprisonment. The 
penalty for attempted lynching shall be confinement 
in the penitentiary for not less than two years or 
more than twenty-one years. 

The law provides the peace officer with legal 
weapons for the full protection of any prisoner 
threatened with lynching and provides for his removal 

261 



JUDGE LYNCH 

from office. Provision is also made for the liability of 
the city for property damage if preventable. 

LOUISIANA: No anti-lynching legislation. Law pro- 
vides that a prisoner may be removed for safekeeping. 

MAINE: No anti-lynching legislation. Law provides 
that prisoner may be removed when jail is adjudged 
unfit or insecure. Liability of town for property 
damage limited to three fourths of damage done. 

MARYLAND: No anti-lynching legislation. Law 
provides for city, town, or county liability for prop- 
erty damage if it might have been prevented. 

MASSACHUSETTS: No anti-lynching legislation. 
Property damage to three fourths of the damage done, 
if more than twelve persons are engaged in the riot. 

MICHIGAN: No anti-lynching legislation. Law pro- 
vides for the transfer of prisoners for safekeeping. 

MINNESOTA: Lynching is the killing of a human 
being, by the act or procurement of a mob. Whenever 
any person shall be lynched, the county in which 
said lynching occurred shall be liable in damages to 
the dependents of the person lynched in a sum not 
exceeding $7,500, to be recovered in a civil action. 

The law further provides that any Sheriff, deputy 
sheriff, or other officer having custody of any person 
whom a mob seeks to take from his custody who shall 
fail or neglect to use all lawful means to resist such 

262 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

taking shall be deemed guilty of malfeasance and shall 
be removed from office by the Governor. 

MISSISSIPPI: No anti-lynching legislation. Prisoners 
may be removed to another county for safekeeping, 
or the Sheriff may summon a guard sufficient to pro- 
tect his prisoner. 

MISSOURI: No anti-lynching legislation. Law pro- 
vides that the Sheriff may employ sufficient guards to 
protect his prisoner or may move that prisoner to a 
jail in another county for safekeeping. Liability 
limited to property damages. 

MONTANA: No anti-lynching legislation. Prisoners 
may be removed to jails in contiguous counties, and 
cities and towns are liable for property damage done 
or caused by mobs or riots within their corporate 
limits. 

NEBRASKA: A collection of people assembled for 
an unlawful purpose and intending to do damage or 
injury to anyone, or pretending to exercise correc- 
tional power over another person by violence and 
without authority of the law, shall be deemed a "mob" 
for the purpose of this act. An act of violence result- 
ing in the death of the victim by a mob upon the body 
of any person shall constitute a "lynching" within 
the meaning of this act. 

The law makes no provisions for the punishment 

263 



JUDGE LYNCH 

of lynchers or for the removal of officers for mal- 
feasance. The legal representative of the victim may 
sue the county in which the lynching occurred for 
damages. 

NEVADA: No anti-lynching legislation. Law pro- 
vides for the removal of prisoners upon written ap- 
plication by the Sheriff to the Governor. 

NEW HAMPSHIRE: No anti-lynching legislation. 
Law provides for removal of prisoners "for such im- 
perative and extraordinary purpose." Town's liability 
for property loss limited to damage done. 

NEW JERSEY: Any collection of individuals, five or 
more in number, assembled for the unlawful purpose 
of offering violence to the person or property of any- 
one supposed to have been guilty of a violation of the 
law, or for the purpose of exercising correctional 
powers or regulative powers over any person or per- 
sons by violence, and without lawful authority, shall 
be regarded and designated as a "mob." 

The penalty for any person or persons who shall 
compose a mob as above defined shall be a fine of not 
less than $100 or more than $1,000, and he or they 
may be imprisoned in the county for a period of not 
less than thirty days or to exceed twelve months for 
each and every offense. If material damage to the 
property or serious injury to the person ensues, the 
offender shall be deemed guilty of a felony and shall 

264 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

suffer imprisonment in the penitentiary for not ex- 
ceeding five years; and any person so suffering ma- 
terial damage to property or injury to person by a 
mob shall have an action against the city or county 
in which such injury is inflicted, for such damages as 
he may sustain, to an amount not exceeding $5,000. 
The surviving spouse, lineal heirs, or adopted children 
may recover from such county or city damages for 
injury sustained by reason of the loss of life of such 
person, to a sum not exceeding $5,000. 

The law provides for the transfer of prisoners and 
the removal of the Sheriff for losing his prisoner to a 
mob. 

NEW MEXICO: Anti-lynching legislation confined 
to assaults on jails. Prisoners may be transferred for 
safekeeping. The penalty for assault upon jails is, in 
the case of the death of any jailer, guard, or prisoner, 
that the offenders upon conviction shall be punished 
with death. If any jailer, guard, or prisoner be 
wounded or hurt, the offender, upon conviction, shall 
be fined in a sum not exceeding $500 or less than $50, 
or imprisoned for not more than three years nor less 
than six months, at the discretion of the court. 

Provisions are made for the Sheriff's summoning 
the aid of the people in defending his prisoner and his 
jail. Failure to aid the Sheriff is punishable by fine or 
imprisonment or both. 

265 



JUDGE LYNCH 

NEW YORK: No anti-lynching legislation. City or 
county's liability for property destroyed by mob 
violence limited to damage done. 

NORTH CAROLINA: Lynching not clearly defined. 
Lynching in North Carolina is construed as the illegal 
entering of a jail for the purpose of killing or injuring 
a prisoner placed by the law in the Sheriff's custody. 
The law makes provision for the punishment of wit- 
nesses of lynchings who refuse to testify but not for 
the punishment of the lyncher. Under certain con- 
ditions the heirs of the lynch-victim may sue for 
damages the county wherein the lynching was com- 
mitted. 

NORTH DAKOTA: No anti-lynching legislation. 

OHIO: A collection of people assembled for an un- 
lawful purpose and intending to do damage or injury 
to anyone, or pretending to exercise correctional 
power over other persons by violence and without 
authority of the law, shall be deemed a "mob" for 
the purpose of this chapter. An act of violence by a 
mob upon the body of any person shall constitute a 
"lynching" within the meaning of this chapter. 

The act further provides that any person con- 
cerned in such lynching may be prosecuted for homi- 
cide or assault, and anyone who breaks or attempts to 
break into a jail or prison, or attacks or attempts to 
attack an officer with intent to seize a prisoner for 

266 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

the purpose of lynching him, shall be imprisoned in 
the penitentiary for not less than one year or more 
than ten years. 

The legal representative of the victim of the lynch- 
ing may recover from the county in which the lynch- 
ing occurred a sum not to exceed $5,000. 

OKLAHOMA: No anti-lynching legislation. In case 
of an emergency, a Sheriff, with the approval of the 
county commissioners, may appoint additional jail 
guards to protect his prisoner. 

OREGON: No anti-lynching legislation. 

PENNSYLVANIA: "The putting to death, within any 
county, of any person within the jurisdiction of the 
county by mob or riotous assemblage of three per- 
sons or more, openly acting in concert in violation 
of the law, and in default of protection of such per- 
son by such county or the officers thereof, shall be 
deemed a denial to such person by such county of the 
equal protection of the laws, and a violation of the 
peace of the Commonwealth and an offense against 
the same. 

"Every person participating in such mob or riotous 
assemblage by which said person is put to death, as 
described in the section immediately preceding, shall 
be guilty of murder. 

"Every county in which such unlawful putting to 
death occurs shall be subject to a forfeiture of ten 

267 



JUDGE LYNCH 

thousand dollars, which may be recovered, by action 
therefor in the name of the Commonwealth, against 
such county for the use of the dependent family, if 
any, of the person so put to death, and, if none, for 
the use of the Commonwealth. . . ." 

The act further debars mob members, pro-lynch- 
ing advocates, or anyone who has ever entertained or 
expressed any opinions in favor of lynching, from 
serving as jurors. Officers who suffer their prisoners 
to be taken from them by lynch mobs shall be deemed 
guilty of felony, and, upon conviction, shall be 
punished by imprisonment for not exceeding five 
years, or by a fine not exceeding $5,000, or both. 

RHODE ISLAND: No anti-lynching legislation. Law 
provides for transfer of prisoners. 

SOUTH CAROLINA: The South Carolina code pro- 
vides no punishment for lynchers. If a Sheriff, through 
negligence, permission, or connivance, permits his 
prisoner to be taken from him for purpose of lynch- 
ing, he is to be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, 
upon a true bill being found, shall be deposed from 
office, and, upon conviction, unless pardoned by the 
Governor, be ineligible to hold any office of trust or 
profit within this state. 

In all cases of lynching when death ensues, the 
county where such lynching takes place shall, with- 
out regard to the conduct of the officers, be liable 

268 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

in exemplary damages of not less than $2,000, to be 
recovered by action instituted in any court of com- 
petent jurisdiction by the legal representatives of 
the person lynched. 

SOUTH DAKOTA: No anti-lynching legislation. 

TENNESSEE: No anti-lynching legislation. A Sheriff 
who loses his prisoner to a lynch mob through negli- 
gence, or by want of proper diligence, firmness, and 
promptness shall be guilty of a high misdemeanor in 
office, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined at 
the discretion of the court, forfeit his office, and be 
declared forever incapable of holding any office of 
trust or profit in the state. 

TEXAS: No anti-lynching legislation. The law pro- 
vides for the transfer of prisoners to another jail for 
safekeeping and the employment of additional guards 
to protect prisoners and jails. Change of venue is 
provided for in cases of rape. 

UTAH: No anti-lynching legislation. The Sheriff 
may, with the written assent of the district judge, em- 
ploy additional temporary guards. 

VERMONT: No anti-lynching legislation. Law pro- 
vides for transfer of prisoners for safekeeping. 

VIRGINIA: A collection of people, assembled for 
the purpose and with the intention of committing an 
assault and/or battery upon any person without au- 
thority of the law, shall be deemed a "mob" for the 

269 



JUDGE LYNCH 

purpose of this act; and any act of violence by a "mob" 
upon the body of any person, which shall result in 
the death of such person, shall constitute a "lynch- 
ing" within the meaning of this act. 

The lynching of any person within this state by a 
"mob" shall be deemed murder, and any and every 
person composing a "mob" and any and every ac- 
cessory thereto, by which any person is lynched, shall 
be guilty of murder, and, upon conviction, shall be 
punished as provided in chapter 178 of the Code of 
Virginia. 3 It shall be the duty of the attorney, for the 
Commonwealth, of any county or city in which a 
"lynching" may occur, to promptly and diligently 
endeavor to ascertain the identity of the persons who 
in any way participated therein, or who composed 
the "mob" that perpetrated the same, and have them 
apprehended, and to promptly proceed with the 
prosecution of any and all persons so found; and to 
the end that such offenders may not escape proper 
punishment, such attorney for the Commonwealth 
may be assisted in all such endeavors and prosecu- 
tions, by the Attorney General, or other prosecutors 
designated by the Governor for the purpose; and the 
Governor shall have full authority to spend such 
sums as he may deem necessary for the purpose of 

8 Death. 

270 



THE REVERSALS OF JUDGE LYNCH 

seeking out the identity and apprehending the mem- 
bers of such guilty "mob." 

Nothing herein contained shall be construed to 
relieve any member of any such mob from civil 
liability to the personal representative of the victim 
of such lynching. 

The law makes no provision for the punishment of 
peace officers who release their prisoners to lynch 
mobs. 

WASHINGTON: No anti-lynching legislation. 

WEST VIRGINIA: ( i ) Any collection of individuals, 
five or more in number, assembled for the unlawful 
purpose of offering violence to the person or property 
of anyone supposed to have been guilty of a viola- 
tion of the law, or for the purpose of exercising cor- 
rectional powers or regulative powers over any 
person or persons by violence, and without lawful au- 
thority, shall be regarded and designated as a "mob" 
or "riotous assemblage." (3) The putting to death of 
any person within this state by a mob or riotous as- 
semblage shall be murder, and every person partici- 
pating in such mob or riotous assemblage by which a 
person is put to death shall be guilty of murder, and, 
upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided 
by chapter 144 of Hogg's Code of West Virginia. 4 

4 Death. 

271 



JUDGE LYNCH 

(6) The county in which such person charged 
with a crime and within which such person has been 
taken from a state, county, or municipal officer and 
lynched and put to death shall be subject to forfeiture 
of $5,000, which may be recovered by appropriate 
action therefor, in the name of the personal represen- 
tative of the person put to death, for the use of his 
dependent family or the state. Such action may be 
brought in any state court. 

The law makes no provision for the punishment of 
peace officers who release their prisoners to lynch 
mobs. 

WISCONSIN: No anti-lynching legislation. The 
county shall be liable for injury to person or property 
by a mob or riot therein, except that within cities the 
city shall be liable. This section shall not apply to 
property damages to houses of ill-fame when the 
owner has notice that they are used as such. 

WYOMING: No anti-lynching legislation. 



272 



Appendix 



LYNCH-EXECUTIONS IN THE 
UNITED STATES 

1882-1937 
Year Total Blacks Whites 



i882 


114 


1883 


134 


1884 


211 


1885 


184 


1886 


I 3 8 


1887 


122 


1888 


142 


1889 


I 7 6 


1890 


128 


1891 


195 


1892 


2 35 


1893 


200 


1894 


197 


1895 


1 80 


1896 


I 3 l 


1897 


165 


1898 


127 


1899 


107 


1900 


115 



273 



APPENDIX 



1901 


'35 






1902 


97 






I 93 1 


104 








3337 


2060 


1277 


1904 


86 


79 


7 


1905 


65 


60 


5 


1906 


68 


64 


4 


1907 


62 


59 


3 


1908 


IOO 


92 


8 


1909 


89 


75 


14 


1910 


90 


80 


10 


1911 


80 


72 


8 


1912 


89 


86 


3 


1913 


86 


85 


i 


1914 


74 


69 


5 


1915 


J 45 


99 


46 


1916 


72 


65 


7 


1917 


54 


52 


2 


1918 


67 


63 


4 


1919 


83 


79 


4 


1920 


65 


57 


8 


1921 


64 


58 


6 


1922 


61 


54 


7 


1923 


28 


26 


2 


1924 


16 


16 





J 9 2 5 


18 


18 





1926 


34 


29 


5 


1 Estimates to 1903 
National Association 


from Cutler: Lynch-Laiv. After 
for the Advancement of Colored 


1904 from the 
People. 






274 





APPENDIX 



1927 


18 


16 


2 


1928 


ii 


10 


I 


1929 


12 


8 


4 


1930 


25 


2 4 


i 


1931 


14 


13 


i 


1932 


10 


8 


2 


'933 


28 


24 


4 


'934 


16 


16 


o 


'935 


25 


23 


2 


1936 


12 


10 


2 


'937 


8 


8 


O 



5112 3657 1455 



275 



Bibliography 



Books and Pamphlets 

ADAMIC, Louis. Dynamite: the Story of Class Violence in 
America. Revised Edition. New York: 1934. 

An American Lynching. Being the Burning at the Stake of 
Henry Lowry at Nodena, Arkansas, January 26, 1921, 
as Told in American Newspapers. The National Asso- 
ciation for the Advancement of Colored People. New 
York: n.d. 

BANCROFT, HUBERT HOWE. "Popular Tribunals," The Works 
of Hubert Howe Bancroft, XXXVI and XXXVII. San 
Francisco: 1887. 

BISHOP, CHARLES M. "The Causes, Consequences and Cure 
of Mob Violence," Democracy in Earnest. Washing- 
ton: 1918. 

BRAWLEY, BENJAMIN. A Social History of the American 
Negro. New York: 1921. 

CHADBOURN, JAMES HARMON. Lynching and the Law. Chapel 
Hill: 1933. 

CHAPLIN, RALPH. The Centralia Conspiracy. The Truth 
About the Armistice Day Tragedy. General Defense 
Committee, Chicago: 1924. 

COATES, ROBERT M. The Outlaw Years. The History of the 
Land Pirates of the Natchez Trace. New York: 1930. 

COLLINS, WINFIELD H. The Truth About Lynching and the 
Negro in the South. New York: 1918. 

CUTLER, JAMES ELBERT. Lynch-Law: an Investigation into 
the History of Lynching in the United States. New 
York: 1905. 

276 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

DELANEY, ED., AND RICE, M. T. The Bloodstained Trail. The 
Industrial Workers of the World, n.p. n.d. 

HAYWOOD, HARRY, AND HOWARD, MILTON. Lynching: a 
Weapon of National Oppression. Labor Research Asso- 
ciation Pamphlet #25. New York: 1932. 

HEADLEY, J. T. Pen and Pencil Sketches of the Great Riots. 
New York: n.d. (c. 1881). 

Lynching of Claude Neal, The. Report of the National As- 
sociation for the Advancement of Colored People. New 
York: n.d. 

MCMASTER, JOHN BACH. A History of the People of the 
United States from the Revolution to the Civil War. 
8 v. New York: 1883-1913. 

A History of the People of the United States 

During Lincoln's Administration. New York: 1927. 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED 
PEOPLE. Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 
1889-1918. 

Annual Reports, 1919-1936. 

RAPER, ARTHUR F. The Tragedy of Lynching. Chapel Hill: 

'933- 
SHINN, C. H. Mining Camps: a Study of American Frontier 

Government. New York: 1885. 
SPIVAK, JOHN L. Georgia. Nigger. New York: 1932. 
THOMAS, JULIAN B. "A True Story of How the Avenging 

of the Murder of Chief of Police David C. Hennessey 

of New Orleans Wiped Out the Mafia in the Crescent 

City." Unpublished Manuscript. 
VICTOR, ORVILLE J. History of American Conspiracies: a 

Record of Treason, Insurrection, Rebellion, etc. in the 

United States of America, from 1760 to 1860. New 

York: n.d. (c. 1863). 

277 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

WHITE, WALTER. Rope and Faggot. A Biography of Judge 

Lynch. New York: 1929. 
WORK, MONROE N., Editor. The Negro Year Book, 1937- 

1938. Tuskegee: 1937. 

Magazine References 

Frank Case, the Leo: "Mob Law In Georgia," Literary Di- 
gest, August 28, 1915; "The Case of Leo M. Frank," 
Outlook, May 26, 1915; "An Outlaw State," Outlook, 
August 25, 1915; "Georgia's Shame," Independent, 
August 30, 1915; "A Georgian Investigation," Harpers 
Weekly, October 2, 1915. 

NEA, F. M. "Southern Lynchings," Nation, LVI, 407. 

"A Double Lynching in Virginia," Independent, LII, 783. 

POE, C. H. "Lynching: A Southern View," Atlantic, XCIII, 

'55- 

"Anarchy in Delaware," Outlook, LXXIV, 543. 

"Somerville: Some Cooperating Causes of Negro Lynching." 
North American Review, CLXXVII, 506. 

TABER, S. R. "A Remedy for Lynching," Nation, LXXV, 
478. 

"The Rev. Q. Ewing on Lynching," Independent, VIII, 2059. 

McSwAiN. "What Shall Be Done With Mobs?" Central Law 
Journal, LXVII, 375. 

"The Cause of Lynching," Nation, LXL, 463. 

WELL-BARNETT. "Lynch Law in America," Arena, XXIII, 15. 

GOEBEL, JULIUS. "The International Responsibility of States 
for Injuries Sustained by Aliens on Account of Mob 
Violence, Insurrections and Civil War," American Jour- 
nal of International Law, VIII, 851. 

"A Mexican Boycott," Independent, LXIX, mi. 

278 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

"Lynching: An American Kultur," New Republic, XIV, 
311. 

"Lynching, a National Evil," Outlook, CXXXII, 596. 

NASH, ROY. "Lynching of Anthony Crawford," Independ- 
ent, LXXXVIII, 456. 

DYER. "The Constitutionality of a Federal Anti-Lynching 
Law," St. Louis Law Review, XIII, 186. 

"Lynching and Federal Law," Chautauquan, XL, 408. 

"New Phases of the Fight Against Lynching," Current Opin- 
z072, LXVII, 45. 

MATTHEWS, ALBERT. "The Term Lynch Law," Modern 
Philology, II, 2. 

TYREE. "The Origin of Lynching," Green Bag, XXV, 393. 

"An Inquiry Regarding Lynchings," South Atlantic Quar- 
terly, I, 4. 

"Lynchings and International Peace," Outlook, C, 554. 

RANDOLPH, THOMAS. "The Governor and the Mob," Inde- 
pendent, LXXXIX, 347. 

"The Leaven worth Lynching," Review of Reviews, XXIII, 
262. 

YOUNG, EARL F. "The Relation of Lynching to the Size of 
Political Areas," Sociology and Social Research, XII, 348. 

"Rewards to Catch Lynchers," Nation, CVII, 218. 

"Lynchings and Southern Sentiment," Outlook, LXII, 200. 

POLL. "The Prevention of Lynch-Law Epidemics," Review 
of Reviews, XVII, 321. 

"The Kentucky Cure for Lynching," Literary Digest, LXIV, 
20. 

"How Tampa Treats Lynchers," Literary Digest, XCIII, 12. 

"The Urbana Lynching," Public Opinion, XXII, 741. 

"The March of Anarchy," The New England Magazine, 
VII (November, 1834), 409. 
279 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

"Lynching and Mobs," American Journal of Social Sciences, 

XXXII (November, 1894), 67. 
"Negro Outrage no Excuse for Lynching," Forum, XVI 

(November, 1893), 3- 
PAGE, WALTER H. "The Last Hold of the Southern Bully," 

Forum,XVI (November, 1893), 33- 
"The Epidemic of Savagery," Outlook, September 7, 1901. 
PAGE, THOMAS NELSON. "The Lynching of Negroes," North 

American Review, January, 1904. 

PELL, E. LEIGH. "Prevention of Lynch Law Epidemics," Re- 
view of Reviews, March, 1898. 
LEVELL, WILLIAM HAYNE. "On Lynching in the South." 

Outlook, November 16, 1901. 
"Lynching," Outlook, XCIII, 637. 
"Lynchers Triumphant," Nation, XCIII, 386. 
BAKER, RAY STANNARD. "What is Lynching? A Study of 

Mob Justice," McClure's, XXIV, 300. 
"The Shame of Pennsylvania," Independent, LXXI, 437. 
"The Practice of Lynching," Century, CXV, 65. 
"Lynching," American Law Review, XLIV, 202. 
CLARK, WALTER. "The True Remedy for Lynch Law," 

American Law Review, XXVIII, 802. 

Files 

The Liberator, edited by William Lloyd Garrison. Boston: 

1831-1865. 
Niles Weekly Register, edited by H. Niles. Baltimore: 1811- 

1849. 

The Crisis. Volumes i to 44; New York: 1910-1937. 
The New York Times. 
The New York Herald-Tribune. 

280 



Index 



Abbeville, South Carolina, lynch- 
ing at, 135-136 

Abbeyville, Alabama, lynching at, 
246-247 

Adams, District Attorney, Lionel, 
163 

Aiken, South Carolina, lynchings 
at, 135, 136-137 

Alabama: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 122, of Negroes, 122, be- 
tween 1871-73, 74, multiple, 
122, since Armistice, 122, at 
Mobile, 53, of Negro veterans, 
82, at Emelle, 122-125, at Ab- 
beyville, 246-247; Anti-lynch- 
ing legislation, 255 

Alipas, Antonio, lynched, 64 

Allen, T. A., lynched, 105 

Allen, Thomas, lynched, 112 

Alton, Illinois: Murder of Love- 
joy, 56-59 

American Anti-Slavery Society, 
46, 63 

American Civil Liberties Union, 
10 

Anti-lynching legislation, 254- 
272 

Arizona: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 145, at Lonely Gulch, 69; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 256 

Arkansas: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 126, of Negroes, 126, of 
women, 126, multiple, 126, of 
Negro veterans, 82, for desper- 
adism, 69, since Armistice, 126, 
at Little River, 126, at St. 
Charles, 126, at Hot Springs, 
Little Rock, Arkansas City, 
126, of Henry Lowry, 93, 168- 
178; Anti-lynching legislation, 
256 



Arkansas City, Arkansas, lynch- 
ings at, 126 

Arthur, Mrs. T., lynched, 142 
Atlanta, Georgia: Trial of Leo 
Frank, 153-161 

Bages, Val, 119-120 

Bancroft, Maine, lynching at, 151 

Bannon, Charles, lynched, 145 

Barnwell, South Carolina, lynch- 
ings at, 135 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, lynchings 
at, 119 

Bell, William, lynched, 145 

Birmingham, Alabama, lynchings 
at, 122 

Black Legion, 148 

Blackwood, Sheriff Dwight H., 
172, 177 

Blaine, James G., Secretary of 
State, 167-168 

Bluefield, West Virginia, lynch- 
ing at, 143 

Bowling Green, Kentucky, lynch- 
ings at, 134 

Brand, Judge, 113 

Brill, Dr. A. A., 8 

Brookhaven, Miss., lynching at, 
105-106 

Brown, Will, lynched, 142 

Butte, Montana, lynching at, 223- 
225 

Caddo Parish, La., lynching at, 

82-83, 121 

California: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 144, between 1871-73, 74, 
of Negroes, 144, multiple, 144, 
since Armistice, 144, at San 
Diego, 64, at Los Angeles, 64- 
65, of Thomas Thurmond and 



28l 



INDEX 



John Holmes, 144, 212-216; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 256 

Cannidy, Lola, killed by Claude 
Neal, 179-181 

Carr, John, killed, 104 

Castlegate, Utah, lynching near, 
150 

Cato, Will, lynched, 1 10 

Centralia, Washington, lynching 
at, 146, 226-233 

Chadbourn, James Harnon, 10 

Chambliss, Sheriff W. F., Claude 
Neal case, 181 

Chattanooga, Tennessee, lynch- 
ings at, 130 

Chicago, Illinois, lynching at, 145 

Clark, Andrew, lynched, 102-103 

Clark, Major, lynched, 102-103 

Clarksdale, Tenn., lynching at, 83 

Coatesville, Pennsylvania, lynch- 
ing at, 149 

Coleman, Silas, lynched, 148 

Colorado: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 141, between 1871-73, 75, 
of Negroes, 141, since Armis- 
tice, 141; Anti-lynching legis- 
lation, 256 

Colorado, Texas, lynching at, 53 

Columbia, South Carolina, lynch- 
ings at, 135 

Connecticut: Lynching of a 
white, 150; Anti-lynching leg- 
islation, 256 

Crawford, Anthony, lynched, 135- 
136 

Crestview, Florida, lynching at, 
249 

Crisis, The, 116, 132, 138 

Cutler, James Elbert, 9, 10, 60, 61, 
74-75. 92 

Davis, Dan, lynched, 116 
Delaware: Lynching of a Negro, 
151; Anti-lynching legislation, 

2 57 

Dennis, Bert, lynched, 128-129 
Dennis, James, shot by mob, 128 



282 



Dennis, Mary, lynched, 129 
Dewell, Judge Robert T., 240-242 
Dial, Viola, shot, 124 
Doddsville, Miss., lynching at, 

103-104 
Dothan, Alabama, radio station, 

183 
Duck Hill, Mississippi, lynchings 

at, 247-248 
Duluth, Minnesota, lynching at, 

149 

Eastland, James, killed, 104 
Effinger, Virgil F., 148 
Ellisville, Miss.: Lynching of 

John Hartfield, 93 
Emancipator, The, 47 
Emelle, Alabama, lynchings at, 122 
Estill Springs, Florida, lynching 

at, 132 

Evans, J. C., lynched, 249 
Everest, Wesley, lynching of, 146, 

223, 226-233 

Farrior, State's Attorney Rex, of 
Florida, 242 

Florida: Lynchings: early, 60-6 1, 
recorded total, 127, of Negroes, 
127, of women, 127, multiple, 
127-128, since Armistice, 128, of 
Jack West, 78, of Negro vet- 
erans, 82, at Ocala, Lake City, 
128-129, of James Dennis, Bert 
Dennis, Andrew McHenry, 
Mary Dennis, Stella Long, Josh 
Haskins, 128-129, of Claude 
Neal, 93, 178-187, at Tampa, 
234-243, at Lakeland, 243-245; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 257 

Frank, Leo, lynched, in, 153-161 

Frankfort, Kentucky, lynchings 
at, 134 

Gabriel, 33-35, 37 

Garrison, William Lloyd, 33, 44- 

45, 46, 47, 63 
Georgia: Lynchings: recorded to- 



INDEX 



tal, 107, of Negroes, 107, of 
women, 107, multiple, 108, of 
Negro veterans, 82, at Ocilla, 
96, at Salt City, 107, of Paul 
Reed and Will Cato, no, of 
Albert Roger, no, of Sebastian 
McBride, no, at Statesboro, 
no, in, of Gilbert Thompson, 
in, of Sidney Johnson, Will 
Head, Will Thompson, Chime 
Riley, Eugene Rice, Simon 
Shuman, Hayes Turner, Mary 
Turner, 111-112, of Thomas 
Allen and Foster Watts, 112- 
113, of T. J. Thomas, 113, of 
Richard Marshall, 113, of Leo 
Frank, in, 153-161, of Will 
Kirby, 249; Anti-lynching leg- 
islation, 257 

Gervasio, lynched, 64-65 

Gordon, William, lynched, 121 

Grant, J. B., lynched, 245 

Green River, Wyoming, lynch- 
ing at, 144 

Greene, Deputy Sheriff S. Paul, 
183-184 

Gunn, Raymond, lynched, 92, 94, 
96, 187-197 

Hackensack, New Jersey, lynch- 
ing at, 150 

Hart, Brooke, kidnaped and mur- 
dered, 144, 212 

Hartfield, John, lynched, 93 

Haskins, Josh, lynched, 1 29 

Hastings, John, lynched, 119 

Hawkins, Richard, lynched, 248 

Head, Will, lynched, 1 1 1 

Hennessey, David C., murdered, 
162-163 

Hernando, Miss., lynching at, 105, 
lynching prevented, 106 

Hill, Joe, executed, 223 

Hoar, Samuel, 37 

Holbert, Luther, lynched, 103-104 

Holmes, John, lynched, 144, 212- 
216 



Hose, Samuel, lynched, 108-109 
Hot Springs, Arkansas, lynchings 

at, 126 

Howse, Alma, lynched, 102-103 
Howse, Maggie, lynched, 102-103 
Hughes, George, lynched, 98, 118, 

197-206 

Idaho: Total recorded lynchings, 
147; Anti-lynching legislation, 

257 

Illinois: Lynchings: recorded to- 
tal, 145, of Negroes, 145, since 
Armistice, 145, of Elijah Love- 
joy, 56-59, of William Bell, 145; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 257- 
259 

Indiana: Lynchings: recorded to- 
tal, 143, between 1871-73, 75, of 
Negroes, 143, at Marion, 143- 
144; Anti-lynching legislation, 

259 

Industrial Workers of the World, 
10, 224, 228, 229, 230 

International Labor Defense, 10 

Iowa: Lynchings: recorded total, 
147, of Negroes, 147; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 260 

Ivy, Jim, lynched, 103 

Jackson, Andrew, 30 
Jackson, Miss., lynchings at, 101 
Johnson, Robert, lynched, 142 
Johnson, Sidney, lynched, 111-112 
Johnson, Wesley, lynched, 246- 

247 

Johnston, Dr. E. L., murdered, 102 
Jones, Reverend Captain, lynched, 

114-115 

Kansas: Lynchings: recorded to- 
tal, 142, between 1871-73, 75, 
of Negroes, 142, multiple, 142, 
since Armistice, 142; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 260-261 

Kentucky: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 133, between 1871-73, 74, 



283 



INDEX 



of Negroes, 133, of women, 133, 
multiple, 133, since Armistice, 
134, at Shelbyville, 134; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 261-262 

Kirby, Will, lynched, 249 

Knoxville, Tennessee, lynchings 
at, 130-131 

Ku Klux Klan, 17, 72-75, 87, 136- 
137, 222, 226, 235-245 

Kuykendall, Judge, 106 

Lake City, Florida, lynchings at, 

128-130 
Lakeland, Florida, lynching at, 

243-245 

Lampson, E. P., lynched, 141 
Lawless, Judge, 54-56 
Lee, Newt, 153, 154 
Lexington, Miss., lynching at, 48, 

49 
Liberator, The, 33, 44-45, 53, 62, 

6 3 
Lincoln, Abraham, 58, 59 

Lindsay, Louisiana, lynching at, 

119-120 

Little, Frank, lynched, 141, 223 
Little River, Arkansas, lynching 

at, 126 
Little Rock, Arkansas, lynching 

at, 126 
Lonely Gulch, Arizona, lynching 

at, 69 

Long, Boisey, 128-129 
Long, Stella, lynched, 129 
Louisiana: Lynchings: early, 60, 
recorded total, 119, of Negroes, 
119, between 1871-73, 74, of 
women, 119, 121, multiple, 119, 
at Caddo Parish, 82-83, of John 
Hastings, his son and daughter, 
119, of a lunatic, 119-120, at 
Sylvester Station, 120-121, of 
William Gordon, 121, of Laura 
Porter, 121, Mafia case, 161-168; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 262 
Lovejoy, Reverend Elijah F., 56- 
59 



Lowman, Bertha, lynched, 136- 

*37 
Lowman, Demon, lynched, 136- 

137 

Lowman, Sam, 136 
Lowry, Henry, lynched, 93, 168- 

178 

Lynch, Colonel Charles, 15, 20-26 
Lynch, G. W., lynched, 132 
Lynch's Law, 20, 24-25 
Lynching defined, 7-10, 254-272 

MacDaniels, "Boat Jack," lynched, 

247 

Mafia, in New Orleans, 161-168 

Maine: One lynching, 150; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 262 

Malfeasance of Law Officers, 87- 
88, 93, 94, 117, 118, 136-137, 149, 
153-161, 170-178, 182-184, 191- 
197, 211-214, 239, 248, 249-250 

Marianna, Florida, lynching of 
Claude Neal, 93, 178-187 

Marietta, Georgia, lynching of 
Leo Frank, 153-161 

Marion, Indiana, lynching at, 143- 
144 

Marshall, Richard, lynched, 113 

Marshall, Robert, lynched, 150 

Maryland: Total recorded lynch- 
ings, 146: of Negroes, 146, be- 
tween 1871-73, 75, of Matt 
Williams, 94, 146, of George 
Arm wood, 146-147, 207; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 262 

Maryville, Missouri, lynching at, 

9 2 > 94 
Massachusetts: No lynchings, 100; 

Anti-lynching legislation, 262 
McBride, Sebastian, lynched, no 
Mclllherron, Jim, lynched, 132- 

133 

Mclntosh, lynched, 54-56 
McRae, Governor of Arkansas, 

170-178 
Memphis, Tennessee, lynchings 

at, 93, 130, 131 



284 



INDEX 



Michigan: Total recorded lynch- 
ings, 148: of Negroes, 148, be- 
tween 1871-73, 75, of Silas Cole- 
man, 148, of Charles A. Poole, 
148, of Roy Pidcock, 148; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 262 

Minnesota: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 148, of Negroes, 148, at 
Duluth, 149; Anti-lynching leg- 
islation, 262-263 

Mississippi: Lynchings: early, 48, 
49, recorded total, 49, 101, of 
Negroes, 101, of women, 101, 
multiple, 10 1, of Negro veter- 
ans, 82, of John Hartfield, 93, 
of Al Young, 94, at Vicksburg, 
10 1, at Jackson, 101, at Yazoo 
City, 101, at Rocky Ford, 103, 
of Luther Holbert, 103-104, of 
R. J. Tyronne, 105, of T. A. 
Allen, 105, of Bearden brothers, 
105-106, of J. B. Grant, 245, at 
Duck Hill, 247-248; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 263 

Missouri: Lynchings: early, 60, 
recorded total, 139, between 
1871-73, 74, of Negroes, 139, 
of women, 139, multiple, 139, 
since Armistice, 139, at St. 
Louis, 54-56, of Raymond 
Gunn, 92, 94, 96, 187-197, of 
Lloyd Warner, 216-219; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 263 

Mobile, Alabama, lynching at, 53 

Mobs, how formed, 86-91 

Modern Democrats, 235-237 

Monasterio, Pietro, lynched, 163- 
168 

Monroe, Georgia, lynchings at, 
112-113 

Montana: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 141, between 1871-73, 74, 
of Negroes, 141, of Frank Little, 
141, 223-225, of E. P. Lampson; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 263 

Montgomery, Alabama, lynchings 
at, 122 



Moody, Governor of Texas, 202 
Moses, Law of, 23 
Mount Vernon, Georgia, lynch- 
ing at, 249 
Multiple lynchings, 101, 108, 114, 

115, 119, I20-I2I, 122, 125, 126, 

127-128, 130, 131, 133, 135, 138, 
139, 140, 142, 144 

Murray, Luke, lynched, 147 



Nashville, Tennessee, lynching at, 

*v 

National Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Colored People, 
10, 103, 106 

Neal, Claude, lynched, 61, 93, 97, 
178-187 

Nebraska: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 141-142, between 1871- 
73, 75, of Negroes, 142, since 
Armistice, 142; Anti-lynching 
legislation, 263-264 

Negroes as lynchers, 82-83 

Nelson, Laura, lynched, 138 

Nevada: Lynchings: recorded to- 
tal, 150, between 1871-73, 75; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 264 

Newberry, Florida, lynching at, 
128 

New Hampshire: No lynchings, 
100; Anti-lynching legislation, 
264 

New Jersey: One lynching, 150; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 264- 

265 

New Mexico: Lynchings: re- 
corded total, 144, of Negroes, 
144; Anti-lynching legislation, 
265 

New Orleans, Louisiana: Lynch- 
ings at, 119; Mafia case, 161-168 

Newton, Georgia, lynching at, 

"3 

New York: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 150; Anti-lynching legis- 
lation, 266 



285 



INDEX 



Niles Weekly Register, 51-53, 60, 

61 
Nodena, Arkansas, lynching of 

Henry Lowry, 168-178 
Norman, Frank, lynched, 223, 

2 43- 2 45 

North Carolina: Lynchings: re- 
corded total, 140, of Negroes, 
140, of women, 140, multiple, 
140, since Armistice, 140; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 266 

North and South Dakota: Lynch- 
ings: recorded total, 145, of 
Negroes, 145, since Armistice, 
145, of Charles Bannon, 145; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 266, 
269 

Ocala, Florida, lynchings at, 128 

Offenses for which people are 
lynched, 77-83 

Ohio: Lynchings: recorded total, 
147, between 1871-73, 75, of 
Negroes, 147, since Armistice, 
147, of Luke Murray, 147; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 266-267 

Okemah, Oklahoma, lynching at, 
138 

Oklahoma: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 137, of Negroes, 137, of 
women, 137, multiple, 138, since 
Armistice, 138; Anti-lynching 
legislation, 267 

Omaha, Nebraska, lynching at, 
142 

Oregon: Lynchings: recorded to- 
tal, 147, of Negroes, 147; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 267 

Paducah, Kentucky, lynchings at, 

134 

Page, Grafton, lynched, 82-83, 121 
Page, Thomas Walker, 20 
Paris, Texas, lynchings at, 92, 114 
Park, Governor of Missouri, 216- 



Parker, John M., 164, 165 



Pennsylvania: Lynchings: re- 
corded total, 149, of Negroes, 
149, of Zachariah Walker, 149; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 267- 
268 

Person, Ell, lynched, 93, 131-132 
Pettigrew, Ben, lynched, 131 
Phagan, Mary, murdered, 153-161 
Phoenix, South Carolina, lynch- 
ings at, 135 

Pidcock, Roger, lynched, 148 
Pinckney, Michigan, lynching at, 

148 
Pine Bluff, Arkansas, lynchings 

at, 126 

Pine Level, North Carolina, lynch- 
ing at, 82 

Ponder, Ernest, lynched, 248 
Poole, Charles A., lynched, 148 
Portal, Georgia, lynching at, 1 10 
Porter, Laura, lynched, 121 
Poulnot, Eugene F., 237-242 
Poyas, Peter, 35-36 
Princess Anne, Maryland, lynch- 
ing at, 146-147 
Prosser, Thomas, 33 

Romon, Judge, 163, 164 
Rape, lynchings for, 8 
Raper, Arthur F., 10 
Rebellions, alone, 33-45 
Recapitulation by States, 151-152 
Reed, Paul, lynched, no 
Rhode Island: No lynchings, 100; 

Anti-lynching legislation, 268 
Rice, Eugene, lynched, 1 1 1 
Riley, Chime, lynched, 1 1 1 
Ripley, Tennessee, lynchings at, 

J3 1 

Ritchie, Governor Albert M. of 

Maryland, 207-211 
Robinson, Esau, lynched, 122-124 
Rocky Ford, Miss., lynching at, 

103 

Roddy, Ralph, reporter, 175-177 
Roger, Albert, lynched, no 
Rogers, Sam, 237 



286 



INDEX 



Rolph, Governor James of Cali- 
fornia, 215-216, 219 
Rome, Tennessee, lynching at, 131 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 220 
Rosario, Maria del, lynched, 64-65 

St. Charles, Arkansas, lynchings 

at, 126 
St. Joseph, Missouri, lynching at, 

216-219 

St. Louis, Mo., lynching at, 54-56 
Salisbury, Maryland, lynching of 

Matt Williams, 94, 146 
Salt City, Georgia, lynching at, 

107 
San Benito, Texas, lynchings at, 

"5 

San Diego, California, lynching at, 
64 

San Jose, California, lynching at, 
144 

Scott, Marie, lynched, 138 

Scottsboro Case, 125 

Shelbyville, Kentucky, lynchings 
at, 134 

Shelbyville, Tennessee, mob re- 
pulsed, burns courthouse down, 

*33 
Sherman, Texas, lynching at, 117- 

n 8, 197-206 

Shoemaker, Joseph, 223-243 
Sholtz, Governor Dave, of Flor- 
ida, 240 
Shreveport, Louisiana, lynchings 

at, 119 

Shuman, Simon, lynched, in 
Slaton, Governor of Georgia, 157, 

158 

Smith, Henry, lynched, 92 
South Carolina: Lynchings: re- 
corded total, 135, between 
1871-73, 74, of Negroes, 135, of 
women, 135, multiple, 135, since 
Armistice, 135; Anti-lynching 
legislation, 268-269 
South Dakota: See North and 
South Dakota 



287 



South Point, Ohio, lynching at, 

i47 
South Sulphur, Texas, lynching at, 

60 

Southampton massacre, 33, 37-45 
Southern Commission on the 

Study of Lynching, 10 
Squire Birch, 1 8, 19, 51, 52 
Statesboro, Georgia, lynchings at, 

no, in 
Sylvester Station, Louisiana, 

lynching at, 120-121 



Tallahassee, Florida, lynchings at, 
248 

Talullah, Louisiana, lynchings at, 
119 

Tampa, Florida, lynchings at, 128, 
234-245 

Tennessee: Lynchings: early, 61, 
recorded total, 130, between 
1871-73, 74, of Negroes, 130, 
of women, 130, multiple, 130, 
since Armistice, 130, at Clarks- 
dale, 83, of Ell Person, 93, 130- 
131, at Tiptonville, Memphis, 
Chattanooga, Nashville, Knox- 
ville, Ripley, Rome, 130-131, of 
Ben Pettigrew, 131, of Jim Mc- 
Illherron, 132-133, of Albert 
Gooden, 248-249; Anti-lynch- 
ing legislation, 269 

Texas: Lynchings: early, 53, re- 
corded total, 114, of Negroes, 
114, of women, 114, multiple, 
114, at South Sulphur, 60, at 
San Benito, 69, at Paris, 92, of 
Reverend Captain Jones, 114, 
of Dan Davis, 116, of Jesse 
Washington, 116-117, of two 
Negro minors, 117, of George 
Hughes, 98, 118, 197-206; Anti- 
lynching legislation, 269 

Thomas, T. J., lynched, 113 

Thompson, Gilbert, lynched, 1 1 1 

Thompson, Will, lynched, 1 1 1 



INDEX 



Thurmond, Thomas H., lynched, 

144, 212-216 
Tiptonville, Tennessee, lynchings 

at, 130 
Torture, 94-98, 103, 104, 108-109, 

no, iu-112, 116, 117, 118, 120- 

121, 131-133, i4 2 J 49> I 75~ l 7*i 

184-185, 196-197, 201-203, 225, 

231-233, 238, 239, 247 
Townes, Roosevelt, lynched, 247 
Turner, Hayes, lynched, 1 1 1 
Turner, Mary, lynched, 107, m- 

112 

Turner, Nat, 37-43 
Tuskegee, Department of Records 

and Research, 10 
Tyler, Texas, lynching at, 116 
Tyronne, R. J., lynched, 105 

United Citrus Workers' Union, 

2 43 

Utah: Lynchings: recorded total, 
150, of Negroes, 150, of Robert 
Marshall, 150, of Joe Hill, 223; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 269 

Vaughan, Sheriff, delivered Al- 
bert Gooden to mob, 248-249 
Vehmgerichte of Westphalia, 16, 

17 

Vermont: No lynchings, 100; 
Anjri-lynching legislation, 269 

Vesey, Denmark, 35-37 

Vicksburg, Miss., lynchings at, 
49-51, 101 

Vigilantes, 17, 65-69, 141-142 

Virginia: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 139, between 1871-73, 74, 
of Negroes, 139, of women, 139, 
multiple, 139, since Armistice, 
140; Anti-lynching legislation, 
269-270 



Walker, Zachariah, lynched, 149 

Warner, Lloyd, lynched, 216-219 

Washington: Lynchings: re- 
corded total, 146, of Negroes, 
146, since Armistice, 146, of 
Wesley Everest, 146, 226-233; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 271 

Washington, Jesse, lynched, 116- 
117 

Watson, Thomas E., 154, 158-159 

Watts, Foster, lynched, 112 

West, Jack, lynched, 78 

West Virginia: Lynchings: re- 
corded total, 142-143, of Ne- 
groes, 142, of women, 142, since 
Armistice, 143, of Mrs. T. Ar- 
thur, 142, of Robert Johnson, 
143; Anti-lynr^T legislation, 
271-272 

White, Govc nor Hugh of Mis- 
sissippi, 245, 247-248 

White, Walter, 10, 127 

Williams, Matt, lynched, 94, 146 

Wilmington, Delaware, lynching 
near, 151 

Wilson, T. W., District Attorney 
addresses mob, 93 

Wisconsin: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 150, between 1871-73, 75; 
Anti-lynching legislation, 272 

Women, lynching of, 65, 98, 102- 
103, 104, 107, in-112, 114, 119, 
124, 126, 127, 129, 130, 131, 133, 
135, 136-137, 138, 139, 140, 142 

Woodson, Edward, lynched, 144 

Work, Monroe N., 10 

Workers' Defense League, 10 

Wyoming: Lynchings: recorded 
total, 144, of Negroes, 144, since 
Armistice, 144, of Edward 
Woodson, 144; Anti-lynching 
legislation, 272 



Waco, Texas, lynching at, 116- Yazoo City, Miss., lynchings at, 

117 101 

Walker, David, 31, 32 Young, Ab, lynched, 93 



288