Friday, July 11, 2014
July 11, 1900: John Jennings
From the Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) dated July 12, 1900:
NEGRO MURDERER LYNCHED.
JOHN JENNINGS SWUNG FROM A BRIDGE AND LEFT HANG 18 HOURS.
[Special to The Times.]
Birmingham, Ala., July 12.—John Jennings, colored, was hanged to a railway bridge near Cresswell, Shelby county, yesterday, for the murder of a white man a week ago.
The body was left hanging on the bridge 18 hours, where the people on many trains saw it. A mob had taken Jennings from Childersburg jail.
Last night the negroes around Cresswell got excited and it was feared a race riot would follow, but trainmen tonight say there has been no further trouble, though both sides are prepared.
This next article is an article of interest. It is a very long article with a lot of information not concerned with lynching, so I will not copy it in full. It comes from the Keowee Courier (Pickens, S. C.) dated January 17, 1906.
Thinks Dispensary System Good, But Needs Reform--Arraigns Mob Law.
In his annual message, read before the General Assembly on Tuesday, January 9th, at noon, Governor Heyward speaks of the dispensary troubles as the "only cloud which throws a shadow over the State." . . .
The Governor's message covers a wide range of subjects. It is very conservative, as was to be expected. The strongest portion is the dealing with mob violence and lynching. This the Governor approaches without any modifications or excuses. . . .
In my last two messages I thought it my duty to call your attention to the absolute necessity of adopting more stringent measures for the proper enforcement of law, and particularly for the prevention of lynchings. In response to my request you appropriated a special fund for this purpose. This fund has been practically exhausted in the prosecution of cases which occurred prior to your last session. Although I cannot report a single conviction of the parties supposed to be implicated, I am satisfied that the appropriation has not been used in vain. Investigations and prosecutions were possible only by means of this fund, and the result has strongly contributed to the upholding of law and order throughout the State.
You are only too familiar with the record of past years. You know how South Carolina, together with other of our sister States, has had reproach heaped upon her on account of the dastardly deeds of reckless, lawless and irresponsible men. I have just stated that no convictions have been secured, yet, in spite of this fact, the realization that the arm of the law would be invoked; that a determined attempt at least would be made to prevent its ruthless and barbaric desecration; that criminals would be prosecuted for their crimes; that the coroner's inquest and the usual verdict would not be the end, but only the beginning—these have produced their effect. and, as a result, better conditions have prevailed. Those who would take the law in their own hands have been made to think; the masses of our people, who are at heart law-abiding, have found hope and encouragement, and the sworn officers of the law have had their grave responsibilities brought more closely home to them. For more than a year South Carolina was not disgraced by a lynching, no case occurring which could properly be so classed.
Had I been able to report to you, that our State, since your last session at least, had been spared the shame of another lynching—that for this period no human life had been lawlessly and barbariously taken by an armed mob—I would have been deeply gratified at such a convincing evidence of the increased respect shown for law and order. While we have every reason for encouragement, the recent killing of two defenseless negroes by an armed mob is for every reason to be deplored and condemned. Such outrages are not only flagrant and inexcusable, but they inevitably lead to the disregard of all law, the cheapening of human life and the undermining of our civilization. The lawless element must be made to realize the sanctity of human life; they must be taught the fearful consequences that follow the blind passions and prejudices of mobs which take the law into their own hands; human life must have every right guaranteed by our constitution, and lawless and reckless violators must be prosecuted without fear or favor to the utmost limit of the law.
As long as I am Governor of the State I shall use my strongest endeavor for the suppression and punishment of those who disregard our laws, especially in the matter of lynchings. I shall not be deterred in the discharge of this duty, however unpleasant it may be, believing that in thus seeking to uphold the law, I am serving the best and highest interests of our State. I have been actuated solely by this motive in what I have done, and I am firmly convinced that one conviction would not only materially decrease the future record of the State in respect to lynchings, but would also encourage the upbuilding of a better sentiment among our people.
In this connection I am grateful to report that during the past year, whenever necessity arose, the solicitors and sheriffs have shown every desire to discharge their full duty and to co-operate with me in every way possible for the enforcement of law. This is as it should be, and when a sheriff or other officer, whose duty it is to protect the life of a prisoner in his custody, allows the mob to take him away without a determined effort on his part to prevent them, then, as I recommended last year, there should be a penalty provided for such failure of duty, even to removal from office. A fund for the suppression of lawlessness, to be expended under the direction of the Governor, seems again to be a necessity, and I recommend that you make such appropriation as you deem proper for this purpose.