Thursday, January 29, 2015

January 29, 1919: Sam Smith

The El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas) reports on the following lynching in its January 30, 1919 edition:


Monroe, La., Jan. 30.—A mob last night lynched Sam Smith, a negro, convicted at Columbia yesterday of the murder of Blanchard Warner, a white man. The jury's verdict had specified that capital punishment should not be inflicted.

The Southern Immigrant from Cullman, Alabama printed an article about the origins of lynch law in its March 7, 1878 edition:

Origin of Lynch Law.

In Campbell county, Va., on the Roanoke river (then called Staunton river,) during the old Revolutionary war, when there were some Tories of obnoxious character still remaining in  the county not reachable by any statutory law, Colonel Charles Lynch, supported by Capt. Robert Adams, his brother-in-law, both farming on adjoining plantations, and — Calloway, determining to rid the country of such dangerous enemies, seized on different occasions, three of the worst of them, tied them to a tree and flogged them so severely as to prompt an unceremonious departure from the State, as they were ordered. This sort of procedure on the part of Lynch and his friends proving so effective in Campbell was quickly followed in other counties, where loyalty to King George sometimes provoked summary punishment, and it was called "Lynch law," and has been to our day.

The snatch of an old song of the time is still repeated in the neighborhood:

Huzza for Captain Bob, Colonel 
Lynch and Calloway,
Never let a Tory rest till he cries
out liberty.

John Lynch, the brother of Charles Lynch, was the founder of Lynchburg; only a few of their descendants are now living—none in Virginia bearing the family name, so far as is known—the last of the males. Charles Henry Lynch, and his brother, John Pleasant, having died in Campbell county since the War of Secession. Their sister, Mrs. Dearing, and her daughter Mrs. Faunt Le Roy, now occupy the old homestead, where still remains the stump of the walnut tree to which the three Tories were tied and whipped. Life was never taken.

Webster, in his unabridged dictionary, says of "Lynch law" that it was the "practice of punishing men for crimes or offenses by private, unauthorized persons, without a legal trial.—The term is said to be derived from a Virginia farmer named Lynch, who thus took the law into his own hands."

Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder. 

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