Monday, May 16, 2016

December 15, 1877: Boot Alexander

Today we learn about a lynching in Tennessee through the pages of the Chicago Daily Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) dated December 16, 1877:


Special Dispatch to the Chicago Tribune.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 15.—About a month ago a negro named Boot Alexander murdered, near Murfreesboro, a white man, Thomas Daughty. Daughty had been for a long time annoyed by Alexander leaving the main road and riding through his premises, despite constant protestations, and on the day of the murder threatened to prosecute him if he did not stop. Ripping out an oath, Alexander said he would allow no poor white trash to talk to him in that way. He drew a revolver and fired twice, Doughty falling dead in sight of his agonized family. Alexander escaped, was pursued, captured in a neighboring county, and returned to Murfreesboro. Alexander was found to have received a gunshot wound in the thigh and a cut in the arm. These Alexander claimed to have received at Doughty's hands, but he was proven to have been thus wounded while in a fight with another negro some time previous. On the night of his confinement in the Murfreesboro Jail a drunken mob on horseback, and supposed to be from Daughty's neighborhood, overpowered the Jailer, took away his keys, and removed Alexander from his cell to the street, where he was received with exultant shouts by a disorganized and reckless mob. They had proceeded only a square from the jail when Alexander escaped by jumping fences and rushing through back yards. He was recaptured on Thursday at Christiana, only ten miles from Murfreesboro, in consequence of his having stolen a horse from a blind man named Mat Adams. Rumors prevailed at dark last night that Alexander would again be taken from the jail and lynched. The Attorney-General and Sheriff, with a posse, remained at the jail until 11 p. m., determined to prevent the delivery, but having become convinced that there was no danger, they retired, leaving Jailer Murphy and five men.

Sixty men surrounded the jail at midnight. They were well mounted and armed. They called for the Jailer, who came out and parleyed with them for ten minutes. The leader informed them that their crowd this time was sober, and meant business. They had come for the negro and intended to have him. Unable to resist, he allowed a detail of ten men to enter the jail, insuring the safety of the remainder of the prisoners. Unlocking Alexander's cell, they bound him with a big rope, and tied another around his neck, almost chocking him to death in the cell. Carrying him out, they made him mount an extra horse and took him two miles out from the town, where they hung him to the limb of a white oak tree. The body was taken down this morning by the Coroner and found to have been literally riddled with shots and bullets, which evidently had been fired after he had been swung from the limb.

Alexander had been guilty of many crimes during the past two years. He was regarded as vicious. The white man he murdered had the reputation of a peaceably-disposed man.

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

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