Wednesday, August 3, 2016
June 26, 1899: Lynchings in the South
Today we have an article found in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, N. Y.) dated June 26, 1899:
LYNCHINGS IN THE SOUTH.
Booker T. Washington Gives Some Statistics of These Crimes.
Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute writes a letter to the Montgomery, Ala., Advertiser, of which the following is an extract:
I fear that but few people in the South realize to what an extent the habit of lynching, or the taking of life without due process of law has taken hold of us and to what an extent it is not only hurting us in the eyes of the world but injuring our own moral and material growth. Lynching was instituted some years ago with the idea of punishing and checking outrage upon women. Let us examine the cold facts and see where it has already led us, and where it is likely further to carry us, if we do not rid ourselves of the habit. Many good people in the South and also out of the South have gotten the idea that lynching is resorted to for one crime only. I have the facts from an authoritative source. During last year 127 persons were lynched in the United States; of this 118 were executed in the South and 9 in the North and West; of the total number lynched 102 were negroes, 23 were whites and 2 Indians. Now let everyone interested in the South, his country and the cause of humanity note this fact—that only 24 of the entire number were charged in any way with the crime of rape; that is 24 of 127 cases of lynching. Sixty-one of the remaining cases were for murder, 13 for being suspected of murder, 6 for theft, etc. During one week last spring when I kept a careful record, thirteen negroes were lynched in three of our Southern states and not one was even charged with rape. All of these thirteen were accused of murder or house burning, but in neither case were the men allowed to go before a court so that their innocence or guilt might be proven. When we get to the point where four-fifths of the people lynched in our country, in one year, are for some crime other than rape, we can no longer plead and explain that we lynch for one crime alone. Let us take another year, that of 1892, for example. During this year, 1892, 241 persons were lynched in the whole United States, 36 of this number were lynched in Northern and Western states and 186 in our Southern states. Of the 241 lynched in the whole country, 160 were negroes and 5 of these were women. The facts show that out of the 241 lynched in the entire country in 1892, but 57 were even charged with rape, or attempted rape, leaving in that year alone 184 persons who were lynched for other causes than that of rape. If it were necessary I could produce figures for other years. Within a period of six years about 900 persons have been lynched in our Southern states. This is but a few number short of the total number of soldiers who lost their lives in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. If we would realize still more fully how far this unfortunate habit is leading us, note the classes of crime, during a few months, which the local papers and the Associated Press reports say that lynching has been inflicted for—they include murder, rioting, incendiarism, robbery, larceny, self defense, insulting women, alleged stock poisoning, malpractice, alleged barn burning, suspected robbery, race prejudice, attempted murder, and horse stealing, mistaken identity, etc. The practice has grown until we are now at the point where not only blacks are lynched in the South, but white men as well. Not only this, but within the last six years at least half a dozen colored women have been lynched. And there are a few cases where negroes have lynched members of their own race. What is to be the end of this? What will the harvest of such a state of things be? Beside this, every lynching drives hundreds of negroes from the farming districts of the South, where they make the best living and where their services are of greatest value to the country, into the already overcrowded cities.
Thank you for joining me and as always, I hope I leave you with something to ponder.