Lynch Law in Georgia, Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Lynch Law in Georgia
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
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Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was an American investigative journalist, educator, and early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Over the course of a lifetime dedicated to combating prejudice and violence, and the fight for African-American equality, especially that of women, Wells arguably became the most famous Black woman in America. Lynch Law in Georgia Pamphlet was circulated by Chicago Colored Citizens in 1899.

Lynch Law in Georgia

by
Ida B. Wells-Barnett


Negro Silent Protest Parade

Consider the Facts

During six weeks of the months of March and April just past, twelve colored men were lynched in Georgia, the reign of outlawry culminating in the torture and hanging of the colored preacher, Elijah Strickland, and the burning alive of Samuel Wilkes, alias Hose, Sunday, April 23, 1899.

The real purpose of these savage demonstrations is to teach the Negro that in the South he has no rights that the law will enforce. Samuel Hose was burned to teach the Negroes that no matter what a white man does to them, they must not resist. Hose, a servant, had killed Cranford, his employer. An example must be made. Ordinary punishment was deemed inadequate. This Negro must be burned alive. To make the burning a certainty the charge of outrage was invented, and added to the charge of murder. The daily press offered reward for the capture of Hose and then openly incited the people to burn him as soon as caught. The mob carried out the plan in every savage detail.

Of the twelve men lynched during that reign of unspeakable barbarism, only one was even charged with an assault upon a woman. Yet Southern apologists justify their savagery on the ground that Negroes are lynched only because of their crimes against women.

The Southern press champions burning men alive, and says, “Consider the facts.” The colored people join issue and also say, “Consider the facts.” The colored people of Chicago employed a detective to go to Georgia, and his report in this pamphlet gives the facts. We give here the details of the lynching as they were reported in the Southern papers, then follows the report of the true facts as to the cause of the lynchings, as learned by the investigation. We submit all to the sober judgment of the Nation, confident that, in this cause, as well as all others, “Truth is mighty and will prevail.”

IDA B. WELLS-BARNETT.

2939 Princeton Avenue,
Chicago,
June 20, 1899.


Chapter I.
Nine Men Lynched on Suspicion

In dealing with all vexed questions, the chief aim of every honest inquirer should be to ascertain the facts. No good purpose is subserved either by concealment on the one hand or exaggeration on the other. “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” is the only sure foundation for just judgment.

The purpose of this pamphlet is to give the public the facts, in the belief that there is still a sense of justice in the American people, and that it will yet assert itself in condemnation of outlawry and in defense of oppressed and persecuted humanity. In this firm belief the following pages will describe the lynching of nine colored men, who were arrested near Palmetto, Georgia, about the middle of March, upon suspicion that they were implicated in the burning of the three houses in February preceding.

The nine suspects were not criminals, they were hard-working, law-abiding citizens, men of families. They had assaulted no woman, and, after the lapse of nearly a month, it could not be claimed that the fury of an insane mob made their butchery excusable. They were in the custody of the law, unarmed, chained together and helpless, awaiting their trial. They had no money to employ learned counsel to invoke the aid of technicalities to defeat justice. They were in custody of a white Sheriff, to be prosecuted by a white State’s Attorney, to be tried before a white judge, and by a white jury. Surely the guilty had no chance to escape.

Still they were lynched. That the awful story of their slaughter may not be considered overdrawn, the following description is taken from the columns of the Atlanta Journal, as it was written by Royal Daniel, a staff correspondent. The story of the lynching thus told is as follows:

Palmetto, Ga., March 16. — A mob of more than 100 desperate men, armed with Winchesters and shotguns and pistols and wearing masks, rode into Palmetto at 1 o’clock this morning and shot to death four Negro prisoners, desperately wounded another and with deliberate aim fired at four others, wounding two, believing the entire nine had been killed.

The boldness of the mob and the desperateness with which the murder was contemplated and executed, has torn the little town with excitement and anxiety.

All business has been suspended, and the town is under military patrol, and every male inhabitant is armed to the teeth, in anticipation of an outbreak which is expected to-night.

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