This was the punishment meted out to a Negro, charged, not with rape, but attempted assault, and without any proof as to his guilt, for the women were not given a chance to identify him. It was only a little less horrible than the burning alive of Henry Smith, at Paris, Texas, February 1, 1893, or that of Edward Coy, in Texarkana, Texas, February 20, 1892. Both were charged with assault on white women, and both were tied to the stake and burned while yet alive, in the presence of ten thousand persons. In the case of Coy, the white woman in the case applied the match, even while the victim protested his innocence.
The cut which is here given is the exact reproduction of the photograph taken at the scene of the lynching at Clanton, Alabama, August, 1891. The cause for which the man was hanged is given in the words of the mob which were written on the back of the photograph, and they are also given. This photograph was sent to Judge A.W. Tourgee, of Mayville, N.Y.
In some of these cases the mob affects to believe in the Negro’s guilt. The world is told that the white woman in the case identifies him, or the prisoner “confesses.” But in the lynching which took place in Barnwell County, South Carolina, April 24, 1893, the mob’s victim, John Peterson, escaped and placed himself under Governor Tillman’s protection; not only did he declare his innocence, but offered to prove an alibi, by white witnesses. Before his witnesses could be brought, the mob arrived at the Governor’s mansion and demanded the prisoner. He was given up, and although the white woman in the case said he was not the man, he was hanged twenty-four hours after, and over a thousand bullets fired into his body, on the declaration that “a crime had been committed and someone had to hang for it.”
It has been claimed that the Southern white women have been slandered because, in defending the Negro race from the charge that all colored men, who are lynched, only pay penalty for assaulting women. It is certain that lynching mobs have not only refused to give the Negro a chance to defend himself, but have killed their victim with a full knowledge that the relationship of the alleged assailant with the woman who accused him, was voluntary and clandestine. As a matter of fact, one of the prime causes of the Lynch Law agitation has been a necessity for defending the Negro from this awful charge against him. This defense has been necessary because the apologists for outlawry insist that in no case has the accusing woman been a willing consort of her paramour, who is lynched because overtaken in wrong. It is well known, however, that such is the case. In July of this year, 1894, John Paul Bocock, a Southern white man living in New York, and assistant editor of the New York Tribune, took occasion to defy the publication of any instance where the lynched Negro was the victim of a white woman’s falsehood. Such cases are not rare, but the press and people conversant with the facts, almost invariably suppress them.