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land, but was also an internecine war be- ple, and hence its voice is the voice of God. tween Americans themselves. The slavery The legal faddist and reformer have done storm arose before the charge of Tory more than their share in keeping alive and ceased to be the acme of shame and hate, strengthening the mob spirit generally, and culminating in the Civil War. The white
The white the lynching spirit especially. The foundacitizens of military age spent four years in
tions of the temple cannot be undermined its death grapple, with all its attendant con- and at the same time the temple itself be fusion and demoralization.
preserved in its full strength and beauty. The very privileges of the thoughtless No more can constitutions and the eternal, Americans have a tendency to beguile him universal foundations of the law be assailed into lynching He makes the laws, he and discounted without marring their beauelects the judges, governors and sheriffs. ty and grace, without lessening their grasp He, in common with his neighbors, sits upon the will and obedience of the people, upon the jury. He is very sure that the and without weakening their loins and whole machinery of government is his, and shortening their arms. he is half suspicious that he is himself the Just so far as the legal iconoclasts have, government. What reason, therefore, in by their chatter and scribbling, reached and the case of well known or clearly proven misled the thoughtless and unwary, just so criminals, is there why he and his neighbors far have dutiful respect and docile obedimay not dispense with the forms of pro- ence to the law been shattered; just so far cedure that they themselves have made, and has the mob been strengthened and emwith the services of judges, governors and boldened ; just so far has the jurisdiction sheriffs whom they have elected, and them- of Judge Lynch been enlarged. selves dispense justice speedily and by di- If the Constitution were builded upon an rect rather than by indirect and circuitous insecure foundation and false legal archimethods? From the beginning the whole tectural lines, or if it could not stand the subject was in his hands. He could have strain or attrition of government in action, made the law other than it is and just as why should it further appeal to the imagihe would. Since guilt is clear, why can he nation or reason of the people? Why not, quoad hoc, dispense with these forms should it further withhold their hands or made by himself? Why can he not break restrain their wills?
restrain their wills? In statecraft as well down all forms and himself directly apply as in commerce, sailors will not knowingly the law? While such logic is monstrous, continue service in a rotten ship. If the the excited mob unconsciously accepts it fundamentals were vagaries, founded on inand acts upon it, forgetting that such logic justice and unrighteousness, for the purwill destroy all law and lead to anarchy and pose of protecting the strong and opprescertain ruin.
sing the weak, to secure the continued reign Lynching is also encouraged by the prev
of one class and the service of another, then alent political heresies—let the people have
the whole superstructure, by the combined what they want, let the majority rule, "vox
efforts of both classes, ought to be destroypopuli vox Dei.” With their nauseating ed, by the one in shame and by the other in nostrums the shyster and demagogue have
hate; and that, too, although in its place, poisoned an incredible number of the hon
for the time being, the mob may make the est but unthinking. The mob readily per
law and Judge Lynch execute it. suades itself that it is the people and that If the Constitution ought to be suddenly it is entitled to its way. It is for the time changed whenever and wherever it rethe majority, at least in temporary power strains an impatient, excited and impassionand brute force, and it is entitled to rule. ed majority, could such a barrier ever stand It imagines itself to be the voice of the peo- between the majority and its purpose?
How could it ever shield the helpless mi- was too impatient or too inflamed to await nority? Why should not the majority go the orderly procedure of courts, no matter straight to its purpose, without any inter- what the crime-Indian depredations, murvening halts or barriers? Why is not every der, arson, slave conspiracy or insurrection, step taken between the birth of its purpose incitement of slaves, concealing of slaves, and its realization but so much useless lost slave stealing, cattle stealing,
stealing, robbery, motion?
gambling—there Judge Lynch's court was If the judgments of the courts are so de- organized and his procedure enforced. void of inherent strength and sacredness But be it said in fairness to all, that prethat they may be rightfully recalled by the vious to the evil influences just before and will of the majority, then why trouble the after the Civil War, rape was rarely comcourts to give birth to so many sickly, mitted and practically never by the negroes spineless things? If the judgment of the upon the whites. Even during that war, majority is the ultima thule, why the time when those influences were accentuated by and trouble expended in formal, useless arms, rape practically disappeared in the lawsuits? Why not at once the imperial South. will of the mob rule? Why any appeal to Criminal repetition or criminal brutality Pilate? Why not let the cry, “Crucify him! are the sine qua non of even public apCrucify him!” be the beginning and Mount proval of lynch law. In the absence of Calvary the end?
these, lynch law cannot survive even in com_ No faddist or reformer wishes the cul- munities where the public conscience is at mination of such a calamity; but they for- the lowest level. Prior to the Reconstrucget, in their wild zeal and frenzy, that when tion era most negro crimes were petty ; the they destroy every beacon and compass of crime of rape was infrequent and was unthe past, there are left nothing but the accompanied by racial hate and revenge. storm and the night.
Public passion had not then become so inNeither in the past nor now does the jur- Alamed that it overlooked, if it did not apisdiction of Judge Lynch extend only to prove, mob law as a necessary remedy. rape cases. As might be expected, the In- Reconstruction, with its carpetbaggers, dians were the first victims in America. its scalawags, and its horde of pious, misPrior to the Civil War, summary execution guided troublemakers, wrought, at least in of negroes
was quite unusual. Judge the South, a swift and disastrous change. Lynch's victims were, for the most part, They at once, as a means to their various white men. The negro was scarcely ever ends, destroyed the negro's confidence in lynched except in cases of conspiracy or and reliance on his old master.
They ininsurrection. Until 1850
fluenced the ignorant negro with dreams when they killed their masters, mistresses of social equality and intermarriage with or overseers, were turned over to the law. the whites; they impregnated his very soul
Hanging by vigilance committees in Cal- with the doctrine that he was the equal of ifornia and other western states for crimes any white man, socially, mentally and moragainst life and property and for political ally, and that he had but to assert himself corruption was, in early days, too common to become his superior and his master. to excite comment.
They robbed him of his every stay, his evIt is, therefore, not to be gainsaid that ery comfort and hope ; and they gave him originally rape had little influence in estab- instead an imagination diseased and dislishing lynch courts and enforcing lynch torted, and developed in him a malignant law. Always, whenever and wherever the hatred for the only friend he had ever had, public peace and safety were supposed to and, if experience is of any value, the only be threatened by crime, and public opinion real, genuine friend he is, in the near future, likely to have. They found him sim
They found him sim- | ing spirit in the South. That it is not the ple, trusting, polite, goodnatured and hope- , sole cause is readily admitted, and that even ful; they bereft him, so far as they were rape does not justify it is not open to disable, of all these simple, lovable qualities pute; but it cannot be fairly disputed that and, in their stead, gave him unrest, sus- the frequent fiendish raping of white wopicion, hate, a diseased and inflamed ego, men by negroes does, as nothing else does an ill-balanced ambition to strut and bluster | or can, nourish and foster lynching and in place and station for which he had no gives it whatever apparent approbation it aptitude by mental or moral equipment or enjoys. The admission that one-fourth of by tradition or training. They found him all the lynchings is for rape is fatal to the journeying through life in calm and in hap-contention that it is inherent viciousness of piness and content; they destroyed his the mob, and not the raping of white wochart and compass and committed him to men, that explains the Southern mob. darkness and storm.
No man with blood in his veins can, in The inevitable happened.
Millions of the quiet of an unprotected rural communlately freed negroes broke loose from all ity, stand in the presence of the ravished, their old moorings. Labor was a synonym mutilated and murdered body of an innofor slavery, and they loafed. Freedom in- cent, simple child of the people, see the pitivolved full liberty of speech, and they ful evidence of her struggle for self-depreached. They had accumulated for him fense, and hear the wild wail of shame and what the white man had, and from him they grief from her kindred and friends, and at took freely when and where they could. the same time, holding his primitive imHe was the equal of any white woman, and pulses in leash, preach of “righteousness, if she would not willingly join with him in temperance, and the judgment to come." wedlock, why should he not gratify his lust, Under such surroundings the great Apostle even if it did require mutilation and mur- to the Gentiles, after his conversion, might der? To him liberty meant license, and have done so, but there are few Amcricans there swept over the South a wave of chaos of 1921 who have the self-control or the and crime that is still today a nightmare to Divine grace to quiet the call of the wild those who lived through it and beyond the and, in the interest of social peace and quiet comprehension of those who did not. calmly uphold the majesty of the law. The
There seems to have been no effort to ordinary American, no matter where his keep a complete record prior to 1885, but abode, would most likely forget Ged and from sources obtainable, from 1850 to 1860 curse the law. in the whole country, for rape on white Without a final settlement of the dispute women, three negroes were legally executed as to whether rape initiated and sustains and four were burned at the stake; d'iring the present deplorable lynching situation. 1866, 1867 and 1868, three negroes were one thing is sure—it has not in the puit, lynched for rape and four legally executed ; nor will it be in the future, restricted to while in 1873, 1874, and 1875, twenty-six rape. Every lynching, no matter what the negroes were lynched for rape and four for cause, loosens public restraint and leaves attempted rape, and six were legally exe- the public conscience seared. Law violacuted. Taking the period from 1885 to tion does not stop with the infraction of the present time, it is admitted by the ne- one law, no matter how unpopular or ungroes themselves that about one-fourth of wise the broken law. When Judge Lyrch's the lynchings of negroes were for rape on court is once called into existence, there is white women, and this is taken as proof no hope that his jurisdiction will or can be positive that it is the raping of white wo- restricted. It will execute today for rape men by negroes that keeps alive the lynch- or murder: tomorrow for theft or burglary.
Today the lynchers, no matter how unwise- to construe its non-acceptance as a declaly, may have in mind the good order, peace ration by the negro that he will not stop and safety of society; tomorrow, infected raping, but that the white man must stop by evil example, they may be the ignorant, lynching. Of course, if feasible, this would the irresponsible and the evil-disposed, with be a rough and ready solution of the probno thought of punishing crime and assuring lem, and it not at all follows that because the public safety and order, but bent solely the negro will not voluntarily stop raping, upon promoting their own evil designs or the white man is justified in the continuagratifying personal revenge. Just as the tion of lynching Wrong ought to cease waters of a great reservoir will, when loos- and that, too, without consideration. The ened, engulf and destroy the whole valley crime of rape ought to stop, and the lynchbelow, so will the pent-up mob spirit of the ing nightmare must, in the interest of both multitude, when unloosened and unre- races, stop. strained, engulf and destroy the whole so- Not a few modern criminal reformers cial fabric. The mob spirit is the very an- would readjust our criminal procedure to tithesis of order, peace and safety.
meet the mob's impatient thirst for revenge. Lynching has endured, but it has never They would take from the prisoner every met the approbation of the intelligent, safeguard now vouchsafed to him by the thinking people of the South. But the hor- wise and persistent struggles of a hundred ror of the negro rapist, the dread and dan- years. They would speed up the courts so ger of him, which for a generation have that they might run a more even race with alarmed and disquieted every unprotected the mob. If such reformers had their way, rural district in the South, has stunned a court, in the time of excitement and pasthem into inaction or appalled them into sion, presided over by a weak and pliant action, against their own hearts and con- judge, and guided by a prosecuting officer sciences. Let this one dark terror end; ambitious for advancement and greedy for free the women of the South from this ever- public favor, could be distinguished from dreaded monster, then lynchings for all Judge
Judge Lynch's court only by a competent other crimes will shrink from view
like expert. some evil spirit of the night. The public Our judicial system is not perfect, but opinion that is at least supine, if not indul lynchings cannot be attributed to that fact. gent, will rise in its might and purge the ! Whatever the faults of our legal systeni, it South of its evil lynching report.
is not responsible for lynch law. The mob It is useless to suggest that there inheres lynches not by reason of any defect or dein the law some potent charm that can lay in the law, but because the aroused pasmove the negro rapist or frighten him into sions of the mob want no law and will wait obedience. In a vague way he knows that for no law, no matter how certain, no matthe law stands between him and his pas-, ter how swift. Lynching is not a protest sion, but it is too calm in its procedure. It against law, but is the outburst of primeval will punish him for his crime, but the judg- passion that ignores all law, waits on no ment of the law does not equal that of court, and is satisfied with no punishment Judge Lynch in striking terror to his soul. which it does not select and which it does
To the complaint of the negro against not inflict. No legal sentence is severe lynching the white man has, often in effect, enough, no legal execution brutal enough. and at times in words, said: "Stop raping The mob wants to rend and tear, mutilate our women and we will stop lynching your and burn. It will not tolerate the sheriff rapists." To the lay, undisciplined mind executioner. "Vengeance is mine," this is a fair proposition, and when not ac- saith the mob, "and I will wreak it now in cepted by the negro, the white man is prone a whirlwind of passion and blood.”
The law is the child of civilization the The grand total of all the victims of all mob is the spirit of the jungle, and it will such mobs for any one year of the last no more wait upon the law than would the dozen would surprise and alarm those who jungle on civilization.
have not kept in touch with the labor trouThe demagogue who excuses lynching bles of the past decade. or condones it under the pretense of defects The lynching mob is ephemeral; is surin our legal system or the misuse of the vives but a day. It is born in a whirlwind pardoning power is a traitor to the state. of passion, it wreaks its vengeance and is And he is the arch-traitor of them all who, immediately dissolved and absorbed into as the purchase price of its votes, corruptiy the community from which it came. It does deifies the mob as the savior of the state not live long enough to vote, to adopt confrom courts which he claims are inefficient stitutions, to pass by-laws, to develop a poland from governors he charges are faith- icy or formulate a creed. Each mob is inless.
dependent and isolated; it does not harken The mob spirit manifested in lynching is back to past mobs or reach out in assistance subversive of all law, of all peace and safc- to future mobs. It encourages other mobs ty, but not more so than is the mob spirit only by its temporary but pernicious exwherever and whenever and however man- ample. It is few in numbers; its area of ifested. It has become the fad to arraign operations small; its purposes fixed and lynching as the anathema maranatha of limited. In the presence of armed forces, mob violence. Such an arraignment is as regular or militia, or a well-trained, deterfar from the truth as most fads.
mined constabulary, it slinks away in the Few agencies can be more destructive of darkness and dissolves in terror. social order and good government than the Too often, the labor mob is born not as labor mob. It does not pretend to punish the result of a sudden gust of ungovernfor violation of the criminal law, but de- able passion, but of deliberation and prepastroys all property that obstructs its selfish- ration. Each mob is not an isolation, but ends. It mutilates, maims and kills not a part of a fixed system, from which is only those who do not humbly bow to its drawn experience, courage and hope. It bidding, but as well the innocent who hap- | may, and often does, live long enough to pens to be within the radius of the conflict vote and to exert its corrupting influence it has provoked. It bullies sheriffs, defies upon legislation and administration, to judges, ignores legislatures and congresses, sanction the conduct and reaffirm the creeds and threatens governors and presidents. of other such mobs, past and present, and And all this not because of any crime con- by new schemes and devices to strengthen mitted or any public wrong done, but solely and secure the universal object of all such because others decline to contract with it on mobs. The members are too often not few, its own terms and because others wish to but include thousands; its area of operawork when it will not.
tions not restricted, but too often includes The physical havoc wrought by the labor a province. It is not always dissolved by mob is appalling. In the last decade mil- the active presence of arms or constables, lions of dollars in property have been de- but, in defiance of both, continues, its work stroyed by it needlessly, ruthlessly. Its vic-of destruction and murder. And when it tims, if accurately known, would far out- does dissolve, it does not slink away in number the unhappy victims of Judge darkness or fear, but boldly, defiantly, Lynch. In a small area of one of the States | boasting of its deeds, and with the promise not much larger than an ordinary county, of re-assemblage on its lips. the victims of the labor mob outnumber all No matter what may be said in explanaof Judge Lynch's victims for a year past. tion, nothing can be said in extenuation of