"Lynch Law and Barbarism," Richmond Dispatch (August 3, 1893)

Richmond Dispatch (August 3

In "Lynch Law and Barbarism," published on August 3, 1893, the Richmond Dispatch defends lynching as a necessary evil in defense of white womanhood. The writer states that rape is the cause of nearly all lynchings; in Virginia in the 1890s, however, victims of lynchings were accused of rape only 36 percent of the time.


Richmond Dispatch (August 3

Lynch Law and Barbarism.

The Hon. R. T. Barton, of Winchester, president of the Virginia Bar Association, in his annual report made to that body at its meeting at the Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs on Tuesday, discussed among other things "lynch law." Of it he said: "Justify ourselves as we may, after all lynching is in some degree murder, and every instance of it in any community is a lapse to that extent into barbarism."

This is what we all feel and what many of us say—until we are brought face to face with a Plecase where one of our own women has been the victim of the man who is to be punished. Then we either join the mob and string the man up or rejoice when others have done it and left us guiltless of actual participation in the deed.

After the crime has been committed and the criminal apprehended the one burning question is, Shall the woman who is the victim of the crime, and who has already suffered agonies surpassing the agonies of death, be dragged into court—there, before judge, jury, lawyers, and giggling spectators, to be cross-questioned upon the great wrong done her? The usual answer to this question is "No!" Then Judge Lynch is called in.

Alas we see the evil and deplore it, but the remedy does not appear to be nigh. We grope in vain to lay hold of it. Unquestionably the outside world regards lynchings as barbarous. They cause our section to be much misunderstood by the world—by a world that knows not our provocation, a world which if infested by similar beasts would adopt similar means of extirpating them. Why is the remedy?

Theoretically we all agree with Mr. Barton. Practically we cannot find it in our hearts to condemn the men who rid a community of one of those fiends who is ever sneaking about lonely country houses seeking an opportunity to make a victim of a white woman. All that Mr. Barton recommends is that "for certain offences the time which shall elapse between the commission of the offence and its expiation on the scaffold should be so short that the lyncher will find his occupation gone, and all men will learn to look to the law as the sure and just punisher of the guilty, as they should ever find in it the certain protector of the innocent."

We fear that this will not be enough; but we are willing to do anything, try anything which will stop that crime which causes nearly all the lynchings.

It is a noticeable thing—we cannot say that it is a strange thing—that nowhere that lynch law is discussed and denounced does any one think of proposing to plead with the negro to forego his besetting sin.


"An act about the casuall killing of slaves" (1669) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Charles Lynch (August 1, 1780) "From the Vicksburg Register," The Floridian (July 25, 1835) Virginia Mob, New-York Spectator (August 20, 1835) "Horrible Tragedy," Raleigh Register and North-Carolina Gazette (May 24, 1836) "The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions" by Abraham Lincoln (January 27, 1837) "The Execution Yesterday," Richmond Daily Dispatch (October 22, 1864) Depositions for the Claim of Benjamin Summers (February 6, 1872) "Page Wallace's Crime," Richmond Dispatch (February 3, 1880) "Lynch Law, Again," Richmond Dispatch (February 19, 1880) "Lynched!," Staunton Spectator (October 3, 1882) "Coalition Rule in Danville" (October 1883) "The Danville Riot," Richmond Dispatch (November 4, 1883) "The Negro and the Criminal Law"; chapter 6 of The Plantation Negro as Freeman by Philip Alexander Bruce (1889) "They Hanged Him," Richmond Dispatch (November 9, 1889) "The Clifton Forge Tragedy," Roanoke Times (October 20, 1891) Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases by Ida B. Wells (1892) "Brutal Attempt of a Negro," Roanoke Times (February 10, 1892) "The Police Force Wakes Up," Roanoke Times (February 11, 1892) "Judge Lynch!," Roanoke Times (February 12, 1892) "Viewed by a Thousand People," Roanoke Times (February 13, 1892) "Richlands' Lynching," Clinch Valley News (February 3, 1893) "Peace and Quiet," Roanoke Times (September 22, 1893) "Lynch Law"; excerpt from Governor Philip W. McKinney's Address to the General Assembly (December 6, 1893) "Rev. Dr. Hatcher's Surprising Assertions," Richmond Planet (June 23, 1894) "Hanged by a Mob," Alexandria Gazette (April 23, 1897) "The Lynchers Were Convicted," Richmond Planet (July 8, 1899) "Judge Lynch and His Victims," Richmond Planet (January 18, 1902) "The Lynching of Negroes"; chapter 4 of The Negro: The Southerner's Problem by Thomas Nelson Page (1904) U.S. Senate Resolution 39 (June 13, 2005)

APA Citation:
Richmond Dispatch. "Lynch Law and Barbarism," Richmond Dispatch (August 3, 1893). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Richmond Dispatch. ""Lynch Law and Barbarism," Richmond Dispatch (August 3, 1893)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 13 Jun. 2024
Last updated: 2020, December 07
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