Primary Document Packet on the Birth of Jim Crow Contents: Document I : Lynch Law (1907) Benjamin Tillman



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Primary Document Packet on the Birth of Jim Crow

Contents:

Document I: Lynch Law (1907) Benjamin Tillman
Document II: First Newspaper Report of Charley Powell’s Lynching
Document III: Second Report of Charley Powell’s Lynching
Document IV: Report of Paul Jones’ Lynching
Document V: Lynchings of Blacks, 1880-1930
Document VI: Lynchings in Cotton Belt Georgia, 1880-1930

Document I
Lynch Law (1907): Benjamin Tillman
Have I ever advocated lynch law at any time or at any place? I answered on my honor, “Never!” I have justified it for one crime, and one only, and I have consistently and persistently maintained that attitude for the last fourteen years.1 As governor of South Carolina I proclaimed that, although I had taken the oath of office to support the law and enforce it, I would lead a mob to lynch any man, black or white, who had ravished a woman, black or white.2 This is my attitude calmly and deliberately taken, and justified by my conscience in the sight of God.
Mr. President, the Senator from Wisconsin speaks of “lynching bees.”3 As far as lynching for rape is concerned, the word is a misnomer. When stern and sad-faced white men put to death a creature in human form who has deflowered a white woman, there is nothing of the “bee” about it. There is more of the feeling of participating as a mourner at a funeral. They have avenged the greatest wrong, the blackest crime in all the category of crimes, and they have done it, not so much as an act of retribution in behalf of the victim as a duty and as a warning as to what any man may expect who shall repeat the offense.4 They are looking to the protection of their loved ones.
Excerpted from The Congressional Record—Senate, 59th Congress, 2nd Session, vol. 41, pt. 2 (January, 1907), pp. 1437-1443


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