Crusader Tells Story of Crime
(June 26, 1909) Mrs. Barnett’s Report Reveals Alarming Statistics of Human Beings Murdered For Frivolous Offenses—Only Possible, She Says, Under United States Flag.
The following report on lynching in the United States for the past twenty-seven years was given by Mrs. Ida Wells Barnett at the recent conference on the status of the American Negro which was held in New York. Mrs. Barnett said:
“From its first manifestations, in 1882, in which fifty-two persons were lynched, down to the present, lynching has been along the color line. Mob murder increased yearly until more than 200 victims were lynched in 1892, and statistics show that 3,284 men, women and children have been put to death in this quarter of a century. During the last ten years, from 1899 to 1908 inclusive, the number lynched was 900. Of this number 102 were white, while the colored victims numbered 857.
“No other nation, civilized or savage, burns its criminals. Only under the stars and stripes is the human holocaust possible. Twenty-eight human beings burned at the stake, one of them a woman and two of them children, is the awful indictment against American civilization—the gruesome tribute which the nation pays to the color line.
“Why is mob murder permitted by a Christian nation? What is the cause of this awful slaughter? This question is answered almost daily—always the same shameless falsehood that ‘Negroes are lynched to protect womanhood. This is the never varying answer of lynchers and their apologists. All know that it is untrue.
“Investigations for the past fifteen years by the anti-lynching bureau, of which the speaker is chairman, in many cases have proved the charges to be false.
“When the white women of the north came south to become ‘nigger teachers’ they had no protection save that of Negro men, and not one of them has ever reported a criminal assault at the hands of one of these Negroes.
“The Springfield (Ill.) mob was led by a Russian Jew who had been there only a short time. Rioting went on for two days. The militia of the entire state was called out, two men were lynched, hundreds of people driven from homes, all because a white woman had said that a Negro man had criminally assaulted her. A mad mob of thousands went to the jail. tried to lynch the victim of her charge and, not being able to find him, proceeded to pillage and burn the town and lynch two innocent men.
“Later. after the police had found by physical facts that the woman’s charge was false, she published a retraction, the Indictment was dismissed and the intended victim discharged. But the lynched victims were dead, hundreds were homeless, and Illinois was disgraced.
“As a final and complete refutation of the charge that lynching is caused by crimes against women a partial record of lynchings is cited-285 persons were lynched for causes as follows: Unknown cause,” 92; no cause, 10; race prejudice, 40; miscegenation, 7; informing, 12; making threats 11; keeping saloon, 3; practicing fraud, 5; practicing voodooism, 2; bad reputation, 8; unpopularity, 3; mistaken identity, 5; using improper language, 3; violation of contract, 1; writing insulting letter, 2; eloping. 2; poisoning horse, 1; poisoning well, 2; by White caps, 9; vigilantes, 14; Indians, 1; moonshining, 1; refusing evidence, 2; political causes, 5; by disputing, 1; disobeying quarantine regulation, 2; slapping a child. 1; turning state’s evidence, 3; protecting a Negro. 1; to prevent giving evidence, 1; knowledge of larceny, 1; writing letter to white woman, 1; asking white woman to marry. 1; jilting girl, 1; having small pox, 1; concealing criminal, 2; threatening political exposure. 1; self defense, 0; cruelty, 1; insulting language to women, 5; quarreling with white man, 2; colonizing Negroes, 1; throwing stones, 1; quarreling, 1; gambling, 1.