December 20, 1893 – Georgia Becomes the First State in the Union to Ban Lynching

On December 20, 1893 Georgia became the first state in the Union to ban lynching. Unfortunately, however, this is an example of a law that citizens refused to follow. The African-American woman reporter and crusader, Ida B. Wells, filed a report in a “pamphlet circulated by Chicago colored citizens” in 1899 on the status of lynching in Georgia following the legislation. An excerpt reads:

CONSIDER THE FACTS

During six weeks of the months of March and April just past, twelve colored men were lynched in Georgia, the reign of outlawry culminating in the torture and hanging of the colored preacher, Elijah Strickland, and the burning alive of Samuel Wilkes, alias Hose, Sunday, April 23, 1899.

The real purpose of these savage demonstrations is to teach the Negro that in the South he has no rights that the law will enforce. Samuel Hose was burned to teach the Negroes that no matter what a white man does to them, they must not resist. Hose, a servant, had killed Cranford, his employer. An example must be made. Ordinary punishment was deemed inadequate. This Negro must be burned alive. To make the burning a certainty the charge of outrage was invented, and added to the charge of murder. The daily press offered reward for the capture of Hose and then openly incited the people to burn him as soon as caught. The mob carried out the plan in every savage detail.

Of the twelve men lynched during that reign of unspeakable barbarism, only one was even charged with an assault upon a woman. Yet Southern apologists justify their savagery on the ground that Negroes are lynched only because of their crimes against women.

The Southern press champions burning men alive, and says, “Consider the facts.” The colored people join issue and also say, “Consider the fact.” The colored people of Chicago employed a detective to go to Georgia, and his report in this pamphlet gives the facts. We give here the details of the lynching as they were reported in the Southern papers, then follows the report of the true facts as to the cause of the lynchings, as learned by the investigation. We submit all to the sober judgment of the Nation, confident that, in this cause, as well as all others, ‘Truth is mighty and will prevail.'”

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells

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