A Roanoke Lyncher Pardoned

February 10, 1894


Governor O'Ferrall pardons a lyncher, claiming his actions did not merit the punishment he had received, which was a year in jail.


The action of Gov. Charles T. O’Ferrall in pardoning james B. Richardson, one of the Roanoke lynchers will neither merit nor receive public approval.
This criminal was sentenced to twelve months in jail and fined one hundred dollars.
The Governor reduces it to twenty-four hours in jail upon the condition that he pay the fine,
The was the method in vogue during Gov. McKinney’s “reign” and we had hoped that the conditional pardon had gone never to return.
It is alleged that the application for pardon was signed by four hundred “prominent citizens” of Roanoke.
If there was ever a good reason for not pardoning the convicted criminal this was one.
Here is a city where public sentiment was so treacherous that its patriotic mayor had to seek an asylum in another locality.
The majority were in favor of the lawless, and yet these same citizens possibly some of them as guilty as this man Richardson sign a petition for pardon and it is favorably acted upon.
It was openly declared by the press of the state that the punishment meted for the crime committed was entirely inadequate.
The lynching and the storming of the jail at Roanoke last September were the most treasonable acts that have been committed in this state during this generation.
It was an open defiance of the law and the only question which should have, in our judgement presented itself to our Chief Executive was whether or not Patterson was guilty or innocent.
He was guilty of felony and should have been sentenced to the penitentiary. The jury virtually exercised the element which should have been left to the [unintelligent] when they made the punishment so light. There should have been nothing more done. We feel certain that lynchers all over the state will regard this official act as a condoning of the crime and believe that similar favors will be extended them should they be convicted of having been guilty of a similar crime.
Lunch-law must go!
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Upper Right Quadrant


Contributed By

Carlos Serrano


“A Roanoke Lyncher Pardoned,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed August 24, 2019, http://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1604.