The Mob Spirit.

December 14, 1907


A black journalist writes about his marvelous experience at a wealthy white church service. He questions who will be brave enough to go to the south and tell them lynching is wrong.


The Mob Spirit.
While in Manila, Philippine Islands in November, 1906 I was one evening invited by a young man to accompany him to a prayer meeting which was to be held at a certain Presbyterian Church. I went with him. When I entered I looked about me and observed that I was the only Negro present,- the rest of the audience being white. These I understand, were the most learned and select class of the city, I was treated courteously enough; the pastor and others of the Churchmen shook hands with me and spoke pleasantly. There were ladies present also.

The Mob Spirit Rampant.
The mob spirit intensifies the very worst evils within one, and he moves with these pent-up savage demons writhing with the utmost excitant eagerness to burst forth upon the victim of their war cry. This rises in supposed vindication of an unpardonable villainy. In answer to the question of a woman in the audience who showed that she also had studied the subject, he replied, “Yes there is an individuality about a mob, too. The different characters of each individual composing it are blended into one mean whole.” He concluded his remarks and passed on to the rest of the lesson.
The Root Of The Trouble.
But these remarks caused me to think. What is the root of this great, wide and sweeping evil force? Can there be any remedy for it? When we consider the animal natures of man we find: The frivolousness of the butterfly, the thoughtlessness of the grasshopper, the silliness of the opossum, the pride of the peacock, the deceit of the serpent, the hunger of the wolf, the greediness of the hog, the laziness of the alligator, the tear-shameness of the crocodile, the ingratitude of the adder, the ferociousness of the bear, the fierceness of the lion, the stealthiness of the panther, the stubbornness of the ox, the boisterousness of the donkey, the fitfulness of the cat, the saucyness of the parrot, the heartlessness of the tiger, the madness of the scorpion, the artfulness of the spider, the poignancy of the bulldog, the cruelty of the leopard, the brutality of the gorilla, the unforgiveness of the elephant, the unbridleness of the hyena, the slyness of the fox, the hatefulness of the hornet, the vulgarity of the vulture, the envy of the dragon,- surely, these must be some of the “two thousand” of the legion of devils that Christ cast out of man.

An Appropriate Comparison.
As the individual is debased by improper conduct; so the community is degraded by its mobs. As the individual must summon all the good qualities within him in order that the evil ones may be restrained; just so it is the duty of the better or executive elements of a community to coerce its mobs. When the individual falls in this duty he descends to the level with the brute; let the community commit this gross negligence and it sinks to the most unnamable state of fiendish heathendom.

Strange Silence.
I have read many articles upon lynching since I have known what such outrages mean, but in all of them, written by Northerners and Southerners, it has impressed me as strange that I have not been able to find a sentence, or combination of sentences that I could construe to say directly to the lyncher, “ You are wrong” What does this strange silence mean? Why is it when the lynchers draw their bloody daggers from the heart of the defenseless negro and brandish them before the whole country of the United States they only meet the horrible silence that Brutus and his confederates met when they came out with their daggers hot with the streaming blood of Caesar?
Does the whole country think that lynching is right? Is the whole country afraid of the lyncher? Who will go to the South and say to the lyncher there, “You are wrong?” Until there arise in this country more Garrisons, Sumners, Phillips, Childs, Stowes, Lincolns and others of the fearless Abolitionist and Reformer type who will devote their noble lives to this cause and will go to the lynchers wherever this outrage has been committed and instill true Christianity, their case is hopeless.
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Benton Camper


“The Mob Spirit.,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed January 22, 2020,