Mr. Boynton’s Mistake

December 4, 1897


The Planet counters Mr. Boynton, a Georgian legislator, and his beliefs in support of lynch-law.


The members of the Georgia legislature have placed themselves on record as being in favor of lynching. This is done in answer to the remarkable, but patriotic message of Governor Atkinson upon that subject.
Mr. J. A. Boynton, one of these legislators is quoted as saying:
“Lynching is the result of combining causes. The practice has more or less prevailed in times of popular excitement. The impulsive characteristic of the Anglo-American makes lynching probable at any time for atrocities and certain for the most heinous crime so often perpetrated upon women and young girls.”
But this is no excuse. Time has demonstrated that these sporadic outbursts do not tend to check crime but to increase it. He says:
“I think the government is wasting effort to create a popular sentiment against lynching when a woman has been assaulted. It is love’s labor lost; for lynching is inevitable so long as the crime which provokes it is committed. All laws on that line put on the statute books fall stillborn and are dead before they are promulgated. I say this because it is true.”
This argument would apply to other crimes as well. It is a step backward and brings us to the Feudal Ages.
A person mad with frenzy is for the time being crazed, and it is folly to allege that a crazy person is competent to try a prisoner alleged to have committed a crime. Moreover, the greater proportion of lynchings is not for the crime of rape.
It has been demonstrated that the law is the safest medium for the punishment of crime. Without the restraining hand, the innocent are liable to suffer with the guilty. It may be that Mr. Boynton believes all that he says, and, if so, he and his associates are the worst enemies that the commonwealth has ever had.
Governor Atkinson has taken a bold stand. He is for Georgia’s prosperity, and if supported will blaze the way to the dawn of a brighter, grander day.
Lynch-law must go!
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Contributed By

Brian Schrott


“Mr. Boynton’s Mistake,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed October 27, 2020,