Sheriff Guilty

December 15, 1900


A white sheriff disobeys orders and “delivers” a black man to a mob of white people, who burn him at the stake.


Sheriff Guilty
The Governor of Colorada Says He was Responsible for the Burning
At The Stake of the Afro-American, Porter, and With Having Taken Part in it. A Strong Letter.
[Cleveland, O. Gazette]
Springfield, O.—In a letter to Samuel E. Huffman, of this city, Governor Thomas, of Colorada, makes a direct charge against a sheriff in connection with the Porter atrocity. The following is the letter:
“Dear Sir:--I am in receipt of your letter of the 19th relative to the recent lynching of Porter in Lincoln County this state, and am obliged for your words of commendation. This offense is unusually atrocious in that it involved fraud as well as homicide.
The Negro was arrested on suspicion by the police authorities and by my order he was kept in custody in spite of the demands of the sheriff of Lincoln County until he confessed his crime. I held him for two days afterwards and as long as any probability of violence from citizens of this county existed.
Why He Permitted It.
I then permitted his surrender to the sheriff upon agreement based upon the instructions of the district attorney that the prisoner would not be removed from the county for at least ten days, and assurance that I had every reason to believe would be kept.
Indeed I was so confident of it that I left the city the following morning on private business and only learned of its violation and the burning of the prisoner after it had been committed.
Sheriff Freeman in cold-blooded disregard of his orders and his promise, took his prisoner to certain death, delivered him to the mob upon a mere pretense of violence, and I think participated in what followed. I made no public comment at the time, for I felt too deeply the humiliation involved in the criminal lawlessness of this officer to at once announce it to the world.
Every effort will be used to punish him, but unfortunately the entire county, which is small in population, was implicated in the affair.
Sincerely yours,
C. A. Thomas, Governor”
About this article

Location on Page

Upper Left Quadrant


Contributed By

Elizabeth Lopez-Lopez


“Sheriff Guilty,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed December 9, 2022,