Judge Lynch and His Victims

January 18, 1902


John Mitchell gives an influential and opinionated speech in Washington in front of President Roosevelt. He makes bold claims about inequality and the advancement of African-American rights.


Editor Mitchell Addresses a large audience.
A fine gathering in Washington- the trouble in the Southland- a bloody record- Lincoln Memorial Temple crowded.
Washington, D.C. Jan. 15, 1902.
Lincoln Memorial Temple was packed last night by a most cultured and select audience. The occasion was an address by Editor John Mitchell, Jr., of the Richmond, Va. Planet on the subject, “Judge Lynch and His Victims.”
He came in response to an invitation of the Bethel Literary Society, whose guest he was.
Introduced to the society

Mr. Mitchell was escorted to the front by Prof. Kelly Miller of Howard University and later to the rostrum by Vice President W.A. Joiner, who introduced him in a most complimentary manner to the audience, which expressed its approval by its applause. He spoke as follows:

That Dark Period.

It is hardly necessary to refer to the dark days preceding the Civil War. Uncle Tom’s Cabin has painted in eternal colors the horrors of that night of the black man’s woe.
It is our intention to refer to a later period following the shedding of the black man’s blood in three wars that the nation might be what it is to-day and that this government might not perish from the earth.

A change of condition.

Before the war, the colored man was a white man’s property. After the war the title of ownership was conveyed to himself. Before the war, the loss fell upon the white man. After the war, the loss fell upon the colored one. This constituted the impetus which robbed a man of his life and made the destruction of colored people a pastime, and the docility of the victims, ensuring the safety of the lynchers made it a pleasure of a kind, both safe and exhilarating.
These drum-head trials conducted at times in the moonlight or by the aid of pine knots led them to be styled the court of Judge Lynch.

A heavy death rate.
It was the untoward reference which caused me to decide to discuss here tonight the subject “Judge Lynch and his victims.”
It has been estimated that no less than fifty-thousand persons have been offered as a sacrifice upon the altar of this American system of lawlessness.
A record kept by the Richmond, Va. Planet from July 26 1887 to Dec. 23rd, 1889 showed a total of 380 persons lynched. It may be of interest to note why some of these victims were lynched.
He then cited instances of lynching. Continuing Mr. Mitchell said:
From Jan 5th 1897 to Jan. 5th 1898, I had a record of 167 persons lynched and from Jan. 5th, 1898 to Oct. 20, 1900, 397 persons.

The lynching of a postmaster

No crime in modern times can exceed in atrocity the outrageous butchery of Frazier J. Baker, the colored postmaster at Lake City, S.C; He was an officer of the government and as such was entitled to the protection which should be extended to every other officer of the government, He was awakened in the dead hours of the night to find his residence in flames. As he groped his way to the outside, the lynchers fired upon him and his family, killing the babe in its mother’s arms and wounding the son and daughter and dangerously injuring the wife of his bosom. He fell, Mr. President, and died a martyr’s death.
There was not enough left of him to make a funeral and his penniless family depended upon the charities of citizens, while a government, powerful in men and rich in resources extended no arm to save….

(Continued on page 1): States without Lynching

Ten people were executed for no offense whatever, while 92 were lynched for unknown causes.
Vigilantes are charged with 14 deaths, white caps 9, Indians 1; moonshiners 1; desperadoes 1. The only States in which no lynchings have occurred are Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah.
What is the cause of all this, Mr. President, and what is the remedy?
These questions are easily asked. Can they be as easily answered? Let us see.
The greatest enemy that the citizen of color has in this country today is the poor white man of the Southland. He regards with jealous eyes all progress made by the new citizen of the new public. It must be admitted that the friction now existing in manifesting itself is an increasing ratio…

(Continued on page 1): A heavy increase

A race of people that was penniless in 1865 is now worth $600,000,000.00 in 1902 and today the tide is still rising.
In proportion as the estrangement is increasing between white and black labor the bond of union is increasing between black labor and white capital.
It must be conceded that the virtual retirement of the citizen of color from politics has caused him to reach out in the fields of industrial endeavor and practical commerce.
The very ostracism which has been exercised towards him has tended toward his segregation and Mr. President, he is building up a nation within a nation. This seems to be a startling declaration impossible of accomplishment, but it is nevertheless a fact.

*This article continues on page 1 for 3 more columns and then again on page 8.
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Upper Left Quadrant

Contributed By

Brooke Royer


“Judge Lynch and His Victims,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed February 20, 2024, https://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/57.