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Editorial Comments from the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator (July 21, 1898)

On July 21, 1898, the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator published these editorial comments including a series on the lynching of John Henry James.

Transcription from Original

Wages have dropped 33 1/3 per cent in the American Steel and Wire Co.'s mills. This too in the face of alleged prosperity.

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The negroes in the meeting at the court house went back on Mr. Yost last Saturday, and it was by their vote Mr. Hackman succeeded.

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Gen. Lee, the papers say, will be sidetracked. This has been the policy from the first. He will do nothing in this war but wear his uniform.

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Under our present terrible taxation there will be money enough in the treasury to enable Mr. Hanna to buy another Presidential election, and as many Congressmen as he needs.

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The James family is growing less. Jesse departed this life several years ago, and John Henry died at Wood's Crossing, Albemarle county, Va., on Tuesday, 12th inst.

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The war has brought no prosperity. Wages are falling, and in the iron trade there never has been greater dullness, notwithstanding this is the period of "blood and iron."

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The exact reason why the sheriff of Albemarle, took the local train instead of the fast train to Charlottesville with his prisoner, James, who was lynched was not considered a material question before the coroner.

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Judge Quarles must be regarded as almost certain of election, since the only persons who are willing to sacrifice themselves in the attempt to beat him are Mr. Jacob Yost and Mr. Turner K. Hackman all of this city.

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Our farmers, notwithstanding all that has been said about "war prices" will not get over 75 cents for their wheat. Horses are no better price and cattle no higher, than when the war began, whilst pork is not a paying article.

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The terrible effort made by the sheriff at Albemarle county, at Wood's Crossing last week to save his prisoner seemed to temporarily unbalance his mind, so much so that he came very near charging the lynching to the people of Staunton. Such efforts are often attended with serious consequences.

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The Republican nomination in Va. means a great deal. Whether a Republican is elected or not he can get the office by a contest if the House is Republican. It's only another way of stuffing the ballot box these Va. Republicans have, and whoever gets the nomination can steal the office in the end. The number of votes he gets makes no difference.

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The jury summoned by the coroner to sit upon the body of the late James lynched in Albemarle county last week at Wood's Crossing for assault on Miss Hotopp, found that "deceased came to his death by the hands of persons unknown to the jury." The rule in society in Albemarle is such that one frequently has to be introduced to another several times there before he can be said to know him. The jury had not had a formal introduction, you see.

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Great stress is laid on our excess of exports over imports. It is said we have exported twice as much as we have imported. This looks well on paper, but is not so good a thing as we might think. The tariff duties are so high that people have quit importing, so if we keep on, the imports may stop altogether. If under such conditions we export anything we may be said to have exported a large amount over our imports and have done little or nothing at last.

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Sheriff Watts of Albemarle county, went out of his way if the report of his evidence in the Charlottesville Progress of the 13th insti. Be correct to asperse the character of the people of Staunton. He is reported thus:

I landed him (the prisoner) in the Staunton jail. The next morning I found a great crowd assembled about the jail in Staunton, and about the streets, and such was the excitement that if the crowd had been informed that he was identified as the ravisher of Miss Hotopp he would have been taken from us there.

There was naturally some excitement, but the idea of taking the prisoner from the jail or sheriff and lynching him, never was seriously in the minds of the people of this county.

There was naturally some excitement, but the idea of taking the prisoner from the jail or sheriff and lynching him, never was seriously in the minds of the people of this county. Our people have been subjected to the same character of outrage as fell upon Albemarle, but we let the law take its course. We fear mobs even with the most upright intentions, though we admit in this instance the provocation was very great.