Primary Resource

"Another Virginia Lynching," Richmond Planet (July 16, 1898)

In "Another Virginia Lynching," published on July 16, 1898, the Richmond Planet reports on the lynching of John Henry James, an African American man accused of assaulting a white woman, Julia Hotopp.

Transcription from Original

ANOTHER VIRGINIA LYNCHING

The lynching of John Henry James, (colored) was as dastardly in its conception and as heinous in its execution as the crime with which he stood charged.

On the afternoon of July 11th, about four miles from Charlottesville, Va., he was taken from the officers of the law and hanged to a tree.

The story of the brutal murder is revolting. We believe that the authorities were blamable. They know that it was risky to bring this man unprotected to Charlottesville.

James died protesting his innocence to the last. We do not believe that any effort will be made to punish the murderers. They boldly perpetrated their crime and virtually defied the commonwealth.

There was no effort made to conceal their identity. The guilt or the innocence of James does not enter into the question.

We have a civilized form of government, and to it is entrusted the punishment of persons who commit just such crimes as those with which this man stood charged.

When the law was enacted providing for the death-penalty in cases where persons were charged with criminal assault, we said then that it would not accomplish the purpose intended.

What excuse has this mob? The authorities within twenty-four hours after the alleged culprit had been caught had convened the grand jury and within seventy-two hours, whether guilty or innocent with the facts which they alleged to have before them he would have been condemned to death.

The lynching of John Henry James will be far more damaging to the community than it will be to the alleged criminal.

His troubles are o'er; those of the community have just begun. Every man concerned in that murder is capable of and liable to commit just such a crime as that which James stood charged.

A colored man who places his hands upon a white woman can be legally hanged for it. This does not satisfy however. Retribution will yet come, and the biter will be yet bitten.

We have radical opinions on this subject. Lynchers should be fired upon, and abettors should be placed in the penitentiary.

When the law-abiding citizens rally to defend the jails with the same spirit possessed by those who proceed to attack them, lynch-law will go.