One day last week Lloyd Warner, a 19-year-old Negro of St. Joseph, Mo. confessed to raping a young white woman in an alley after binding her with her stockings. The judge who heard his prompt confession observed that there was no necessity to "hurry things." But in a distinctly hurrying mood was the crowd which began gathering outside St. Joseph's jail and court house that evening. When some rivermen appeared to take command of the mob, it surged into the court house, through the sheriff's living quarters, destroying everything before it. Governor Park ordered out the local militia tank company. Tankmen were lifted bodily out of their iron nests. After a four-hour siege, Sheriff Otto Theisen emerged from his smoky barricade.
"If you keep quiet and be careful," shouted he, "you can have the Negro in two minutes. There's no use tearing down any more. I can't hold out. I've never known an Irishman to lick a Dutchman before, but there are too many Irishmen here for me."
The good-natured officer then retired. With the help of his own guards he tore the gibbering black from his cell. Warner clung to the bars, to the railings of stairs, to doors, to the ground, to people, to anything he could lay his bleeding hands on. At the end of a rope he was hoisted into a tree. His gasoline-soaked clothing was touched into flame which cast an ugly glow upon the faces of a mob of 7,000 men, women & children.
Many & many a citizen throughout the land held Governor James ("Sunny Jim") Rolph Jr. of California directly responsible for Negro Warner's death. Week before, Governor Rolph had congratulated the "patriotic citizens" of San Jose for lynching John Holmes and Thomas H. Thurmond who had confessed to the murderous kidnapping of Brooke Hart. California, boasted its Governor, had given the rest of the Union a "lesson" in dealing with criminals (TIME. Dec. 4). Missouri, it seemed, had been quick to learn.
"Ridiculous," snorted Governor Rolph at charges of his culpability in the Missouri affray. "The cases are not at all parallel." But no sooner had he riposted that assault than he found himself attacked from another quarter. Twenty-five Californians including Herbert Hoover of Palo Alto, signed a statement declaring Governor Rolph's attitude a "humiliation and shame" to the State.
Warming to a side-fight, "Sunny Jim" Rolph pointedly cracked back at the onetime President of the U. S.: "If troops had been called out [to defend Lynchees Holmes & Thurmond], hundreds of innocent citizens might have been mowed down. There was no shooting such as that which occurred near the White House during the Bonus March trouble."
"Not a single shot was fired," hotly replied Mr. Hoover, breaking silence for the first time on last year's Battle of Anacostia Flats, "not a single person was injured by the troops called out in Washington in response to the appeal of local authorities. The troops ended the bloodshed which was then in progress through conflicts between rioters and police. The issue here is plain and not to be obscured by such misstatements."
But Citizen Hoover's opinions of lynch law were not shared by the San Jose grand jury which adjourned without asking for the identity of their "patriotic" fellow townsmen.
On the nation's opposite seaboard, another Governor was being bedevilled for taking precisely the opposite view of lynching from Governor Rolph's. Month before a mob at Princess Anne, Md. had hanged and burned a Negro named George Armwood, accused of raping an aged countrywoman (TIME, Oct. 30). When the local prosecutor failed to act on the cases of four men accused of having taken part in the lynching, Maryland's handsome Governor Ritchie sent 325 militiamen to round up the accused, bring them back to Baltimore (TIME, Dec. 4). Farmers and fishermen of the Eastern Shore bridled at this procedure, attacked the Governor's troops. Last week the four prisoners, one of them a past commander of a local American Legion post, were returned to Princess Anne under two lone guards. Greeted like homing heroes, the men entered town on the running boards of their custodians' cars. A judge formally released them eight minutes after the court house hearing began. The State's Attorney General s office, which said it was unnotified, was not present to produce evidence against the prisoners.
While Governor Ritchie lay ill and disappointed in his fine old brick mansion in Annapolis, Eastern Shoremen proclaimed that they would like to ''trade Governors" with California. They loudly crowed that Governor Ritchie, who has aspirations of succeeding himself for the fourth time or running for the U. S. Senate next year, was politically dead. There was also some loud talk of secession from Maryland, to form a 49th State of the Eastern Shore and parts of Virginia and Delaware.
Thus did the nation's most dramatic lynching week leave Albert Cabell Ritchie the unhappy victim of a situation which, had it occurred in any other week, would have been relatively unimportant. As it was, Conservative Mr. Ritchie found himself in the same boat with Conservative Mr. Hoover, whom he had often criticized. So completely had a nation-wide fog of emotion obliterated the channels of logic that the tabloid New York Daily News observed: "Our own notion is that it is another chapter in the world-old story of the fight between the Haves and the Havenots. We think the plebeians and the patricians, the Cavaliers and the Roundheads, the nobles and the sans-culottes, are at it again today."
Other soundings from an historic seven days:
¶ Manhattan's fashionable Dr. Henry Darlington dispatched from his Fifthavian church a telegram to Governor Rolph: "Congratulations on the stand you have taken." He added: "Maybe we needed something like this right now to let our criminals realize that they cannot run riot." After protests from his Bishop, and while divinity students picketed his Sunday service, Dr. Darlington admitted that his message was the result of being "deeply stirred," that "it should not have been sent."
¶ Charles Francis Potter suggested to the First Humanist Society in Manhattan that "lynching" be changed to "Rolphing."
¶ Headline-of-the-week from the New York Evening, Post: LUST SEED SOWN, COPELAND'S VIEW.
¶ From her home at Ardmore, Pa., Philadelphia Socialite Mrs. A. Atwater Kent wired Governor Rolph her felicitations.
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