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Buffalo Express -August 26, 1869

ONLY A NIGGER

A dispatch from Memphis mentions that, of two Negro's lately sentenced to death for murder in that vicinity, on named woods has just confessed to having ravished a young lady during the war, for which deed another Negro was hung at the time by an avenging mob, the evidence that doomed the guiltless wretch being a hat which Woods now relates that he stole from its owner and left behind, for the purpose of misleading. Ah , well! Too bad to be sure! A little blunder in the administration of justice by Southern mob-law, but nothing to speak of.

Only "a nigger" killed by mistake-- that is all. Of course, every high toned gentleman whose chivalric impulses were so unfortunately misled in this affair, by the cunning of the miscreant. Woods, is as sorry about it as a high toned gentleman can be expected to be about the unlucky fate of "a nigger." But mistakes will happen, even in the best regulated and most high toned mobs, and surely there is no good reason why southern gentlemen should worry themselves with useless regrets, so long as only an innocent "nigger" is hanged, or toasted or knonted [sic] to death, now and then. What if the blunder of lynching the wrong man does happen once in four or five cases! Is that any fair argument against the cultivation and indulgence of those fine chivalric passions and that noble Southern spirit which will not brook the slow and cold formalities of regular law, when outraged white womanhood appeals for vengeance! perish the thought so unworthy of a Southern soul! Leave it to the sentimentalism and humanitarianism of cold-blooded Yankee civilization! What are the lives of a few "niggers" in comparison with the preservation of the impetuous instincts of a proud and fiery race! Keep ready in the halter, therefore, oh chivalry of Memphis! Keep the lash knotted; keep the brand and the faggots in waiting, for prompt work with the next "nigger" who may be suspected of any damnable crime! Wreak a swift vengeance upon him, for the satisfaction of noble impulses that inimate knightly hearts, and then have time and accidentally to discover, if they will, whether he was guilty or no.

(Editors Note: This piece is believed to have been written by Mark Twain, who was then editor of the Express, and was an outspoken anti-slavery activist. The term "nigger" here is used in sarcasm and it is not meant to be derogatory toward anyone except those "chivalrous whites" who formed the lunch mob in Memphis.)

This text is Copyright 2001 all rights reserved by Stephen Powell and buffalonian.com. This electronic text may not be duplicated or used in any manner without written consent of Stephen R. Powell or buffalonian.com

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Only a Nigger

1869 -ONLY A NIGGER -A dispatch from Memphis mentions that, of two Negro's lately sentenced to death for murder in that vicinity, on named woods has just confessed to having ravished a young lady during the war, for which deed another Negro was hung at the time by an avenging mob, the evidence that doomed the guiltless wretch being a hat which Woods now relates that he stole from its owner

 

 

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