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"Lynch Law in Georgia," June 20, 1899

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Courtesy of Library of Congress, Wells-Barnett, Ida B., "Lynch law in Georgia: a six-weeks' record in the center of southern civilization..." pp. 7-10, 20 June 1899


Ida B. Wells-Barnett published "Lynch Law in Georgia" on June 20, 1899, to raise public awareness about white racism and violence in the South, particularly with the act of lynching. Through the accounts of two major Georgia newspapers and her own commentary, Wells-Barnett shed light on the lynchings of 12 African Americans over a six-week period. The report of a private detective hired by African Americans in Chicago to investigate each of the three violent acts also was published. The excerpt of the document focused on the lynching of Samuel Wilkes, who after being accused of murder and assault of a white woman, was captured, tortured and burned alive. In addition to the Atlanta Constitution's reporting of the incident, Wells-Barnett provided commentary on the role the press played in Wilkes' death.

Transcript of "Lynch Law in Georgia"

Source-Dependent Questions

  • According to Ida B. Wells-Barnett, what role did the press play in the burning of Samuel Wilkes? Explain whether or not you agree with this assessment using evidence from the source.
  • Summarize the Atlanta Constitution's April 24 account of the burning of Wilkes.
  • Based on Wells-Barnett's commentary, the Atlanta Constitution's account of the burning and the "Taken From the Court Room and Burned" article, what inferences can be made about Southern society, the influence of media, the role played by law enforcement, lynching both as a specific event and in general, those in attendance, etc.?

Citation Information 

Wells-Barnett, Ida B., "Lynch law in Georgia: a six-weeks' record in the center of southern civilization, as faithfully chronicled by the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution: also the full report of Louis P. Le Vin, the Chicago detective sent to investigate the burning of Samuel Hose, the torture and hanging of Elijah Strickland, the colored preacher, and the lynching of nine men for alleged arson," pp. 7-10, 20 June 1899. Courtesy of Library of Congress