29 December 2017

Lynching of Morris Daniels Wasn't a Complete Success

Justitia By ChvhLR10 (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia CommonsFirst he was the "right" guy.  Then he wasn't.  Then he was again.  Lady Justice probably hung her head in shame.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Saturday, 15 July 1911 - pg. 1 [via GenealogyBank]


Coroner and Sheriff Found Negro Crawling Along the Road.

MOULTRIE, Ga., July 14. – When the coroner and his official retinue went out near Hartsfield this morning to hold an inquest over the remains of Morris Daniels, a negro accused of assault in Randolph County, who was supposed to have been lynched by a Mitchell County mob last night, they found him crawling along the road mortally wounded.

Daniels is charged with an assault upon an aged white woman.  He was arrested by the sheriff, who was with the coroner this morning, and will be held pending identification by the victim, who is being brought here from Randolph County in an automobile.  Sheriff Boyd says he will swear in a sufficient number of deputies to protect the negro, though no trouble is anticipated.

The negro was left for dead by five men who came from Mitchell County yesterday and placed him under arrest, though not positive as to his identity.  They finally concluded he was not the man they were looking for and released him and he returned to his work.  Last night at 11 o'clock these same men returned to the mill quarters, took him in charge and left ostensibly for Sale City.

It is now claimed that after going along the road a short distance and after Daniels confessed to the commission of the crime, he made an effort to escape, saying he would die before he would go back to Randolph County.  The negro was shot in the back with a shotgun loaded with buckshot, eight of the bullets entering between the shoulders and hips.  After shooting they left him for dead.

…Daniels is still alive, though physicians say he can't live.  He is conscious and made a statement to Sheriff Boyd and others that the mob came to his shanty in the night, waked him up and told him they had decided he was the right party and to dress and go with them.  Before leaving the shanty, so the negro claims, he was brutally treated by the crowd.  He says that he did not confess to being the guilty party and never attempted to escape, but was shot without provocation.

Parties left in an automobile to bring the lady who was assaulted in Randolph County to Moultrie to see if she can identify him in the event he is living when they arrive.  In the event she does identify him as the guilty party there is likelihood that an effort will be made to lynch him.

…In the event she fails to identify him or declares he is not the guilty one, evidence sufficient is in the possession of the sheriff to justify prosecution and doubtless the grand jury will be called upon to act.

[Oh. Just so you know, the distance between Randolph County and Moultrie (Colquitt County) is more than 70 miles. Yeah. There's that.]

NAACP Headquarters, New York City. Via Library of Congress (loc.gov).What happened next.  Where did the "sufficient evidence" go?
Story goes from front page to back page in 24 hours.

Macon Telegraph (Georgia)
Sunday, 16 July 1911 - pg. 10 [via GenealogyBank]


Morris Daniels, Who Was Shot and Left For Dead, Lived For Hours.


MOULTRIE, Ga., July 15. – Morris Daniels, who was shot and left for dead by a party of Mitchell County men in the western part of this county night before last, is dead from the gun shot wounded inflicted.  Coroner Dicks held an inquest immediately after the negro's death and the verdict of the jury was that he came to his death from gun shot wounds at the hands of unknown parties.

Mrs. Shellhouse, of Randolph County, the aged woman who was the victim of the assault of which the negro was accused, was unable to come to Moultrie for the purpose of identifying Daniels, but her son came and after seeing the negro said he thought he was the guilty one…

Along with young Shellhouse came Deputy Sheriff Peacock, of Randolph, and he said from the description he had of the assailant the dead man was the criminal sought.  Some persons claim that at the date that the alleged assault was committed Daniels was working in Colquitt County for M. D. Norman.  An effort was made by Sheriff Boyd to communicate with Norman by phone, but he was unable to reach him.

Unless the grand jury, which convenes the first week in October, is able to secure evidence upon which to base indictments against the parties causing Daniels' death, there will be no prosecutions as the evidence now in possession of the sheriff is not sufficiently definite to authorize a prosecution.

From NY Public LibraryA simple search on Google will give you the statistics. The Tuskegee Institute kept track of lynchings in America from 1882 - 1968. There were 581 in Mississippi, 531 in Georgia, 493 in Texas, 391 in Louisiana, 347 in Alabama, and so on. Total from all states: 4,743. That's more than one lynching and victim a week.

I feel a little like I should try to explain why I would give the horrible acts – those committed by the criminal, as well as those committed on the criminal – voice on this blog. There are no (at least to my knowledge) statistics showing the accuracy of the lynchers. How many times was an innocent person hung, riddled with bullets, and mutilated in the name of "justice?" I mean, we probably agree there are innocent people sitting in jail right now – with supposed checks and balances in place. Imagine when there were none. Shouldn't those innocent people be remembered?

Now, make no mistake, sometimes the lynching party "punished" the right person. As in, sometimes the true perpetrator was indeed apprehended – and then disposed of, often in a barbaric fashion. Even if you take the literal "eye for an eye" death penalty approach, I would not be surprised if that would have been an applicable punishment in only an infinitesimal number of cases. People were lynched for stealing, people were lynched for "insubordination," people were lynched for literally being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And let us not be cowards and leave out the racism debacle that lingers to this day. So another reason for giving voice to these past atrocities is in the same vein of "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

As a family historian, I am saddened to think (1) these revolting deeds took place, and (2) while statistics are easy to find, the names and stories of the individual victims are much harder to locate. A list of lynching victims will unfortunately never be complete. I hope that in a small way, posts such as these will serve as a memorial to those who were victims of Judge Lynch and his frightful law.

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