30 January 2019

Defending It All: the Lynching of Dave Goosby, Part III

You have arrived at part III of The Lynching of Dave Goosby in 3 Parts -- defending the lynching. [Part I is here.] [Part II is here.]

According to MonroeWorkToday, the lynching of Dave Goosby is referenced in A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 and Fitzhugh Brundage's Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930. Following excerpt from the latter:
...Sensational crimes -- murder, rape, or attempted rape -- that typically incited the formation of posses were also those for which summary punishment was widely condoned by white southerners.

Because posses were, in the eyes of whites, protecting law-abiding citizens and carrying out justice, they enjoyed popular blessing. Newspapers routinely applauded the heroism of posses and raised few questions about either their legitimacy or the bloodshed they caused...
As you'll read below, members of the local Thomasville, Georgia community (in their newspaper) did a masterful job of absolving themselves of any wrongdoing with the lynching of Dave Goosby.

Firstly, the sheriff prostrated himself before his constituents and explained that he felt as they did, but still had to do his job.

Daily Times-Enterprise (Thomasville, Georgia)
21 September 1894 [via Georgia Historic Newspapers]
To the Citizens of Thomas County.
About 7:30 p.m., on the 15th inst., I was informed by Mr. Jas. Jones, an upright and trustworthy citizen residing in the neighborhood of Mr. Martin Butler had been murdered, and that he had come to request me to take steps for the arrest of the murderer.

...[A] warrant, issued by Coroner B. C. Johnson, charging Dave Goosby with the murder of Susie Butler was placed in my hands, and soon after I was notified by the sheriff of Dougherty county that he would not hold the prisoner longer. I at once laid the whole matter before the judge of the superior court, who immediately handed me the order printed below, and in compliance with it, I placed Goosby in the jail at Valdosta.

I exhibited no weapon to the parties who first delivered Goosby to me, I made no threat, nor show of force, and only took out my pistol when I had reached a point 25 or 30 yards from where I had received him, this to prevent him from escaping. In all my conversation with his captors I was calm, considerate and respectful. The man was quietly and voluntarily turned over to me, as an officer sworn to execute faithfully all writs and processes delivered to me and to see to it that "no person shall be abused in being arrested, while under arrest or in prison." I received him and though a wretch whose life was "a thousand times forfeit" and though my indignant horror at his infernal crime would have prompted me as an unofficial citizen to secure for him the swift vengeance that awaits this worse than murderer, yet my duty to a prisoner delivered to my keeping and to the law which I have twice sworn to observe and obey, left me no alternative.

And now, having stifled as best I could the feeling that was uppermost for the moment, and done what I had solemnly sworn to do, I submit with confidence to the just judgement of the people I have served so long, the integrity of my motive, and the uprightness of my conduct. I am your obedient servant, R. P. Doss, Sheriff.
Less than a week later, a letter from Judge Hansell was published. He wholeheartedly endorsed the sheriff as a "faithful officer of the law." The day following the sheriff's letter to the citizens of Thomas County, the newspaper felt the need to address detractors:
To Our Critics.
It is a notable fact, that many, very many, colored people approve the lynching of Goosby.

"I believe that there are one hundred good colored men in Thomasville," said a prominent gentleman yesterday, "who would have joined a crowd to lynch Goosby."

The English committee, Ida Wells and Northen fanatics, should make a note of this.

The better element of colored people favor prompt and swift punishment of any of their race who commits the crime for which Goosby was lynched.
Rationalizing for the rest:
Judge Lynch.
This grim judge has again presided in a case in Georgia. Dave Goosby has paid the penalty of his crime -- that crime of all crimes -- with his life. The particulars of the affair appear in another column...

There is another side to the question. The crime was the most cruel, brutal and revolting in the history of such crimes. The victim was frail, delicate girl of eleven years of age, in fact almost a child. Her assailant was a powerful negro man. He was deaf to her cries for mercy. After accomplishing his purpose he cut her throat and left her for dead.

The fiend acknowledged to Sheriff Doss, and to numerous prominent citizens in Valdosta, that he committed the crime. It is any wonder that the cry for speedy, swift and sure vengeance went up? The English committee may regret the fate of Dave Goosby, but we regret the sad and untimely fate of Susie Butler, as her frail little body, torn and mangled, sleeps in an [sic] humble grave among the pines. Her fate has been avenged. The warning should not be lost.

If England, the North, the negroes, or any one else, wants to stop lynching let them stop the nameless crime, for just so sure as God reigns in heaven, will this crime always be punished, and swiftly punished, in the South. Southern manhood has sworn that Southern women shall be protected and that oath will be kept. Aye, kept to the letter, and at all hazard.
Note: I did see a single blurb about it being reported in the Atlanta newspapers the governor of the state of Georgia was offering a reward for the "arrest and conviction" of the lynchers. Nothing after that one item, though, while the lynching account was repeated over and over, across several days.

And on the "English committee" mentioned a couple of times above: I think the newspaper was referencing an overseas anti-racism organization called the Society for the Recognition of the Brotherhood of Man, founded in 1893. It was inaugurated with meetings addressed by Ida B. Wells on the lynching of blacks in America.

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