7 JULY 1894, Page 24


[To THE EDITOR OP viva "SPECIT&TOR,"] SIR,—Will you permit me, as representing the few English- men resident in the country districts of this thinly settled State of Tennessee, to comment briefly on your able and interesting article in the Spectator of June 2nd, entitled "Lynch-Law in America." I speak for Tennessee alone ; but Tennessee is a typical Southern State, with at least one-third of its population coloured, and may therefore be heard in defence of the whole. In Tennessee we hear and know nothing of lynchings accompanied by torture and encouraged by the authorities. Lynchings, without cruelty, are inflicted here principally and originally for two crimes,—(l), outrage on a white woman ; (2), incendiarism. As regards the first, it is a crime in its present development peculiar to the Southern States, the feeling of hatred produced by which no Northern American or Englishman can understand. As to the second, when committed, as frequently, in revenge for a slight and even imaginary wrong, it is one of the most fiendish crimes conceivable. It is also one in which conviction is often exceedingly difficult. Both are crimes the effect of which can only be appreciated by those living on the spot. Lynching, in all its varied forms, of negroes by whites, of whites by whites, of negroes by negroes, I will not attempt to defend. In condemning the Southerners however, we must remember their conviction that the negro is not a human being in the same sense as the white man. Is this conviction a mere relic of slavery days ? The coloured race has had every opportunity of improving itself for nearly thirty years, and has signally failed to do so. The race is still constitu- tionally dishonest, hopelessly lazy, and devoid of any idea of sexual morality. " Show us evidence of improvement," say our Southern friends, " and we will believe you ; only do not con- demn us without knowing what we have to put up with, and without experience of the negro, the lawbreaker,. as he [Our correspondent misses the point. Nobody argues that inferior races may not need severe disciplinary laws. What they argue is that they should be tried—by Court-martial if you like—should be heard in their own defence, and should be convicted by Judges who intend to be impartial. Mobs do not.—En. Spectator.]