Wholesale Lynching

The Gazette
July 26, 1899

Five Italians were lynched in Tallulah last Friday night for attempting to assassinate Dr. J. Ford Hodge of that town. It appears that Dr. Hodge had shot a goat belonging to one of the Italians. This brought on angry words between Hodge and the Italian, one of them engaged the Doctor in a fight, and while the fight was in progress another Italian shot the Doctor in the stomach and groins with a shot gun. At the firing of the gun, three other Italians, residents of the place, came running to the scene of the trouble with knives and guns. These three were promptly arrested and place in jail by the sheriff. A mob soon formed, and having arrested the two Italians who took part in the fight, hung them to a near by tree and not being satisfied, then forced the sheriff to deliver to them the three Italians that had been imprisoned, proceeded at once to hang them also.

The Italians are charged with being all-around bad men, and are said to have been implicated in other killings in that community.

Dr. Hodge was a physician of Tallulah, and was popular with the citizens of that place. He practiced medicine at Walnut Lane in this parish, prior to going to Tallulah. The shooting of the Doctor and the lynching of the Italians is to be regretted.

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The Lynching Business

We print elsewhere in this issue an account of the lynching of five Italians in Madison Parish on Friday last. This lynching is but one of similar occurrences that are almost daily happening throughout the country, and which give cause for most serious thought.

While in the Tallulah affair the Italians had doubtless secretly conspired to take the life of one of the leading men of the town, yet the occurrence did not warrant the wholesale lynching that followed. There were a number of witnesses to the attempted assignation, the court was in session there, and it would have been far better for the good name of the people of Madison Parish and of the whole state, had the law been permitted to take its course with the Italians. That justice would have been meeted out them and the guilty ones punished no person doubts. But the mob would not hear to reason and swiftly hurried these Italians into eternity, not heeding the law, nor inquiring as to their victims guilt or innocence.

With us as a people, it has come to pass that human life is reckoned a cheap commodity, and lynching parties are inaugurated for the punishment of minor offenses. The tendency is so strong in that direction that people begin to ask themselves the question, where will it end? and if permitted to go unchecked, is not the time soon at hand, when he who has a cause of grievance against his neighbor, be that grievance ever so frivolous if he can gather together a few followers, will proceed to settle his difficulty by lynching that neighbor?

We profess to be a Christian nation, and upon the table of almost every family in the land lies a book – the Bible – in which we hold belief, and among the commandments therein taught is one – “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. He who joins a lynching party and takes human life violates this commandment and becomes a murderer, and sometimes a murderer of innocent persons. He who takes human life by other than lawful methods, is a red-handed slayer of his fellow man and can not escape the consequences of such an act. It is debasing to the individual participating, and injurious to the country, proclaiming abroad as it does, the fact that law and order does not prevail among us.

Are there no forces among us which put into action, would check this hurtful tendency of our times? Surely there are. We have courts, the public press, the pulpit, the school room and the family government, by which we may combat this evil. Let the courts and juries do their whole duty in the punishment of those who unlawfully and recklessly take the lives of their fellow men; let the press and pulpit thunder against this crime; and let the teacher and parent instill into the youth of the land the principle that taking human life, without legal process, is murder, and our country will then rise above this horrid business.

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