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but a little group in control, and they will sometimes actually jail men or let them out of jail without any warrant of law. In that Kentucky section they said the mobs were made up of mountaineers. I asked the sheriff how many automobiles were in the last party. He said about 100. I said, "Have the mountaineers got automobiles?” He said, “Oh, no." I don't believe you will find a single case of lynching in the South that could not have been prevented, if the authorities vested with the power had really wanted to prevent them.
Senator DIETERICH. I have no quarrel with the provision of the bill that enforces a penalty against those who were negligent or who refused to enforce the law. I think the penalty in such cases should be severe. The only part to which I cannot reconcile myself is that requiring a penalty to be imposed upon a subdivision of the State government, taking the money of the taxpayers to pay for something for which they are not to blame, when there was no neglect on the part of the officers in trying to enforce the law.
Mr. Hays. I think that with that provision out the law means nothing.
Senator DIETERICH. I understand your argument, and I understand the law of my State. I believe it provides not only where a man is put to death by violence shall there be a penalty, but I think there is a law providing that where property is destroyed by a mob the loss must be made good by the political subdivision.
Mr. Hays. Why not? Why should not all the people pay for it? It seems to me that is the best way to insure a law-abiding community.
Senator DIETERICH. It does not seem to me just where a peaceable, law-abiding community is in no way responsible for the commission of acts of violence, that the peaceable, responsible members of the community who cannot protect themselves against that situation should have to pay the money of the taxpayers to make good the injury done by the lawless element.
Mr. Hays. As a matter of justice, it is a question of whether the family of the victim should bear the burden or whether the county or the community should bear it. After all, doesn't it come down substantially to that proposition? Practically nobody will openly support lynching. I am quite sure every Member of the Senate would say that lynching should be stopped, should not be tolerated. I feel quite sure that the imposition of such a penalty would perhaps do more to deter lynching than anything else. I am sure lynching would not occur if it were generally understood that the taxpayers would have to pay out their money to make good. I am sure that without such a provision we would never get anywhere.
Senator DIETERICH. I would like to see some measure passed that would help eradicate that evil.
Mr. Hays. Can you pass anything more effective than a provision that will require the taxpayers of a community to respond in damages for such an offense! I cannot conceive of a lynching ever occurring under those circumstances.
Senator DIETERICH. You may be right, but it seems to me it is an injustice to impose that burden upon the innocent taxpayers of the community, who may be in no way to blame for what has occurred.
Mr. Hays. Senator, such a provision is contained in the law in several Southern States, recommended by the commission on the study of lynching in the South, and they found no difficulty with it.
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stor DIETERUCH. Lynching refers to a certain method of taking Juman life,
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Menor Dirtyuion. Why should the bill be confined to lynching! und man were beaten to death or bludgeoned, it would be the mine thing, but that would not be lynching.
Mr. Hays. I think it would be under this bill. I think under this bill any maltreatment of a man by a mob is lynching.
May I call your attention to section 5, providing for a penalty of $10,000 to be recovered in a suit prosecuted by the district attorney of the United States? I think private attorneys ought likewise to be permitted to bring such suits. Mr. Chadbourn, on page 134 of the volume you have before you, appendix A, says: The amount may be recovered in a civil action in any State court.
Under this bill it would be restricted to an action brought in the Federal court by the United States district attorney. I think that people would be much more likely to enforce the bill if the action might be brought by the individuals affected.
Senator DIETERICH. I think that is a very good suggestion. It would seem that the people who are most interested would have the right to select their attorneys, and not depend upon public officials to do that.
Mr. Hays. I think so.
At the expiration of the recess, the hearing was resumed, at 2 p.m.
STATEMENT OF ALBERT E. BARNETT, PROFESSOR OF LITERATURE
AND HISTORY OF THE BIBLE AT SCARRITT COLLEGE, NASHVILLE, TENN.
Senator Van Nuys. The next proponent to be heard will be Prof. Albert E. Barnett, professor of literature, and history of the Bible at Scarritt College, Nashville, Tenn.; a native Tennesseean, who made an investigation of the lynching of Cordie Cheek, in Maury County, Tenn., on December 15, 19:33.
You may proceed.
Senator McCARRAX. Before you begin, I would like to say that I am obliged to leave in a few minutes, and I mean no discourtesy to you by so doing.
Mr. BARNETT. Certainly not.
I was born in Alabama, within 30 miles of the home of former Senator Thomas J. Heflin. I was educated in the schools of Georgia. I am at the present time a minister of a Southern Methodist church, formerly a member of the Alabama conference, and now a member of the Tennessee conference. For the past 10 years I have resided at Nashville, serving in the capacity I have indicated.
Twice since I have lived in Nashville there have been barberous lynchings of teen-age Vegro boys. One of them was 15 years old, who was taken from a hospital bed by a group of men and lynched. The other was a lad of 17, whose name you mentioned, and who was done to death by a mob on the 15th of last December. In each case local action has been ineffective. If either of these outrages had been committed against an American citizen in Haiti, Cuba, the Philippines, or Mexico, our Federal Government would have been able to proceed. Since they took place within the territory of the United States, nothing has been done that is effective.
Speaking some years ago in justification of the right of the Federal Government to enact child-labor legislation, Mr. Elihu Root said:
It is useless for the advocates of States rights to inveigh against the supremacy of the constitutional law of the United States, or against the extension of national authority in the fields of necessary control, where the States themselves fail in the necessary performance of their duty.
It is this failure of the States themselves in the necessary performance of their duty” that brings me here as a southern man to advocate the passage of the pending antilynching legislation.
In 1919. when I was a student in Emory University, in Atlanta, Ga., Dr. Plato Durham, a North Carolinian, at that time a professor of church history in the Emory University faculty, stated that over a period of 30 years there had been an average of a lynching a month in the single State of Georgia without a single effective prosecution of lynchers in the State courts. His statement was not an extreme one as the records carefully kept since 1889 show. For the period 1889–1932 there were, according to the most conservative recordis. 3,753 lynchings. Out of this number there have been only 12 instances of conviction of lynchers, or an equivalent of eight tenths of 1 percent. The sentences of those convicted in these 12 instances were nominal and were not infrequently suspended.
The weakness of the State court in handling this form of crime is a weakness that inheres in its purely local character, so that in my estimation, a Federal court, by its independence of local political pressure, is a better court in which to try lynchers than any State court is apt to be.
Senator McCARRAN. Do you object to being interrupted ?
Senator McCARRAX. In the Northern States, the Federal court naturally draws its jurisdiction from perhaps not one county, but several counties comprising the district in which the Federal court is located. Do not the Federal courts have the same character of jurors, drawn by exactly the same methods, as the State courts have?
Mr. BARNETT. I think the Federal juries are usually of a higher type. They are not so frequently composed of professional jurymen as is the case in many local courts.
Senator McCARRAX. That is true.
Mr. BARNETT. Furthermore, the judges and prosecuting attorneys are not locally elected, as in the case of the local State courts.
My position in this respect has been challenged by those who point to the widely advertised breakdown of Federal prohibition enforcement. They say that, on the basis of Feileral failure at this point, we have no warrant for hoping for Federal effectiveness in the case of lynching. My own feeling is that the failure of Federal prohibition enforcement has been greative properated and, for ihe : ke of argument. I am willing to grant the ineffectiveness of the Federal Government in that direction, while remaining confident of its effectiveness in this other direction. In the case of prohibition there was an attempt to regulate a financially lucrative industry and one which pandered to the appetites of multitudes of people, but contrasted with this, lynching is occasional, it is revoltingly brutal, it does not have profit as its motive, and it is universally condemned by the decent citizenship of any community. There is room for debate regarding a man's right to drink, but there is no room for debate regarding the morality of lynching.
The State courts have simply not furnished existing moral sentiment with an effective channel for its expression, and it is my conviction that a Federal court would supply this need. Evidence of this existing sentiment is easily to be had.
If I may be permitted at this point, as some evidence of a very tangible sentiment in the section that I represent against lynching, and the existence of sentiment favorable to Federal legislation to prevent lynching, I should like to submit editorials, not from the secular press, although I have here on file a large number from Tennessee papers, some very splendid editorials. I have here an editorial from the Christian Advocate of January 12, and another from the same paper of February 9, 1934, written by Dr. W. P. King, editor of the Christian Advocate, Nashville, Tenn., and general organizer of the Southern Methodist Church, in which I think he expresses the sentiment of the denomination which he represents. Dr. King is a native of Georgia. He would have been here for this hearing but for a providential hindrance on Sunday over which he had no control. These two editorials were written by him.
Then I have an editorial from the World Outlook, which represents the missionary group in our church. I think no group of people are able no more accurately to tell us what foreign countries think of us than the group back of this editorial, which was written in February 1934.
Then I have a resolution of the Ministerial Alliance of Nashville, composed of the Protestant ministers of the city, passed on January 29, with only 3 dissenting votes, and these 3 made it quite clear that they condemned lynching, but questioned the effectiveness of Federal legislation. The resolution calls upon Congress to enact the Costigan-Wagner antilynching bill, and is signed by the secretary of the association.
Then I have a bulletin of the community relations committee of College Side Congregational Church, Nashville, Tenn., in which their position is stated with reference to the pending bill.
Then I have a statement by Rabbi Julius Mark, of the Vine Street Temple, Nashville, Tenn. He would have been here but for conflicting engagements.
I think that those statements very well illustrate the sentiment of the people in the section of the country I represent, which sentiment has been unable to find expression in our local courts.
Senator Van Nuys. They may be made a part of the record.
(The documents referred to, to wit, an editorial from the Christian Advocate, Jan. 12, 1934, entitled “What Will Be Our Lynching Record for 1934?”; an editorial from the same paper, Feb. 9, 1934, entitled, “ Race Relations and a Reply to Criticisms"; an editorial from the World Outlook of February 1934 entitled, “ The Rallying of the Hosts"; a resolution adopted by the Pastors' Association of Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 16, 1934; a bulletin of the community relations committee of the College Side Congregational Church, Nashville,