Necessity is the mother of invention.
It was exactly a century ago this year that Sam Hose left his home in rural Georgia for Atlanta. A literate and hard-working black man needing money to help care for his ill mother and his mentally retarded brother, Hose ended up laboring for a white landlord on a plantation outside the city. In the spring of the next year, the two had a falling out over wages. The white man threatened the black man with a pistol and the black man defended himself with the ax he was using to chop wood. Hose accidentally killed his employer and fled to his mother's cabin.
The white-owned newspapers of the South had long gorged themselves with exaggerated or fabricated accounts of such violence. In the papers' version, the fight between Sam Hose and his boss became transformed into the most enraging crime of them all: the rape of the white man's wife. White Georgians tracked Hose down and prepared for his lynching. Two thousand people gathered for the killing, some taking a special excur