Rage in the Gate City: The Story of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot

By Rebecca Burns | Go to book overview

2
Politics of Fear

“In a land of light and beauty and love our women are
prisoners of danger and fear. While the heathen walks
his native heath unharmed and unafraid, in this fair
Christian Southland, our sisters, wives, and daughters
dare not stroll at twilight through the streets, or step
beyond the highway at noon.”

— THOMAS DIXON, The Clansman, 1905

James and Crandal Poole’s plan to douse Frank Carmichael’s body with oil and set it aflame was not an original notion. Ritual cremation was common practice after a lynching — a term that in 1906 applied to not only hanging but also to any form of death by vigilante justice. Before burning a victim’s corpse, members of lynch posses often claimed body parts as souvenirs. Sometimes, this dismemberment was carried out while the victim was still alive. Fingers and toes were particularly popular keepsakes.

Even the most horror-hardened Atlantans had been shocked seven years earlier by the grisly 1899 lynching of Sam Hose, a black laborer charged with the murder of his employer, Alfred Cranford, a farmer in Palmetto, a Coweta County town about thirty-two miles southwest of Atlanta. Hose admitted to striking Cranford with an axe, but said he had made the attack at the prompting of another black laborer, Lige Strickland, who had hired him to do the deed for twenty dollars, and did not know there had

-15-

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Rage in the Gate City: The Story of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Notes on Language and Sources xi
  • Introduction - Atlanta, 1906 1
  • 1 - A Lynching in Lakewood 9
  • 2 - Politics of Fear 15
  • 3 - The Gate City 23
  • 4 - The Truck Farmer’s Wife 41
  • 5 - Harpers Ferry 45
  • 6 - Incident at Copenhill 56
  • 7 - Pastor Proctor’s Sermon 63
  • 8 - Two Meetings and One Party 74
  • 9 - Low Dives and Blind Tigers 83
  • 10 - Celebration 90
  • 11 - A Visit from William Jennings Bryan 101
  • 12 - Orrie Bryan’s Story 106
  • 13 - "Extra! Extra!" 111
  • 14 - Rage 118
  • 15 - Fighting Back 131
  • 16 - Attack on Brownsville 139
  • 17 - Negotiations 145
  • 18 - What Happened to Max Barber 153
  • 19 - On Trial 159
  • 20 - Christmas Unease 166
  • Epilogue - Atlanta, 2006 171
  • Notes 177
  • Selected Bibliography 197
  • Index 203
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