In May 1916 Jesse Washington, a 17 year-old black youth said to be ‘of low intelligence and violent disposition’ (what – a black of low intelligence and violent disposition????) was convicted of the brutal murder and rape of a 53 year-old white woman, Lucy Fryer. There seems to be little doubt as to his guilt, with a raft of circumstantial evidence and the fact that he had lead police to where he had hidden the hammer with which he’d bludgeoned the widow to death.
The jury certainly thought so anyway, and things didn’t look too good for Jesse even during the trial, when one juror, impatient with the process, leapt out of the box to attack him. Their subsequent deliberations took all of four minutes before bringing in a guilty verdict for which the death penalty was to be applied.
Before law officers could remove Washington from the court, a group of white spectators surged forward and seized the convicted murderer. They hurried him down the stairs at the rear of the courthouse, where a crowd of about 400 waited in the alley. A chain was thrown around his neck before he was dragged toward the City Hall, where another group of concerned citizens had gathered to build a human bonfire.
On reaching the City Hall grounds, the leaders of the mob threw Washington onto a pile of dry goods boxes under a tree (a special tree, more anon) and poured coal oil over his body. The chain around Washington's neck was thrown over a limb of the tree, and several men lowered his body onto the pile of combustibles. They then ignited a fire and watched him burn alive .
An observer wrote: "The boy was beaten and dragged to the suspension bridge spanning the Brazos River. Thousands roared, "Burn him"
"Bonfire preparations were already under way in the public square, where Washington was beaten with shovels and bricks. Fifteen thousand men, women, and children packed the square. Some women begged the participants to delay the proceedings so as they could dress properly for the occasion. They climbed up poles and onto the tops of cars, hung from windows, and sat on each other's shoulders.
"Children were lifted by their parents into the air. Washington was castrated, and his ears were cut off. A tree supported the iron chain that lifted him above the fire of boxes and sticks. Immersed in the flames, he attempted to climb the blisteringly hot chain multiple times. For this the men cut off his fingers. The executioners repeatedly and slowly lowered the boy into the flames and hoisted him out again. With each repetition, a mighty shout was raised."
It’s unclear how long Washington was alive, but the entertainment lasted more than an hour, after which his fingers and teeth were claimed as souvenirs, his body parts were separated from the torso, and what was left was dumped in a bag so they might be dragged once more through the Waco streets.
But not everyone stood idly by. The Mayor, who had drawn up a chair to his window to watch the festivities, suddenly freaked out. His concern was that the flames might kill the tree, which, I kid you not, was known as the Tree Of Knowledge. When they weren’t burning prisoners, town elders sat under it and debated profound issues, informed by a copy of the Holy Bible which was contained in a water-proof (and presumably fire-proof) box at the foot of the tree. Hence the Tree Of Knowledge.
And this should have been no surprise, as Waco, which then had a population of only 30,000 – had no fewer than 63 churches! Clearly a very pious community, and for this it was known as ‘Three Cs – colleges, churches and cotton’.
The MSM of the time took it in their stride: From the Waco Morning News "Resembling the forefathers who dared anything for their country's sake, the determined band of farmers and neighbours last night declared to the sheriff that they didn't want trouble’ – unless you call burning a prisoner to death trouble
"Yesterday's exciting occurrence is a closed incident," stated the Waco Times-Herald.
And that's just what it became - a closed incident. Even today many natives of Waco have never heard of it.
The moral of the story? I suppose it underlines the capacity for the basest evil that lies within all of us. Also the duality of good/evil. I'm sure that many if not most of those townspeople who partook in that grisly spectacle would, in other circumstances, help you if you were in trouble, and were decent family men. Could it also explain why the ‘Marxist/PC/cultural equivalence’ people are now killing the West? Does it go some way towards explaining some of the Western, especially American, self-hate we see in such people?
All I know is, as much as I curse what these people have wrought on our civilisation, I’d hate to have been part of the culture that prevailed in Waco, and in so many other places, at that time.