State Sanctioned

A clearinghouse for information, analysis, and resources related to state sanctioned violence in the United States

Barnwell, South Carolina

On December 28th, 1889, whites removed eight men from jail in Barnwell, SC, where they were awaiting trial for various offenses, and lynched them at the courthouse.  Sometimes referred to as a “mass lynching,” and other times referred to as a “massacre,” the men killed included Ripley Johnson, Ralph Morral, Hugh Furz, Robert Phoenix, Mitchell Adams, Peter Bell, Harrison Johnson, and Judge Jones.

This mass lynching was controversial, even for those who supported lynching.  The Augusta Chronicle (below), for example, defended lynching in some cases, but called on the governor to prosecute the men who perpetrated this lynching.  In particular, many were aggrieved over the case of Ripley Johnson, who newspapers said had a strong case of self-defense and might have been acquitted in a jury trial.

The incident does not appear on the NAACP’s list of lynching prosecutions.

Jump down to: Scholarship and other commentary

This incident is discussed in a number of sources:

The New Hampshire Sentinel, January 1st, 1890

Very brief mention, 15th news item, about a third of the way down the column.

PDF: New Hampshire Sentinel 01011890

The Augusta Chronicle, January 2nd, 1890

Barnwell Augusta Chronicle 01021890 p 4-page-001

PDF: Barnwell Augusta Chronicle 01021890 p 4

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 3rd, 1890

Barnwell Cleveland Plain Dealer 01031890 p1 cont-page-001 Barnwell Cleveland Plain Dealer p1 cont2-page-001

PDF: Barnwell Cleveland Plain Dealer 01031890 p1 cont

PDF2: Barnwell Cleveland Plain Dealer p1 cont2

The Huntsville Gazette, January 4th, 1890

Huntsville Gazette 01041890 p2-page-001

PDF: Huntsville Gazette 01041890 p2

The New York Age, January 4th, 1890

Also makes mention of violent disturbances in Georgia and Tennessee.

New York Age 01041890 p2-page-001

PDF: New York Age 01041890 p2

Scholarship (see also Scholarship –> Lynching)

Terrence Finnegan, A Deed So Accursed

Other Media and Commentary

“Black Prisoners Taken and Killed” – brief description with historical context from The History Engine:Tools for Collaborative Education and Research

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