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The Houston riot... hanging of negro soldiers...

Item # 581560

December 12, 1917

SPRINGFIELD DAILY REPUBLICAN, Springfield, Massachusetts, December 12, 1917

* 3rd Batallion of the 24th U.S. Infantry
* Negro soldiers hanged (1st report)
* re. the Houston Riot of 1917

This 16 page newspaper has one column headlines on the front page: "13 NEGROES HANGED", "Houston Riot Executions", "Infantrymen Pay Death Penalty for Mutiny--Only Officers Present".

Other news and advertisements of the day. Light browning, little margin wear and tear, otherwise good.

wikipedia notes: The condemned soldiers (one sergeant, four corporals, and eight privates) were transferred to a barracks on December 10. Later, that evening, motor trucks carried new lumber for scaffolds to some bathhouses built for the soldiers at Camp Travis near a swimming pool in the Salado Creek. The designated place of execution was a few hundred yards away. Army engineers completed their grim work by the light of bonfires. The thirteen troops were awakened and brought to the place of execution at five in the morning. They were hanged, simultaneously, one minute before sunrise, at seven seventeen. The scaffolds were then disassembled and every piece was carried back to Fort Sam Houston. The New York Times, impressed by the clean-up operations, observed the place of execution and place of burial were “indistinguishable.” Only army officers and County Sheriff John Tobin had witnessed the affair.

Haynes notes General Ruckman “announced the verdicts and executions” at nine o’clock in the morning to a small group of “surprised and highly annoyed” newspapermen. Most of them had been fooled by a rumor that the hangings would take place at Camp Stanley, thirty miles north of San Antonio (p. 7)[2]. Professor Haynes writes that the rumor was “obviously planted by military authorities” and concludes that, while it was “ostensibly designed for security purposes,” it was also “calculated” to “infuriate” black Americans and “to please” white citizens (pp. 7, 273)[2].

Ruckman told reporters that he had personally approved the death sentences and announced that forty-one men were given life sentences and four others received sentences of two and a half years or less. He also informed newspapermen that it was he who has selected the time and place for the hangings (p. 7)[2]. Weiner’s 1989 law review articles point out that what Ruckman had done in the first court martial was “entirely legal” and “in complete conformity” with the 1916 Articles of War. Indeed this conclusion was generally reported in the nation’s newspapers.

Category: The 20th Century

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