[Two Real Photo Postcards of Cairo, Illinois Lynchings of William James and Henry Salzner]. A pair of real photo postcards capturing the locale and immediate aftermath of the November 11, 1909 lynching of William James and Henry Salzner at the hands of a mob in Cairo, Illinois, a small city on the Mississippi River at the southern tip of Illinois.
James, a 24-year old African-American laborer, was arrested on suspicion of murdering a young white shop clerk named Mary "Annie" Pelley. While awaiting trial in the local jail news of the forming mob began to spread and local authorities attempted to ferret James away to a safer locale. The mob intercepted the group, however. In an article on the event appearing in a 1999 issue of the THE JOURNAL OF NEGRO HISTORY, Stacy Pratt McDermott wrote this horrific description of the ensuing scene: The judges, jury, and executioners lifted the rope to avenge the dead woman, but the rope broke and threw James roughly to the ground. As he stood, several people in the crowd riddled his body with approximately five hundred bullets.The mob ran with his bleeding body to the murder scene in the alley. One man chopped off James's head, put it on a pike, and lifted it up for the cheering crowd to see.
The mob then set James's body on fire and roasted the remains while men, women, and children shouted and cheered. When the fire died out, the horror continued as people moved in to dismember the body. Some took out their pocketknives and cut off ears and fingers and broke up bones to take as gruesome souvenirs. 1, 61-78 After the execution of James, the mob turned its attention to another prisoner: Henry Salzner, a white photographer convicted of murdering his wife with an ax and awaiting sentencing in the Cairo Jail. The mob removed Salzner who was duly lynched and shot in the public square, similarly to James.After this second lynching, looting and chaos gripped Cairo until the next morning when the Illinois National Guard was deployed, implementing martial law in the town. The incident followed on the heels of the notorious August, 1908 race riot in Springfield, IL, and served as further impetus to anti-lynching legislation in Illinois and nationwide, as well as the formation of NAACP. Each card is postmarked November 22, 1909, less than two weeks following the event, with contemporary manuscript commentary. [see: WITHOUT SANCTUARY 50, 51, 52]. Each sepia-toned, silver gelatin print with undivided backs, postmarked with manuscript address and correspondence to versos.
Images lettered in negative to read: ARCH AT 8TH ST AND COMMERCIAL AVE / CAIRO ILL, / UNDER WHICH WILL. JAMES / WAS LYNCHED NOV 11TH 09, FOR MURDERING / MISS. " and "TELEPHONE POLE ON WHICH / HENRY SALZNER, WAS / HANGED NOV 11TH 1909, / FOR MURDERING HIS WIFE / CAIRO ILL.Overall each solidly very good. Type Punch Matrix is a rare book firm founded by Rebecca Romney and Brian Cassidy. Between them, they bring over 30 years of experience in the antiquarian book trade.
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