Coastal Georgia's whites maintained a paternalistic attitude toward blacks and had little faith in violence as a resolution to racial conflict. A lower than average dependence on black labor, a tradition of political involvement by blacks, a higher than average percentage of black land ownership, and, consequently, greater black independence from whites accounted for a significantly reduced threat of lethal violence toward blacks than in other regions of the Cotton Belt. Despite these facts, thirteen blacks were lynched between 1880 and 1902 in the Georgia low country. This photo most closely matches the written accounts of a man falsely accused of having assaulted a Mrs. Fountain and murdering her son, Dower Fountain, in 1902 at their store.
According to the Chicago Record Herald, "A bright bonfire was seen in the swamp in the direction a posse went Friday night and the members of the posse returned stating that they were satisfied with the night's work. It now develops, however, that their victim may not have been Richard Young, for whom the officers of the law are still searching. The remains of the burned negro were brought before the mother of Richard Young who says that they resemble her son in no particular."
These tiny documents were purchased by a flea market trader in a trunk stored in the attic of a prominent Savannah family during the dispersal of an estate.
Lynching, as example, usually proved an efficient means of intimidation and oppression. Richard Wright spoke to the heart of black anguish: "I needed but to hear of them to feel their full effects in the deepest layers of my consciousness. Indeed, the white brutality that I had not seen was a more effective control of my behavior than that which I knew."