Mabel Hallam And The Springfield Race Riots Of 1908

August 13, 1908: At Springfield, Illinois, married woman Mabel Hallam cries rape. She appears to have had a lover who was a bit free with his fists, and claimed to have been raped by a black man in order to distract from her infidelity. Her false claim - which she would later recant - led to the arrest of George Richardson.

If this had been the only such allegation at the time, what happened next might not have, but the previous month a black man named Joe James had entered the home of a mining engineer named Clergy Ballard, apparently intending to rape his daughter. Mr Ballard disturbed the intruder and chased him, but ended up with his throat cut. James was tried for murder, convicted, and executed the following October. Clearly some townsfolk thought enough was enough, and the resulting social upheaval led to the destruction of a number of homes and businesses and an unspecified number of deaths. Some call this a riot, others riots, but singular or plural, this was a bizarre legacy for the town that had once been the home of Abraham Lincoln.

The photograph below is of the falsely accused George Richardson. I canít find a decent photograph of Mabel Hallam, but there is plenty of documentation on the Springfield Race Riot(s) on-line, including videos.


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