The Breham Banner is playing ....
The Banner is an outspoken paper, and although its utterances may sometimes seem somewhat rough, they are often just, and it is a good sign to see them made in no doubtful way against wholesale violations of the law. In times past Washington county has suffered from lawlessness, both the acts of thieves and robbers and the harsh and sometimes misdirected efforts of the citizens to protect life and property by taking the law into their own hands and summarily dealing with those guilty or suspected of crime. Retaliations and regrets followed, until many who thirty years ago joined the regulators, were sorry that the did not direct their efforts to the regular tribunals. The Banner uses the following language:
The late case of lynching near Hempstead has no excuse whatever. The prisoners had been long since legally tried and convicted; and were at the time they were lynched in the custody of the officers of the law. From the circumstances as detailed the lynching seems to have been premeditated and well arranged, otherwise sixty or seventy men would not have been together at one time. Legally and morally every one of these sixty or seventy men who participated in hanging Walker and shooting Groce are guilty of murder in the first degree. The provocation must certainly be very great to induce so large a number of men to take the law in their own hands. In this particular instance there does not seem to have been any immediate provocation. If we are to have laws let them be enforced; if not, the laws had better be repealed at once, and vigilance committees organized as was the case in California in '49 and '50.
This particular case of lawlessness seems to have arisen from the numerous depredations that have been committed during the last few months by escaped convicts in the immediate vicinity of the town of Hempstead, and will in all probability have the effect of deterring others from a like course. Had these escaped convicts been promptly arrested it is likely that Waller county would never have been disgraced by a lawless hanging, but so far as our information goes, no concerted attempt has ever been made to arrest them; they have been allowed to roam at large and live by stealing. We are not in the least disposed to be apologists for lawlessness, and deprecate it as much as anybody; but in assigning a cause it must be admitted that a lax administration of the penal code, in a vast majority of the counties in the State, has done more to bring about the present condition of affairs that aught else.
The press of the entire State has been almost unanimous in its condemnation of mob law, and has never let an opportunity pass to urge upon the Legislature the pressing necessity of immediate action; yet, the Legislature has been in session for nearly two months and no bill looking to remedy of the evil has yet been passed. The various hangings and shootings that have taken place since the meeting of the Legislature are too numerous to mention. We may, however, not the cowardly killing of a little negro boy in Austin by a ruffian, the hanging of two men at Elgin, very near Austin, hangings in Lee and Burleson counties, etc., etc.
"Lynching Near Hempstead." The Galveston Daily News, Saturday, June 24, 1876, P. 2, col. 2.