On this dayJul 22, 1899

White Mob Lynches Frank Embree Hours Before Trial in Fayette, Missouri

On the morning of July 22, 1899, a white mob abducted Frank Embree from officers transporting him to stand trial and lynched him in front of a crowd of over 1,000 onlookers in Fayette, Missouri.

About one month earlier, Frank Embree had been arrested and accused of assaulting a white girl. Though his trial was scheduled for July 22, the town’s residents grew impatient and, rather than allow Mr. Embree to stand trial, took matters into their own hands by lynching Mr. Embree.

According to newspaper accounts, the mob attacked officers transporting Mr. Embree, seized him, loaded him into a wagon, and drove him to the site of the alleged assault. Once there, Mr. Embree’s captors immediately tried to extract a confession by stripping him naked and whipping him in front of the assembled crowd, but he steadfastly maintained his innocence despite this abuse. After withstanding more than 100 lashes to his body, Mr. Embree began screaming and told the men that he would confess. Rather than plead for his life, Mr. Embree begged his attackers to stop the torture and kill him swiftly. Covered in blood from the whipping, with no courtroom or legal system in sight, Mr. Embree offered a confession to the waiting lynch mob and was immediately hanged from a tree.

Black people accused of crimes during this era were regularly subjected to beatings, torture, and threats of lynching in efforts to obtain a confession, and the results of those coercive attacks were later used to "justify" the lynchings that followed. In fact, without fair investigation or trial, the confession of a lynching victim was more reliable evidence of fear than guilt.

Though published photographs of Mr. Embree’s lynching clearly depict the faces of many of his assailants, no one was ever arrested or tried for his death.

About EJI

The Equal Justice Initiative works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.

Learn more

About this website

Until we confront our history of racial injustice and its legacy, we cannot overcome the racial bias that exists today.

Learn more

Explore more events