On January 18, 1882, three men were hung by a mob in Seattle on what is now James Street between First and Second Avenues. Two of them had just been held for trial after a hearing before a justice of the peace for the murder the evening before of a popular Seattle citizen. They were seized by a mob in the court room and hurried to the place of execution, the sheriff and his deputies present being overpowered. The third was in jail awaiting trial for the murder of a policeman and was taken from the jail on the same day after the death of the first two, the jail doors being broken down by the mob. Prominent citizens of the city were members of the mob. At the April term following the lynching, a grand jury was called and Judge Greene gave to it the charge hereinafter set forth. No indictment was found by the grand jury. Probably there has been no case of like character in the nation in which members of such a vigilance committee have been punished. But, published in full in the press some three months after the mob executions, Judge Greene's charge must have had a sobering and helpful effect upon the citizens of Seattle, and in large measure counteracted the educational evils of the tragedy. There may have been more inspiring words written of the sacredness of our constitutional rights and the value and obligations of citizenship in this, our country, but if so, they have not come to my attention.
Leander T. Turner & Roger S. Greene,
Chief Justice Greene on Mob Law,
19 Wash. L. Rev. & St. B.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol19/iss3/1