Illinois History Minutes

August 16 Illinois History Minute


It’s August 16th, the day in 1908 that the Illinois National Guard came to Springfield to stop a multiday massacre by about 5-thousand white residents. Two days earlier, the mob had tried to lynch two Black men – one accused of raping a white woman and the other accused of killing a white man. The sheriff moved the suspects out of town, and the mob turned its fury on Springfield’s Black neighborhoods. Dozens of Black-owned homes and businesses were looted and burned. At least 16 people were killed, and many more were tortured.

Thousands of Black residents fled Springfield. The massacre served as a catalyst in the formation of the N-double-A-C-P, America’s oldest civil rights organization.

Only one member of the white lynch mob was convicted… of theft.

And 2 weeks after the massacre, the alleged rape victim recanted her story.