Illinois History Minutes

July 25 Illinois History Minute


“This city is in the throes of a race war”.

That was the opening sentence, as a newspaper in Evansville Indiana reported on a white mob that lynched a Black man in Danville Illinois on this day in 1903.

The mob had been set on lynching a Black man held in the Vermilion County Jail on the charge of assaulting a white woman. But along the way, another Black man, John D. Metcalf fought with and killed one of the mob, who had reportedly called him a racial epithet.

Members of the mob chased Metcalf to the Danville police station, and brought him out, kicking and beating him. By one account, Metcalf was already dead by the time he was hanged from a telephone poll.

The mob then went to the county jail to find their original target. But Sheriff Hardy Whitlock and his men fired shots into the crowd, killing two of them and forcing them to disperse