“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Altavista in Campbell County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Origin of Lynch Law

Origin of Lynch Law Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, March 30, 2013
1. Origin of Lynch Law Marker
Inscription. During the Revolutionary War, loyalists in the Virginia backcountry periodically conspired against the Revolutionary authorities. Colonels Charles Lynch, James Callaway, and other militia officers and county justices formed extralegal courts to punish them, which were “not strictly warranted by law.” “Lynch’s Law,” or lynching, as such punishment has been called, did not at first include hanging. According to local tradition, accused loyalists were tied to a large black walnut tree here at Lynch’s home, Green Level, and whipped, not hanged. In contrast with the lynchings that began the next century, legally appointed officials meted out “Lynch’s law” mostly with fines and jail terms. Later, the Virginia General Assembly passed acts protecting Lynch and his associates from prosecution for their activities.
Erected 1997 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number L-30.)
Location. 37° 7.75′ N, 79° 16.105′ W. Marker is in Altavista, Virginia, in Campbell County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (Business U.S. 29) and Wards Droad (U.S. 29), on the left when traveling south on Main Street. Click for map. It is about one mile north
Origin of Lynch Law Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, March 30, 2013
2. Origin of Lynch Law Marker
of downtown Altavista. Marker is in this post office area: Altavista VA 24517, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Shady Grove (approx. 11 miles away but has been reported missing); Callaway–Steptoe Cemetery (approx. 12.3 miles away); New London Academy (approx. 12.4 miles away); New London (approx. 12.4 miles away); a different marker also named New London Academy (approx. 12.4 miles away); Hickey's Road (approx. 13.7 miles away); Old Rustburg (approx. 13.8 miles away); Lynchburg and Salem Turnpike (approx. 15.3 miles away).
More about this marker. This marker replaced a marker with the same name and number dating from the late 1920s that read “A hundred yards west stands a walnut tree under which Colonel Charles Lynch, William Preston, Robert Adams, Jr., James Callaway and others held an informal court for the trial of tories and criminals, 1780. Punishment usually consisted of whipping. From this rude justice the term ‘Lynch Law’ was evolved.”
Also see . . .  William Lynch Wikipedia Entry. “The term “Lynch’s Law” was used as early as 1782 by a prominent Virginian named Charles Lynch to describe his actions in suppressing a suspected Loyalist uprising in 1780 during the American Revolutionary War. The suspects were given a summary trial at an informal court; sentences handed down included whipping, property seizure, coerced pledges of allegiance, and conscription into the military. Charles Lynch’s extralegal actions were retroactively legitimized by the Virginia General Assembly in 1782.” (Submitted on May 17, 2013, by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.) 
Categories. GovernmentWar, US Revolutionary
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 432 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Paid Advertisement