Cleveland Hardin Confesses to Attempted Assault

Source Type: Newspaper
Author: n.a.
Publisher: The North Alabamian
Place of publication: Tuscumbia, AL
Date of publication: 3/28/1907

Cleveland Hardin Confesses to Attempted Assault of Mrs. Ben Rice Last Friday and is Put to Death by a Determined Mob. All Florence and adjacent territory was strung to the highest pitch of excitement Friday last when news came in that a negro had attempted criminal assault upon Mr.s. B. F. Rice, wife of a prominent plantor living several miles West of that city. Immediately upon receipt of news of the crime a large crowd of men with bloodhounds left Florence for the scene of the dastardly act and from that time until noon Sunday the country was alive with men and dogs, the former heavily armed, looking and searching for the black brute with one grim purpose in view the always instantaneous execution of negro rapist. The negro had been bonded from jail by Mr. Rice, husband of the intended victim, and was employed as a farm hand. During Mr. Rice’s absence he made the usual demonstration that is the curse of the negro race and the source of all resentment against said race the demonstration that only means one thing in any community lynching in some form. Hardin eluded his pursuers until Sunday morning when he was seen at the steamboat wharf trying to ship as a deck hand on the steamboat American and recognized. He ran away but the hounds were following his trail and about 12:30 he was surrounded in McFarland’s bottom near the city and captured after a short run. His captors startod at once for the scene of the attempted crime where the negro was taken before his intended victim who fainted. There are various statements as to the capture but as related to the Alabamian the negro had a revolver and shotgun, but on the approach of the mob threw the gun away and ran, a shot in the leg slackened his speed and he was captured without lurther resistance. When the negro was brought before Mrs. Rice she fainted, and was revived with difficulty. The leaders of the mob asked her what should be done with Hardin, and she replied: “Do what you want to,” and fainted again. Hardin was unaffected by the scene, and beyond making a confession of his guilt, never opened his mouth from the time of his capture until his death. He seemed to care nothing about his fate, and when members of the mob shouted ‘”Burn him!” he did not move a muscle. The cries for the expiation of the crime on the flames grew so voluminous that the leaders turned to Mr. Rice for instructions as to what thev should do and. he, elected the death that was meted out of… They carried the negro half a after tying him to a stump, stood back while Mr. Rice took deliberate aim and sent a bullet crashing through Hardin’s heart. Immediately following the report Hardin’s head fell forward without so much as a groan, the thongs holding his body up, and instantly the mob began to shoot, firing until every gun was empty. Sheriff Young who is brother of Mrs. Rice was present. He overtook the mob on the road and tried to pursuade them to deliver their prisoner to him, but the crowd was determined to lynch him. Everything was orderly for a mob, and no attempt was made by any one to conceal their identity. The body was left tied to the tree. From the reports of the encounter it seems that Mrs. Rice had a frightful struggle with the negro end that she was rescued from him by the timely arrival of a faithful shepherd dog, which flew at the negro’s throat and pulled him down while his mistress broke loose from his clutches. Once free, Mrs. Rice started on a dead run for a neighbor’s house, screaming loudly for help, the faithful dog bring-up the rear and fighting the negro, who, after a race of 100 yards, gave up the the contest and slunk awav into the bushes. Mrs. Rice’s clothes were torn nearly off of her body, and she received several serious bruises. This is the first crime of its nature ever attempted in this section, and the general community is wrought up over it.


“Cleveland Hardin Confesses.” The North Alabamian (Tuscumbia, AL), March 28, 1907.