“Gentlemen. I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve. First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies, where I have experimented with some of the newest and still the oldest methods for control of slaves. Ancient Rome’s would envy us if my program is implemented. As our boat sailed south on the James River, named for our illustrious King, whose version of the Bible we Cherish, I saw enough to know that your problem is not unique. While Rome used cords of wood as crosses for standing human bodies along its highways in great numbers, you are here using the tree and the rope on occasions. I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree, a couple miles back. You are not only losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, You suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed. Gentlemen, you know what your problems are; I do not need to elaborate. I am not here to enumerate your problems, I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them. In my bag here, I have a full proof method for controlling your black slaves.”
Does the opening paragraph to this alleged 300 yr old speech sound a little odd? That’s because it is.
Some would have you believe that William Lynch, a British slave-owner and alleged author of the above work, was the most influential figure in creating dissension among slaves. It is believed that William Lynch, having owned slaves in the West Indies, came to America in 1712 to share his insight on more effective methods of slave control. Lynch allegedly stood along the bank of the James River preaching his “fool-proof method” to Virginia slave-owners. He spoke of injecting fear, distrust and envy within each of his slaves to ensure their loyalty. Lynch talked of using attributes such as age, skin color, hair and strength to pit slaves against one another. Lynch encouraged creating an atmosphere thick with tension and competition among slaves to ensure that they would only trust their masters, and not one another.
This same ignorant bunch that refer to the William Lynch speech as fact, would likely lead you to a website that sells human beef and another that touts a pregnant man. In other words, these gullible souls are victims of the broad world of internet hoax and should not be listened to. If in doubt, you must only read the William Lynch speech to understand that an 18th century slave owner would not use such language. In fact, the term fool-proof, which is used so eloquently in William Lynch’s speech, was not even coined until the 20th century.
While most internet hoaxes are usually quite funny and harmless, the William Lynch debacle is not so. America spends entirely too much energy on promoting negative race relations as it is without this William Lynch propaganda. No one can deny that America has an ugly past; we have history books to tell us that. It is just disturbing that some pathetic fool would create such an elaborate tale as the William Lynch speech simply to stir racial tension among a country as vulnerable as ours. It is even more disturbing that so many people would accept it as fact, to include Louis Farrakhan, touting Lynch as being the motivation behind the term “lynched” and finding him responsible for competition between lighter and darker-skinned blacks. The fact that the William Lynch speech was so inconsistent and clearly a hoax, yet widely accepted as fact, is depressing testament to how eager many in this country are to find another reason to fuel the futile battle against a past we simply cannot change.