Clint Anderson (Execution of)

Clint Anderson was an African American man hanged in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 30, 1878, for the rape of a white woman in Lonoke County, a crime he denied to the end.

On June 15, 1877, Sarah McGinty (also reported as Mrs. McKinstry and Mrs. Maginty) claimed that Clint Anderson, a young man whom the Arkansas Gazette described as “a perfect giant, being six feet seven inches high,” had raped her twice in the woods near Richwood (Lonoke County). According to the Gazette account, Anderson dragged her into the forest “and repeatedly violated her person, his victim being seriously injured by his brutal assaults” before she escaped.

When Anderson was arrested, the newspaper said that he had the “unparalleled effrontery” to demand a trial, and as authorities sought to gather a magistrate for a tribunal he grabbed a gun from an elderly guard and fled.

Governor William Read Miller offered a $500 reward for Anderson’s capture, and he was apprehended in July 1877 in Lafayette County in southwestern Arkansas, where his father lived. He was jailed in Little Rock (Pulaski County) rather than in Lonoke County for his own safety, and a Lonoke County grand jury indicted him for rape. He was granted a change of venue to Little Rock and was tried in early June 1877.

Correspondent “Justice” sent an account of the trial to the Gazette, describing Anderson as “a very giant in physical make. His face is one of the most repulsive we ever looked upon.” “Justice” wrote that McGinty, “a small, compactly made white woman about thirty years old,” was a recent widow with three small children who was looking for work so that the authorities would not take her children away from her. She went to the house of a Mr. and Mrs. Kelley where Anderson was working, and he “learned of her distressed condition and manufactured a lie to decoy her for his fiendish purposes.”

“Justice” wrote that Anderson offered to take McGinty to a Mr. Goodbar, who was looking for a cook. After getting her into the woods, he “commenced his brutish assault” and later “perpetrated another outrage upon her person.” The jury found Anderson guilty of rape “after being out but only a few minutes.” The sentence was death.

Anderson continued to proclaim his innocence, and “the impression was general among those who were familiar with the case that he was not guilty,” even as the Supreme Court of Arkansas upheld his sentence. Appeals were made to Governor Miller to grant him clemency; Miller instead moved his execution date from August 16, 1878, to August 30 because “[Anderson’s] spiritual adviser recommended it, as Clint Anderson has always believed he would be pardoned and consequently has not prepared himself to be hung.”

Anderson “rested well the previous night, and seemed calm and resigned to his fate,” a Gazette reporter wrote. When he was taken to the gallows at 11:20 a.m. on August 30, he “walked with a firm step and showed no signs of faltering” as he joined in a hymn that was being sung. When asked if he had any last words, “his features worked convulsively, and he replied: ‘O, God, I believe not; God bless you all, O, God!’”

He shook hands with the others at the gallows, and at 11:30 “the black cap was drawn over his face, the rope adjusted and the trapdoor sprung, and the soul of the prisoner ‘crossed to the sable shore.’” Anderson was left hanging for twenty-eight minutes before being taken down and sent for burial in Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery sixteen miles from Little Rock.

The Arkansas Gazette printed a lengthy statement from Anderson the next day in which he had corroborated the testimony that he had offered to take McGinty to Goodbar’s, but that “she consented for me to have the use of her person by my promising to give her $8. So it was by her free consent that I did the act.” After walking farther through the woods, he asked her to have sex again, and “she consented without a word,” he wrote, adding that, at his trial, “Mrs. McGinty swore all kinds of false oaths against me, to the effect that I had committed rape on her.”

For additional information:
“City and General Items.” Arkansas Gazette, June 30, 1877, p. 4.

“City and General Items.” Arkansas Gazette, August 3, 1877, p. 4.

“City and General Items.” Arkansas Gazette, August 10, 1878, p. 4.

“City and General Items.” Arkansas Gazette, August 13, 1878, p. 4.

“Clint Anderson.” Arkansas Gazette, June 11, 1878, p. 4.

“A Fiend.” Arkansas Gazette, June 21, 1877, p. 4.

“General and Personal.” Arkansas Gazette, June 9, 1878, p. 4.

“Outraged Law.” Arkansas Gazette, August 31, 1878, p. 4.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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