Thursday, April 08, 2021

Today -100: April 8, 1921: Of peonage murder, gentleman thieves, and Bens-Hur

John Williams, the Georgia plantation owner on trial for the murder of one of 11 black workers, takes the stand as the sole witness for the defense. He is not sworn in, so he can’t be cross-examined. Let me repeat that: he is now sworn in, so he cannot be cross-examined. He blames his black employee Clyde Manning, who has testified against him. Williams says he might have been “technically” guilty of peonage, but so are most Georgia farmers.

E.W. Hornung, the creator of Raffles, the gentleman thief and cricket player, dies at 54. He was married to Arthur Conan Doyle’s sister Constance. Hornung, not Raffles.

German anti-Semitic leader Rudolph Leibus is fined $16 in a Berlin court for offering a reward for the murders of, among others, Albert Einstein.

The film rights to the 1880 novel Ben-Hur are purchased for a record $1 million by Abraham Erlanger, the producer of the stage version, Charles Dillingham,s and Flo Ziegfeld. They plan to shoot in Jerusalem and Syria. However next year they’ll resell the rights to Goldwyn, which will bring out a film version, after a couple of years filming, in 1925.

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