17. So Long!
Virginia Christian’s Clemency Application
Virginia Christian was scheduled to be executed on 21 June 1912. On 13 June Governor William Hodges Mann granted a respite to enable her attorneys to file an amended petition for a writ of error to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The court denied the writ. However, Governor Mann granted a second respite on 18 July, one day before the rescheduled execution, in order for Christian to see her spiritual advisors. Governor Mann granted a third respite on 26 July, the Newport News Daily Press reported, after meeting with a committee from the National Federation of Colored Women.
Christian’s clemency file at the Library includes correspondence with Governor Mann from all sides of the case: Edward E. Montague, George W. Fields, J. Thomas Newsome, Charlotte Christian, Lewter F. Hobbs, Virginia Penitentiary Superintendent J.B. Wood, Elizabeth City County Circuit Court Judge Clarence W. Robinson and affidavits from Charlotte and Henry Christian. Also included are the correspondence between Mann and Charles Mears referenced in this chapter and the beginning of Forsaken. Virginia’s case drew national attention and was a cause celebre in the Chicago press. Governor Mann received numerous letters from Chicago requesting clemency for Christian.