Facing Controversy: Struggling with Capital Punishment in North Carolina

20 May 1934: Paul Green to Governor J.C.B. Ehringhaus

In September 1933, Emanuel Bittings (or Biddings), a black tenant farmer and World War I veteran, shot his landlord T.M. Clayton in an argument apparently over Clayton's ordering Bittings to move some tobacco into a packhouse. Bittings testified that he shot Clayton only after Clayton threatened his life and then reached for a pistol. In January 1934, Bittings was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in Roxboro. Later in this letter, Green writes to Governor Ehringhaus, "I am making a plea for clemency for the negro in case he is not granted a new trial....only public sentiment and your executive power can save Biddings from the electric chair." Bittings was executed on September 28, 1934.

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(Image from Paul Green Papers, #3693, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

20 May 1934: Paul Green to Governor J.C.B. Ehringhaus - Page 2

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