WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn released the following statement about his legislation the House passed today:
“I am very pleased the U.S. House of Representatives today passed H.R. 7230, a bill I sponsored to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 226 West Main Street in Lake City, South Carolina, as the “Postmaster Frazier B. Baker Post Office”. This bill pays a tribute to a true American hero.
“Frazier B. Baker was appointed Postmaster of Effingham, South Carolina in 1892 by President Benjamin Harrison, and in 1897, he was appointed Postmaster of Lake City, South Carolina by President William McKinley.
“After Baker was appointed Postmaster of Lake City, local citizens in the predominantly white community subjected his family to months of hostility. The post office mysteriously burned down, and multiple gunshots were fired at him. Residents filed numerous complaints regarding his performance as postmaster, but federal postal administrators determined the allegations were unsubstantiated.
“After relocating the post office to his family’s home following the previous arson, a lynch mob set fire to it the morning of February 22, 1898. The mob aimed their guns at the home, killing Baker and his two-year-old daughter Julia and injuring his wife and three of his five surviving children. The attack sparked media attention, public uproar, and fundraising efforts on behalf of the Baker family.
“Although the state of South Carolina failed to prosecute the mob, federal prosecutors and postal administrators took on the murder investigation. Thirteen men were arrested and charged with twenty-four criminal counts including “a conspiracy to injure and oppress Frazier B. Baker in the free exercise” of his civil rights. The trial began on April 10, 1899 in Charleston, South Carolina with an all-white jury which acquitted three and deadlocked on the remaining accused. The judge declared a mistrial and federal prosecutors did not reopen the case.
“Justice was never served for Frazier B. Baker and his family. Designating the U.S. Post Office located at 226 West Main Street in Lake City, South Carolina in his honor is a fitting tribute to his memory.
“I thank my colleagues in the South Carolina delegation and the entire House for their unanimous support of this bill to honor this outstanding South Carolinian and great American.”