The Isaiah Fountain Case
Outrage and Jim Crow Justice on Maryland's Eastern Shore
by Joseph Koper
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Pub Date 18 Dec 2022 | Archive Date 18 Feb 2023
Secant Publishing, LLC, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles
The Isaiah Fountain Case: Outrage and Jim Crow Justice on Maryland's Eastern Shore is the first book-length account of a sensational rape case that convulsed Talbot County and made national headlines early in the 20th century.
Isaiah Fountain was a bold and resourceful African American whose struggle to prove his innocence of a White girl’s rape was conducted in the face of lynch mobs, manhunts, outraged citizens, armed troops, media controversies, and questionable legal decisions.
Fountain's attempts to mount a defense within the Jim Crow legal system included two trials and two appeals. When his life was threatened by lynchers, he weighed his options and escaped. When the legal system ultimately condemned him, he escaped a second time. Even after Fountain's execution by hanging, unresolved questions endured, creating still more controversies and surprises.
The story of Isaiah Fountain is told through court documents and hundreds of contemporaneous newspaper articles. The Isaiah Fountain Case documents dubious investigative and judicial actions and raises questions about Isaiah Fountain’s guilt and the Jim Crow legal system that convicted him.
A Note From the Publisher
“Isaiah Fountain, a Black resident of Talbot County, Maryland, narrowly avoided being lynched by a local mob after he was charged in April 1919 with raping a 14-year-old White girl named Bertha Simpson. But the hangman’s noose caught up with him 15 months later, the culmination of an appalling miscarriage of Jim Crow justice on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that made him what [the author] calls the ‘second victim’ of the assault on Simpson….
“This rigorous account clearly shows that Isaiah Fountain suffered a fate he didn’t deserve.”
"This is a well-researched, well-written story of a very important—and ultimately tragic—part of America's past. The story of Isaiah Fountain is a must read, particularly for anyone seeking to learn more about America's difficult past. This century-old story was new to me and I am grateful to Joe Koper for this magnificent book."
—Paul Brandus, Dow Jones/MarketWatch and USA Today columnist and White House correspondent, West Wing Reports
“A well-researched tragic story.”
—John R. Wennersten, author, Maryland's Eastern Shore: A Journey in Time and Place, and professor emeritus of environmental history, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore