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Lynching Beyond Dixie

Lynching Beyond Dixie: American Mob Violence Outside the South

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Lynching Beyond Dixie
    Book Description:

    In recent decades, scholars have explored much of the history of mob violence in the American South, especially in the years after Reconstruction. However, the lynching violence that occurred in American regions outside the South, where hundreds of persons, including Hispanics, whites, African Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans died at the hands of lynch mobs, has received less attention. This collection of essays by prominent and rising scholars fills this gap by illuminating the factors that distinguished lynching in the West, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic. The volume adds to a more comprehensive history of American lynching and will be of interest to all readers interested in the history of violence across the varied regions of the United States. Contributors are Jack S. Blocker Jr., Brent M. S. Campney, William D. Carrigan, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, Dennis B. Downey, Larry R. Gerlach, Kimberley Mangun, Helen McLure, Michael J. Pfeifer, Christopher Waldrep, Clive Webb, and Dena Lynn Winslow.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09465-1
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In the last years of the nineteenth century and first years of the twentieth century, it sometimes seemed that lynchers had seized control of American life. In September 1897 theNew York Timeslamented, as it often did in these years with abundant examples drawn from its news columns, the American propensity to lynch. Rejecting the views of a letter writer from Georgia who thought the main objection to mob violence was the possibility that the innocent might die along with the guilty, theTimescountered that the real danger of lynching was “that lynchers take the law into their...


    • 1 “Who Dares to Style This Female a Woman?”: Lynching, Gender, and Culture in the Nineteenth-Century U.S. West
      (pp. 21-53)

      The iconic image of a lynching in the nineteenth-century western United States is probably a white man dangling from a tree limb, summarily executed by a group of other white men because of his alleged theft of horses or cattle. Women and children are usually nowhere to be found in this primal scene of masculine frontier justice, either as victims or participants. Western scholarship and popular mythology generally have agreed that women, especially white women, virtually never died at the hands of lynch mobs. However, many more of these cases occurred than has previously been understood, and the victims were...

    • 2 The Popular Sources of Political Authority in 1856 San Francisco: Lynching, Vigilance, and the Difference between Politics and Constitutionalism
      (pp. 54-80)

      Lynching in both the West and the South articulated a question central to American thought in the nineteenth century, if not throughout the entire American experience. Should—or could—abstract principles of justice trump majority will? Throughout their history Americans organized crowds, or mobs, to achieve a wide variety of goals, including crime control. A crowd may not represent a true majority, but the people in the crowd, feeling empowered by their numbers, can imagine themselves the genuine voice of the people.

      The most spectacular western lynching episode came in 1856 when San Francisco residents organized a Vigilance Committee to...

    • 3 “Light Is Bursting upon the World!”: White Supremacy and Racist Violence against Blacks in Reconstruction Kansas
      (pp. 81-109)

      “The everlasting ‘nigger’ has stepped in to mar the pleasure of the weekly drills of the militia,” reported theSmoky Hill and Republican Unionin a sarcastic report of events in Clay County, Kansas, in the fall of 1863. An advocate for black rights, theUniontook umbrage with the anger expressed by whites when blacks joined the county militia. It also condemned the refusal of some militiamen to participate in integrated exercises. “What a dirty, low, mean, contemptible, miserable, disgusting prejudice this is!” Most disgusting, it concluded, was that these same whites would impose the harshest penalty on any...

    • 4 The Rise and Fall of Mob Violence against Mexicans in Arizona, 1859–1915
      (pp. 110-131)

      On April 19, 1915, in a mountain gulch near Greaterville in Pima County, Arizona, Anglo deputies Robert Fenter and Frank Moore hanged and killed two alleged Mexican outlaws named José and Hilario Leon.¹ The deaths of the Leon brothers were tragic but not unusual. For decades, Mexicans in the American Southwest had lived with the threat of extralegal violence, often carried out by or with the approval of local authorities.

      While the murder of the Leon brothers had its clear precedents, what is most unusual is what occurred after their hanging, a reaction unprecedented in Arizona history and indeed in...

    • 5 Making Utah History: Press Coverage of the Robert Marshall Lynching, June 1925
      (pp. 132-162)

      Lynching claimed thousands of victims across the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Many of these individuals, as graphically depicted inWithout Sanctuary, were African American men who lived in southern states.¹ Memphis journalist Ida B. Wells was the first to identify the underlying causes of lynching. In three long investigative pamphlets published between 1892 and 1900, she discussed how allegations of rape obscured the real reason behind the killings of black men: white rage over economic advances among a rising black middle class.² Lynching has received considerable scholarly and popular attention since Wells’s groundbreaking work. Most scholarship...


    • 6 “The cry of the Negro should not be remember the Maine, but remember the hanging of Bush”: African American Responses to Lynching in Decatur, Illinois, 1893
      (pp. 165-189)

      Private collective violence against Blacks has manifested itself in three dominant forms in U.S. history: lynching, race riots, and hate crimes.¹ Scholars have documented more than three thousand lynchings, hundreds of race riots, and tens of thousands of hate crimes. Racial terrorism has shifted over time with specific forms dominating during different historical periods. Racially motivated terrorism probably began with the transition to enslavement during the 1640s; yet, since the concept’s advent in the 1980s, hate crimes have characterized racial terrorism. During slavery, few Blacks were lynched, but after Emancipation, the number of Black victims soared, though scholars have only...

    • 7 Race, Sex, and Riot: The Springfield, Ohio, Race Riots of 1904 and 1906 and the Sources of Antiblack Violence in the Lower Midwest
      (pp. 190-210)

      On March 7, 1904, a mob broke into Springfield, Ohio’s decrepit city jail, easily overcame feeble resistance, and seized and lynched an itinerant Kentuckian, African American Richard Dixon. Dixon had been jailed for the fatal shooting of a police officer who was attempting to arrest Dixon for assaulting his common-law wife. The lynching took place in the evening, but despite the fact that the mob had been gathering before the jail all day the local authorities did not call for military support. Nor did they do so on the following day, believing the violence to be over. The mob reassembled...

    • 8 Lynching in Late-Nineteenth-Century Michigan
      (pp. 211-226)

      Michigan saw less lynching than the neighboring upper-midwestern states of Wisconsin and Minnesota and the adjoining lower-midwestern states of Ohio and Indiana. Lynchers claimed approximately seven victims in the history of Michigan but took the lives of seventeen in Wisconsin, twenty-two in Minnesota, twenty-eight in Ohio, and sixty-six in Indiana (see Appendix, “Lynchings in the Northeast, Midwest, and West”). The relative infrequency of lynching in Michigan was due to the Wolverine State’s somewhat earlier white settlement in the 1820s and 1830s, slightly before a prolonged culture conflict between “rough justice” and “due process” sentiments flared across extensive parts of the...


    • 9 “They Lynched Jim Cullen”: Story and Myth on the Northern Maine Frontier
      (pp. 229-236)

      In spring 1873 James Cullen, possibly the only lynching victim in New England’s history, swung into eternity at the hands of a mob in Mapleton, Maine. Few events in the history of northern Maine can match this story in sheer drama. Generations of Aroostook County and New Brunswick old-timers kept this tale alive by recounting it to fascinated listeners. Cullen’s lynching and the subsequent oral tradition of life and death on the Maine frontier provide a window into the cultural identity of the northeast borderland region.

      Lynching seems to be as characteristically American as baseball and apple pie. Stories, jokes,...

    • 10 The “Delaware Horror”: Two Ministers, a Lynching, and the Crisis of Democracy
      (pp. 237-260)

      On Sunday evening, June 21, 1903, 3,000 people gathered at the corner of Broome and Fourth Streets in downtown Wilmington, Delaware, to hear the curbside homily of Rev. Robert Elwood, the pastor of Olivet Presbyterian Church. In one sense, there was nothing unusual about the setting; as was his custom, Rev. Elwood routinely preached out of doors on Sunday evening. But in every other sense this was an extraordinary moment, not only because of the unusually large crowd but because of the sermon’s subject matter.¹ The events that followed crystallized the alarming character of racial lynching in America and its...

  8. Appendix: Lynchings in the Northeast, Midwest, and West
    (pp. 261-318)
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 319-322)
  10. Index
    (pp. 323-325)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 326-327)