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Lynching. in. America. Robbie G. Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY. What were the primary motivations behind in the early half of the 20 th century?. lynching. 90% of the victims were Southern 73% of the victims were black 27% of the victims were white.

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slide1

Lynching

in

America

Robbie G. Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, NY.

slide2

What were the primary motivations behind in the early half of the 20th century?

lynching

slide3
90% of the victims were Southern

73% of the victims were black

27% of the victims were white

According to the Tuskegee Institute,4,742 lynchingsoccurred between 1882-1968.

slide4

Perspectives…

“…it is impossible for a Negro accused of a crime, or even suspected of a crime, to escape a white man's vengeance or his justice.”(Editorial in The Charleston (1918) )

“Easy people imagine that, having hanged a Negro, the mob goes quietly about its business; but that is never the way of the mob. Once released, the spirit of anarchy spreads and spreads, not subsiding until it has accomplished its full measure of evil. “ (Ray Stannard Baker, What is a Lynching?, McClure’s Magazine. (February, 1905) )

“When his own suffering was more than he could stand, he could live only by witnessing the suffering of others.” (Erskine Caldwell, You Have Seen Their Faces (1937))

“When the Negro's corpse fell, the pieces of rope were hotly contended for.” (Vicksburg Evening Post (4th May, 1919) )

Six out of ten people in the South thought lynchings were justified in cases of sexual assault

“mobocratic spirit” Abraham Lincoln

slide5

What is Lynching?

  • Nonlethal punishment- tar and feathering
  • Execution by a mob of one individual who committed crimes/broke unwritten social laws
  • Five or more persons taking the law into their own hands
  • Mob assemblage without legal right acting to kill or injure people, depriving them the right to due process or equal protection
  • Expression of the community’s will
    • tacit compliance with lynching= participation
lynching took the place of the merry go round the theatre symphony orchestra h l mencken
Lynching took the place of “the merry-go-round, the theatre, symphony orchestra” (H.L. Mencken)

For which crime was someone lynched?

  • For illegal crimes, such as murder, rape, or theft
  • But also, people were lynched for insulting a white person, buying a car…
  • Or even, especially if it was a black lynching, for no crime at all. Just to remind blacks to stay in their place.
origins of lynching
American frontier mentality

Needed to take due process in their own hands

Revolutionary era- popular sovereignty is won after long, vicious battle

“enshrined” privilege in American life

*localism*

*instrumentalism*

Origins of Lynching
lynch law and early forms of lynching
Charles Lynch established informal courts to try horse thieves, suspected Tories tied convicted to trees and gave them multiple lashes

Lynch was tried in Virginia court but it was declared that the “Lynch Law” had been appropriate because of the hysterical conditions of war

Early 19th century: “The Regulators” (White Caps) - bands of citizens who punished criminals nonlethally (tar + feathering)

Vigilance committees

1835 lynching slave revolts needed to be repressed “patrollers”- armed committees of planters/thugs to restrict slave movement/meetings 1880s- KKK began“night-riding”

Lynch Law and Early Forms of Lynching
why did the community approve of lynchings
Lynching became a fast alternative to due process outcome is the same as a trial, simply expedited

Bonds within the community are strengthened

Exciting, spontaneous activity with the entire town

Criminals were getting what they deserved

The greater (white) community, especially white women, needs to be protected, despite some minor brutality

Why Did the Community Approve of Lynchings?
world war i
American concerns over WWI in Europe impeded the social reform characterized of the late 19th century

After the Treaty of Versailles concluded the war, Americans became extremely disillusioned with international relations

New conservatism

Anti-immigrants

Rise of KKK (Atlanta)---> millions of members by 1920

World War I

Birth of a Nation (1915)

slide11

Lynching of John Carter

Spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington (1916)

“Look first at Stacy, then turn to the little girl in the summer dress, looking at Stacy, and then to the man behind her, perhaps her father, in the spotless white shirt and slacks and the clean white skimmer. They will stand there forever, admiring the proof of their civilization.” (Roger Rosenblatt, Confronting the Past (17th February, 2000) )

our town how lynching is reflected through family history
Our Town:How Lynching is Reflected through Family History

In Our Town, Cynthia Carr describes her own investigations in her family’s dark past, one OF which she was not aware until recently. As she discovers the implications of her grandfather’s involvement in the Ku Klux Klan, and especially in the Marion lynchings of 1930, she realizes the tacit compliance of her father, and thousands of other observers in Marion, Indiana. After speaking with James Cameron, a survivor of the Marion lynchings, she amounts to the shameful nature of her family’s story. In addition to her efforts to solve her grandfather’s mystery, Carr explores the observers of the lynching in Beitler’s photograph. Some seem to be on a date, some seem angry, some seem enthralled by the prospect of a lynching, and some seem to be passively watching the hanging of two innocent men, Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp. Even thought the Marion spectators might not be throwing rocks or tying the noose, every word, or every second that they watch, they are in some way participating in the utmost injustice.

the lynching of leo frank 1913
The Lynching of Leo Frank (1913)

“The lynching of Leo Frank was a damnable outrage. There was no excuse, no mitigating circumstances to justify the actions of the Georgia mob. An action like that makes a decent man sick.” (Pres. William Howard Taft)

  • Response of Atlanta’s Jews mirrored response of black communities to black lynchings
    • Became Introverted
    • Immersed themselves with other Gentiles
      • Rabbi Marx thought it was better to assimilate, forbid singing of Hatikvah (reformed the Jewish temple)
the anti lynching campaign
“No torture of helpless victims by heathen savages or cruel red Indians ever exceeded the cold-blooded savagery of white devils under lynch law. This was done by white men who controlled all the forces of law and order in their communities and who could have legally punished rapists and murderers, especially black men who had neither political power nor financial strength with which to evade any justly deserved fate…the Southerner ha[s] never gotten over his resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income.” (Crusade for Justice, 1928)The Anti-Lynching Campaign

Ida B. Wells

efforts of the naacp
Efforts of the NAACP
  • Founded in 1909
  • Main Platform:
  • Blacks have been denied of their natural rights
  • Action must be taken against this injustice
  • Lynching is not the most efficient way to instill justice in a community; there are more expedient forms of judgment
  • State governments are unwilling to prevent lynch mobs from striking (inspired by comments from Theodore Bilbo, MI governor in 1919)
anti lynching legislation
Dyer Bill (1921) Provisions:

Lynching: “murder of a U.S. citizen by a mob of 3+ people

Sheriff/official who fails to protect prisoner is guilt of felony

U.S. government can prosecute lynchers if state government does not

County in which lynching occurs must pay $10,000 to victim’s family

Passed in H.O.R./Filibuster in Senate

Anti-Lynching Legislation
anti lynching legislation1
Wagner-Costigan Bill (1934) Provisions:

mob: 3+ persons

State officer’s neglect--->5 yr prison sentence and $5,000 fine

Conspirators-->5-25 yr prison sentence

County where lynching occurs: $2,000-$10,000 fine (to family, or to federal government if there is no family)

To prove that summary execution does not save the public money

Does not openly condemn lynching- criminalizes negligence by officials

Was also defeated by Southern Senators in a filibuster

Anti-Lynching Legislation
anti lynching legislation2
Wagner-Van Nuys Bill + Gavagan Bill (1937)

Pro-legislation senators willing to protest the filibuster, but faced strong dissent from Southern senators

FDR decided not to speak out against the filibuster

The anti-lynching movement had seventy senators and therefore, had the opportunity to challenge the filibuster and force a vote. But not all seventy were willing to challenge FDR’s decision nor stir resentment in Southern senators because of their control over several committees

Anti-Lynching Legislation
presidential reactions to lynching
“loosening of the bonds of civilization”black man’s runaway sexual appetiteeducated blacks could help eliminate the practice of lynching if they turned in fellow colored criminals to the state

Teddy Roosevelt

Any American “who takes part in the action of a mob…is no true son of this great democracy, but its betrayer”

Woodrow Wilson, as motivated by the NAACP

Lynching is a “very sore spot on our boast of civilization”

Congress ought to wipe the stain of barbaric lynching from the banners of a free and orderly, representative democracy” (1921)

Warren Harding

Presidential Reactions to Lynching
slide21

Strange Fruit, (1939), written by Abel Meeropol

John Carter, a mentally retarded black man lynched in Little Rock, AK.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Billie Holiday, performing live

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop,Here is a strange

Observers of the lynching of Thomas Shipp, Abram Smith, and James Cameron in Marion, Indiana.

At 7:00 in the evening, May 4, 1927, they dragged Carter's body from City Hall down Broadway to the intersection of 9th and Broadway...and they set a huge bonfire in the middle of the streetcar tracks at that intersection and burnt Carter's body and one of the arms was ripped off and used to direct traffic."

and bitter

crop.

strange fruit and billie holiday
Billie was singing to herself- as if she was being lynched herself

Lynching of the spirit

“Strange Fruit” was an opportunity to put into words what so many people had seen and lived through

“resigned bitterness” (Benny Green)

Larger impact on white liberals (in North) than the impact among black intelligentsia (Albert Murrows)

Black Response

Blacks as victims (did not approve)

Feared the song would start new tensions

Held “Strange Fruit” as sacred

“Strange Fruit” and Billie Holiday
the murder of emmett till 1955
August, 1955, a fourteen year old boy visiting his cousin in Money, Mississippi had whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant in a grocery store. Emmett Till was murdered, lynched, by two white men, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, that evening.

Despite their arrests, the two men were eventually acquitted by an all white jury.

New developments in 2004 allowed for the trial to be reopened, based on new evidence that suggested more people may have been involved.

The Murder of Emmett Till (1955)
slide25

Modern Definition of Lynching & Hate Crimes

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (1994)Hate Crimes Act (2000)

"Hate crimes do more than threaten the safety and welfare of all citizens. They inflict on victims incalculable physical and emotional damage and tear at the very fabric of free society. Crimes motivated by invidious hatred toward particular groups not only harm individual victims but send a powerful message of intolerance and discrimination to all members of the group to which the victim belongs. Hate crimes can and do intimidate and disrupt entire communities… In a democratic society, citizens cannot be required to approve of the beliefs and practices of others, but must never commit criminal acts on account of them.”

matthew shepard laramie wyoming october 7 1998
Matthew ShepardLaramie, Wyoming October 7, 1998

Shepard never regained consciousness after the severe lacerations on which surgeons couldn’t operate, and the brain stem damage which he suffered.Henderson and McKinley claimed the “gay-panic defense”.

Matthew Shepard, homosexual student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally killed by two Laramie citizens, Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinley.

President Clinton was motivated by the innocent lynching of Matthew Shepard to pass hate crime legislation that included bias about sexual orientation. His efforts were refuted in Congress, however.

Tacit compliance is participation.

slide27

“Hate Crime” IncidentsVictim Type by Bias Motivation, 2004

1In a multiple-bias incident two conditions must be met: 1) more than one offense type must occur in the incident and 2) at least two offense types must be motivated by different biases.

slide28

On Monday, June 12, 2005, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution apologizing for not enacting anti-lynching legislation.

“It’s a resolution, not a law… I'm afraid we still can't say with certainty that the last lynching has occurred.” (Nell Irvin Painter, Professor of American History at Princeton University)

The Senate "expresses the deepest sympathies and most solemn regrets of the Senate to the descendants of victims of lynching, the ancestors of whom were deprived of life, human dignity and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States."

works cited
Works Cited

Allen, James. Without Sanctuary Lynching Photography in America. Santa Fe, N.M: Twin Palms, 2000.

Beitler, Lawrence. 1930. Marion, Indiana. 29 May 2006 <http://members.aol.com/Wdwylie4/Thomas-Shipp-Abram-Smith-8-7-1930-Marion-IN-1.jpg>.

Blumenthal, Ralph. "Fresh Outrage in Waco At Grisly Lynching of 1916." New York Times 1 May 2005. EBSCO. EDWARD J. HART LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER, Chappaqua, NY. 06 Jan. 2006.

Carr, Cynthia. Our Town. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 2006.

Chadbourn, James Harmon. Lynching and the Law. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina P, 1933.

Dawe, P. The Bostonians Paying the Excise Man. 1774. Wikipedia. 01 June 2006 <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3c/Tarfeather.jpg>.

Digital image. [Billie Holiday]. 25 May 2006 <http://usuarios.lycos.es/vioneto/BILLIE%20HOLIDAY.jpg>.

Digital image. [Birth of A Nation]. 1915. 08 June 2006 <http://www.cinematicreflections.com/birthgriffith3.jpg>.

Digital image. [Emmett Till]. 4 June 2006 <http://www.africanamericans.com/images2/EmmettTilllg.jpg>.

Digital image. [Fence]. 1998. 03 June 2006 <http://www.champaignschools.org/central/laramie/31_bucky.JPG>.

Digital image. [Ida B. Wells]. 03 June 2006 <http://www.harlemlive.org/community/peeps/Ida_B_Wells/Wells%20portrait.jpg>.

Digital image. [John Carter]. 28 May 2006 <http://www.cals.lib.ar.us/butlercenter/abho/photos/lynching%20John%20Carter.jpg>.

Digital image. [Lynching of Leo Frank]. 1915. Library of Congress. 03 June 2006 <http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/haventohome/images/hh0129s.jpg>.

Digital image. [noose]. 02 June 2006 <http://gallery.hd.org/_exhibits/maths/knot-hangmans-noose-black-backdrop-orange-nylon-rope-1-AJHD.jpg>.

Digital image. [Spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington, one ma raised for a better view]. 1916. 04 June 2006 <http://www.withoutsanctuary.org/pics_21.html>.

Digital image. [The lynching of Rubin Stacy. Onlookers, including four young girls]. 1935. 04 June 2006 <http://www.withoutsanctuary.org/pics_51.html>.

Digital image. [The lynching of Virgil Jones, Robert Jones, Thomas Jones, and Joseph Riley, warning note. Black onlookers.]. 1908. 02 June 2006 <http://www.withoutsanctuary.org/pics_64.html>.

Dray, Philip. At the Hands of Persons Unknown. 1st ed. Toronto: Random House, 2002.

"Hate Crime Statistics 2004." Federal Bureau of Investigation. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 8 June 2006 <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/section1.htm>.

Holiday, Billie. "Strange Fruit." By Abel Meeropol. Rec. 1939.

Korosec, Thomas. "'Waco Horror' Won't 'Stay Hushed'" Houston Chronicle 30 Apr. 2005, 3 STAR ed., sec. A: 1. EBSCO. EDWARD J. HART LIBRARY MEDIA CENTER, Chappaqua, NY. 01 June 2006.

"Lynching by Year and by Race (1882-1968)." Classroom: the Charles Chesnutt Digital Archive. Tuskegee Institute. 8 June 2006 <http://faculty.berea.edu/browners/chesnutt/classroom/lynching_table_year.html>.

"Lynching in America." Court TV: Crime Library. 2005. Courtroom Television Network, LLC. 06 June 2006 <http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/mass/lynching/press_3.html>.

"Lynching." Spartacus. 05 June 2006 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlynching.htm>.

Margolick, David. Strange Fruit Billie Holiday, Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights. Philadelphia: Running P, 2000.

Oney, Steve. And the Dead Shall Rise the Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003.

Pearson, Andy. "The Racial Divide in Arkansas." Today's THV KTHV Little Rock. 26 Feb. 2004. KTHV and KTHV-DT, Little Rock. 06 June 2006 <http://www.kthv.com/printfullstory.aspx?storyid=8812>.

"Senate Apologizes for Not Enacting Anti-Lynching Legislation." Democracy Now! 14 June 2005. 3 June 2006 <http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/14/1350253>.

Steelwater, Eliza. The Hangman's Knot; Lynching, Legal Execution, and America's Struggle with the Death Penalty. 1st ed. Boulder, Colorado: Westview P, 2003.

Till-Mobley, Mamie, and Chris Benson. Death of Innocence. 1st Ed. ed. New York: Random House, 2003.

"Victim Type by Bias Motivation." Chart. FBI Hate Crime Statistics 2004. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 02 June 2006 <http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2004/hctable8.htm>.