Lynching in the United States

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In the case of lynching, discourses emerge from heated debates about the meaning of the practice; these debates change over the long history of lynching in America. At different times in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the term “lynching” has implied rather different historical acts amongst the community. It has also been used to specify acts that indicated a wide range of distinct motives, strategies, technologies and meanings, as well as a politically encumbered term. For many African Americans who grew up in the South in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the threat of lynching was mundane. Photographs and postcards illustrating the popular image of an angry white mob hanging a black man does not give the full historic…show more content…
White southerners drew on prewar precedents from the vigilante movements with which landed whites had suppressed landless whites, the brutal suppression of slave revolts and the relatively rare ferocious mob punishment of an alleged rape or murder by a slave.
From the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, lynchings were thouroughly rooted in social measures; communities carried out most of the mob killings. Class, ethnicity, and culture all contributed to the inclination for lynching. The motivations behind lynchings are different in the ways in which they used violence to render “the understandings of race, social class, sexuality and gender in crime and punishment.” Most private mobs carried out lynchings to bring about division in the community view and leaned towards killing their victims that were detained in the custody of legal authorities. Small mobs utilized careful planning and leaned to delay their vigilantism for some time after the commission of the supposed crime they were punishing. One way of rationalizing it would be to say that some people regarded the execution of these mobs as holding up the values of the community
Over the course of lynching’s history, these mobs changed in size and strategies. Based on the level of organization, historian John Ross recognized three primary groups of lynch mobs: “those deriving from
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