Lynching In The United States And Our Literature.

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Matthew CollinsMaria C BowlingEnglish 20124 October 2007Lynching in the United States and Our LiteratureAs a form of racial violence, lynching was fueled by the ideology of white supremacy which developed and flourished in the Reconstruction era South. The prevalence of lynching during this time is also depicted in the writings of both black and white authors, whom tell two different sides for the motivations for this cruel form of vigilante justice.When a group of individuals without legal sanction attempt to do harm to another person, usually with a blatant disregard to the accused guilt, this is what's known as lynching. Lynching came about during the chaotic times of the American Revolution, Col Charles Lynch, a justice of the peace in Virginia, and some of his associates would respond to criminal activity in their area (and the confrontation of Tories) in their own way, coining the term 'Lynch's Law' or 'Lynch Law' (Zangrando).On the American frontier where judcial power was weak and lawlessness seemed to prevail, lynching was viewed by many people as an acceptable form of dealing with criminals. Contrary to this belief though most lynching that occurred during this time was not due to a lack of law enforcement, but motivated by the same politcal and racist agendas as in the reconstruction era South. Crimnals who were alredy in custody of law enforcement were often removed form custody and lynched, often to favor the agenda of a particular class or ethnic group. For example the 'Johnson County War', where disputes over pasture land in Wyoming between large scale ranchers and small scale ranchers was settled when the large land owners (backed by Republican politicians) hired a group of mercenaries to lynch/murder the smaller ranchers (predominatly democrats) on the false pretenses that they were cattle rustlers ("Lynching in the United States").In the post-cival war south, lynchings became a way for white Demacrats to attempt to quell the black and white Republican vote in the South in order to hinder any new legislation that might be passed that would give the newly freed slaves any rights. Lynchings were used to 'sway' voters to vote for a specific candidate and/or deter them from voting in general. Despite these efforts eventually laws benefitting these freed men were passed and lynchings began to focus more on race then on politics. Targets included but weren't limited too; opponents of slavery, cattle rustlers, gamblers, and horse thieves. Many ethnic groups also suffered at the hands of these white supremacist asserting lynch law, the Native Americans, Latinos, Jews, Asian Immigrants, European Immigrants and (mainly) African Americans to name a few. Since minorities at the time could not vote, hold public office, or serve on a jury many high ranking officials felt no obligation to protect their rights or even their lives (Zangrando).In 1867 the Ku Klux Klan was established, and soon after which the number of lynchings...

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