Berg 2011 Justice

Title Information

Author: Manfred Berg

Title: Popular Justice

Subtitle: A History of Lynching in America

Place: Chicago

Publisher: Ivan R. Dee

Year: 2011

Pages: 232pp.

Series: The American Ways Series

ISBN-13: 9781566638029 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781566639200 (ebk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: German

Keywords: 19th Century, 20th Century | U.S. History | Offenders: Punishments / Lynching

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Additional Information

Author: Manfred Berg, Historisches Seminar, Universität HeidelbergWikipedia


  Preface (p. ix)
  1 The Roots of Lynching in Colonial and Revolutionary North America (p. 3)
    Criminal justice and the death penalty in colonial North America and early modern Europe. The death penalty as a communal ritual of retribution. The punishment of slaves. Slavery's legacy for the history of lynching. The Paxton Massacre. The Regulator Movement. Mobs as instruments of law enforcement. Mob action in the American Revolution. Colonel Lynch of Virginia in the War of Independence.
  2 The Rise of Lynch Law in Antebellum America (p. 23)
    The 1830s of mob violence. Modernization in the antebellum era. Jacksonian democracy. The lynching of the Vicksburg gamblers. Southern honor and violence. The rise of militant pro-slavery. Anti-abolitionist mob violence. Insurrection panics. Slavery, rape, and criminal justice in the South. The lynching of alleged black Criminals. Anti-slavery violence in the North.
  3 Frontier Justice (p. 45)
    The frontier theory of lynching. Vigilante justice in the early nineteenth century. Violence and vigilantism in the trans-Mississippi West. Anti-Mexican violence during the California Gold Rush. The 1851 and 1856 San Francisco vigilange committees. Lynching in the Rocky Mountains region. The Colorado people's court. The lynching of cattle rustlers. Public approval of frontier justice. Hubert Bancroft's Popular Tribunals.
  4 Lynching, Riots, and Political Terror in the Civil War Years (p. 69)
    The New York draft riots. The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas. The weakening of slavery during the Civil War. The lynching of Saxe Joiner. Southern white feary after emancipation. Race and Reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan. Rape and racism. Northern reactions to Klan terrorism. Redemption. The cultural legacy of Reconstruction mob violence.
  5 "Indescribable Barbarism": The Lynching of African Americans in the Age of Jim Crow (p. 90)
    The lynching of Henry Smith in Paris, Texas. Lynch law as racist terrorism in the Jim Crow South. Populism. The rape myth. Lynching as punishment for black-on-white murder. Planter paternalism. The lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas. Elite participants in lynch mobs. White women as perpetrators and apologists. Black women as lynch victims. The lynching of blacks in the North. Black resistance and self-defense. Black-on-black lynchings.
  6 Popular Justice Beyond Black and White (p. 117)
    The lynching of Mexicans. Native Americans as lynch victims. Mob violence against Chinese immigrants. The lynching of Italians. The Leo Frank affair. The lynching of Robert Prager. Popular justice against white criminals. White women as lynch victims. The 1933 dual lynching in San Jose, California.
  7 The Struggle Against Lynching (p. 144)
    Lynching declines in the early twentieth century. The Claude Neal lynching. African Americans organize. Southern white opposition to lynch law. The scientific study of Lynching. Shaming the American people. The quest for anti-lynching legislation. Southern sheriffs and the prevention of lynching. The death penalty as a substitute for lynching. Legal lynchings.
  8 From Lynching to Hate Crime (p. 165)
    Lynching goes underground. Racial change in the World War II years. The quadruple slaying in Monroe, Georgia. The lynching of Willie Earle. The Emmett Till case. The lynching of Charles "Mack" Parker. Racist terrorism against civil rights workers. The murder of Michael Donald. Hate crime legislation. Lynching as metaphor.
  9 Lynching in American Memory and Culture (p. 186)
    The 2005 Senate apology. "Without Sanctuary." Compensation for victims of racial violence. Reopening criminal investigations. The fragmented memory of lynching. Holocaust analogy. The death penalty as a legacy of lynching. The endurance of the vigilante tradition.
  A Note on Sources (p. 199)
  Index (p. 207)
  About the Author (p. 213)


Lynching has often been called "America's national crime" that has defined the tradition of extralegal violence in America. Having claimed many thousand victims, "Judge Lynch" holds a firm place in the dark recesses of our national memory.
In Popular Justice, Manfred Berg explores the history of lynching from the colonial era to the present. American lynch law, he argues, has rested on three pillars: the frontier experience, racism, and the anti-authoritarian spirit of grassroots democracy. Berg looks beyond the familiar story of mob violence against African American victims, who comprised the majority of lynch targets, to include violence targeting other victim groups, such as Mexicans and the Chinese, as well as many of those cases in which race did not play a role. As he nears the modern era, he focuses on the societal changes that ended lynching as a public spectacle.
Berg's narrative concludes with an examination of lynching's legacy in American culture. From the colonial era and the American Revolution up to the twenty-first century, lynching has been a part of our nation's history. Manfred Berg provides us with the first comprehensive overview of "popular justice."« (Source: Ivan R. Dee)

Translation: Berg, Manfred. Lynchjustiz in den USA. Hamburg 2014.

Wikipedia: Lynching: Lynching in the United States

Added: October 4, 2014 – Last updated: October 4, 2014