Throughout the late 19th cen­tu­ry racial ten­sion grew through­out the United States. More of this ten­sion was notice­able in the Southern parts of the United States. In the south, peo­ple were blam­ing their finan­cial prob­lems on the new­ly freed slaves that lived around them. Lynchings were becom­ing a pop­u­lar way of resolv­ing some of the anger that whites had in rela­tion to the free blacks.

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Whenever you won­der about the hatred and dis­in­ter­est which exist as black peo­ple are mur­dered today, look at these mon­sters at this lynch­ing

From 1882 – 1968, 4,743 lynch­ings occurred in the United States. Of these peo­ple that were lynched 3,446 were black. The blacks lynched account­ed for 72.7% of the peo­ple lynched. These num­bers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynch­ings were ever record­ed. Out of the 4,743 peo­ple lynched only 1,297 white peo­ple were lynched. That is only 27.3%. Many of the whites lynched were lynched for help­ing the black or being anti lynch­ing and even for domes­tic crimes.

Was lynch­ing nec­es­sary? To many peo­ple, it was not, but to the whites, in the late 19th cen­tu­ry it served a pur­pose. Whites start­ed lynch­ing because they felt it was nec­es­sary to pro­tect white women. Rape though, was not a great fac­tor in the rea­son­ing behind the lynch­ing. It was the third great­est cause of lynch­ings behind homi­cides and ‘all oth­er caus­es’.

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A typ­i­cal lynch­ing and burn­ing

Most of the lynch­ings that took place hap­pened in the South. A big rea­son for this was the end of the Civil War. Once blacks were giv­en their free­dom, many peo­ple felt that the freed blacks were get­ting away with too much free­dom and felt they need­ed to be con­trolled. Mississippi had the high­est lynch­ings from 1882 – 1968 with 581. Georgia was sec­ond with 531, and Texas was third with 493. 79% of lynch­ing hap­pened in the South.

Of the lynch­ing that did not take place in the South, main­ly in the West, were nor­mal­ly lynch­ings of whites, not blacks. Most of the lynch­ing in the West came from the lynch­ing of either mur­ders or cat­tle thieves. There real­ly was no polit­i­cal link to the lynch­ing of blacks in the South, and whites in the West.

Not all states did lynch peo­ple. Some states did not lynch a white or a black per­son. Alaska, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut were these few states that had no lynch­ings between 1882 – 1968.

Although some states did have lynch­ings, some of them did not lynch any blacks. Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin were some states that did not lynch any blacks to record.

Quite a few states did, in fact, lynch more white peo­ple than black. In the West, these greater num­ber of white lynch­ings was due to polit­i­cal rea­sons, not racial rea­sons. California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming lynched more whites than blacks.

It’s sad to think that we look at oth­er coun­tries and deem them immoral for killing their own peo­ple, but we over­look the fact of what hap­pened in the late 1890s to the late 1960s. This is some­thing that we can­not over­look and do not need to try to over­look it.

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MAY 19, 1918

Walter White was sent by the NAACP to inves­ti­gate lynch­ings in Brooks- Lowndes County, Georgia. The lynch­ing of Mary Turner was one of the inves­ti­ga­tions. Abusive plan­ta­tion own­er, Hampton Smith, was shot and killed.
A week-long man­hunt result­ed in the killing of the hus­band of Mary Turner, Hayes Turner.
Mary Turner denied that her hus­band had been involved in Smith’s killing, pub­licly opposed her husband’s mur­der, and threat­ened to have mem­bers of the mob arrest­ed.
On May 19th, a mob of sev­er­al hun­dred brought her to Folsom Bridge which sep­a­rates Brooks and Lowndes coun­ties in Georgia. The mob tied her ankles, hung her upside down from a tree, doused her in gaso­line and motor oil and set her on fire.
Turner was still alive when a mem­ber of the mob split her abdomen open with a knife and her unborn child fell on the ground. The baby was stomped and crushed as it fell to the ground. Turner’s body was rid­dled with hun­dreds of bul­lets.

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Black vet­er­ans were tar­get­ed and lynched


Walter White, The Crisis, May 1918

(Of fair skin and with straight hair, Walter White, assis­tant sec­re­tary for the NAACP, used his appear­ance to increase his effec­tive­ness in con­duct­ing inves­ti­ga­tions of lynch­ings and race riots in the South. He could “pass” and talk to whites, but iden­ti­fied as Black and could talk to mem­bers of the African American com­mu­ni­ty. Through 1927 White would inves­ti­gate 41 lynch­ings.)

Jesse McIlherron was pros­per­ous in a small way. He was a Negro who resent­ed the slights and insults of white men. He went armed and the sher­iff feared him. On February 8, he got into a quar­rel with three young white men who insult­ed him. Threats were made and McIlherron fired six shots, killing two of the men.

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He fled to the home of a col­ored cler­gy­man who aid­ed him to escape, and was after­ward shot and killed by a mob. McIlherron was cap­tured and full arrange­ments were made for a lynch­ing. Men, women, and chil­dren start­ed into the town of Estill Springs from a radius of fifty miles. A spot was cho­sen for the burn­ing. McIlherron was chained to a hick­o­ry tree while the mob howled about him. A fire was built a few feet away and the tor­ture began. Bars of iron was heat­ed and the mob amused itself by putting them close to the vic­tim, at first with­out touch­ing him. One bar he grasped and as it was jerked from his grasp all the inside of his hand came with it. Then the real tor­tur­ing began, last­ing twen­ty min­utes.

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During that time, while his flesh was slow­ly roast­ing, the Negro nev­er lost nerve. He cursed those who tor­tured him and almost to the last breath derid­ed the attempts of the mob to break his spir­it. https://​www​.naacp​.org/​h​i​s​t​o​r​y​-​o​f​-​l​y​n​c​h​i​n​gs/