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The Roots of Rough JusticeOrigins of American Lynching$
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Michael J. Pfeifer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036132

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036132.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Roots of Rough Justice

Michael J. Pfeifer

University of Illinois Press

This introductory chapter discusses the gaps in current American lynching historiography, noting that, while several recent studies of lynching have enhanced our understanding of the history of the rhetoric surrounding the term lynching, they have only peripherally addressed the very real practices of collective violence that the word actually connoted in particular times and places. In addition, the chapter provides a brief overview of American lynching, which arose in the early to mid-nineteenth century as a response to alterations in law and social values (the shift from a penology of retribution and deterrence to one centered on reform of the criminal, the rise of the adversarial system and aggressive defense lawyering, the shift from private to public criminal prosecution, and the professionalization of criminal justice) that occurred throughout the Anglo-American world.

Keywords:   American lynching, lynching, mid-nineteenth-century, American law, American social values, collective violence, criminal justice

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