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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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Racial and Class Frontiers

Racial and Class Frontiers

Lynching and Social Identity in Antebellum America

(p.32) 3. Racial and Class Frontiers
The Roots of Rough Justice

Michael J. Pfeifer

University of Illinois Press

This chapter charts the emergence of racially motivated lynching in the antebellum United States. During the antebellum era, practices of collective murder took root on the cotton and resource extraction frontiers as white planters, farmers, and miners stepped outside of formal law to execute slaves, free blacks, Indians, and Mexicans who challenged white authority with acts of resistance or criminality. The chapter documents how southern planters created legal institutions that protected the master class's interest in slave property, but also how antebellum southern whites resorted to the lynching of slaves through burning or hanging at times when the master's property interest was effectively nullified by a slave's murder of a member of the master class, or when portions of the white community rejected the criminal justice system's ability to enforce racial control.

Keywords:   racial control, antebellum era, southern whites, slavery, master class, antebellum America, racial lynching, collective murder

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