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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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Lynchers versus Due Process

Lynchers versus Due Process

The Forging of Rough Justice

(p.54) 4. Lynchers versus Due Process
The Roots of Rough Justice

Michael J. Pfeifer

University of Illinois Press

This chapter treats the Far West, the Upper South, and the Midwest in the mid-to-late 1850s as a laboratory for a variety of lynching violence that would become widespread in the postbellum era. The cultural conflict over the direction of criminal justice took on particular intensity at midcentury, as a result of reformers' success in modifying criminal law, increasing attention to and concerns about perceived threats to sectional identity, and the challenges posed by the rapid growth of a novel, multicultural social landscape with the American incorporation of California and the ensuing Gold Rush. Within these dynamic southern, midwestern, and western cultural and legal contexts, lynchers performed collective violence that protested the administration of criminal justice, particularly the adjudication of homicide cases.

Keywords:   Far West, Upper South, Midwest, postbellum America, criminal justice, criminal law, communal values, lynching violence

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