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Hostile HeartlandRacism, Repression, and Resistance in the Midwest$
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Brent M. S. Campney

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042492

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042492.001.0001

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Illinois and the Legacy of Antebellum Racist Violence

Illinois and the Legacy of Antebellum Racist Violence

“The peculiar climate of this region”

(p.35) 2 Illinois and the Legacy of Antebellum Racist Violence
Hostile Heartland

Brent M. S. Campney

University of Illinois Press

This chapter analyzes the lynching of Joseph Spencer, a successful black businessman, by a mob in Cairo, Illinois, in 1854, and the armed resistance that he mounted against the mob—shooting several white men—before succumbing to its brutality. To achieve these objectives, it situates the Spencer lynching within the larger historical context of race relations and racist violence in antebellum southern Illinois. It then speculates on the implications of the Cairo lynching for the subsequent history of racist violence in Illinois and for the historiography of mob violence in the Midwest more generally.

Keywords:   lynching, Cairo, Illinois, historiography, armed resistance, antebellum, Midwest

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