Lynching and Confederate Monuments

October 22, 2019



Lynching often came in the form of mob violence, and involved hanging, burning alive at the stake and torture. There is also legal lynching. From 1889 to 1918 Texas had 335 lynching incidents. By definition, lynching is the illegal killing of a person under an alleged reason of service to justice. Lynching was done without the due process of law. Even when there was some faked process it was done by conniving racist judges and all-white juries. In Texas it is challenging to estimate the regularity of lynching before the 1880s, but it seems that they occurred quite often before that. This would have included the lynching of blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans, prisoners of war, and outlaws. In contrast, Texas lynching was often to the result of "frontier justice," often carried out by crazed mobs, while hangings in colonial times was often carried out by racist Christian extremists against Native People, blacks, women, and those of different religions. 


Before the Civil War, racist vigilantes instigated most of the lynching, often acting under the guidance of the local businessmen.  Vigilante mobs usually committed their crimes with warped formality, reproducing corrupted forms of court procedures. Sometimes the legal authorities, the sheriff, might go along for the ride or instigate the whole affair. The alleged wrongdoer was "tried" before a vigilante judge and a counterfeit jury, consisting of racial extremists,and those with psychotic desires for violence. Sometimes torture before hanging was employed and did not always involve a rope. Sometimes a chain would be used when the person was to be burned alive by these psychotic killers. The San Saba County lynch mob claimed some twenty-five victims between 1880 and 1896. 


Before the Civil War and during the war, mobs frequently hunted suspected slave freedom fighters and white abolitionists. Often the charges were invented, but this did not stop Texas psycho lynch mobs from committing the crime. When rumors of slave insurrections swirled this often led to lynching and did so of approximately fifty slaves and possibly some twenty whites during one well recorded incident. Racism and white supremacy were the cause of many hangings, as was political factionalism associated with Reconstruction, and desertion of Confederates from Robert E. Lee’s army. During the Civil War, the growth of the abolition movement sparked violence by crazed southern bigots. The greatest mass lynching in the history of Texas was “Great Hanging at Gainesville,” when crazed racist vigilantes hanged forty-one suspected “Yankees” in October of 1862.


The use of organized terror the Ku Klux Klan sparked more lynch mob activity in Texas during the Reconstruction period, and idiotic cloned organizations resorted to copy-cat violent methods in attempts to restore white supremacy and take away black voting rights. The humiliation of defeat created a false southern version of history called the “Lost Cause,” which increased hatred and the erecting of Confederate monuments. Southern bigot paranoia and mistrust of government increased when the slave owners lost control of white supremacist political and social order. Sound familiar? Also, invented fear of violence by African Americans contributed to an epidemic of lynch-mob activity and instilled into many whites a twisted mindset of a "right to lynch." 


According to researcher E.R. Bills, between the years 1891 and 1922, Texans burned an average of one person of color at the stake for thirty years. These burnings typically featured carnival atmospheres with thousands in attendance, including men, women, and children who later described the spectacles as jovial “barbecues” or “roasts,” and commemorated the events with “lynching” postcards.This was the atmosphere that drove the erection of Confederate symbols of their so-called “Lost Cause.”


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