Lynching by State 1889–1918


Map Code: Ax02495

Lynching (or extrajudicial killing) was not an exclusively white against black phenomenon. In fact, the worst mass lynchings on record are of Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles (1871, 19 killed), Mexican Americans in Porvenir, Texas (1918, 18 killed) and Italian Americans in New Orleans, Louisiana (1891, 11 killed). Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of lynchings were committed in the American South, and of these, the great preponderance were of black victims, amounting to around 70 percent of all recorded cases. The trigger for lynching was usually a criminal allegation (although the “crime” could be as trivial “making boastful remarks” or “acting like a white man”), the underlying purpose of such acts of terror was to ensure continued black subordination and to reassert their exclusion from the political process. Key to the organization of lynching events were white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the White League, both founded in the aftermath of the Civil War. Lynchings were often overt and publicized and attended by large crowds of onlookers, including prominent public officials.


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