True Crime Books by Jason Lucky Morrow

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The 1898 Lynching Report

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While conducting research for a story about a double-homicide in 1898, I came across an account of all known lynchings for that year. The statistics were interesting and confirmed what you might suspect, but also revealed some surprising information.

Out of 127 lynchings in 1898, five of them were women. As expected, African-Americans represent the majority with 102 black men and women murdered, while only 23 whites and two Indians met a similar fate. By far, most of the lynchings occurred in the south with 118.

The report also reveals the reason for each lynching—and that’s where it gets interesting.

I do not possess the academic qualifications to comment on all the social injustice this document contains. I will leave that for the experts. However, there are few cases from this point worth spotlighting. Some of the more outrageous reasons to lynch a man include: “insults;” “paying attention to a white girl” (I looked up this case and read that the white girl enjoyed the attention); “resisting assault (so, he was just supposed to take a beating and not fight back?); and “violation of contract (whatever that means).

In a few of these cases, there are links to where I looked up the case and copied a newspaper article which described the events that surround the lynching.

Also worth noting is that in 1898, lynching didn’t necessarily mean hanging. Instead, it could mean a homicide inflicted in any manner by a group, gang, or vigilante mob that denied the individual his or her right to due process.

If you would like to search for more information on any of the names listed below, you can try the Library of Congress newspaper archives. You will have to use the advanced search option and exact match for search terms.

Read Full Report



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