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A Hanging in Nacogdoches
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“The contribution of A Hanging in Nacogdoches is not limited to that city, East Texas, or even the state. . . . The purpose of the author's presentation is to show life-race relations, politics, the economy-in a typical . . . Southern town at the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Borders argues, and demonstrates, that Nacogdoches was, indeed, typical for its time and place.” -Archie P. McDonald, Regent's Professor of History, Stephen F. Austin State University On October 17, 1902, in Nacogdoches, Texas, a black man named James Buchanan was tried without representation, condemned, and executed for the murder of a white family-all in the course of three hours. Two white men played pivotal roles in these events: Bill Haltom, a leading local Democrat and the editor of the Nacogdoches Sentinel, who condemned lynching but defended lynch mobs, and A. J. Spradley, a Populist sheriff who, with the aid of hundreds of state militiamen, barely managed to keep the mob from burning Buchanan alive, only to escort him to the gallows following his abbreviated trial. Each man's story serves to illuminate a part of the path that led to the terrible parody of justice which lies at the heart of A Hanging in Nacogdoches. The turn of the twentieth century was a time of dramatic change for the people of East Texas. Frightened by the Populist Party's attempts to unite poor blacks and whites in a struggle for economic justice, white Democrats defended their power base by exploiting racial tensions in a battle that ultimately resulted in the complete disenfranchisement of the black population of East Texas. In telling the story of a single lynching, Gary Borders dramatically illustrates the way politics and race combined to bring horrific violence to small southern towns like Nacogdoches.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
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  1. Contents
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. PART I. A Murder, a Manhunt, a Trial, and an Execution
  2. pp. 1-2
  1. Chapter One. Three Killed in Black Jack: October 11, 1902
  2. pp. 3-5
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  1. Chapter Two. A City with a Long Past
  2. pp. 6-25
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  1. Chapter Three. A Texas Sheriff
  2. pp. 26-30
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  1. Chapter Four. A Suspect and a Possible Motive: October 12, 1902
  2. pp. 31-38
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  1. Chapter Five. Nacogdoches in 1902
  2. pp. 39-50
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  1. Chapter Six. A Suspect Is Caught: October 13, 1902
  2. pp. 51-54
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  1. Chapter Seven. Lynchings: A Grim Fact of Life
  2. pp. 55-63
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  1. Chapter Eight. Populism and Race: An Incendiary Mix
  2. pp. 64-76
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  1. Chapter Nine. The Spradley-Haltom Feud
  2. pp. 77-87
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  1. Chapter Ten. Buchanan Confesses in Shreveport
  2. pp. 88-96
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  1. Chapter Eleven. A Desperate Journey across East Texas: October 15, 1902
  2. pp. 97-107
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  1. Chapter Twelve. Preparations Made for Buchanan’s Trial: October 16, 1902
  2. pp. 108-111
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  1. Chapter Thirteen. Buchanan Returns for Trial: October 17, 1902
  2. pp. 112-116
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  1. Chapter Fourteen. A Hanging in Nacogdoches
  2. pp. 118-126
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  1. Images. Photo section follows page 126
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  1. PART II. Aftermath
  2. pp. 127-128
  1. Chapter Fifteen. Quick Hanging Sparks Criticism and Praise
  2. pp. 129-140
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  1. Chapter Sixteen. Wettermark, Whitecapping, and a Whipping
  2. pp. 141-153
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  1. Chapter Seventeen. Conclusion
  2. pp. 154-174
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 175-178
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 179-198
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 199-202
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 203-209
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