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Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865–1942

Lynchings, Mob Rule, and "Legal Lynchings"

George C. Wright

Publication Year: 1996

“Wright vividly portrays the clash between racist militants and blacks who would not submit to terror. The book makes clear the brutality concealed beneath the surface veneer of moderation.” —Journal of Southern History In this investigative look into Kentucky’s race relations from the end of the Civil War to 1940, George C. Wright brings to light a consistent pattern of legally sanctioned and extralegal violence employed to ensure that blacks knew their “place” after the war. In the first study of its kind to target the racial patterns of a specific state, Wright demonstrates that despite Kentucky’s proximity to the North, its black population was subjected to racial oppression every bit as severe and prolonged as that found farther south. His examination of the causes and extent of racial violence, and of the steps taken by blacks and concerned whites to end the brutality, has implications for race relations throughout the United States.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. 8-13

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pp. xiii-xviii

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing a book is to thank all of the people who have contributed in some way. My research began during the 1983...

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Introduction: Kentucky Violence, Severe and Long Lasting

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pp. 1-18

This study of racial violence in Kentucky is an outgrowth of my book on Louisville blacks from 1865 to 1930. That study centered on the concept of...

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ONE: Reconstruction: Using Violence to Preserve the Status Quo, 1865–1874

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pp. 19-60

The end of the Civil War ushered in a prolonged period of racial violence in Kentucky. This violence would be just as severe and long-lasting as that found in the Deep South, but too often it escaped the immediate attention...

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TWO: "Lynchings Are Necessary," 1875–1899

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pp. 61-104

Hallie Erminie Rives published a novel, Smoking Flax, to justify the lynchings...

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THREE: "To Hang in an Orderly Fashion," 1900–1940

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pp. 105-126

From 1900 to 1940, 70 people—61 blacks and 9 whites—were lynched in Kentucky, a considerable...

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FOUR: Ousting "Troublemakers"

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pp. 127-154

Mob rule, like lynchings, was another tactic used by Kentucky whites to get rid of offending blacks and to warn others of what could happen to them for overstepping their bounds. Yet, in one respect, mob rule differed...

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FIVE: Holding Back a Rising Tide, 1875–1899

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pp. 155-184

Afro-Americans consistently attempted to end the numerous lawless acts occurring...

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SIX: Meeting Mob Violence with Renewed Determination, 1900–1940

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pp. 185-214

The twentieth century would see the continuation of efforts to eliminate mob violence in Kentucky. Just like William O. Bradley before them, various governors...

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SEVEN: "A Sacrifice Upon the Altar of the Law," 1875–1899

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pp. 215-250

When a rumor began circulating in Mayfleld on January 12, 1898, that a young white girl named Tennie Bailey had been raped, attention centered...

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EIGHT: Color-Coded Justice: Racial Violence Under the Law, 1900–1940

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pp. 251-306

The conviction that Afro-Americans should be severely punished for their perceived and real transgressions was, of course, nothing new, but in the period...

APPENDIX A: Victims of Lynchings

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pp. 307-324

APPENDIX B: Names of People Legally Executed

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pp. 325-332

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 333-342


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pp. 343-350

E-ISBN-13: 9780807141625
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807120736

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 1996