Anatomy of a Lynching
The Killing of Claude Neal
Publication Year: 2013
"A sensitive and forthright analysis of one of the most gruesome episodes in Florida history... McGovern has produced a richly detailed case study that should enhance our general understanding of mob violence and vigilantism." -- Florida Historical Quarterly
"[McGovern] has succeeded in writing more than a narrative account of this bloodcurdling story; he has explored its causes and ramifications." -- American Historical Review
"A finely crafted historical case study of one lynching, its antecedents, and its aftermath." -- Contemporary Sociology
First published in 1982, James R. McGovern's Anatomy of a Lynching unflinchingly reconstructs the grim events surrounding the death of Claude Neal, one of the estimated three thousand blacks who died at the hands of southern lynch mobs in the six decades between the 1880s and the outbreak of World War II.
Neal was accused of the brutal rape and murder of Lola Cannidy, a young white woman he had known since childhood. On October 26, 1934, a well-organized mob took Neal from his jail cell. The following night, the mob tortured Neal and hanged him to the point of strangulation, repeating the process until the victim died. A large crowd of men, women, and children who gathered to witness, celebrate, and assist in the lynching further mutilated Neal's body. Finally, the battered corpse was put on display, suspended as a warning from a tree in front of the Jackson County, Florida, courthouse.
Based on extensive research as well as on interviews with both blacks and whites who remember Neal's death, Anatomy of a Lynching sketches the social background of Jackson County, Florida -- deeply religious, crushed by the Depression, accustomed to violence, and proud of its role in the Civil War -- and examines which elements in the county's makeup contributed to the mob violence. McGovern offers a powerful dissection of an extraordinarily violent incident.
Published by: Louisiana State University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Quote
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Foreword to the Updated Edition
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...cruelty but also because it gave the lie to widespread assumptionsthat, at long last, mob justice was disappearing even from the Deepthree-year-old black farm laborer accused of raping and murderingbama, where Florida authorities had brought the prisoner for safe-keeping. The vigilantes easily outwitted the jailers and drove Neal...
Preface and Acknowledgments
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...scholars as the cause celebie of racism and its attendant violencelynching of Claude Neal, a black, in Greenwood, Florida, Octoberpsychoanalyst, to write, "De Sade in all his glory could not haveinvented a more diabolical situation," resulted in national newsstories on the plight of the victim, produced an outcry from lib-...
Chapter 1 Lynch Law
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...he was apprehended and returned to the site of his alleged crime.reacted with whiplike anger. He had seemingly forfeited his rightto life by his bestial behavior and so they subjected him to greatdeath resembled a carnival. But the evidence against him was notwho had met a similar fate since the 1880s. But as events proved,...
Chapter 2 Jackson County
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...when Florida had the highest ratio of lynchings to its black popu-the racial turbulence of its history. To this day, the county enjoysa green, primeval innocence. Nature is very active and profuse inthis one-thousand-square-mile area, so much so that it appears tomoss which shrouds trees on the riverbanks appears gothic in its...
Chapter 3 The Suspect
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...nineteen year old Jackson County girl, on a wooded hillside nearwood." ' The murdered girl was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. GeorgeCannidy, the youngest daughter of their eight children. The Can-est," the basic compliment poor farmers paid one another in thispetite, attractive girl who was engaged to be married to a young...
Chapter 4 Vengeance for Justice
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...ally, they were not at the top of the status or income scales?notthe merchants, furnishing men, or progressive politicians seekingto build the reputation of their city and county as a good placefarmers. Their status accounts for the fact that several of themwere identified as "well dressed," an observation which probably...
Chapter 5 The Local Reaction
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...the attention of a nation. A waitress in a downtown cafe repliedthe last two days, 'Well, it certainly kept us busy with so manystrangers here to feed.'"l Howard Kester, a noted southern liberalevents as if they were inevitable or even routine. He sensed that"On the whole the lynching was accepted ... as a righteous act."...
Chapter 6 The National Conscience
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...ment agencies. Indeed, through federal relief and crop programs,the proposed federal antilynching legislation in the early monthslegal basis who set about to harm another or deprive him of life.":The bill was to come into effect "in the event the state or govern-mental subdivision should fail to protect its citizens." It provided...
Chapter 7 The End of an American Tragedy
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After 1935, the era of lynchings in the form of public murder ofblacks with attendant rituals came rapidly to an end in America.1Whereas the number of official lynchings of blacks in 1933, 1934,years only one black or none at all lost life in this fashion.2 Thetraditional practice by this time had become repulsive to all but...
Chapter 8 Conclusion
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...nied the legal sanctuary of a jail, a trial by jury, solace from hisfriends in his last hours, his sexual identity, and finally his life.earlier. In a sense, he was only its victim. It began with the insti-tution of slavery and assumption by colonists and later Americanwhites that blacks were inferior. Debasing images of blacks typi-...
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Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 10 halftones, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2013
Edition: updated edition