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In Lincoln's Shadow

The 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois

Roberta Senechal de la Roche

Publication Year: 2008

The complex interactions of class, race, and racism are addressed in this study of the historic anti-black riot in 1908 in Springfield.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title page

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pp. ix-x

Title page

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. vii-viii

List of Maps and Tables

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pp. ix-x

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Preface to the Centennial Paperback Edition

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pp. xi-xv

THIS reprinting marks the centennial of a race riot that exploded in Springfield, Illinois, in August 1908. The volume's title, In Lincoln's Shadow, refers to a powerful and enduring symbolic connection between the riot and the city's most famous former resident: Abraham Lincoln. After the Civil War,...

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pp. xvii-xviii

THIS study of Springfield's race riot had as its initial inspiration a work far removed from the early twentieth-century Midwest: Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum's Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1974). Episodes of acute crisis in...


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pp. xix

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pp. 1-13

IN the late afternoon heat of Friday, 14 August 1908, an angry white crowd gathered outside the county jail in downtown Springfield, Illinois. The police had just brought in a black man accused of raping a local white woman. Also lodged...

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Chapter 1. "Riot, Ruin and Rebellion . . ."

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pp. 15-54

IT was midday on 1 June 1908 when the freight train bound northeast for Springfield left the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois. Concealed in one of the boxcars was Joe James, a young black drifter from Alabama. For three years...

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pp. G1-G10

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Chapter 2. The Community

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pp. 55-92

EXCEPT for the presence of the state government, a relatively ample railroad service, and a large number of coal mines close at hand, Springfield in 1908 was an average middle-size midwestern city. The capital developed a diversified and vigorous economy, but only a few die hard civic boosters expected it to become an industrial and commercial giant like Chicago. First settled about...

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Chapter 3. The Rioters

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pp. 93-123

THE engine crew on the "north local" of the Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis Railroad got word of the rioting in Springfield early in the evening of Friday, 14 August, just after they pulled into the station at Petersburg, a small town about twenty miles north of the Illinois capital. A black migrant worker who had been earning his passage south by loading freight, when he heard the news, gathered his belongings and abandoned the train. The engine...

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Chapter 4. The Victims

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pp. 124-157

IN mid-July, about two weeks after Clergy Ballard's death, Springfield's Illinois State Journal added a new comic strip to its Sunday entertainment section, Sambo and His Funny Noises. Sambo's debut was not the first time this newspaper or others in Springfield caricatured blacks or foreigners. Neither was...

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Chapter 5. The Aftermath

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pp. 158-189

ABOUT two weeks after the riot, Springfield's citizens received the startling news that Mabel Hallam, the white woman whose alleged rape had sparked the violence, had dropped all charges against George Richardson. She swore out an affidavit exonerating him, then claimed that another black man named Ralph Burton had raped her. Armed with this new...

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pp. 190-200

SPRINGFIELD'S riot occurred in the context of the steady and marked deterioration of blacks' security in the United States that began in the late nineteenth century and continued after 1908. Race riots and lynchings represented the most extreme attempts by whites to subordinate black Americans, and riots like Springfield's were but the most visible and dramatic instances of anti-black violence. Although northern...


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pp. 201-211


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pp. 212-225


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pp. 226-231

Author Bio

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pp. 233

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809386642
E-ISBN-10: 080938664X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329090
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329093

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 18 b/w halftones, 4 maps, 22 tables
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Race riots -- Illinois -- Springfield -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Illinois -- Springfield -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Springfield (Ill.) -- Race relations -- History -- 20th century.
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