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Reviews509 ish, and later Italian cigar makers eased the process of justifying violent actions to a growing white middle class on whose political and professional patronage elites depended. If white workers in other industries rallied behind striking cigar workers and white elites accepted immigrant cigar manufacturers into their social and commercial ranks, middling whites—farmers outside the city, small shopkeepers and merchants, office workers, and others—might have been swayed by the broad white supremacist implications of vigilantism directed at immigrant workers. That Tampa's elites had previously enjoyed white middle class and nonindustrial worker support became obvious when a group led by the Ku Klux Klan mimicked the elites' ritualized vigilantism: they tarred and feathered a white man for participating in third party politics (the victim died). Although condemned by "leading" citizens, middle class vigilantes had followed their example and had broadened their white supremacy to hate for even whites involved in radical politics. (Of course, racial hatred, as the historical literature on the Klan suggests, had been an important step along the way.) Both Brundage and Ingalls argue that vigilantism primarily ended because the southern elite eventually dropped their support for the practice. A concern for boosting their towns and presenting a positive image to attract new industries caused many civic leaders to condemn lynching. Particularly in the Depression era white elites in Tampa balked as the vigilante tactics of other whites damaged the city's reputation. Belatedly, they understood the contradiction of using violence to protect order. According to what Ingalls describes as an ironic "logic," "vigilantes broke the law in order to defend it and destroyed property in order to protect it." Tragically, they murdered in the name of order as well. In an age when Americans increasingly worry that violence threatens to destroy the very fabric of American civilization, these important books remind us that our current situation has an important modern genealogy and deep conservative roots. In the worlds reconstructed by Brundage and Ingalls, white elites used violence to maintain their powerful positions within the southern political economy and portrayed their victims as monsters threatening the racial and economic status quo. As we construct our own racially suspect others and contemplate conceding our already diminished civil liberties for a safer, more secure world, we should consider how this very rhetoric killed many southern African Americans and destroyed workers' politics in Tampa without protecting white southern women's "virtue" or the Tampa citizens' livelihoods in whose names the violence was justified. State sanctioned violence—increased use of the death penalty and speedier executions to name only the extreme—can maintain our structures of power as a communally approved vigilantism did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century South. Violence will not, however, make us safe nor insulate our world from change. The question, then, is not about effectiveness but morality. African Americans at Mars Bluff, South Carolina. By Amelia Wallace Vernon. Louisiana State University Press, 1994. 309 pp. Cloth, $29.95. Reviewed by Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, a professor ofhistory at Rutgers University, is the author of Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century, which has won numerous awards. 510Southern Cultures This book, which documents the stories of African Americans in a small South Carolina community, is as valuable as it is charming. Written by retired nurse Amelia Wallace Vernon who was born and raised at Mars Bluff, it relies heavily upon interviews with elderly African American residents who tell their own experiences and stories passed down from ancestors. Vernon collected more than 1,000 notebook pages of interviews, some with Archie Waiters (1914-1990) whose father, Archie Gregg, was raised by his own grandfather , Alex Gregg (1845-1938), a former slave. Archie Waiters was a storehouse of family and community memories. With the help of such informants, Vemon traces the history of rice cultivation on small plots of land and establishes the spiritual significance of reclaiming land to cultivate this crop, which allowed for a degree of self-sufficiency when sharecropping dominated the economy of the region and the lives of its people. Mars Bluff, South Carolina, is not a community that most scholars would consider significant...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 509-510
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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