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  • “This Negro Elephant is Getting to be a Pretty Large Sized Animal”White Hostility against Blacks in Indiana and the Historiography of Racist Violence in the Midwest

“A gentleman just from below,” the Crisis of Columbus, Ohio, reported in 1862, “says that a few days ago a large number of freed negroes were on the Kentucky side of the Ohio, trying to cross over into Indiana, when a regiment of Indiana Union soldiers was about to fire on them if they attempted to cross, threatening to kill every one of them, [and] declaring that they did not enlist in the war to fill their State with free negroes. There was very great excitement, and it was not safe for any white man to interfere on behalf of the negroes.” As the actions of these soldiers suggest, white Indian-ans were becoming increasingly bitter over the growing number of black fugitives fleeing into their state during the American Civil War. In an oddly evocative phrase, the Crisis captured their concern: “This negro elephant is getting to be a pretty large sized animal.”1

Few scholars have explored the response of white Indianans to the influx of blacks from the South and their concentration within the state during the Civil War initially and Reconstruction thereafter. This article seeks to augment that study. First, it examines white efforts to subordinate blacks, drawing attention to the surges of racist violence which marked both the beginning and the end of this period. Second, it explores some of the motivations for this violence but focuses on the overtly political nature of it during the so-called Exodus of 1879–1880 when a large number of southern black migrants entered the state. Third, it analyzes the geographical patterns associated with this violence and their significance. Finally, [End Page 63] it assesses the implications of the violence in Indiana for the subsequent history of the state itself and contextualizes this violence within the historiography of racist violence in the larger Midwest. Before proceeding, however, the article briefly addresses the nature of white—black race relations in Indiana prior to the Civil War.

From the earliest days of white settlement, most white Indianans manifested a strong disdain for slavery—not out of humanitarian concern for blacks but out of personal self-interest. Many early Indiana settlers were white “upland southerners who had not been slaveholders [in their states of origin] but who had witnessed the expansion of slavery from the lowland into the upland South,” according to geographer Gregory S. Rose. “They had experienced the deleterious impact of cheaper slave labor on the value and competitiveness of the products of their own free labor and had migrated to Indiana in part to escape the economic effects of slavery.”2

Although they opposed slavery, these whites also vigorously opposed an influx of free blacks into the state and exhibited a fierce determination to prevent such an outcome. “Most Indianans regarded slavery as a violation of the laws of God and man,” historian James H. Madison summarized. “But few whites in pioneer Indiana believed in the equality of the races or made efforts to improve the unfortunate lot of many black Americans, slave or free.” In the 1820s a traveler marveled that Indiana, like its sister state of Illinois, possessed “a most unparalleled prejudice” against blacks. In 1850, an Indianan demonstrated that the prejudice had become even more virulent, declaring that “it would be better to kill them [blacks] off at once, if there is no other way to get rid of them.” Seven years later, the Evansville Daily Enquirer expressed a common view. “If we had our own way there should not be one [Negro] tolerated any place except in Canada or in a slave State; we would not tolerate one in the State of Indiana. Out of slavery a negro is a nuisance.”3

Contemporary politicians enshrined these prejudices into the law. In 1818 legislators prohibited blacks from testifying in court; thirteen years later, they required newly arrived blacks “to post a bond of five hundred dollars as security against becoming public charges.” In addition, delegates to the constitutional conventions in both 1816 and 1851 prohibited blacks from voting. Lawmakers also outlawed interracial marriage, fearing that the unlimited immigration of free blacks would result in sexual relations between black men and white women, spawning a substantial [End Page 64] number of racially mixed children and challenging white male control over these two subordinate groups.4

By limiting the size of the black population, whites hoped to prevent labor competition. Historian Eugene H. Berwanger speculated that one of the principal reasons for the “increase in racial enmity” in the mid-nineteenth century was the “economic rivalry between unskilled Negro and white laborers in Midwestern urban areas.”5 At the Indiana Constitutional Convention in 1851, delegates debated a measure to exclude blacks from the state altogether. During this debate many “spread alarms about hordes of blacks poised to enter Indiana from the slave states.” One delegate warned: “We know that when we are overrun with them—as we most assuredly will be unless we adopt some stringent measures to prevent it—there will be commenced a war which will end only in extermination of one race or the other.” Eventually, the delegates approved by a decisive vote “Article XIII, declaring that ‘No Negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the State.’” They also decided to submit this provision to the voters who enthusiastically embraced it by a vote of 113,828 to 21,873.6

While politicians expressed their racism largely through rhetoric and legislation, ordinary white Indianans expressed their animosity through acts of violence. In Indianapolis, a mob lynched John Tucker in 1845 amid concerns about a swelling black population in the capital. “The poor fellow was murdered by a gang of drunken ruffians, in the presence of two hundred people—multitudinous voices exclaiming at the time, ‘Kill the d——d nigger, kill him.’ They beat him after he was dead. And as he lay with the blood bubbling round him, the cry arose for more blood. ‘The niggers are gitting [sic] too cursed thick, and they ought to be thinned out.’”7 Another mob employed a harsh but non-lethal act of violence in 1850. “Linch [sic] law was administered to a couple of negroes in Jeffersonville, Ind., on Wednesday,” reported the Cincinnati Enquirer. “They were tied to a post and whipped.”8 As the reference to “linch law” suggests, Indianans, like Americans more generally, used the term “lynching” to connote both lethal and non-lethal mob violence until the Civil War and Reconstruction periods when it increasingly came to connote the lethal variety.9

Although whites exercised considerable control, the freed people were not reticent about defending themselves. Taking up arms, they made attackers suffer mightily on occasion. In 1840, white men in Clarksville “went to the negro huts in search of [a] black man” accused of assaulting a white man, reported the Louisville Advertiser. If they assumed that the blacks [End Page 65] would cower before them, mob members soon found out otherwise. “[A] negro brought a gun and fired it among the assailants, killing [Rufus] Cunningham and wounding two others.”10 In 1857, whites in Union Township, Vanderburgh County, organized an assault against a black family—but learned a painful lesson instead. “The negroes had been apprised of a contemplated attack,” reported the Evansville Enquirer, “and had armed themselves with guns and knives, and in the fight the whites were badly worsted. … The negroes defended themselves nobly and the would-be murderers of negroes, became vanquished by negroes, and we repeat, they were rightly served.”11

Given the history of racism in Indiana before the Civil War, it is not surprising that whites there responded defensively once the sectional hostilities significantly increased the number of blacks fleeing the slave states for the relative safety of the Hoosier State. Concerned that they were being “overrun,” as they had long feared, they determined to “adopt some stringent measures to prevent it.” In 1862, white men and youths undertook a race riot in New Albany, beating or shooting any black victims that they happened upon as they marauded through town, killing at least one. In addition, the rioters temporarily ridded the town of its entire black population.12

As the war ended in April 1865, more black fugitives headed north. “The free negroes are rapidly leaving Kentucky and are swarming into … Indiana,” one observer worried in July. “The Indiana … papers are complaining of the vast number of negroes pouring [in],” reported another. “Every train and boat … brings large re-inforcements [sic] of these swarthy blacks, who, in a few months will become a burden to the tax-payers and a pest to the communities upon which they force themselves.” Between 1860 and 1870, blacks in Indiana increased from 11,428 to 24,560. A hostile contemporary mused that the blacks were “led to believe, if they come north, [that] they will find freedom, easy times, plenty of employment, and social and political equality.” With well-founded skepticism, he predicted that “they will be sadly disappointed.”13

In the summer of 1865, whites expressed their hostility in a series of incidents along the Ohio River, the area most immediately affected by the black migration. In Evansville they smashed into the jail, took out two black men and, “after beating them to death, shot them, and then hung them up to lamp posts.” At that point, rioters sent “the negroes of that town … fleeing from it in all directions,” reported an observer. “Nothing but the complete riddance of that city of negroes will satisfy those engaged [End Page 66] in the riotous demonstrations.”14 The lynching, declared the Jasper Weekly Courier, “is one of the fruits of letting the much loved ‘freedmen’ of the South settle in the State, and those localities which permit it may expect more of such occurrences.” The Vincennes Sun declared that the Evansville violence constituted “a warning to niggers in this part of the State [to] keep their place, and keep it well, or they will be exterminated.”15

To the east, whites dislodged blacks from Boonville. “The darkies from Kentucky are pouring into this portion of Indiana, and our population is becoming considerably mixed,” worried the Boonville Enquirer. Confronted by a significantly different demographic reality than the one they had left, returning veterans took action. Initially, they expelled only “several negroes.” Weeks later, according to the Vincennes Sun, they expanded their operations, ordering “all the negroes in that town … to leave.” Ominously, the newspaper then added that “the returned soldiers … propose, if the negroes do not heed the warning given them, to proceed in a forcible and illegal manner to eject this class.”16

Still further east in New Albany, “two negroes were sawing wood in the alley next to the school yard, and some boys had for some cause, seen fit to ‘rock’ them.” When one “returned the fire,” injuring a white man, “the negro was beaten by some white men or boys, who endeavored to balance the account in that way.”17 In Jeffersonville, “the feeling of the citizens, as well [as] white soldiers, against the negro regiment stationed there[,] is intense.” An unknown vigilante (or vigilantes) expressed his “feeling” by bayonetting a black soldier, leaving the “gun sticking in his body, the bayonet extending through the body into the ground.” The next day, unknown parties murdered another black soldier, leaving his body on the road.18

With their brutality in 1865, white Indianans established a template that they would follow at a lower intensity throughout Reconstruction. “The unterrified in old Martin [County] are at work,” reported an observer when whites there mobilized in 1866. “Flaming handbills are posted,” the Cincinnati Daily Gazette noted, “at every X roads in the county, notifying the ‘faithful’ who may think ‘themselves as good, or better than the nigger,’ to come to the Court House” for a mass meeting.19 In 1867, a mob hanged Bob O’Neal near Seymour. “He was formerly a slave in Kentucky,” the Seymour Times reported. “He served faithfully in the Union army. He was hung merely because he was a nigger.”20 On the Fourth of July 1868, James Janes killed a black man in Eureka and then “proceeded to the grove where the picnic was being held, got upon a bench, [and] told the people what he [End Page 67] had done.” Boasting of his deed, he declared “that all negroes ought to be killed, and that now was as good a time as any to commence operations in that line.”21 A jury in Indianapolis took a similar position when it acquitted George Davidson, who killed a black man “almost without provocation” in 1869. “The only cause [for the acquittal] is that Davidson has friends and money, and is a white man.”22

In the 1870s whites perpetrated several exceptionally gruesome exhibitions. In one example in 1871 a mob took three black men from the Charlestown jail to the woods, stripping one and applying torches “to his naked body until it was burned to a crisp in many places.” Having extracted what it deemed a confession, it hanged the men amid their pleas for mercy. “It was a ghastly sight,” the New Albany Daily Standard lamented, “to see the ugly carcasses of the three murdered negroes dangling from the limbs of the trees, but it was a more disgusting sight to witness the rude boys of the town hanging like vultures over their lifeless remains and then indulging in remarks unbecoming barbarians.”23

In a second example, whites slaughtered blacks indiscriminately in an April 1878 race riot in Coal Creek. They killed an elderly man and then “moved through the streets shooting negroes on sight, killing two more and mortally wounding another.” They then pursued a campaign of terror for the next two months, culminating in June with a second disturbance that claimed the life of another black man. When whites claimed that the blacks were “blood-thirsty and terrorize[d] them,” a reporter for the Indianapolis News mocked their charge. “What I saw was that the way the negroes terrorized the town was by running off to Covington and by sleeping in the woods at night, instead of [in] their houses; and that the way [that] the whites were afraid of them was by staying in town and drinking.” An elderly black woman told him that she had not had a “good sleep … since last April.” The reporter painted a vivid scene. “About 50 negroes, men and women, went down with us from Covington, whence they had fled, and our march up the hill looked like a march in the south during the war, with the refugees bringing up the rear.”24

In a third example, a mob unleashed “Anarchy in Posey [County]” in 1878 when it raided the jail in Mount Vernon. “Four strapping negroes were led out, bound, and with ropes round their necks,” reported the Indianapolis Journal. “Ropes were thrown over limbs, and four beings were hung at once.” As white townspeople massed beneath the swinging corpses, they learned the grisly fate of a fifth man, killed by a few mob members inside [End Page 68] the jail. “He was literally chopped to pieces and the flesh thrown into a privy in pieces.” To say the least, the Journal observed, “Mt. Vernon has been in the wildest state of excitement.”25

Blacks continued to defend themselves by any means necessary. In Jeffersonville, black soldiers retaliated against their aggressors. In nasty interracial clashes in 1865, they killed at least two white men. At the inquest for one of these dead men, the coroner’s jury articulated the level of white anger over the losses that they had sustained in their campaign for racial dominance, rendering “a verdict that the deceased came to his death from the effects of a gun-shot wound, inflicted by a d——d black s——n of a b——h (verbatim).”26 The press followed suit, sympathizing with whites and assassinating the character of blacks with vague but menacing assertions: “the feeling of the white soldiers and citizens is said to be intense against the negro regiment quartered there. Murders of the most diabolical character are charged to have been committed by the negro soldiers.”27

In late 1879 and throughout 1880, an estimated two thousand black North Carolinians migrated to Indiana as part of the so-called Exodus, a movement of thousands of blacks from the South to Kansas and, to a lesser degree, to the Hoosier State. According to historian William Cohen, “In 1870, there were 1,354 blacks who had been born in North Carolina living in Indiana. In 1880 … the number rose to 3,167.”28 Although the number of blacks arriving in Indiana was considerably smaller than the number that reached Kansas, the Indiana press sensationalized the Exodus and persuaded fearful whites that they would be overwhelmed. An Illinois newspaper remarked that “mob law … is threatened in Indiana, if the negro exodus continues in that direction.”29

As they had in 1865, white Indianans did respond with “mob law.” In some cases, they acted before the black newcomers set foot in town. Learning that a trainload of blacks from North Carolina was en route for Shelbyville in 1879, a large crowd descended upon the railroad depot “with the declared intention of preventing any negroes from getting off here. It is said they filled their pockets with stones and threatened to use violence against the emigrants if [they] landed.” When the train arrived, the crowd surrounded it and “noisily informed the darkies that they must move further on. It seems they were all ticketed through to Indianapolis, and none of them intended to stop here, otherwise there can be little doubt that there would have been mob violence.”30

Throughout 1880, mobs terrorized blacks with sometimes sustained attacks. [End Page 69] One in Shelbyville engaged in a “Negro Hunt,” pursuing a fugitive who, evidence suggests, was guilty of nothing more than quarreling with a white neighbor. Soon, it captured him. “The fellow was badly scared, and looked worn out and weary. He had been shot once in the thigh of the left leg, the ball being still embedded. The ball entered in front, showing that he was facing the person who did the shooting.”31 In Brazil, white miners raided the jail and seized a black prisoner. “The miners had made the amplest arrangements for lynching,” the Indianapolis Journal explained. “About 2 o’clock yesterday morning, when the citizens of our quiet little city were in the midst of their slumbers,” an observer recalled, “Judge Lynch convened his supreme tribunal at our County Jail impaneling about 120 jurors, who, with cold-chisels and sledge-hammers, cut the locks and doors of the jail asunder, and took therefrom George Scott, a saddle colored negro … and conveyed him to a beech tree, 200 yards away and hung him to a limb.”32

Presumably, fewer Exodusters went to Indiana—and many of those who did soon left—in part because of hostility of this sort. “The figures suggest that after the migration of 1880 many migrants returned home or went elsewhere and that migration from North Carolina slowed to a crawl,” Cohen affirmed. “Had conditions in Indiana been … attractive to blacks,” that “would not have happened and the statistics would have been quite different.”33 A southern newspaper came to a similar conclusion early in 1880 when it reported the views of a black woman attempting to return to North Carolina after her disillusioning experience in the Hoosier State. “In reply to an inquiry as to how the emigrants were treated, she said that they were treated like dogs,” reported Virginia’s Alexandria Gazette. “The emigrants cannot procure work, and are dying from cold and starvation.”34

Whites had various motivations for their use of violence, several of which were, as already noted, evident before the Civil War. They had, for example, long feared interracial sexuality and now sought to prevent it. Significantly, however, they often framed it not as a consensual union between black men and white women but as an act of rape. In fact, they made this claim in five lynchings involving ten victims between 1865 and 1880. A quarter of a century after the lynching of the two alleged rapists in Evansville, a local historian hinted that this charge had been mere pretext, writing of “the hanging of two colored men to a lamp post, near the courthouse, by a mob, for an alleged offense of which one of them at least was, after his death, admitted to have been innocent by his accuser.”35

Because discrimination effectively locked blacks out of the industrial [End Page 70] sector, whites did not feel compelled to use violence against black labor as much as they had anticipated in the 1840s and 1850s. Nonetheless, they did respond violently in the mining districts when executives imported black “scabs” to crush strikes. Unable to lash out at their oppressive managers, white miners vented their fury instead at “scabs” even more exploited than themselves. “A difficulty occurred with the negro imported laborers from Virginia,” a reporter from Knightsville attested in 1873. “The affair gave impetus to the embittered feeling of the miners and puddlers here who are on a strike, and soon the whole town was engaged in the general melee.” Led by women, a mob “assembled armed around the premises in front of the negro boarding house, and commenced an attack with stones and other missiles.”36 The rioters who killed three blacks in Coal Creek in April of 1878 were members of “a militia company composed of miners” who had been involved in a strike there the year before. Recalling that the miners had lost that earlier strike, the Daily Inter-Ocean concluded that the subsequent riot represented the release of “all the pent-up passions of hatred and revenge which had smoldered for half a year.”37

At the time of the Exodus, white Indianans had another reason to attack blacks. Prior to that migration, Democrats and Republicans enjoyed roughly comparable electoral strength in Indiana. For partisan purposes, therefore, both parties targeted in different ways the Exodusters, who were arriving in search of freedom and opportunity in a northern state. Not surprisingly, the Democrats feared that the black newcomers, likely to be Republican in their political allegiance, could hand victory to the gop in the 1880 elections. They also charged—correctly—that the Republicans were trying to exploit the Exodus for electoral advantage. “The original [black] impulse toward colonization,” Cohen argued, “was distorted into a politically manufactured migration whose sole purpose [from the perspective of these cynical gop operatives] was to strengthen the Republican party in the election of 1880.” He continued: “Indiana had gone Democratic by a narrow margin in 1876, and three years later it seemed possible that the in-migration of a few thousand Republican voters might tilt the state in the opposite direction.”38

To minimize the possibility of such a “tilt,” white Democrats undertook a campaign of violence against the Exodusters (and blacks generally) in the lead up to the 1880 election. In June, those in Bartholomew County declared that “no dam niggers” could “lay around here … and vote the republican ticket, the exa dust hed quarters [sic] must be abolished.” In August, [End Page 71] they followed through on their threats, attacking the home of a black resident, threatening to hang him, and ordering him to leave town. They also advertised their intention “to ‘clean out all the g–d d––n niggers in the county before the election.’”39 An observer—and Republican partisan, of course—noted that “‘the niggers must go’ is the war cry of the Democrats in certain parts of Indiana.”40 When Democrats learned that some unknown blacks had been spotted in Shelbyville in September, they warned that “little doubt is entertained that these ‘coons’ are a portion of the Republican army of occupation which is at present settling down on Indiana in dark clouds preparatory to the [November] election. But it will not be healthy for any unacclimated [sic] negroes to vote here.”41

Democrats articulated their concerns in spectacular fashion in Rock-port in October. Following a Democratic rally, revelers-turned-rioters attacked blacks in the vicinity, shouting “Kill them, kill them” and unleashing “a cloud of brick-bats” against their fleeing quarries. After beating a handful of victims, the mob focused on Uriah Webb, pelting him with brickbats and chasing him along the sidewalk. As Webb broke away and darted into the street, a rioter drew a pistol and fired twice. According to the Rockport Journal—an ardently Republican newspaper, it should be noted—Democratic rioters crowded around the dying black man and explicitly mingled their political and antiblack objectives: “One fellow cried out: ‘One vote less’; others lifted their caps and hurrahed for [Democratic presidential candidate Winfield S.] Hancock.”42

White Indianans practiced racist violence most commonly in the southernmost counties along the Ohio River where many of the state’s blacks concentrated. The Louisville Democrat recognized this during the bloody outbreak of 1865. “Within the past two months,” the paper asserted, violence “in the border counties of Kentucky and Indiana [has] been of frequent occurrence, and so intense has been the feelings of the [white] citizens against this class of persons [blacks], that many of them have been compelled to leave their houses to escape summary punishment, for if they had been captured they would no doubt have been hung on the first tree.”43 This area of the state was also the one most heavily settled by white southerners. However, as illustrated below, this fact is not evidence that white Indianans of southern descent were more racist than their counterparts of northern descent, even if that might initially appear to be the case.44

Elsewhere in the state, whites commonly resorted to violence when “provoked”—most commonly by the arrival of a small number of blacks. [End Page 72]

Map 1. This map indicates the distribution of both the incidents of racist violence which were referenced in the text and the jurisdictions which were identified as likely sundown communities.<br/><br/>Map by Erin Greb Cartography.
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Map 1.

This map indicates the distribution of both the incidents of racist violence which were referenced in the text and the jurisdictions which were identified as likely sundown communities.

Map by Erin Greb Cartography.

[End Page 73]

In 1867, whites in Pierceton demonstrated this when they interpreted the arrival of a handful of blacks as an effort to achieve “the Africanization of this [Kosciusko] county.” When policemen arrested a black man for an alleged felony, “he was brought back to Pierceton, where he was met by an excited mob, [which] immediately fell upon him, and shot, beat, and stabbed him, until he was dead. A rope was then placed around his neck, and his body was dragged through the streets and finally, left lying in the road.” This violence, one resident declared, “demonstrate[d] the necessity for a removal of the negroes out of the country. To-day, at Pierceton there would be a unanimous vote for the measure.”45

Clearly, whites tended to target blacks in those discrete locals where they concentrated, even when these concentrations were very small indeed. “After the Civil War most of the [black] newcomers settled in cities and towns,” historian Emma Lou Thornbrough observed: “Older residents also left rural areas and headed for the cities.”46 In either case blacks privileged the personal safety and economic opportunity which larger urban centers offered. They headed in especially large numbers to Indianapolis, “the strongest magnet for black migrants.”47 Remarking on the 1865 violence, a reporter left no doubt that the state capital too pulsated with the predictable racial tension attendant to this demographic reality. “Already there are indications of a demonstration in this regard here [in Indianapolis],” he proclaimed, “and from Evansville the [n]ews comes of continued disturbances.”48

In an unknown number of sparsely populated rural districts, whites enforced their will with loosely organized vigilante groups dedicated to the intimidation and expulsion of the black population. “In Adams county, a few nights ago, a negro who had just settled there was driven from his house at night, and his house burned,” the Indianapolis Sentinel described in 1873.49 In a dispatch six years later, the Indianapolis Journal reported likewise that “a few colored men have settled in Perry township, Monroe county.” Visiting the houses of black people at night, the regulators advised them that they were not “going to allow a d——d nigger in this township.”50

Whites also policed all-black agricultural colonies, such as the Beech settlement established by black migrants to Rush County in the 1830s. In 1875 a mob lynched William Keemer, a resident of the colony, in nearby Green-field. “The wagon was drawn from under the ravisher’s feet, and he was left to die of strangulation,” the Indianapolis Journal noted. “The rope was a new one, and, with the heavy weight attached, stretched until Keemer’s great feet touched the earth, but the ground was scooped out by a dozen willing hands [End Page 74] in less time than it takes to tell it.” After hanging Keemer, mob members affixed to his corpse a note declaring that his lynching was the unanimous “verdict of 160 men from Hancock, Shelby and Rush [counties].”51

As the Keemer execution illustrates, participants and spectators from across a wide area could ensure that a single lynching spectacle would have an outsized impact on race relations and thus enforce white supremacy not only in the municipality where it occurred but across a wider area. A white mob achieved a similar result with the lynching of a black prisoner by hanging in 1872. The Sullivan Democrat maintained that “the scene of the tragedy was visited on Sunday by hundreds of people from Orleans, Mitchell and the surrounding country. The hanging took place in Lawrence county, just outside of the boundaries of Orange.”52

After the Civil War, whites established so-called sundown towns and counties which enforced all-white populations by expelling, and sometimes killing, current black residents and by banning prospective new ones. In 1867, they ensured the all-white composition of Salem when Alexander White, “the last one of his race to make his home in Salem, was murdered,” a local historian later recalled. “Two young men, somewhat intoxicated, Robert Cline and Harvey Zink, were seen trailing after him and were heard to threaten his life if he didn’t leave Salem.” Whites failed to punish the killers who “fled the country. Zink was finally arrested, tried and acquitted. Cline made good his escape.”53

During the Exodus, the residents of sundown towns, like Aurora, felt obliged to reaffirm their intolerance. When two black barbers arrived there in 1879, “the negro haters” encouraged their expeditious departure by explaining to them the ugly “history of Aurora on the negro question.” Thundered the hometown newspaper, “aurora is no nigger town.”54 In 1880, the residents engaged in more of “this ‘nigger business,’” menacing some black laborers temporarily at work there. In so doing, they distinguished Aurora as among the best-known anti-black towns in the state. “Unreasonable persecutions of colored men continue in Indiana towns, especially at Aurora and Shelbyville,” noted an observer in the latter year. “All colored folks are driven from Aurora.”55

While sundown jurisdictions like Salem and Aurora were located in southern Indiana, many others were situated elsewhere in the state. “Within the last year or two a few negroes have found their way to Bluffton,” documented the Indianapolis Journal in 1880. They were not there for long because whites soon “determined to get rid of the obnoxious element by [End Page 75] regular ku-klux methods.”56 With acts of this sort, those in Bluffton and surrounding Wells County established a reputation that would long persist. In 1900, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on “an Indiana county—Wells—in which no negro lives.” When a Negro “strays along that way he is frightened by a recital of stories of what happened to those who were in the county in years gone by—just long enough to be told that they must move on.” Again in 1922, the Fort Wayne News Sentinel noted that little had changed and that Wells still had “no negro population.”57

Unlike the southernmost jurisdictions located adjacent to or en route from the sources of the migrations of freed people and the Exodusters into the state, those further north probably had a better opportunity to exclude black migrants simply because of their more remote location. Nonetheless, northern jurisdictions may also have acted out of an even greater intolerance for any black presence. After all, if the whites in southern Indiana were more oppressive than those elsewhere in the state, why would the blacks have chosen to stay there rather than to migrate to more “welcoming” areas?

The census data confirms that blacks lived in extremely small numbers throughout much of Indiana. In nineteen of the ninety-two counties, for example, they accounted for twenty-five or fewer residents—an arbitrary but very low number—in 1860, 1870, and 1880, and in many of these jurisdictions they did not approach that modest upper limit. No blacks resided in Brown County in either 1860 or 1880; in 1870, there was one. Despite their significant increases in numbers after the Civil War and during the Exodus, blacks also declined steadily in absolute numbers in five additional counties throughout the period, falling below the threshold of twenty-five in three of them by 1880. Between 1860 and 1880, the African American population had declined from 103 to twelve in Franklin County, from fifty-two to twenty-two in Martin County, and from 187 to just three in Washington County. Each of these twenty-two counties was probably sundown, especially when anecdotal evidence from the late nineteenth century clearly indicated that some of them banned blacks. Furthermore, fully sixteen of the nineteen counties with fewer than twenty-five blacks in all three censuses were located in northern Indiana. Finally, many individual sundown towns surely existed in many counties—even in those which claimed more than twenty-five black residents.58 However, most of these sundown towns were probably too small to be captured individually in the censuses.

Because of the hostility of whites in Indiana, blacks there tended to concentrate increasingly in a relatively small number of generally urban locations. [End Page 76] In 1860, only 12.2 percent of all black Indianans lived in the three cities which claimed more than two hundred and fifty blacks. By 1870, 30.9 percent of them lived in the seven cities which reached this population threshold; by 1880, 36.6 percent lived in the nine such cities.59 As a result, whites were able to target blacks and terrorize a large proportion of them with a relatively modest number of violent incidents. An observer may have been prescient when he speculated, following a notorious Depression-era Indiana double hanging, that the “only reason there are more lynchings in the South than in the balance of the country is because there are more negroes in the South.”60

This brief study of racist violence in Indiana has important implications for the subsequent history of race relations in the state. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century whites would build Jim Crow on the foundation of the violence which scarred Indiana during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. Despite the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, whites ensured that blacks would continue to occupy the bottom rung of their social ladder. “Perhaps the major challenge facing black families was earning a living wage,” Madison noted. “Black men usually could find employment only as unskilled laborers—janitors, waiters, hod carriers, teamsters.” Although Jim Crow was largely de facto rather than de jure, whites had it very much in place by the turn of the century, as evidenced by the fact that “restaurants, hotels, theaters, and barber shops often refused service to blacks.”61

To implement and enforce Jim Crow, whites would again resort to violence. “Holly Epps … paid the penalty of death for his damnable deed this morning at the hands of an infuriated mob,” the Evansville Courier reported regarding an 1886 lynching in Vincennes. “A great many citizens … were on the scene as spectators, but there was no attempt to molest the mob either by citizens or officials.”62 In 1887, a teacher and his pupils kept black children out of a school near Corydon. When the former declared that he would resign before he would teach black youngsters, the white children set “upon the colored children and beat them after the manner of the old slave times.”63 In 1890, a mob lynched Eli Ladd in Blountville. A West Virginia paper chuckled over what it saw as hypocrisy. “This infamous outrage occurred in the banner Republican county of Indiana,” according to the Wheeling Register. “Had it occurred down South the uproar raised by the bloody shirt howlers would be deafening.”64

At the turn of the century, whites lynched with abandon. “Gov. Mount [End Page 77] and his fellow state officers are greatly excited over conditions in southern Indiana” and over “the race troubles which have existed so long in certain Ohio river counties,” indicated a 1900 wire report on the lynchings in Rockport and Boonville, which claimed three black lives over two days.65 The Evansville Courier monitored the unrest closely. It recounted that the mob members in Rockport collected “bits of their victims” after hanging them. “Some ghoul cut off the first finger of the left hand of Henderson to keep it as [a] relic. The digit was severed at the knuckle and so hastily was the work done that a great slice of flesh was cut from the second finger, almost paring it to the bone.”66

In a 1901 lynching in Terre Haute, a “mob battered down the doors of the jail and dragged the miserable prisoner to the bridge,” the Courier described. “Not content with hanging the crowd cut the corpse down, laying it on the sand bar under the bridge, kindled a fire and cremated the remains.” In the same issue it discussed a similar incident unfolding in the capital. “The lynching and burning of the negro at Terre Haute today, coming as it does, so soon after the brutal assault on Dorothy Danley, a white girl … has fanned public feeling to a fever.” The Courier predicted with bold headlines that whites “May Lynch Man in Indianapolis.” Learning of the Terre Haute affair, Governor Winfield T. Durbin appeared unconcerned. “I do not know what can be done,” he told a reporter. “It is my understanding [that] the people favoring the lynching are decidedly in the majority.”67

In 1902, a mob seized and hanged a black prisoner in Sullivan. “Had it not been for cool heads in the mob the body of the dead negro would have been burned,” the Courier averred. “There was a clamor to have the body burned to ashes.”68 In 1903, a mob gathered for another lynching in Evansville. Now more concerned about the repercussions of the continuing “race troubles,” Governor Durbin called out the state militia which fired on the mob, killing twelve.69 A report revealed the nature of race relations along the southern lip of the state in these years. “Cities and towns along the Ohio river have begun a crusade against the negroes,” it noted. “The entire trouble dates back to the lynching of the negroes at Rockport and Boon-eville [sic].” Simultaneously, vigilantes expelled blacks from Grand View, Enterprise, Tell City, and Newburgh.70

In these same years, whites would further expand the number of sundown towns. “Up in Scott county colored people are not welcome,” an observer noted in 1900. The Marion Chronicle expressed discomfort with sundown towns in 1903, despite underestimating the total. “The people [End Page 78] of Elwood, Tipton, Gas City, Bluffton, Decatur and fifteen or twenty other small places in Indiana are violating the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the constitution every day in the year by proscribing races.”71 On two occasions in 1903 whites expelled black visitors from Linton, which “has not permitted negroes to live in the town since a coal company some years ago imported negro miners from Kentucky, who were afterward driven away.”72 More than two decades later, whites were still finding novel ways of expressing their aversion to any black presence in their towns. “Stone pillars, flanking the northern entrance to this town now warn the Negro he is barred from it,” noted a 1925 report on Hobart. “On eight sides of the posts is the inscription, ‘tnt—Travel, Negro, Travel.’”73

Not surprisingly, white Indianans would still subscribe to the comfortable fiction that they did not perpetrate the kinds of crimes that they were happy to condemn when perpetrated by white southerners. In fact, the mob members who executed the three black men in Boonville and Rockport in 1900 adopted fictive “southern” identities during the commission of their murderous acts in an elaborate sort of intraracial and intersectional minstrel show. “The mob is said to have come from Spencer county [Indiana], but all inquiries as to the place from which the men came received the same laconic reply, Kentucky. Kentucky is a convenient place to come from on such an occasion,” the Evansville Courier mused. After the killings, it joked, “the mob, the strangers, the ‘Kentuckians,’ dispersed as quietly as they had come.”74 These white men were, in other words, eager to foist their own racial sins upon white southern (in this case, border state) scapegoats already popularly—and quite fairly—associated with antiblack racism and violence.

In some respects, Indiana historians have addressed antiblack racism in the same way, foisting responsibility for it upon the state’s white southern settlers and their progeny. In so doing, they have received an obvious assist from the incontrovertible fact that acts of racist violence were much more frequent in southern Indiana, an area “entirely dominated” by upland southerners.75 Even after they have acknowledged that antiblack sentiment was a statewide issue, they have frequently reinforced this conventional wisdom: “Some small towns and rural areas, particularly in southern Indiana, developed reputations for special hostility and intimidation.”76

This study affirms that white “southerners” in southern Indiana were deeply racist and that they frequently deployed racist violence. Nevertheless, it challenges the corollary assumption that the whites who originated [End Page 79] in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and who settled in central and northern Indiana played a peripheral role in this history of racist brutality.77 It is true, for instance, that white voters in southern Indiana approved the 1851 exclusion measure by more than ninety percent; however, it is also true that whites across the entire state approved it by nearly eighty-four percent, suggesting a very high level of anti-black sentiment everywhere.78 In addition, it is true that whites in southern Indiana tended to use violence to control relatively small black populations; yet, it is also true that whites in central and particularly in northern areas tended to exclude blacks altogether, using violence as a means to expel periodic black migrants into the area or to establish a reputation that would deter others from coming. In this sense, it is probably more accurate to say that white “southerners” and “northerners” in Indiana responded to black populations differently rather than to suggest that one group was more or less receptive to blacks.

As they had always done, blacks would vigorously defend themselves with arms. They did so in the coal mines around Evansville in 1899 when—as in Knightsville and Coal Creek in the 1870s—striking white miners and their families menaced black strikebreakers. “The Non-Union Negroes Arm Themselves with Winchester Rifles and Prepare for a Battle on Coal Mine Hill,” screamed the Courier, which minimized reports of rock-throwing intimidation by the strikers and focused on what it viewed as the illegitimate acts of black brutes. “The scene was one that one can never forget,” the paper declared. “One word, one careless act, one unwise move would have caused dozens of lives. Not only would the miners who are fighting for what they call right, would have fallen victims. Women and little defens[eless] children would have been slaughtered.”79 Without doubt, black Indianans took up arms against their oppressors throughout the nineteenth century, a corrective to those who insist that blacks did not adopt these tactics until well into the twentieth.

This study also has important implications for the history of the Midwest more generally. It shows that white Indianans met the influx of blacks during the war with a surge of violence in a frenzied effort to control that fast growing population. This finding is consistent with the finding of a similar surge in Kansas, where whites lynched thirty-two blacks in nineteen incidents between 1864 and 1870, and a possible surge in Illinois, where they lynched three blacks between 1865 and 1870 in the southern part of the state alone.80

Taken together, these studies begin to illuminate an apparent but here-tofore [End Page 80] unrecognized reality: the Midwest experienced a dramatic outbreak of racist violence at the moment that many scholars associate with the triumph of racial “radicalism.” Contemporaries did recognize this reality. Following the 1862 New Albany race riot, the Baltimore Sun placed the event into a larger midwestern context. “The ill-feeling between the whites and blacks which has lately been exhibited in Toledo, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois, has also begun to ripen in Indiana.”81 Another affirmed the point in an 1865 editorial on, among other topics, the recent Evansville lynching. “The ‘inevitable nig’ is creating trouble wherever he is found,” mused the New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette. “The negroes are becoming intolerably insolent, and the result is constant riots.” These “troubles,” the paper predicted, “are but indications, we fear, of what is to come” from Emancipation, the “first fruits of the experiment of negro ‘freedom.’”82

This investigation also finds that white Indianans met the Exodus of 1879–1880 with a second surge of violence in an effort to subordinate the black newcomers and curb the migration. Here again, it affirms similar findings for Kansas, the other major Exoduster destination. Both studies show that black southerners, fleeing the South to escape racism and violence, confronted more of the same in the vaunted North, causing the migrations to both states to falter.83

Nonetheless, this study does identify a crucial distinction between the white responses to the Exodus in Indiana and Kansas respectively. Many Indianans were Democrats who feared an influx of black Republicans and mobilized to beat back both a racial and a political challenge. Conversely, many white Kansans were Republicans like the black newcomers themselves. Although they feared blacks on a racial level, they could take solace “in the knowledge that they shared the same Republican political allegiance as their black adversaries, profiting from the votes of blacks while denying them meaningful participation in the party.”84 Many white Indianans saw no such “silver lining.” In 1879–1880, therefore, they employed a level of politically inspired racist violence more similar in character to that employed in the highly Democratic former slave states, where whites had recently crushed black and Republican power, than to that employed in Kansas.

Together, this study and several earlier ones have begun to illustrate that, in addition to employing relentless racist violence to impose and enforce white supremacy, white Midwesterners have attempted to conceal or obfuscate their antiblack proclivities—and to preserve the image of the [End Page 81] Midwest as a bucolic land of race neutral meritocracy—by scapegoating white southerners. White Indianans, for example, were eager to condemn antiblack violence in the American South but were more than willing to excuse or camouflage similar violence within their state by attributing it to the origins of the “southerners” among them or to invaders from the border states. White Kansans did likewise. “[They] characteristically blamed racist violence on or near the Kansas—Missouri border on Missourians bent on instigating trouble or on settlers from Missouri with unrepresentative ‘southern’ attitudes.”85

When placed into conversation with the expanding scholarship on racist violence in the Midwest, this study challenges the notion that “Indiana was strikingly different from other states in the Old Northwest because of its considerable population of southern natives and former residents of the South.”86 In fact, between 1845 and 1930, Indiana witnessed the lynching of twenty-five blacks in sixteen incidents, numbers roughly comparable to the lynching of twenty-two blacks in twenty-one incidents in the more “northern” sister state of Illinois and far fewer than the lynching of fifty-two blacks in thirty-seven incidents between 1861 and 1920 in the much more “northern” state of Kansas where blacks constituted a larger percentage of the total population and concentrated in far greater numbers in the principal cities.87 As in the other midwestern states, in other words, anti-black lynching in Indiana apparently correlated much more closely to the perceived threat among whites over the local concentration of blacks than it did to the sectional origins of the lynchers.

This study joins those of historians such as George C. Wright and William D. Carrigan in challenging the conventional wisdom about the temporal arc of racist lynchings. First, while historians have traditionally identified the “beginning” of the antiblack “lynching era” in 1880, these authors demonstrate that this “era” began well before that widely accepted date. In Indiana mobs lynched at least fifteen black men in eight incidents between 1865 and 1880. Between 1881 and 1902, they lynched seven victims in six incidents. On balance, then, mobs were lynching fewer men at a perceptibly lower rate after 1880, a finding inconsistent with the assertion that “Hoosier lynchings increased in frequency in the late 1880s and 1890s.”88

In fact, several recent studies have suggested that antiblack lynchings in the Midwest actually predated the Civil War. This one finds that white Indianans lynched a black man in Indianapolis as early as 1845; others have identified three racist lynchings in Illinois, one in Ohio, and one in Iowa, [End Page 82] in the 1840s and 1850s. Viewed together, these studies suggest that more such lynchings may be unearthed there.89 In fact, just three weeks after the lynching in the Indiana state capital, one may have occurred in the Ohio state capital when a mob attacked a man, beating, stoning, and whipping him. “There was a rumor that the negro had died from the effects of the above injuries,” the Ohio Statesman declared. “This report, however, we do not credit at present, although possibly it may prove true.” If it was true, this was a lynching, and it was followed by a race riot. “In the evening the same men marched through the streets unmolested by the police, beating peaceable blacks and stoning their houses,” the Liberator explained.90

Historians have customarily dated the “beginning” of the “black rapist mythology” in the 1880s. Because it identifies five lynchings of ten victims based on accusations of rape in Indiana in the 1860s and 1870s, this study corroborates more recent scholarship showing that whites began to advance rape as an explanation for mob violence in the immediate aftermath of the war.91 In fact, it finds that, in the Midwest at least, whites employed this explanation prior to the war. “A negro by the name of Tucker of Indianapolis, was … killed by a mob,” noted the Logansport Telegraph after that 1845 incident. “Causes of the mob not given—perhaps from the fact that a negro man had a few days before assaulted a lady.”92 In 1860, the New Albany Daily Ledger reported that “a negro named John Brown is on trial at Indianapolis on a charge of committing a felonious assault on a little white girl,” and that, “So great was the excitement against him that it was feared the prisoner would be taken from the officers and hanged.”93

This study affirms the contention of sociologist James W. Loewen that the Midwest—and Indiana in particular—was heavily sundown and that many towns probably enforced exclusion, either episodically or continuously.94 Nevertheless, it challenges Loewen’s formulation that these sundown towns largely emerged in the 1890s and demonstrates that whites in towns like Salem, Aurora, and Bluffton initiated their practices in the 1860s, 1870s, and early 1880s. In fact, whites in some towns established sundown practices earlier than that. A man in Leavenworth claimed that his county was sundown as early as the 1840s. “There is not a nigger in Crawford county from one end to the other,” he declared in 1888, “and there never has been, at least in my recollection, and I have lived here forty years.”95

Finally, historians have often treated racist violence in the Midwest as something of an aberration. However, in revealing the common nature of racist violence in Indiana, this investigation joins several recent studies [End Page 83] which have begun to establish the centrality of such violence in midwestern history.96 Pfeifer and I have identified a total of ninety white-on-black lynchings resulting in the deaths of 115 blacks between 1846 and 1943 in just Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and Ohio, far more than the number attributed to the entire Middle West by historian W. Fitzhugh Brundage in 1997 when he wrote that in the “Midwest … 79 black victims died at the hands of mobs.”97 Others have identified antiblack lynchings in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, and will surely uncover more. Eventually, they will establish a much more accurate inventory of these incidents of racist violence so that a more comprehensive assessment of its role in the history of the Midwest can be established.98

If scholars have failed to see systemic racist violence in the Midwest, contemporary white southerners clearly recognized it. “What’s the matter out there?” teased Alabama’s Mobile Register after midwestern lynchings that came in rapid succession in 1877. “Here is another negro lynched in Ohio—and then, again, another in Illinois! Won’t those rebellious western men quit persecuting colored citizens?” Georgia’s Augusta Chronicle took a similar view after the Mount Vernon lynching: “It will not do for the North any longer to hold up its hands in horror over the disposition of the South to indulge in lynch law.”99 When Indiana vigilantes attacked some blacks in 1880, an Ohio newspaper ceded this point by recognizing that white nidwesterners paid little heed to antiblack movements within their own section but routinely condemned those in the South. While Midwesterners would fail to see the Indiana violence as racial terrorism, the Cincinnati Daily Gazette recognized that they would almost certainly see the southern variety through that lens: “South of the Ohio it would be known as the Ku Klux plan.”100

In August 1930, a mob lynched Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, an incident captured on film by local photographer Lawrence Beitler, whose image quickly achieved lasting notoriety. “If you have seen only one picture of an American lynching,” scholar Ashraf Rushdy recently observed, “it is likely that it was the one that shows a man in the [Marion] mob pointing at the two bodies hanging from a maple tree in the courthouse square. It is difficult to think of a lynching photograph that has had a more influential life than that picture.” In emphasizing the impact of the Beitler photograph, Rushdy asserted that it has “become not only what the abc news program Compass called the ‘most famous photograph of America’s era of lynching’ but in fact, as historian James Madison says, ‘the generic [End Page 84] lynching photograph.’” He also added that a portion of the photograph was used for the cover illustration for the book, At the Hands of Persons Unknown, by Philip Dray, his 2002 popular history of antiblack lynching.101

Given that the Marion hanging has become the generic American lynching photograph, it should come as little surprise that it has also become the generic Indiana lynching story. Indeed, it was the subject of a gripping narrative of the terrible 1930 ordeal endured by the sole black survivor of the lynching, James Cameron, published in 1982 and entitled A Time of Terror. More recently, it provided the storyline for two more books, A Lynching in the Heartland (2001) and Our Town (2006) by Madison and the journalist Cynthia Carr, respectively.102

While the Marion lynching is an incident of tremendous significance to the history of race relations in Indiana and America, the usual focus on it obscures much. Because this focus portrays the Marion lynching as an aberration rather than as a dramatic, and perhaps final, episode in a long chain of lynchings, it does disguise the fact that racist violence was common in the history of the Hoosier State and played a central role in the enforcement of white supremacy.103 As a result, it effectively places the blame for racist violence and for the social order which it sustained upon a comparatively small group of white people in one town on one night, rather than upon all those who participated in the practice across the entire state over several generations.104

The focus on Marion also implies that this infamous incident was unusually brutal and for this reason merits the oversized attention that it has received. In fact, as brutal as it was, the Marion lynching was quite conventional and was certainly no more brutal than the fiery torture and hanging of the three blacks near Charlestown, the hanging of the four men and the quartering of the fifth in Mount Vernon, the hanging and burning in Terre Haute, or the double hanging in Rockport. Quite simply, the Marion lynching was an ordinary lynching made extraordinary by its immortalization in the photograph and its subsequent mass circulation. While some may find comfort in the suggestion that the Beitler photograph captured something unusually savage, the fact is that the image captured for all intents and purposes the savagery of lynching as it manifested itself in every town in Indiana and in America where such events occurred. [End Page 85]

Brent M. S. Campney

Brent M. S. Campney is associate professor in the history department at the University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley (formerly the University of Texas–Pan American). He is the author of This is Not Dixie: Racist Violence in Kansas, 1861–1927 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, forthcoming Sept. 2015) and has published articles in journals such as Western Historical Quarterly, American Nineteenth Century History, and Great Plains Quarterly.

Acknowledgments

The author thanks Megan Birk, two anonymous readers, and the editors of the Middle West Review for their excellent feedback in the development of this article.

notes

1. “Negroes Trying to Get into Indiana,” Crisis (Columbus, Ohio), Oct. 22, 1862.

2. Gregory S. Rose, “The Distribution of Indiana’s Ethnic and Racial Minorities in 1850,” Indiana Magazine of History 87 (Sept. 1991): 248.

3. James H. Madison, The Indiana Way: A State History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), 107; quoted in Eugene H. Berwanger, The Frontier against Slavery: Western Anti-Negro Prejudice and the Slavery Extension Controversy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1967), 30; quoted in Leon F. Litwack, North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790–1860 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), 69; Evansville Daily Enquirer, July 28, 1857.

4. Madison, Indiana Way, 107. On the outlawing of voting and interracial marriage, see ibid.; Berwanger, Frontier against Slavery, 36.

5. Berwanger, Frontier against Slavery, 34.

6. Madison, Indiana Way, 169.

7. Cincinnati Herald (Ohio), reprinted as “Mob in Indiana,” Liberator (Boston), Aug. 8, 1845. See also “Affray and Murder,” Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis), July 10, 1845. On the Black Laws and the intensity of antiblack sentiment in antebellum Indiana, see Berwanger, Frontier against Slavery, 7–59.

8. “Mail Brevities,” Cincinnati Enquirer (Ohio), Aug. 4, 1850.

9. On this shift in the connotation of lynching, see Christopher Waldrep, The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 27–47; Michael J. Pfeifer, The Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011), 12–31.

10. Louisville Advertiser, reprinted in Wabash Enquirer (Terre Haute), July 29, 1840.

11. Evansville Enquirer, reprinted as “Negro Excitement at Evansville,” Sandusky Register (Ohio), July 31, 1857; Evansville Daily Enquirer, July 28, 1857.

12. On the New Albany riot, see, for instance, Louisville Express, reprinted as “The Excitement at New Albany, Indiana,” Macon Telegraph (Ga.), Aug. 9, 1862; “Riot and Excitement at New Albany, Indiana,” Sun (Baltimore), July 26, 1862.

13. Sun (Baltimore), July 19, 1865; “The Black Horde Coming North,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland), July 28, 1865. For the population figures, see Emma Lou Thornbrough, “African Americans,” in Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience, ed. Robert M. Taylor Jr. and Connie A. McBirney (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1996), 15–16. See also Statistics of the Population of the United States at the Tenth Census, June 1, 1880, 388. [End Page 86]

14. Jasper Weekly Courier, Aug. 5, 1865; New Albany Ledger, reprinted as “Exodus of Negroes from Evansville,” Sullivan Democrat, Aug. 10, 1865.

15. Jasper Weekly Courier, Aug. 5, 1865; Vincennes Sun, reprinted as “Great Outrage,” in Sullivan Democrat, Aug. 3, 1865.

16. Boonville Enquirer, reprinted in Jasper Weekly Courier, July 8, 1865; Vincennes Sun, reprinted as “Violence to Negroes,” Sullivan Democrat, Aug. 17, 1865.

17. New Albany Daily Commercial, Sept. 7, 1865.

18. Louisville Democrat, reprinted as “Life in Indiana,” Daily Age (Philadelphia), Aug. 23, 1865.

19. “Indiana,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio), Mar. 15, 1866.

20. Seymour Times, May 9, 1867.

21. Warrick Herald, reprinted as “The Recent Murder in Spencer County,” New Albany Daily Commercial, July 12, 1868; Grandview Monitor, reprinted as “The Spencer County Murder,” New Albany Daily Commercial, July 14, 1868.

22. “From Indianapolis,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio), Jan. 20, 1870. See also “Spirit of the Morning Dispatches,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), Sept. 7, 1869.

23. “Another Triple Murder!” New Albany Daily Standard, Nov. 17, 1871.

24. “Indiana State News,” Warren Republican (Williamsport), Apr. 25, 1878; “Fountain County Troubles,” Indianapolis News, June 22, 1878. On the second episode at Coal Creek, see also Indianapolis Sentinel, reprinted as “The First Report,” Huntington Democrat, June 20, 1878.

25. “Anarchy in Posey,” Indianapolis Journal, Oct. 12, 1878.

26. Louisville Democrat, reprinted as “A Novel Verdict,” Illustrated New Age (Philadelphia), Sept. 16, 1865.

27. “Excitement in Indiana,” Evening Union (Washington, D.C.), Aug. 23, 1865.

28. William Cohen, At Freedom’s Edge: Black Mobility and the Southern White Quest for Racial Control, 1861–1915 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991), 194.

29. Rockford Weekly Gazette (Ill.), Feb. 11, 1880.

30. “Sentinel Specials,” Indianapolis Sentinel, Dec. 19, 1879.

31. “An Exciting Negro Hunt,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio), Apr. 16, 1880.

32. “Clay County Vigilantes,” Indianapolis Journal, Dec. 12, 1880; “A Ravisher Lynched at Brazil,” Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel, Dec. 15, 1880.

33. Cohen, At Freedom’s Edge, 194.

34. Alexandria Gazette (Va.), reprinted as “The Negro Emigrants to Indiana,” Macon Telegraph (Ga.), Jan. 18, 1880.

35. Gen. Robt. M. Evans, History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, from the Earliest Times to the Present, with Biographical Sketches, Reminiscences, Etc. (Madison, Wis.: Brant & Fuller, 1889), 188.

36. “A Bloody Riot,” Sullivan Democrat, Apr. 23, 1873.

37. “Riotous Militiamen,” New York Tribune, Apr. 19, 1878; “The Indiana Kuklux [sic],” Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago), Apr. 23, 1878.

38. Cohen, At Freedom’s Edge, 187.

39. “Another Yazoo,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Ohio), June 17, 1880; “Ku Klux Outrage in Indiana,” Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio), Aug. 12, 1880. [End Page 87]

40. Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio), Aug. 12, 1880.

41. “Doings of Two Strange Negroes,” Indianapolis Sentinel, Sept. 24, 1880.

42. “‘One Vote Less,’” Rockport Journal, Oct. 14, 1880. See also “The KuKlux [sic] Plan,” Indianapolis Journal, Oct. 12, 1880.

43. Louisville Democrat, reprinted as “Great Excitement in Clark County, Indiana,” Age (Philadelphia), Aug. 10, 1865.

44. Gregory S. Rose, “Upland Southerners: The County Origins of Southern Migrants to Indiana by 1850,” Indiana Magazine of History 82 (Sept. 1986): 242–63.

45. “The Tragedy at Pierceton, Ind.,” Rochester Standard, Dec. 12, 1867; “The Tragedy at Pierceton!” Northern Indianian (Warsaw), Dec. 5, 1867.

46. Thornbrough, “African Americans,” 15.

47. Madison, The Indiana Way, 170.

48. “Two Women Set upon by Soldiers and Violated,” Richmond Whig, Aug. 11, 1865.

49. “Ku Kluxism,” Indianapolis Sentinel, Sept. 7, 1873.

50. Indianapolis Journal, Aug. 23, 1879.

51. Indianapolis Journal, reprinted as “Judge Lynch,” Cambridge City Tribune, July 1, 1875.

52. “Orange County Vigilants [sic],” Sullivan Democrat, Oct. 2, 1872.

53. Warder W. Stevens, Centennial History of Washington County: Its People, Industries, and Institutions (Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc., 1916), 435. See also “The Salem Murder,” New Albany Daily Commercial, Sept. 24, 1867. There is a small but growing body of literature on sundown towns. See, for example, George C. Wright, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865–1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule, and “Legal Lynchings” (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990), 127–54; James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (New York: The New Press, 2005); Elliot Jaspin, Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America (New York: Basic Books, 2008); Kimberly Harper, White Man’s Heaven: The Lynching and Expulsion of Blacks in the Southern Ozarks, 1894–1909 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2010); Brent M. S. Campney, This is Not Dixie: Racist Violence in Kansas, 1861–1927 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, forthcoming Sept. 2015).

54. Dearborn Independent (Aurora), Oct. 9, 1879; “Civil Rights in Aurora,” Dearborn Independent (Aurora), Oct. 16, 1879. See also “Ed. Independent,” Dearborn Independent (Aurora), Oct. 9, 1879; Dearborn Independent (Aurora), Nov. 6, 1879.

55. Dearborn Independent (Aurora), Apr. 29, 1880; Summit County Beacon (Akron, Ohio), Apr. 28, 1880.

56. Indianapolis Journal, Aug. 7, 1880.

57. Louisville Courier-Journal, reprinted as “How Indiana Solves the Negro Problem,” Marietta Journal (Ga.), Dec. 6, 1900; “No Negroes in Wells County,” Fort Wayne News Sentinel, Mar. 22, 1922.

58. These population statistics are found in or derived from Statistics of the Population of the United States at the Tenth Census, June 1, 1880, 388–89. The Camden Expositor remarked upon three of these twenty-two counties in 1881, noting that the county in Indiana “having the least population is Starke, with 5,105, all whites. There are two other counties—Brown and Jasper—with no colored people.” See “The Tenth National Census,” Camden Expositor, Feb. 17, 1881. [End Page 88]

59. In 1860 only Indianapolis, New Albany, and Richmond had more than two hundred and fifty blacks; by 1870 Evansville, Jeffersonville, Madison and Terre Haute had also reached this threshold; by 1880 so too had Crawfordsville and Vincennes. These population statistics are found in or derived from Department of the Interior, Ninth Census—Volume I, The Statistics of the Population of the United States, June 1, 1870 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1872), 122–31; Statistics of the Population of the United States at the Tenth Census, June 1, 1880, 388, 417–18.

60. Quoted in James H. Madison, A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 72.

61. Madison, Indiana Way, 171. For a study that problematizes the distinction between de jure and de facto racism, see Matthew D. Lassiter, “De Jure/De Facto Segregation: The Long Shadow of a National Myth,” in The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism, ed. Matthew D. Lassiter and Joseph Crespino (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 25–48.

62. “Vincennes Lynching,” Evansville Daily Courier, Jan. 18, 1886.

63. “Indiana Ku-Klux,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Ohio), Feb. 13, 1887.

64. Wheeling Register (W. Va.), June 4, 1890.

65. “Fears Race War,” Saginaw Evening News (Mich.), Dec. 26, 1900. On the Rockport and Boonville lynchings, see “Hustling Joe’s Life Third Sacrifice to Lust for Vengeance in Mob’s Breast,” Evansville Courier, Dec. 18, 1900.

66. “An Act of Barbarism Mars People’s Vengeance,” Evansville Courier, Dec. 18, 1900.

67. “Negro Hanged and his Body Burned by Terre Haute People,” “May Lynch Man in Indianapolis,” and “Governor Not Worrying,” Evansville Courier, Feb. 27, 1901.

68. “Negro Assailant of Two White Women Lynched Near Sullivan,” Evansville Courier, Nov. 21, 1902.

69. On the number of dead in the riot in Evansville in 1903, see Madison, Lynching in the Heartland, 19.

70. Indianapolis Sentinel, reprinted as “Driving the Negroes Out,” Daily Picayune (New Orleans), Jan. 29, 1901.

71. “How Indiana Solves the Negro Problem,” Marietta Journal (Ga.), Dec. 6, 1900; Marion Chronicle, reprinted as “Condition Not Understood,” in Bluffton Banner, Feb. 18, 1903.

72. “Wallace Weakened,” Bedford Daily Mail, July 13, 1903.

73. “Indiana Sign Bars Negroes from Town,” Negro Star (Wichita, Kan.), Oct. 2, 1925.

74. “Hustling Joe’s Life Third Sacrifice to Lust for Vengeance in Mob’s Breast,” Evansville Courier, Dec. 18, 1900.

75. Robert P. Swierenga, “The Settlement of the Old Northwest: Ethnic Pluralism in a Featureless Plain,” Journal of the Early Republic 9 (Spring 1989): 85.

76. Madison, The Indiana Way, 170.

77. Writing of settlement patterns in Indiana after the War of 1812, Madison wrote: “Three major streams of migration can be identified. The smallest in size was that from the New England states. Considerably larger was the stream from the Mid-Atlantic states, principally New York and Pennsylvania. Largest of all was the population movement from the southern states. These three streams tended to settle in a pattern that reflected their geographic origins, with southerners most heavily congregated in the [End Page 89] southern part of the state, Mid-Atlantic peoples in the central part, and New Englanders in the northern part.” Providing a useful summary, he added: “The 1850 census showed that of Indiana’s American-born residents who had migrated to the state, 2.7 percent had come from the New England states, 19.9 percent from the Mid-Atlantic states, 31.4 percent from Ohio, and 44.0 percent from the southern states.” See Madison, The Indiana Way, 58–59, 62.

78. On the vote for the 1851 exclusion measure, see Richard F. Nation, “Violence and the Rights of African Americans in Civil War-Era Indiana,” Indiana Magazine of History 100 (Sept. 2004): 216.

79. “Miners Make Peaceful Demonstration at Ingle’s,” Evansville Courier, July 22, 1899.

80. Campney, This is Not Dixie; Brent M. S. Campney, “‘The Peculiar Climate of this Region’: The 1854 Cairo Lynching and the Historiography of Racist Violence against Blacks in Illinois,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 107 (Summer 2014): 143–70.

81. “Riot and Excitement at New Albany, Indiana,” Sun (Baltimore), July 26, 1862.

82. “Trouble with the Negroes,” New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette (Concord, N.H.), Aug. 9, 1865. See Brent M. S. Campney, “‘Light Is Bursting Upon the World!’: White Supremacy and Racist Violence against Blacks in Reconstruction Kansas,” Western Historical Quarterly 41 (Summer 2010): 171–94; Campney, “Peculiar Climate.”

83. Campney, This is Not Dixie.

84. Campney, “Light is Bursting,” 192.

85. Brent M. S. Campney, “‘A Little Different than in Alabama’: Sectional Narratives and the Rhetoric of Racist Violence,” in Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri: The Long Civil War on the Border, ed. Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013), 232.

86. Rose, “Upland Southerners,” 242. For a similar articulation of this notion, see Swierenga, “The Settlement of the Old Northwest,” 85.

87. For the Illinois figures, see Campney, “Peculiar Climate”; Michael J. Pfeifer, ed., Lynching beyond Dixie: American Mob Violence outside the South (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), esp. appendix (“Lynchings in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, 1840–1877”). For the Kansas figures, see Campney, This is Not Dixie.

88. Madison, Lynching in the Heartland, 18. For studies challenging the conventional post-1880 thesis, see Wright, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865–1940; William D. Carrigan, The Making of a Lynching Culture: Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836–1916 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004).

89. On the Illinois lynchings, see Campney, “‘Peculiar Climate,’” 143–46, 151–53; on the Iowa lynching, see Robert R. Dykstra, Bright Radical Star: Black Freedom and White Supremacy on the Hawkeye Frontier (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), 10–11. On the Iowa and Ohio lynchings, see Pfeifer, ed., Lynching beyond Dixie, appendix.

90. “For the Ohio Statesman,” Ohio Statesman (Columbus), July 30, 1845; “Mob Spirit at Columbus, Ohio,” Liberator (Boston), Sept. 5, 1845.

91. For a canonical study claiming that the rapist mythology began in the 1880s, see Joel Williamson, The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South since Emancipation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984). For a recent classic challenging this [End Page 90] chronology, see Martha Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the 19th–Century South (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997).

92. “Killed,” Logansport Telegraph, July 19, 1845.

93. New Albany Daily Ledger, Feb. 20, 1860. Both Campney and Pfeifer identified rape as a justification for lynchings in Illinois and Ohio in the 1850s.

94. Loewen, Sundown Towns, 65–67.

95. “No ‘Niggers’ Wanted,” Weekly Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.), Dec. 31, 1888. For Loewen’s chronology, see Sundown Towns, 9–10.

96. On racism and racist violence in the Midwest, see, for example, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, America’s First Black Town: Brooklyn, Illinois, 1830–1915 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000); Wanda A. Hendricks, Gender, Race, and Politics in the Midwest: Black Club Women in Illinois (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998); Roberta Senechal de la Roche, In Lincoln’s Shadow: The 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990); Pfeifer, ed., Lynching beyond Dixie, 165–211.

97. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, “Introduction,” Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South, ed. Brundage (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 4. On the ninety lynchings in those four states, see (in addition to this article) Michael J. Pfeifer, Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874–1947 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004); Pfeifer, Roots of Rough Justice; Pfeifer, ed., Lynching beyond Dixie; Campney, “‘Light is Bursting’”; Campney, “‘Peculiar Climate.”

98. See Pfeifer, ed., Lynching beyond Dixie, appendix.

99. Mobile Register, reprinted as “Banditti,” Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield), Sept. 22, 1877; Augusta Chronicle (Ga.), Oct. 17, 1878.

100. Cincinnati Daily Gazette (Ohio), Aug. 12, 1880.

101. Ashraf H. A. Rushdy, The End of American Lynching (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2012), 60, 61.

102. James Cameron, A Time of Terror (Milwaukee: T/D Publications, 1982); Madison, Lynching in the Heartland; Cynthia Carr, Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006). See also Philip Dray, At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America (New York: Random House, 2002).

103. The Marion hanging is characterized here as the “perhaps final” lynching in Indiana because scholars may yet find other episodes in the state after 1930. Recently, Pfeifer documented several clandestine and largely unpublicized lynchings in Illinois and Ohio in the 1930s and 1940s. See Pfeifer, ed., Lynching beyond Dixie, appendix.

104. For an examination of the role of spectacle—including photographs—in the enforcement of white supremacy in the twentieth century, see Amy Louise Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890–1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009). [End Page 91]

Additional Information

ISSN
2372-5672
Print ISSN
2372-5664
Pages
63-91
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-02
Open Access
No
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