The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America

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Palgrave Macmillan, 2002 - History - 264 pages
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The word "lynching" has immediate and graphic connotations for virtually all people who hear and use the word. When Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas claimed he was lynched by a Senate investigating committee, he intentionally and deliberately drew on two key components of the term -- race and punishment & nbsp;- that stemmed from the long and ugly history of lynching in America. Yet if we follow the history of the term itself & nbsp;- which is over two centuries old & nbsp;- we learn that lynching has had several different meanings over time, with murder endorsed by the community as one of its most enduring definitions. Tracing the use and meaning of the word "lynching" from the colonial period to the present, historian Christopher Waldrep reveals that while the notion of lynching as a form of extralegal punishment sanctioned by the community did not alter significantly over time, the meaning of the word itself changed drastically, paralleling changes in how Americans grappled with law enforcement, community, and most importantly, race relations.

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About the author (2002)

Christopher Waldrep is the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Chair in History at San Francisco State University.

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