Lynching Laws

Zachary Moya, Brandon Lutz, Jay Domalapalli

Lynching Laws

Lynching is the act of execution outside of the law. Mostly practiced by the KKK or mobs, Lynching was commonly used against African Americans. lynching took place in the U.S. during the 1930's, a time with racism and segregation.

A story in 1890

In the 1890s Congressman Henry Blair of New Hampshire proposed that Congress investigate lynching, but the measure was blocked because Congress viewed that activity as a state matter. For example, Gov. Benjamin Tillman of South Carolina was elected in 1890 by promising to see “justice” done to black criminals. During his tenure a white woman was assaulted, and John Peterson, a black man, was accused of the crime. He fled to Columbia where he put himself under Governor Tillman's protection. Peterson pleaded innocence and was able to produce witnesses to support his alibi. A white reporter confirmed Peterson's story, but a white mob still demanded that the governor deliver Peterson. Tillman turned him over to the mob. Even though the white victim testified that Peterson was not the suspect.

The fight against lynching

Governors did not always cave in to public pressure. In October 1894 a mob surrounded the Fayette County Courthouse in Ohio and demanded a prisoner. Instead of allowing the mob to administer its own form of justice, Gov. William McKinley sent the state militia to protect the prisoner. Five men were killed and twenty wounded in a battle which was fought, McKinley said, not to spare a prisoner but to maintain “the principle that the law must be upheld.”


Lynch Law / From: Petit Journal 1902. Fine Art. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 9 Oct 2015.

Lynch Law In California, Scene Of The First Execution In San Francisco, On June 10. Photo. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 9 Oct 2015.

"Lynching and the Law." American Eras. Vol. 8: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 258-260. U.S. History in Context. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.


"Jim Crow Art." Jim Crow Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2015.