(This page was developed by a Berea College student as part of a course on Chesnutt)
Throughout the late 19th century racial tension grew throughout the United States. More of this tension was noticeable in the Southern parts of the United States. In the south, people were blaming their financial problems on the newly freed slaves that lived around them. Lynchings were becoming a popular way of resolving some of the anger that whites had in relation to the free blacks.
From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United
States. Of these people that were lynched 3,446 were black.
The blacks lynched accounted for 72.7% of the people lynched. These
numbers seem large, but it is known that not all of the lynchings were
ever recorded. Out of the 4,743 people lynched only 1,297 white
people were lynched. That is only 27.3%. Many of the whites
lynched were lynched for helping the black or being anti lynching and
even for domestic crimes.
Of the lynching that did not take place in the South,
mainly in the West, were normally lynchings of whites, not blacks.
Most of the lynching in the West came from the lynching of either murders
or cattle thief's. There really was no political link to the lynching
of blacks in the South, and whites in the West.
Although some states did have lynchings, some of them did not lynch any blacks. Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin were some states that did not lynch any blacks to record.
Quite a few states did in fact lynch more white people than black. In the West these greater number of white lynchings was due to political reasons not racial reasons. California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming lynched more whites than blacks.
It's sad to think that we look at other countries and
deem them immoral for killing their own people, but we over look the fact
of what happened in the late 1890's to the late 1960's. This
is something that we cannot over look and do not need to try to over look
The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909-1950. Temple University Press. Philadelphia. 1980.
Lynching and the Law. University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill. 1933.
Lynching in the New South. University of Illinois Press. Yrbana and Chicago. 1993.
Southern Horrors and Other Writings. Bedford Books. Boston. 1997.