How a culture of violence legitimized lynching among ordinary people
On May 15, 1916, a crowd of fifteen thousand witnessed the lynching of an eighteen-year-old black farm worker named Jesse Washington. Most central Texans of the time failed to call for the punishment of the mob's leaders. In The Making of a Lynching Culture, now in paperback, William D. Carrigan seeks to explain not how a fiendish mob could lynch one man but how a culture of violence that nourished this practice could form and endure for so long among ordinary people.
Beginning with the 1836 independence of Texas, The Making of a Lynching Culture reexamines traditional explanations of lynching, including the role of the frontier, economic tensions, and political conflicts. Using a voluminous body of court records, newspaper accounts, oral histories, and other sources, Carrigan shows how notions of justice and historical memory were shaped to glorify violence and foster a culture that legitimized lynching.