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Lynching is the extrajudicial killing of an individual by a mob. It can include hanging, castration, burning, and other forms of torture. Lynching has been employed throughout American history as far back as the colonial period—primarily, although not exclusively, as a form of racial control. The extreme violence of the act, combined with its deliberate use to inspire fear among a wider populace, qualifies lynching as an act of terrorism.

Until the birth of the anti-lynching movement in the early twentieth century, lynching was used as a common way of intimidating African Americans and other minorities. (Perloff, 2000) The word lynch is derived from a Quaker judge from Virginia named Charles Lynch, who imprisoned British loyalists during the period leading up to the Revolutionary War. During that period, the practice was a widely accepted precursor to the establishment of courts and proper law enforcement agencies.


This paper aims to discuss lynching in US in detail along with the anti lynching reforms by the government.


This paper is a combination of primary research and secondary research.


The term used to describe lawless, violent, and often public murders of individuals. A form of vicious mob violence, lynching often targeted men and women of color, as well as whites and individuals who's ethnic or religious identities also provoked prejudice. Historian Rayford Logan characterized the brutal era of violence that flourished after Reconstruction as the American Dark Ages. Other scholars, such as Robert Gibson, regard this bloody era, which also included race riots and strengthened racist legislation and segregation, as the Black Holocaust. (Cutler, James E, 1969)

Lynching has in the last couple of decades moved into the center of scholarly attention and much recent sociological research and theorizing on lynching converges on understanding it as southern whites' reaction to real or perceived threats from blacks to their dominant position and privileged access to scarce resources, above all economic or material ones. That is to say, to explain why lynching occurred in particular times and places recent research relies on theories of intergroup relations and conflict, above all Blalock's seminal work on intergroup relations (Blalock 1967), that consider lynching a mechanism for racial social control aimed at reducing the competition from free African-Americans and maintain their position as subjugated labor in the post-bellum South (Tolnay and Beck 1995). Research in this vein has generated important insights and substantially furthered our knowledge about lynching, but its strong focus on economic and material conditions causes it to downplay relevant cultural and ideational dynamics, causes, and consequences of lynching, rendering certain highly significant aspects of the phenomenon inexplicable—one of which is its occasionally salient ritual and symbolism.

The Scope of Lynching in US

Mark Twain, the prolific writer and observer of American life and culture, once sarcastically noted that America had become the “United States of Lyncherdom. Between 1882 and 1930, approximately 4,760 men, women, and children fell prey to lynch mobs. No individual or group was entirely safe from lynching. White Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Italians, and other racial-ethnic groups were all ...
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