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Your Children of Hell Have Broken Loose Again! – This Week in Historical Lynchings

This week in 1908 saw the lynching of an entire family in Hickman, Kentucky. Caught up in race prejudice and a land dispute, David Walker, his wife, and at least three of his children were gunned down as they escaped the fire set to their home by Night Riders. Using period newspapers, we’ll look at the details surrounding the lynchings, as well as how a local paper tried to blame the Walkers for their own massacre.

Between the Civil War and World War II, the black community, especially in the South, was terrorized by an epidemic of lynchings. As opposed to public executions, the point of lynching was to avoid the court of law, judge and jury. Often times, the victim, in a holding cell for an offense, was kidnapped by a mob before even being arraigned. According to a recent report issued by the Equal Justice Initiate, there were 4,075 lynchings of black Americans across the South between 1877 and 1950.

Using Fear of Racial Equality to Sell Secession

Before the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, even before Abraham Lincoln took office, the seven seceded states sent commissioners to the still-loyal slave states in the hopes of convincing them to join their fledgling Confederacy. They all said basically the same thing: the destruction of slavery and the equality of

‘Not Shed a Tear’ – Emancipation Before the Fighting

The idea is often put forward that up until the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the Civil War was fought by the United States to keep the Union together. It’s claimed that only after did it become a war to free the slaves. This, however, is not entirely accurate. From the start, especially to the Republican Party, the war was one to do both. It’s purpose was to reunite the nation, while its intended consequence was to abolish slavery. Nowhere is this made clearer than during the first summer of the war.

It’s important to recognize just how early this drive for emancipation began. Not only were there simple stirrings and rumblings, but actual votes were taken and actual laws were passed that actually freed people enslaved by Confederate masters – all before the first large battle took place.