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Collisions of Conflict

Studies in American History and Culture, 1820-1920


Jerzy Sobieraj

This book explores and analyzes the problems and challenges that have resulted from the Civil War, Reconstruction, slavery, and segregation in North America. These painful chapters in American history have continued along racial and regional lines and are of particular interest today when the USA are for the first time governed by an African American president. The postscriptum extends the main narrative by focusing on selected writers’ activities and fiction during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
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Chapter 6 Years of Shame: Lynching in the United States from the 1880s to the Great War


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Chapter 6

Years of Shame: Lynching in the United States from the 1880s to the Great War

It took only five months for the United States Senate to pass the lynching victims’ apology resolution. Introduced on February 7, 2005, and passed on June 13, 2005, the resolution, sponsored by Senators George Allen, R-Va., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., was the first significant bill condemning acts of lynching and apologizing to victims and their descendants. By 2005 the House had passed only three less important resolutions out of about two hundred that were introduced. The resolution “[a]pologizes to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-lynching legislation” (Resolution 39). It also states that the Senate “remembers the history of lynching, to ensure that these tragedies will be neither forgotten nor repeated” (Resolution 39).

The resolution mentions at least 4,742 victims, though it is practically impossible to establish the exact number. There are many examples of different statistics of the number of lynchings.3 However, one can observe certain trends or peaks of lynchings. Analyzing the figures, one notices the significant accumulation of lynchings at the end of the nineteenth century. ← 87 | 88 → The first reliable statistics, taking into account the limited methods of research accessible at that time, was gathered by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and published in 1919 under the title, Thirty Years of...

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