Dubious distinction

Mississippi, the state where John McCain’s great grandfather was a sheriff in the 1880s and where Sen. Trent Lott opined that things should not have changed, is the place where the largest number of lynchings occurred during a 50-year period. according to the book A History of Lynching in the United States by University of Cincinnati professor Jana Evans Braziel.

Table 2-2. Black Victims of White Lynch Mobs by State, 1882-1930

State/ No. of victims

Deep South

Mississippi/ 462
Georgia/ 423
Louisiana/ 283
Alabama/ 262
South Carolina/ 143

Border South

Florida/ 212
Tennessee/ 174
Arkansas/ 162
Kentucky/ 118
North Carolina/ 75

Table 2-3. Black Victims of Lynchings per 100,000 Blacks by State, 1882-1930

State/ No. of victims per 100,000

Deep South

Mississippi/ 52.8
Georgia/ 41.8
Louisiana/ 43.7
Alabama/ 32.4
South Carolina/ 18.8

Border South

Florida/ 79.8
Tennessee/ 38.4
Arkansas/ 42.6
Kentucky/ 45.7
North Carolina/ 11.0

Table 2-5. The Reasons Given for Black Lynchings

  • Acting suspiciously
  • Gambling
  • Quarreling
  • Adultery
  • Grave robbing
  • Race hatred; Race troubles
  • Aiding murderer
  • Improper with white woman
  • Rape
  • Arguing with white man
  • Incest
  • Rape-murders
  • Arson Inciting to riot
  • Resisting mob
  • Assassination
  • Inciting trouble
  • Robbery
  • Attempted murder
  • Indolence
  • Running a bordello
  • Banditry
  • Inflammatory language
  • Sedition
  • Being disreputable
  • Informing
  • Slander
  • Being obnoxious
  • Injuring livestock
  • Spreading disease
  • Boasting about riot
  • Insulting white man
  • Stealing
  • Burglary
  • Insulting white woman
  • Suing white man
  • Child abuse
  • Insurrection
  • Swindling
  • Conjuring
  • Kidnapping
  • Terrorism
  • Courting white woman
  • Killing livestock
  • Testifying against white man
  • Criminal assault
  • Living with white woman
  • Throwing stones
  • Cutting levee
  • Looting
  • Train wrecking
  • Defending rapist
  • Making threats
  • Trying to colonize blacks
  • Demanding respect
  • Miscegenation
  • Trying to vote
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Mistaken identity
  • Unpopularity
  • Eloping with white woman
  • Molestation
  • Unruly remarks
  • Entered white woman’s room
  • Murder
  • Using obscene language
  • Enticement
  • Non-sexual assault
  • Vagrancy
  • Extortion
  • Peeping Tom
  • Violated quarantine
  • Fraud
  • Pillage
  • Voodooism
  • Plotting to kill
  • Voting for wrong party
  • Frightening white woman
  • Poisoning well
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