What was the purpose of lynching in the 20th century United States? What was the purpose of lynching in the 20th century United States?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Lynching was a terrorist activity. It was designed to frighten and oppress blacks and anyone who might support them. Usually it seems the local governments looked the other way. Lynching was used by organizations such as the KKK in the South.

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Besides being the naked practice of white supremacy in the segregated South, lynching was meant to serve as a warning.  It was a punishment by those self-appointed southerners who wanted to maintain a racist status quo designed to discourage others from challening the way things were, or asserting their own civil rights.  The fact that so many...

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krishna-agrawala | Student

Lynching is the practice of punishing a person, usually by hanging, without due process of law, on the basis of accusations made by a mob. This kind of practice has  existed in the many parts of the world for thousands of years. But this term is more originated in the USA, probably because of an American Planter Charles Lynch, who in 1700's, along with his neighbors often took law in their own hands to punish people who plundered their properties. The term was originally applied to physical punishment such as whipping.

Subsequently many other American living in western frontier areas practiced lynching because absence or ineffectiveness of legal authority. However, the some people continued to follow the practice even after establishment of law and in defiance of law., rather than to support the law.

Up to about last decade of 19th century, victims of lynching had been mostly whites. However, since then most of the victims of lynching have been blacks. There have been 4,752 reported lynchings between 1882 and 1968. In these incidents 1,307 victims were whites and 3,445 black.

I do not believe that lynchings in 20th century was practiced with the view of achieving any useful purpose. It was mostly emotional outburst of people evoked by a crowd frenzy. Perhaps only common factor in such actions were motives like, hate, envy and greed.

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