A Hanging in Nacogdoches: Murder, Race, Politics, and Polemics in Texass Oldest Town, 1870-1916

Paperback | April 1, 2006

byGary B. Borders

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On October 17, 1902, in Nacogdoches, Texas, a black man named James Buchanan was tried without representation, condemned, and executed for the murder of a white family—all in the course of three hours. Two white men played pivotal roles in these events: Bill Haltom, a leading local Democrat and the editor of the Nacogdoches Sentinel, who condemned lynching but defended lynch mobs, and A. J. Spradley, a Populist sheriff who, with the aid of hundreds of state militiamen, barely managed to keep the mob from burning Buchanan alive, only to escort him to the gallows following his abbreviated trial. Each man's story serves to illuminate a part of the path that led to the terrible parody of justice which lies at the heart of A Hanging in Nacogdoches.

The turn of the twentieth century was a time of dramatic change for the people of East Texas. Frightened by the Populist Party's attempts to unite poor blacks and whites in a struggle for economic justice, white Democrats defended their power base by exploiting racial tensions in a battle that ultimately resulted in the complete disenfranchisement of the black population of East Texas. In telling the story of a single lynching, Gary Borders dramatically illustrates the way politics and race combined to bring horrific violence to small southern towns like Nacogdoches.

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On October 17, 1902, in Nacogdoches, Texas, a black man named James Buchanan was tried without representation, condemned, and executed for the murder of a white family—all in the course of three hours. Two white men played pivotal roles in these events: Bill Haltom, a leading local Democrat and the editor of the Nacogdoches Sentinel, w...

Gary Borders is a lifelong East Texas newspaperman who served as the publisher and editor of the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel from 1993 to 2003. He lives in Lufkin, Texas, where he is the publisher of the Lufkin Daily News.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:239 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.75 inPublished:April 1, 2006Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292712995

ISBN - 13:9780292712997

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I: A Murder, a Manhunt, a Trial, and an ExecutionChapter One. Three Killed in Black JackChapter Two. A City with a Long PastChapter Three. A Texas SheriffChapter Four. A Suspect and a Possible MotiveChapter Five. Nacogdoches in 1902Chapter Six. A Suspect Is CaughtChapter Seven. Lynchings: A Grim Fact of LifeChapter Eight. Populism and Race: An Incendiary MixChapter Nine. The Spradley-Haltom FeudChapter Ten. Buchanan Confesses in ShreveportChapter Eleven. A Desperate Journey across East TexasChapter Twelve. Preparations Made for Buchanan's TrialChapter Thirteen. Buchanan Returns for TrialChapter Fourteen. A Hanging in NacogdochesPart II: AftermathChapter Fifteen. Quick Hanging Sparks Criticism and PraiseChapter Sixteen. Wettermark, Whitecapping, and a WhippingChapter Seventeen. ConclusionEpilogueNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

The contribution of A Hanging in Nacogdoches is not limited to that city, East Texas, or even the state.... The purpose of the author's presentation is to show life-race relations, politics, the economy-in a typical ...Southern town at the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Borders argues, and demonstrates, that Nacogdoches was, indeed, typical for its time and place. - Archie P. McDonald, Regent's Professor of History, Stephen F. Austin State University