Liberalizing Lynching: Building a New Racialized State

Hardcover | November 16, 2015

byDaniel Kato

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In spite of America's identity as a liberal democracy, the vile act of lynching happened frequently in the Southern United States over the course of the nation's history. Indeed, lynchings were very public events, and were even advertised in newspapers, begging the question of how such abrazen disregard for the law could have occurred so freely and openly. Liberalizing Lynching: Building a New Racialized State seeks to explain the seemingly paradoxical relationship between the American liberal regime and the illiberal act of lynching. Drawing on legal cases, congressional documents, presidential correspondence, and newspaper reports, Daniel Katoexplores the federal government's pattern of non-intervention regarding lynchings of African Americans from the late nineteenth century through the 1960s. Although popular belief holds that the federal government was unable to address racial violence in the South, this book argues that the actionsand decisions of the federal government from the 1870s through the 1960s reveal that federal inaction was not primarily a consequence of institutional or legal incapacities, but rather a decision that was supported and maintained by all three branches of the federal government. Inaction stemmed fromthe decision not to intervene, not the powerlessness of the federal government. To cement his argument, Kato develops the theory of constitutional anarchy, which crystallizes the ways in which federal government had the capacity to intervene, yet relinquished its responsibility while nonetheless maintaining authority. A bold challenge to conventional knowledge about lynching,Liberalizing Lynching will serve as a useful tool for students and scholars of political science, legal history, and African American studies.

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In spite of America's identity as a liberal democracy, the vile act of lynching happened frequently in the Southern United States over the course of the nation's history. Indeed, lynchings were very public events, and were even advertised in newspapers, begging the question of how such abrazen disregard for the law could have occurred ...

Daniel Kato is term professor of Political Science at Barnard College.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 9.21 × 6.3 × 0.79 inPublished:November 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190232579

ISBN - 13:9780190232573

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Table of Contents

1. The Strange Career of Lynching2. Strengthening the Weak State3. The Tragic Legality of Racial Violence4. Constitutional Anarchy: 1883-19665. Bringing Constitutional Anarchy to an EndConclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Using the case of lynchings of African Americans - a crime that legally had no perpetrators, yet claimed thousands of victims - Kato powerfully argues that far from being unable to act against lynching, the federal government actively chose to not act. Kato employs the theory of'constitutional anarchy' to trace how the different branches of the federal government allowed this domestic terrorism to occur. In the wake of recent deaths of unarmed African American citizens at the hands of the police, what recourse do the people have? Kato offers a sobering look at thewillingness of the American state to protect all of its citizens." --Kimberley S. Johnson, Barnard College, and author of Reforming Jim Crow: Southern Politics and State in the Age before Brown