Documenting American Violence: A Sourcebook / Edition 1

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Violence forms a constant backdrop to American history, from the revolutionary overthrow of British rule, to the struggle for civil rights, to the present-day debates over the death penalty. It has served to challenge authority, defend privilege, advance causes, and throttle hopes.
In the first anthology of its kind to appear in over thirty years, Documenting American Violence brings together excerpts from a wide range of sources about incidents of violence in the United States. Each document is set into context, allowing readers to see the event through the viewpoint of contemporary participants and witnesses and to understand how these deeds have been excused, condemned, or vilified by society. Organized topically, this volume looks at such diverse topics as famous crimes, vigilantism, industrial violence, domestic abuse, and state-sanctioned violence. Among the events these primary sources describe are:
—Benjamin Franklin's account of the Conestoga massacre, when an entire village of American Indians was killed by the Paxton Boys, a group of frontier settlers
—militant abolitionist John Brown's attack on Harper's Ferry
—Ida B. Wells' condemnation of lynchings in the South
—the massacre of General Custer's 7th Cavalry at Little Bighorn, as witnessed by Cheyenne war chief Two Moon
—Nat Turner's confession about the slave revolt he led in Southampton County, Virginia
—Oliver Wendell Holmes' diaries and letters as a young infantry officer in the Civil War
—a police officer's account of the Haymarket Trials
—Harry Thaw's murder of the Gilded Age's most prominent architect, Stanford White, through his own published version of the events
—the post-trial, public confessions of Ray Bryant and J.W. Milam for the murder of Emmett Till
—the Los Angeles Police Department's investigation into the causes of the 1992 riot Taken as a whole, this anthology opens a new window on American history, revealing how violence has shaped America's past in every era.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195150049
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/5/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,310,993
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Waldrep is Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Prof. of History at San Francisco State University and the author of The Many Faces of Judge Lynch: Extralegal Violence and Punishment in America. Michael Bellesiles is the editor of Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History.

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Table of Contents

1 Crime as social drama 11
Hugh Stone, a convicted murderer, on the sin of murder, 1698 17
Jereboam O. Beauchamp confesses to murdering Solomon P. Sharp, 1825 21
Harry Thaw's account of his murder of Stanford White, 1906 27
Rev. Madison Peters justifies the murder of Stanford White, 1907 30
Jeffrey Toobin on the O. J. Simpson trial, 1995 33
2 The conquest of America 37
Virginia's capital laws : laws of the colony of Virginea, 1610-1611 43
The Pequot War : Capt. John Underhill's account of the mystic massacre, 1637 46
Kieft's war : David De Vries describes the beginnings of Kieft's war, 1642 49
Bacon's rebellion : an anonymous account of the rebellion in Virginia, 1676 52
The Pueblo uprising and its suppression : Governor Antonio de Otermin's report on the uprising in New Mexico, 1680 55
Spanish officials question the Pueblo Indian Josephe, 1681 57
Don Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora describes the reconquest of New Mexico, 1692 58
The Salem Witchcraft trials : Thomas Brattle's account of Witchcraft, 1692 62
The paxton boys : Benjamin Franklin's narrative of the massacres, 1763 66
3 Revolutionary violence 71
The North Carolina regulators : the petition from the inhabitants of Orange County, North Carolina, 1770 75
Judge Richard Henderson confronts a riot in Hillsborough, North Carolina, 1770 76
The Virginia Gazette reports on the battle of Alamance, 1771 79
The Boston massacre : the town of Boston presents its version of the massacre, 1770 80
The American revolution begins : reverend Jonas Clark describes the encounter at Lexington, 1775 85
Ensign Henry De Bernicre offers the British view of Lexington and concord 87
Revolutionary institutions : Major General Steuben on the opportunities of war, 1779 91
Colonel George Rogers Clark on the conquest of the West, 1779 93
General Nathanael Greene on the difficulties of sustaining the war, 1781 95
Battling dissent : Rivington's Gazette on the harassment of loyalists, 1775 99
Wm. Christian, Col. William Preston, Capt. Patrick Lockhart, and Col. Charles Lynch on the revolutionary origins of Lynching, 1779-1780 102
Shays's rebellion : General William Shephard on the confrontation at Springfield, Massachusetts, 1787 104
The town of Coleraine petitions for mercy for the Shaysites, 1787 106
General Benjamin Lincoln crushes Shays's rebellion, 1787 107
Thomas Jefferson on the need for the occasional revolution, 1787 109
4 Slavery 113
Slave law : Colonial Virginia slave laws 115
Mississippi's slave code, 1848 116
North Carolina's Supreme Court considers the murder conviction of the slave Caesar, 1849 118
Slave revolt in Virginia : Nat Turner describes his rebellion, 1831 124
A slave insurrection in Mississippi : the vigilantes of Madison County, Mississippi, justify their actions, 1835 128
Dueling : White Mississippians debate dueling, 1844 133
The daily experience of cruelty : Frederick Douglass searches for the meaning of violence in a slave regime, 1855 135
5 The Civil War 143
Harpers Ferry : the national intelligencer describes events at Harpers Ferry, 1859 148
The experience of battle : Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. on the nature of warfare, 1861, 1862, 1864 152
The battle of Gettysburg : the British officer James A. L. Fremantle observes the battle of Gettysburg, 1863 157
The New York City draft riots : David M. Barnes records the violence of the New York City riots, 1863 161
Andersonville : excerpts from the diary of POW John L. Ransom, 1864 165
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln : Thomas M. Harris documents the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln, 1865 167
6 The new south 171
Black codes : Mississippi's black code, 1865 173
New Orleans race riot : J. D. O'Connell's testimony before the house of representatives, 1866 175
The Ku Klux Klan : Henry Lowther's testimony before a congressional committee, 1871 177
The Vicksburg massacre : James M. Batchelor describes the massacre, 1874 180
Testimony of Andrew Owen before the house of representatives, 1874 181
James M. Batchelor writes of the thrill of violence, 1875 183
Calls for a black defense force : Timothy Thomas fortune's speech calling for self-defense, 1884 185
The Carrollton massacre : James K. Vardaman justifies the Carrollton tragedy, 1886 186
Lynching : Ida B. Wells documents the violence against black Americans, 1895 189
Wilmington race riots : Colonel Alfred M. Waddell justifies a race riot, 1898 194
White opposition to mob violence : John Gordon Cashman Warns of the danger of lawlessness, 1902, 1904 198
The Tulsa race riots : the Oklahoma commission to study the Tulsa race riot of 1921 seeks reparations, 2001 200
7 The wild west in myth and reality 207
The Mexican war : a group of Mexican editors blame U.S. aggression for an unnecessary war, 1850 216
The little Bighorn massacre : the Chicago tribune reports custer's defeat, 1876 221
Hamlin Garland records the Cheyenne two moon's version of the battle, 1876 223
Billy the kid : Pat Garrett's version of the Lincoln County War, 1877 227
Popular tribunals : Hubert Howe Bancroft defends vigilance committees, 1887 231
The Virginian : Owen Wister creates the standard image of the wild west, 1902 235
Wounded knee : James Mooney documents the ghost dance religion and its consequence, 1890 239
8 The industrialization of violence 245
The strike of 1877 : Allan Pinkerton on putting down the great strike of 1877 254
The haymarket trials : Michael J. Schaack remembers "the red terror" in Chicago, 1886 262
Class war in Coeur d'Alene : the spokane weekly review reports on the violence in Coeur d'Alene, 1892 265
The assassination of Frank Steunenberg : Harry Orchard on making a bomb, 1905 268
The Ludlow massacre : the United States commission on industrial relations charges the Colorado National Guard with inciting violence, 1913 271
The Hawk's nest tunnel : Philippa Allen, Arthur Peyton, Rush Dew Hole, and John W. Finch testify before the house of representatives on America's worst industrial disaster, 1936 276
9 Violence as a means of crime control 283
The problem with due process : Justice David J. Brewer downplays the importance of due process, 1903 286
The problem of class : the final statements of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti to the court sentencing them to death, 1927 288
The problem with the police : the Wickersham Commission documents police brutality, 1931 293
The problem of organized crime : testimony of Claude A. Follmer before a congressional committee, 1950 299
The problem of race : the California governor's commission looks for the causes of the Watts riot of 1965 303
The independent commission on the Los Angeles police department looks for the causes of the Los Angeles riot of 1992 307
The death penalty : the Supreme Court considers the electrocution of convicted criminals, In re Kemmler, 1890 310
The Supreme Court considers the death penalty in Furman v. Georgia, 1972 313
10 Civil rights 319
A law against lynching : Walter White meets with Attorney General Homer Cummings, 1936 322
Walter White appeals to Eleanor Roosevelt, 1936 324
Victor Rotnem argues for a civil right "not to be lynched," 1943 326
Justice Frank Murphy's notes on the Supreme Court debate over a right not to be lynched, 1944 328
Emmett Till : William Bradford Huie describes "the shocking story of approved killing in Mississippi," 1956 330
Freedom rides : James Farmer leads the freedom riders, 1961 332
FBI informant Gary Thomas Rowe, Jr. participates in Klan violence, 1961 335
Confrontation at Ole Miss : the Mississippi National Guard confronts rioters at the University of Mississippi, 1962 339
Jail as a temple of freedom : Aaron Henry's testimony before the house judiciary committee, 1963 343
A president speaks in favor of civil rights : President Lyndon B. Johnson calls for an end to racist violence, 1965 350
The Supreme Court places civil rights above states' rights : the Supreme Court on the murder of Michael Schwerner, James Goodman, and James Chaney, in United States v. price, et al., 1966 352
11 Lost to history 355
Living with domestic violence : Abigail Bailey describes her husband's violent ways, 1767-1789 367
Incidents in the life of a slave girl : Harriet Jacobs, a slave, is raped by her owner, 1861 376
The rights of the victim : Maria Hanson's testimony before the senate judiciary committee, 1990 384
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