The story of a black day-laborer called Sam Hose killing his white employer in a workplace dispute ended in a lynching of enormous religious significance. For many deeply-religious communities in the Jim Crow South, killing those like Sam Hose restored balance to a moral cosmos upended by a heinous crime. A religious intensity in the mood and morality of segregation surpassed law, and in times of social crisis could justify illegal white violence - even to the extreme act of lynching. In At the Altar of Lynching, distinguished historian Donald G. Mathews offers a new interpretation of the murder of Sam Hose, which places the religious culture of the evangelical South at its center. He carefully considers how mainline Protestants, including women, not only in many instances came to support or accept lynching, but gave the act religious meaning and justification.
About the Author
Donald G. Mathews has taught at Duke and Princeton Universities, as well as at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has studied and written about religion and the South for over fifty years, publishing three books and over thirty articles. He is the author of Religion in the Old South (1979) and co-author of Sex, Gender, and the Politics of ERA (1993).
Table of Contents
1. Before the burning: Southern mastery; 2. Sex, danger, and religion: facing a 'savage fury'; 3. Kindling the fire; 4. Burning Sam Hose; 5. Ashes: rape and history; 6. Ashes: the blind and sighted; 7. At the altar: crucifixion.