Carnival of Blood: Dueling, Lynching, and Murder in South Carolina, 1880-1920

Carnival of Blood: Dueling, Lynching, and Murder in South Carolina, 1880-1920

by John Hammond Moore


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Carnival of Blood: Dueling, Lynching, and Murder in South Carolina, 1880-1920 by John Hammond Moore

Carnival of Blood presents the often disturbing history of changes in homicidal tendencies in South Carolina over four formative decades on the cusp of our modern era. In his investigation into murder and death in the Palmetto State, John Hammond Moore identifies three specific trends that emerged during the period from 1880 to 1920—the demise of dueling, the rise and fall of lynching, and the proliferation of murder. Moore details specific incidents, ranging from the notorious to the relatively unknown, and questions why more stringent steps were not taken during those decades to curb the mayhem.

Revisiting one of the nation’s last formal duels, Moore recounts details of the Cash-Shannon meeting of July 1880 and the ensuing circle of carnage that left nine dead. He explores the circumstances that prompted duels and the reasons for their eventual disappearance.

In his history of lynching, Moore describes the role politicians such as Ben Tillman and Cole Blease played in encouraging the lynching mentality, and he uncovers the underlying forces that pushed white South Carolinians to whip, hang, and otherwise brutalize African Americans. His adroit investigation of published and unpublished sources of information gives readers the best extant view of the number of lynchings in South Carolina, the perceived reasons for their occurrences, and their public or private circumstances.

As dueling and lynching waned, murder and manslaughter escalated. Moore finds that, although South Carolinians may have armed themselves for racially motivated reasons, they were more likely to use their weapons on wives, husbands, lovers, and random strangers of like skin color. Examples range from sensational murder cases of the era, such as the killing of Charleston Post and Courier editor Francis Dawson, to boisterous shoot-outs and bizarre crimes involving children, food, and game play.

A compendium of deadly crimes and the social trends that surrounded them, Carnival of Blood invites further inquiry into South Carolina’s violent transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781570036200
Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
Publication date: 05/28/2006
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

A. V. Huff

"Moore’s thorough study is a long overdue assessment of the violent transition between the centuries in South Carolina. . . . Even the most notorious episodes included here-the Cash-Shannon duel and the Dawson and Gonzales murders-are illuminated with new detail and placed in their proper historical context."
professor emeritus of history, Furman University

Vernon Burton

"In his extensive examination of modes of violence in South Carolina from 1880 to 1920, John Hammond Moore paints an unflinching portrait of tragic times. Taking nothing for granted, Moore considers the publicly stated reasons for violence and, looking deeper, the social trends behinds those reasons. Weaponry, liquor, law enforcement, and the township system of local government all receive provocative analysis here. This comprehensively researched volume is an extraordinary contribution to our historical understanding of violence in the south-and by extension, in the nation-at the dawn of the twentieth century."
University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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