Chronicle of a Lynching Foretold | Bleader

Friday, June 25, 2010

Chronicle of a Lynching Foretold

Posted By on 06.25.10 at 09:30 AM

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Aspen Daily Chronicle, January 14, 1892. One of the more engaging features of turn of the century journalism was the frequency with which it reported lynchings before the fact.

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"Justifiable under the code which prevails here" is sweet. It implies that this is all strictly a hillbilly thing, but Nix might well have won an acquittal in any metropolitan center under the code that prevailed there as well. Said code was known as "the unwritten law" and pretty much licensed any killing motivated by vengeance against the seducer, rapist or killer (even if by accident) of a member of the avenger's family. Nix here actually has a double mandate for murder if Mire had carnal knowledge of both his daughter and his wife. It was his bad luck that he never got to court. Presumably his lynchers understood what was coming from the courts and thus decided to pre-empt.
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But there is a specifically rural angle here, inasmuch as urban honor killings were committed by individuals rather than masked 50-member posses. That's because city dwellers had by definition left behind their extended kinship networks when they moved from the countryside.
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"The people" here simply means whatever portion of local population were not related or otherwise allied with the wonderfully named Larkin Nix. Heck, lynchings are always expressions of the will of "the people."

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