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Tainted breeze : the great hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862 / Richard B. McCaslin.

By: McCaslin, Richard B.
Material type: TextTextPublisher: Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, c1994Description: xii, 234 p. : ill., maps : 24 cm.ISBN: 0807118257 (hard : alk. paper); 9780807118252 (hard : alk. paper).Subject(s): Hanging -- Texas -- Gainesville -- History -- 19th century | Gainesville (Tex.) -- History | Texas -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 | War crimes History | TexasDDC classification: 976.4/533 Other classification: 15.87 | 7,26
Contents:
1. The Foundations of Dissent -- 2. Dissent Becomes Treason -- 3. The Great Hanging Begins -- 4. Reaping the Whirlwind -- 5. Dark Corner of the Confederacy -- 6. Promises Unfulfilled -- Appendix A: Forty-Two Executed by the Citizens Court at Gainesville -- Appendix B: Members of the Citizens Court Jury at Gainesville -- Appendix C: Other Participants at Gainesville
Summary: In the early morning hours of October 1, 1862, state militia arrested more than two hundred alleged Unionists from five northern Texas counties and brought them to Gainesville, the seat of Cooke County. In the ensuing days at least forty-four prisoners were hanged, and several other men were lynched in neighboring communities. This event proved to be the grisly climax of a tradition of violence and vigilantism in North Texas that began before the Civil War and lasted long afterward. For this first full-scale history of the Great Hanging, Richard B. McCaslin has consulted a vast array of manuscript collections and government archives, assembling a trove of information on a remote corner of the Confederacy. He offers an account that is both rich in detail and illuminating of the broader contexts of this dramatic event. The irony of the Great Hanging, McCaslin maintains, is that the vigilantes and their victims shared a concern for order and security. When perennial fears of slave insurrection and hostile Indian attacks in North Texas were exacerbated by the turmoil of the Civil War, those residents who saw a return to Federal rule as the way to restore stability were branded as sowers of discord by those who remained loyal to the Confederacy, the manifest symbol of order through legal authority. McCaslin follows the course of mounting tensions and violence that erupted into the massive, hysterical roundup of suspected Union sympathizers. He provides a virtual day-by-day report of the deliberations of the "Citizens Court," a body that became in effect an instrument for mob violence, which spread far beyond Gainesville. In Tainted Breeze, McCaslin moves past the details of why individual participants acted as they did in the Great Hanging and examines the influence of such factors as economic conditions and family relationships. He explores not only the deep division the incident caused in the immediate community but also the reactions of northerners (who were generally appalled) and other southerners (who tended to applaud the lynchings). McCaslin also describes how the policies of Presidential Reconstruction stymied attempts to prosecute those responsible for atrocities like the Great Hanging, and how renewed violence in North Texas in fact contributed to the imposition of Radical Reconstruction. Until relatively recently, a tradition of silence regarding the Great Hanging has restricted historical writing on the subject. Tainted Breeze offers the first systematic treatment of this important event. By placing his compelling tale in such a broad context, McCaslin provides a unique opportunity to study the tensions produced in southern society by the Civil War, the nature of disaffection in the Confederacy, and the American vigilante tradition.
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
F394.G15 M33 1994 (Browse shelf) Available 0000002011534
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
F394.G15 M33 1994 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001549252
Browsing University of Texas At Tyler Shelves , Shelving location: Stacks - 3rd Floor Close shelf browser
F394.F7 C86 1998 Left behind in Rosedale : F394.F88 S76 The Story of Frankston, Texas, and neighboring communities, 1900-1976. F394.G15 M33 1994 Tainted breeze : F394.G15 M33 1994 Tainted breeze : F394.G2 B59 2000 Galveston and the 1900 storm : F394.G2 F6 The Galveston era : F394.G2 L37 2000B Isaac's storm :

Includes bibliographical references index.

1. The Foundations of Dissent -- 2. Dissent Becomes Treason -- 3. The Great Hanging Begins -- 4. Reaping the Whirlwind -- 5. Dark Corner of the Confederacy -- 6. Promises Unfulfilled -- Appendix A: Forty-Two Executed by the Citizens Court at Gainesville -- Appendix B: Members of the Citizens Court Jury at Gainesville -- Appendix C: Other Participants at Gainesville

In the early morning hours of October 1, 1862, state militia arrested more than two hundred alleged Unionists from five northern Texas counties and brought them to Gainesville, the seat of Cooke County. In the ensuing days at least forty-four prisoners were hanged, and several other men were lynched in neighboring communities. This event proved to be the grisly climax of a tradition of violence and vigilantism in North Texas that began before the Civil War and lasted long afterward. For this first full-scale history of the Great Hanging, Richard B. McCaslin has consulted a vast array of manuscript collections and government archives, assembling a trove of information on a remote corner of the Confederacy. He offers an account that is both rich in detail and illuminating of the broader contexts of this dramatic event. The irony of the Great Hanging, McCaslin maintains, is that the vigilantes and their victims shared a concern for order and security. When perennial fears of slave insurrection and hostile Indian attacks in North Texas were exacerbated by the turmoil of the Civil War, those residents who saw a return to Federal rule as the way to restore stability were branded as sowers of discord by those who remained loyal to the Confederacy, the manifest symbol of order through legal authority. McCaslin follows the course of mounting tensions and violence that erupted into the massive, hysterical roundup of suspected Union sympathizers. He provides a virtual day-by-day report of the deliberations of the "Citizens Court," a body that became in effect an instrument for mob violence, which spread far beyond Gainesville. In Tainted Breeze, McCaslin moves past the details of why individual participants acted as they did in the Great Hanging and examines the influence of such factors as economic conditions and family relationships. He explores not only the deep division the incident caused in the immediate community but also the reactions of northerners (who were generally appalled) and other southerners (who tended to applaud the lynchings). McCaslin also describes how the policies of Presidential Reconstruction stymied attempts to prosecute those responsible for atrocities like the Great Hanging, and how renewed violence in North Texas in fact contributed to the imposition of Radical Reconstruction. Until relatively recently, a tradition of silence regarding the Great Hanging has restricted historical writing on the subject. Tainted Breeze offers the first systematic treatment of this important event. By placing his compelling tale in such a broad context, McCaslin provides a unique opportunity to study the tensions produced in southern society by the Civil War, the nature of disaffection in the Confederacy, and the American vigilante tradition.

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CHOICE Review

On October 1, 1862, vigilantes arrested more than 200 suspected Unionists in the counties along the Red River in far north Texas. After kangaroo trials, at least 42 of these prisoners were hanged for the crime of "conspiring to commit treason and foment insurrection." This event was the most spectacular example of the suppression of dissent in the Confederacy and the most deadly implementation of lynch law in US history. McCaslin (High Point Univ.) does a superb job of analyzing the events that led up to the great hanging. He argues that two factors dominated the incident. First, the insecurity that Gainesville residents faced as a frontier community--inadequately protected and vulnerable to attacks from the west (by Native Americans) and from the north (by the Union)--made them particularly susceptible to fears of internal subversion by the large numbers of northern sympathizers in their midst. Second, the incident, at least at its inception, was a conservative move to maintain law and order; it was led by established elements of the community and adopted many outward forms of law (such as trial by jury, voting on each procedure, and allowing the accused the traditional rights of defendants). McCaslin places the event in the context of frontier violence, informal systems of justice, and revolutionary popular sovereignty. This well-written and well-researched book is recommended for general readers, upper-division undergraduates, and above. C. D. Wintz; Texas Southern University

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