Lynching, and Racial Violence

Lynch (linch) tr. v. lynched, lynch•ing, lynch•es

  1. to execute without due process of law, esp. to hang, as by a mob. [Short for lynch law.] —lynch′er n. —lynch′ing n.

A Mob In Corunna, Michigan Lynch A Man For Alleged Rape Then Thrust Knives In His Body Afterward They Drag The Corpse Through The Streets “Suicide” is the Coroner’s Verdict (1823)

William Sullivan the farm hand who so brutally murdered his employer, Layton Leech, and murderously assaulted the latter’s wife, paid the penalty of his crime last night. He was taken from the jail and lynched at 9:40pm.

The mob consisted of over 800 men, who shouted themselves hoarse as the body dangled at the end of a rope. Just before he was taken from the cell, Sullivan attempted to commit suicide with a knife which he had in some manner concealed about his person.

By means of sledges the jail was soon broken open by the mob. A noose was placed around his neck and the crowd dragged him through the jail corridors to the big jail yard and to a low, marshy square of ground about 200 feet to the rear of the jail building under an oak. Men fought, struggled and cursed for the privilege of helping to tug at the rope, which was thrown over the limb, and with a sudden jerk Sullivan, who had been lying motionless and apparently unconscious on the ground, was raised to a sitting posture. Another pull and his head and shoulders were visible above the black mass of those that surrounded the spot.

A terrible scene followed. The body was pushed from hand to hand and several drew pocket knives and lunged at the swinging corpse. Others began to tear the clothing and in a few moments only the shreds of his shirt remained hanging to his shoulders. When the body was lowered to the ground, portions of the mob which had been unable to get close enough to take a hand in the actual hanging, seized upon the rope and dragged the lifeless body through the mire.

Afterward the crowd dragged him about the streets and around the courthouse square.

This Was a Hot Jury

The coroner’s jury held an inquest today in the case of William Sullivan, who was lynched last night. The verdict was that he came to his death by suicide. No mention whatever was made in the verdict of lynching.


Krugler, F. David. “1919, The Year of Racial Violence.” 3 December 2014.

Lynchings, by State and Race, 1882-1968.

Lynching Statistics.

Riley, Nanette. “Murder and Lynching.

Inkster Lynchmob.” Radical Washtenaw, 28 March 2015.

“How Far We Have Not Come.” Radical Washtenaw, 29 March 2015.

Lynch Law n. the punishment of persons suspected of crime without due process of law. [After William Lynch (1742-1820).]