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June 12, 2013

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Howard Katz

Tourgee is an incredibly interesting person (OK, I'm slightly biased since I teach at Elon University Law School in Greensboro). He wrote a couple of best selling novels about Reconstruction; in their time they were almost on a par with Uncle Tom's Cabin. Perhaps of greater interest to law professors, and particularly relevant to understanding the concept of state action in that era, is the fact that he authored what I believe is the first state anti-lynching law (for Ohio). It penalized the COUNTY for a lynching, on the theory that the government and citizens must have been partly to blame.

Alfred Brophy

Good to know about this, Howard, particularly the imposition of liability on a county for failure to protect its citizens. A number of states passed those statutes around the turn of the 20th century, maybe they're modeled on Ohio. Though I think they were aimed at union violence, at least that's my recollection about the Illinois statute.

Howard Katz

The Ohio law WAS the model for others. And in Ohio it was clearly about lynchings of blacks. It was signed into law by Ohio governor William McKinley.

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