The Hangman's Knot

The Hangman's Knot

Lynching, Legal Execution, and America's Struggle With the Death Penalty

Book - 2003
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Baker & Taylor
A co-founder of Project HAL and vehement opponent of the death penalty traces the history of public execution, arguing that capital punishment is a form of legalized mob lynching and ultimately fails to promote criminal justice. 25,000 first printing.

Perseus Publishing
A fierce opponent of the death penalty argues that capital punishment is simply a form of legalized mob lynching-and, as such, is doomed to failure

Public executions were once commonplace American spectacles. In one instance, Puritan clergymen convicted and executed nineteen people for the "crime" of witchcraft. On the other side of the country many years later, San Francisco's city fathers held "official" vigilante hangings. But today, executions are rigidly controlled bureaucratic procedures authorized by the state. In The Hangman's Knot: Lynching, Legal Execution, and America's Struggle with the Death Penalty, Eliza Steelwater presents a fascinating history of execution in the United States, from colonial times to the present. With a compelling narrative and gripping personal stories, she documents how this debate became one of the most contentious of our time. The author, a veteran death-penalty researcher and co-founder of Project HAL (Historical American Lynching), shows that the answer to the death penalty's future lies in a discussion of its past. Using information from Project HAL and the authoritative Capital Punishment Research Project - including records of over 15,000 legal executions and 4,500 lynchings nationwide - Steelwater delivers a vivid understanding that America's unparalleled and powerful 200-year-old policy of execution as "punishment politics" is alive and well today. Bringing a fresh perspective to the death-penalty debate, she demonstrates that execution has often had less to do with crimes committed than with the political and economic ambitions of those who controlled the punishment system.


Book News
Steelwater, a co-founder of Project HAL (Historical American Lynching), details the history of public executions, lynchings, and other forms of social murder (not her words) in the United States, insisting that they are essentially a political phenomenon. She begins with an examination of how Puritan ministers like Cotton Mather viewed public executions as an opportunity to instruct the masses in virtuous living, continuing on to discuss the "reform" that moved executions out of public view into the penitentiary; the political arguments over capital punishment in the states in which it has been abolished; the use of lynching to enforce social and economic orders or gain political power by the Ku Klux Klan, San Francisco vigilantes, and others; and the abolition and reintroduction of the death penalty by the Supreme Court. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

Traces the history of public execution, arguing that capital punishment is a form of legalized mob lynching and ultimately fails to promote criminal justice.

Publisher: Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, c2003
ISBN: 9780813340425
081334042X
Characteristics: ix, 280 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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