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Book Cover
Author Bessler, John D.

Title Legacy of violence : lynch mobs and executions in Minnesota / John D. Bessler.

Published Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, [2003]


Location Call No. Status
 UniM Bail  364.134 BESS    AVAILABLE
Physical description xx, 307 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (page) and index.
Contents Lynch mobs and public hangings -- On Lincoln's orders : Mankato's mass hanging -- The execution of Ann Bilansky -- The gallows reconsidered : executions versus life sentences -- The "midnight assassination law" -- The botched hanging of William Williams -- The abolition of capital punishment -- A travesty of justice : the Duluth lynchings.
Summary Minnesota is one of only twelve states that does not allow the death penalty, but that was not always the case. In fact, until 1911 executions in the state were legal and frequently carried out. In Legacy of Violence, John D. Bessler takes us on a compelling journey through the history of lynchings and state-sanctioned executions that dramatically shaped Minnesota's past. Through personal accounts from the people involved with the events, Bessler traces the history of both famous and lesser-known executions and lynchings in Minnesota, the state's anti -- death penalty and anti-lynching movements, and the role of the media in the death penalty debate. He reveals Abraham Lincoln's thoughts as he ordered the largest mass execution in U.S. history of thirty-eight Indians in Mankato after the Dakota Conflict of 1862. He recounts the events surrounding the death of Ann Bilansky, the only woman executed in Minnesota, and the infamous botched hanging of William Williams, which led to renewed calls for the abolition of capital punishment. He tells the story of the lynching in Duluth in 1920 of three African-American circus workers -- wrongfully accused of rape -- and the anti-lynching crusade that followed. Minnesota's significant role in the national transformation to private, after-dark executions is presented in the discussion of the "midnight assassination law." Bessler's account is made more timely by thirty-five hundred people on death row in America today -- more than at any other time in our nation's history. Is Minnesota's current approach superior to that of states that have capital punishment? Bessler examines Minnesota history to ask whether the application of the death penalty can truly solve the problem of violence in America.
Subject Lynching -- Minnesota -- History.
Capital punishment -- Minnesota -- History.
Executions and executioners -- Minnesota -- History.
ISBN 0816638101 (alk. paper)