On Lynchings

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Gavin Hartin
AP US History
Period 8
“On Lynchings” Essay
The end of the civil war brought freedom and liberty to the African-Americans incarcerated in the peculiar institution of slavery. However, the end of the fighting did not bring the former slaves safety from the hate and racism that was to come. The book “On Lynchings” by Ida b. Wells-Barnett describes the crimes committed against the African-Americans after their release from slavery. The hate crimes and accusations against the new freemen were coming from Southern White Americans. From the crimes and wrongdoings committed by the white southerners against the freed African-Americans displays the supremacist mindset most white southerners had regarding the former slaves.

During the time period after the civil war the African-Americans were persecuted harshly and treated unfairly by white southerners. Black men were constantly accused of raping white women even though they had been seduced by the women. For example, William Offet, a freed black man was accused of and found guilty of raping a Mrs. Underwood, a white married woman. In reality, Mrs. Underwood had “invited him to call on” her and when he came to her house she “had no desire to resist him” (Wells-Barnett 32-33). Mrs. Underwood waited four years to confess what had actually happened because she felt she was better than to admit to sleeping with an African-American. The former slaves were also victims of terrible crimes that went unnoticed by the law. For instance, a group of three white men assaulted an Afro-American couple out on a stroll when they “held her escort and outraged the girl” (37). When the “case went to the courts” the men were defended “and they were acquitted” of charges of rape (37). The southern whites got away with their heinous crime due to the girl being an Afro-American and her people were seen as a lesser race.

Clearly, the examples given in Wells-Barnett’s “On Lynchings” prove that the Southern White...
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