The Great Hangings of 1862

We all know what the movies and Western shows tell us about the old West, but what are the facts? Here, we’ll discuss what these truths are, and get a better idea of what life was like in the real West!
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Dana
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The Great Hangings of 1862

Post by Dana »

In Gainesville, Texas in October 1862, 41 men were lynched for being or suspected of being Union sympathizers. It is the largest extra-legal or vigilante hanging in American history.
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

Post by cowgirl »

Oh my, how terrible!
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

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suspected?? did they have a trial?? thats wha you call.....'rough justice'
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

Post by cowgirl »

A hanging tree or hangman's tree is any tree used to perform executions by hanging, especially in the United States. The term is also used colloquially in all English-speaking countries to refer to any gallows.

What kind of tree is a hanging tree?
An official Texas Historic Landmark, the Goliad Hanging Tree is a symbol of justice, Texas-style. For 24 years the court trials of Goliad County were held under this big oak tree. Death sentences were carried out promptly, usually within a few minutes, courtesy of the tree's many handy noose-worthy branches.

When was the last lynching in the US?
The lynching of Michael Donald in Mobile, Alabama on March 21, 1981, was one of the last lynchings in the United States. Several Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members beat and killed Michael Donald, a 19-year-old African-American, and hung his body from a tree.

I did see a hanging tree when I was out west. Sooky looking!
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

Post by wildwest »

oh my gosh I wonder if the KKK gave Michael a fair trial. I wonder if people now who are going to be executed have the choice of being shot, hung or lethal injection??
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

Post by Dana2020 »

Has everyone watched Blood Brothers? People's committees were not uncommon at the time. I am reading a book about the Great Hangings of 1862 now. To me, Lucas sounded as if People's Committees were necessary evil.
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

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Dana2020 wrote: Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:33 am Has everyone watched Blood Brothers? People's committees were not uncommon at the time. I am reading a book about the Great Hangings of 1862 now. To me, Lucas sounded as if People's Committees were necessary evil.
People's committees were a necessary evil out in the territories where there was no formal law. That's why people wanted statehood. You should watch Hang 'Em High. Clint Eastwood plays an innocent man who survives a lynching. He is actually hanged and left to die and a deputy marshal cuts him down and revives him. Clint becomes a deputy marshal himself. He is rather appalled at Pat Hingle's character, a hanging judge. Pat insists that he is doing as well as he can, cursing the fact his is the only court in the territory and he the only judge; and that the best way for Clint to promote justice is to help Oklahoma become a state.
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

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wildwest wrote: Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:00 pm oh my gosh I wonder if the KKK gave Michael a fair trial. I wonder if people now who are going to be executed have the choice of being shot, hung or lethal injection??
No, of course the KKK didn't give Michael a fair trial. Lynch mobs never give anybody a fair trial. There's never anything fair about mob justice, that's why it's so terrible. And almost invariably it's wrong. One need only look at the Internet today and see the number of times an Internet rage mob has gone after someone, only to have everything retracted later after lawsuits are filed. Nick Sandmann and Richard Jewell come to mind.

Anyway, according to the Death Penalty Database, there are only three states that allow execution by firing squad, Missouri and Oklahoma and Utah. Delaware, New Hampshire, and Washington still hang people. Alabama, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wyoming have the gas chamber. Note there is some overlap and in those states, a person may choose the method of execution. There are still some states with the electric chair but most states use lethal injection. I, personally, would choose a firing squad. It's quick and clean and none of the appalling accidents that occur with the other methods have occured with firing squads. Plus it's easier on the executioners. Somebody loads the guns, some with blanks and others with bullets. The loader doesn't know who gets the loaded guns. After the guns are loaded, the shooters come in and take the guns. Nobody knows who has the blanks and who has the bullets. It allows everyone involved in the execution the comfort of feeling that they didn't actually take the person's life.

And all that said, I'm completely against the death penalty myself. I've been watching Chuck's series Arrest and Trial, and he plays a defense attorney who is passionately against the death penalty, to the point that he begs the parents of a murdered child for his client's life. The client is going to be locked away for the rest of his life with no possibility of parole, that's not even in dispute, but John Egan (Chuck's character) is that desperate to save his client's life that he'll go to the parents and plead. It was quite a speech, about how an eye for an eye can never bring any comfort because the client was the dregs of humanity and the little girl he killed was bright and sensitive and beautiful. Egan talks about how it could never be a fair exchange and if his client is killed in revenge for the little girl, the parents will always feel cheated; but if they can show mercy, they will be acting in the true spirit of Christianity. And he acknowledges how unfair it is, what he's asking, and how hard it would be for the parents to be merciful.

I agreed with every word of that speech. The crown jewel in our legal system is the idea that it is better for ten guilty to go free than one innocent to be punished. That idea has been worked on and polished over centuries of trials, each one a small miracle of reason over passion. The true horror of lynch mobs, whether they're actually stringing somebody up or just destroying their lives on the Internet, is that passion is overriding reason.
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

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Hmmm.... Stressful. Very stressful and sad.
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Re: The Great Hangings of 1862

Post by Dana2020 »

Sometime between June 1861 and March 1862, a "Mr. Hillier" was arrested for disloyalty. He agreed to join the Confederate Army. Mrs. Hillier expressed her wish that Federals would overrun Texas so her husband could stay home. Six vigilantes, either women or men dressed as women, arrived at the Hillier home and lynched Mrs. Hillier in front of her three children. No one was ever punished for this lynching. My source: Tainted Breeze:The Great Hangings at Gainesville,Texas 1862 by Richard B. McCaslin.
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