In the century following the Civil War, as many as 5,000 people of color were murdered by mobs who believed in the cause of white supremacy.
On average, mobs killed nine people per month during the 1890s. Over the next 20 years, seven people each month were victims of lynch mobs.
The figures are all according to an interactive map project that tracks the history of lynching in America – state-by-state. The map is called "Monroe Work Today." It is named after a Black sociologist, who put together much of the information that details lynchings from 1835 to 1964, the period covered in the map’s data set.
Information found on the map reveals that Black men were the most lynched group of people among the documented victims, usually due to mob violence after criminal accusations. The map, which users can view based on region, also reveals the lynchings of Latinx people, Asians, Italians and Native-Americans.
Monroe Nathan Work lived from 1866 to 1945, and the interactive map is called a rebirth of one aspect of his work. Work was compelled to document every known lynching that was happening in the United States.
"You might already be familiar with what lynching is, and this website will examine it more," the website's authors write. "Of course, it starts with an act of injustice: by sentencing someone outside the law with no process or trial. Even worse, at the turn of the century, the methods of lynching had become commonplace, fueled by hatred – and unspeakably cruel. It was Mr. Work's meticulous recordkeeping that preserves the names that are now an important part of our history.”
According to the website, “it was impossible to search the web and find an accurate scope of the history of American lynching.”
The website provides an education on the definition of lynching. It doesn't always mean hanged from a tree.
"There were many ways that a mob could take the life of a victim they were after. Yes, many people died by hanging, but others were killed from a hail of gunshots, dragged to death behind a vehicle, and some were burned alive. Sometimes, the mob would do all of these things to a single person," the authors wrote.
Some lynchings went far beyond mere murder. They included dark and brutal tortures to a person's eyes, fingernails, genitals, orifices. People were set afire, or bones were crushed, bodies mutilated, and sometimes cut into pieces. The person died in agony. This kind of cruelty served as a lesson of terror to everyone else who might challenge the status quo.
Further, onlookers showed no signs of guilt for participating.
Many lynchings gathered a large crowd of spectators, like a carnival, and the lynching might be prolonged until more spectators could arrive. For example, the lynching of Sam Hose in 1899 in Georgia caused the railroad to run extra trains to let more people come right after Sunday church. Many photographs exist today because they were taken as proud souvenirs and postcards.
In the South, a mythology arose that lynching was the only way to protect their "gentle women" against a crime wave of rapes. Similarly, in 1933, the governor of California publicly praised the lynching of one kidnapper by people on the street. He promised to pardon anyone who might be prosecuted for participating in the mob, according to the website authors.
"God made the white into a man and implanted within his breast that determination to always be supreme among races of men," read an Oct. 29, 1920 article in the Okaloosa News-Journal in Florida. "This is why the white man of the South, standing out boldly tells civilization: 'I am a white man! I will rule!' Were he to do otherwise, he would be a renegade to his race."
To view the map visit www.monroeworktoday.org/explore.