Violence among non-relatives in the 19th century

By Victoria Ellis,2014-06-10 20:27
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Violence among non-relatives in the 19th century

    thViolence among non-relatives in the 19 century

    Homicide rooted in the public struggle for power and position, which had taken place through most of history to date primarily among men. When men can’t achieve their goals peacefully through politics or the normal

    workings of the status hierarchy, the struggle for power and position intensifies, and leads to all sorts of murders: not just politically-motivated homicides or status-seeking or affirming homicides, but predatory homicides, etc.

    1) The decline in homicide in the North and the mountain South after the


    Status hierarchy: self employment, independent households, full citizenship in most places / improving circumstances and legal status and hope among African Americans

    Fellow feeling, empathy: patriotic fervor: highest rates of loyalty to the new government and to national heroes (contrast them with the slave South)

    Stable and legitimate government: especially after the War of 1812: a popular one-party system or two-party system

    Law and order: preserved to the east of the Appalachians after the Revolutionary War and to the west after the War of 1812

    Problems in OH & GA pre-1815

    Harpe brothers: predators

    Cave-in-Rock gang

    Revenge: Craddock Low’s death

    Salt works in Chillicothe

    Indian settler conflict

    2) The rise in homicide in the slave South after the Revolution

    The disruptive effects of revolutionary ideas on a society that is still deeply divided by caste and class after 1800, when it was clear that the revolution would not transform the society

    Dueling among elites: expected deference

    William Crawford and the Yazoo scandal

    Scrambling for status among poor and middle class whites in a society

    in which honor was more narrowly defined as the property of wealthy


    --especially upset when given orders by other whites

    Disciplining someone else’s slave & being ordered to


    --especially upset when blacks did not obey them

     Dunning for debts

     Passing down the road without halting

     White supremacy: murders of blacks by whites

    Frustrations within the black community: set off a scramble for

    position among them as well


     Telling tales

     Table manners

3) America’s homicide problem takes shape, 1846-1877

    De-stablized & de-legitimized status hierarchy: decline of self-employment,

    panic over immigration, western territories, slavery: pervasive anxiety over

    status, fear for future scramble for power and position

    Breakdown of fellow feeling and empathy: an age of politicized hatred along

    class, ethnic, religious, racial, regional lines deep divisions during the

    Mexican War and after the Kansas-Nebraska Act: the break points in

    homicide in the North & mountain South were 1846/7 or 1854/5. [NOTE:

    after the K-N act, the white South becomes more unified, so homicide rates

    there held steady or declined, 1854-63: only rose when the Confederacy


    Loss of stability and legitimacy of the government: failure of the two-party

    system, failure of the central government to maintain control, failure to

    govern the Southwest effectively

    Breakdown of law and order: first in northern cities and the post-conquest

    Southwest, then in the South, especially after 1863 break point in the South

    was 1863/4



     Political violence / religious & ethnic & racial violence

     Wild Bill Hickok and John Wesley Hardin

     Jesse James

    Predatory violence


     Sexual assault

     Serial sexual killers

     Status violence

     Property disputes

     Tavern brawls

     Gambling disputes

     Disputes at dances

4) The mixed legacy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

    The decline in homicide at the end of Reconstruction

    Law and order and political calm restored

    The acceptance of wage and salaried work as honorable

     thThe rise in homicide among minorities in cities in the 1890s and early 20


     thThe rise in homicide in the South in the 1890s and early 20 century

5) Family and Intimate Violence

     The rise in marital homicide

     --the companionate ideal of marriage

     --the decline in mutual dependence of husbands and wives

     --the plight of the drinking poor: abuse murder, possessive murder

     --the plight of the respectable adulterer: stealth murder

     --the cost of neighborly intervention / vigilantism

     The rise in romance homicide

     --the romantic movement

     --the decline in self-employment and the independence of women


     --possessive violence

     --violence against romantic rivals

     The rise in homicide among adult relatives

    --homicides over property and inheritance: the decline in self-

    employment as a catalyst

    --the impact of the increase in homicide among non-relatives on thhomicide among relatives: by the end of the 19 century,

    indistinguishable in motive, weapon, etc.

    Figure CR5

    County Names in the United States, 1634-1919

    (percentage of names of new counties)0.9Variable

    British heroes0.8American heroes

    Local heroes0.7










    Zelinsky (1988: 124-5).

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