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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Public Hangings

In Western communities [in the U.S.], lynchings were the preeminent social event, especially if the bank robber was well known. A local holdup man, or a stranger who had received enough publicity, could and did draw a crowd. Vendors sold popcorn, flags, peanuts, and cold drinks, giving the event a carnival atmosphere. Many small towns didn't have a court system, so there were a lot of impromptu executions. For towns that did have a sitting judge these hangings could be advertised a week or two in advance in order to give people a chance to attend. Hangings were a big boost to the local economy and a good chance for neighbors to get together. Of course, more than a few hasty hangings were not done in a professional manner, and many a bad guy slowly strangled to death with a sizable audience looking on.

L. R. Kirchner, Robbing Banks, 2003

1 comment:

  1. This type of judgement must have been passed down from the Salem witch trials, but with refreshments & humor added!