A lynching is a form of extralegal violence carried out by a mob. The earliest use of the term in colonial America seems to have been during the Revolutionary War as “lynch law” or “Lynch's law” to refer to the punishment of British loyalists by Charles Lynch, a Virginia planter and justice of the peace. During the westward movement, vigilantes carried out lynchings, which increasingly involved lethal violence, with Mexicans, Native Americans, Chinese laborers, and white outlaws among the victims.

However, from the Revolutionary era onward, mob violence was also a ...

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