American South and Violence

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22 Mar 2012
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American South February 1,
Hatfields & McCoys
“Justifiable Homicide”
John Hope Franklin. South was addicted to violence, on every level of society and it was
clear that it went well beyond the civil war. Brought attention to the duel becoming extinct
in the north with the ringing of the 19th century, while the South continued to take part in
this action.
Burton Brown. Overemphasis and overly concerned with honor, and it was a matter to be
dealt with by violence if it was ever questioned.
Tendency in the South to take the law into their own hands, in a greater degree than seen
elsewhere. This is reinforced by a weakness in law enforcement. Mobile had 9 cops for 60
000 people.
Kentucky was known for endemic violence at the lower level. There were fights that
occurred for generations. Feud began as to what people in Kentucky did during the civil
war as there was a great divide during the war. Examination of one side of the family being
a unionist and the other being confederate. Hatfields & McCoys are an example of this.
1930s during the great depression, east Kentucky (a coal area) and west Virginia that
borders it became a fight mining versus capital. A famous one of these events was seen in
Harlan County.
Redfield, toured around the states examining homicide cases. Noticed that the further he
went south towards the high river the more cases he found. Homicide rate for south
Carolina was 10 times higher than Massachusetts, Texas is 10 times that of Minnesota.
Study during the early 20th century of Memphis found that both blacks and whites are
violent. This pattern carried into the 1980s and 90s.
Explanations for Southern violence:
1. The levels of poverty.
2. Low Educational levels.
3. Racist nature of Southern society.
4. Cultural history
5. Attachment to the military
6. Connection to violent sports (dog fighting, etc.)
7. Punishments and rulings are more violent.
Harsher prison sentences are seen the further south that one travels.
South is seen as the most willing towards capital punishment.
Attitudes towards violence. Positive attitude towards owning weapons, and gun registration
is the highest in the south.
John Shelton Reed. A sociologist, has a book titled “My tears hurt my aim” Studies that
there is a culture of violence that is a learned trait. It is ok to go towards violence in the
south. It is violent in certain ways. South is far ahead of the other parts of the states in the
murders of lovers, spouses or other family adults; as well as arguments or disputes causing
violence. Few instances of children being hurt, or elements of psychotic in the south.
Violence in the south is not random it is likely to a justifiable homicide, violence has a
reason in the south. A gun or a knife is carried with the chance that you may have to use it
and you use it because the occasion calls for it.
Development of the Frontier.