Their Majesties: The Mob

Their Majesties: The Mob

Their Majesties: The Mob

Their Majesties: The Mob

Excerpt

In September, 1957, Little Rock, Arkansas, took the spotlight of world attention. Technically it was because the governor of the state defied the national government by calling out troops to block enforcement of a federal court order. Thereby he also called into action a mob of citizens determined to keep nine Negro children from entering Central High School. This was the living drama, and it was accentuated by a chorus of junior demonstrators chanting, "Two, four, six, eight; we ain't gonna integrate."

For groups to take the law into their own hands is an old American custom. It happened in colonial days and there was more of it at the time of the Revolution. The Boston Tea Party was such an incident. We remember it lightheartedly. But no one can be as complacent about the tarring and feathering, the riding on a rail, that our Revolutionary ancestors inflicted on their neighbors who persisted in loyalty to George III.

Another setting in which actions outside the law came naturally was the American frontier. Here life was turbulent and society only indifferently organized. The "western" in paperback or movie or radio or television serial may be assumed to exaggerate this violence, yet the truth often was as stark as fiction. Take, for illustration, the most voluminous of all western histories, the thirty-nine thick tomes that constitute Hubert Howe Bancroft's history of the Pacific states of North America. In the seventies and eighties when this most industrious of historians was compiling his monumental work, he thought it proper to devote two full volumes--an aggregate of more than fifteen hundred pages--to what he called the Popular Tribunals. Bancroft has been criticized . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.