The Lynching of James Scales: How the FBI, the DOJ, and State Authorities "Whitewashed" Racial Violence in Bledsoe County, Tennessee

By Cohen, Andrew P. | Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights, Spring 2014 | Go to article overview

The Lynching of James Scales: How the FBI, the DOJ, and State Authorities "Whitewashed" Racial Violence in Bledsoe County, Tennessee


Cohen, Andrew P., Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights


I. Introduction..................................................................................286

II. A "Vicious Triangle": Defining Direct, Structural and Cultural Violence.................................................................288

A. Direct Violence.....................................................................288

B. Structural Violence...............................................................288

C. Cultural Violence..................................................................289

D. Direct, Structural, and Cultural Violence and the Loss of Identity.................................................................................289

III. Who Was James Scales?.............................................................290

A. James Scales's Childhood....................................................290

B. James Scales's Navy Career.................................................291

IV. Institutional Violence: A Reformatory for Black Boys in a Dangerous White County.....................................................295

A. "Bloody Bledsoe".................................................................295

B. Tennessee State Training and Agricultural School for Colored Boys........................................................................297

C. Attention on the Reformatory After Scales's Lynching.......301

1. Public Response..........................................................301

2. Government Response................................................304

V. Lynching: Two White Women Murdered, a Young Black Man Accused.....................................................................................307

A. A Double Murder.................................................................307

B. Motive...................................................................................309

C. Accusing and Capturing Scales............................................310

D. A Lynching on Reformatory Grounds..................................313

IV. Supporting Racial Violence: Public Uproar, Investigations, and Cover-up by State and Federal Authorities............315

A. Initial Uproar and Swift Action by State Authorities..........316

B. Initial Federal Response.......................................................317

C. NAACP and the Looby Report.............................................318

D. State Leaders Shift Focus.....................................................319

E. Federal Response Comes up Short.......................................321

/. DOJ and the Enforcement of Federal Law.................321

2. FBI Investigation Stalls..............................................323

3. DOJ Cedes Control to Local Authorities....................326

4. Local Opposition to Prosecution................................327

5. "No True Bill"............................................................329

VII. Conclusion..................................................................................331

I. Introduction

Midday on November 23, 1944, a crowd gathered to lynch an African-American teenager named James Scales. Earlier that morning, guards at the Tennessee state reformatory where Scales was imprisoned had accused the sixteen-year-old of brutally killing the wife and daughter of the institution's superintendent. The mob began to hang its victim under a large tree, but the lynching came to an abrupt end when one member of the mob shot Scales in the head multiple times.

The murder of two white women and the lynching of a black teenager instantly became national news. Tennessee Governor Prentice Cooper pledged a full investigation and offered a $500 reward for information leading to capture and conviction of Scales's killers. Local clergy and the International Labor Defense raised the total reward to more than $1,800. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Lynching of James Scales: How the FBI, the DOJ, and State Authorities "Whitewashed" Racial Violence in Bledsoe County, Tennessee
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.