cover of book

In Lincoln's Shadow: The 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois
by William U. Eiland
Southern Illinois University Press, 2008
eISBN: 978-0-8093-8664-2 | Paper: 978-0-8093-2909-0
Library of Congress Classification F549.S7S46 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.896073077356


This detailed case study of the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois, which began only a few blocks from Abraham Lincoln’s family home, explores the social origins of rioting by whites against the city’s African American community after a white woman alleged that a black man had raped her. Over two days rioters wrecked black-owned businesses, burned neighborhoods to the ground, killed two black men, and injured many others.

Author Roberta Senechal de la Roche draws from a wide range of sources to describe the riot, identify the rioters and their victims, and challenge previous interpretations that attribute rioting to interracial competition for jobs, housing, or political influence. Written in a direct and clear style, In Lincoln’s Shadow documents a violent explosion of racial hatred that shocked the nation and reveals the complexity of white racial attitudes in the early twentieth century.

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