The Ohio State University Press, 1998

front cover of A Rogue's Paradise
A Rogue's Paradise
Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861
James M. Denham
University of Alabama Press, 1997

A revealing portrait of law-breaking and law enforcement on the Florida frontier

The pervasive influence of the frontier is fundamental to an understanding of antebellum Florida. James M. Denham traces the growth and social development of this sparsely settled region through its experience with crime and punishment. He examines such issues as Florida's criminal code, its judicial and law enforcement officers, the accommodation of criminals in jails and courts, outlaw gangs, patterns of punishment, and the attitude of the public toward lawbreakers.

Using court records, government documents, newspapers, and personal papers, Denham explores how crime affected ordinary Floridians—whites and blacks, perpetrators, victims, and enforcers. He contends that although the frontier determined the enforcement and administration of the law, the ethic of honor dominated human relationships.


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Roots of Disorder
Race and Criminal Justice in the American South, 1817-80
Christopher Waldrep
University of Illinois Press, 1998
Every white southerner understoodwhat keeping African Americans "down" meant and what it did not mean. It did not mean going to court; it did not mean relying on the law. It meant vigilante violence and lynching. Looking at Vicksburg, Mississippi,Roots of Disorder traces the origins of these terrible attitudes to the day-to-day operations of local courts. In Vicksburg, white exploitation of black labor through slavery evolved into efforts to use the law todefine blacks' place in society, setting the stage for widespread tolerance of brutal vigilantism. Fed by racism and economics, whites' violence grew in a hothouse of more general hostility toward law and courts. Roots of Disorder shows how the criminal justice system itself plays a role in shaping the attitudes that encourage vigilantism.

"Delivers what no other study has yet attempted. . . . Waldrep's book is one of the first systematically to use local trial data to explore questions of society and culture." -- Vernon Burton, author of "A Gentleman and an Officer": A Social and Military History of James B. Griffin's Civil War

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