Bullets and Fire

$39.95 $29.96

Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950
Guy Lancaster
350 pages
6″ x 9″
978-1-68226-044-9 (paper)


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Bullets and Fire is the first collection on lynching in Arkansas, exploring all corners of the state from the time of slavery up to the mid-twentieth century and covering stories of the perpetrators, victims, and those who fought against vigilante violence.

Among the topics discussed are the lynching of slaves, the Arkansas Council of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, the 1927 lynching of John Carter in Little Rock, and the state’s long opposition to a federal anti-lynching law.

Throughout, the work reveals how the phenomenon of lynching—as the means by which a system of white supremacy reified itself, with its perpetrators rarely punished and its defenders never condemned—served to construct authority in Arkansas. Bullets and Fire will add depth to the growing body of literature on American lynching and integrate a deeper understanding of this violence into Arkansas history.

Check out Guy Lancaster speaking about Bullets and Fire at the Fayetteville Public Library.

Guy Lancaster is the editor of the online Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, a project of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System, and the author of the award-winning Racial Cleansing in Arkansas, 1883–1924: Politics, Land, Labor, and Criminality.

“While this edited volume will appeal to devotees of Arkansas history, it would be a mistake to assume that its value is only to that audience. Editor Guy Lancaster, an award-winning historian, has written an impressive introduction and assembled ten well-written chapters, which cover most aspects of mob violence in the state as well as the Arkansas antilynching movement. … Lancaster’s edited collection is a welcome addition to the southern lynching literature…”
Journal of Southern History, February 2019

“Prior to the publication of this much-needed volume, Arkansas had been one of the most understudied southern states in terms of its history of frequent lynching violence. … with this impressive volume Arkansas has been transformed from one of the least studied southern states … to one of the best and most comprehensively analyzed. An excellent volume that will reward reading by all interested in Arkansas history, the history of American and southern lynching, and the history of racial violence.”
—Michael J. Pfeifer, Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Summer 2018

“The essays in this book are accessible to history novices, but include plenty of fresh scholarship for those already familiar with this part of Arkansas’s history. Some essays, such as Richard Buckelew’s telling of the Clarendon lynching of 1898, read like a modern-day true-crime tale — instantly seductive but far from middlebrow, adeptly touching on race, class and gender.”
—Matt Baker, Arkansas Times

“…this book is an important contribution to the history of Arkansas and sheds light on some of its darkest moments. It should be required reading for all persons interested in the state’s history.”
—Carl Moneyhon, Arkansas Review, December 2018

“Guy Lancaster has assembled a wide-ranging collection illuminating the scale, scope, and geographic range of lynching and its attendant atrocities from the understudied antebellum period to the Cold War. Part of a new wave of state-level studies, Bullets and Fire documents, explores, and analyzes some of the hundreds of anti-black lynchings that scarred Arkansas for over a century and the efforts of a diverse assemblage of anti-lynching activists who undertook to curb this most pernicious symbol of white supremacy.”
Brent M. S. Campney, author of This Is Not Dixie: Racist Violence in Kansas, 1861-1927

Guy Lancaster

Chapter 1
“Doubtless Guilty”: Lynching and Slaves in Antebellum Arkansas
Kelly Houston Jones

Chapter 2
“At the Hands of a Person or Persons Unknown”: The Nature of Lynch Mobs in Arkansas
Nancy Snell Griffith

Chapter 3
A Lynching State: Arkansas in the 1890s
Randy Finley

Chapter 4
The Clarendon Lynching of 1898: The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender
Richard Buckelew

Chapter 5
Thirteen Dead at Saint Charles: Arkansas’s Most Lethal Lynching and the Abrogation of Equal Protection
Vincent Vinikas

Chapter 6
“Through Death, Hell and the Grave”: Lynching and Antilynching Efforts in Arkansas, 1901–1939
Todd E. Lewis

Chapter 7
Before John Carter: Lynching and Mob Violence in Pulaski County, 1882–1906
Guy Lancaster

Chapter 8
Stories of a Lynching: Accounts of John Carter, 1927
Stephanie Harp

Chapter 9
“Working Slowly but Surely and Quietly”: The Arkansas Council of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, 1930–1941
Cherisse Jones-Branch

Chapter 10
Holding the Line: The Arkansas Congressional Delegation and the Fight over a Federal Antilynching Law
William H. Pruden III

Winner, 2018 John William Graves Book Award, Arkansas Historical Association

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