The Execution of George Stinney, Jr.: A Case of Legal Lynching in South Carolina, 1944
Morse, Rachel Lynne
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This study offers the first comprehensive historical analysis of the 1944 execution of fourteen-year-old George Stinney, Jr., an African-American child living in the rural lumber mill town of Alcolu, South Carolina. Four pivotal contextual themes are discussed: the wartime lumber industry, the tense political climate in 1944, the southern tradition of extralegal mob justice, and legal lynching. This multi-pronged analysis frames a solid foundation for understanding the numerous immediate and peripheral forces at work in the case. In addition, Stinney’s legacy is examined alongside other cases of legal lynching and within the evolution of the death penalty in America. Testimony from Stinney's surviving siblings, witnesses, and individuals with familial ties to Alcolu is also included to strongly suggest that Stinney was not capable of committing the crime for which he was put to death. These statements provide a portrait of the case’s lasting legacy in the community where it began.