Allen County Museum - “Lynching & The Rule of Law in Lima, Ohio”

  • February 25, 2018 - February 25, 2018
  • Location: Allen County Museum
  • Address: 620 W. Market Street, Lima, OH 45801
  • Times: 2 PM
  • Admission: Free
  • (419) 222-9426
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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Lima was shaken by two incidents of racial violence.  Seen through one lens, these violent spasms did not render the city especially unique.  By the Gilded Age, the tide of southern lynching had begun to spill across the Ohio and  Mississippi Rivers into the North and West.  The Midwest, in particular, proved particularly fertile ground for extra-legal violence.  By the turn of the century, lynchings were occurring with some regularity in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.  
 
What happened in Lima, however, in late August 1916 set a different pattern.  Certainly, the initial story proceeded along the usual depressing channels, with a perceived sexual assault, a hate-filled mob screaming for the blood of the offender, and some authorities too cowed or overpowered to intervene.  Yet at that point Lima’s story deviated from the grim and nightmarish conclusions that such narratives usually arrived at elsewhere.  No bodies ended up dangling from trees or lampposts.  Courts and prosecutors swung into motion and packed the ringleaders of the mob off to prison.  The story even produced an unlikely, long-overlooked but genuine American hero.  Moreover, the events of that night became a critical turning point; these were the last such attempted lynchings in state history.  In this manner, the story of that August night in Lima, and subsequent developments that cemented the rule of law in the state, suggests the city might yet stand as a more hopeful beacon on the bleak landscape of American racism. 
 
The Allen County Historical Society is pleased to present Dr. Perry Bush who will outline the attempted lynchings of August 1916 in the larger context of extra-legal violence, and explain how and why events in Lima produced a different and unexpected result.  

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