A Hanging in Nacogdoches

A Hanging in Nacogdoches : Murder, Race, Politics, and Polemics in Texas's Oldest Town, 1870-1916

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On October 17, 1902, in Nacogdoches, Texas, a black man named James Buchanan was tried without representation, condemned, and executed for the murder of a white family-all in the course of three hours. Two white men played pivotal roles in these events: Bill Haltom, a leading local Democrat and the editor of the Nacogdoches Sentinel, who condemned lynching but defended lynch mobs, and A. J. Spradley, a Populist sheriff who, with the aid of hundreds of state militiamen, barely managed to keep the mob from burning Buchanan alive, only to escort him to the gallows following his abbreviated trial. Each man's story serves to illuminate a part of the path that led to the terrible parody of justice which lies at the heart of A Hanging in Nacogdoches.

The turn of the twentieth century was a time of dramatic change for the people of East Texas. Frightened by the Populist Party's attempts to unite poor blacks and whites in a struggle for economic justice, white Democrats defended their power base by exploiting racial tensions in a battle that ultimately resulted in the complete disenfranchisement of the black population of East Texas. In telling the story of a single lynching, Gary Borders dramatically illustrates the way politics and race combined to bring horrific violence to small southern towns like Nacogdoches.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 239 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 13mm | 435g
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English
  • 35 b&w illus.
  • 0292712995
  • 9780292712997

Table of contents

Part I: A Murder, a Manhunt, a Trial, and an Execution

Chapter One. Three Killed in Black Jack
Chapter Two. A City with a Long Past
Chapter Three. A Texas Sheriff
Chapter Four. A Suspect and a Possible Motive
Chapter Five. Nacogdoches in 1902
Chapter Six. A Suspect Is Caught
Chapter Seven. Lynchings: A Grim Fact of Life
Chapter Eight. Populism and Race: An Incendiary Mix
Chapter Nine. The Spradley-Haltom Feud
Chapter Ten. Buchanan Confesses in Shreveport
Chapter Eleven. A Desperate Journey across East Texas
Chapter Twelve. Preparations Made for Buchanan's Trial
Chapter Thirteen. Buchanan Returns for Trial
Chapter Fourteen. A Hanging in Nacogdoches

Part II: Aftermath

Chapter Fifteen. Quick Hanging Sparks Criticism and Praise
Chapter Sixteen. Wettermark, Whitecapping, and a Whipping
Chapter Seventeen. Conclusion

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About Gary B. Borders

Gary Borders is a lifelong East Texas newspaperman who served as the publisher and editor of the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel from 1993 to 2003. He lives in Lufkin, Texas, where he is the publisher of the Lufkin Daily News.
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