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Description de l’éditeur

In August 1893, Joseph Cocking, a farmer in Charles County, Maryland, completed the sale of his agricultural implements and moved his family from their land near Port Tobacco, the county seat, to their new home in Hill Top, a village some five miles away, to take up a career in general merchandise. The local paper, the Port Tobacco Times, announced that Cocking "has erected a neat dwelling and store house and will lay in a stock of goods by the first of September". The Times lauded the newly-minted storekeeper as bearing "the character of an industrious, upright and honest gentleman... while his leaving this neighborhood will be regretted by his many friends, we are sure they will all join us in wishing him success in his new vocation."(1) Just three years later, farmer-turned-merchant Joseph Cocking, now described by the Times as an "alleged wife murderer," faced a mob of masked men who forcibly removed him from the Charles County jail, bound his hands and marched him away in full view of the jailer. Soon after, the jailer, Washington Burch, and Deputy Sheriff R. T. Barbour, following the direction taken by the mob, found Cocking's body swiming from a bridge over a nearby causeway. (2) What had occurred to transform Joseph Cocking from well-regarded member of a small community to the target of the wrath of a lynch mob? How had Cocking become the only man to be lynched in Charles County? Why had Cocking ended his life in the "tragedy on the little bridge at Port lobacco that moon-lit night in June"?(3)

22 juin
Journal of Social History

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