A clearinghouse for information, analysis, and resources related to state sanctioned violence in the United States
First founded in the late 1880s after a series of violent labor strikes, Law and Order Leagues enjoyed a revival during the first world war. Law and Order Leagues defined lynching as a problem of social disorder; they advocated better law enforcement as a solution. Better law enforcement referred both to law enforcement action to prevent lynching, as well as increased effectiveness of law enforcement and court systems more generally. Law and Order Leagues were often led by white, southern progressives, though there were also “colored” chapters, and the organization was publicly celebrated by the NAACP. They could operate more openly and effectively in some areas of the south because they focused less on “racial equality” or “civil rights,” and more (as the name suggests) on promoting obedience to legal authorities and encouraging whites to have patience and faith in the formal criminal justice system. Internal documents of the NAACP suggest they saw the conservatism of this strategy promising as a way to get a foothold in areas hostile to more explicit forms of organizing.
Secondary Literature & Encyclopedias
Information about Founding of Original Law and Order League – from Chicago History (chicagohistory.org)
Correspondence of WEB DuBois & NAACP regarding founding of Nashville Law & Order League in 1918
The Colored Law and Order League of Baltimore, MD – 36-pg booklet archived by the Library of Congress
Still to come…
The Augusta Chronicle, February 25th, 1918 – “Nashville to Organize Law and Order League: Better Enforcement of State Laws Planned”
The Charlotte Observer, February 25th, 1918 – “Law and Order League Organized At Nashville”
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