“Tar and Feathers Made a Good American Out of Me”: Patriotic Violence during and after the American Revolution

Lecture Description

This lecture explores the history of tarring and feathering, a ritualistic form of violence that, though most commonly associated with the Revolutionary War, persisted in the United States at least until the 1970s. Violent episodes of tarring and feathering punctuated most every major social crisis in U.S. history, from the Second Great Awakening to antebellum debates over slavery, from the labor wars of the early twentieth century to the aftermath of World War I, from the crusade for prohibition to the campaign for civil rights. In moments such as these, private citizens deployed tar and feathers to establish and strengthen political, moral, ethnic, and/or national boundaries. By means of physical assault and spectacular ostracization, tarring-and-feathering mobs thrust transgressors out of their imagined if not their actual communities.


Crime, Violence, Incarceration Revolutionary and Early National

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