By James M. Denham
The pervasive impression of the frontier is key to an realizing of antebellum Florida. James M. Denham strains the expansion and social improvement of this moderately settled sector via its adventure with crime and punishment. utilizing courtroom documents, govt files, newspapers, and private papers, Denham explores how crime affected usual Floridians - whites and blacks, perpetrators, sufferers, and enforcers. He contends that even though the frontier decided the enforcement and management of the legislation, the ethic of honor ruled human relationships. even supposing indictments for crimes opposed to individuals have been way more widespread than these for crimes opposed to estate, the punishment for the latter used to be extra critical (except for homicide) simply because such crimes violated the South's loved code of honor. A sparse, rural agricultural inhabitants valued a private integrity that integrated a powerful feel of financial morality. Honesty and truthfulness have been characteristics not just wanted yet demanded. Stealing was once a contravention of that belief and obtained society's sternest punishment.
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Additional info for A rogue's paradise: crime and punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861
A few respectable citizens joined the temperance movement, which grew in the North beginning in the Age of Jackson. At one such meeting in Tallahassee, prominent lawyer James Westcott cited personal and professional experience to buttress claims that excessive drinking resulted in violent crime. In twenty years of practice, he commented, he had been involved in sixty-three cases of homicide. 14 Many newspaper editors and public officials joined the struggle against intemperance and warned against the hazards of the vice.
While resort to the duel was not uncommon, many prominent and influential Floridians deplored the practice. 32 Anger and honor provoked violence, but so too did economic troubles and the tensions they created. The collapse of Florida's banking system in the late 1830s led many to fear outbreaks of violent crime among debtors and creditors. "33 The idealized relationship between debtors and creditors hoped for by the Gadsden County jurors was rarely achieved. Predictions of violent outcomes, though often exaggerated, were widespread.
37 The time-honored custom of "treating" by candidates made violent out- Page 20 breaks inevitable. Voters expected office seekers to supply liquor at political gatherings, where local distillers always had many customers. "39 Treating continued nonetheless, and, so long as settlers used political campaigns as entertainment, few candidates could afford to ignore custom. Political customs and other circumstances prompted crime and violence. Still, when newspapermen, politicians, and ministers commented on the lawbreaker and his crime, they usually pointed to the culprit's abandonment of morals.
A rogue's paradise: crime and punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861 by James M. Denham