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In Lincoln's Shadow

In Lincoln's Shadow

The 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, Illinois

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Roberta Senechal de la Roche


Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
264 pages, 6 x 9, 22 illustrations


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About the Book

Winner of the Gustavus Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in the United States!
Winner of the Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award!

This detailed case study of the 1908 race riot in Springfield, Illinois, which began only a few blocks from Abraham Lincoln’s family home, explores the social origins of rioting by whites against the city’s African American community after a white woman alleged that a black man had raped her. Over two days rioters wrecked black-owned businesses, burned neighborhoods to the ground, killed two black men, and injured many others.

Author Roberta Senechal de la Roche draws from a wide range of sources to describe the riot, identify the rioters and their victims, and challenge previous interpretations that attribute rioting to interracial competition for jobs, housing, or political influence. Written in a direct and clear style, In Lincoln’s Shadow documents a violent explosion of racial hatred that shocked the nation and reveals the complexity of white racial attitudes in the early twentieth century.


Roberta Senechal de la Roche is a professor of history at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.  She has written several works on various forms of collective violence, such as lynching, rioting, and terrorism. 


“[T]his study offers the most refined and penetrating examination of a race riot yet published. . . . a highly perceptive and subtle work.”—The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

“[This book] adds considerably to the study of race riots and particularly riot participants. . . . innovative and thought-provoking . . . must be read by all serious scholars of racial violence.”—American Historical Review