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By James M. Denham

The pervasive effect of the frontier is key to an figuring out of antebellum Florida. James M. Denham strains the expansion and social improvement of this in moderation settled zone via its adventure with crime and punishment. utilizing courtroom documents, executive 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 if indictments for crimes opposed to individuals have been way more widespread than these for crimes opposed to estate, the punishment for the latter was once 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 incorporated a robust experience of financial morality. Honesty and truthfulness have been qualities not just wanted yet demanded. Stealing used to be a contravention of that belief and bought society's sternest punishment.

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Extra resources for A rogue's paradise: crime and punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861

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Scholars studying any aspect of the Old South cannot ignore the impact of slavery on the Southern mind and culture. Thus the relationship of blacks to Florida's criminal justice system is an important component of the state's history of crime and punishment. Florida's experience with the peculiar institution both duplicated and differed from that of other slave states. In Middle Florida, bounded by the Apalachicola and Suwannee Rivers, a thriving plantation economy emerged that created a society similar to the "black belt" of Alabama and Mississippi.

And yet not only did the title come from a territorial editor's description of Florida, but it is also my contention that Florida and Texas shared a number of similarities that make the appellation appropriate. Both experienced land booms in the 1830s and 1840s. Both had large frontiers. Both had reputations as lands of lawlessness and opportunity. Both became states at roughly the same time (1845). And during Texas's fight for independence from Mexico (1835-36), a number of Floridians migrated to Texas.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, "the people" were primarily white males, which meant that blacks, Indians, and women were excluded from participating in the legal process as equals. Page 6 They were, of course, "subjected" to the laws; yet they played no role in making, executing, and interpreting laws. But to dwell on the aspect of inequality alone is to forget that early-nineteenth-century American society was the most "representative" on earth at that time. Floridians continually prided themselves on this fact, and this pride was reflected in legislative and court records.

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