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By James M. Denham

The pervasive impression of the frontier is prime to an figuring out of antebellum Florida. James M. Denham strains the expansion and social improvement of this in moderation settled zone via its event with crime and punishment. utilizing court docket 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 folks have been way more common 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 incorporated a robust experience of monetary morality. Honesty and truthfulness have been qualities not just wanted yet demanded. Stealing was once a contravention of that belief and bought society's sternest punishment.

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

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And finally to William W. Rogers at Florida State University, a mentor and a model in every sense of the word, whose patience, encouragement, and kind words gave me the confidence to pursue this study, I express my gratitude. Page xii One of the great joys of writing a book of this kind is doing research in Florida's county courthouses, whose sizes and characteristics vary so widely that they are indeed a good representation of Florida's diverse physical and demographic landscape. From the massive Hillsborough County courthouse in Tampa and its annex in Brandon to the tiny Jefferson County courthouse in Monticello, each had a character of its own.

In response to the apparent pestilence of crime, judges also took official note of the close connection between moral depravity and crime and called for a moral rebirth. In a charge to the Franklin County Grand Jury in 1831, for instance, Judge David L. White warned his listeners against the evil results of swearing. " Abandoned moral behavior, claimed White, would lead to crime. "40 The threatening tide appeared ready to overwhelm some residents. "The land seems flooded with crime," declared one St.

Using a history of crime and punishment in antebellum Florida for the purpose of descending into extensive polemical debates on these issues is not the purpose here. Still, I think studying such an important aspect of the state's history can provide a perspective that is so often lacking in today's society. This approach will please some and frustrate others, but it coincides with my primary goal of reaching an audience beyond just the academic community. Finally, though I recognize the impossibility of writing "value-free" history, I believe that objectivity, though difficult to reach, is a goal worth striving for.

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