Lynching is the execution of an offender by a mob without due process of law. It is thought that the word is derived from a Virginian named Lynch, who during the American Revolution sometimes led a small organization that dealt swift justice to desperadoes and Tories. In frontier conditions, when regular law enforcement was either weak or lacking, lynching served as a substitute method of social control. In the South, however, lynching turned into the traditional method of summary execution, primarily when the offense was by a black person against a white.
A compilation made at Tuskegee Institute showed that between 1882 and 1936 there were 4672 people lynched in the United States, of whom 3383 were black and 1289 were white. Only the six New England states were free from lynchings during this period.
Lynchings became less frequent as the 20th century proceeded, having dropped sharply by the late 1930`s, by which time they were almost entirely confined to the South. Since World War II, lynching has died out in the United States.