College of Law Faculty Scholarship

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Law, Culture, and the Humanities

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This article examines a rare folk ballad to revisit an 1888 Tennessee trial that newspapers referred to as the fastest in the country in which the death penalty was involved. If we look at this event using court records and newspapers, it tells a regrettably common story of a court under pressure from the populace skirting the protections of law. However, if we consider the trial as a performative endeavor, we can rightly consider other performative events, like folk songs, not as reflective of official events but as equivalents that help provide insight into the larger motives behind the court’s actions.

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