Lynching, or Lynch Law, the practice of inflicting punishment without due process of law on a supposed or convicted criminal. The punishment is usually death, most commonly by hanging. Lynching was common on the western frontier of the United States because often there was no legal authority. After the Civil War most lynchings occurred in the South. These lynchings were usually of blacks for the alleged rape or murder of white persons. During 1900-60, according to Tuskeegee Institute, 1,992 persons were lynched (hanged, shot, or burned), 1,796 of them black.

For many years, attempts were made in Congress to enact an antilynching law. but they were unsuccessful, mainly because of opposition by Southern legislators. Lynchings began to decline in the 1930's, however, and eventually disappeared. Several factors were responsible—an antilynching campaign by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the growing political power of blacks, the advent of the civil rights movement, and the passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act by Congress.