2 drawings, 24 halftones, 1 maps, 2 tables

Myth of the Hanging Tree

Stories of Crime and Punishment in Territorial New Mexico
By Robert J. Tórrez



The haunting specter of hanging trees holds a powerful sway on the American imagination, conjuring images of rough-and-tumble frontier towns struggling to impose law and order in a land where violence was endemic. In this thoughtful study, former New Mexico State Historian Robert J. Tórrez examines several fascinating criminal cases that reveal the harsh and often gruesome realities of the role hangings, legal or otherwise, played in the administration of frontier justice.

At first glance, the topic may seem downright morbid, and in a sense it is, but these violent attempts at justice are embedded in our perception of America's western experience. In tracing territorial New Mexico's efforts to enforce law, Tórrez challenges the myths and popular perceptions about hangings and lynchings in this corner of the Wild West.

Subjects: HistorySouthwest

Contributor Bios
Robert J. Torrez is former New Mexico state historian.