The Civil War in Missouri

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Judge Luke E. Lawless

Oil on canvas, painting by Charles Deas, 1836
MHM Collections

Judge Luke E. Lawless convened a grand jury to investigate the 1836 lynching of Francis McIntosh, a free mulatto boatman, who had murdered one officer, George Hammond, and stabbed another, William Mull, after they arrested McIntosh for his part in a minor altercation. Many of the specific details surrounding the lynching vary, but what is certain is that McIntosh was chained to a tree and burned alive.Lawless, like most of his fellow Irish in St. Louis, supported slavery and derided abolitionists as zealots who stirred up trouble. In an influential speech to the grand jury, Lawless placed the blame for the mob’s deed on abolitionists such as Elijah P. Lovejoy, whose anti-slavery writings encouraged McIntosh’s actions, ultimately leading to his own death. The grand jury issued no indictments to any of the mob participants.