Myth of the hanging tree: stories of crime and punishment in territorial New Mexico

By Robert J. Torrez / University of New Mexico Press, on 1 January 2008

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 Torrez 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, Torrez challenges the myths and popular perceptions about hangings and lynching in this corner of the Wild West.

  • Document type Book
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Hanging,