Date of Award

Summer 7-17-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Thomas Andrews

Second Advisor

Fred Anderson

Third Advisor

Paul Sutter


Having abolished the death penalty four years prior, Coloradoans lynched three men--Thomas Reynolds, Calvin Kimblern, and John Preston Porter, Jr.-- in 1900, hanging two and burning one at the stake. This thesis argues that these lynchings both represented and supported Colorado's culture of lynching, a combination of social and cultural connections in which lynching was used as a force for social cohesion and control. Rather than being a distinct frontier culture of lynching, Colorado's culture was a slightly attenuated version of the racially-motivated culture of lynching in the Jim Crow South. The three lynchings in 1900 lay at the heart of the political debate over the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1901. After reinstatement, lynchings gradually died away as the state successfully funneled its culture of lynching into state-sanctioned executions.