Dead Weight


Charleston, South Carolina in 1910 is the scene of a true story. There is a trial in the town, a triangle of animosities. A Jewish merchant murdered, a black man accused and a white populace primed for a hanging.

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Dateline: Charleston County, 4 October 1910 Hal Hinson/New York Tribune In the Devil s Den, they performed their play. Torchlight in the deep woods was the footlight for evil. I was the fortunate Yankee to witness a backwoods gathering of the Ku Klux Klan, fortunate not from a particular desire to be there, but fortunate that the party didn t include me as the evening s entertainment, the main act, to be sacrificed to a twisted Southern code of honor. The Klan here was spoiling for a little night dance at the end of a rope. A trial that starts in a day s time is all that contains this town, these men, from a fury of murder. Someone will hang here and either way, he is likely to be innocent. In the torchlight, in their eyes, I could see the Evil and he is among us. Through the narration of Hal Hinson, we see the beauty of Charleston, the ugliness of the racial divide and a struggle, through the transcripts of actual court testimony, between two lawyers for the life of a man accused of murder. The reader also comes to know the real character of the accused. Daniel Cornelius Nealy Duncan was the last man hanged by the state of South Carolina. It did not go well. Nealy was on the eve of his wedding when he was arrested. A young black man of respectable employment, manners and temperament, his trial and execution presents the reality of a love story in a tragic frame. History wrote the story’s ending an intersection of fate and faith that some to this day call divine retribution for the death of an innocent man.

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237 pages

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Paperback, Hardcover


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