History Professors to Discuss Rampant Violence and Homicide on Florida's Antebellum Frontier
LAKELAND, Fla. (March 11, 2010) -- Ohio State University history professor Dr. Randolph Roth will join Florida Southern College history professor Dr. James M. Denham for a discussion of "Homicide on Floridas Antebellum Frontier." Their lecture, the annual Robert and Rose Stahl Criminal Justice Lecture, concludes the Lawton Chiles Center for Florida History's annual Florida Lecture Series. The lecture begins at 7 p.m. March 25 in the William M. Hollis Seminar Room of the Thad Buckner Building on the FSC campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The family of Robert and Rose Stahl established these lectures in their memory. Mr. Stahl served more than 30 years as a police officer, including several years as chief of police in North Miami Beach.
Florida's antebellum frontier was one of the most violent places on earth. Nearly every man, it seemed, was ready to violently defend his honor, protect his property, or exact revenge. Dr. Roth and Dr. Denham explore some of the motives behind Floridas extraordinary murder rate in the decades before the Civil War: the governments lack of credibility and its inability to enforce the law; the Southern penchant for honor; slavery and race; and the way of life on the open frontier. They also seek connections between the states bloody past and its present.
Dr. Roth recently published "American Homicide" from Harvard University Press, an interregional study of homicide from colonial times to the present. The work posits the important question: "Why do people kill each other?" Using painstaking research and statistical analysis, Dr. Roth comes to some interesting conclusions about how and why the United States has become the worlds most homicidal industrial democracy. He is co-founder of the Historical Violence Database, a collaborative international project to gather data on the history of violent crime and violent death. A popular public speaker and award-winning teacher, Roth has been awarded the Ohio Academy of History Distinguished Teaching Award and the universitywide OSU Alumni Award for Teaching.
Dr. Denham, who serves as director of the Center for Florida History, has published dozens of articles on Southern and Florida history and four books, including "A Rogue's Paradise: Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida" and "Cracker Times and Pioneer Lives." He won the Florida Historical Society's Arthur W. Thompson Prize and its James J. Horgan Book Prize for "Florida Sheriffs: A History, 1821-1945.''