In Robert Sullivan’s letter in the March 17, he states, “America’s largest lynching took 11 Italians in 1891 New Orleans.” He is wrong.

On Dec. 26, 1862, following the U.S.-Dakota War of that year, the federal government hanged 38 members of the Dakota tribe in Minnesota. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history. 

Two days after the Dakota surrendered at Camp Release on Sept. 26, 1862, a military commission began trying Dakota men accused of participating in the war. The rapid trials — some no more than five minutes — of 392 prisoners were completed in November. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, 303 men were sentenced to death and 16 received prison terms.

After reviewing the trial transcripts, President Abraham Lincoln provided a list of 39 names of prisoners to be executed. One received a last minute reprieve. On the morning of Dec. 26, 1862, in front of an estimated crowd of 4,000 spectators and on a specially constructed mass-hanging scaffold, the men were executed. They were left dangling from the scaffold for a half hour.

Alan Krause, Oak Park

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