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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Dying Confession of Joseph Hare (1818) was a gallows confession composed by an American highwayman in the weeks before his execution in Baltimore. This chapter argues that, in unexpected ways, Hare’s account of his life and crimes in the South in the early years of the nineteenth century was a text that was steeped in the transatlantic literature and lore of the highwayman: it looks back to English models that crystallized in the eighteenth century, and it points forward to the proliferation of crime narratives and southern outlaws in the nineteenth century. An idiosyncratic text penned by an eccentric robber, Hare’s pivotal autobiography both complicates and extends our understanding of the relationship between crime and punishment, violence, masculinity, and popular fiction in the nineteenth-century South and beyond.

Keywords: highwayman, highway robbery, crime and punishment, violence, transatlantic crime narratives, southern masculinity

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