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Old 02-09-2016, 04:16 AM
6 posts, read 16,390 times
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New Orleans Massacre (1866)
The New Orleans Massacre, also known as the New Orleans Race Riot, occurred on July 30, 1866. While the riot was typical of numerous racial conflicts during Reconstruction, this incident had special significance. It galvanized national opposition to the moderate Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson and ushered in much more sweeping Congressional Reconstruction in 1867.

The riot took place outside the Mechanics Institute in New Orleans as black and white delegates attended the Louisiana Constitutional Convention. The Convention had reconvened because the Louisiana state legislature had recently passed the black codes and refused to extend voting rights to black men. Also on May 12, 1866, four years of Union Army imposed martial law ended and Mayor John T. Monroe, who had headed city government before the Civil War, was reinstated as acting mayor. Monroe had been an active supporter of the Confederacy.

As a delegation of 130 black New Orleans residents marched behind the U.S. flag toward the Mechanics Institute, Mayor Monroe organized and led a mob of ex-Confederates, white supremacists, and members of the New Orleans Police Force to the Institute to block their way. The mayor claimed their intent was to put down any unrest that may come from the Convention but the real reason was to prevent the delegates from meeting.

As the delegation came to within a couple of blocks of the Institute, shots were fired but the group was allowed to proceed to the meeting hall. Once they reached the Institute the police and white mob members attacked them, beating some of the marchers while others rushed inside the building for safety.

Now the police and mob surrounded the Institute and opened fire on the building, shooting indiscriminately into the windows. Then the mob rushed into the building and began to fire into the crowd of delegates. When the mob ran out of ammunition they were beaten back by the delegates. The mob left the building, regrouped, and returned, breaking down the doors and again firing on the mostly unarmed delegates.

As the firing continued some delegates attempted to flee or surrender. Some of those who surrendered, mostly blacks, were killed on the spot. Those who ran were chased as the killing spread over several blocks around the Institute. By this point both the rioters and victims included people who were never at the Institute. African Americans were shot on the street or pulled off of streetcars to be summarily beaten or killed. By the end of the massacre, at least 200 black Union war veterans were killed, including forty delegates at the Convention. Altogether 238 people were killed and 46 were wounded.

The riot's repercussions extended far beyond New Orleans. Northerners angry over the violence helped the Republican Party take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in the Congressional elections of 1866. That Republican controlled Congress subsequently passed the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, a series of measures that called for Army occupation of ten former Confederate states and measures that ensured voting rights for African Americans. Meanwhile martial law was immediately reimposed in New Orleans after the riot and Mayor Monroe and other city officials were forcibly removed from office for their part in the massacre.

Opelousas Massacre (1868)

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The Opelousas Massacre occurred on September 28, 1868 in Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. The event is also referred to as The Opelousas Riot by some historians. There is debate as to how many people were killed. Conservative estimates made by contemporary observers indicated about 30 people died from the political violence. Later historians have placed the total as closer to 150 or more.

While most Reconstruction-era violence was sparked by conflicts between black Republicans and white Democrats, the initial catalyst for the Massacre was the attempt by some Opelousas blacks to join a Democratic political group in the neighboring town of Washington. White Democrats in Opelousas, mainly members of the Seymour Knights, the local unit of the white supremacist organization Knights of the White Camellia, visited Washington to drive them out of the Party. In response Emerson Bentley, an Ohio-born white school teacher and editor of The Progress, a Republican newspaper in Opelousas, wrote what many local whites thought was a racially inflammatory article which described the violence that the Seymour Knights had used against the African American Democrats in Washington. Bentley argued that such violence should persuade the blacks to remain loyal to the GOP.

Shortly after the article appeared, Bentley was assaulted by a group of whites while he taught his class. He was severely beaten and whipped although he survived the assault. In response he fled the town, literally running for his life for nearly three weeks before escaping back to the North.

Meanwhile numerous reports circulated that Bentley had been killed in retaliation for his news article. His mysterious absence was enough to support rumors of his death. Now black Republicans urged retaliatory violence on the Knights, who in turn viewed this as the beginning of the long anticipated, and inevitable, “Black Revolt” and race war. The Knights of the White Camellia mobilized thousand of members. Both sides were armed and prepared for conflict as they gathered in Opelousas.

It is unclear as to who initiated the battle that began on September 28. What is clear is that the white Democrats had the overwhelming advantage in numbers and weapons. By the afternoon of September 28 the battle had become a massacre. A number of blacks were shot and killed or captured and later executed. Those who were not captured were chased into the swamps and killed on sight. Twelve leaders of the black Republicans who surrendered were executed the next day on the edge of town. Those executions seemed to encourage a wave of anti-black violence that spread throughout the parish. No one will ever know how many people were killed but the best estimate is that the number was at least 150 and may have exceeded that total.

The Colfax Massacre

Herb Peck
Two Klan members

On April 13, 1873, violence erupted in Colfax, Louisiana. The White League, a paramilitary group intent on securing white rule in Louisiana, clashed with Louisiana's almost all-black state militia. The resulting death toll was staggering. Only three members of the White League died. But some 100 black men were killed in the encounter. Of those, nearly half were murdered in cold blood after they had already surrendered. The incident once again showed President Ulysses S. Grant how hard it would be to guarantee the rights and the safety of blacks in the South.
Since the end of the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations had been growing in strength in the South. Prior to the war, white Southern Democrats had enjoyed a great deal of governmental power. But when the war ended, Democrats were no longer powerful. Northern Republicans controlled the nation's government. They placed federal troops in Southern cities to keep that control. Southerners deeply resented this imposition.
Two laws that Southern Democrats hated were the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. The Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to blacks and declared that no state was to deprive them of "life, liberty, or property." The Fifteenth Amendment prevented a state from denying the vote to any person because of their race. Together, these laws guaranteed blacks equal citizenship. Southern Democrats, however, feared that blacks would not only vote Republican, but would be considered equal to their white former masters.
Conflicts between Republicans and Democrats in Louisiana were particularly frequent in 1872. That year, the state election produced two governors, both claiming to be the legitimate one. When the federal government supported the Republican governor by sending federal troops to Louisiana, the white residents of the state refused to cooperate.
Louisiana whites formed their own "shadow" government and their own army, the White League. The White League, similar to the Ku Klux Klan, intimidated and attacked Republicans and blacks all over the state. While the worst violence occurred in Colfax, other incidents were sparked in Coushatta, when the White League murdered six Republicans, and in New Orleans, when 30 were killed and 100 more wounded.
In response to these incidents and others throughout the South, President Grant ordered federal troops to restore order. But most of the relief was temporary. After Colfax, the federal government convicted only three whites for the murders. In the end, they were freed when the U.S. Supreme Court declared that they had been convicted unconstitutionally. The battle over Reconstruction and the rights of blacks would continue.

1887 Thibodaux Massacre
Most sugar cane workers in Louisiana in the late 1880s were performing back breaking labor for wages of about $13 per month, which was paid to them in company script, not cash. This system allowed plantation owners to force their workers into extensive indebtedness, which, according to Louisiana law at the time, meant that workers were not allowed to leave the land of their employer until their debts were repaid. As workers were essentially forced into serfdom by these types of laws, they attempted to lobby for better conditions.
A local assembly of the Knight of Labor was organized in Thibodaux and the organization presented a list of improvements to the Louisiana Sugar Producer´s Association that they felt were necessary to improve the status of the planters. This list included increasing the daily wage rate, eliminating the practice of being paid in script, and requiring that the workers be paid every two weeks. The proposition was ignored completely, so the Knights of Labor organized a strike of 10,000 plantation workers on November 1st, 1887.
Faced with the possibility of losing their sugar crops, plantation owners appealed to Governor John McEnery, a fellow plantation owner, who prompted deployed the state’s militia to remove the workers from their cabins and replace them with poor white workers known as “scabs”. As the majority of the workers were unarmed, they quickly left their homes with little resistance and congregated in the black neighborhoods of Thibodaux.
The real problems arose when scabs were fired at in neighboring Lafourche parish, an area that also went on strike. Believing that the strikers were involved in the shootings, armed civilians began patrolling and terrorizing the black community of Thibodaux. Eventually, two of the patrollers were shot, but who shot them is unclear. (There is speculation that they shot each other in order to have a “motive” to pursue a vigilante killing spree). Upon the two patrolmen being wounded (not fatally), men from the town who were enraged at the idea that blacks were killing whites rounded up an unspecified number of strikers and their families. On the morning of November 23rd, 1887 anywhere between 30 and 300 black strikers were killed and buried in shallow graves outside the city of Thibodaux. The killers were never brought to justice, and no attempt to organize sugar workers in the area was made again until the 1950s.

Coushatta massacre
The Coushatta Massacre (1874) was the result of an attack by the White League, a paramilitary organization composed of white Southern Democrats, on Republican officeholders and freedmen in Coushatta, the parish seat of Red River Parish, Louisiana.
They assassinated six white Republicans and five to 20 freedmen who were witnesses.
The White League had organized to drive out Republicans from Louisiana, disrupt their political organizing, and intimidate or murder freedmen to restore white supremacy.
Like the Red Shirts and other White Line organizations, they were described as "the military arm of the Democratic Party."

This is Louisiana history that most people don't know about and is rarely spoken of. A lot of Black don't know this history and if they did, they'd know that the reason most of them live in poverty isn't because their ancestors were lazy, but that during time when a lot of wealth was being made and land acquired, their ancestors were being slaughtered and severely oppressed. Pure horror during and after slavery. Rapes, castrations, families destroyed, murders and mayhem on innocent men, women and children.

I bring this up because to get better, you need to know where you're messed up in the first.

Happy Black History Month.
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Old 02-09-2016, 01:54 PM
Location: annandale, va & slidell, la
8,930 posts, read 3,660,944 times
Reputation: 8065
That was uplifting. Those were some crazy times, eh?
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Old 02-16-2016, 01:32 PM
Location: Bowie but New Orleans born and bred
709 posts, read 854,103 times
Reputation: 534
Thanks for the history. This is definitely all new to me. We didn't learn this in Louisiana history back when I was in school.
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