the battle of liberty place -- 8/8/22
Today's selection -- from Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History by Alex von Tunzelmann. In one of many instances of a backlash against Reconstruction, in 1874 the New Orleans “Crescent City White League” tried to oust Republican Governor William Pitt Kellogg:
"In 1874, [James Longstreet, an ex-Confederate general who settled in New Orleans, accepted Reconstruction, and joined the New Orleans Metropolitan Police Force,] would get caught up in perhaps the most dramatic outbreak of white supremacist violence in New Orleans: the Battle of Liberty Place.
"The battle was an armed insurrection against the Republican state government of Louisiana, led by members of the Crescent City White League. The White League was a paramilitary group that had been formed by well-to-do young gentlemen in response to scare stories about Black men assaulting white women. They had already turned to terrorism: in August 1874, they murdered six white Republicans and up to twenty Black witnesses in what became known as the Coushatta Massacre. Two weeks later, they attempted a coup in New Orleans itself.
|The "Louisiana Outrages," as illustrated in Harper's Weekly,1874|
"The 1872 election in New Orleans returned a Republican governor, William Pitt Kellogg, but the result had been disputed. Now, the White League planned to overthrow Kellogg and install their preferred Democratic candidate. On September 14, the White League, commanded by former Confederate General Frederick Ogden, faced down the New Orleans militia and police, commanded by former Confederate General James Longstreet. There was a twenty-minute battle, but the 8,400 men of the White League easily overwhelmed 3,600 militia and police. Thirty-two lay dead, with seventy-nine wounded.
"Longstreet fought valiantly, but was pulled from his horse and wounded by a spent bullet. Kellogg managed to telegraph a message to President Ulysses S. Grant, who sent warships and federal troops. The White League backed down. The white conservative regime had lasted only a few days.
"Though the coup failed, the Battle of Liberty Place was exalted by white supremacists as a symbolic victory against 'Northern tyranny.' Its anniversary became a day of celebration, with a mass in St. Louis Cathedral, ceremonies at the graves of the White League dead, and a parade to toe-tapping hits such as the 'Ku Klux Klan Polka' and the 'White League Waltz.'"