Taking down New Orleans' monuments: Not what you think

In The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction, Charles Lane describes the events -- several years of events including the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, though only briefly -- that led up to the Colfax Massacre. What happened was incredibly complex and only a very detailed description can do justice. But, I'll try to summarize it his way: A war was fought over slavery, and slave holders lost. A conflict then ensued between the new, victorious, anti-slavery government and the racist pigs of the Confederacy, who insisted on repressing blacks and, essentially, emulating slavery in any way possible. In Louisiana, some two thousand blacks were killed over a period of time, maybe more, between the Civil War and the Colfax Massacre, and another 150 on that day. The Colfax massacre was the largest single one-event racial killing event in the United States. The exact number killed is uncertain, but it is known that most of those killed had been captured by white supremacists who had formed an illegal militia. The prisoners were then summarily executed. Many, possibly most, of the bodies were tossed in the river.

This is how Democrats and Republicans used to do politics in the South. (Reminder: In those days, the Republicans were the good guys, the Democrats were the bad guys, and in Louisiana, of where we speak now, that is not an oversimplification.)

The Colfax Massacre has a lot more to it than that, and The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction gives those details, including the famous United States v. Cruikshank ruling by the Supreme Court. It occurred on April 13th 1873. But it is an event that ocurred a little while later, on September 14th, 1874, that I'd like to draw your attention to. It was known as the Battle of Liberty Place.

The back and forth between Democrats and White Supremacists on one hand and Republicans and Free Blacks on the other hand had involved military and paramilitary battles, individual homicides, massive voter intimidation efforts, and so on. The Colfax Massacre was a key point in that series of events. The Battle of Liberty Place was a continuation. Five thousand white supremacists, organized as the "White League" (a paramilitary group that was part of the Democratic Party) fought the New Orleans police and the state militia. Federal troops eventually showed up to end the fight. The battle was over who should be placed as governor. There was one election but there were two sets of vote counters, the white supremacists on one hand and those representing the Federal Government and the state on the other.

Caesar Antoine (1836-1921). US Federal Army Capitan. Multilingual, son of Creole war of 1812 veteran (father) and West Indian woman. Well respected barber. Served as a delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 where he made significant contributions. Served in the state Senate and elected Lieutenant Governor in 1872. Later, he was president of the Cosmopolitan Life Insurance Company. Still later, as white supremacists gained more power and ended the ability for southern blacks to be elected, he worked on racial discrimination issues.

Unlike the Colfax event, only a few dozen were killed, and the deaths were more even on the two sides.

Years later, in 1891, a monument was erected at the site of the Battle of Liberty Place. It was erected at the time to commemorate the white supremacists and their attack on the Republicans and government, and to reify their position that the election had gone their way (it had most definitively not). Eventually, in 1932, an inscription was added to the marble obelisk, in line with the original meaning of this edifice. It read:

[Democrats] McEnery and Penn having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people, were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (colored).

United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.

That monument is one of the monuments that has been removed in New Orleans in recent days. It is a monument to the murderous repression of African Americans in Louisiana over decades of time following the loss by the Confederacy of the Civil War.

You hear talk about these monuments, about how they are Civil War monuments and how they commemorate the dead on both sides. This monument was clearly erected to celebrate an event that happened many years after the Civil War was over, and it was erected to commemorate a failed paramilitary insurgency by self described white supremacists.

Later, an interpretive marker was put up near the monument. This was in 1974. It read:

Although the "battle of Liberty Place" and this monument are important parts of the New Orleans history, the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.

That was nice to do that. But probably not enough. The monument was moved in 1993, to a warehouse, with the diea of eventually putting it in a museum. But the idea of putting giant monuments nobody knows what to do with in a museum is easier said than done. No museum in its right mind would accept such an artifact. So, it was placed in a new location, less central, still in New Orleans. At that time, the original inscription was replaced with this:

In honor of those Americans on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place ... A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future.

Davidson Bradfute Penn (1835-1902). Probably a slave owner. Captured during the Civil War. Nothing else notable. Oh, he was the fake Lieutenant Governor for Louisiana for a while.

Which, of course, is a bald face lie.

And that is the history of what would by 1860 become the Republican Party and the coalition of Democratic abolitionists and others in the North, on one hand, and the would be Confederates on the other, from the 1830s to the war itself. To a Democrat, compromise looked like making the other side do what you want and screaming bloody murder when that did not happen. To the Republican coalition, led eventually by Abraham Lincoln, compromise looked like agreeing to do much of what the opposition insisted you do, red-faced and clench-fisted, tantrum enthralled, and violent, and hope they don't hit you. When the Republican coalition looked like it might gain sufficient power to lead the country out of absurd treasonous states rights and slavery, the south violently attacked the north and started the war. After the Union destroyed the South in a war the South would not allow to end until the maximum number of their own people, and a good number of Yankees, were dead on the battle field, the south continued to kick and scream and whine and fight and punch and shoot and kill.

This is a monument to that. And when the monument was being dismantled a few days ago, threats to shoot or lynch those removing the monument were made. Representative Karl Oliver (koliver@house.ms.gov) said this:

“The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.”

The other monuments in question were of Jefferson Davis, General P.G.T. Beauregard, and Robert E. Lee.

Davis was, of course a war criminal for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Andersonville. Lee had nothing to do with New Orleans. Beauregard was a native of Louisiana but his involvement in the Civil War included that famous moment: Attacking Fort Sumter to begin the war. Otherwise, he fought in and around Virginia and the Carolinas, but never in Louisiana. After the war he got a job as the supervisor of the Louisiana Lottery. So, maybe they should have kept that one statue up. For good luck.

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Very informative. I had not known about the Battle of Liberty Place or the circumstances surrounding it. Listening to the news, I had heard about the statue of "Robert E. Lee and others".

When I was younger, my father sometimes talked about a romanticized vision of the Civil War. It was easy to think of the noble South fighting, not for slavery (since the soldiers didn't all own slaves!), but for self-government and a fight against oppression. I heard about how in the North, conditions at factories could be just as bad or worse than some plantations.

I eventually realized the truth and I talked to my father about it. He was born in Tennessee and was raised on a healthy dose of Southern propaganda, but he grew up mostly near DC. His views had changed over time and he no longer believed any of it. He still liked some of the stories he was told about our family from the Civil War and Reconstruction, but he knew they were at least partially made up.

> to think of the noble South fighting, not for slavery

Well the Union wasn't fighting against slavery until some time after the war started. What was Lincoln's purpose in waging the war?

Was that rhetorical?

Just wondering if a word can be
invented to be used only in extreme niche
situations eg. A discussion on this topic.

Franklin Maydeer,I don't give a dam.

Its rather mysterious to me that there is
confusion about why conflicts happen.
Especially big ones. Theres a whole bloody
academic sphere called history.
Has no historian ever looked at Lincolns paperwork
to know the reason why? Were not the newspapers told?
Were not the troops?
Do we know more about the surface of Mars than
why the USA civil war started??????

Im an Australian. Dont know nothing about that
war. But can i suggest, without researching it, that
historians are all over it like a rash and everything is
known and documented and there is zero
mystery left about anything.

MikeN: "Well the Union wasn’t fighting against slavery until some time after the war started. What was Lincoln’s purpose in waging the war?"

Just for the record, for those watching and not informed already, this statement is part of the willfully ignorant and often very racist revisionist version of history that says "the Civl War was not about slavery."

It was, and it was also about other things. The truth is, just as life is complicated so was the period of time from the ratification of the US Constitution to the Reconstruction. Slavery was the central issue, and really, the only consistent issue, that created the increasing rift between south and north, developing significantly in the 1830s, coming to a head in the 1850, a decade during which the civil war could have started at any moment.

The newly elected Lincoln as not a great supporter of states rights and not a supporter of slavery. He had long earlier declared that he was against slavery and that slavery would eventually die a natural death in the US. These are things that are written down and known. However, Lincoln was also a pretty strict constitutionalist and since slavery was allowed to exist in the South, he was wiling to defend it to some extent.

The south read Lincoln as being ultimately very much against slavery, as well as against states rights. So, after his election, state after state started to attempt to leave the Union. When he was elected, he essentially said no to that, and the result was the formation of southern armies and a military strike against the North.

It was not clear in the beginning what was going to happen with slavery, and there was the possibility on the table that the war could end with slavery intact. But that didn't last long. At some point, Lincoln decided to end slavery but kept it to himself, then let his cabinet in on it, but still kept it not widely known. (This is all very well documented). His intention was to proclaim emancipation, but to not do so in the border union-favoring slave states (for pragmatic reasons) and to do so only after some sort of meaningful military victory with some currency. After that happened, emancipation was proclaimed.

That is not such a complicated story, but racists who wish to rewrite history for their own purposes put an incomplete emancipation (the EP) as the date that the war became about slavery, leaving the beginning of the war and the bulk of the time the war was fought to be explained, dishonestly, in some other way.

This view of history leaves numerous events that occurred, for example, in 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1845, 1846, 1847, 1848, 1849, 1850, 1851, 1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861 out of the picture as though they never happened. It is embarrassingly wrong and we are decades past that moment in time when one can blame a sincere desire to "get it right" for this huge error. Only racist intent explains it.

#10: Well said Greg.

In my view, the "it was about states' rights" argument fails on the simple test" What states' right other than slavery was at issue and worth going to war about? The answer is" "None."

Like the fossil fuel industry now, the South was locked into a failing enterprise. The U. S. was already 40 years behind the times in still permitting slavery anywhere in the country and the Southern dream that the cotton they could supply to textile mills in Great Britain would win them recognition foundered on the slavery issue.

By Tyvor Winn (not verified) on 25 May 2017 #permalink

# 10

A big bone of contention leading up to the war was whether slavery would be prohibited in new states entering the union. Parts of the country, especially Kansas, were already a tinder box. (Think John Brown).

So to hell with this shitty "glory of the old south" slop already:

"Last week, Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver called for the lynching of the politicians who support the dismantling of Confederate monuments in neighboring Louisiana. The Koch-funded Republican freshman represents a district where Emmett Till, 14, was lynched in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman."

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 25 May 2017 #permalink

OA: Also, what to do with slaves who escaped to non-slave states.

The southern slave owners were arguing that since slaves were property, and you can't take away a man's property, then if they moved with these slaves to these new states, then slavery was defacto allowed there and protected.

From 1854 to the outbreak of the actual Civil War "southern Ruffians" were engaged in an armed conflict with anti-slavery people in Kansas over this.

This "proto Civil War" was explicitly about slavery, and was part of the larger and complex uber-conflict that caused the war to happen.

Greg, I agree with what you say, but what's missing is one thing. What could Lincoln do to stop slavery? Law after law was blocked in the Senate, as well as new states that changed the balance of power. 15 slave states is enough to block a Constitutional Amendment today. Why was the loss of the Presidency so much of a threat to slavery that they had to secede? There had to be something else added in, or were they just too scared of Lincoln and having a President who didn't recognize their 'way of life'?

Keep trying. Which is why he didn't start the war.

He could also state that a slave who escapes to another state is no longer property (if they were property, then this is no different from seizing illegal goods). So take your slaves north and they are taken from you.

Moreover, if you want to join the USA you have to agree to ban slavery. Other states "grandfather" in, but more states without slaves in the USA means eventually the slave states can be outvoted.

Remember, too, the number of seats for the slave states were increased to give them more representation for the number of voters (and since property can't vote, the count of voters would reduce too), so their ability to block emancipation could be ended.

Which was why the south went to war. Lincoln didn't have to.

Lincoln being a Republican is a good illustration of why OA's claims about Russia for hundreds of years was BS bigotry. Equating czarist Russia of Lincoln's day to Russia in Trump's day is as valid as equating the Republican party of Lincoln's day to the Republican party of Trump.

>so their ability to block emancipation could be ended.

Senate was split, and they vote on new states. It's what kept things even until 1950, alternating slave and free states, with Maine and Missouri explicit. Even California was admitted with the provision that it's Senators had to be one pro-slavery and one anti-slavery. Even this was part of a compromise for the Fugitive Slave Act, most of which was already part of the Constitution. In college, our anti-Federalist team arguing against the Constitution used this provision and put the pro-Constitution rascals on the spot.

"Senate was split, and they vote on new states"

They were split on whether any state could join?!?!?!?!?!? Nope. You're making that shit up.

" It’s what kept things even until 1950"

Good grief, you think that the American Civil War was after WWII??!?!?!?!?

Nope, it was a lot earlier.

And what does "split" mean here anyway? They were split on everything. Every government has when they have more than one party involved in running the country.

If they were split absolutely evenly, 50% of the time a state could join and 50% they couldn't, but then they try again and 50% of the time they join, and 50% of the time they can try again.

And when did the slave states block any non-slave state joining before the civil war?

Lastly, possibly, even if the slave states COULD just block new non-slave states joining doesn't mean that they didn't start the war. The point is that eventually the slave states would lose the law and they saw it and instead of sticking to the legal methods, as Lincoln did, they decided treason and war was a good idea and would force the North to accept slavery throughout the land.

Remember, all any one state would have to do is make slaves illegal and then just seize any illegal "goods" to free the slaves. Then arrest and fine the trafficker for the cost. Illegal goods can be seized, and it is a state right to determine what is illegal or not, absent any federal law otherwise and the accepting of federal over-rule. And like with the online gambling site owners being arrested for merely passing through the USA's airports in a connecting flight, therefore never on US soil (for constitutional purposes), any slave owner could likewise be arrested for their illegal operations.

And nothing says that goods from slave states could be sold across borders. China gets tarrifs put on because of dumping or government handout. State handout by enforced labour is no different.

All this is why the south decided that slavery was dead and decided to start the war. There was no reason for Lincoln to start it, he could get what he wanted by waiting and using what powers he had.

Sign an executive order for the arrest of a slave owner when in a non-slave state? Done. Getting the federal law to arrest them in the state would not be possible, but if the senator wants to vote, either he has to stop owning slaves or get arrested. Sure he may be secure in the Senate itself, but unless he lives there, he's gotta come out some time.

And if you decry that option as unacceptable in the USA, ask why you're not crying about trumpalino doing that?

Simple economics.

It wasn't about selling cotton; it was about selling slaves.

Say the existing Slave States had been allowed to continue as they had been, but the various territories came in as free. What would you do with your "chattel" as the herd kept increasing?

No, the South was not playing defense; it was a gamble on defeating the North and establishing the Confederacy in a dominant military position on the continent.

Moreover, if they're property and therefore you can't emancipate them because "you can't take a man's property from him!", surely that would make the children of slaves free, since they were never someone's slave before they existed. So their claim HAD to be "we want to continue to make people slaves", NOT "it's private property!".

"Even California was admitted with the provision that it’s Senators had to be one pro-slavery and one anti-slavery. "

Citation needed (funnily enough, I note that the same is stated on Wikipedia!). As far as I can judge, that's not mentioned anywhere in the Compromise of 1850.

Learning a little cuz im bored.
And boy o boy is most American crap boring.
One whacka doodle after another. Total loonybin.
Anyhow #23
Could their be confusion with State pairing? Just an idea.
I will dig for a reference anyhow in case the idea is true.

Righto. Property rights can get fucked if they are held superior
to human rights.
Same mentality still exists today in fuckwit land i believe.
The burgalar was gunna steal my telly so i shot her.
Apologies to yanks who aint fuckwits.

Thanks, Li D. I found the same info elsewhere.

Fuckwit - "Same mentality still exists today in fuckwit land i believe.The burgalar was gunna steal my telly so i shot her"

Different laws in different states. Why don't you share with us which state you are talking about and then give us an example of which law you are talking about and the reason that law is written the way it is..

Or is it just easier to be a fuckwit?

#10: Just a point. In Article 1, Section 2 of the U. S. Constitution, the number of inhabitants of a state for representational purposes "shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed. three fifths of all other Persons." (Archaic capitalization in original.)

This was a compromise of principle necessitated by the slave-holding states refusal to join the American Revolution otherwise. They kept on poisoning the flower of liberty in this country until the civil rights legislation of the 1950s & '60s.

By Tyvor Winn (not verified) on 26 May 2017 #permalink

#24: Just out of curiosity, what was/is the legal status of aborigines in Oz? If I'm remembering correctly, slavery was outlawed by Great Britain in 1820 but did that also apply to their colonies at the time?

By Tyvor Winn (not verified) on 26 May 2017 #permalink

Tyvor - "This was a compromise of principle necessitated by the slave-holding states refusal to join the American Revolution otherwise"

Umm....what? This was written well after the Revolution and had to do with state representation based on the number of inhabitants...not to mention there were no states before the Revolution....but colonies....and they all had slaves at that time.

Please explain.

"This was a compromise of principle necessitated by the slave-holding states refusal to join the American Revolution otherwise. "

However, if you want to claim slaves are property, not people, they don't vote at all. Your toaster doesn't get a vote. Even if it's made in USA. And if they're people, even slaves, then the constitution guarantees them the right to liberty.

#30: You are correct, the colonies did recognize slavery. The last Northern state to abolish slavery was New Jersey in 1804.

Most American colonies became states as of May 15, 1776 when the Continental Congress advised the colonies to form governments for themselves. Eleven of them adopted constitutions, thus turning themselves into sovereign states (countries in the usage of the time). On July 2, 1776, a resolution by Richard Henry Lee was approved which stated that “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States….” This was incorporated by Thomas Jeffererson into the Declaration of Independence. Then, on Sept. 9, 1776 the Continental Congress formally replaced "United Colonies" with "United States" in its proceedings, documents, proclamations, etc.

I was wrong in my statement regarding the Southern states and the American Revolution although a passage attacking the slave trade was deleted from the Declaration of Independence due to opposition by Southern and Northern slave trading interests.

I was attempting to make the point that slavery was a jarring contradiction of the expressed ideals of the U. S. as a nation from the beginning. As Wow had pointed out in #32, the Constitution's counting of slaves as people for purposes of representation in the Congress is itself just such a contradiction.

A similar problem came up earlier in the war after the ratification in 1781 of the Articles of Confederation when a proposal was made to tax the states on the basis of population, including slaves. A Southern proposal to bases taxes on whites only was defeated but to avoid unnecessary delay during the war, taxes were based instead on the value of lands and improvements. Of course, during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 (less than 4 years after the official end of the war), when representation in the House of Representatives was at issue, the South argued to include slaves because of the House dealt with taxes and financial matters. The counting of slaves as 3/5 of a person was the compromise made to the Southern states.

By Tyvor Winn (not verified) on 27 May 2017 #permalink

Marco, I saw it in Wikipedia, and had never heard of it before. I don't see how you could really enforce that, even if it was state legislators picking Senators.

So why did you pass on this "nugget", "mike"? Liked it too much to pass it up? Maybe your reading of things like McIntyre's releases are likewise bogus but cherished because they make a claim you prefer to be true?

>Liked it too much to pass it up?

Yup. It extends the even split a little bit further than 1850 and California's admission. Missouri was held up until Maine was provided as balance, technically going in first while both sides fought there.

">Liked it too much to pass it up?


So if you like it, even when you think it's really unlikely to be true (because you see no way it was enforced), you'll just believe it anyway.

This, unfortunately, surprises nobody here.

No, I think it's likely to be true, to the point that the Senate was split and was using its blocking power to keep slavery in place.

You mob know sports right?
Cricket, Netball, Longjump etc.
Well theres histories of these things.
Page after page of stats .
Set in stone. And easily accessable.
Theres no ROOM FOR ARGUMENT or variety
of personal view on these things.
Well this civil war shit is the same.
Its utterly, meticulously, forensicly documented.

You probably never read his shit on Mann v Steyn. "mike" doesn't care what the documents say and support, he "knows" Mann is wrong and therefore there's a cover up therefore AGW is a scam and all people supporting it liars.

Dick shows up with the BS "Well, it's my opinion and I'm entitled to it" and "mike" is doing the same.

Rality doesn't matter when ideology is on the line.

Same with Ken Ham: no evidence will be sufficient to prove their ideological assertion wrong, but any evidence will be sufficient to prove it right, and nothing possible can prove THAT wrong.

This, like I said, is no surprise to anyone here, though.

"No, I think it’s likely to be true"

No you said you didn't think it could be true, which is the only conclusion to the idea that this could not be enforced. You WANTED it to be true.

That's as much likely true as Ken Ham's thinking god is likely to be true because he WANTS it to be true. Every evidence against it could be accepted, but the premise is still believed, because there's no "think" behind it. Only need.

#31: Thanks for the links. I read the legal one and listened to the song. They made a good pairing. Not surprisingly, it seems a similar story to what happened in North America -- although in the North American case, there were wars both involving and against the Native Americans. Early on when France and England were squabbling over who was going to rule what parts of the continent, the Native people had to choose sides and they chose the wrong side. That didn't turn out too well and things didn't get any better later when the various so-called Indian Wars occurred.

I wonder if there's anywhere or anytime that 2 peoples' of such different cultures mixed without major violence, cultural imperialism, land theft, etc. Or maybe it is just beyond human capabilities.

By Tyvor Winn (not verified) on 28 May 2017 #permalink

No, it happens. Probably fairly often, too.

But you don't notice amity unless you really REALLY weren't expecting it, and even then, it's not as newsworthy as conflict, even if you really expected fireworks.

You are welcome.