Thursday, June 27, 2013

Confederate Paramilitary Group: The White League of Louisiana

As reported in The Times-Picayune, "1874: Reconstruction in New Orleans hits a turning point," by The Times-Picayune, on 8 September 2011 --  Reconstruction in New Orleans hit a turning point in 1874. Passage of the 14th Amendment and civil rights laws had given black people new freedoms, but resentment was building among white Southerners who considered the Radical Republicans who had seized power usurpers.

Paramilitary White Leagues intent on ousting the "carpetbaggers" sprang up. The hostility led to outbreaks of violence, political schisms and, in 1875, the cancellation of Mardi Gras.

In New Orleans, that hostility led to the Battle of Liberty Place. On Sept. 14, 1874, metropolitan police loyal to Gov. William Kellogg opened fire on the White League but soon retreated. The White League held the State House (the old St. Louis Hotel), the Cabildo and Jackson Square for three days before Kellogg was restored to office by federal troops.

The Liberty Monument, a statue dedicated to White League members, was erected on the battle site in 1891. In the 20th century it became a focal point of hostilities between civil rights activists and white supremacists. The statue was later moved to the foot of Iberville Street.

The Unification Movement was a push by both white and black leaders of New Orleans to form a massive political organization with the intention of ending Reconstruction. A key component of the movement's platform was to grant equal rights to black people. The movement ultimately failed.

Under orders from President Rutherford B. Hayes, federal troops left New Orleans on April 24, 1877. In the years that followed, white lawmakers throughout the South passed laws that limited the civil rights of black residents, an era that became known as Jim Crow. (source: NOLA The Times-Picayune)

The Battle of Liberty Place Obelisk

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