The Riot In New Orleans

August 25, 1866, page 537

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Murdering Negroes in the rear of the
 Mechanics' Institute
Platform in mechanics' Institute
after the riot
Interior of Mechanics' Institute during the riot
Carrying off the dead and wounded - inhuman conduct of the police

While the Memphis riot was a manifestation of the general hostility that many Southern whites felt toward blacks during the Reconstruction era, the New Orleans riot was related specifically to Reconstruction politics. The reelection of the former Confederate mayor in New Orleans, and other signs of the increasing influence of erstwhile Confederates, led Louisiana Governor James Madison Wells to call a state constitutional convention. He endorsed enfranchising black men, banning former Confederates from voting, and other Radical Republican goals.

On July 30, 1866, 25 delegates and 200 black supporters assembled in New Orleans for the constitutional convention. A fight began on the street outside the hall between opponents and supporters of the convention. The arrival of the police, sympathetic to the Confederate cause, only exacerbated the melee. General Philip Sheridan, in charge of the Louisiana military district, was out of the state when the riot occurred. He later described it as "an absolute massacre." During the New Orleans riot, 34 blacks and three white Radicals were killed, and over 100 persons were injured. The New Orleans riot went even further than the Memphis riot in provoking scornful opposition to President Andrew Johnsonís lenient Reconstruction policies.


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