The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror and the Death of Reconstruction

The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror and the Death of Reconstruction

by LeeAnna Keith
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195310268

ISBN-13: 9780195310269

Pub. Date: 01/28/2008

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA


On Easter Sunday, 1873, in the tiny hamlet of Colfax, Louisiana, more than 150 members of an all-black Republican militia, defending the town's courthouse, were slain by an armed force of rampaging white supremacists. The most deadly incident of racial violence of the Reconstruction era, the Colfax Massacre unleashed a reign of terror that all but extinguished the…  See more details below

Overview


On Easter Sunday, 1873, in the tiny hamlet of Colfax, Louisiana, more than 150 members of an all-black Republican militia, defending the town's courthouse, were slain by an armed force of rampaging white supremacists. The most deadly incident of racial violence of the Reconstruction era, the Colfax Massacre unleashed a reign of terror that all but extinguished the campaign for racial equality.
LeeAnna Keith's The Colfax Massacre is the first full-length book to tell the history of this decisive event. Drawing on a huge body of documents, including eyewitness accounts of the massacre, as well as newly discovered evidence from the site itself, Keith explores the racial tensions that led to the fateful encounter, during which surrendering blacks were mercilessly slaughtered, and the reverberations this message of terror sent throughout the South. Keith also recounts the heroic attempts by U.S. Attorney J.R. Beckwith to bring the killers to justice and the many legal issues raised by the massacre. In 1875, disregarding the poignant testimony of 300 witnesses, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in U.S. v. Cruikshank to overturn a lower court conviction of eight conspirators. This decision virtually nullified the Ku Klux Klan Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871--which had made federal offenses of a variety of acts to intimidate voters and officeholders--and cleared the way for the Jim Crow era.
If there was a single historical moment that effectively killed Reconstruction and erased the gains blacks had made since the civil war, it was the day of the Colfax Massacre. LeeAnna Keith gives readers both a gripping narrative account of that portentous day and a nuanced historical analysis of its far-reaching repercussions.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195310269
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/28/2008
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.70(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: On Bones and Their Markers     xi
Alabama Fever     3
The Philosopher     21
The Fall     32
Led by a Damned Puppy     46
A Town Called Fight     62
Carnival of the Animals     82
Battle of the Colfax Courthouse     88
Voyage of the Ozark     111
Getting Away with Murder     131
The Legacy of Cruikshank     153
Acknowledgments     173
Notes     175
Bibliography     201
Index     211

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