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Cresent city confrontation
On this date in 1866, the New Orleans riot occurred.
Angered by the enactment of the Black Codes in Louisiana, and by the legislature's refusal to give Black men the vote, the Radical Republicans in Louisiana reconvened the Constitutional Convention of 1864. Only 25 white delegates met in New Orleans, but another 200 supporters, who were primarily Black veterans from the American Civil War, joined them.
Former Confederate soldiers, aided by the New Orleans police, fearful that the state would fall out of Southern, white control, attacked the gathering. Both the Blacks and the delegates were targets and were shot even after raising white flags of surrender as they tried to flee the building where the convention was being held. Cyrus Hamlin, son of former Vice-President Hannibal Hamlin, wrote, "The wholesale slaughter and the little regard paid to human life I witnessed here" was worse than what he had seen in battle.
Local police, rather than assisting those under attack, participated in it. Federal troops were called for assistance but by the time they arrived, it was too late to prevent the violence. The toll was heavy: 34 Blacks and 3 white Radicals were killed, and 100 persons were injured in the fighting.
The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York