The New Orleans Race Riot of 1866
Back in the day on July 30th, 1866, a race riot broke outside of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention held in New Orleans. Radical Republicans convened to amend the previous constitution of the Southern state that had failed to enfranchise blacks. They also sought to prohibit former Confederate soldiers from voting. With President Andrew Johnson’s granting of overtures to veterans and politicians of the Southern Confederacy, people like New Orleans’ Mayor John T. Monroe were able to return to their pre-Civil War posts and enact “black codes.” Delegates and supporters of the Convention held at the hall of the Mechanics Institute had sought to reverse those regressive perversions of Reconstruction politics when violence erupted. African-Americans marching in support of the effort were attacked outside by a white mob. Described as an “absolute massacre” the assault that ensued claimed the lives of more than thirty African-Americans and three white supporters as it disrupted the convention effort.
The race riots of New Orleans illustrated to the nation the deadly politics of destruction aimed at Reconstruction.