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

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Paperback 240 Pages / Published: 05/11/2009
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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.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780195393088
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 289 g
Dimensions: 210 x 140 x 15 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
'...well-researched and accessible...'-Library Journal
'...vivid, compelling prose...serious scholarship accessible to a non-academic readership.'-Eric Foner, The Washington Post
'In The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror, and the Death of Reconstruction , LeeAnna Keith powerfully accomplishes what she set out to do, to shed new light on a tragically under-reported but significant chapter in America's past.... Meticulously researched, painstakingly recreated, and full of insight into the times, this book is a much needed and important addition to the permanent record of American history.'-Lalita Tademy, author of Cane River (an Oprah Choice) and Red River
'The Colfax Massacre brings to light one of the most notorious, yet forgotten, events of the 1870s-the object of Congressional Investigations, a historic Supreme Court case, and a special address by President Ulysses S. Grant. In the decades since, the town of Colfax, Louisiana-a bastion of racism and black poverty-has struggled with the massacre's legacy. The High Court's decision in U.S. v Cruikshank takes on new meaning as Keith traces its role in the rise of Jim Crow, chronicling this true Old South drama with striking characters, heroic acts, and chilling violence.'-Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center

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