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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

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It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
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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 Cover


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Publisher Comments:

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.

About the Author

LeeAnna Keith teaches history at Collegiate School in New York City. Her historical articles have appeared in The Dictionary of American History and The Encyclopedia of American Foreign Relations. She is co-author, with Sandra Fekete, of Companies Are People, Too.

Table of Contents

Introduction: On Bones and Their Markers

Chapter 1: Alabama Fever

Chapter 2: The Philosopher

Chapter 3: The Fall

Chapter 4: Led by a Damned Puppy

Chapter 5: A Town Called Fight

Chapter 6: Carnival of the Animals

Chapter 7: Battle of the Colfax Courthouse

Chapter 8: Voyage of the Ozark

Chapter 9: Getting Away with Murder

Chapter 10: The Legacy of Cruikshank




Product Details

Keith, Leeanna
Oxford University Press, USA
null, LeeAnna
United States - Civil War
United States - State & Local - South
United States - Reconstruction Period (1865-1877)
Ethnic Studies - African American Studies - Histor
United States / Civil War Period (1850-1877)
History, American | Civil War
History, American | Civil War & Reconstruction
US History-1860 to 1920
US History-19th Century
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
19 halftones, 18 line illustrations
8.12x5.61x.53 in. .63 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » 1860 to 1920
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Chemistry » General

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