Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Good Riddance to the Liberty Square Monument

Yesterday, the city of New Orleans removed a monument, with workers starting before dawn to decrease attention. When they tried to remove the monument at an earlier point, the contractor's car was burned. This time, the monument was removed without incident.

I had assumed the monument marked some aspect of the Civil War, but no. It commemorated the so-called Battle of Liberty Place, which happened during Reconstruction in September 1874. Like the Wilmington Massacre, it was an example of white supremacists trying to overthrow an elected multiracial government.

The White League (also called the White Men's League) fought the duly appointed police of New Orleans, killing 100 people. Just another example of Blue Lives Mattering, I guess. They were finally defeated by U.S. troops sent in by then-president Ulysses S. Grant.

None of the White League members were ever charged with a crime.

The presidential election of 1876 saw the Congressional compromise that led to the end of Reconstruction (when Republican Hayes was elected president with a minority of the popular vote). By 1891, New Orleans was firmly in the hands of white supremacists and they erected the monument to praise the insurrection. In 1932, an inscription was added that read in part:

United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state.
I'm glad it's gone. This is one that's not even worth keeping in a museum, in my opinion. The history of what happened in Liberty Square is important to know and preserve, but the monument itself should end up on the trash heap of eternity.

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