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“This doubtless will, in due time, be properly decided upon by the legal branches of the United States Government.
“If these persons assemble as you say is intended, it will be, I presume, in virtue of the universally conceded right of all loyal citizens of the United States to meet peaceably and discuss freely questions concerning their civil governments—a right which is not restricted by the fact that the movement proposed might terminate in a change of the existing institutions.
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“Lawless violence must be suppressed, and in this connection the recent order of the Lieutenant General, designed for the protection of citizens of the United States, deserves careful consideration. It imposes high obligations for military interference, to protect those who, having violated no ordinance of the State, are engaged in peaceful avocations.
“I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, “A. BAIRD, Brevet Major General, Commanding Department of Louisiana.
July 28th the following letter was sent to the Secre. tary of War:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF I.OUISIANA,
To the Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War, Washing, ton, D. C. : A Convention has been called, with the sanction on Governor Wells, to meet here on Monday. The Lieutenant Governor and city authorities think it unlawful, and propose to break it up by arresting the delegates. I have given no orders on the subject, but have warned the parties that I should not countenance or permit such action without instructions to that effect from the President. Please instruct me by telegraph. A. BAIRD, Brevet Major-General Com.
Judge Abell had denounced the meeting of the Convention of 1864 as unlawful, and in his charge to the jury, had pronounced its members criminals before the law. On the morning of July 30th the following appeared in the city papers of New Orleans; WASHINGTON, July 28, 1866. Albert Voorhies, Lieut.-Governor Louisiana : SIR: The military will be expected to sustain, and not obstruct or interfere with the proceedings of the Courts. A dispatch on the subject of the Convention was sent to Governor Wells this morning. ANDREW Johnson. Mark the contrast ! The last public act of Abraham Lincoln sustained the loyal people (black and white) of Louisiana. The one act more infamous than any other in the administration of Andrew Johnson was that act in which he sought to
crush the friends of his predecessor in Louisiana.
At 12 o'clock of the night of July 29th the police were withdrawn from their beats and assembled at their respective station-houses; and, besides the weapons usually used by policemen, each was given a large-sized navy revolver. Thus armed, they were held at the station-houses to await orders. In addition to these measures others had been taken by Harry T. Hays, Sheriff of the Parish of Orleans, ex-General of the rebel army, pardoned by the President to enable him to assume that office. He reorganized a portion of his old brigade as deputy sheriffs, and they were ordered to be in readiness on that occasion. They were doubly armed with revolvers, and prepared to act with all the efficiency of military discipline.
On the morning of July 30th, as the members of the Convention and their friends started to go to Mechanics’ Institute, they discovered an unusual excitement, which deterred many from going. Crowds of citizens upon the streets appeared disturbed and restless. They were seen to whisper from time to time, to look at each other and, with looks of scorn and contempt, seemed to |bid defiance to the members of the Convention and their friends. Says Judge Howell, President of the Convention: “A few minutes past 12 o'clock the meeting was called to order. Prayer was offered by the Rev. J. W. Horton. The roll was called amid perfect silence; only twenty-five answered to their names. A motion to adjourn for an hour was adopted for the purpose of procuring the attendance of many of the members of the Convention known to be in the city. It was expected that several days might be occupied in obtaining a quorum. I did not expect the military to protect the Convention. I could not realize the probability of disturbance. Those comprising the Convention had a right to meet as they did, and could not be properly disturbed in that right, unless they abused it by a violation of law and public order. Surely, twentyfive men meeting in the capitol building could do very little towards overturning the government of the State of Louisiana. It is wonderful how much terror they created among the recent destroyers of the State and National governments. The members of the Convention had learned that a Grand Jury in Secession on that day might under the charge of Judge (Abell) indict them as an unlawful assembly, and that Sheriff (Hays), might arrest them, and it was understood among them that, although there was no law against such assemblies, they wauld quietly submit to any attempted arrest, however unwarranted by law, give bail, and proceed in their efforts to obtain a quorum.” With the United States flag floating over Mechanics’ Institute, surrounded by the United States army and navy, that Convention was left to the mercies of an armed mob. Lincoln rested in his tomb. Butler was powerless to save. Sheridon was not in the midst of the danger. Beard had not studied the plottings of the great Conspiracy. Justice slumbered, and Treason triumphed over the liberties of Louisiana. The State officials of Louisiana, the municipal officers of New Orleans, with the armed policemen and fire companies under control, (all reconstructed under the policy of Andrew Johnson), knew that the victims of treason were defenceless in Mechanics’ Institute, when thousands rushed upon the Convention assembled in its walls to crush the friends of liberty and equal rights, When the attack was made by the mob, many of the members of the Convention and their friends had gone into the city, as a recess had been given. Judge Howell, Governor Hahn, Dr. Dostie, Alfred Shaw, Esq., Dr. Hire and the Rev. J. W. Horton, were quietly conversing with their friends when the shouts of the crowd outside the building, pursued by the mob, were heard in the streets. Negroes, followed by the excited mob, sought refuge inside Mechanics’ Institute. A rush was made for the door of the Convention room. Alfred Shaw, ex-Sheriff of Orleans, was requested to inform the police, who were in pursuit of the crowd, “that inside the Hall no resistance would be made to any loyal officers claiming the right to make arrests.” Mr. Shaw was met by that police with shouts of “ Kill him * “Rill him l’” “Shoot the Scoundrel !” Wounded and exhausted, he was hurried to jail and thrown into a cell. The terrible massacre outside the building progressed; hundreds of the defenceless were wounded, others brutally murdered. The Sergeant of Arms had barricaded the doors of the Convention Chamber, but soon