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represented. These elections were ordered to be held on the third day of September. The whole State being represented, it was then intended to consider certain articles in amendment of the Constitution, and have them submitted to the whole people for their action. If approved by the people, the Constitution, thus amended, was to be submitted to Congress. It was understood that two subjects of vital interest would call for discussion and decision, both of them af. fecting the elective franchise—one in limitation of the right, applying to certain classes of rebels who had waged war against the Government, and one enlarging the right, so as to enfranchise citizens who had been during the rebellion at all times loyal to the Union, but who had been disqualified as voters by reason of their African descent. It was the apprehension that amendments of the State Constitution in these respects would be recommended by the Convention, and finally ratified by the people, which created popular excitement. Obviously no such amendments could be proposed for discussion in Convention until a quorum of its members should assemble, and the proof before the Committe is ample that no intention existed to take any action even then until after the election had been held, and delegates chosen from unrepresented districts. This time could not arrive until after the third of September; but it was deemed safer by the parties who were opposed to the agitation or discussion of either of these questions to interrupt at once the proposed Convention. * * * THE RIOT. The riot and massacre of citizens, members of the Convention and others, white and colored, occured at
and near the hall of the Mechanics’ Institute, on Dryades Street, commencing on Canal Street, at or near the corner of Burgundy Street, between eleven and twelve o'clock on the morning of July 30th. The Committee examined seventy-four persons as to the facts of violence and bloodshed upon that day. It is in evidence that men who were in the hall, terrified by the merciless attacks of the armed police, sought safety by jumping from the windows, a distance of twenty feet, to the ground, and as they jumped were shot by police or citizens. Some, disfigured by wounds, fought their way down stairs to the street, to be shot or beaten to death on the pavement. Colored persons, at distant points in the city, peaceably pursuing their lawful business, were attacked by the police, shot, and cruelly beaten. Men of character and position, some of whom were members and some spectators of the Convention, escaped from the hall covered with wounds and blood, and were preserved almost by miracle from death. Scores of colored citizens bear frightful scars more numerous than many soldiers of a dozen well-fought fields can show—proofs of fearful danger and strange escape; men were shot while waving handkerchiefs in token of surrender and submission; white men and black, with arms uplifted praying for life, were answered by shot and blow from knife and club ; the bodies of some were “pounded to a jelly; ” a colored man was dragged from under a street-crossing, and killed at a blow; men concealed in outhouses and among piles of lumber were eagerly sought for and slaughtered or maimed without remorse; the dead bodies upon the street were violated by shot, kick, and stab; the face of a man “just breathing his last’ was gashed by a knife or razor in the hands of a woman; “an old, grayhaired man,” peaceably walking the street at a distance from the Institute, was shot through the head; negroes were taken out of their houses and shot; a policeman riding in a buggy deliberately fired his revolver from the carriage into a crowd of colored men; a colored man two miles away from the Convention hall was taken from his shop by the police, at about four o’clock on the afternoon of the riot, and shot and wounded in side, hip and back; one man was wounded by fourteen blows, shots, aud stabs; the body of another received seven pistol balls. After the slaughter had measureably ceased, carts, wagons and drays, driven through the streets, gathered the dead, the dying and the wounded in “promiscuous loads,” a policeman, in some cases, riding in the wagon, seated upon the living men beneath him. The wounded men, taken at first to the station-house or “lock-up,” were all afterwards carried to the hospital. While at the station-houses, until friends found them with medical aid, they were left to suffer. When at the hospital, they were attended to with care and skill. But this was done at no cost to the city or to the State. Without asking permission, So far as the Committee learned, those wounded men were carried to the hospital under the care of the Freedmen's Bureau, and shelter, surgical treatment, and food were furnished at the cost of the United States. There was evidence before the Committee that for several hours, the police and mob, in mutual and bloody emulation, continued the butchery in the hall and on the street, until nearly two hundred people were killed
and wounded. The number was probably much larger than this; but of that number the names and residences are known. Some were injured whose friends conyeyed them at once quietly away. There is evidence tending to show that some who were killed were privately carried away and buried. One witness testified: “I saw a dray taking five or six of those who were wounded away. I heard a drayman say, “Where will I take them to?’ And a policeman said, ‘Throw them in the river.’” Several witnesses testify that the killed and wounded exceed two hundred. One witness says that he saw from forty to fifty killed. Another states that he saw from twenty to thirty carriage loads of killed and wounded. How many were killed will never be known. But we cannot doubt there were many more than are set down in the official list in evidence.
THE RIOT NOT AN ACCIDENT, BUT PRE-ARRANGED.
This riotous attack upon the Convention, with its terrible results of massacre and murder, was not an accident. It was the determined purpose of the Mayor of the city of New Orleans to break up this Convention by armed force.
We state one fact in this connection, significant both as bearing upon the question of preparation and as indicating the true and prevailing feeling of the people of New Orleans. Six months have passed since the Convention assembled, when the massacre was perpetrated, and more than two hundred men were slain and wounded. This was done by city officials and New Orleans citizens. But not one of those men has been punished, arrested or complained of. These officers of the law
living in the city, and known to that community, acting under the eye of superiors, clothed with the uniform of office, and some of them known, as the proof shows, to the chief officer of police, have not only escaped punishment, but have been continued in their office. The gentlemen who composed the Convention have not, however, been permitted to escape. Prosecutions in the criminal court under an old law, passed in 1805, were at once commenced, and are now pending against them for a breach of the peace. These facts tend strongly to prove that the criminal actors in the tragedy of the day were the agents of more criminal employes, and demonstrate the general sympathy of the people in behalf of the men who did the wrong against those who suffered it. :k :k sk >}; But the evidence establishing the fact of determination to suppress the Convention, and preparation for attack upon the members and those friends, whoever they might be, that should attend its meetings, is derived from many witnesses. Before the day arrived there was general denunciation of the Convention in different circles and in casual meetings on the streets; wishes were expressed and expectations declared that it should be dispersed; anonymous letters of warning and threatening violence were sent to several of the members and their friends; a funeral notice, announcing in advance the death of the Convention, was posted in the streets on Sunday; declarations were made that the “niggers and half niggers should be wiped out; ” members of one of the fire companies absent from the city on Sunday declared that they must return and be on hand the next day. They