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At 12 o'clock of the night of July 29th the police were withdrawn from their beats and assembled at their respective station-houses; and, besides the weapons usually used by policemen, each was given a large-sized navy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 " " “Kill him 1" “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
policemen and citizens made a rush at them and broke them in. A volley of shots were poured in upon the defenceless inmates by their enemies. The Rev. J. W. Horton attempted to hold up a United States flag in token of non-resistance. When it was recognized, policemen exclaimed, “Not one of you shall escape here alive!” and the noble Horton was shot, saying: “We offer no resistance; we surrender!” Then followed scenes of blood and carnage which can never be revealed. The assembly room was filled with the wounded and dying, whose cries and groans mingled with the oaths and demoniac laughter of their murderers. Shouts of Jefferson Davis and Andrew Johnson fell upon the ears of the dying victims of “My Policy.” Numbers who came to Mechanics’ Institute with those who loved liberty and delighted in the policy of Abraham Lincoln, died on that terrible day by the bloody hordes of the supporters of Andrew John- son, who had declared that “The civil authorities must be sustained.” They were sustained, and loyal hearts ceased to beat. Thousands of the reconstructed, under the policy of their leader, rent the polluted air of New Orleans on that day with shouts of victory over loyalty. Said an eye-witness of that terrible scene: “The Convention had been broken up an hour ago— if that were the object of Mr. John T. Monroe and his rebel soldier policemen. The negro procession had been scattered, its leaders killed, and dozens of innocent negroes struck by the same hapless fate, if that were their object. But still the authorities and citizens continued the riot.
“An innocent negro carrying a roll of cotton samples under his arm, quietly passed the St. Charles Hotel. Four hackmen pounced upon him, began beating the frightened non-resistant, and collected a crowd. A policeman rushed up, and without a word of inquiry, discharged every barrel of his revolver at the prostrate negro, who kept crying: ‘Arrest me, I’ve done nothing ; arrest me, but for God's sake don't kill me in cold blood.” To the amazement of the crowd every shot missed him. “But,” exclaimed a reputable citizen—let the expression be set down forever to his honor with those who know him—“if I’d a pistol, I'd have killed the miscreant policeman.”
“Carts were constantly passing, laden with the bodies of murdered negroes. In one I counted six; many had two and three. All were greeted with laughter; occasionally one evoked a cheer. Now and then a carriage passed with some wounded white man, and not unfrequently the crowds would make a rush upon him to see if he were one of the obnoxious Radicals.
“One fell thus near the noted millinery-shop of Madame Sophie, a few doors below Blelock's bookstore. A gentleman—so far as clothes go and general demeanor— stepped out from the sidewalk and devoted a minute or two to vigorously kicking the dead body. A bystander made some expressions of horror and disgust, when a policeman turned sharp on him with ‘Are you one of them, say?” He protested that he was not. “He lies,” exclaimed another; “he’s a yankee soldier/* The luckless person protested that he was not; the policeman fiercely questioned him, and at last allowed him to escape on the express ground that he ‘guessed he wasn't a Fede