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February 11th, 1867, Mr. Eliot from the select Committee on the New Orleans Riots, made the following
REPORT: " Mr. Eliot and Mr. Shellabarger, being a majority of the
select committee appointed to investigate matters connected with the New Orleans massacre of July 30th, 1866, and to report such legislative action as the condition of affairs in the State of Louisiana required, submit the report of the Committee as follows:
“On the 6th day of December, 1866, the House of Representatives passed the following resolution:
“ Resolved, That a Committee of three members be appointed by the Speaker, whose duty it shall be to proceed to New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, to make an investigation into all matters connected with the recent bloody riots in that city, which took place the last of July and 1st of August, 1866, and particularly to inquire into the origin, progress, and termination of the riotons proceedings, the names of the parties engaged in it, the acts of atrocity perpetrated, the number of killed and wounded, the amount and character of the property destroyed, and whether and to what extent those acts were participated in by members of the organization claiming to be the government of Louisiana, and report the facts to the House; and * * *
to report such
appropriate legislative action as may be required in view of the condition of affairs in the State of Louisiana.
“ On the 10th of December the Committee was appointed. They entered upon their duties on the following day, and proceeded to examine witnesses, citizens of Louisiana then residing for the time at Washington, and continued their labors here until the 15th of December. On the 22d of December the examination of witnesses was resumed at New Orleans, and was closed in that city on the 3d of January, 1867; it was resumed at Washington on the 15th of January, and finally closed on the 2d of February. The whole number of witnesses examined is 197; of which 159 were before the Committee at New Orleans. Of these forty-seven were examined at the request of the citizens of that city.
“There has been no occasion during our national history when a riot has occurred so destitute of justifiable cause, resulting in a massacre so inhuman and fiend-like, as that which took place at New Orleans on the 30th of July last.
The character and position of the gentlemen-members of the Convention which had originally assembled in 1864—who were the subjects of the attack in common with the unoffending negroes, whose political condition, claims, and rights it was their ultimate purpose to consider and determine, give to the events of July significance and pational importance.
“ The massacre was begun and finished in mid-day; and such proofs of preparation were disclosed that we are constrained to say that an intention, existing somewhere, to disperse and to slaughter the members of the Convention, and those persons, white and black, who
were present and were friendly to its purposes, was mercilessly carried into full effect. What parties had formed that intention, and what other persons knowingly or unwittingly co-operated with or aided them, the Committee has endeavored to ascertain.
« The direct cause of the riots which resulted in the massacre uf several members of the Convention and in the slaughter of many citizens of Louisiana was the reassembling of that Convention pursuant to a call made by honorable R. K. Howell, acting as president pro tempore. The Convention of 1864 had been held on the first Monday of April in that year, in pursuance of a proclamation issued by Major General N. P. Banks, while in command of the department of the Gulf. That portion of the proclamation which related to the Convention is as follows:
“In order that the organic law of the State may be made to conform to the will of the people, and harmon. ize with the spirit of the age, as well as to maintain and preserve the ancient landmarks of civil and religious liberty, an election of delegates to a Convention for the revision of the constitution will be held on the first Monday of April, 1864. The basis of representation, the number of delegates, and the details of election will be annonnced in future orders."
It is in evidence before the Committee, and we find the fact to be, that the only action contemplated at the meeting of July 30th was the ascertainment officially of existing vacancies; and if a quorum of members should appear, it was proposed to postpone all further action until such vacancies should be filled and the writs of election for the choice of members from unrepresented districts should be complied with, and the whole State
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 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 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