The White Supremacists Who Laid Siege To A Town

“White people don’t need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because n——s are basically primitive animals.” —David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

In A Nutshell

The end of the American Civil War marked an era of unprecedented change for the Southern states. African-Americans went from being slaves to, you know, actual people seemingly overnight—and traditional Southerners didn’t like it. One result of the tension was a brutal massacre in Colfax, Louisiana, where white supremacists assaulted the town with a cannon and killed around 150 black men in 1873.

The Whole Bushel

After the Civil War, the victorious United States government, dominated by Republicans, kick-started Reconstruction. Confederate states were reincorporated into the Union, and the slow process of rebuilding the war-torn South began. But perhaps more significantly, slavery had been outlawed, and African-Americans were recognized as full citizens of the US.

But not everyone welcomed the change. The Reconstruction era gave birth to such groups as the Ku Klux Klan and the White League—both of which were dedicated to white racial superiority. These organizations would ceaselessly target and terrorize Northerners, Republicans, and black people.

The most brutal example of this terrorism occurred in 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana. A hotly contested election in 1872 had seen Republicans retain control of the state. Southerners were furious that the Democrats had lost. And so, on April 13, 1873, nearly 10 years after the end of the Civil War, armed white supremacists formed a small battalion of around 300 men and assaulted the Colfax courthouse.

When they arrived, they fond it heavily populated with African-Americans and announced their intentions to attack. Armed with a cannon and other firearms, the attackers—with representatives from the KKK and the Knights of the White Camelia—pushed the defenders into the courthouse and set fire to it. The defenders did what they could, but when the white supremacists accidentally shot their own leader, things escalated even more.

African-Americans were killed indiscriminately—prisoners, defenders, and bystanders. Death toll estimates range from 50–150. Many of the dead were prisoners who were executed after the battle was already over. Only three white men were killed.

The Supreme Court addressed the incident in United States v. Cruikshank, deciding that they would leave state governments to deal with issues of racial aggression. Louisiana never arrested anyone.

Show Me The Proof

Encyclopedia of Louisiana: Colfax Massacre
American Experience: US Grant and the Colfax Massacre
Colfax Massacre (1873)

  • inconspicuous detective

    crazy that we’re only just about a century removed from this.

    • WhiteExodus

      Kind of ironic how most African Americans today vote Democrat……

      • Hillyard

        The southerners were Democrat simply because Lincoln was a Republican. The first Republican to get support from the south after the civil war was Eisenhower.

        • WhiteExodus

          I see now….thanks for the info also I’m not from the US so every bit of info about US politics is sort of helpful to me.

      • P5ychoRaz

        And most people credit democrats with things like energy, land and animal conservation, when it’s a complete product of Republican actions. There’s a reason why we call ourselves conservatives. Leave things the way they should be. Not everyone needs a handout or to “be saved.”

    • Paynefully

      A lot of progress in a century but there is still further to go

  • rudeboi

    There’s nothing yesterday about this.

  • aussieshepherd

    I’m no fan of racism; in fact regardless of whom is being racist, I think it is ludicrous at best. That being said, the south is always vilified as being the only part of America that looked down upon black people. That is far from the truth although the biggest problem was that the southern states institutionalized it with laws of the state; however, that’s not my point. What state had the largest membership in the KKK in the 1920s? That would be the southern state of INDIANA. Also, the national guard had to be called out to enforce school desegregation in the southern city of BOSTON after the supreme court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional (I’ve never been to law school but that seems like a “no shit” moment). I’m not trying to lessen the dark past of the south, but I get tired of hearing how only the south had racism. I find it hilarious that the most racist American party ever is the Democrats (they were almost exclusively slave owners as well as the KKK members, etc.).

    • Bobby Sanders

      I agree I’m from the south. Alexandria, Louisiana to be exact about 45 minutes from Colfax. Racism is still present here but no more or no less than any other state in our country. Only difference is the geographical location on the map.

  • vermilionskin

    Does anyone know the exact notion/philosophy behind the clothing design?

    • Hadeskabir

      It makes them feel pretty.