In 1872, William Pitt Kellogg, a supporter of Reconstruction, was elected governor of Louisiana, largely on the strength of his support among African-American voters. That same year, Caesar Carpenter Antoine, an African American man, was elected lieutenant governor.
The electoral success of an integrated ticket angered many whites, and attempts to overthrow the elected government began nearly as soon as Governor Kellogg and Lt. Governor Antoine took office in 1873. During the summer of 1874, Frederick Nash Ogden, a former colonel in the Confederate army, began to organize a militia. The militia, which consisted primarily of white Confederate veterans who opposed Reconstruction, became known as the White League.
On September 14, 1874, 1500 members of the White League attacked New Orleans and overthrew the Louisiana government. After cutting the telegraph lines out of the city and killing at least thirteen members of the integrated New Orleans police force, the militia overran the state house and attempted to establish a new government. Governor Kellogg was forced to take refuge in a nearby federal building. After three days, President Ulysses S. Grant ordered the U.S. Army to put down the rebellion and the elected government was restored.
The 1874 coup was emblematic of the political violence that occurred during Reconstruction, which aimed to overthrow elected, integrated governments throughout the South and restore white supremacy under law. In 1891, following the conclusion of Reconstruction, the state of Louisiana installed a monument celebrating the coup as the “overthrow of carpetbag government ousting the usurpers.” The monument remains standing in New Orleans today.
“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar. America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans. The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood. EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.