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February 6th , 2024- Past American Insurrections (1867 and 1875) #VRABlackHistory 2024

February 6 @ 12:00 am

Feb. 6th , 2024- Past American Insurrections (1867 and 1875) #VRABlackHistory


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We hope you enjoy our #VRABlackHistory Series 2024

From the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Voting Rights Alliance

Please note, if you’d like to opt out from only the upcoming daily Black History Month Voting Rights Alliance #VRABlackHistory series, please email carnwine@tjcoalition.org. Unsubscribing at the bottom of this email unsubscribes you to all Transformers, not just from this special February Series.

Past American Insurrections (1867 and 1875)

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Deadly violence has plagued the African-American quest for racial justice since the end of the civil war. Sadly these insurrections oftentimes resulted in the destruction of Black voting power. We must recognize this true line of violent history of the past to the violent history of the present.

“It’s not that the [January 6th, 2021] rioters were duped by Trump, but that his lies found fertile ground amid their fears…’The word ‘disinformation’ is off,’ [Robert] Pape [a professor of political science at the University of Chicago who has been gathering information on rioters who faced prosecution for their involvement on January 6th] says. ‘It’s about demographic change and whether you’re afraid of it or not.’…[His research found] [t]he more a county’s white population declined, percentage wise, the more likely it was to send a would-be rioter to the Capitol…To believe that whiteness is on the decline is to accept what Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race, calls the Great White Assumption: ‘the unquestioning, indeed unthinking acceptance of the ‘white’ identity of European-Americans of all classes as a natural attribute rather than a social construct.’ This assumption is what allows the media to discuss a point of paranoia-fueled Klan dogma—that whiteness is a thing to be protected and Blackness a thing to be negated—as a ‘theory’. Such distinctions—between reality and the stories we tell ourselves— matter a great deal…we miss opportunities to transform the systems that uphold America’s story by means of fiction instead of truth. As Pape puts it, the insurrectionists ‘are motivated by what they see as their interest to believe the lie…They’re developing this understanding of their interests where race is at the center of it. This isn’t just about disinformation as magical thinking,’ he adds. ‘There’s a conservative set of beliefs here.’ Indeed, narratives of whiteness under threat are conservative talking points as old as the Civil War.”

– Anthony Conwright, January+February 2023 Issue, Mother Jones, “American Myths Are Made of White Grievance—and the Jan. 6 Big Lie Is Just the Latest”

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The Transformative Justice Coalition and the Voting Rights Alliance, in honor of Black History Month, are reviving the daily special series devoted to sharing the legacies and stories of the sheroes, heroes, and events in the fight for Black suffrage. This series was created in 2017 and will add 13 NEW articles this year. In addition to these daily newsletters all February long, this series also incorporates daily social media posts; an interactive calendar; and, website blog posts to spread the word broadly.

Feel free to publish on your social media outlets, with credit given to the Transformative Justice Coalition. If you’d like us to share you sharing this series, be sure to send any publications to carnwine@tjcoalition.org so we can repost!

We encourage everyone to share this series to your networks and on social media under the hashtag #VRABlackHistory and to use this series for school projects. You can also tweet us @TJC_DC to share your own facts.

Others can sign up for the daily articles at VotingRightsAlliance.org

This article was curated by Caitlyn Arnwine (formerly Caitlyn Cobb) in 2023 and slightly updated in 2024 to take out 2023-specific articles. Note from the author: This article is comprised of quotes from many different articles in order to provide a more comprehensive account of this time period as well as to keep this article more brief. A complete reference list can be found at the end of this article.

Today, February 6th, 2024, we remember past American insurrections that occurred in 1867 and 1875.

In a post-January 6th world, this article is especially pertinent.

Around the time of the passage of the The Fifteenth Amendment (1870), as Mary Ann Shadd Cary joined other women in an unsuccessful attempt to vote in 1874, there were 5 massacres. A couple years after 1896 when Ida B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Murray Washington, Frances E.W. Harper, and Mary Church Terrell founded The National Association of Colored Women Clubs (NACWC-) in Washington, D.C.; and, during George H. White’s Congressional term for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District (1899-1901), there were 2 massacres. In 1920 after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, as Maggie Lena Walker was holding voter registration drives; as Anna A. Clemons was pleading for her right to vote; as Mary McLeod Bethune rode a bicycle door-to-door raising money to pay the “poll tax”, there were 2 massacres. While that article could not go through every massacre, we encourage our readers to read up on different massacres using the map and the sources listed at the end of the #VRABlackHistory Series article linked below as a starting reference.

Today, we remember A Legacy of Disenfranchisement: Black Massacres (1860’s – early 1900’s) #VRABlackHistory

Today, we remember the Black massacres that occurred between the 1860’s and early 1900’s. While many more massacres occurred after and before this, the extreme concentration of Black massacres during this time period were specifically targeted against Black men exerting their right to vote under 15th amendment.

When you think of the time period after the American Civil War known as “Reconstruction”, what comes to mind? Is it a rampant massacres to uphold White Supremacy by suppressing the Black vote? A new report brings the number of victims of racial terror killings between 1865 and 1950 to almost 6,500. Furthermore, a 2017 study found Historic Lynchings in the U.S. South Are Linked to Lower Levels of Voter Registration Among Black People. It is up to us to learn from our history. We can not allow new voter suppression tactics to continue this legacy of disenfranchisement.

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The New Orleans Massacre in 1866 is one of the deadliest attacks on voting rights activists in American history. Read this excerpt from the #VRABlackHistory Article, originally written in 2022, entitled “A Legacy of Disenfranchisement: Black Massacres (1860’s – early 1900’s)”. Some of the massacres discussed were racially motivated insurrections meant to deter Black political power.

The Reconstruction Congress of 1867

In New Orleans on July 30, 1866, a White mob, led by police and firemen, attacked delegates, Black marchers, and spectators gathered at the Mechanics Institute during the reconvened Louisiana Constitutional Convention. The Convention reconvened in response to the state legislature enacting Black Codes and limiting suffrage. The attack left over forty African Americans dead, over 150 wounded.

“In 1864, Union forces had almost entirely liberated Louisiana from Confederate control, and the state’s all-white electorate had drafted and ratified a new state constitution that acknowledged the abolition of slavery. Still, the document sanctioned restrictions on African American civil and political rights, and in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, Louisiana voters, many of whom were Confederate veterans, returned numerous Confederate officials to state and federal offices under the banner of a Democratic Party that openly proclaimed to be in favor of white supremacy. ‘We hold this to be a Government of white people,’ the platform of the state party maintained, ‘made and to be perpetuated for the exclusive benefit of the white race.’ Indeed, the platform announced, ‘people of African descent cannot be considered as citizens of the United States.’ It came as no surprise that the state legislature promptly passed discriminatory laws known as Black Codes that targeted the formerly enslaved, nor that the mayor of New Orleans, former Confederate John T. Monroe, instructed city policemen to single out the formerly enslaved for arrest.

“Frustrated by this ongoing racial discrimination and the resumption of Confederate rule, in 1866 leading African American suffrage activists convinced a handful of white former delegates to Louisiana’s 1864 Constitutional Convention to reconvene the convention in New Orleans, and to draft a state constitutional amendment enfranchising African American men. Their plan relied upon a technicality, namely that the motion to adjourn the 1864 Convention had contained a provision authorizing it to reconvene to pass amendments at any later date.

“Activists also recognized that the vote bore profound symbolic significance. In a world where women could not vote and political participation signified manhood and status, exclusion from the polls was both emasculating and humiliating. African American men demanded “political rights,” argued black Union army veteran and future Louisiana Governor P.B.S. Pinchback, but they also demanded ‘to become men’.

“The vote was no less meaningful to embittered Confederate army veterans, who already felt emasculated by military defeat and saw the prospect of African American enfranchisement as an amplification of that emasculation. State Democratic officials declared the reconvening of the Constitutional Convention illegal. When judicial challenges to the reconvening failed, Mayor Monroe, the police chief, and former Confederate officers secretly resolved to annihilate the convention delegates instead. They covertly enlisted hundreds of Confederate army veterans as emergency police officers, and police and fire stations received orders to prepare for a showdown on July 30, 1866.

“On the morning of the convention, a jubilant parade of African American suffrage supporters, [a delegation of 130 black New Orleans residents], carried a large American flag and followed a marching band through the streets towards the hall where the convention delegates were assembling. The marchers’ elation shifted towards apprehension as crowds of hostile onlookers began to gather.”

Newly reinstated acting Mayor John T. Monroe, an active supporter of the Confederacy who had headed city government before the Civil War, organized and led a mob of ex-Confederates, White Supremacists, and members of the New Orleans Police Force to block their way. The Mayor claimed their intent was to put down any unrest that may come from the Convention but the real reason was to prevent the delegates from meeting.”

“A fight broke out. Distant pistol fire cracked.”

“…[T]he city’s fire bell rang twelve tolls, the traditional code for summoning residents to defend the city against imminent enemy attack. As the bell fell silent, police, firemen, and white civilians surrounded the parade and the hall.

Then they opened fire.” “..[T]he group was allowed to proceed to the meeting hall…Now the police and mob surrounded the Institute and opened fire on the building, shooting indiscriminately into the windows. Then the mob rushed into the building and began to fire into the crowd of delegates. When the mob ran out of ammunition they were beaten back by the delegates. The mob left the building, regrouped, and returned, breaking down the doors and again firing on the mostly unarmed delegates.”

According to accounts of surviving spectators, rioters slaughtered marchers kneeling in surrender, and mutilated their bodies. People fell like flies as the mob shot at them, and when they were done, “they tramped upon them, and mashed their heads with their boots, and shot them after they were down.”

As the firing continued some delegates attempted to flee or surrender. Some of those who surrendered, mostly blacks, were killed on the spot. Those who ran were chased as the killing spread over several blocks around the Institute. By this point both the rioters and victims included people who were never at the Institute. African Americans were shot on the street or pulled off of streetcars to be summarily beaten or killed. By the end of the massacre, at least 200 black Union war veterans were killed, including forty delegates at the Convention. Altogether 238 people were killed and 46 were wounded.”

“When federal troops finally arrived hours later, the floor was sticky with blood. Three white delegates and more than forty African American supporters lay dead. Another 150 lay wounded. Only one white Democrat had been killed, by a policeman’s stray bullet.

Yet the attack backfired. News of the brutality swept the nation and horrified the North, galvanizing northern white support for African American political and civil rights. Republicans swept the 1866 Congressional elections. In 1867, Congress passed the First Reconstruction Act, placing the South under federal military control and calling for new constitutional conventions in which African American men could vote for delegates. Federal officials removed Mayor Monroe and other former Confederate officials from office. Louisiana’s new legislature dissolved the New Orleans’ police department and replaced it with a racially integrated force.”

The 1875 Insurrection- “The Mississippi Plan”

Source: Anthony Conwright, January+February 2023 Issue, Mother Jones, “American Myths Are Made of White Grievance—and the Jan. 6 Big Lie Is Just the Latest”, Para. 11-14.

“When the ‘radical Republicans’ protected Black enfranchisement by passing the 1866 Civil Rights Act and the 14th and 15th amendments, they created a voting bloc large enough to guarantee Republican control of Congress. But then, during the runup to the 1875 elections in Mississippi, two white paramilitary organizations with close ties to the pro-slavery Democratic Party kidnapped and executed local white and Black Republicans and forced rival candidates to remove their names from the ballot. The Democrats justified this coup by falsely accusing Mississippi’s Republican governor, Adelbert Ames, of incompetence. They also blamed ‘negro militias’ and fear of ‘negro rule’ to explain why white Democrats had indiscriminately murdered hundreds of Black people.

“The next spring, the US Senate formed a special committee to investigate. It reported that on Election Day ‘at several voting-places, armed men assembled, sometimes not organized and in other cases organized; that they controlled the elections, intimidated republican voters, and, in fine, deprived them of the opportunity to vote the republican ticket.’ As part of the investigation, Angus Cameron, a Republican committee member, questioned Judge Josiah Abigail Patterson Campbell, a Mississippi Supreme Court justice and former Confederate. He asked Campbell why most white men in Mississippi were attached to the Democratic Party. ‘When the war ended, the people of this country to a very large extent regarded the reconstruction measures of Congress as an hostility to the people of the South,’ Campbell said, and that ‘led the people of the South to believe, whether right fully or wrongfully, that they were the objects of vengeance and the subjects of punishment by the government of the United States.’

“The Senate committee report explicitly condemned white grievance and Americans who “look with contempt upon the black race and with hatred upon the white men who are their political allies…who in former times were accustomed to the exclusive enjoyment of political power, and who now consider themselves degraded by the elevation of the negro to the rank of equality in political affairs. They have secured power by fraud and force, and, if left to themselves, they will by fraud and force retain it.”

“Despite this admonition, Congress did not employ the new federal safeguards—the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, plus two Enforcement Acts designed to give the amendments teeth—to punish the Mississippi mobs. The results of that stolen election were allowed to stand. Gov. Ames resigned, and some of the Democrats who usurped power were sworn into the Senate. One was Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, a former Confederate colonel who went on to help broker the Compromise of 1877, the pact that, following the disputed election, let Republicans keep the presidency in exchange for removing federal troops from the South—thereby putting an end to Reconstruction.” (end of qoute)

“Robert Gleed, Sr. (1836 – July 24, 1916) was a Republican state senator in Mississippi during the Reconstruction era”…In 1871, he testified about the role of Southern newspapers and the Ku Klux Klan in fomenting violence and resistance to Reconstruction efforts in Mississippi in the years after the American Civil War…He resigned from the state senate in 1873 after the killing of seven ‘recalcitrant blacks’. He had four children…After several of his fellow African Americans were killed before an election in 1875 he relocated to Paris, Texas. He later returned to Columbus, Mississippi, but was chased away again. He also “campaigned for Sheriff in Lowndes County. He met with leading Democratic Party representatives and attempted to appease them before the election. He was unsuccessful and his home was attacked and burned as well as some of his neighbors’ homes.”

Robert “describes the violence that occurred on the eve of the 1875 election:

“In the latter part of the canvas the young men had a cannon and pistols, very much like an army. The election was wound up on the 2nd of November and on the night before in our city three buildings were set on fire and four men killed. Most of the colored people were run out of their houses during the night. It was the worst time we have ever had as far as an election was concerned.

“The first fire broke out near my house. I went to work to get my family and as many of my things out as I could. Then a young man came to me and said, “They will kill you when this fire burns low.” The next morning a man told me that he did not think it would be safe to go back and I went out in the country and stayed until Saturday after the election. Prior to the election we had a meeting at the courthouse. Dr. Lipscomb and Judge Simms, the candidate on the Democratic side were invited to speak and I had a few words to say myself. I asked, “What could we do? Was there any concession we could make that would secure peace and a quiet election?” Dr. Lipscomb said the way we would have it was by abstaining from voting altogether. Of course I couldn’t concede that for others but I was willing to forego any sacrifice as far as I was individually concerned. I told him we used to ask for life and liberty but now if we could just be spared our lives so we could go peacefully along as men and human beings we would be satisfied . . .

“It was the most violent time that ever we have seen.”

This entire insurrection was a part of the “Mississippi Plan”. “The Plan was devised by the white-American Democratic Party to violently overthrow the Republican Party by organized violence to redeem the state of Mississippi. Democrats also adopted the Mississippi Plan in South Carolina and Louisiana…[After the 15th Amendment, Black people] flooded the polls, and in Mississippi’s 1874 election, the Republican Party carried a 30,000 majority in a pre-Civil War year, a Democrat stronghold. In 1875, under the Mississippi Plan of Southern Democrats, a political dual-pronged battle to reverse the otherwise dominant Republican trend was waged. The first step was to ‘persuade’ the 10 to 15 percent of white voters still calling themselves Republicans to switch to the Democratic party. A combined fear of social, political, and economic ostracism convinced carpetbaggers to switch parties or flee the state.

“The second step of the Mississippi Plan was the intimidation of the Black populace who had recently been granted their voting rights. While economic coercion against Black sharecroppers was employed to some limited success, it was violence that played the largest part in intimidation. Groups of Democrats, called ‘rifle clubs,’ frequently provoked riots at Republican rallies, shooting down dozens of blacks in the ensuing conflict.

“Despite the Republican victory and the election of Blacks to many offices, including ten of thirty-six seats in the state legislature, the tragic precedent for the Mississippi Plan had already been set in the city of Vicksburg. There, the White Man’s party sent armed patrols to prevent blacks from voting and defeated all-Republican city officials in August. Voter suppression by December, the emboldened party forced the Black sheriff to flee to the state capitol. Blacks who rallied to the city to aid the sheriff also had to flee against a superior force. Over the next few days, armed gangs may have murdered up to 300 Blacks in the city’s vicinity. President Ulysses S. Grant sent a company of troops to the city in January to quell the violence and allow the sheriff’s safe return.

“Although there was a call for federal troops to curb the violence, this time, it went unanswered by President Grant for fear that, in doing so, he would be accused of “bayonet rule,” which he believed would undoubtedly be exploited by Democrats to carry Ohio in that year’s state elections. Ultimately, the violence went unchecked, and the plan worked just as it had been intended: During Mississippi’s 1875 election, five counties with large Black majorities polled 12, 7, 4, 2, and 0 votes, respectively. Indeed, a Republican victory of 30,000 votes in 1874 became a Democrat majority of 30,000 in 1875.”

Recommended Reading:

Reconstruction in America | EJI Report

EJI’s new report examines the 12 years following the Civil War when violence perpetrated by white leaders against Black communities created an American future of white supremacy and Jim Crow laws-an era from which our nation has yet to recover.

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  1. Facing History & Ourselves, “Election Violence in Mississippi (1875), last updated July 15, 2022.
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gleed
  3. Anthony Conwright, January+February 2023 Issue, Mother Jones, “American Myths Are Made of White Grievance—and the Jan. 6 Big Lie Is Just the Latest”
  4. https://aaregistry.org/story/the-mississippi-plan-political-deviance/
  5. https://eji.org/report/reconstruction-in-america/
  6. Today, we remember A Legacy of Disenfranchisement: Black Massacres (1860’s – early 1900’s) #VRABlackHistory


February 6
12:00 am
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