The Battle of Liberty Place took place on September 14, 1874 in New Orleans. White supremacists, known as members of the White League, attempted to overthrow Louisiana’s Republican regime, and in so doing, attacked the city police, led by none other than former Confederate general James Longstreet, who was wounded in the ensuing clash. Three days later United States forces broke up the White League offensive and restored a semblance of order to the streets of the Crescent City.
Although the coup d’etat effort failed, many white Louisianans remembered it fondly, and in 1891 they erected a monument commemorating the clash at the head of Canal Street.
By the middle of the twentieth century, residents of New Orleans were increasingly embarrassed with this tribute to white supremacy in the midst of their city. Efforts were made to conceal the monument with vegetation, and eventually it was removed from Canal Street. One needed to walk north of Canal Street to find it in a location near a parking lot (which is where I encountered it years ago). The monument’s been in a relative state of disrepair, and graffiti artists and others have vandalized it more than once. New markers attempt to explain the monument in context, but that has done nothing to erase it as a point of controversy.
Currently New Orleans is debating what to do with several Confederate monuments as well as the Battle of Liberty Place monument. Despite the protests of those advocates of Confederate heritage who seek to deny any connection between the Confederacy and white supremacy, one could say that what happened in 1874 was a continuation of what had been going on in Louisiana for years … the use of violence to secure a white supremacist order (as the New Orleans riots of July 30, 1866, as well as the Colfax Massacre of April 13, 1873, and the Coushatta Massacre of August 25, 1874 suggested … the last-named served as a prelude for White League paramilitary operations the following month in New Orleans).
It was left to our favorite Confederate heritage group to deplore recent vandalism to the Liberty Place monument.
It is interesting to note that the Virginia Flaggers finally admit that a monument to white supremacist violence is part of the Confederate heritage they desire to honor. Rise up Dixie, indeed.
Oh … and just so you know … Susan Hathaway lives in Sandston … so guess who posted this? Remember that the next time someone tell you that she doesn’t celebrate white supremacy. All lives matter, indeed. Tell that to the victims of white supremacist violence during Reconstruction … for those lives didn’t matter, least of all to the Virginia Flaggers.