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AFTER 1868 









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O IVeconstruction in Louisiana 



A. Brief Resume of Reconstruction in 
I^ouisiana before 1869 

Y January i, 1869, Louisiana had suflFered the throes 
of reconstruction for seven weary years, but the 
hostile ifates had decreed for her more than an- 
other seven before she should be able to wrench herself 
,.. free from the grasp of her colored and carpet-bag despots. 
■ ,, \lie first uncertain attempts at reconstruction were made 

s at the close of 1862 by Governor Shepley with the consent 
! v' ^^ Lincoln. The President's policy was based upon the 
, belief that there existed in every Southern State a loyal 
^ element which might be made to prove the germ of a civil 
government owning allegiance to Washington. In the 
course of that year, as the North gained a foothold, he 
had appointed General Shepley military governor, whose 
1 duty it was to resurrect the loyal element among the 

I • people. Thanks to the vigorous grip over New Orleans of 

I . / Generals Butler and Banks, a considerable body, stronger 

f ;^^ in numbers than social prestige, became firmly wedded 

'^-^^ to the Union cause. The old Douglas men sprang into 
V ' evideince at Butler's arrival on the scene; members of the 
. Irish Unionists came out strongly; while still others were 
^ won by the favors distributed with an eye to political 

I!; 344193 

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2 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

gain. General Shepley ordered an election on December 

3 for two Congressmen. The successful candidates 
proved to be B. P. Flanders and Michael Hahn, both 
of whom were allowed to take their seats in the National 

There appeared a certain group of men eager to push 
on the work of reorganization, either for the plums of 
office, or, on the part of the old slave-holders, for the 
sake of saving a portion of their slaves, or for the sake 
of casting off martial law. This group, the Free State 
Party, working through the Union Clubs, urged on in 1863 
a registration and convention to frame a new constitu- 
tion. But it made such slow progress that Lincoln 
developed his famous **Ten Per Cent" plan by his pro- 
clamation of December 8, 1863, which offered pardon and 
the restoration of property to all who would take a pre- 
scribed oath; and declared that the President would re- 
cognize as the true government of any of the seceded 
States, except Virginia, the organizations set up by loyal 
citizens, provided that they constituted one-tenth of the 
voting population of 1860.^ 

General Banks, in accordance with this plan, ordered an 
election of State officers for February 22, 1864. Hahn, 
the successful administration candidate, was inaugurated 
on March 4. About ten days later he was invested 
with the ** powers exercised before by the military gover- 
nor.*' It is of importance to note that as early as this 
campaign the issue in the radical party was the treatment 
of the negroes after emancipation. Delegates to a con- 
stitutional convention were subsequently chosen and 
April 6, ninety-four^ of the men elected met in New 
Orleans, a fair set of men, but already showing a tendency 

' Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, VI., 214. 
^ Ficklen's History of Reconstruction in Louisiana, states that the highest 
number on the roll at any time was ninety-eight, 68. 

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Before 1869 3 

toward that extravagance which was later to be' such 
a blot upon reconstruction. The convention abolished 
slavery, ' but restricted suflFrage to white males, although 
it empowered the legislature to confer it on **such persons, 
citizens of the United States, as by military service, by 
taxation to support the government, or by intellectual fit- 
ness may be deemed entitled thereto.*'* A constitution 
was adopted and submitted to the people, but only 8402 
votes were cast in ratification as compared with 11,411^ 
in the election of Hahn. The new legislature provided 
for met October 3, elected two Senators, and adopted 
the Thirteenth Amendment unanimously. Although 
this government was duly recognized by the President 
and its ratification of the Amendment gladly counted to 
help embody it in the organic law, its authority was 
restricted to a very narrow limit — ^that actually within 
the Union military lines ^ — and neither branch of Congress 
admitted the members chosen by the new government, 
while the Presidential vote of 1865 was rejected. 

The legislature of 1865, fully representative of the State, 
and just as fully Democratic, met in extra session to 
elect two new Senators in case the two elected previously 
be rejected as not truly representative. With these two 
Senators, Henry Clay Warmoth presented himself at 
Washington as territorial delegate of the radical Repub- 
licans of the State, 5 his expenses defrayed by his negro 

' By a vote of 72 : 13. Ficklen, 70. 

^ Lincoln's plan. See letter of March 13, 1864, to Hahn, Nicolay-Hay, 
VIII., 434. 

3 Rhodes and Ficklen differ slightly in their numbers. Rhodes depends 
upon Sen. Exe. Doc., 38 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 91, 4. 

< Within the Union lines was about one-third the area of the State, 
according to the census of i860, and two-thirds of the population. 

5 Already Thaddeus Stevens had devised and won followers for his 
territorial scheme of reconstruction. For a full statement see Rhodes, 
United States, V., 551. 

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4 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

constituents, who jo5^iilly deposited their half-dollars 
with their first ballots to pay the expenses of their impe- 
cunious delegate. ' 

Some thirty or more of the members of the convention 
of 1864 were so angered at seeing the offices of the State 
passing to the ex-rebels that, with the consent of the 
governor and a judge of the Supreme Court, they began 
to meet and plan how they could evict them. Before 
adjourning, the convention of 1864 had decreed that it 
might be reconvoked at the call of the President **for 
any cause, or in case the constitution should not be 
ratified, for the purpose of taldng such meastures 
as may be necessary for the formation of a civil 
government for the State of Louisiana.'* This resolu- 
tion, however, had not been incorporated in the con- 
stitution and had never been passed upon by the 
people. * 

The opponents of negro suffrage denied the right of 
the convention to resume its fimctions and the contro- 
versy over the matter became very fierce. July 30, 1866, 
the delegates who favored reassembling proceeded to do 
so, according to call in New Orleans. A street proces- 
sion of negroes, on their wayto the hall, became involved 
in a serious fight with the police and crowds of white 
spectators. The number killed and injtured amoimted 
to about two htmdred and the fact stood out con- 
spicuously that of this number only about a dozen were 
policemen or their white allies. The North and, more 
especially. Congress was forced by this episode, together 

' Ficklen regards this story as well-substantiated (113), though Warmoth 
himself stated that he received the money to defray his expenses from the 
Executive Committee. House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 
350. The writer has not regarded this as within her investigation. 

^ Debates of the Convention, 1864, 623. Illegal also was the effort of 
the mayor to suppress the convention. See Cox, Three Decades, 430-2. 

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Before 1869 5 

with the rejection of the Fourteenth Amendment' and the 
passage throughout the South of the ** Black Codes," 
to the conclusion that the colored people were not safe 
in the hands of their former masters. 

Hence, the Congressional plan of reconstruction, long 
brewing,^ was forced on the South in the Acts of March 
2, 1867, which reestablished military rule and provided 
an entire new organization of government through a 
convention, elected by negro as well as white vote, and 
a new constitution, which should be acceptable to Con- 
gress^; in the Supplementary Act of March 23 which 
placed the initiative in the hands of the military instead 
of the Stated; and the additional Act of July 19 which 
substituted for the liberal interpretation of the earlier 
acts by civil officials the most rigorous possible and 
stripped the Executive of the power of determining re- 
movals by explicitly conferring certain powers of appoint- 
ment and removal on the general of the army. ^ Louisiana 
and Texas constituted one military department, placed 
first under the direction of General Sheridan, and in 
August tmder General Hancock. Under these two com- 
manders registration was pushed on so as to record as 
many blacks and as few whites as possible. In September 
a convention of ninety-eight members was elected, con- 
sisting by previous agreement of blacks and whites in 

' Blaine regarded this as the " original mistake '* of the South. Suffrage 
would have then followed as a necessity and boon to the South. Blaine, 
Twenty Years, II., 474-5. 

* The Congressional Committee reported the plan as early as April 30, 
1866. Globe, 39 Cong., i Sess., 2286. 

» Statutes at Large, XIV., 428. The essential sections, 3 and 4, were 
later held unconstitutional. Cases of U. S. vs, Reese, 92 U. S., 214, and 
U. S. vs. Cruikshank, 92 U. S., 554. 

4 United States Statutes at Large, XV., 2. 

sJbid,, 14. This act was drafted by Stanton. Gorham, Stanton, 
II., 373. 

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6 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

equal numbers, all but two, Republicans. The body- 
sat in daily session from November 23 to March 9, 
ostensibly to frame the new constitution, but, because 
of the lack, of a revenue, constituting itself also a legisla- 
tive body. The constitution framed by it was the 
most severe in its disfranchising clauses of any in the 

It was quietly ratified April 16 and 17, 1868, and State 
officers chosen. H. C. Warmoth was elected governor 
and the mulatto, O. J. Dunn, lieutenant-governor. The 
military governor was removed and the governor-elect 
placed in power at once although his formal inauguration 
did not occur until July 13, 1868. The first legislature 
of the new r6gime, in which a sweeping radical victory 
against the unorganized, disheartened conservatives had 
seated a strong Republican majority, was in session from 
June 29 to October 20. The ratification of the Four- 
teenth Amendment by this body opened the door of re- 
admission to the Union so that by the act of June 25, 
1868, Louisiana was once more empowered to send W. P. 
Kellogg and J. B. Harris to occupy the seats in the Senate 
vacated defiantly seven years before by John Slidell and 
J. P. Benjamin. By July 18, five Representatives had 
been seated in the House, including the first colored 
person to present himself for admission to Congress; 
and reconstruction would seem to be a matter of 
history. ' 

But the military was not withdrawn, for Louisiana 
and Arkansas were created into the Department of Louisi- 
ana imder General Rousseau. Troops were so stationed 
at different points throughout these States that they 
could be called upon to cooperate with. the State au- 
thorities to preserve the peace and to sustain the new 

' Glohet 40 Cong., 2 Sess., 4216. 

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Before 1869 7 

The Presidential election of the fall of that year once 
more centered attention on the State by an undesired and 
wholly unexpected victory for Seymotir and Blair, and 
still more by the disorders and outrages on the negroes. * 
Congress was not allowed to forget that it had a right to 
a directing influence in the matter through committees 
of investigation and decisions on disputed elections to 
its own body. ^ 

At the beginning of the year 1869 carpet-bag govern- 
ment was in full swing and the picture of the situation in 
the State is not a bright one. 

The political condition might well have caused an 
aristocratic Louisianian to withdraw himself from the 
contamination of politics with a shudder of despair: a 
carpet-bagger the recipient of the first honor in the gift 
of the State, and a negro house-painter of the second, 
Warmoth, yoimg, handsome, and magnetic,^ was a na- 
tive of Illinois, who had entered the army from Missouri. 
He had had trouble with General Grant after the battle 

' For a full accotint of the early period of reconstruction in this State 
see Ficklen, History of Reconstruction in Louisiana. As evidence that 
election disorders were not wholly a result of reconstruction, it might not 
be amiss to call attention to the governor's valedictory message of 1856. 
Society in Louisiana before the war, while polite and even more — brilliant, 
had been far from law-abiding with its frequent encoimters under the 
duelling oaks, the Plaquemines frauds of 1844, and the riot of 1855. See 
Gayarr6, IV., 679. 

^ For an account of the conflicting testimony on these outrages see House 
Misc., Doc., 41 Cong., i Sess., No. 13. 

5 Based on Hotise Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 24-5. See also 
National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Carpenter's sketch of him to 
the Senate may be quoted : " There is in Louisiana a very remarkable yoimg 
man, dignified in mien, of elegant presence, and agreeable conversation; 
a man full of resoturces, political and social, — gallant, daring, and with a 
genius for politics; such a man as would rise to power in any great civil 
disturbance, embodying in himself the elements of revolution, and delight- 
ing in the exercise of his natural gifts in the midst of political excitement." 
Globe, 42 Cong., 3 Sess., Appendix, 200. 

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8 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

of Vicksbtirg; was charged with circulating exaggerated 
reports of the Union losses while on parole North, was 
dismissed from the service by Grant, but restored to his 
command by Lincoln, evidence having shown his dismissal 
to be imjust. He retired from the army in 1865, went 
to Texas, where he was indicted for embezzlement and 
for appropriating government cotton. But when the 
case was called, no prosecutor appeared and the prosecu- 
tion was abandoned. He returned to Louisiana and before 
reconstruction was sent as a delegate to Congress as 
narrated above. He was at this time only twenty-six 
years old, apparently at the height of his powers, social 
and political, for even his foes admitted the dignity 
of his appearance and the charm of his manners and 

The balance 0i;barties in 1868 stood twenty Republicans 
to sixteen Democrats in the Senate, fifty-six to forty-five 
in the Hoijse. ' ''^White members had been almost entirely 
supervisors of registration. Warmoth had selected for 
this office in the parishes, a large number of men left in 
New Orleans as flotsam after the war. They had so 
impressed the iie^oes tBat they were returned to the 
legislature or were mysteriously counted in by the retum- 
ing-board.* Almost one-half of the House were negroes, 
while there were at least seven sable-hued Senators.^ 
The lower State and parish offices were given over largely 

" Annual Cyclopedia, 1868, 434. 

* Nordhoff tells of the rise of a young New Yorker who returned from 
acting as supervisor in an up-country parish to present returns which 
proved him the unanimous choice of that parish. Though not the nomi- 
nee, two years later, his name appeared, strangely enough, on the tickets 
and, although not elected, the returning board seated him. Nordhoff, 
The Cotton States, 48. 

*The writer has been tmable to get exact figures. The Commercial 
BuUeHn of Feb. 22, 1869, enimierates seven Senators; while a negro in 
debate stated that there were forty-two of his brethren in the House. 
House Deb!, 1870, 281. 

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Before 1869 9 

to negroes and scalawags, not always chosen by the* 
governor with wisdom.* 

The comment of one of the New Orleans papers is 
suggestive of the sentiment of the people toward their 
legislature. Speaking of the revenue bill of 1869 it said: 

It was the work of the lowest and most corrupt body of 
men ever assembled in the South. It was the work of igno- 
rant negroes^ cooperating with a gang of white adventurers, 
strangers to our interests and our sentiments. It was origi- 
nated by carpet-baggers and was carried through by such 
arguments as are printed on green-backed paper. It was one 
of the long catalogs of schemes of corruption which makes 
up the whole history of that iniqtiitous Radical Conclave.^ 

Or note the Crescent: **The troupe which is now playing 
a sixty-day engagement at the comer of Royal and Conti 
streets, 4 which appears daily in the farce of *How to be 
a Legislature,' a day or two since introduced among 
themselves a bill . . . " « And that paper printed later daily 
the following unique **ad," **Go at once to the St. Louis 
Rotunda to see the astounding curiosity &. '* 

No less important to the State than its own political 
condition was the attitude of the National government. 
The defeat of the Republican party in the South in the 
fall election was like a dash of cold water. To an indiflfer- 

' A negro Justice of the Peace issued a warrant which is a rare curiosity 
for bad spelling and grammar: ** This is to cite, fy that i. the underseind, 
Justis. of. the. Peace O Pint, and in Pour. John. A. Stars, to. A-rest the 
Body, of Henre Evens and Bring. Hit, be four, me John Fields." Copied 
from St, Mary* 5 Banner , a parish paper. 

^ It was not tmcommon for a legislator to sign his name with a mark. 
— Crescent, Jan. 13, 1869. 

» New Orleans, Commercial Bulletin, Nov. 17, 1869. 

4 At this time the l^slature was convening in the Banque de la 

• Jan. 13, 1869. 

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lo Reconstruction in Louisiana 

ence or even a desire to be rid of the whole subject of 
reconstruction, which had characterized Congress in the 
fall of 1868, succeeded a resolute purpose to take advan- 
tage of every opportimity to gain an effective and perma- 
nent control for the RepubUcan party. Even the law 
passed during the session of 1868-9, which provided that 
equal eligibility to office should inhere in those who had 
had their disabilities removed by Congress and had taken 
the oath to support the constitution in the act of July 
II, 1868, was only a party measure to win more firmly 
the scalawags,^ as the list of pardons reveals the fact 
that most had become Republicans.* Grant's attitude 
was of importance to a degree that Johnson's was not, 
for he came into office early in 1869, a popular and trusted 
executive, who would be free, to a large extent, to direct 
the policy of the government in the South. But, imfor- 
timately for Louisiana, a brother-in-law, J. P. Casey, 
was soon put in charge of the port there and so completely 
won Grant's ear that the latter approached Louisiana 
problems with a bias. Friction between the State and 
National authorities was boimd to come, for already at 
the opening of 1869 the radicals had lost the respect of the 
army, and recrimination was passing back and forth between 
the military commander and the executive of the State. ^ 

» The scalawag was the war-time Unionist or reconstructed rebel who 
had ceased opposing Congress. A negro preacher defines the difference 
between a carpet-bagger and scalawag as follows: "A carpet-bagger came 
down here from some place and stole enough to fill his carpet-bag, but the 
scalawag was a man who knew the woods and swamps better than the 
carpet-bagger did, and he stole the carpet-bagger's carpet-bag and ran 
off with it." House Misc. Doc, 42 Congress, 2 Sess., No. 211, 478. 

^ The writer did not find this especially true of Louisiana, but of the 
South generally. 

3 "Apparently the Radical authorities have lost the confidence and re- 
spect of the army. We do not think that writing to Washington letters 
of complaint is exactly the way to regain it." — New Orleans, Commercial 
Bulletin, Jan. 21, 1869. 

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Before 1869 11 

Socially, the problem was largely a race question, 
though the bitterness of feeling toward her conquerors 
and contempt of carpet-bagger and scalawag enter to 
compUcate the matter. The intensity of her bitterness 
toward the North found expression in such paragraphs 
as the following: 

The black and bloody chapter of American subjugation 
reads so much like the scenes of the Netherlands and the 
Palatinate that it cannot claim even the vile merit of dis- 
tinguished infamy. Let it be blotted out and closed. Let 
the American govenunent publish and execute this amnesty 
in good faith. Let them seek new fields of glory and cease 
to promote men merely because they have distinguished 
themselves by the slaughter of Americans or by laying waste 
the regions that Americans have planted.' 

In moments of calmness appeals to the better sentiment 
of the North are heard, coupled with promises that a 
spirit of conciliation would be seconded by the masses 
of the South, which were prepared to accept all necessary 
and reasonable conditions imposed by the result of the 

Their particular spleen was vented now vindictively, 
now himaorously, on the carpet-baggers: **Only call off 
the carpet-baggers and you are welcome to substitute an 
army of hand-organists in their stead. No sotmds can 
punish our nerves, our patience, and our tympanums so 
much as the *base bawl' of carpet-baggers.'*^ The host 

" New Orleans CommercicU Bulletin^ Jan. 6, 1869. For a similar expres- 
sion of feeling, Times, May 9, 1875. 

^New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, Jan. 14, 1869. "Wise liberality 
on the part of the northern people and of the government that ought to 
represent them would certainly be followed by strict and willing acquies- 
cence. . . . We ought to prove by our demeanor toward those who 
come among us to buy our vacant lands . . . that they are welcome and 
that liberal legislation will not be wasted upon us." 

* Ibid., Sept. 25, 1869. 

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12 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

of traders, capitalists, and adventurers, who had come 
down dtiring and just after the war to seek a new field 
for investment in the conquered country, were, naturally, 
regarded more or less as harpies. The ntimber was 
formidable, for already by the fall of 1866, between five 
and ten thousand Union soldiers had settled in the State: ^ 
The exasperating feature was that they immediately 
tmdertook to run the government for the natives, securing 
office through negro votes. ^ Capital, energy, and talents 
were desired, but not men to tend to their politics. ^ 

Two great facts are to be remembered in the negro 
question in Louisiana. In the first place the negroes were 
in a slight majority. After the war the Southerner saw 
his former slaves avoiding him, careless, insolent, acquir- 
ing habits of vagrancy, manifesting little fear in indulg- 
ing their .propensity for theft, believing that under the 
guidance of disinterested councillors, they would soon 
become landed proprietors without labor, scholars with- 
out study, and the social equals of their former masters. 
For so many years the fear of a servile insurrection had 
hung over him that he instinctively tried to erect a de- 
fense against it. The officials of the Freedmen's Bureau 
had also helped to complicate the situation. For the 
most part, indiscreet army officers, often bent on their 

' Ficklen gives this number, History of Reconstrttction in Louisiana^ 176. 

' It might be noted that the following ofl&cers who figure conspicuously 
in the pages of this account were carpet-baggers: Wannoth, Kellogg, 
Lynch, McMillan, Dewees, Jacques, who will figure in the frauds of '72, 
Speaker Carr, Campbell, Packard, Dibble; 3-5000 settled in New Orleans, 
proportionally less in the parishes. 

» See Times t May 9, 1875. From the evidence I have met, I do not 
believe the feeling against them was so hostile as it became a little later 
when the South was determined to drive them out. Blaine makes a real 
point when he says, "Northern men recalled in an offensive manner the 
power that had overcome and, as they thought, humiliated them, — recalled 
it before time had made them familiar with the new order of things." 
Blaine, II., 472. 

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Before 1869 13 

own fortunes, the directors managed the work in such an 
inefficient manner that the planters found it an intoler- 
able nuisance. In the general demoralization of labor, 
the Southerner turned in despair to the legislature for 
relief and its impolitic response was the so-called ** Black 
Codes," which subjected the negro to oppressive restric- 
tions not imposed upon the whites and smacked strongly 
of the slave codes. But it is to be remembered that the 
extremely rigorous code of this State was passed before 
the dreaded holidays of 1865-6 when the negroes were 
confidently expecting Uncle Sam's gift of * 'forty acres 
and a mule.'*^ In the second place, the Gulf States had 
an element of especially vicious negroes, due to the fact 
that before the war criminals for offenses less than murder 
were traditionally sold ** South." There were, also more 
free colored persons in Louisiana than in all the other 
Southern States, negroes who were likely to have developed 
some leadership and initiative,^ but were on the average 
less intelligent than in most of the former slave States.^ 

Every effort was made by the radicals to encourage the 
negro to claim full equality with the whites, political and 
social, until by 1868 they were demanding not only the 
franchise, but mixed schools, a share in public affairs and 
even social rights. The Southerner, as has been said 
so many times, did not hate the negro, but he did not 
believe that he could rise in the scale of civilization. He 

» Nordhoff tells of a negro in St. Mary's parish who still in 1875 was 
retaining a mule halter he had purchased in anticipation of Uncle Sam's 
gift, 49- 

* It does not seem to me that Vice-President Wilson's argument that 
the experiment of negro self-government would therefore have the greatest 
chance of success {Times, Aug. 21, 1876) here is necessarily true. It would 
rather turn upon whether the leadership they would assert were vicious 
or not. 

* Due partly to the fact that they came from the large plantations where 
the civilizing contact with the white race was reduced to a minimum. 

Digitized by 


14 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

felt that most of the negroes had not sufficient intelli- 
gence to desire the franchise, and hence that it was super- 
imposed upon him. Nordhoflf declares that ** without 
whites to organize the colored vote — which means to 
mass it, to excite it, to gather the voters at barbacues, 
to carry them up with a hurra to the polls, to make 
'bolting * terrible, to appeal to the fears of the ignorant and 
the cupidity of the shrewd; without all this the negro 
will not vote.'' And it was a well-known fact that the 
"organizers'*^ were Federal officers with little else to do. 
And, in addition, the campaigns did interfere with the 
work rendered: The following passage from Nordhoflf, 
the words of the bitterest Democrat he met in the State, 
shows how direct this was: **And they work just about 
as well (as in slavery), except when some accursed poli- 
tician comes up from New Orleans with a brass band, 
and sends word, as was done last fall, that General Butler 
had ordered them all to turn out to a political meeting."^ 

Nowhere, perhaps, is this sentiment more accurately 
reflected than in a speech of Senator Ogden's in the State 
Assembly: *'Do you not know as well as I that all the 
disgust, all the anger and bitterness that arose between 
these diflferent political factions was engendered by the 
ill voices of certain politicians, who haranguing the ig- 
norant and superstitious, in private and in public, poured 
into their ears voices as poisonous as nightshade. "^ 

Negro suflfrage was the burning question, and they 
were not reconciled, even after it had become a fact, even 

* A person sent into country parishes some months before election to 
gather up the colored vote; to hold meetings, to instruct the local leaders, 
mostly preachers and teachers, and to organize the party. Nordhoff, 
67. As late as Dec., 1874, a leading negro replied to the query concern- 
ing his vote, that "they had not got the word yet." House Rpts., 43 
Cong., 2 Sess., No. loi, 89. Pinchback understood such organization and 
that gave him his strength. Ibid.f 67. 

^ Nordhoflf, 56. « Sen. Deb., 1870, 218. 

Digitized by 


Before 1869 15 

when they consented, as they did in the fall of 1868, to 
use the negro vote. But valiantly did the Democratic 
party in that election turn to win them; helped them to 
form clubs, promised protection, and offered to give 
Democratic negroes the preference in employment, en- 
listed negro orators; and often had them speak from the 
same platform as white Democrats. Yet all this was but 
for the purpose of securing white ascendency, for it was 
in this very year that the Knights of the White Camelia 
became perfected into a Federal organization, pledged to 
secure white supremacy, and to prevent political power 
from passing to the negro. The negro franchise might 
be a fact, but, if organized effort could prevent it, negro 
of3Bce-holding should not. ' The Southerner felt that the 
last scourge of defeat. Congressional reconstruction, 
was founded on falsehood and malice. He declared that 
the reports concerning outrages on negroes had been dis- 
torted and exaggerated. The only purpose he could see 
in the zeal to put the ballot in the hands of men too 
ignorant to use it without direction was to prolong party 

This hostility to the negro vote led to ingenious modes 
of reasoning to evade the results of the polls. On the 
eve of the assembling of the legislature of 1869 one of the 
city papers suggested that a certain negro Senator had 
been rendered ineligible by the adoption of a new registry 
law. As his ballot had been the casting vote which 

' Note the frank reply of a lawyer to a negro politician: *'I stand ready, 
as far as in me lies, to protect them in their rights as citizens. Here my 
friendship stops; I am not their friend when it comes to ofl&cial life. The 
colored man has just been redeemed from slavery, and in his new character 
he is unfit for office. It is an insult and outrage to place him over the 
white people as an office-holder." Granting that slavery was wrong, that 
did not prove "that you should be put into office to nm the government 
before your people have learned anything about the laws." Sen. Rpts., 
44 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 701, xxxv. 

Digitized by 


i6 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

seated another negro, the latter held his seat illegally, 
and the article closes with the pertinent query whether 
laws made by such legislators would have any validity.' 

Another factor in the social problem, unique to the 
South, was not absent from Louisiana — ^the nimierous 
"poor whites" in the northern part of the State. Living 
close to the subsistence line on the thin soil of the pine 
hills back of the bottom lands, without schools, with but 
few churches, given to rude sports and crude methods of 
farming, their ignorance and prejudice bred in them after 
the emancipation of the negro a dread of sinking to the 
social level of the blacks. The dr^ad, in turn, bred hatred, 
and it was from this class, instigated very probably by 
the class above them, that the Colfax and Coushatta 
murders^ took their tmfortunate rise. 

And still one other element, mischievous in the extreme, 
must be added to the social complex — ^men who pursued 
no occupation, but preyed on black and white alike, 
as gamblers and tenth-rate politicians, drinking and 
swaggering at the bar, always armed with knife and 
revolver, shooting negroes now and then for excitement. 
This class was recruited,' largely, from the descendants 
of the old overseer and negro-trader of ante-bellimi days. 
With just enough education to enable them to dazzle 
the negro by a political harangue, they were both dis- 
liked and feared by the decent white people. According 
to the testimony of a Northern observer, ^ the first duty of 
the Republican leaders in Louisiana was **to hang them 
by the dozen." And it was just because they were not 
crushed out, except so far as the respectable conservative 
could combat them, that Louisiana had to endure such 
a drawn-out purgatory before she was reconstructed. 

« Commercial Bulletin, Jan. 4, 1869. 

^ See, this volume, Chapters XI. and XII. 

» NordhoflE, 18. 

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Before 1869 17 

Economically the State presented no better view. 
Louisiana had suffered particularly from the war, as a part 
of her soil had been held by Federal troops through a great 
part of the conflict, and the plantations had been drained, 
in consequence, of a large part of their labor. Taxable 
property had been reduced almost two-thirds. The re- 
turning rebel found his plantation in the worst possible 
state of repair, or his title subject to dispute tmder the 
confiscation laws, while much had been seized by treasury 
agents or dishonest speculators. He turned, in the 
absence of capital, labor, currency, to the one thing he 
knew — ^the raising of cotton. Even here he had to adjust 
himself to a complete change of system from fixed, forced 
labor to payments at set times or planting on shares where 
he was at the mercy of his planter. It cannot be charged, 
on the whole, that the planter drove unjust bargains.^ 
If the negro suffered, it was at the hands of the poor, small 
farmers, as ignorant as the negro himself. But a blighted 
crop in 1866 was followed the next year by an almost 
complete failure, while the Mississippi exacted the penalty 
of neglected, broken levees by a devastating flood. Only 
in 1868 did the planters obtain an average crop in the 
great staples. Grinding necessity, as well as the remorse- 
less political ostracism, drove the better class into indiffer- 
ence to public concerns and engrossment in their private 
affairs. Moreover, ignorant, tmprincipled legislation bred 
a certain temporary apathy even to their own interests. 

Already the finances of the State were in a sad condition. 

* It was NordhoflE*s opinion in 1875 that few laborers as ignorant as the 
average plantation hand could do as well anywhere else in the world, 21. 
NordhoflE was a young German immigrant who visited Louisiana as re- 
porter for the New York Herald^ and published his impressions after an in- 
vestigation which bears every mark of care and fairness. One can 
scarcely accuse him of Southern bias when one reads: "I have been op- 
posed to slavery ever since I sat on my father's knee and was taught by 
him that slavery was the greatest possible wrong," 49. 

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i8 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

Back taxes were in arrears, possibly, as was charged, 
because the property owners were organized in opposition 
to the existing government, ' but more probably because 
they were unable to pay. It did not help the situation 
that few filling State positions were tax-payers.^ By 
January 19, 1869, only about one-tenth of the amount of 
the city taxes for the preceding year had been collected.^ 

Inability to get in the taxes, resulted, naturally, in 
inability on the part of the State to meet its obligations. 
It had been fotmd necessary in September, 1868, to levy 
a special one per cent tax to provide for the payment of 
the past due coupons on the bonds of the State, outstand- 
ing warrants, certificates of indebtedness, and convention 
warrants. -• It was not even able to pay the interest on 
current debts and so it was necessary for the legislature 
early in 1869 to empower the governor and treasurer to 
negotiate a loan to meet such approaching obligations. ^ 
Of course, credit had suflFered in consequence tmtil by 
October, 1868, bonds were selling in the market at forty- 
seven cents on the dollar. Certain levee bonds had 
stmk so low at one time as to be sold for thirty and even 
twenty-five cents. ^ A motion offered in the House in the 
session of 1869 that not less than fifty cents be accepted 
is sufficiently illuminating. ^ Many State officials were 
paid by warrants and suflFered, except where the Assembly 
favored the recipient, as in the case of the executive and 
its own members, the loss of the difference between their 
face value and the market value. 

Loans were negotiated only with the greatest difficulty 
and on exceedingly hard terms. On November i, i868> 

' Such a charge was made by a member in the House. 

* Herbert says that ten paid taxes, Why the Solid South, 401. 

» Commercial Bulletin, Jan. 19, 1869. 

< Laws of Louisiana, 1868, No. 114. * Ihid., 1869, No. 48, 

•House Deb., 1869, 393. -> Ihid., 287. 

Digitized by 


Before 1869 ^9 

the interest on $2,000,000 of levee bonds was to fall due 
without means to meet it. Hence, a new loan of $100,000 
was necessary, but it was secured only for the short period 
of ninety days at seven per cent with the privilege of 
the purchase of one hundred of these bonds at sixty cents 
by the loaner. At about the same time a commission 
was sent to New York to sell 1300 State bonds. They 
found a general distrust of all Southern securities, but 
especially of those of Louisiana. Its bonds were not 
quoted on the stock exchange, and the only oflfer on the 
street was of a lot at fifty-two cents which foimd no 
buyers. The commission at last had to accept fifty-one 
and one quarter cents and, as a preliminary condition, had 
to agree that provision should be made for the payment 
of interest on all bonds due in January and February of 
1869.' Naturally, such loans were secured only at great 
additional expense. The ninety-day loan cost over 
$3700, while the sale of the 3100 bonds motmted up tp 
$2213, $1000 of which went to pay the cost of the trip of 
the three commissioners." The necessity of paying by 
warrant involved a loss to the State not only directly,^ 
but in the depression of State credit. 

An attitude of extravagance and corruption was al- 
ready becoming apparent in the State administration. 
The Senate at the close of its session in 1868 authorized 
twelve committees to sit between sessions. Practically 
every Senator sat on some committee and each member 
drew pay for twenty-six days, amounting to $34,620.40 

' House Deb., 1869, 43-4. The lack of faith in Southern bonds was 
partly due to the unsettled condition, but also to the fact that just before 
the war many Southern States had repudiated their debts — an action later 
to be repeated. 


»One member asserted that $75,000 was thrown away in 1869 by 
the sale of the warrants on the streets to pay members. Ihid,^ 1870, 15. 

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20 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

besides $15,000 for clerks.' One committee alone drew 
between $16,000 and $17,000. Money was doubly squan- 
dered by one committee, which drew pay for its time 
and pay for witnesses who were never examined." And 
one clerk is quoted as having had time to serve on three 
committees and drawing warrants for four.^ But this 
corruption did not come to light until the Assembly had 
entered upon its labors of 1869. 

» Sen. Journal, 1870, 12. 

" Lowell testifies: "I can show that the greatest fraud ever perpetrated 
was the action of the Senate Committee on Election, whose clerk went out 
on the streets and coaxed men to come into the committee-room to act as 
witnesses in order that he might get half the fees. I state further that 
witness after witness has been paid by the Senate Election Committee who 
never gave one hour's testimony." House Deb., 1869, 12-13. 


Digitized by VrrOOQlC 

A Carpet-ba^ Legislature in Session 

THE general character of the work done in the 
Louisiana Assembly during the sessions of 1869 
and 1870 was distinctly inferior; the tone of the 
debate low; and the conduct paralleled only in the worst 
of the reconstruction legislatures. The ignorance of the 
members does not appear glaringly in the records of 1869, 
for the more ilUterate did not engage in the debate, cer- 
tainly did not venture upon lengthy addresses. It is 
only occasionally that we are appalled by the dense 
ignorance revealed, as when the colored legislator Burrel 
broke out into a mass of incoherent repetitions in defense 
of the St. Charles pavement bill. ^ 

The debate was distinctly partisan. The following 
outburst, provoked by the debate on the militia bill, is 
suflBdently suggestive: 

Is it possible that men in broad daylight will say that we 
should not call on the Republican party to give security to 
the people ? That we receive this amendment that men should 

* "The city of New Orleans will be what we intend to make it, and we 
intend to m^e this city bloom as the rose, and we intend to enhance and 
increase this city of New Orleans, and we intend to open every by-road, 
and this very bill is going to make the city bigger, and we are going to pass 
this act. We intend not only to l^fislate for the city of New Orleans, but 
to stamp our record upon the door of this House of Representatives, so 
it will remain a century of years," etc. House Debates, 1869, 359-6o; 


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22 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

be organized into a militia, that will call every disttirbance 
of the peace a *' nigger insurrection"? Men should prove 
that they are loyal before they can be trusted to go into the 
militia. This amendment ought to be dammed by this 
House. What, this democracy to be organized into a militia 
to execute Andrew Johnson's policy! This amendment is 
full of deviltry.' 

On another occasion even the speaker stated as a good 
reason why a certain bill should pass that the board to 
be affected by it were all good Republicans. The bill 
promptly passed.^ January 19 a cool resolution was 
offered that the persons voted for in the parishes where 
a fair election had been held, the twenty-six parishes where 
the Democrats had had a majority being calmly ignored, 
should meet to vote for President and Vice-President.^ 
It is significant, however, that sharply drawn as was the 
party line, the sectional feeling manifested was distinctly 
pro-Southern. When a measure was offered for a contri- 
bution to a Lincoln Montunent, few spoke for it, while 
most felt it frankly impossible that the South could be 
expected to contribute. -• On the other hand, when the 
appeal to help bury the Confederate dead at Fredericks- 
burg came up the following session, even such a hot- 
headed Unionist as Mr. McMillan spoke reverently in 
advocacy of the appropriation. ^ 

But worse than partisanship was the lack of dignity, 
even frivolity, which characterized the proceedings. So 
serious did this become that the speaker was frequently 
forced to call the members to order for their senseless 

* House Debates, 1869, no. 

'Ibid,, 354- 

« New Orleans Commercial BuUeHn, Jan. 22, 1869. 

< House Debates, 1869, 389. 

5/Wd., 1870, 287. See also Campbell's speech, Sen. Deb., 679. 

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A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 23 

motions and tone of levity. ' Amendments were repeat- 
edly refused by the chair as absurd' and even improper. 
It was proposed to add to the oath required by the school 
bill, ** shall take whiskey straight without regard to race,^ 
color, or previous condition.*' ^ Some, when ordered read 
to satisfy the curiosity of the House, proved even indecent. ^ 
The greatest discourtesy on the part of one member to 
another prevailed, while even the president of the Senate 
was guilty of recognizing a Senator in the following im- 
dignified way : * * Well, just pitch in. * ' One member cried : 
"I don't know what he is going to talk about. I don't 
wish to hear him talk at all, and I therefore call for the 
previous question. "^ Because one member read his 
speech, another called out rudely, ** There's that document 
again." Or again, **I move the gentleman be allowed to 
speak all night. He occupies the floor more than any 
other member of this House. "^ Freedom of speech both 
as to time and language and wordy altercations made 
confusion and tumult almost the rule in both houses 

» "The gentleman from Lafourche has spoken of bribery. Now, there 
is another absurdity, for a member gave him a cigar for a bribe, but he 
did not offer me one. " House Debates, 1869, 126. And ** I rise to a point 
of order — ^this bill is a swindle" 264. Again, a member proposed in all 
seriousness that the House adjourn in respect to the recent marriage of 
one of its members. When the speaker objected to such levity, he re- 
torted: "It is a very serious event for the gentleman from St. Charles." 
Ibid., 135. Another member rose to make the point of order that "the 
committee had no dignity," 264. 

' On the immigration bill the following irrelevant amendments were 

That 2000 shall be Chinese and 1000 Arabs. 

That a thousand thugs of India be included. 

" I move to include 500 monkeys." 

That the company bring over half the population of Europe. 

Ibid., 1870, 281. 
»/W(f., 1869, 242. 

*Ibid,, 1869, 112; Sen. Deb., 1870, 771, 749. 
ilbid., 1870, 178, ^Ibid., 149. 

Digitized by 


24 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

until such a remark as the following was possible: **I 
hope the Sergeant-at-arms will call to his assistance a 
suflBcient number of the Metropolitan Police to keep 
' order and to see whether we cannot have silence, and 
quiet, and stillness to hear what is going on,'* while the 
president weakly added, **It is really a shame that we 
cannot have better order." ^ It frequently became neces- 
sary for the chair to order the sergeant to seat obstreperous 
members and to threaten public censure.^ In at least 
one instance the threat was executed.^ Carter even 
boldly said of the speaker, **I must say that the man 
who knows the facts of this case, as he said he did, and 
is acquainted with the law, and then says that I am a de- 
faulter, is either a fool or tmadulterated liar.*' Then less 
vehemently, **I will be square and honest and polite to 
you all, but I will be hanged if I am to be bulljnragged, 
and I'll be switched if I am to be ridden over by the 
Speaker or anybody else."^ 

Reprobate and scoundrel that he proved to be. Speaker 
Carrs had a certain power of command, which made it 
possible for him to control the House. Whenever he 
called anyone else to the chair, the House broke into 
disorder like a set of unruly schoolboys, leaving him 
problems to disentangle on his return. Legislators in- 
dulged in pranks such as withdrawing a member's chair 
while he was speaking in order that his fall should convulse 
the House. ^ So notorious was the disorder that one 

* House Deb., 1869, 139; 1870, 191, 231.* Sen. Deb., 1870, 705. 

* Sen. Deb., 1870, 639-40. House Deb., 1871, 87, where the gentleman 
from Orleans declared that he would not come to order, and did not heed 
the sergeant. 

* House Deb., 1869, 294. ^Ihid,, 1871, 90. 

5 Carr had come from Maryland in 1865, was now twenty-six or 
twenty-seven years old, shrewd and wily in the extreme. House Misc. 
Docs., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 217. 

* Crescent, Jan. 26, 1869. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 25 

member acknowledged as a well-known fact that gentle- 
men came from the North to see what kind of a House 
they had. The speaker found it difficult to hear the 
motions, while over and over again the reporter inserted 
in the debates ** confusion" and a statement to the effect 
that, owing to the disorder, he had lost part of the speech. 
The pages, who made as much noise **as a lot of young 
colts, dodging about the floor, standing up, talking and 
laughing all the time,*' according to the speaker, added 
to the disturbance.^ It would be difficult to read the 
pages that record the proceedings on the 30th of January, 
1869, without feeling convinced that the open bar, which 
it was charged was to be found at the capitol, had had its 
due effect. ^ The last evening closed fittingly with a mock 
session, when, as the debates assure us, "the members 
had a good time, and the reign of fun prevailed for a few 

Low as was the tone dtuing the second session of the 
Assembly, it degenerated even lower by the time the 
Assembly gathered for the third time. Debate descended 
more often to vulgarity^ and bad grammar and rhetoric 
came to the surface more often. « 

Mr. President, I have not expressed on none of these bills 
termed political bills, but, as the gentleman who preceded 
me from Orleans has not entirely represented me, I claim on 
this floor the privilege. In the first place, he says we have 

* House Deb., 1871, 135-6. 

^ Ibid,, 1869, 111-12. The following statement of the q)eaker estab- 
lishes the fact for 1871 clearly: **I will not allow while I am speaker of 
the House, to have spirituous liquors brought into the House. I must 
maintain the dignity of this House, if the House will not maintain its own 
dignity. I do not desire such a thing shall be done again." Ibid., 1871, 

ilbid., 1869,524. 

4 Senate Deb., 1870, 222-3. 

< See speech on the constabulary bill, ibid., 223-4. 

Digitized by 


26 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

elected a demagogue, — or some such word. ... I say on 
the other hand, if the way that he holds to that he has done 
what he proposes that he should have done, it is because the 
Democratic members on this floor, when some bills were 
introduced in this House, opposed them bills, and they did 
not become laws ... I do not know what done it, except it 
was their own classes — except it was someone that stood in 
the ranks in the days of old.' 

It was of a legislature which assembled only a year 
later that Eustis told his famous story: ** There was a 
member of Parliament brought me a letter of introduction, 
and he asked me if I had any great curiosity to show him. 
I told him I had — such a curiosity as he would never see 
in any other civilized country, and I took him to the 

In methods of procedure gross irregularities occurred 
as a result of carelessness or deliberate manipulation until 
the procedure occasionally became a mere travesty of the 
forms of government. Wiltz in the House charged that 
he was never notified to attend a single meeting of the 
Committee on the City Charter of which he was a 
member. 3 A bill was declared on third reading when 
the House had refused to engross it and had ordered it 
placed on the calendar. An interested member detected 
the irregularity . 4 A member of the Ways and Means 
Committee charged that the revenue bill had been re- 
turned when only two members had been present to act 
on it. 5 One striking offense was the extraordinary om- 
nibus motion put and carried amid boisterous laughter 
late on the evening of February 23: **I move that the 

» Sen. Deb., 1870, 222-3. 

^ House Misc. Doc, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 534. Note also the 
opinion of Nordhoff, prejudiced for negro rights. He was "unpleasantly 
startled," not because they were black, but because they were so trans- 
parently ignorant and unfit, 49* 

« House Deb., 1870, 236. 4 Ibid., 1870, 345. « Ibid., 326. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag I^egislature in Session 27 

reading of the bill be dispensed with, the bill be put upon 
its first reading, the constitutional rule be suspended, the 
bill be put upon its second and third readings and final 
passage, the title adopted, and that the bill be sent to 
the Senate for concurrence. ' ' ^ One member remonstrated 
at what he properly termed an ** extraordinary proceed- 
ing.'* **The Governor has sent in a veto of some bills, 
and in his message has given very grave reasons for so 
doing. Now, sir, I want to see the bills. I don't know 
them at all. They were ordered to be printed this 
morning, and now the House desires to take up those bills, 
involving millions of dollars, without ever giving the 
members an opportunity to make themselves acquainted 
with their provisions.*'* Another member was excused 
from voting on a bill, which he insisted on hearing read, 
only after the following declaration of independence: 
"I will throw myself back upon my reserved rights, and 
I will not vote, and the House may take, with all respect, 
the course they may think proper. "^ 

Even the speaker acted on one occasion without know- 
ing what the forms were canying through, for, on the 
query of a member as to the nature of the bill under de- 
bate, he replied: ''Something about taxes. The gentleman 
from Orleans moves it be referred to the Committee on 
Ways and Means." It was so referred.-* 

The powerful majority did not even manifest the 
ordinary courtesies of debate to the minority, but replied 
coldly to the very reasonable plea of the opposition for 
more time on an important bill: "It seems to be the 
disposition of the committee to work further."^ By dis- 

« House Deb., 1869, 331. ^ Ibid,, 1871, 7-8. 

» Ibid., 200. < Ibid,, 1869, 204. * 

ilbid,, 1870, 78. Mr. McMillan characterized this spirit as follows: 

"That the House will pass ft, I am convinced, for there is always something 

peculiar in the air which tells me when a bill of this character is sure of being 

put through, and I feel the breath of that air distinctly at this moment, 268. 

Digitized by 


28 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

pensing with the reading of the bill and various other 
devices to gain time, bills were often crowded through to 
adoption at a single sitting. ^ Under the operation of the 
previous question, debate was peremptorily cut oflE until 
one member indignantly cried out: **It is impossible to 
sit here and see the funds of the State voted away without 
an opportunity to remonstrate against it.'** 

Charges of corruption were brought against members 
of the Assembly not only by the press ^ and by the 
leading citizens of the State, but charges were openly 
brought on the floor of the House. In the debate on 
the Ship Island Canal bill the remark was dropped that 
some people thought there were millions of dollars in 
that bill, and similar charges were made in regard to many 
other bills. -* One member even boldly challenged another : 
**I want to know how much the gentleman gets to support 
this bill."* That unnecessary clerks were employed 
seems incontrovertible when the House decided that the 
auditor might employ six clerks to do the work which 
had always been performed by two or three. So noto- 
rious became the corruption in many directions that the 
House felt it obUgatory to appoint committees of investi- 
gation, even though one member contemned the charges 
as beneath their dignity. The wording of one resolution 

* House Deb., 1869, 330. ^ Ibid,, 264. 

3 "Such influence we all know has been exerted for personal aggrandize- 
ment and to such an extent that in point of fact the General Assembly 
was actually turned into a machine for the advancement of the individual 
interests of its leaders." Bee, Jan. 24, 1869. See also Commercial 
Bulletin, Feb. 6, 22. 

< Charges of bribery were brought in connection with the penitentiary 
bill, the slaughter house bill, and Chattanooga Railroad bill. The bold- 
est charge came out on the paving bill; "I know who are lobbying this 
bill, and know the men they are using, and state upon the floor of this 
committee that this is simply for the benefit of that very man, and for the 
benefit of the lobbyists." Ibid., 357-8. 

< House Deb., 1869, 72. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 29 

offered in the House early in January of 1869 reveals a 
whole tale: ** Resolved, that the President of the Board 
of Metropolitan Police be directed to furnish this House 
with the names of any members who have been employed 
as special officers, and tmder what assimied names they 
drew their salaries for such services/' ' The debates 
bring out the fact that two or, possibly, four members 
were laboring tmder such charge.* Likewise, the House 
became exercised over a complaint that members serving 
on different House committees were also employed in 
the custom-house and drawing a salary from each source. ^ 
The Assembly was not slow to put on foot investigations 
of other bodies, for corruption seems already to have 
vitiated most departments of the government and the 
institutions connected with it.^ 

Although the finances of the State were calling for the 
most skillful liandling, the legislative body acted without 
even the most ordinary business prudence. While the 
time limit for the payment of the city taxes and for the 
collection of the special one per cent tax levied in Septem- 
ber, 1868, had to be extended*; while the credit was so 
weak that it was found necessary to enforce under penal- 
ties the acceptance of the State warrants for licenses and 
taxes by the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson, and Bernard; 
while the State was in such straits that an annual tax 
became necessary to pay the interest on bonds ^; and 
legislators were being put to the embarrassment of being 

* House Jour., 1870, 21. 

^ House Deb., 1870, 10. * House Jour., 1870, 46. 

4 Committees were appointed to investigate if bribery had been used 
in the appointment of officers of the Insane Asyltmi, the sale of levee bonds, 
the school-money, the defalcation of the Land Registrar, the councilmen 
of Jefiferson City, the Metropolitan Police Commissioners, and Board of 
Public Works. 

5 Session Laws of Louisiana, 1869, Nos. 10, 88. 
^Ibid., 1869, No. 66. 

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30 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

told that the Waterworks Company had suspended the 
water until they should pay their bill, ^ they were voting 
themselves their pay with a generous hand and squander- 
ing State funds in sheer extravagance. They early ^ 
manifested anxiety for their pay, appropriating $250,000 
in 1869, $500,000 in 1870, for the mileage and per diem of 
members and clerks. ^ Their selfishness took the form in 
1869 of instructing the warrant clerks to sell the war- 
rants at their market value in order to pay the members 
in currency,^ and in 1870, of giving their warrants the 
preference. Their attitude toward themselves is perhaps 
illuminating in explaining their actions. One member 
had insisted that they ought to accept their money in 
warrants, **in which form the government pays the* 
community," when another angrily retorted, **I desire 
to assure him of the very important fact that what we, 
as the Legivslature, give to the commimity ... is with- 
out money and without price. They are so valuable 
that the price cannot be fixed — there is no standard.*'^ 
And another member naively wants to know if he does not 
consider the General Assembly the State. Even more 
telling is the following exhortation of a member to the 
House : ' * I would like to know if there is a great thing and 
a good thing, in the name of God, why not let the Repre- 
sentatives of the State of Louisiana have a hand in it.'*^ 

' Sen. Deb., 1870, 771. 

* In 1869, t^e appropriation bill passed the House Jan. 7, the Senate 
Jan. 12; in 1870, it passed the House Jan. 10, the Senate Jan. 12. 

3 Session Laws, 1869, No. 15; 1870, Nos. 2, 49. 

4 Ibid., No. 52. The governor, unwilling to veto this bill, allowed it 
to become law by expiration of the time limit. Herbert says the over- 
issue of vouchers forced these warrants down to two and one half cents 
ini87i, 403. 

s House Deb., 1870, 22. 

^Ibid.f 1869, 122. The speaker of 1871 considered that he had used 
his patronage very sparingly when he gave "three or four indigent friends 
places as messengers and clerks." Ibid,, 1871, 136. 

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A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 31 

Small extravagances helped to swell the total cost of 
this Assembly to $264,278.06. " There were certain items 
in the general appropriation bill which look unneces- 
sarily large. When a mere clerk of a district court re- 
ceived a salary of $6000, and the rental of a building for 
a state house cost $13,000 for nine months; when the 
always elastic clause for contingent expenses was stretched 
to $16,000; when printing and advertising mounted up 
to $183,000, the people might well begin to question and 
murmur. A bit of sarcasm was unconsciously incorpo- 
rated in the printing appropriation of 1870 when a motion 
to substitute $200,000 for the original $140,000, asking 
some of these liberal-hearted gentlemen to open their 
hearts a little wider and take in every official journal of 
the State, was adopted.* The interest alone on bonds 
issued to railroads is probably accurate enough, but had 
reached the terrifying simi of $461,014.14. The only 
spasm of economy which the House suffered during the 
entire session of 1869 was really a pick at the police, 
when a few minor officials were struck oflE or reduced in 
salary. 3 

The law which was to provide the income seemed to 
bear no relation to the expenditures. Unwisely wasting 
their time on a bill to enforce collection of taxes already 
paid to the Confederacy, ^ they rushed the revenue bill 
through with a haste which explains its inadequacy. 
Urged by the Committee on Ways and Means to accept 
its work as complete, even the reading was dispensed with, 
and the act, which was referred to in a later session as a 
disgrace, « adopted by the House without discussion on 
the evening of March 3.^ A clause which provoked the 

* House Jour., 1870, 62; Sen. Jour., 19-20. It was proposed to allow 
the chairman of each standing committee in the House $5 extra per day. 

* Sen. Deb., 1870, 845. a House Deb., 1869, 225. 

*Ibid., 17. iJbid., 1870, 83. ^Ibid., 484. 

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32 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

greatest criticism was one licensing gambling-houses, 
which appeared in the published bill and came up for a 
perfect storm of debate in the session of 1870. The 
chairman of the committee stated that it had not been in 
the original law, and that he believed it had been sur- 
reptitiously introduced after it had been acted upon by 
the House.' Moreover, a bill which made no provision 
for the interest on the debt, which made an appropria- 
tion for an institution which did not exist, ^ and which 
failed to meet the liabilities of the State by $500,000,^ 
indicated business financiering which sooner or later 
must bring the State to bankruptcy. 

And just when the finances called for a policy of re- 
trenchment was the time when the legislature saw fit to 
embark on a system of extensive internal improvements. 
As has been remarked by many reconstruction writers, 
there was a conscious purpose to introduce in the South 
the energy and methods of the North and West in the 
hope of similar economic results. It was recognized by 
the conservatives that introduction of new railroads was 
necessary for economic rehabilitation. But it must not 
be forgotten that the sable statesmen who were called 
upon to ponder problems of high finance were ex-slaves 
who had had the experience of a porter's tips or the extra 
half-dollars of a plantation-hand. Of the numerous 
bills of that nature introduced, a considerable number 
passed, lending State aid with a liberal hand. 

The enterprises were chiefly of three kinds: canals, 
railroads, and the ever-pressing levees. The Mississippi 
and Mexican Gulf Ship Canal Company profited by this 
spirit to the extent of $600,000, issued in the form of State 
bonds under a first mortgage, running the generous 

* Session Laws, 1869, No. 114, Sec. 3,* 30; House Deb., 1870, 9. 
^ Sen. Deb., 1870, 848. 
» House Deb., 1870, 313. 

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A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 33 

period of thirty years'; the New Orieans and Ship Island 
Canal Company to the extent of $2,000,000 and a large 
bonus in lands. ^ The House did not find it necessary 
to debate at any great length the measure which legislated 
away the former sum,^ but far otherwise was the history 
of the latter act. Introduced into the session of 1868, 
it had been thoroughly discussed in the Senate and passed 
by that body and came up in the House in 1869 as tm- 
finished business. Its objectionable features had not 
been so clear while passing the Senate, but by the next 
session it had been thoroughly aired by the press.-* It 
declared the system of the Drainage Commissioners of 
the Metropolitan District ** erroneous in principle and 
unsuccessful from experience,'* and so gave over into the 
possession of the new Canal Company all the funds and 
assets of the commissioners to the amount of nearly 
$2,000,000 and public lands in installments to the extent 

'Session Laws, 1869, No. 116. The company drew $36,000 in bonds 
and was then merged with another company for a different purpose; and 
fell into the hands of a man who in 1875 was doing drainage at a cost 
100% higher than responsible citizens were ready to accept. 

^ Ibid,, No, $1. 

5 House Deb., 1869, 266. 

* "But why dwell further on a scheme the whole aim and purpose of 
which is to speculate, for individual or associate profit, at the expense 
of the people? What more need be said to demonstrate its impractica- 
bility — ^its utter disregard of the interests, the welfare, the health, and 
happiness of this community, and the unscrupulous motives and purpose 
of its designers and advocates." Picayune, Jan. 7, 1869. Jan. 22, it ad- 
vocated government aid to railroads and denounced the ship canal as an 
iniquitous project — wild and visionary. 

"It is susceptible of proof that certificates of stock in this wildcat 
speculation have been freely distributed among members of the legisla- 
ture and others, for the purpose of influencing their votes in favor of this 
impudent proposition. Not only this but the principal individual whose 
name heads the list of corporators has boasted of the cheap rate at which 
our new legislature hold themselves." Bee, Jan. 27, 1869. See also the 
Picayune of Jan. 7 and Feb. 10, the Commercial Bulletin of Jan. 11, 25, 
Feb. 12, New Orleans Times, Jan. 23. 

Digitized by 


34 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

of 400,000 acres, on the ground that this canal would 
accompUsh the drainage of the entire district. As this 
fund had been raised by assessment for the special purpose 
of drainage, the opposition held that it could not thus be 
diverted. But, nevertheless, this bill was pressed through 
the House January 29,^ under heated personal debate, 
extending through several days, and after having suffered 
much amendment. Although vetoed by the governor, 
it passed both houses with the requisite majority March 
2.^ Smaller sums were donated to minor enterprises, 
as $50,000 for the improvement of Loggy Bayou; $20,000 
for improving Bayou VermiUon^; and $80,000 worth of 
credit loaned to the Boeuf and Crocodile Navigation 

Aid to railroads was equally liberal. In its zeal the 
House on February 23, without the ^-eading of the bill, 
pushed through all its stages the incorporation of the 
Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad Company, granted 
it exemption from taxfation for ten 5rears, a right of way 
three himdred feet in width, and the privilege of all the 
timber for one mile on each side of the road through 
the public lands. ^ But of all the railroad bills, by far the 
most conspicuous was that which extended a helping 
hand to the New Orleans, Mobile, and Chattanqpga 

» House Deb., 1869, 106. 

^ The Assembly of 1870 granted further aid against great opposition in 
the form of drainage taxes, amounting to about $2,000,000 per year. 
Session Laws, 1870, No. 4. Extra Session. This law was passed despite 
the complaint that in two years not a spadeful of earth had been dug, noth- 
ing done but the purchase for cash or credit of a dredge-boat. Sen. Deb., 
1870, 751. 

3 Session Laws, 1869, No. 147. It is interesting that even this early 
the wiser of the legislators were turning to the Federal government for 
help on their problem of bayous and levees. 

4 Ibid,, No. 146. 

^Ihid,, No. 140. Its achievement was the removal of twenty sttmips, 
people complained. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 35 

Road. It came up in the House February 4 and was 
pressed to a final vote that very afternoon and its amend- 
ments concurred in by the Senate February 14.^ The 
bill provided for the guarantee of the company's bonds 
by the State under the security of a second mortgage 
to the amount of $12,500 for each mile within the State 
west of New Orleans. ^ Parishes along the route of the 
Vicksb.urg Railroad were encouraged to aid that road by 
the purchase of stock or the issue of bonds, in addition 
to the State guarantee of its second mortgage bonds to the 
usual amount of $12,500 per mile. ^ Still other roads had 
found it worth while to besiege the legislature. 

The great problem . of improvement • most urgently 
pressing was not adequately met — ^the construction of a 
satisfactory series of levees for the Mississippi River. 
A State loan of $4,000,000 had been provided for in 1867 
for that purpose but the bonds had not been readily dis- 
posed of.^ The Board of Levee Commissioners had made 
contracts for a large amount of work but the legislature 
of 1869 foimd no work accomplished — only the bonds of 
the State pledged for work authorized to be done — and 
so was placed under the necessity of authorizing the sale 
of the bonds. « The House made a valiant effort to meet 
the problem in the passage of a bill to issue bonds to the 
sum of $5,000,000 to provide means for the construction, 
repairs, and maintenance of the levees and other works 
of improvement, but the effort died there. ^ 

* It must have been this date because it vanishes from the record after 
the 1 2th and the record of this one day is missing in the files of the paper. 
For the record of the Senate for 1869 we are dependent on the report in 
the Commercial Bulletin, no journal nor Senate debates being extant. 

^ Laws of Louisiana, 1869, No. 26. 

3 Session Laws, 1869, Nos. 143, 145. 

4/6id., 1867, No. 115. ^Ibid., No. 123. 

< House Deb., 1869, 446. It was eloquently and lengthily debated on 
March i. Ibid,, 399-429. 

Digitized by 


36 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

A lack of discrimination characterized the action of 
the Assembly on this subject. To aid all projects just 
because they savored of prosperity would seem to express 
the attitude of some thoughtless legislators. **I am glad 
that I have one more chance for internal improvement," 
generously declared one member. ^ Again, a project for the 
northern part of the State was advocated that no charge 
of partiality to the Southern part should be brought.* 
Nor is it fair to lay all the burden of debt arising from 
these grants of aid at the door of the radicals. It was 
rather a response to a universal desire for an extension of 
railroads and improvement of the waterways of the 
State, voiced by the moderate conservative press as well 
as the radical. "It is noteworthy as a sign fraught 
with good promise,'* says the Commercial Bulletin, **that 
the railroad spirit is alive in the Northern parishes of this 
State, and that those whom it inspires are evidently 
bent on the qarly accomplishment of substantial results.*'^ 
In like strain the Crescent concerning the work of the 
Chattanooga Railroad: **It is certainly to be hoped that 
we shall soon have direct railroad communications with 
Mobile, and that all efforts to prevent the consummation 
of so desirable an object will fail.*'^ But the Picayune, 
while on the whole encouraging the measures, was more 
conservative and urged that promises of aid be few, 
"unless they are of certain and undoubted practicability 

« House Deb., 380. 

* "We have passed a bill to-day for Claiborne Parish, and where is the 
consistency of refusing to aid improvements in the parish of Lafourche?" 
House Deb., 1869, 381. Senator Ray declared it one of the "fundamental 
principles of my political theory that the State of Louisiana ought to aid 
all the works of internal improvement that appear to be beneficial." Sen. 
Deb., 1870, 627. 

3 Commercial Btdletin, Sept. 21, 1869. See also the same paper, same 
date, for agitation of opening of the southwest pass. 

4 Jan. 3. See also issues of Jan. 26, 29, 30. This paper failed in 
September of that year. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 37 

and profitableness, and are secure beyond all peril of 
loss.*'^ Such measures were supported by members of 
both parties, often introduced by Democrats, in every 
case supported by a large majority of Democrats in both 
houses.^ The leaving movers, outside of the legislature, 
of these bills were men of both parties; and the lobbyists 
who advanced the corrupt measures were of both faiths.^ 
This fact was admitted by the Democratic press. ^ 

The legislature of 1869, with which the Commercial 
Bulletin sourly assured its readers the people wanted as 
little as possible to do, convened January 4 and sat 
until March 4. The governor's annual message to it, 
a plea for freedom from prejudice, struck a tone of opti- 
mism which subsequent events did not justify: "The 
issues of the past eight years have been settled, we hope, 
forever. Slavery has been swept away, and along with 
it all the train of evils growing out of its wickedness, and 
has left us — master and slave, white and black — ^with the 
same rights under the law, the same chance to succeed in 
life, and with equally unrestricted aspirations and hopes." 

« Jan. 23. 

^Warmoth adduces proof of these statements. House Misc. Doc., 
42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 285. 

3 In the State bond bill were implicated some of the most respectable 
distinguished Democratic leaders of the State. House Misc. Doc., 42 
Cong., 2 Sess., 333. See Scott's testimony which shows a written contract 
between the bankers of New Orleans and certain lobby brokers, by which 
several millions of dollars were to be paid for getting a measure through 
which failed. Ibid, 

4 "That there were 'rings' formed in both houses of the legislature for 
the sole and express purpose of blackmailing the people and plimdering 
the treasury of the State, is perhaps a lamentable and humiliating fact. 
That there are men of both parties engaged in this disgraceful proceeding 
— ^men who would sell out their birthright for a mess of pottage, may also 
be true." Quoted from the Crescent in a Congressional document. 

The Bee says, Feb. 17, 1869, being reproached with accusing Democrats 
of joining in the corruption: "It was only yesterday that one of their 
own number, in our hearing, confessed the trutii of the charge." 

Digitized by 


38 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

He professed faith in a "wise, economical, moderate, 
and firm administration of the nation and the State as 
curing animosities and bringing prosperity to the people." 
That portion of his message which alluded to the 
violence of 1868 and to his measures to allay the 
excitement was severely challenged by the Democratic 
press. ^ 

The Assembly during the two months of its existence 
passed 152 laws, many of which were local, many personal 
relief bills. ^ There was beginning to be apparent that 
tendency to vest autocratic power in the hands of the 
. governor, which reached, as we shall see, such a culmina- 
tion in the next session. In some instances, it is true, 
the propositions could not muster sufficient strength to 
pass the Assembly, but it is significant that such proposi- 
tions could be offered as Ray's amendment to the charter 
bill for New Orleans, which suggested vesting in the 
Governor power to appoint the first mayor and council 
until the election in 1872, and the amendment to the 

' Annual Cyclopedia, 1869, 394* The Bee dismissed it with the following 
terse comment: "Nous n'assomerons pas nos lecteurs de cette prose peu 
int^ressante. Une analyse succincte sufl&ra poiir leur faire connattre ce 
que dit M. Warmoth. . . . Apr^ avoir distill^ son venin, le gouvemeur 
aborde les affaires s^rieuses." Jan. 5. The Abeille or Bee hsid ETighsh. 
pages at this time, a fact which accounts for both English and French 

The Crescent was no more kindly: "This portion of the message is 
strictly and narrowly partisan, a tissue of bold, unqualified assertions and 
of self-evident exaggerations which would be indecent even in a campaign 
document; a weak but spiteful jumble of accusatory phrases in which 
there is but a single pretense to an argument, and that so puerile and 
idiotic in its fallacy as to be simply ridiculous. " Jan. 5. 

"The Governor applies harsh terms to our people. He attributes to 
them all the violence which may have existed in the State. Does he 
really think that he himself and his associates have had nothing to do with 
this excitement? Have the publications made by Republican papers, 
speakers, and writers contributed nothing to these troubles?" New 
Orleans Commercial Bulletin, Jan. 7, 1869. 

* Session Laws, 1869, Nos. 23, 27, 31, 33, 34, 41, 64, etc. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 39 

volunteer militia bill, which left to him large discretion- 
ary powers.' The act which prohibited the mayor of 
New Orleans from exercising any poHce duty or authority 
is equivalent to an enlargement of the governor's powers, 
for the body with such control, the metropolitan poUce, 
was virtually his servant through his appointive power. * 
Quite as important was the negative action of the Assem- 
bly in refusing to force the governor to order elections in 
certain cases where for political reasons he was leaving 
vacancies. ^ 

One group of laws attempted to deal with the race and 
labor questions. A vagrancy law, which finally overcame 
the hostile majority in the Senate, while not so severe as 
those of the *' Black Code,*' did still define rather narrowly 
and imposed heavy penalties.^ This stringency Arose, 
at least largely, from the need of labor and devotion to 
the crops to which economic conditions forced the plant- 
ers, s A measure to organize a Bureau of Immigration was 
passed, appropriating $20,000 to secure a share in the 
foreign labor which they saw flooding the North. Unfor- 
ttmately, this did not solve the labor problem, and dis- 

* House Deb., 1869, 196. 

^ Session Laws, 1869, No. 60. 

» Case of Minden, House Deb., 29. 

4 Session Laws, 1868, No. 87. 

sAn excerpt from St. Mary*s Banner of Sept. 15 corroborates the 
statement which is often made of the planter's indifference to politics. 
" Never did planters of this coimtry show such devotion to business, such 
singleness of purpose to make money, and such utter want of interest in 
all things save crops, as at the present time." 

It is to be regretted that none of the regular parish papers were available, 
but we are fortunate enough to catch many reflections through the edito- 
rial bickering in the columns of the city papers, which give us fairly accu- 
rately the position and spirit and consequent influence in molding public 
thought of each. Members of Congress accommodatingly brought in many 
excerpts in the course of debate. We scarcely need the files of the 
Shreveport Times, thanks to the assiduity of Morton and the Radicals in 
quoting it. 

Digitized by 


40 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

satisfaction with the Bureau/ and especially with its 
carpet-bagger chief,, J. O. Noyes, was loudly voiced in 
the session of 1870. EflEorts to secure new workers by 
legislation continued throughout the next session. A 
bill to accord negroes equal civil rights had been up in 
the session of 1868 but had not been signed by the gover- 
nor, who was forced to explain to a body of their race 
assembled en masse, February 4, 1869, his reasons for 
not doing so. * And Pinchback's civil rights bill, which 
forbade common carriers and places of public resort to 
discriminate on account of race, color, or previous condi- 
tion of servitude,^ came up as imfinished business from 
the preceding session. As was to be expected, feeling 
ran high and lengthy discussion resulted, usually of a 
serious character. Twenty-six Senators were reported 
as desirous of speaking on the bill. Pinchback in debate 
made use of the expression ** refused a drink of common 
whiskey in a common grog-shop," which was seized on 
by the conservative press as a convenient whip. The 
cry of the Conservatives was that the colored people had 
too much sense to force themselves where they were not 
wanted, and this view was borne out by the negroes them- 
selves. **I consider myself just as far above coming 
into company that does not want me, as they are above 
my coming into an elevation with them. ... I do not 
believe that any sensible colored man upon this floor 
would wish to be in a private part of a public place with- 
out the consent of the owners of it. It is false; it is 

X "Every Southern State, save only Louisiana, is receiving accessions to 
her population from the tide of European immigration that daily strikes 
our shores. . . . The Bureau gives no sign. Then let it be abolished or let 
us have a change of personnel . . . that which individual enterprise has 
accomplished for other States, this State-maintained institution has lament- 
ably failed to do for us." Pic., Dec. 19, 1870. 

* Commercial Bulletin^ Feb. 8. 

* Session Laws, 1869, No. 38. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 41 

wholesale falsehood to say that we wish to force ourselves 
upon white people/* But he did insist that they receive 
equal accommodation. ^ The former set down the agita- 
tion to a poKtical move to renew the strife. * 

When the bill had passed both houses, the press took a 
more aggressive attitude in an effort to frighten the 
negroes from any attempt to claim their rights. **Will 
any negro, or gang of negroes, attempt to exercise the 
privilege it confers?*' belligerently asked the Commercial 
Bulletin, "If they do, it will be at their peril. ... He 
may be able to obtain a ticket of admission, but no New 
Orleans audience will ever permit him to take his seat 
except in the places allotted for colored persons.*'^ The 
Bee declared that if the governor dared to sign that bill 
after vetoing the former, "legal means would not be 
lacking to set aside this arbitrary law, this outrage to the 
law of propriety, and to individual liberty.**^ 

The civil rights bill was backed up by a measure 
intended to prevent the intimidation of negroes by pun- 
ishing the bribery of witnesses or preventing a witness by 
force, threat, or intimidation from testifjring in a criminal 
proceeding. « It is striking that a Ku-Klux bill— a bill 
"to prevent people from agoing abroad disguised** — ^was 
quickly referred and evidently died in committee.^ An- 

' House Deb., 1869, 258-9. 

* "Apparently this state of calm does not suit the Radical leaders. Their 
continual control over the State must depend on the jealousy of the black 
towards the white people. They feel that the colored race have more 
confidence in the old citizens of Louisiana than in any newcomers. Hence 
the effort to revive a strife which would readily quiet itself without such 
stimulus." Comm. Btdletin, Feb. 19, 1869. 

5 Ibid. , Feb. 22 . As a form of revenge, it pubHshed the vote with the names. 

4 Feb. 23. See also issue of Feb. 25. 

s Another social equality bill, passed by both houses in the extra ses- 
sion of 1870, was returned by the governor on the first day of the next 
session. Sen. Jour., 1870, 290; House Jour., 327; and Sen. Jour., 4. 

•House Deb., 1869, 195. 

Digitized by 


42 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

other effort in the next session to prevent the canying of 
concealed weapons met no better fate. ^ 

A measure allied to the above legislation, but of vastly 
greater importance because of its National character, was 
the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, which was 
accepted perfunctorily by a vote of 1 8 to 3 in the Senate; 
59^ to 9 in the House, 36 Republicans refusing to vote. 

Particularly confusing were the various measures which 
finally evolved into the slaughter house bill. Vigorous 
opposition and much ridicule manifested themselves at 
its first appearance in the House, but all amendments 
against the monopolistic features were voted down, de- 
bate choked off abruptly, all attempts at filibustering 
defeated, and the bill adopted by a large majority tmder 
the operation of the previous question. ^ Scanty indeed 
is the record of its history in the Senate. ** After a short 
fight the bill was concurred in as a whole and the motion 
to reconsider tabled by a vote of 23 to 9. ' ' ^ By it the slaugh- 
ter of animals, except by the Crescent City Live Stock 
Landing and Slaughter House Company was prohibited 
within the city of New Orleans or the parishes of Orleans, 
Jefferson, and St. Bernard after June i, 1869. All animals 
destined for sale or slaughter must be landed at the live 
stock landings and yards of the company, occupying the 
levee from Common to Poydras streets, which naturally 
exacted a fee for each steamship and craft landing at its 
wharves, s The excessive haste with which the bill was 
rushed through was pretty generally believed to be due 

» Sen. Deb., 1870, 29. 

^ Ann. Cyclop., 1869, 396, gives 55 but I think it in error as the Debates 
give 59. 

3 House Deb., 1869, 191. 

4 In the absence of the Senate journal or debates for 1869, 1 have had to 
rely upon the brief legislative report of the Commercial Bulletin, 
Feb. 17. 

s Session Laws, 1869, No. 118. See the act in full. 

Digitized by 


A Carpet-bag Legislature in Session 43 

to the fact that legislators had bought stock with the 
privilege of paying at convenience.^ A perfect hue and 
cry against monopoly and violation of private rights 
went up at the passage of this bill. Hear the Bee: '*So 
the bill has passed, just as it came from the House, and 
with provisions so monstrously unjust that if it be not 
arrested by veto, and be subjected to an ordeal by the 
two Houses, in review, which it is believed it cannot sur- 
vive, it will at least become a byword of reproach to all 
concerned in it."^ Or the Picayune: **Nay, monopolies 
have themselves such elements of corruption and are so 
odious in the land that they can and will be set aside. It 
may take time and a reformation of the polluted courts of 
justice to bring this about, but it will be done when the 
people awake to the necessity of driving the money- 
changers and the false Scribes and Pharisees from the 
temple.'' 3 

As there were about one thousand persons employed 
in the business in the parishes concerned, the effect was 
broad-spread. The butchers held a meeting immediately 
to consult on the best plan to defeat the bill^ and organ- 
ized an association on July 21. Some hundreds of suits 
were brought in the various district courts on the one side 
or the other, sometimes in combinations, sometimes by 
individuals. The ground of this opposition was that 
the act created a monopoly and was a violation of the 
Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments and of the 
Louisiana Bill of Rights. The Sixth District Court held 
the law unconstitutional, while in the Fifth, in which 
the new company had instituted suit against the associa- 
tion, the verdict was in favor of the company. Appeals 
from these several decisions came before the State Supreme 
Court by what is there known as ** suspensive appeals," 

' New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, Mar. 17, 1869. 

^ February 23, 1869. J Mar. 14. 4 Comm. Bull., Mar. 17. 

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44 Reconstruction in Lx)uisiana 

but the decision was not rendered until April ii, 1870, 
when the rights of the new company were upheld. In 
course of time,' the cases came before the Supreme Court 
of the United States when the decision of the State court 
was sustained on the ground of police regulation, '*a 
power incapable of any very exact definition or limi- 

* April 14, 1873. ^ 10 Wallace, 36, 298. 

Digitized by 


THe Climax of 'WarmotHism 

THE question of the governor's power of appoint- 
ment' involved two serious conflicts with munici- 
palities during 1869, from one of which, at least, 
Warmoth emerged victoriously. A law of 1868 provided 
for the filling of all vacancies of State or parish offices by 
appointment for the remainder of the term by the gover- 
nor with the consent of the Senate, but by the Governor 
alone, if the Senate were not in session, the appointment 
to expire the third Monday after the next session of the 
Assembly.^ Governor Warmoth chose to interpret this 
as giving him the appointment even when the vacancy 
occurred by the expiration of the term ot ofiice. In 1868 
the legislature had amended the charter of Jefferson City, 
requiring an election on the first Monday of January, 
1869, and every two years thereafter for mayor, treasurer, 
comptroller, and aldermen. ^ Section 4 also provided 
that the governor should remove the existing aldermen 
and officers and appoint others imtil new incumbents 
should be elected. Warmoth did not execute this por- 
tion of the law but allowed matters to remain as they 
were until January, 1869, when an election should have 
been held. But none was ordered, instead of which the 

* Under this apparently harmless clause of the constitution he controlled 
even the lowest local ofl&ces in the remotest parts — constable, justice of 
the peace, etc. 

^ Session Laws, 1868, No. 27. » Ibid., No. 75. 


Digitized by 


46 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

governor proceeded the following May to appoint, as 
in case of a vacancy. The original mayor, Kreider, 
refused to yield office, and so the appointee applied to 
the district judge for a mandamus to require the delivery 
of the books, which was granted. The jiew board was 
installed May 19, by aid of the metropolitan police. 
This action called out some violent demonstrations on 
the part of the citizens but no serious disturbance resulted 
and it was decided to leave the matter to the courts. 
Kreider carried an appeal to the Supreme Court, which held 
that the term of the occupants in office had not expired, 
for the failure to hold an election did not vacate the office. ' 
The case of New Orleans was analogous. The term of 
office of one half of the Council had expired; and a special 
election was held May 19 to fill the vacancies. But 
the governor under his unique interpretation of the law 
made appointments to fill them. The old board claimed 
that there were no vacancies, as, according to law, they 
were to hold their offices until their successors were duly 
elected and qualified; namely, until the next regular 
election. In this form it 'went to the courts on July 19. 
A three-cornered comedy of injunctions took place; one, 
granted by Judge Collins, admitted the newly elected 
members to their seats; a second, by Judge Leaumont, 
placed the governor's appointees in office and a Demo- 
cratic howl went up ; a third, from Judge Cooley, restored 
the elected members, and a Republican howl went up, ^ but 
this latter injunction was dissolved December 25. 
Appeal was taken from the decision of Judge Leaumont 
to the Supreme Court by the city of New Orleans, but 
was dismissed November 19, because of a technicality. ^ 

' 21 Louisiana Ann., 483-485. 
^ New Orleans Commercial Bulletin^ July 19, 1869. 
« No pecuniary interest was at stake for the city, because the positions 
of aldermen had no salaries attached. 21 La. Ann., 744. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 47 

At the close of the year, the Governor decided to use the 
** mailed fist/' December 28 the sheriff of the Fifth Dis- 
trict Court read an order before the council to exclude 
certain members and install the appointees of Warmoth. 
The approaches to the council-room were crowded. The 
board decided to obey under protest and the governor's 
protSgSs were seated and proceeded to organize. One old 
member stayed in his seat, but as he made himself some- 
what troublesome, he was ejected and another with a 
commission seated. In the other chamber of the city 
coimcil that same evening one of the appointees appeared 
within the bar. President Wiltz ordered him put out. 
After adjournment the sheriflF entered the chamber and 
read the above-mentioned order of Judge Leatmiont.' 
On December 30 the sheriff of the Sixth District Court 
called the names of the appointees and served a paper 
upon each from the elected members. But the attorney 
advised obedience to the orders of the Fifth District Court 
and with this action the governor remained triumphant. 

The wrangle between the governor and Wickliffe, the 
auditor of public accounts, which extended dtiring most 
of 1869 and up until March of the new year, resulted in a 
victory for the former. He accused Wickliffe of extor- 
tion and corruption and had him arrested on several 
specific charges. Fourteen indictments for malfeasance 
to the amotmt of $1800 were found by the grand jury. 
While awaiting the trial, the governor suspended Wick- 
liffe and appointed L. T. Delassize, a wealthy negro, 
auditor ad interim, installing him by the aid of the metro- 
politan poUce. But Wickliffe, nothing daunted, gave 
notice through the papers that he had opened his office 
at No. 53 Conti Street, ** opposite where the Auditor's 
office formerly was," and warned the public not to pay 
taxes or transact any business with the bureau until the 

» New Orleans Commercial BuUeHn, Dec. 29, 1869. 

Digitized by 


48 Reconstruction in Lx)uisiana 

auditor could retake possession of his office.' A war 
of injunctions followed: a writ from the Seventh District 
Court prohibited Delassize from performing his duties 
on the ground that the governor had no power to make 
the appointment; a coimter injunction from the Fifth 
District Court, March 29, restrained Wickliffe from act- 
ing. This conflict in jurisdiction went before the Supreme 
Court, ^ but before a decision could be rendered, two of 
the criminal cases came up for trial, in both of which 
Wickliffe was acquitted, but in the one case the judge 
considered it necessary to dismiss the jtuy with a repri- 
mand.^ The remainder of the charges were dismissed 
by the attorney-general on the ground that the auditor 
could not be tried imtil after impeachment. Party 
feeling ran high in the press concerning the controversy, 
some Democratic papers coming out emphatically for 
Wickliffe, due possibly to mere opposition to the gover- 
nor.^ The governor withdrew his opposition and allowed 
Wickliffe to resume office. In December the auditor de- 
cided to move his archives at night into the building used 
as a state house, but the governor on the 30th had his 
effects removed from Mechanics Institute to the sidewalk. ^ 

* New Orleans, Comm, BulL, Bee, Mar. 27, 1869. 

^ The Supreme Court subsequently afi&rmed the judgment of the Seventh 
District Court, which sustained Delassize. 21 La. Ann., 710-12. 
^Ann, Cyclop,, iS6g, 398. 

* "We do not propose to inquire into the legality of the action of the 
Governor in ejecting Mr. Wickliffe from his ofl&ce and appointing a person 
to supply his place, because we consider it too clear for dispute that Mr. 
Warmoth has no such power, and that his proceeding is a naked trespass. 
. . . The white population of Louisiana are entirely callous to the result, 
and don't care whether *Mossup whip Barry' or 'Barry whip Mossup.* 
They are in the situation of the onlookers at the fight of the Kilkenny 
cats, and would have no cause to weep if the combatants scratched each 
other's eyes out." Bee, Mar. 27, 1869. 

The Bulletin and the Picayune took the same side more conservatively. 
See Bulletin, Mar. 27. 

5 Sen. Jour., 1870, 138 (rear of book). 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 49 

But this fact created no excitement in the city, as the 
affair seems still to have been regarded as a petty, personal 

In this shape the matter came before the General As- 
sembly in 1870. Rtmiors of impeachment had been rife, ' 
and even before the governor's message was sent in, a 
resolution had been adopted by the House for a joint 
committee to examine into the affairs of the auditor's 
office and the action of the governor in suspending the 
auditor. * In the special message promised by the 
governor in his annual address, he charged that the audi- 
tor's offenses had seriously embarrassed the government 
and rendered it difficult to pay the interest on the State 
bonds. He specifically accused him of extortion against 
individuals and the charitable institutions of the State, 
and of fraud against the Conmionwealth and collusion 
with evil-minded persons.^ The special committee of 
the House, to which the message was referred, offered 
on January 31 a resolution of impeachment which was 
debated at some length and adopted on the evening of 
February i with but five dissenting votes. ^ The serious- 
ness of the question sobered the Assembly so that the 
proceedings were marked throughout the trial by a dignity 
and decorum sadly wanting in their other discussions. 
Articles of impeachment were ordered prepared and the 
act suspending him from office became effective by the 
prompt concurrence of the Senate on February 4. ^ 

February 3, Wickliffe brought thirty-four distinct 
counter charges against Warmoth of violations of the 

» Sen. Deb., 1870, 51. * House Jour., 1870, 7. 

» "He has extorted sums of money from the creditors of the state as 
a condition precedent to the issuance to them of the certificates of indebt- 
edness or warrants to which they were entitled by law." Ibid., 1870, 

^Ibid,, 1870, 141. 

sj&fi., 1870, 141, Sen. Jour., 130. 


Digitized by 


50 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

constitution and laws, of frauds upon the treasury, 
charges of corruption in levying blackmail upon citizens, 
of bribery of witnesses, and numerous other acts of mal- 
feasance. '*In short,*' the accusation concludes, **his 
conduct in this respect is so notorious that it can be 
proved that he never signed a bill of pecuniary benefit to 
anyone that he did not demand and receive money or 
other consideration for his signature/'^ He stmimed 
up the frauds to the State to the grand total of 
$800,000 and ''untold millions from forgery/' But the 
only effect this venting of his spleen had upon Warmoth's 
loyal vassals was to cause an investigation to be made 
which enabled Warmoth to go before the people exoner- 
ated by an official inquiry. ^ 

The House preferred twenty-eight articles of impeach- 
ment against Wickliffe, most of them for exacting bribes 
to issue his warrants for money appropriated for print- 
ing and charitable institutions, and for exceeding the 
appropriations. ^ The trial began February 14, and con- 
tinued almost daily tmtil the close of the session, when 
on the evening of March 3, the Senate found him guilty 
upon the fourth article by unanimous vote.^ A resolu- 
tion removing him permanently from office followed 
immediately. At the last moment he tried to escape 
sentence by resigning, ^ and by fleeing from the State, ^ 
but the Senate proceeded calmly to ignore such cowardice 

» House Jour., 1870, 152-5. 

* "After a lengthy and thorough examination of all the witnesses whose 
attendance your committee has been able to procure, they have been 
able to find from the testimony elicited no foimdation whatever, for any 
one of the charges preferred by George Wicklij0fe against his Excellency." 
Ibid.f 1870, 310. 

* See Sen. Jour., 1870, 2-7 (rear) for articles in full. 

*Ibid,, 1870, rear, 191. For full accoimt of the trial see Impeachment 
Proceedings in rear of Ibid,, 1870. 
?Ibid., 1870, rear, 176, March 3. 

* On the authority of Herbert, Why the Solid South, 410. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 51 

and to vote him out of office. Whatever may be the 
fact as to WickUffe's dishonesty, he was clearly guilty 
of gross irregularity and carelessness in the keeping of 
his records.^ And the governor had demonstrated to 
the State that his hold on the legislature was suffi- 
ciently firm to enable him to crush a prestmiptuous 

The legislation of 1870 marks high tide in Warmoth's 
power. The rudder he held firmly in his hands for almost 
two years longer; but against an ever-increasing wave of 
opposition, it became constantly more difficult to steer 
in the direction he would. Because of friction within 
his own ranks, legislation did not again, after 1870, become 
the mouthpiece for promulgating his decrees. 

There were, in reaUty, two sessions, but the extra ses- 
sion followed so closely on the heels of the first, and so 
much of the work was but the completion of the unfinished 
business of the first session, that for purposes of con- 
venience the legislation will be treated as emanating from 
one body. The Assembly convened for the first session 
at noon, January 3. After a slight struggle over the 
speakership in the House, Mr. Carr of Orleans was elected 
and the House reported itself ready for the governor's 
message. Its congratulatory tone sounds a bit forced 
when he feUcitates his people upon **the good feeling 
that exists among the people of both races"; and the 
cheerfulness with which they are accepting the new order 
of things, and the earnestness with which **our people 
are addressing themselves to further protect the great 
interests committed to their hands."* But it is taken 
up, for the most part, with a businesslike discussion of 

' *' I found that the books were not written up to date, or those that were 
written up, the coltunns were not footed up; addition had not been made. 
A great many appropriations had been overdrawn." Sen. Jour., 1870, 66. 

^ House Jour., 9. 

Digitized by 


52 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

the various measures which, in his estimation, called 
for action: encouragement of immigration, the finances, 
levees, public improvements, emendation of the school- 
law of 1869, charities, and gambling houses. ^ 

For the first time we hear the note of caution in regard 
to the financial condition. The' governor warned the 
Assembly that it was not satisfactory and was such as to 
embarrass his administration. He admitted that the 
credit of the State had not always been used for practicable 
purposes, but insisted that imder proper checks it might 
be safely used to a still greater extent. * The usual 
expedients were again resorted to: loans were negotiated 
to meet the interest due; and the floating debt was pro- 
vided for by the issue or exchange of fresh bonds. But 
the same extravagance and folly which characterized 
their actions in 1869 continued undiminished. ^ 

By the session of 1870 an old feature of parliamentary 
tactics was introduced: the opposition, though unavailing 
as to the final vote, had become thoroughly organized for 
filibustering purposes and threats of recourse to its use 
were held over the heads of the radicals as a whip.^ Mr. 
Lowell proposed once to make a bargain with his party, 
to which he was opposed on a particular bill, by exchang- 

* For the ftdl text of the message, see House Jour., 1870, 9 ff. 

* House Journal, 1870, 9. 

iThey were very generous with the fees for postage, lavish to their 
ofl&cers and employees, made a specialty of special committees, passed a 
most liberal and loose pension act for the veterans of 18 14-15, and took 
active steps for the erection of a new state house. They had learned 
nothing from the deficiency in the revenue of the preceding year but pro- 
ceeded to quibble about levying a tax of four or five mills though Federal 
investigation would show that agricultural property could easily bear a 
heavier tax. Sen. Jour., 1870, 41, 57; House Deb., 1870, 238; Sen. Repts., 
42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, Pt. i., 203. 

4 "But I say, take up the city charter bill, and if you do not, I assure 
you that you will not make much progress on the school bill." Sen. 
Deb., 1870, 783. Also House Deb., 200. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 53 

ing his filibustering advantage for a grant of time.' By 
debates on rules of order, appeals from the chair to the 
House, demands for the roU-call on every little insignifi- 
cant vote, they were able to waste time and wear out 
their opponents until practically no business was done 
at certain sessions. * 

Four of the fi,ve measures which were destined to be- 
come the most important of the session — ^indeed of the 
reconstruction period in Louisiana— and the storm center 
about which the opposition to the governor gathered, 
were, together with the appropriation and revenue bills, 
introduced into the Senate as early as the third day, thus 
gaining for that active body the questionable distinction 
of initiative.^ Nor did that body lose its zeal in pushing 
legislation, for toward the close of the session bills went 
through with a haste amazing even after the facility 
displayed on occasion in 1869. At a single evening ses- 
sion twenty bills were acted on,^ and yet, despite regular 
night sessions for about two weeks, the session approached 
its close without concluding much important legislation,* 
and without making provision for the revenues or expenses 
of the government. And so, in accordance with the 
general expectation,^ the governor on March 3 notified 
the two houses of the necessity to reassemble March 7 
for ten days. In this extra session the Assembly took 
up and passed the tremendous ntmiber of ninety-eight 

> "I now make a fair, honest proposition to the friends of the bill. If 
they will give me time — say till to-morrow, to read this bill, to examine 
it — ^I promise then, upon my word and sacred honor, that I will not oppose 
its passage by resorting to those parliamentary tactics commonly Imown 
as filibustering." House Deb., 1870, 74. 

* Jan. 21, ibid., 4^57; Ja^- 24. 

» Sen. Jour., 1870, 12, 13. ^ Ibid., 216-22. 

s The militia, r^stration, and New Orleans charter bills had run the 
gatmtlet of the Senate but were still pending in the House. 

*The House had already consulted the attorney-general about the 
constitutionality of prdOnging the session. House Jour., 1870, 97. 

Digitized by 


54 Reconstruction in Lx)uisiana 

bills, as compared with one hundred and seven in the first 

An effort to tackle the problem of the government of 
New Orleans had suffered indefinite postponement at 
the end of the session of 1869. Both houses introduced 
bills early in 1870, but it was only late in the extra session, 
after lengthy, heated debate, numerous amendments, and 
the creation of committees of conference, that the two 
houses could agree upon a measure which consolidated 
Jefferson City with New Orleans, forced through by the 
coimtry members, it was vehemently declared, against 
the vigorous opposition of the city members. The 
smaller city did not want to be saddled with the debt 
and taxes of the larger. A representative of Jefferson 
said: **I say, sir, here in my place, that the people — ^the 
masses — do not want to be forced to pay an additional 
2yi per cent tax. . . . There are not 150 people in 
Jefferson who would vote for consolidation." ' An amend- 
ment to submit it to popular vote was imdemocratically 
voted down. The enlarged city was to be governed by a 
mayor and seven administrators, presiding over as many 
departments, who were to constitute the city coimcil. 
Vacancies in these offices were to be filled by appoint- 
ment by the governor prior to January i, 1871, and 
subsequently by popular election. ^ 

New Orleans was one of the few Southern cities which 
had had a system of public schools before the war. Even 
in 1865 there were 141 schools for freedmen and 19,000 
pupils, the result of a free system for twenty-five years. ^ 
A school law, providing in great detail for the public 
education of all persons between six and twenty-one 
years of age ** without distinction of race or color" had 

« House Deb., 1870, 295. 

* Laws of Lotiisiana, Extra Session, 1870, No. 70. 

> Sen. Reports, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, 279. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 55 

been passed in 1869. But it had been a failure, ' proving 
in the governor's words, ** cumbrous and expensive."* 
The governor, therefore, suggested that the plan be 
simplified, the districts enlarged, and the powers and dis- 
cretion of the State board increased. ^ Shortly after the 
opening of the session a bill was reported in the House 
and received, despite attempts to choke it, full, heated 
discussion and amendment, section by section, passing 
only on February 10.^ In the Senate it came up for a 
lengthy debate on the last evening, when it was crowded 
out by the pressure of business so that it had to go over 
to March 9 and 10 in the extra days of grace when, 
somewhat amended, it passed by a very large majority, the 
dissenting votes coming from the city members. ^ The 
House concurred in the Senate amendments the next day. 
For the purposes of this bill the State was divided into 
six divisions, of which New Orleans formed one. The 
State superintendent was required to nominate to the 
governor, and the governor to the Senate, a superin- 
tendent for each division to hold office three years. The 
division superintendents with the State superintendent 
as president constituted a board, having the general 

« McMillan charged ineffectiveness of the law. "There is not in my 
whole parish, as far as I know, a single schoolhouse, no sirs, not even a 
shed devoted to educational purposes. There has not been a cent of the 
taxes raised for educational purposes expended in Carroll Parish since the 
war. We have a statute providing for a system of common school educa- 
tion, and under that superintendents have been appointed. The salary 
set apart for such officers has been pimctually drawn." House Deb., 
1870, 1 15-16. 

^ "Under the law of 1869 we find that the sum of $262,000 would be 
required for the salaries of officers, leaving nothing with which to pay 
teachers, or build or rent schoolhouses.*' New Orleans Republican, Jan. 
25, 1870. 

5 Governor's Annual Message, House Jour., 1870, 10. 

4 House Deb., 1870, 188. House Jour., 220. On this question and the 
social status the negro could wax eloquent. 

« Sen. Jour., 1870, 267. 

Digitized by 


56 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

supervision and control of the public schools throughout 
the State, while the division superintendents were to" 
have full control in their respective divisions. The 
system of New Orleans was connected with that of the 
State by the selection of a city board of directors by 
the State board, thus repealing all laws granting control to 
the municipal authorities of that city. The State board 
was also to appoint a board for every town, city, and parish 
in the State with full corporate powers to sue and be sued. 
The general school tax was fixed at two mills on the 
dollar in addition to a tax of two mills to be collected in 
each parish. It continued, however, the provision for 
the admission of all children between the ages of six 
and twenty-one to the schools. ^ 

A special civil court, the Eighth District Court, created 
at the special session, proved of transcendent importance, 
when supported by the criminal court, — created several 
sessions earUer. The two had jurisdiction over all public 
matters, while the power of appointing the judges was 
vested in the governor, thus circumventing the constitu- 
tion. All cases of a public character, contests for office, 
writs of quo warranto, injunctions, mandamus had to 
be submitted to the former court, to which all cases then 
pending before other district courts must immediately 
be transferred. * 

Ntmierous petitions to the legislature of 1870 showed 
that the idea of improvements had now seized upon a 
large ntmiber of the constituents as well as legislators. ^ 
Not only did members now propose to raise the State to 
economic glory through the ordinary avenue of new rail- 

' Session Laws, Extra Session, 1870, No. 6. 

^ Ibid,, No, 2. 

5 The writer noted twenty-six such bills reaching various stages of prog- 
ress, besides the fourteen bills which succeeded in becoming law. There 
were doubtless many more which were never reported from committee. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 57 

roads and navigable bayous, but in their enthusiasm they 
were willing to legislate parks ^ and factories into exist- 
ence and to develop the mineral resources of the State by 
the same agency. Bayou Bartholomew was now to be 
improved; the New Orleans and Chattanooga Railroad 
boosted by State bonds ^; and a large stmi of stock 
subscribed in the Mississippi Valley Navigation Com- 
pany. ^ 

A number of amendments to the constitution were 
offered this session,^ but only four mustered sufficient 
strength to pass both houses. The most noted were 
the one which removed the governor's ineligibility for 
a second term^ and the amendment to Article 99, which 
removed the last restriction on the ex-rebels. It had 
been offered in the Assembly, both in 1868 and 1869, 
and the governor had urged it in his annual message in 
the latter y6ar.^ It stands out in pleasing relief to most 
of the partisan legislation of that period, inasmuch as it 
was introduced, we are told in debate, by one of the most 
bitter opponents of the Democrats, ^ aroused very little 
debate, and passed almost tmanimously in both houses 

« Session Laws, Extra Session, 1870, No. 59. 

^ Ibid., No. 31. 

* Ibid., No. 84. This bill became law without the governor's signature 
by lapse of the time limit. 

< The writer counted seven. 

<It appears almost incredible that this most personal measure of all 
passed both houses with almost no opposition. The explanation may lie 
in the bribery later charged. House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., 
No. 211, 272-73. 

•"In this spirit (of forgiveness) I recommend the abrogation of the 
99th Article of our Constitution, and believe, if an amendment should be 
submitted to the people at the next general election, it would receive their 
almost unanimous approval. I regretted its insertion in the constitution, 
favored the proposition to abrogate it at the last session, and now officially 
recommend it." Cyclopedia, 1869, 394. 

V Senate Deb., 1870, 61. 

Digitized by 


58 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

at a single sitting. ^ Several speeches, all in favor, were 
made by negroes to give, as one of them innocently said, 
**a little coloring to the matter/'^ 

A third amendment was intended to secure the safety 
of the public fimds,^ and the fourth was a most important 
restriction on the public debt, namely, that prior to 
January i, 1890, it could not be increased beyond 

But certain bills were of such transcendent import- 
ance that they all but effaced the consciousness of 
other legislation, at least in the mind of the public. 
These were the four great bills, the election, regis- 
tration, constabulary, and militia bills, which, to- 
gether with the constitutional amendment which 
removed ineligibility for a second gubernatorial term, 
made it possible for Governor Warmoth to determine 
the personnel of all offices practically at will, and, 
but for the stumbling-block of the nominating con- 
vention, to continue himself indefinitely at the head 
of aflFairs. 

Whatever may have been the distrust of the governor 
in the State at large — ^and complaints were not wanting 
from the first in Democratic circles — confidence in their 
young leader was imshaken in the men who constituted 
this Assembly. Even when opposing individual biUs, 
members were careful to express confidence in War- 

* Sen. Jotir., 1871, 37; House Jotir., 146-47. 

The House Committee reported it as a "partial proscriptive measure in 
direct conflict with the spirit of the age and unnecessary." House Jour., 
1870, 146. 

^ House Deb., 1 871, 42. Only one voice was raised in opposition. 

3 No person who had been a collector or had been otherwise intrusted 
with public money was eligible to any office of trust until he had obtained 
a discharge for the amount with which he had been intrusted. Session 
Laws, 1870, No. 21, Regular Session. 

* Session Laws, 1870, Extra Session, No. 12. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 59 

moth' in some such terms as follows: **Not that I have 
anything against the governor himself, but I think it 
improper to give such extraordinary power to any man» 
were he an apostle.*'^ 

These measures were introduced together, as has been 
stated, on the third day, and action on them extended 
during the entire period up to the very close of the extra 
session. The greatest effort of the opposition was ex- 
pended on the election bilT. This was not a new con- 
ception of 1870, for a strenuous effort to press through 
such a bill imder cover of the excitement of the closing 
days of the session of 1869 had failed. The note of alarm 
was soimded almost as soon as this bill was reported to 
the Senate by the Judiciary Committee. ^ **Now, sir, 
here is a bill giving the governor more than imperial power 
— ^behind it is concealed an armed Grecian horse, with 
which he may ride over the rights of the people. . . ."^ 
Debate raged every day from January 18 to 24. The 
party aspect of the bill was so evident that it was assailed 
at once as a device to perpetuate the Republican party 
in power. 

**I believe," declared one member, **the only persons 
belonging to this State who desire this enactment are those 
in office, and who are afraid that unless such a bill as this 
is passed, they will not retain the positions they now 
occupy, and this fear, Mr. President, is not based on any 
fraud or violence that might occur at the next election in 

* "Although I would have the greatest confidence in whatever he 
reported." Senate Deb., 1870, 118. 

"I do not say the present governor would abuse these powers," says 
even a Democrat, 744. 

^ Ibid., 120, 

5 Two minority reports came in, in one of which Packard urged that 
a new apportionment must precede any election law. Ibid,, 143. 

^Ibid., 147. 

Digitized by 


6o Reconstruction in Louisiana 

which they might become candidates, but in the simple 
fact that a revolution has taken place in public opmion." ^ 
Even a Republican felt obliged to break from his party 
because of its objectionable features.^ 

Feeling reached a perfect climax of frenzy and sank 
to depths of despondency for which it was difficult to find 
language sufficiently vehement. 

''Therefore, I hope you will believe me when I tell you 
that this is the snake in the grass — the form that the devil 
himself assumed when he seduced our mother Eve. I tell 
you that this is a devil, covered and concealed perhaps, 
under perfumed flowers, but nevertheless, the devil — ^his 
tail and horn comes out, and not only his tail, but his 
horns and hoof. I tell you that this bill is a devil of a 
bill — ^the concocters are devilish fellows, and the only way 
we can destroy their sulphuric power is to give them hell. ' ' ^ 
Another outburst was clothed in more f imereal garb : 

I believe really that if ever there has come a day to the State 
of Louisiana when the whole edifice of her political govern- 
ment ought to be draped in mourning, that day has come now. 
I believe if ever there has come a day when all the pomp and 
glory of the past had forsaken her — ^widowed as she is in 
affection, destitute of all those glorious sympathies that used 
to awaken a nobler people— we have arrived, unfortunately 
for us, at that miserable period.'* 

In his excitement one member cried: **By God! I 
do not vote when they are passing bills here to take 
away the lifeblood of the people. "« 

The Republicans rested their defense on the necessity 
of an election law which would secure to every citizen 

« Senate Deb., 1870, 155-56. 

^ " I believe the object of the bill, as it stands, is to perpetuate the power 
of a certain political party — ^the Republican party." Ibid,, 149. 

» JWi., 1870, i68, </6kJ., 164-65. »/Wi., 180. 

Digitized by, 


The Climax of Warmothism 6i 

entitled to vote a free exercise of his rights.' They 
turned the debate on the Democrats by declaring that 
if they could not carry an election without violence and 
were unwilling to pass a law to insure a fair election, they 
did not wjant an honest vote.^ Radicals who were not 
satisfied with the bill declared that the opposition by their 
refusal to discuss it fairly and by filibustering had pre- 
vented any modification. The attitude of the mulatto 
leader, Pinchback, was that it was the lesser of two evils. ^ 
It reemerged from a special conmiittee, to which it had 
been committed, January 24,^ and which again submitted 
a majority and minority report, for a second period of 
debate from January 27 to 31, on which latter date, 
much amended and fought to the bitter end, it was 
adopted by a vote of 20 to 12. ^ 

It came before the House on February 4, where it was 
argued at length from February 11 to 16, in keen, 
searching debate. Members did not scruple to speak 
plainly: **This bill, as I believe it, and as I know it, makes 
the Republican party dominant; it makes the Governor, 
— not clearly, but tactily — all power; it makes the many 
parishes of this State but fiefs of the Executive. It adds 
one more power to those he is already endowed with."^ 
Note the succinct condemnation of it as a party measure 
in the following query: **Why is the whole State outlawed 
in consequence of the misbehavior of portions of it? 
Outlawed, I say, for it provides for the outlawry of those 
who refuse to vote a Republican ticket.'* ^ Party feeling 
ran as high as in the other House, and members fotmd 

* Sen. Deb., 150. ^ Ibid,, 187. 

3 "If any gentleman can show me where we can repose the execution 
of this law outside of the Executive of the State, I would be glad to hear it; 
but we must have some protection, sir." Ibid., 172. 

* Ibid,, 190. * Ibid,, 347, Sen. Jour., 1 10. 

* House Deb., 1870, 213. » Ibid., 207. 

Digitized by 


62 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

threatening documents on their desks, placed there, 
Republicans declared, by the Ku-KltK. ' Finally, suffer- 
ing much amendment here too, it was passed February 

1 8 immediatdy after prayer, with a burst of party effort: 
with the reading of only thirteen sections,^ the passage 
of the bill as a whole was moved and carried, the reading 
of more than fifty sections being thus suppressed, not- 
withstanding the protest of the Democrats at the imcon- 
stitutional manner in which it was passed. ^ February 

19 the Senate concurred in the House amendments.^ 
The other measures seem almost to have turned on the 

fate of the election law, for the opposition evidently 
exhausted its great effort on that bill. There was little 
heat over the other measures; little filibustering, few long 
speeches. Such few members as spoke seemed to do so 
to discharge a moral duty. ^ The registration bill passed 
the Senate, February 9^ without amendment and the 
House entirely without debate on the last evening of the 
regular session. 

The history of the militia bill in the House was truly re- 
markable. It was introduced March 9 from the Senate, 
where the interest was so slight that only seven Senators 

'House Deb., 217. 

* These thirteen sections had been read February 15 and on February 
18, immediately after prayer, a motion was made to suspend the rules 
in order to put it upon its third reading and final passage at that time. 
No vote was taken, but the speaker asked if there were any objection to 
the suspension of the. rules, and inmiediately announced that there was 
none, notwithstanding the fact that Dr. Wren and many other members 
did object, but they were imheeded by the chair. According to the pro- 
test of the Democrats. House Jour., 254. 

» Ibid.t 236, 254. Vote was 247 to 26. 

< Sen. Jour., 1870, 188. 

s On the final sxispension of the rules on the registration bill, a Senator 
remarked briefly: "I object to the suspension of the rules because I wish 
to give the senate as much time as possible to repent." Sen. Deb., 470. 

* Sen. Jour., 150. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 63 

were present to register their vote against the fourteen 
votes which carried it'; ihe necessity of considering it in 
Committee of the Whole was dispensed with, and it was 
hurried to its third reading. The story of its passage on 
the evening of March 14 is told in the following brief 
passage from the debates: 

** Chief Clerk Vigers read the bill. 

**I move its final passage, and on that call the previous, 

**The Speaker put the question on the final passage viva 
voce, and it was declared carried.*'^ 

This action caused the greatest confusion, surprise, and 

The registra;tion bill threw into the control of the gov- 
ernor the power to declare who should vote, as the dection 
bill allowed him to declare for whom the votes were cast. 
With the consent of the Senate he was to appoint a State 
registrar, and one supervisor in each parish— except 
Orleans, where the State registrar was to serve — ^whose 
duty it should be to cause every qualified voter to be 
registered and make out lists of the registered voters for 
the commissioners of election at each polling-place.^ 
The decision of any supervisor was final. Courts were 
prohibited from interfering in any way with him or his 
assistants. The supervisors, in turn, appointed three 
commissioners of election at each poll. 

The election bill vested in the governor power to take 
all necessary steps to secure a fair, free, and peaceable 
election; and gave him on election day paramotmt charge 
and control of the peace and order of the State, over ajl 
peace and police officers, and over all sheriffs and constables. 

* Sen. Jour., 245. 

^ House Deb., 1870, 343. McMillan was refused permission to record 
his protest. House Jour., 360. 
3 Laws of Louisiana, 1870, No. 99. 

Digitized by 


64 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

Parish and district judges were forbidden to issue writs 
of mandamus or injunction or other order to compel a 
commissioner of election to do his duty, as the latter was 
to be responsible only to the supervisor and he to the 
governor. On election day citizens at large were expressly 
forbidden to carry arms except tmder orders of the execu- 
tive or his appointees. In all parishes except Orleans, 
the duty and ftmction of sheriffs were superseded by men 
appointed by the governor. The governor and his ofl&cers 
were to be able to withhold certificates of election to the 
General Assembly whenever in their discretion they might 
see fit, in all cases where fraud, violence, bribery, or other 
irregularity might be reported. The capstone of the 
structure, as it has been aptly called, was the retuming- 
board, consisting of the governor, lieutenant-governor, 
secretary of State, and two Senators indicated by name — 
John Lynch and T. C. Anderson, — ^in whom was vested 
the entire revisory power. They were empowered to fill 
vacancies within their own number by a majority vote. ' 

In order fully to comprehend the opportimity for fraud 
in elections, it must also be noted that the State constitu- 
tion gave the right to vote in any parish or in any part of 
a parish after a residence of ten days, so that a man, 
armed with his registration papers, could vote at as many 
polls as he could visit in one day. 

The purport of the third bulwark of Warmothism, the 
constabulary law, was to vest in the governor special 
power to keep the peace. With the consent of the Senate 
he might appoint one chief constable in each parish, whose 
duty it should be to preserve the peace, quell disturbances 
and riots, and upon warrant of any competent court, 

'Laws of Louisiana, 1870, No. 100. The power to reject votes for 
fraud or violence was capable of abuse and yet was held by Republicans 
inadequate as a remedy, as it did not add the Republican ballots which 
would have been polled. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 65 

summarily arrest all persons charged with murder, 
assaults, robberies, arson, and riots, subject to the power 
of the governor. The chief constable of the parish was 
to assign to each precinct a deputy constable to perform 
his duties. Offices of all existing constables were de- 
clared vacant and the governor ^npowered to bring in a 
set of his loyal followers at once. ' 

The militia bill provided the necessary military power 
to enforce the execution of the preceding laws. Under 
its provisions the governor was constituted Commander- 
in-Chief of all the militia and could organize, arm, equip, 
and uniform as many of the able-bodied male citizens 
between the ages of eighteen and forty-five as he deemed 
necessary and call the same into active service. Full 
lists were to be submitted from each parish to the governor 
from which he might assign a sufficient ntmiber of persons 
to make up five regiments. He was to appoint officers 
for terms of two years to carry out details imder his 
direction. And the stun of $100,000 was appropriated 
to carry out the act. ^ 

Several minor biUs helped to build up this autocratic 
power of the executive. Against stormy debate and 
attacks on its constitutionality, a bill was passed which 
authorized the governor to issue a warrant for the arrest 
of any person committing a crime punishable by death 
or penitentiary imprisonment upon failure of the regularly 
constituted officials to seize him, to be tried in a parish or 
district court. Although the accused was assured of the 
service of attorney, the bill violated State feeling by 
obliterating parish lines, and by allowing high fees to the 
sheriff, levied on the parish where the offense occurred. ^ 
Likewise, the bill which rendered the Metropolitan 

« Laws of Louisiana, 1870, No. 74. 
^ Ibid,, Extra Session, No. 75. 
»/Wd., No. 40. 

Digitized by 


66 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

Police Board no longer responsible to the recognized legal 
tribunals, ^ and which did not require a bond in case stiit was 
brought against it, was only freeing his hands the more. 
Nor should the reader fail to notice in this connection, as 
the last link in the chain, that the governor could, under the 
new city charter, absolutely control the city politics until 
after the election, a period of seven months of grace for 
manipulating his wires. 

Legislation so vital and revolutionary as the measures 
just outlined and those appropriating State aid, naturally, 
aroused hostility, not only within the legislature, but also 
outside, where it raged even more violently, if possible. 
The Democratic press was thoroughly alarmed; it at- 
tacked the various bills continually and held the most 
dire threats over the heads of the Senators who dared to 
support them.^ Fiery language was intended to stir the 
people to action.^ Feeling rose to its greatest intensity 
over the four most important bills. ^ Significant calls for 
secret meetings, signed K. W. C. and I. C. U.,s appeared 
in the papers, and mass meetings began to be held both 
for and against the biUs. The Republican party met in 
mass meeting on January 27 in the hall of the Represen- 
tatives to urge the Assembly to pass these bills without 

' Session Laws, 1870, No. 55. 

^ My authority for this is the statement of a Senator in debate. Senate 
Deb., 1870, 618. But names were printed in the papers on important bills 
so that it is probably true. 

5 "Let us have a united meeting and prompt action to bring our law- 
makers to their just responsibility to an outraged community." Bee 
of Jan. 30. 

* "We then protest against this bill on constitutional grounds," declared 
the True Republican, "for by this bill Warmoth actually fills three ofl&ces. 
Now, we know that this is a moderate demand for him, who wants to be 
the political Brigham Young of this State. We, Gentiles, are naturally 
satisfied with one office, but this political Mormon wants them all. ' ' Quoted 
Sen. Deb., 1870, 537. 

The writer has come across no due to the meaning of these letters. 
The first are, doubtless, Knights of the White Camelia. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 67 

delay. This action was probably to forestall and nullify 
the effect of a vast mass meeting of the opponents of the 
legislation, which was arranged to take place, January 31 
in Lafayette Square.. The call was issued to all citizens 
** opposed to the financial schemes now pending before 
the legislature, calculated to increase the burdens of 
the people, depreciate the bonds, and ruin the credit of the 
people, and cripple commerce.'*^ The aithusiasm of the 
crowd here almost outstripped that of the leaders. Said 
one speaker : * * It is designed not to defend, but to pltmder 
the country, and take away the liberties of the people. 
What is to be done?'' 

* * Kill them, ' ' came the prompt response from the crowd. 
**Ah, no, not yet. But put your foot down and say 

that this thing shall not be. There is power in the fixed 
determination of the people, and if the bills are then passed, 
do as Boston did to the minions of Greorge III. What is 
to be done with a Legislature that does these things?" 
** Lynch them,*' was the verdict of his hearers.* 
A series of resolutions was passed protesting against 
the proposed bills as destructive of the freedom of elec- 
tions and as creating an absolute despot of the executive, 
and denouncing their advocates as public enemies. Men 
gave the world notice that they intended to use all the 
means in their power to prevent the payment of any bonds 
or other obligations of the State which were not indis- 
pensably necessary to the proper administration of the 
government, and threatened openly to vote for no man 
who would not refuse to vote any appropriations for such 
obligations. ^ Committees in every parish sought to obtain 

* The movement for concerted action against bad legislation had^b^im 
in 1869 when the Taxpayers' Organization had been created in a mass- 
meeting, Oct. 23. Commercial BttUeUn, Oct. 25, 1869. 

^Pic,, Feb. I. 

» For the resolves in full see House Jour., 148-9. 

Digitized by 


68 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

the signatures of the citizens of the State to the above 
resolutions, and a delegation of one hundred citizens was 
chosen to present them to the governor and the Assembly. 

The governor's reception of the committee was cordial, 
but his response contained some remarkable charges; 
he laid the blame for the excesses on lobbyists who knew 
how to manipulate the negroes, and laid the corruption 
at the door of individuals and corporations who repre- 
sented the very best people; nor did he scruple to with- 
hold names. 

'*The bill (the five million bond bill) went to the Senate. 
I walked into the Senate chamber and saw nearly every 
prominent broker of the city engaged in lobbying that bill 
through the Senate, and it was only by exposing the fact 
that one of their emissaries had come into this very 
chamber and laid upon the desk of my secretary an order 
for $50,000 that I was able to defeat it. Mr. Conway, 
the mayor of your city, came here and offered me any 
consideration to induce me to sign this bill."^ 

The visit of the delegates to the Senate on February 2 
degenerated into pure farce. A long and amusing debate 
as to whether they should receive them or not took place 
before the delegates, as by some misunderstanding they had 
crowded into the chamber before the Senators had settled 
this momentous question. And Pinchback explained in 
great detail that he had been obliged to admit them at 
once or they ** would go off with an additional excuse 
that we would not listen to the representatives of the 
people.'** After the reading of the resolutions the dde- 

' Cyclopedia, 1870, 455. One of his charges was against the leading 
brokers, who subsequently denied the charge against them; and other 
persons indicated by the governor, while admitting their attempts to bribe 
him, alleged that he was interested against them, or that he was not satis- 
fied with the prices offered. Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, 

^ Senate Deb., 360-1. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 69 

gates were virtually asked to leave' and the indignation 
of the Senators found wordy expression. ^ Though the 
suggestion to return the resolutions as ** disrespectful and 
insulting" was not adopted, the latter were promptly 

The attempt with the House on the same day met with 
no more success, though preliminary arrangement for a 
ten-minute recess prevented any such tmdignified parley 
as had occtirred in the other body. But the House took 
much the same attitude of offense toward the resolutions 
and buried them in a special committee.^ 

Nominating conventions for the selection of candidates 
for State ofl&cers were held ,in the month of September 
by both the Republican and Democratic parties. A fea- 
ture of both conventions was the appearance of a large 
number of colored delegates. Inqtiiries were sent to the 
Democratic State Central Committee as to the admission 
of colored delegates and so the committee in the regular 
address to the people took occasion to voice the pajrty 
sentiment in the following language: 

*' The interests of both white and black men are identical 
in this struggle. Whatever rights and privileges either 
enjoy under the constitution are sacred, and it is the duty 
of every citizen to see that they are maintained. The 
Democratic party has always upheld and defended the 
constitution of the coimtry and will now, as ever in 
the past, protect and defend every citizen in the full and 
free exercise of all rights guaranteed by that instrument.'' ^ 

* A very pointed hint is given: " But all the Senate can do in self-respect 
is to intimate to this body of citizens the rules of the Senate, and their own 
sense of propriety should dictate to them what to do." Senate Dpb., 358. 

^ "I looked upon that as an act of the grossest incivility and abuse; and 
sir, as a matter of self-respect and vindication of the privil^es of the House, 
I deem it right that a rebuke be administered." 

3 House Jour., 184. 

^Annual Cyclopedia, 1870, 457. 

Digitized by 


70 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

It declared its platform to be retrenchment and reform, 
reduction of the debt and taxation, rebuilt levees, 
restored confidence, and a desire to develop the agricultural 
resources of the State. 

The election was remarkable for its peaceful character. ' 
But later investigation established the fact that there 
was much fraud both in connection with the appointment 
of registrars and in the count of the election ballots. The 
law required the appointment of registrars six months be- 
fore election. Yet in August but two had been appointed. 
It was charged that the governor purposely delayed 
appointment in order to influence the August conven- 
tion. ^ He had appointed in at least sixteen parishes Demo- 
cratic supervisors of registration on the score that it was 
hard to find competent Republicans willing to undertake 
it and that it was good policy. ^ The same investigation 
concluded that * 'there is no doubt that most scandalous 
frauds were committed by and with the connivance of 
some of these registrars,^ sometimes in the interest of 
Republicans and sometimes in the interest of Democratic 
candidates." 5 An old negro, who had been nominated, 
was astonished at the result of the cotmt and cried : * * Is it 

'The Governor called it "the most qtiiet, peaceable, and orderly elec- 
tion the State has witnessed for many years." Sen. Jour., 1871, 23. 

^ House Misc. Doc, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 121. 

5 House Reports, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 4. 

The attempt to control the negro vote made by the Democrats in 1868 
seems to have been abandoned. See Nordhoflf 's story of how a prominent 
citizen dismissed a personal servant for Voting against him and then re- 
stored him with the resolution never again to try to control a black man's 

* Packard states that the registrar in West Feliciana made a contract 
with the Democrats whereby he agreed to give a certain vote to the Demo- 
cratic parish ofl&cers in return for Democratic help in electing a RepubHcan 
Senator. House Misc. Doc, No. 211, 143. 

sibid., 18, 438, 439. A part of Caddo Parish where eight hxmdred 
voters lived was cut oflf by water and so no registrar went to that section 
at all, 50. 

Digitized by 


The Climax of Warmothism 71 

possible I have no vote come out of the box? Tore God, 
I know I vote for mjrself." ^ 

A considerable number of registrars, clerks, and friends 
of registrars were returned elected to the legislature.^ 
Carr, who was returned from De Soto Parish without a 
nomination, was not even & resident of that parish, ^ nor 
was his the only case of that kind. It was conspicuous 
that fraudulently returned members were friends of the 
governor,^ and he was charged with direct complicity in 
two cases. Some rioting, notably at Donaldsonville 
and Baton Rouge, was reported. ^ This naturally gave 
rise to many contested elections which himg on to furnish 
the opponents of the governor their opporttmity in 1872. 

It was a dear Republican victory. Graham and Du- 
buclet, the Republican candidates for auditor and treas- 
urer, came in with majorities of about twenty-five 
thousand each, and that party secured majorities in both 
branches of the Assembly . The four constitutional amend- 
ments were submitted to popular vote and adopted. 
The amendment to Article 99 was indorsed unanimously.* 

An interesting fact is to be noted here. In the spring 
of 1868, while the Democracy was wholly imorganized 
and the negroes aggressive under the protection of the 
military government, the State went Republican, but was 
carried by a reinvigorated Democratic party in the 

* Senate Reports, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 457, 718. 

^ According to Bovee fifteen or twenty registrars were returned. House 
Misc. Doc., No. 211, 245. 

3 He was put on the ticket by the Parish Committee as the man named 
by the convention said he could not leave. Part of the tickets bore 
his name, part the name of the former nominee, so that the friends 
of the latter who could not read were tricked into voting for Carr. Ibid,, 

< Bovee stated: "I think there was a regular system of fraud entered 
into with a view of electing certain men. ... As far as I can learn, all 
were perpetrated in the governor's interest." Ibid,, 243. 

» Sen. Jour., 1871, 32. • Ibid., 1871, 24. 

Digitized by 


^2 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

Presidential election of November of the same year; but 
in 1870 it swung back to the party in power. ' But there 
are two perfectly intelligible explanations which do not 
necessarily invalidate the vote for Seymour in 1868: the 
new election law and the Enforcement Act of May 31, 
1870,* which imposed heavy' penalties for infringement 
upon the right to vote. 

' See the table which iUtistrates this shifting in Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 
2 Sess., No. 41, 250. 
' United States Statutes at Large, XVI., 140-6. 


Digitized by ^ 


The Be^inniniC of ITVarmoth's Downfall 

THE first hints of dissension within what may be 
accurately called Warmoth's party came as early 
as January, 1870. The element which was to 
become so notorious as the *' Custom-House" faction had 
already made its appearance in Louisiana politics. A 
resolution introduced into the House in the early days 
of the session recognized the existence of separate organi- 
zations contending for recognition as the Central Republi- 
can Club, and designated the men of the New Orleans 
custom-house as ''erring" members.' A certain tension 
seems to have been present in the attitude of the House 
toward all questions respecting the custom-house. When 
the Hotise sought information concerning its own mem- 
bers who were in the employ of the custom-house. Col- 
lector Casey refused it, as he was not a State ofl&cer.* 

The cause of the personal opposition to Warmoth is to 
be traced, no doubt, to the movement for the removal of 
his ineligibility for a second term, which caused alarm 

* Jan. 15, 1870. "Whereas different persons and separate oi^ganizations 
are contending for recognition as the Central Republican Club of the State 
of Louisiana. . . . Resolved That the organization thus attempted be per- 
mitted to take a back seat in the gatherings of the great Republican party 
of this state, and that the door of the Republican Temple shall hereafter, 
like gospel gates, stand open night and day, until all political sinners, includ- 
ing even the erring ones from the New Orleans Customhouse, shall have time 
and opportunity to return decently and in order to their father's house." 
La. House Jour., 55. 

* See above p. 29. House Joum., 1870, 252. 


Digitized by 


74 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

to the other Republican aspirants for that honor. ' Or- 
ganizations were soon covertly started to defeat the 
amendment at the polls, according to Warmoth's state- 
ment.^ Opposition, however, first became open at the 
Republican State Convention which assembled at New 
Orleans, August 9, 1870, for the nomination of a ticket and 
the appointment of a State Central Committee. It was 
felt that the governor was taking extraordinary pains to 
control that convention, especially as he had been elected 
a delegate by a club which the committee did not recog- 
nize. 3 Both he and the lieutenant-governor, who was also 
present as a delegate, were nominated to preside, but 
here the former met his first check: he was defeated by his 
negro subordinate. As the civil rights bill of the preceding 
session still lay unsigned in the hands of the governor, 
a resolution of censure was urged by the custom-house 
officials on the score that he had sold out his radical 
principles to the Democrats; but after a heated discussion, 
in which Warmoth defended his action, the matter was 
dropped and his conduct virtually indorsed.-* The con- 
vention denounced special legislation and pledged its 
best endeavors to check it. 

The State Central Committee consisted regularly of 
fifteen members, ten appointed by the convention, five by 
the chair. As organized, the five appointees of the chair 

' Warmoth himself thought that "if it had not been for that amendment 
there would have been no division." House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., 
No. 211, 380. Dibble, however, thought that opposition began when he 
refused to sign the civil rights bill of 1868. Ibid., 298. 

^ Ibid,, 298. He alleged that the custom-house party printed 500,000 
tickets in opposition to the amendment and distributed them through the 
State. It is also significant that almost all the Republican votes against 
the amendment were cast in the third ward where Dunn and Lowell 
lived. Ibid,, 382. 

i Ibid., 128. 

4 House Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 9, and House Misc. Doc., 42 
Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 299. 

Digitized by 


Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 75 

were opposed to the re-eUgibiKty amendment and won 
over a majority of the whole committee. Hence, the 
governor refused to contribute to the regular campaign 
funds or to encourage his friends to do so, but levied forced 
contributions upon all his appointees on pain of dismissal, '. 
organized an auxiliary committee, and began a canvass 
of his own, in many instances in favor of candidates 
not regularly nominated by the party. * He had tickets 
printed in favor of the amendment, ^ and, as we have seen, 
scored a victory at the polls. To Dimn's complaint that 
the Warmoth faction had violated custom in organizing 
an auxiliary committee, he retorted that the regtdar 
committee was trjdng to prevent a fair expression of 
opinion on the amendment. 

Before the legislature met on January 2, 1871, the friends 
of the governor entered, with his knowledge, into a coali- 
tion ^ with the Democrats of the Senate, whereby they 
robbed the lieutenant-governor of his patronage by taking 
the -appointment of committees into their own hands, « 
and made Democrats chairmen and majority members 
of several of the committees,* thus insuring their seats ^ 

' It would seem that both sides used their patronage. Warmoth accused 
the custom-house of using its appointment of 400-500 Federal employees for 
the purpose of influencing the legislature in the fight. House Misc. Doc., 42 
Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 356. 

^ Ibid., 155' 

s House Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 3. 

* House Misc. Doc., 42, Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 384. 

5 The vote is indicative of the relative strength, 24 to 11. Sen. Jour., 

•Another bit of testimony would indicate that the bestowal on the 
Democrats of the patronage in their respective localities was a part of this 
bargain. House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 126. 

7 The finessing for coalition appears strongly here. A proposition had 
been made in writing by Dunn and Packard to the Democrats, whereby 
the former agreed to prevent any further l^slation for mixed schools or 
social equality and to aid in the repeal of the obnoxious legislation, if the 
Democrats would help to defeat Warmoth. The offer was rejected by the 
Democrats. Ibid., 306-7. 

Digitized by 


76 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

to certain members who had been fraudulently elected. 

By the same coalition Carr was re-elected speaker on 
the first day, receiving every Democratic vote.' The 
committees of both houses were thus so constituted that 
anti-Warmoth men were powerless to rid the legislature 
of ineligible members. Dissatisfaction with Carr's rulings, 
however, was so loudly expressed that about the middle 
of the session he was compelled by a union of Democrats 
with the custom-house faction to resign, and Colonel 
Carter of Cameron, old and rather deaf,^ was elected in 
his place. ^ Opportunity was now afforded for a recon- 
struction of the Committee on Elections, which, although 
unable to complete its investigation before the recess, by 
an adverse report on four members at the next session, 
ultii^^ately helped to complicate an already intricate 

The choice of a United States Senator on January lo 
to succeed J. S. Harris served still further to antagonize 
the custom-house faction against Warmoth. James F. 
Casey, collector of the port, who had, up to this time, acted 
in harmony with the administration party, desired this 
honor for himself,^ but the governor threw his influence 
in favor of General J. R. West, who, supported by the 
Democrats under fear of the election of the negro Pinch- 
back, « was elected on the first ballot in both houses.* 

* La. House Jour., 1871, i. 

^ Ibid,, 79. House Debates, 1871, 115. Jan. 31. 

s On one occasion he apologized for so frequently vacating the chair, on 
the ground that he was sick and feeble, and broke down, "standing up and 
talking loud enough to keep the members in order." House Deb., 1871 , 200. 

4 Packard denied that Casey wanted the ofl&ce, but the burden of proof is 
against him. He had acted with Warmoth prior to this time and a custom- 
house brother approached Warmoth on the question. Warmoth 's refusal to 
support him could hardly do otherwise than alienate him. House Misc. 
Docs., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 328-9. 

i Ibid., $27. 

<La. Soi. Jour., 1871, 20. House Jour., 21. It is interesting ib note 

Digitized by 


Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 77 

Casey was soon found among the governor's most violent 

In view of the peacef til election of the preceding autumn 
and the general quiet of the State, the hopeful words of 
the governor's message do not sound as absurd as events 
destined to occur within little more than a year were to 
prove them: 

I cannot pass from this subject to other details, in justice, 
without calling your attention to the general and peaceable 
acquiescence of our people in the results of the reconstruction 
policy of the general government. Their acceptance of it as a 
finality has been much more satisfactory in Louisiana than 
in any other state in the South.' 

While urging the encouragement of public improve- 
ments, he warned the Assembly against certain schemes 
of plunder "which are already organizing and will con- 
tinue to be orgaoiized and presented to you for votes, " 
and insisted that the commonwealth's stat^ of bonded 
indebtedness must preclude any ftirther appropriations 
as subsidy. Adequate penalty for bribery, ^ which had, he 
acknowledged, become a "crying evil," amendments to 
the public land laws, the police jury system, the restora- 
tion of the old capitol at Baton Rouge, and a larger 
measure of home rule for New Orleans are subjects which 
appear in his message for the first time.^ Although 
defending the legislatipn of the previous session, he 
recommended with studied vagueness of expression the 
modification of the election and registration laws: 

Pinchback's appearance as a candidate thtis early. He was a strong 
second though not in the race as yet. The vote stood 68 to 24, Hotise Deb,, 
1871, 9. 

* Sen. Jour., 1871, 23. 

^ There was no law against bribery in Louisiana. 

i La. Sen. Jour., 1871, 27-9. 

Digitized by 


78 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

The violent rancor of that period (1868) having now given 
place to a more liberal and just acknowledgment of the true 
relations of all our citizens, I commend to your consideration 
the modification of the registration and election laws to an 
extent, that, while securing the inalienable rights of all, will 
make the usage under them less irksome and exacting to the 

Together with his message he returned without his 
approval ten bills to the Senate,^ and three to the House. 
The veto power was very freely used by Governor War- 
moth. Up to January i, 1871, he had vetoed thirty- 
nine bills 3 and suffered others to become law without his 
approval by lapse of the constitutional time limit, because 
they were passed by such a majority as to have made "his 
veto a useless bit of friction.' '^ His courage in boldly 
vetoing some measures very close to the hearts of* his 
legislators should not pass unnoted, nor the strength of 
his influence, for only five, up to this time, were able to 
muster the requisite two-thirds majority in the face of 
his opposition. 

The legislature took to heart the governor's statement 
that the questions most urgent were such measures as 
would most speedily '* bring railroads, open natural water- 
courses, and facilitate ocean commerce, " without heeding 
his warning of the need for rigid economy. The orgy 
of voting away paper money to aid paper railroads and 

» La. Sen. Jour., 1871, 29. 

* He later withdrew one of these vetoes. Ibid., 63. Only one of these 
ten bills passed over his veto. He should have credit for preventing the 
squandering of a million and a half dollars by his veto of the Nicholson 
pavement bill in 1870. 

« This statement is based upon the table submitted by the governor him- 
self in 1872 to a Congressional committee. House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 
Sess., No. 211, 286-94. 

< By 1872 he had vetoed 70 bills and refused to sign 40. Ibid,, 285. 

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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 79 

canals went on with even greater frenzy than before. It 
was iinfortunate that the governor did not carry the 
courage of his convictions further and instead of vetoing 
but six bills, do his part to quash the thirteen laws' which 
appropriated over $800,000 in actual subsidies; which 
granted away valuable timber along with the right of 
way to a new railroad; and which granted exemption 
from taxation to another canal company. The loose 
extefnsion of $40,000, which had been appropriated the 
preceding session for the removal of obstructions in 
Bayou Bartholomew, to '*what more might be necessary"^ 
is indicative of the business care applied to the State 
pocket-book. The governor's signature to the bill for 
the purchase of a site and erection of a State capitoP 
may be regarded as raising the State indebtedness by one 
and one-half milUon dollars. He suflEered an act guaran- 
teeing the second mortgage bonds of another railroad to 
become law without his signature,^ but the measure which 
guaranteed the principal and interest of a warehouse 
company to the amount of over a milUon dollars was 
obUged to pass over his veto.^ The total amount added 
to the State debt by this Assembly amounted to about 
four miUion dollars. Nineteen different appropriation 
bills were passed, aside from those granting subsidies. 

But it was apparent by this time that much of this 
effort to stimulate development by State aid was barren 
of result. Some roads which had received State aid had 
nothing to show for it, and committees of investigation 
*'to 'ascertain whether the said company has complied 
with the conditions of the act" incorporating it were 

' See the laws of La. for 1871, Nos. 35, 40, 46, 53, 59, 70, etc. 

^ Ibid., No. 45. 

i Ibid., No, SI. 

* Ibid., No. 28. The Southeastern Raikoad Company. 

s Ibid., No. 41. The Louisiana Warehouse Company. 

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8o Reconstruction in Louisiana 

beginning to appear. ' So strong was the feeling that the 
governor recommended to the next legislature that unless 
work be begun actively within six months, certain rail- 
roads should lose their charters.* 

The vexatious levee problem seemed to have f oimd a 
solution. When the serious crevasses which threatened 
New Orleans with inundation appeared in the spring, 
the governor assumed control and closed the breaks with 
the aid of State engineers. The Louisiana Levee Company 
was then formed and its interests made identical with 
those of the State. The company contracted to con- 
struct, maintain, and control levees on both banks of the 
Mississippi and its tributaries according to the require- 
ments of a competent commission of three able engineers; 
to construct at least three million cubic yards each year 
imtil the levee was completed to the required standard. 
To get the company started the State subscribed a con- 
siderable sum and levied a special tax of two-tenths per 
cent for twenty-one years for a repair fund, and, in the 
absence of any tax for the current year, issued bonds to 
the amount of one milUon dollars.^ 

Although a nimiber of additional schools had been put 
in operation, 4 the superimposed Northern school law still 
proved unsatisfactory for Louisiana and came up for 
further amendment. Forty thousand dollars was fleeced 

' Sen. Jour., 1871, 67, House Jour., 35. In all, the New Orleans, Mobile, 
and Chattanooga Railroad Company received from the State $4,250,000 or 
over $58,000 a mile besides a grant of the use of a part of the New Orleans 
levee, valued at $1 ,000,000, for it completed only seventy miles. It remains 
to be added that two different companies of Northern capitalists offered to 
build the Houston and New Orleans road without subsidy or aid, but the 
legislature would not grant a charter. Nordhoff, 58. 

* Annual Cyclopedia, 1871, 474. 

i La. House Jour., 125, Sen. Jour., 121. For the full act see Session Laws, 
1871, No. 4. 

4 In 1 87 1 the total ntmiber of schools was 640, the ntmiber of teachers 
1240, and the attendance 90,000. Annual Cyclopedia, 1871, 474. 

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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 8i 

from the people annually for salaries of school administra- 
tors and incidental expenses, outside of the teachers' 
salaries and other expenses. School directors were often 
unable to write their names. A letter from the president 
of the school board of Carroll Parish, as printed in the 
National RepttbUcan, is so ungrammatical and misspelled 
that it is almost impossible to read it.' Cain Sartain, 
who later figured as a Representative, now a school 
teacher, was appallingly ignorant.* Naturally demands 
for the aboUtion of this costly and inefl&cient establishment 
were incessant. The supplement passed this session tended 
to simplify the law, but the chief change was provision 
for the appointment by a State board of subordinate 
boards of school directors for the several parishes, towns, 
and cities, who should have charge of aU the funds and 

«Feb. 1, 1872. 
" January the 9th 1872. 

Cor J P York I visited new Welashe Peish in the critmas finnen the White 
People rebelling Jest as much as the dead When You Was on the ball field 
Dod Swan leven in bellvue says by god he Wald like See the Dam Yankes 
start a public School in bellvu are minden ore any Whare beteew monre and 
Scheveport he Shat down a Young man I sew Well my names Simon ford on 
Widarvne lone Plac all so Jhon head and Jhon alf ard liven in bellvue cauth 
a young man name Anderson Smith Who Went to see a Yoimg coUard lady 
step him Struck Him 3000 licks With a new caw hide do for God Sake Send 
them Peple Petectheon. I promised them that I Wold Send You" 

^ National Republican, Feb. 6, 1872. • 
''Mr. Spaker. I ask the unimus consent of the house to rise to a question 
of privilege. I find in one of the issures of the Times last week a burlest on 
one of my carstituent which was takened from a private letter adressed to 
my collegue who ocuppies a seat on this floor as a representative who sent 
the private letter up to the Chief Clerks desk to be read as a memoral. I 
think that the gentlemen my collegue who occupies a seat on this floor 
he acted very injustice with one of his constituents which he stands here to 
represent, end not only don injustice to his constituents he have I consider 
Mr. Speaker have shone a disrespecte this heaverbal body by sending a 
privat letter up to the Clerk desk to be read as a memoral in order to flatter 
one of his constituent he have not had a chance of an education, as he have 

Digitized by 


82 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

school records, all to be under the direction of the division 
superintendent. An additional tax of one to two mills 
was to be levied on the taxable property of the parish. 
Special individual provision was made for the board in 
New Orleans and for the levying of a special tax to the 
amount requested by the board. But a section of the 
revenue law which prohibited the city from collecting 
taxes in excess of two per cent^ would have closed the 
schools, as the limit had already been exceeded, except for 
the aid rendered by the State superintendent and the city 
government.* Still the system awakened great dissatis- 
faction, even the colored people gnmibling. The governor, 
by the appointment of Conway, a Republican and intimate 
friend, to the headship of the school-system, erected it into 
a political machine.^ 

Agreeably to the governor's recommendation, bills to 
modify both the election and registration^ laws were 
introduced into the Senate about the middle of the session, 
but were not pressed through, largely, it was charged, 
because of the governor's secret opposition. An effort 
to tamper still further with the government of New 
Orleans, s and a generous appropriation for the militia^ 
passed both houses but failed, apparently, to secure the 
governor's signature. Some attention was devoted to 

' Laws of Lovdsiana, 1871, No. 42, Sec. 7. 

^ Annual Cyclopedia, 1871, 474. 

4 House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 40. According to the 
National Republican, Conway was " devoted to the fortunes of his Excellency 
just as ardently as he is opposed to the interests of the people of the State." 
Jan. 3, 1872. 

<This bill immediately upon its appearance from the committee was 
made the special order for a certain date, but does not reappear in the 
Journal after Feb. 10. Sen. Jour., 1870, 102. Election law appeared Feb. 
I, Sen. Jour., 73. 

» Passed by the Senate Feb. 16. Sen. Jour., 131 ; by the House, Feb. 18, 
House Jour., 157. 

• Sen. Jour., 220 ; House Jour., 222. Passed by both houses Mar. 2. 

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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 83 

the labor problem and to the question of creating parishes. 
The latter subject, probably for political reasons, had 
been something of a mania with the legislature, until at 
this session^ the proposition was urged with much force 
"to stop the legislature from creating new parishes imless 
authorized by the voters of the parishes to be divided/'^ 

The extravagance and state of utter corruption of the 
legislative body in 1871-2 were only the natural result of 
the conditions started in 1868-9. 

The amount of the State debt was disputed. The 
governor held that it was, in round numbers, $22,000,000, 
while the auditor claimed it to be $41,000,000, the differ- 
ence to be accounted for by a contingent debt of $18,000,- 
000 dependent on the construction of railroads, the 
second mortgage bonds of which the State had agreed to 
indorse.^ The bonded debt was $19,188,300, the annual 
interest oh which amounted to $1,403,820, besides which 
there was a miscellaneous debt of $3, 1 87,490. ^ A compari- 
son of the debt with the period just preceding the War- 
moth administration is suggestive, as it had increased 
over $8,000,000 since 1868, taking the conservative 
estimate, 5 growing by deficiencies at the rate of over 

' Even during this session fourteen new parishes were proposed. 

* House Jour., 68. 

» The governor asserted that there was not the slightest possibility that 
those roads would be built, and that if every one were built, the State would 
be amply secured from ever having to pay the indorsement, as the road would 
be worth four times the amoimt guaranteed. Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., 
No. 41, Pt. i, 197. 

4 Ibid,, 193. The governor's figures vary slightly in different statements, 


«The following total compiled by Secretary Bragdonfor the governor is 

Public debt for i860 $10,099,074.32 
1868 14,347,051.02 

1870 23,427,952.29 

1871 22,357,999.05 

1872 23,045,790.00 Ibid,, 200. 

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84 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

$1 ,000,000 a year. The expenditures in 1 870 had exceeded 
the income by over $1,000,000 although the deficit was 
more than covered by the balance in the State treastiry 
at the beginning of the year. The total amount of bonds 
or aid granted by the State to various corporations, prior 
to 1 87 1 and for which bonds had not yet been issued, was 
over twelve millions. The auditor estimated the probable 
expenditures of 1872 at something over three millions, 
but as a matter of fact they far exceeded that sum. 

The total amoimt of taxable property in the State at the 
dose of 1871 was $250,594,417.50 from which $4,605,- 
475.02 in taxes was collected.' With this should be 
compared the valuation and taxes in 1870 to show the 
decrease. The valuation was the same — ^$251,296,017.02, 
— but the taxes collected were $6,490,028. * The unpaid 
taxes amotmted in 1871 to nearly five millions, exclusive 
of the taxes due for 1870 and of the taxes in a number 
of parishes where no rolls of assessment had been made. ^ 
The aggregate tax in the State was fourteen and one-half 
mills on the dollar.-* So great was the burden of this 
taxation that in some parishes whole, forty-acre tracts 
of land, as rich as any in the Nile, were sold that year by 
the tax-gatherer for one dollar, and in many instances 
estates absolutely found no bidders. Large owners were 
willing to give half their acres to immigrant families on 
the sole condition that they should settle on and improve 
the land given them. A company was being formed 
in northern Louisiana to divide 50,000 acres of land in 
tracts of fifty acres to a family. Real estate declined 

* Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, Pt. i., 205. 

fo.658,879 is quoted by Scott from the Financial Chronicle, see Scott, 
Repudiation of State Debts, no. 

* Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41 , Pt. i., 205. Cf. Scott, Repudiation 
of State Debts, 100. 

i Sen. Jour., 1871, 27, House Jour., 87. 

* Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, Pt. i., 358. 

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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 85 

within the years 1 870-1 not less than twenty-five per cent. ' 
What was formerly considered very good security, mort- 
gage paper for instance, had become of little value, because 
in a few years at that rate of taxation no one could pass the 
papers, for in case of foreclosure the property bore with 
it the burden of five, six, or seven per cent taxes which 
would leave no revenue.* The picture of the financial 
state drawn by a distinguished Democrat about this time is 
worthy of quotation. 

If we were threatened with the continuance of the power 
which has administered this government, the conflagration 
of Chicago would not be more desolating than the effect of the 
continuance of this legislation would be upon the city of New 
Orleans; and the reason of it is this: when the city of Chicago 
was btimed to the ground the people had at least the ground 
left, and northern and eastern capitalists have come there to 
rebuild it, while with us capital is flying from the state, com- 
merce is decreasing, and everybody who can is trying to get 

The cost of collecting the tax was excessive. Ten per 
cent of the amount was allowed for assessment and collec- 
tion in all but portions of New Orleans where five per cent 
was deducted. The mere cost to the State of gathering in 
the taxes in 187 1 was close to $500,000 out of a total of 
$6,500,000.4 This made the cost of collection over twelve 
per cent. 5 The poll-tax in the second district of New 
Orleans for 10,146 persons amoimted to but $1911, and 

« National Republican, Jan. 2, 1872. 

* Testimony of Etistis, House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 534. 

» Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, Pt. i., 205. The National RepubU- 
can reported September 22, " The r^;ular broker shuns all dealings with it — 
city paper — and capitalists scorn it, it is hawked around by its imfortimate 
owners — clerks and laborers — and sold to the first man who offers to buy it." 

*^93i324- Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, Pt. i., 358. 

« Note Herbert's table comparing the cost in 1871 with tiat under the 
Democrats before the war, 403. 

Digitized by 



86 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

of this sum, after the cost of assessment and collection 
was deducted, only $800.85 was left to the treastiry. ' 

The legislative session of 1871 cost $958,956.50, although 
the Assembly appropriated only $641,400, the average 
cost of each Senator amounting to about $5300, of each 
Representative, $7300, making the average cost of a 
member $113.50 per day.^ With this statement should 
be compared the cost before the war, when the largest 
amount ever appropriated for an ordinary session was 
$100,000.3 The explanation of the enormous difference 
is to be found in the governor's comment ^i 

It was squandered in paying extra mileage and per diem of 
members for services never rendered^; for an enormous corps 
of useless clerks and pages, ^ for publishing the jotimals of 
each house in fifteen obscure parish newspapers, some of which 
never existed, while some never did the work^; in paying extra 
committees authorized to sit during the vacation and to travel 
throughout the State and into Texas*; and in an elegant 
stationery bill which included ham, champagne, etc' 

' Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, 360. Tax Collector Sheridan said 
that he cleared about $32,000 in 187 1 and $14,000 in 1872. Ibid., 42 Cong., 
3 Sess., No. 457, 707. Warmoth defended those figures as the usual re- 
ceipts for the ofl&ce. Ibid., 713-14. 

^ House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 396. 

i Sen. Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 41, Pt. i., 359. 

• Governor's Message, 1872. Annual Cyclop., 1 871, 471. 

« Some committees were authorized to continue during the recess, some 
thirty, some sixty days, some longer. 

• The Enrollment Committee had over eighty clerks at $8 a day, when 
not more than ten could be required, according to the governor's statement. 

7 The printing bill for the House journals was $68,000, exclusive of 
New Orleans. House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 38. 

• $20,000 was spent in extra mileage above the amount allowed by law, 
$40,000 for mileage and per diem of special traveling cpmmittees of the 
House alone. Carter stated that there were thirty-one standing committees 
and twenty special committees with a full complement of clerks. House 
Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 39. 

9 National Republican, Jan. 2, 1872. 

Digitized by 


Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 87 

The official reporter in the Senate drew the munifi- 
cent salary of twenty dollars per day,' while each 
representative of a newspaper received a generous 

The enormous printing bills were, of course, a result of 
corruption. The public printing had cost the State in 
three years $1,500,000, * a goodly share of which Warmoth 
was accused of obtaining because of his fourth interest in 
the State paper. ^ Under the law the three commissioners 
named a State printer for the journals, laws, and debates, 
but they were also ajUthorized to have the printing done 
by certain country papers. In addition the House and 
Senate claimed the right to select other country papers 
to publish these documents officially, to be paid from the 
contingent funds, so that thirty-five or forty more were so 
selected. The sum of $180,000 was paid to papers in New 
Orleans in 1871, outside of the official organ. ^ Many of 
the papers were sustained only by these contracts, « It 
was generally believed that men were sent over the 
country to edit these papers in order to build up the 
interests of the governor, while Carter, on the other hand, 
openly admitted that he gave his patronage to papers 
which would support the reform movement/ 

* Sen. Jour., 1871, 74. 

* House Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 21. The largest sum ever 
spent before the war, when they were printed in both English and French, 
was $60,000. 

i This paper was said to pay a dividend of 1 10 per oent. But the gover- 
nor denied receiving any dividend. House Misc., Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., 
No. 211, 368. 

^ Ibid., 38. Sometimes papers were opposed merely because others were 
entitled to the same privileges. House Deb., 4. 

»Ibid., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 39. See House Jour., 55 and 129 for 
a list. 

^Ibid. He asserted in the Press Convention that his patronage should 
not be used against him, and in several cases where papers asserted this 
independence, the contracts were revoked. House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 
Sess., No. 211, 298. 

Digitized by 


88 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

The entire lack of conscience of the men who were 
administering the government came to light during the 
dose of this year and early in 1872 with appalling vivid- 
ness, until one turns away simply sickened by the tale 
of corruption.^ Neither party nor class lines regulated 
integrity,* for reputable men of both sides were among 
the persons who oflEered bribes. As Carter put it, ''There 
seems to be something in the climate here that affects 
both parties." ^ Under oath one man declared that it was 
generally understood all round that any one who wanted 
to get a bill through had to pay for it. He thought there 
was a regular office opened down on Royal Street for that 
purpose where there was an agent for members. He had 
seen money paid right c«i the floor of the House. After 
the passage of the Chattanooga bill he saw a man with his 
hands full of money paying it out to members with little 
attempt at concealment.^ • Senators under false names 
were incorporators of many of the companies chartered 

* Phelps says: "The corruption was so general and so notorious that no 
one connected, directly or indirectly, has escaped from the mess without 
taint in the eyes of the people. " ■ Louisiana, 369. 

* Moncure declared that he did not know a public official who was not 
worthy of impeachment. Ibid,, 53-4. 

'House Misc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 38. 

^Ibid,, 238. Another man brought conclusive evidence and stated that 
he had witnessed money paid to Carr^ Dewees, and Pinchback. Ibid,, 474. 
Nordhoff had the original of the following interesting document : ' * Gentlemen 
of the Finance Committee of La. Levee Co. : Please pay to Hon. A. W. 
Faulkner the amoimt you may deem proper to pay on account of Levee Bill, 
I being absent at the time under orders of the House. But I would have voted 
for the bill had I been there. Mr. Faulkner is authorized to sign a receipt 
forme — Stamps." Nordhoff, 59. The value of quotations from Nordhoff 
may be. proved by stating that he declared himself a Republican, never 
having "voted any other Federal ticket than the Republican; I have been 
opposed to slavery as long as I have had an opinion on any subject except 
sugar, candy and tops; and I am a thorough believer in the capacity of the 
people to rule themselves, even if they are very ignorant, better than any- 
body else can rule them. " 10. 

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beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 89 

and got their shares of stock after the bills were passed. ' 
So wide-spread was the knowledge of their didionesty 
that the story was current that the members had not 
even time to write their promises to vote the passage of 
such and such a bill, but had to resort to printed blanks. *. 

One of the dishonest meastires, not naentioned else- 
where, should not be passed without brief mention, at 
least. In 1870^ the legislattire authorized the improve- 
ment of the old dty park, a piece of ground which had 
been held for the purpose for many years. During the 
following year two politicians, Southworth and Bloomer, 
got a written agreement from the owners of a large vacant 
piece of land — ^the only large tract near the city — to sell it 
to them at a fixed price, six hundred thousand dollars. 
The legislature of 1871 amended the park law so as to 
allow the commissioners to buy land for the new park 
and made an appropriation for it. The governor now 
appointed as park commissioners, Pinchback, West, and 
Southworth. They next acquired title to the property, 

t paid only sixty^five thousand dollars, the remainder 
g left on mortgage. August 15 they sold one-half 

eir purchase to the dty for eighty thousand dollars, 
receiving sixty-five thousand dollars in cash, and one 
hundred ninety-five thousand in bonds. It was common 
street talk that Antoine complained that Pinchback had 
cheated him out of forty thousand dollars, which he in 
some way expected out of the deal.^ 

'Most telling is the reluctant reply of the governor to the question, 
"Are jrou able to say from your knowledge, personally or officially, that 
all or nearly all of these bills incorporating monopolies or granting individuals 
private valuable franchises are passed through the legislature by corrupt 
means?" "I wouldn't like to say that." House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 
2 Sess., No. 211, 400. 

sThe Picayune had combated this measure. in 1869 as an act of folly 
then. Sep. 24, 1869. 4NQrdhoff,62. 

Digitized by 


90 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

The evidence fails of proof that the governor ever re- 
ceived a bribe for his action on any bill, ^ but it is difficult 
to escape the suspicion of his complicity in corrupt trans- 
actions, if it be true, as was alleged, that no bill which the 
governor favored could fail and none that he opposed could 
pass. He admitted his use of his patronage to remove 
personal enemies and appoint friends '*as a custom of 
governors"^ and that the government had been guilty 
of some abuses created by his connivance, but emphatically 
denied the perpetration of any frauds, ^ declaring on oath 
that he stood before the Congressional committee with 
''clean hands. "^ But his duplicity in other ways seems 
clear, while the fact stands out that with a salary of eight 
thousand dollars a year he testified that he had made 
far more than one hundred thousand dollars the first 

' The most damaging charge against him was that of a bribe of $50,000 
offered him to sign the Nicholson paving bill. Walsh published a card, 
saying that the governor had refused it because it was too little. The 
latter, naturally, denied this and tried to disprove it by the unsupported 
statement of another man, whereupon Walsh sent the governor a challenge. 
And so the matter stood — ^the unproved assertion of one man against 
other. House Misc. Doc, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 376. 

But Scott on the other hand swore that it cost more to get the govem< 
signature than to get it through the legislature. It is to be regretted 
the defense which Mr. Warmoth still expects to write, based, the writer 
understands, upon the fact that he prevented still more outrageous wrongs 
from being perpetrated, has not yet appeared, as it may throw additional 
light upon this question. The writer has applied to him repeatedly in vain 
for a statement of his position now after the lapse of forty years. 

^ House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 380. He said that he 
had learned from the Democrats that "to the victors belonfe the spoils." 



4 Ibid., 351 . He declared in a series of replies to direct questions that he 
had never tampered with the election of members, never counseled nor 
advised such tampering, never held any stock that he had not paid for, 
nor had stock presented to him, nor been promised stock on condition of 
approving a bill incorporating monopolies, and never been influenced in 
any way in his official acts by any reward or the hope or promise of it. But 
he admitted having signed bills after expiration of the constitutional time 
limit in order to " quiet the people." Ibid., 351, 371-2. 


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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 91 

year of his administration' and by 1872 was reported 
worth a million dollars. He was surely willfully deluding 
himself when he uttered this boast : 

I believe I have since I have been governor of the State, under 
circumstances and embarrassments of the gravest character, 
and under difficulties that I am surprised myself that I have 
been able to overcome, administered the State government 
in the best interests of the people of the State, and have 
produced as much harmony, good feeling, and prosperity 
as it was possible for me or any one else to produce under 
the circumstances.* 

In a series of remarkable pen pictures the governor 
brought charges of dishonesty against most of the custom- 
house reformers — against Senators Ray, Casey, Packard, 
Lowell, 3 Carter. 4 His attack on Carter may be con- 
sidered typical : 

Mr. Carter was also, and is now, the paid attorney of the 
New Orleans, Mobile, and Texas Railroad Company, from 
which he receives $833.33 P^r month, or |io,ooo per annum, 
and for which he has never done one hour's service. The 
contract for his employment was made with him by the 
company after he had kept in his pocket for thirty or sixty 
days a bill which had passed the legislature almost unani- 
mously, and immediately after this contract was made, by 
which he became the attorney of the company, the bill was 
signed by him.* 

* House Repts., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 25. 

^ House Misc. Doc, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 374. 

s Lowell was a defaulter for a large amount. 

^ House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 395-6. 

iJbid,, 396. Carter was an apostatizing preacher and ex-Confederate 
colonel, who had turned loyal patriot and anti-Warmoth leader. — Cox, Three 
Decades, p. 561. With this statement might be compared Carter's opinion 
of Warmoth as voiced in a speech in February, 1 872 : * * Lotiisiana is aflflicted 
with worse laws and worse administrators thereof than can be found in 
ten states of the Union, Henry Clay Warmoth is the Boss Tweed in Louisi- 

Digitized by 



92 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

Several of the men attempted no reply to these charges, 
and Carter's explanation served only to convince the 
Congressional committee that the charge was substan- 
tially true. ^ Casey was clearly proved to have been the 
holder of a corruption fund of $18,000, part of a $50,000 
fund raised by himself and others to bribe the legislature 
to pass a bill for a company in which he was an interested 
incorporator. When the governor vetoed the bill, Casey 
unlocked the safe and Herring returned $18,000. It 
required just eighteen senators to pass the bill.^ The 
president of the Louisiana Lottery Company had a list of 
about fifty members of the House with whom he had 
made arrangements for the passage of the Jackson Rail- 
road bill with the amotmt that had been paid and the sum 
still due. The amotmt with a few exceptions was $600, 
but Campbell and Pinchback were rated worth $2000. ^ 
Many members held two offices, quite content to inter- 
pret the constitution in the Louisiana way that a member 
of the Assembly was not a State officer. -♦ 

ana, except that that amiable villain, with ^11 his infamies, is a gentlemen and 
a saint compared with the unscrupulous despot who fills the executive chair 
of this state." — Cox, Three Decades of Federal Legislation^ 560. 

* House Rpts., 42 Cong., 2 Bess., No. 92, 23. Of course tiie men attacked 
made cotmter charges against the governor. 


« House Misc. Doc., 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 475; and House Repts., 
42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 92, 26. 

4 E. W. Dewees, another leader of the House, contended with Carr and 
Carter for eminence. The investigating committee of Congress reported 
that he had been under arrest with seven sworn charges of burglary against 
him, and had then obtained of the chief of police a certificate that his picture 
was not in the rogues' gallery. — Ibid,^ 27. 

The conclusion to which the Congressional committee came is worth 
noting when we recall that they were Republicans; "The world has rarely 
known a legislative body so rank with ignorance and corruption." — Ihid.^ 24. 
In May, 1875, five members of this legislature were indicted for bribery. 

In this evolting catalog it is refreshing to find one person free from the 

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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 93 

The governor made a genuine eflEort to combat the 
extravagance of the legislature. In April, 1871, soon 
after the adjournment of the Assembly, he applied to the 
courts for an injimction to restrain the auditor from 
paying warrants for the mileage, per diem, and contingent 
expenses of members of the lower house, because fraudu- 
lent vouchers had been issued whereby the amounts 
had been increased. The injunction was granted and the 
auditor, together with several experts, appointed to 
investigate the matter. The governor's real object was 
to assail Speaker Carter by the allegation that he had 
coerced the chief clerk to sign a fraudulent journal of the 
House, which authorized five committees to sit during 
the recess, thus defrauding the State of $200,000. War- 
moth declared that a number of resolutions, which the 
speaker stated as introduced and passed the last night, 
had been interpolated into the journal, for it was notorious 
that they had not been introduced up to half-past eight 
o'clock that evening, and that from that moment until the 
adjournment the House had been in a constant state of 
uproar, during which time it was impossible for the House 
to take any action. He advanced what seems considerable 
evidence of his charge, while the delay of the publication 
of this day's journal for sixteen days after the adjourn- 
ment,^ looks, it will be confessed, suspicious.* 

taint of dishonesty. The lieutenant-governor was regarded by the Demo- 
crats as incorruptible. "In the view of the Caucasian chiefs, the taint of 
honesty and of a scrupulous regard for the official proprieties, is a serious 
drawback and enervating reproach upon the Lieutenant Governor." — Times, 
August 4, 1871. 

» House Misc. Doc, 42 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 211, 396. The fraud took the 
form of substituting one bill for a similar one which had been tabled but 
purported in the journal to have been taken up that night. It was supposed 
that the delay was due to the loss of the original bill alleged to have been 

* It is only fair to add, as Carr pointed out, that the testimopy of the 
commission did not bear out these charges. — Ibid,, 230, 

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94 Reconstruction in Louisiana 

The report of the cominission sustained the charges of 
the governor but in part. It was shown that the amount 
of the warrants had in some instances been fraudently 
increased; that warrants to the amotmt of $240,000 had 
been issued in excess of the appropriation of 1871^; that 
many warrants for extra pay to officers and clerks had 
been issued on the resolution of but one house, contrary 
to law; that $40,000 had been fraudulently issued to com- 
mittees for mileage on official duty, when, according to the 
journals, they had not left the city ; aad that the signatures 
of the State officers had been forged in various instances. 
The commission condemned the loose manner of conduct- 
ing business in the warrant office, but brought no specific 
charges. The opposition press charged the governor 
with holding up this report for months and publishing it 
at the opportune moment for him — ^just before the as- 
sembling of the legislature in 1872.^ 

An important decision in regard to the limitation of the 
State debt was rendered in May by the State Supreme 
Court. The matter came up on appeal from the Eighth 
District Court of New Orleans, where a suit had been 
instituted to compel the auditor to issue a warrant on 
an appropriation of $50,000 made in favor of a Mr. Nixon. 
The auditor had refused because the law authorizing it 
violated the recent amendment, as it increased the debt 
above the constitutional limit. The Supreme Court 

» Annual Cyclopedia, 1 871, 471. The over issue of the vouchers forced 
the value of the warrants down to 2>^ cents on the dollar. — ^Herbert, Why 
the Solid South, 403. 

* National Republican, Jan. 2, 1872. 

Strangely enough the report appeared in the Picayune, Dec. 29, 1871. 

That paper printed one of its rare expressions of approval of the governor : 
" The efforts of the governor to defeat so glaring an infringement of the law 
will meet with general approval. The court has issued the injunction asked 
for by the Executive, and in consequence over three thousand dollars will 
be saved to the State." 

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Beginning of Warmoth's Downfall 95 

affirmed the decision of the lower court in favor of the 
auditor, contending that "the evidence in the record leaves 
no doubt that the debt of the State exceeded twenty- 
five million dollars on or before the first of March, 187 1.*'' 

' 23 La. Ann. 402-8, State of Louisiana ex rel. Salomon and Simpson vs, 
James Graham. 

npr 1 5 1919 


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