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The Colfax massacre, referred to sometimes as the Colfax riot, occurred on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana, the parish seat of Grant Parish. An estimated 62–153 Black militia men were murdered while surrendering to a mob of former Confederate soldiers and members of the Ku Klux Klan. Three white men also died during the confrontation. After the contested 1872 election for governor of Louisiana and local offices, a group of white men armed with rifles and a small cannon overpowered Black freedmen and state militia occupying the Grant Parish courthouse in Colfax. Most of the freedmen were killed after surrendering, and nearly another 50 were killed later that night after being held as prisoners for several hours. Estimates of the number of dead have varied over the years, ranging from 62 to 153; three whites died but the number of Black victims was difficult to determine because many bodies were thrown into the Red River or removed for burial, possibly at mass graves.Historian Eric Foner described the massacre as the worst instance of racial violence during Reconstruction. In Louisiana, it had the most fatalities of any of the numerous violent events occurring after the disputed gubernatorial contest in 1872 between Republicans and Democrats. Foner wrote, "...every election [in Louisiana] between 1868 and 1876 was marked by rampant violence and pervasive fraud". Although the Fusionist-dominated state "returning board," which ruled on vote validity, initially declared John McEnery and his Democratic slate the winners, the board eventually divided, with a faction declaring Republican William P. Kellogg the victor. A Republican federal judge in New Orleans ruled that the Republican-majority legislature be seated.Federal prosecution and conviction of a few perpetrators at Colfax by the Enforcement Acts was appealed to the Supreme Court. In a major case, the court ruled in United States v. Cruikshank (1876) that protections of the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to persons acting individually, but only to the actions of state governments. After this ruling, the federal government could no longer use the Enforcement Act of 1870 to prosecute actions by paramilitary groups such as the White League, which had chapters forming across Louisiana beginning in 1874. Intimidation, murders, and Black voter suppression by such paramilitary groups were instrumental to the Democratic Party regaining political control of the state legislature by the late 1870s. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries, historians have given renewed attention to the events at Colfax and the resulting Supreme Court case. State and national background In March 1865, Unionist planter James Madison Wells became governor. As the Democratic-dominated legislature passed Black Codes that restricted rights of freedmen, Wells began to favor allowing Black people to vote and temporarily disenfranchising ex-Confederates. To accomplish this, he scheduled a new constitutional convention for July 30, 1866.It was postponed because of the New Orleans Massacre that day, in which armed Southern white Democrats attacked Black Americans who had a parade in support of the convention. Anticipating trouble, the mayor of New Orleans had asked the local military commander to police the city and protect the convention. The U. S. Army failed to respond promptly to the mayor's request and a group of white residents attacked numerous unarmed Black residents, resulting in 38 deaths, 34 Black and four white, and more than 40 wounded, most of them Black folks.When President Andrew Johnson blamed the massacre on Republican agitation, a popular national reaction against Johnson's policies resulting in national voters electing a majority Republican Congress in 1866. It passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 despite Andrew Johnson's veto. Earlier, the Freedmen's Bureau and the occupation armies had prevented Southern Black Codes, which had limited the rights of freedmen and other Black people (including their choices of work and living locations), from becoming effective. On July 16, 1866, Congress extended the life of the Freedmen's Bureau, also despite Johnson's veto. On March 2, 1867, they passed the Reconstruction Act, over Johnson's veto, which required that Black men be given the franchise—in Southern states but not in Northern states—and that reconstructed Southern states ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before admission to the Union.By April 1868, a biracial coalition in Louisiana had elected a Republican-majority state legislature, but violence increased before the fall election. Almost all of the victims were Black and some white Republicans who were protecting the Black Republican freedmen. Insurgents also attacked people physically or burned their homes to discourage them from voting. President Johnson, a Democrat, prevented the Republican governor of Louisiana from using either the state militia or U.S. forces to suppress the insurgent groups, such as the Knights of the White Camelia. Background in Grant Parish The Red River area of Winn and Rapides parishes was a combination of large plantations and subsistence farmers; before the war, African Americans had worked as slaves on the plantations. William Smith Calhoun, a major planter, had inherited a 14,000-acre (57 km2) plantation in the area. A former slaveholder, he lived with a mixed-race woman as his common-law wife and had come to favor Black political equality, encouraging the political organization of the local African-American-based Republican party.On election day in November 1868, Calhoun led a group of freedmen to vote. The ballot box was originally at a store owned by John Hooe, who had threatened to whip freedmen "if they voted Republican". Calhoun arranged for the ballot box to be moved to a plantation store owned by a Republican. In addition, he oversaw the submission of 150 Black votes from freedmen on his plantation land. The Republicans received 318 votes, and the Democrats received 49. A group of whites threw the ballot box into the Red River, and Democrats arrested Calhoun, alleging election fraud. With the original ballot box gone, Democrat Michael Ryan went on to claim a landslide victory.The election was also marked by violence. Election commissioner Hal Frazier, a Black Republican, was murdered by whites. After this, Calhoun drafted a bill to create a new parish out of parts of Winn and Rapides parishes, which passed the Republican legislature; as a major planter, Calhoun thought he would have more political influence in the new parish, which had a Black majority. Other new parishes were created by the Republican state legislature to try to develop areas of Republican political control. Enforcement against the Klan According to Lane, after Ulysses S. Grant became President in 1869, he "lobbied hard for the Fifteenth Amendment" (ratified February 3, 1870), which guaranteed that Black men, most of whom were newly freed slaves,.... 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  • A Spark of Joy synopsis, comments

    A Spark of Joy

    Lea Darragh

    Sometimes life is bigger than what you want.Seeking a change of pace to mend her bruised heart, Olivia Cooper upends her life and moves halfway across the world. Landing in coastal...