Ulysses S. Grant: Special Message to the Senate on Unrest in Louisiana

(1875)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Nearly a month after Grant sent his Sixth Annual Message to Congress, there was news of new trouble in Louisiana. Democrats had tried to take over the state legislature through a combination of trickery and force. Republicans regained the upper hand with the assistance of federal soldiers dispatched to the state house by General Philip H. Sheridan, who advocated treating white supremacist terrorists harshly. Sheridan's actions sparked criticism from people who were uneasy with the use of federal force in state political affairs. Grant felt compelled not only to defend his old wartime subordinate but also to remind Americans of the course of events in Louisiana over the past several years.

After outlining the events that had led to a disputed state election in 1872, Grant offers a blunt and explicit account of the Colfax massacre, where whites killed approximately a hundred blacks on April 13, 1873. Only a few of the whites were...

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Ulysses S. Grant (Library of Congress)

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