« PreviousContinue »
In Mississippi it was necessary to use "shot-gun" methods in order to bring the State from under the mismanagement of the carpet-baggers. The taxes had become so burdensome that meetings were held by the members of all parties to protest. At the State Grange it was resolved that "taxation in Mississippi had become a burden so large and extensive that the vital energies and industries of our state are becoming sapped, paralyzed and destroyed and ruin inevitable and irretrievable stares us in the face." Most of the leaders of the legislature were carpet-baggers and their names did not appear on the tax list at all. The session of 1871 lasted six months and the expenses were three times as great as those of 1865.* New offices were created and salaries raised.
Governor Alcorn in a message to the Mississippi legislature in 1871 said that "while the average pay of the teachers in Northern schools is less than $300 a year, salaries here range from $720 to $1,920." The receipts in 1870 amounted to less than half the expenditures, these items being $436,000 and $1,061,249, respectively, and the expenses of the legislature alone were more than half the entire revenue. In 1871 the expenses of the judiciary were $377,000. When four years of reconstruction had passed the revenue failed to meet the expenditures by over $850,000 and
* Garner, Reconstruction in Mississippi, p. 286. † Ibid, p. 365.
the State debt had increased from less than $1,000,000 to $3,750,385 in 1875. The burden of taxation finally threatened to depopulate the State, the rate varying from 21⁄2 to 5 per cent. Of the total area of the State (30,000,000 acres) over 6,000,000 acres were forfeited for taxes.*
In the local elections of 1874 the Democrats had made such gains that they were encouraged to redouble their efforts in the campaign of 1875. As in the other States, the issue resolved itself into one of race supremacy, and intense feeling was manifested by both sides during the campaign. Political marching clubs with military features were organized by both parties and frequent clashes occurred between the whites and blacks. Failing to secure Federal troops Governor Ames organized two regiments of negro troops armed with Gatling guns and small arms.† But this was ineffective, for the whites so overawed the blacks with threats of nonemployment, no credit, etc., that they refrained from voting, and the Democrats won the election on No
* Ibid, pp. 290-328 for details. Ibid, pp. 372-389.
House Report No. 261, app. b. 43d Congress, 2d session, gives collections of documents illus trating this method; Nordhoff, The Cotton States, pp. 80–84 also gives some instances in previous elections. See also Senate Report No. 527, 44th Congress, 1st session; Garner, Reconstruction in Mississippi, pp. 389-414; Dunning, Reconstruction, pp. 278-280; Cox, Three Decades, pp. 532534; Rhodes, vol. vii., pp. 91-104, 128-142; Susan D. Smedes, A Southern Planter; Mayes, Life of L. Q. C. Lamar, pp. 229-264, 311-318; Merriam, The Negro and the Nation, pp. 333-340.
CORRUPTION IN LOUISIANA UNDER CARPET-BAG-NEGRO RÉGIME. 463
vember 3, 1875, by 30,000 majority. An investigation of the State offices was instituted and the lieutenantgovernor was impeached, the superintendent of education resigned under impeachment, and Governor Ames resigned on March 29, 1876, on condition that the impeachment proceedings against him should be dismissed. Thus home rule was established once
The conditions in Louisiana resulting from carpet-bag-negro rule were probably as bad as in any of the States. The State debt, which in 1869 amounted to $6,777,300, had risen by January, 1870, to $28,000, 000 and by November of that year had reached the enormous total of $40,456,734, an increase of over $33,000,000 in less than two years.* side this there were over $30,000,000 of local indebtedness, of which New Orleans alone carried $17,000,000. The tax increase was six-fold. In New Orleans the local tax rate was three per cent. in 1873 and in Natchitoches eight per cent. The legislative expenses for the session of 1871 were $958,956.50-for the house $767,192.65 and for the senate $191,763.85an average of $113 a day for each member. In the house there were 80 clerks at enormous salaries and yet only 120 bills were passed during the entire session at an average expense of about $6,500 per bill. The perma
* Much of this was afterward repudiated. See Scott, Repudiation of State Debts, pp. 107-119.
Phelps, Louisiana, pp. 367–371; Nordhoff, The Cotton States, pp. 57-62.
nent school fund disappeared and no one knew or would tell where.
Governor Warmoth declared that the legislature was honeycombed with bribery and corruption and even stated that he had been offered $50,000 to sign a bill.* A member of a Congressional committee asked the price of a senator and was informed that it was $600.† Colored members of the legislature, who only a few years previous had been slaves, were frequently seen "driving magnificent horses, seated in stylish equipages and wearing diamond breast pins." "What then must have been the feelings of men who saw blacks, but lately their own slaves, and as ignorant as the mules they drove, preferred before them for office, set over them in authority, making laws for them them and making them very badly at that openly plundering the State, bribed by rascally whites, and not merely enjoying but under the lead of white adventurers, shamefully abus
*This man, who had said "there is but one honest man " in the legislature, said of himself: "I don't pretend to be honest, but only as honest as anybody in politics." When the negroes first voted in Louisiana Warmoth "had a charity-box attached to every ballot-box and a negro dropping a ballot into one had to drop fifty cents into the other, contributions paying Warmoth's expenses as special delegate to Washington, where Congress refused to recognize him. He returned to Louisiana and in two years was governor and in three was worth a quarter of a million dollars and a profitable autograph. It cost me more,' said W. S. Scott, to get his signature to a bill than to get the bill through the Legislature.'"-Avary, Dixie After the War, p. 281. See also Cox, Three Decades, pp. 553-555, 559.
Report No. 92, 42d Congress, 2d session, p. 26.
processes of the thieves resembled those of the Tweed ring of New York. There were
alteration and erasure
of warrants, forgery of names,' unauthorized and illegal issues of warrants and drawing of mileage by legislative committees for tours of inspection that were never made. There were all sorts of fraud, bribery and embezzlement in the different parishes; mismanagement and corruption in the school boards. There were corrupt district attorneys and judges; and illiterate negro juries trying intricate cases of commercial law. A man
openly charged with theft was elected parish judge by the colored people. Another whom the United States Su
preme Court in a decision had alleged guilty of fraud in the sale of a railroad property was appointed chief justice of the supreme court of Louisiana by the governor and permitted to retain his place by the legislature." Consequently property was "almost worthless and totally unsalable." There were 47,491 seizures for taxes in the years 1871-73.‡
But though Grant had backed up the carpet-bag-negro régime with every means in his power a rift in the clouds soon appeared. The Repub
* Nordhoff, The Cotton States, p. 43 et seq. (D. Appleton & Co.)
Rhodes, vol. vii., pp. 106-107.
Scott, Repudiation of State Debts, pp. 110111; Nordhoff, The Cotton States, p. 62 et seq.
lican party in 1871 had split into two factions. One was known as the custom-house faction, composed of the carpet-baggers, of whom the chief were S. B. Packard, the United States marshal, marshal, and the speaker of the House, George W. Carter; the other party was headed by Governor Warmoth, who, though he was undoubtedly as corrupt as any and had grown rich in office, was at times animated with a charitable spirit toward the whites and endeavored to obtain a shadow of justice for them. Because of his leaning toward the Democrats, the customhouse faction declared war on him and his followers and attempted to impeach him in order to secure a more firm hold on the State. This strife
finally developed into open warfare and soon Warmoth was arrested under the enforcement law and brought before Packard. But Warmoth's influence was so great that the action against him was dropped. Carter and Packard then proceeded to organize what they called the "true legislature" and attempted to seize the reins of government, a plot which was frustrated only with the aid of Federal troops.
In the campaign of 1872 the CarterPackard faction supported Grant and nominated William Pitt Kellogg for governor and C. C. Antoine, a negro for lieutenant-governor. The Warmoth faction sided with the Liberal Republicans and Democrats and supported John McEnery and Davidson Penn, the Democratic nominees for
THE KELLOGG-MCENERY DISPUTE AND RIOTS.
governor and lieutenant-governor. Both parties claimed to have won the election, but as two members of the returning board were candidates, and therefore by law prevented from passing upon the election returns, Governor Warmoth appointed others to the vacancies. These appointments were not satisfactory to the radicals and they formed a new board known as the Lynch board and induced Judge Durell of the United States district court of Louisiana to issue an order restraining Warmoth's appointees from counting the votes.* In order to frustrate this plan Warmoth now signed a bill which the legislature had previously passed giving the Senate the right to appoint a returning board. But as the Senate was not then in session Warmoth had power under this bill to appoint a temporary board and he accordingly did so. This board, known as the De Feriet board, declared McEnery elected.
But Kellogg enlisted the aid of the Federal authorities and President Grant, who refused to recognize the count of the De Feriet board as legal, ordered United States troops to seize the state house at New Orleans and hold it for Kellogg, which was done on the night of December 5-6, 1872. In January, 1873, both McEnery and Kellogg were inaugurated and the Kellogg legislature (68 of the 140
* McPherson, Handbook of Politics, 1874, p. 101 et seq. The Judiciary Committee of the House subsequently reported in favor of impeaching Durell but he resigned shortly afterward. See House Report No. 732, 43d Congress, 1st session; Mayes, Lamar, pp. 195–197.
members being negroes) proceeded to rule the State with an iron hand. Grant, accepting the impeachment of Warmoth by the Kellogg faction, declared the McEnery administration unlawful and ordered it to disperse. The supporters of McEnery, however, did not submit gracefully to these orders, but in different parts of the State they maintained small military organizations. Kellogg used the metropolitan police and Federal troops to enforce his laws and mandates and riots frequently occurred. March 3, 1873, the Kellogg faction. was attacked in New Orleans but the disturbance was quelled by Federal troops. In the same month Kellogg threw all the Democratic members of the legislature into prison. On April 13 there was a sharp fight between the whites and the blacks at Colfax, in Grant Parish, in which 150 negroes were killed. In Red River Parish six office-holders were shot. On May 7 there was another riot at St. Martinsville, and it became necessary to employ Federal troops to suppress it.
The whites thereupon determined to overthrow the Kellogg government and organized themselves into the "New Orleans White League," subsequently securing arms and drilling themselves as State troops. Kellogg's police in New Orleans attempted to seize the arms, but on September 14, 1874, the White League at a mass
* Burgess, Reconstruction, pp. 269-272; Andrews, Last Quarter-Century, vol. i., pp. 78–85.
† Appleton's Annual Cyclopædia, 1874, p. 477; Phelps, Louisiana, pp. 372–376.
meeting in New Orleans called upon Kellogg to resign. The League troops then attacked the Kellogg police, cavalry and artillery, under generals Longstreet and Badger, and after a severe fight, in which 80 were killed and wounded, captured all their cannon and forced Kellogg, Longstreet and the others to flee to the United States custom house, where they were sheltered by the Federal troops. On the 15th the state house, all the State and city property, arsenals, and all police and militia property were turned over to Lieutenant-Governor Penn (McEnery being absent) and thus control of the city was gained by the McEnery faction. Penn was inaugurated on the same day.
Kellogg now made application to
State officers, and four of the six members of Congress. The returning board, under J. Madison Wells, nevertheless declared a majority of the radical State officers and representatives elected and as a result Grant sent Sheridan to New Orleans, ostensibly to report the situation to the President but in reality to support the radical element in its fight.*
When the newly elected legislature met on January 4, 1875, the Democrats who had been counted out by Wells were refused their seats and a quarrel arose over the organization. As some of the radicals were absent the Democrats elected L. A. Wiltz speaker, and admitted those Democrats who had been ousted. The Kel
Grant for reinstatement and again the logg party appealed to the military
President refused to recognize the McEnery government.* He called upon it to disperse and ordered General Emory to secure Kellogg's seat, sending troops and war vessels to New Orleans to aid. But the McEnery faction on September 17 quietly and without resistance transferred all the State property to the Kellogg administration.+
In the elections of November, 1874, the whites succeeded in electing 57 of the 111 representatives, several of the
* See his proclamation of September 15, 1874, Richardson, Messages and Papers, vol. vii., pp. 276-277, also his annual message of December 7, 1874, p. 296 et seq.
† Appleton's Annual Cyclopædia, 1874, p. 479; Phelps, Louisiana, pp. 376-381; Andrews, Last Quarter-Century, vol. i., pp. 152-159; McPherson, Handbook of Politics, 1876, pp. 21-25.
authorities, whereupon General De Trobriand with Federal troops proceeded to the state house and ejected the Democrats whose seats were disputed by the Kellogg faction. The remaining Democrats then left the state house and the radicals elected Michael Hahn speaker.†
But the action of Grant and the military authorities was severely denounced even by supporters of the administration, and indignation meetings were held at New York, Boston
*See his special message of January 13, 1875. Richardson, Messages and Papers, vol. vii., pp. 305-314; McPherson, Handbook of Politics, 1876, pp. 32-36.
† House Report No. 101, p. 287 et seq., 43d Congress, 2d session; Phelps, Louisiana, pp. 381-385; McPherson, Handbook of Politics, 1876, pp. 2845; Mayes, Lamar, p. 206 et seq.