Events Leading to Colfax Massacre


    The Reconstruction period following the Civil War was a time of hardship and battle for the blacks living in the Southern states.  The state governments set up by President Johnson and the Black Codes were major issues of debate, especially among northerners and blacks in the South. 

    The state governments that were set up during the Reconstruction period upset many northerners and blacks living in the southern states.  The states began electing the same leaders that were the leaders before the war, and were leaders of the Confederacy.  These included the former Vice President of the Confederacy, ex generals and officials, and many confederate senators.  The people of the North began to question if the South realized that they had lost the war.

    The South also set up a system of Black Codes.  These "codes" set up a system of employment for former slaves that was very similar to slavery.  It basically said that workers were to be paid by being given housing, food, and clothing.  Labor control laws were also developed that limited the freedom of movement for the former slaves.  The workers could choose who to work for, but they must work for a white man, or they can be fined for vagrancy.  The workers can then work off their fine, but their former masters have the first chance to gain their services.  The workers could also be arrested for leaving the plantation that they are working on, even during the night. 

    The governments and Black Codes caused much anger among Northerners.  There was a demand that Congress get tough on the Southern states.  Congress did not allow any of the Southern congressmen to return to congress, saying that none of them were suitable for Congress.  The Federal Government also began to get involved in the local elections of the Southern states.  This leads to the Louisiana Gubernatorial election of 1872 (Tallant, H.  Lecture Notes). 

Page last updated 4/25/2000 by Buddy Harned