Battle of Liberty Place
The Battle of Liberty Place was an attempted insurrection by the Crescent City White League against the legal Reconstruction state government on September 14, 1874 in New Orleans, Louisiana, where it was then based.
The Democratic paramilitary White League, made up of Confederate veterans, fought and won against the racially integrated Metropolitan Police and state militia. They held the state house, armory and downtown for three days until federal troops arrived to restore the elected government. The White League retreated and no men were charged in the action. This was the last major event of violence stemming from the disputed 1872 gubernatorial election, in which both the Democrat John McEnery and Republican William Pitt Kellogg claimed victory.
An 1891 obelisk monument commemorating the battle from the White League view continues to generate controversy.
The "Battle of Liberty Place" was the name given to the insurrection by its white Democratic supporters, as part of their story of a struggle to overturn the Reconstruction government. They viewed the government as corrupt and illegal. In the election of 1872, McEnery, a Democrat, was supported by a coalition of Democrats and anti-Grant Republicans, including Republican Gov. Henry C. Warmoth. Warmoth's opponents in the Republican Party remained loyal to President Grant, and supported the Republican Party nominee William Pitt Kellogg. Governor Warmoth had appointed the State Returning Board, which administered elections, and declared McEnery the winner. A rival board endorsed Kellogg, who had charged election fraud because of the violence and intimidation that took place at and near the polls. The legislature impeached Warmoth from office and removed him for "stealing" the election. The Lieutenant Governor P. B. S. Pinchback, became Governor for the last 35 days of Warmoth's term. Both McEnery and Kellogg had inaugural parties and certified lists of local officeholders.
In 1874 McEnery and his allies formed a "rump" legislature in New Orleans, then the location of state government. The White League entered the city with 5,000 paramilitary forces; they fought against 3500 police and state militia. The White League defeated the state militia, with about 100 casualties. The insurgents went on to occupy the state house and armory, and turn the Republican governor, Kellogg, out of office. When former Confederate general James Longstreet tried to stop the fighting, he was pulled from his horse, shot by a spent bullet, and taken prisoner. Within three days, Federal troops entered the city, responding to Kellogg's appeal to President Grant. The White League insurgents retreated from New Orleans. (More people had been killed the year before in the Colfax Massacre, when a white militia attacked freedmen defending Republican officeholders at the courthouse. This action was also related to the election dispute and political tensions between Democratic whites and Republican blacks. In Colfax, three whites and 80-150 blacks were killed, at least 50 after having been taken prisoner.)
Battle of Liberty Place monument
In 1891, a year after the Democratic legislature passed a new constitution that essentially disfranchised most blacks, the city government, by then representing only its white constituents, erected the Liberty Monument to "commemorate the uprising." The monument was prominently placed in the neutral ground (median) near the foot of Canal Street.
In 1932 inscriptions were added to the monument which attested to its role in the white supremacist movement.
In the late 20th century, the monument came to be seen as more and more objectionable, as a symbol of racism, objected to especially in the black and Italian communities. (White League veterans led a mob that lynched eleven Sicilian men in 1891.) In 1974 an additional plaque was added on the neutral ground at the foot of the monument acknowledging the history of the monument while officially distancing the City of New Orleans with the racist views of previous generations still expressed through the older inscriptions.
In 1989 the monument was removed during major street work on Canal Street. Many residents opposed its being restored and replaced. The city tried to negotiate removing the inscriptions. Some people argued for its being restored at the original location. The content of the inscriptions was seldom discussed; rather, the issues were dealt with on technical grounds. Historic preservation officials argued for its replacement; others argued this was history which did not deserve continued commemoration.
In July 16 of 1993, The New Orleans City Council voted 6 to 1, declared it a nuisance. Therefore, it was taken to a warehouse. It was planned to move it to an indoor museum.
White supremacist David Duke has cited the monument as a symbol of "white pride", and in 2004 attempted to stage a rally by the monument. The monument has been the frequent target of vandalism, most frequently anti-racist and anti-Nazi graffiti. Multiple attempts to pull the monument down were unsuccessful, but did result in the destruction of the 4 stone pillars formerly at the corners in the center of the monument below the obelisk portion.
According to the book "Lies across America", on page 216, the original inscription was added by the mayor who was appointed by all white commission in 1932.
"[Democrats] McEnery and Penny having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people, were duly installed by this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant-Governor Antoine (colored).
United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the South and gave us our state."
In 1974, the city government added another marker next to this one.
"Although the "battle of Liberty Place" and this monument are important parts of the New Orleans history, the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.
When the monument was moved in 1993, some of the original inscriptions listed above were removed, and replaced with new inscriptions that state in part: "In honor of those Americans on both sides who died in the Battle of Liberty Place ... A conflict of the past that should teach us lessons for the future."
In March 26 of 2012, this obelisk was painted by a group of protester with the name of "Wendell Allen", one of two young men shot to death by New Orleans police officers. The group sent an email, and it claimed that "The system that celebrates slave owners and racist lynch mobs is the same system that exonerates killer cops and racist vigilantes." 
- "Badger, Algernon Sidney". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
- Adolph Reed, Jr., "The battle of Liberty Monument - New Orleans, Louisiana white supremacist statue", The Progressive, June 1993, accessed 18 May 2010
- Michael Perman.Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888-1908. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001, Introduction
- New Orleans to Remove Obelisk Revered by White Supremacists
- Jones, Terry L. The Louisiana Journey, Gibbs, Smith Publisher, Layton, UT, 2007 pg. 238.
- 3 defaced New Orleans monuments are cleaned by volunteers
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Liberty Place.|
- The battle of Liberty Monument - New Orleans, Louisiana white supremacist statue by Adolph Reed, Jr., The Progressive, June 1993
- Battle of Liberty Place Monument Historic Marker Database
- New Orleans Indymedia account of 2004 vandalism to monument