Christopher Columbus Nash

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Christopher Columbus Nash
Sheriff of Grant Parish, Louisiana
In office
1873 – Unknown
Personal details
Born(1838-07-01)July 1, 1838
Sabine Parish, Louisiana
USA
Diedafter 1922
NationalityAmerican
Political partyFusionist/Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Malinda Williams Nash
ParentsValentine and Mary Anderson Nash
OccupationMerchant; Law-enforcement officer
Founder of the White League

Christopher Columbus Nash (July 1, 1838 – June 29, 1922)[1] was a merchant and a Democratic sheriff in Grant Parish, Louisiana,[2] who in 1873 led a company of white militiamen to regain control of the parish courthouse in Colfax, which had been seized by armed African-American insurgents. Thereafter, the segregationist Nash formed the first contingent of the White League in the American South during the second half of Reconstruction.[citation needed]

Biography[edit]

Nash was born in Sabine Parish in western Louisiana, a son of Valentine Nash and the former Mary Anderson. He was married to the former Malinda Williams, a daughter of Richard B. Williams of Montgomery in northwestern Grant Parish. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, he volunteered with the Sabine Rifles and reached the rank of lieutenant in Company A, Second Louisiana Infantry in Virginia under General Stonewall Jackson. He fought at Antietam and Gettysburg until he was captured in November 1863 and spent the last eighteen months of the conflict as a prisoner of war on Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay on the coast of Lake Erie.[2]

After the war, Nash apparently spent some time in New Orleans before his arrival in Grant Parish.[citation needed] When Republican Governor William Pitt Kellogg did not recognize Nash as the legitimately elected sheriff of Grant Parish, Nash directed the attack[citation needed] on the courthouse in Colfax on April 13, 1873 (Easter Sunday) which resulted in the Colfax Massacre or Colfax Riot, as it was termed on the 1950 state historical marker.[3] Three white men were killed; the number of African-Americans killed is estimated to have been between 60 to 150.[3][4] [5] A white man named Cruikshank was arrested and indicted for violating the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Ultimately, the United States Supreme Court under Chief Justice Morrison Waite heard this case, United States v. Cruikshank. The court held there are two kinds of citizenship: state and national. Protection against murder and other crimes is not guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, the court held, in effect stripping the Fourteenth Amendment and the Enforcement Acts of their power. This ruling empowered a landslide of racial violence in the South, starting in Louisiana. Home rule hence returned to the American South, a process completed by 1877, with removal of the last of the federal troops from Louisiana and South Carolina on order of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes.[6]

After the Colfax Massacre, Nash led companies of white militias in the formation of the first unit of the White League.[7] The league defined its purpose as the defense of a "hereditary civilization and Christianity menaced by a stupid Africanization."[8] The White League lynched, intimidated, and performed fraud against black voters. Eventually, key members of the Colfax Massacre, who were indicted by James Beckwith for killing and burning black men, supported by the White League, gained powerful positions in Colfax and Grant Parish.[citation needed]

In 1922, the year of his death, Nash still applied for a Confederate pension through the state of Louisiana)[9][10] Nash is interred at the historic American Cemetery in Natchitoches, Louisiana, the first cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase.[1][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Christopher Columbus Nash at Find a Grave
  2. ^ a b "Nash, Christopher Columbus". A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Lewis, Danny (April 13, 2016). "The 1873 Colfax Massacre Crippled the Reconstruction Era". Smithsonian.com. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  4. ^ A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, in its article on Nash, uses these sources: Milton Dunn, Christopher Columbus Nash (1925), Mabel Fletcher Harrison and Lavinia McGuire McNeely, Grant Parish, Louisiana: A History (1969), and Manie White Johnson, "The Colfax Riot of April, 1873," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XIII (1930).
  5. ^ A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, in its article on Nash, uses these sources: Milton Dunn, Christopher Columbus Nash (1925), Mabel Fletcher Harrison and Lavinia McGuire McNeely, Grant Parish, Louisiana: A History (1969), and Manie White Johnson, "The Colfax Riot of April, 1873," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XIII (1930).
  6. ^ a b "American Cemetery". ruscahouse.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  7. ^ James K. Hogue ;;The Battle of Colfax: Paramilitarism and Counterrevolution in Louisiana, June 2006, p. 21
  8. ^ Adolph Reed, Jr., "The battle of Liberty Monument - New Orleans, Louisiana white supremacist statue", The Progressive, June 1993, accessed 18 May 2010
  9. ^ "Military History On-line: Civil War Genealogy Database". militaryhistoryonline.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  10. ^ The Fourteenth Amendment forbids the payment of pensions or other emoluments to those involved in armed insurrection against the United States, but the various former Confederate States of America did provide such assistance to veterans and their widows.