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The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of Reconstruction

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The untold story of the slaying of a Southern town’s ex-slaves and a white lawyer’s historic battle to bring the perpretators to justice   Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex–Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert the The untold story of the slaying of a Southern town’s ex-slaves and a white lawyer’s historic battle to bring the perpretators to justice   Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex–Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert their new rights, killed more than sixty African Americans who had occupied a courthouse. With skill and tenacity, The Washington Post’s Charles Lane transforms this nearly forgotten incident into a riveting historical saga.   Seeking justice for the slain, one brave U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, risked his life and career to investigate and punish the perpetrators—but they all went free. What followed was a series of courtroom dramas that culminated at the Supreme Court, where the justices’ verdict compromised the victories of the Civil War and left Southern blacks at the mercy of violent whites for generations. The Day Freedom Died is an electrifying piece of historical detective work that captures a gallery of characters from presidents to townspeople, and re-creates the bloody days of Reconstruction, when the often brutal struggle for equality moved from the battlefield into communities across the nation.


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The untold story of the slaying of a Southern town’s ex-slaves and a white lawyer’s historic battle to bring the perpretators to justice   Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex–Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert the The untold story of the slaying of a Southern town’s ex-slaves and a white lawyer’s historic battle to bring the perpretators to justice   Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex–Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert their new rights, killed more than sixty African Americans who had occupied a courthouse. With skill and tenacity, The Washington Post’s Charles Lane transforms this nearly forgotten incident into a riveting historical saga.   Seeking justice for the slain, one brave U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, risked his life and career to investigate and punish the perpetrators—but they all went free. What followed was a series of courtroom dramas that culminated at the Supreme Court, where the justices’ verdict compromised the victories of the Civil War and left Southern blacks at the mercy of violent whites for generations. The Day Freedom Died is an electrifying piece of historical detective work that captures a gallery of characters from presidents to townspeople, and re-creates the bloody days of Reconstruction, when the often brutal struggle for equality moved from the battlefield into communities across the nation.

30 review for The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of Reconstruction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    As a history major and attorney, I was more than a little surprised that the Colfax massacre and its aftereffects in the legal system had managed to escape my notice. This book recounts the horrific mass murder of 70-80 African Americans just after the end of the Civil War, placing the events in the context of the social and political atmosphere of the time. The author goes on to examine the attempt to prosecute the instigators, the resulting Supreme Court case, and its effect on Reconstruction As a history major and attorney, I was more than a little surprised that the Colfax massacre and its aftereffects in the legal system had managed to escape my notice. This book recounts the horrific mass murder of 70-80 African Americans just after the end of the Civil War, placing the events in the context of the social and political atmosphere of the time. The author goes on to examine the attempt to prosecute the instigators, the resulting Supreme Court case, and its effect on Reconstruction and the integration of the African populace into Southern society. This book is a very dense read, with a lot of information on a huge cast of characters and minutaie about Louisiana politics (apparently the political insanity there is not a recent development) as well as detailed information about several court cases. It takes some effort to plow through, but is simultaneously fascinating. The events that are the focus of the book are horrifying to contemplate, and it was difficult for me to process the virtual anarchy that existed, permitting white supremacists to terrorize the South. That the legal decisions of the time enabled the institutional terrorism of African Americans for another century is truly tragic. Reading this book helped me to understand, though, how that was made possible.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    The most pertinent statement in this book appears in the epilogue - "The Confederate States of America lost the Civil War militarily and economically, but in the ways that mattered most to white Southerners--socially, politically, and ideologically--the South itself did not." Charles Lane begins his book with a narrative of what lead up to the Colfax Massacre and the Massacre itself. While this is a moderate portion of the book, he goes on to cover the attempts to arrest and bring to trial the p The most pertinent statement in this book appears in the epilogue - "The Confederate States of America lost the Civil War militarily and economically, but in the ways that mattered most to white Southerners--socially, politically, and ideologically--the South itself did not." Charles Lane begins his book with a narrative of what lead up to the Colfax Massacre and the Massacre itself. While this is a moderate portion of the book, he goes on to cover the attempts to arrest and bring to trial the perpetrators of the Massacre and the travesty of the justice system which were the trial(s) of these individuals and the Supreme Court case that let the criminals go 'unwhipped by justice.' From this book one can ascertain two major figures who allowed, nay, destined, "reconstruction" to fail--President Andrew Johnson of Tennessee fame and Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Bradley. On their souls rest the innumerable lynchings, murders and other mayhem used to intimidate the freedmen in the South. Savagery was used to keep them from exercising their right to vote and to keep them in essentially little more than slave status.

  3. 5 out of 5

    robin friedman

    A Study Of The Colfax Massacre On April 13, 1873, Easter Sunday, a white posse of about 150 killed over 60 African Americans in a small town in central Louisiana on the Red River in what became known as the Colfax Massacre. The U.S. Attorney for Louisiana, James Beckwith, brought prosecutions against some of the perpetrators under Federal laws enacted to enforce the Reconstruction amendments. After a mistrial, Beckwith retried the defendants and secured three convictions. The defendants appealed A Study Of The Colfax Massacre On April 13, 1873, Easter Sunday, a white posse of about 150 killed over 60 African Americans in a small town in central Louisiana on the Red River in what became known as the Colfax Massacre. The U.S. Attorney for Louisiana, James Beckwith, brought prosecutions against some of the perpetrators under Federal laws enacted to enforce the Reconstruction amendments. After a mistrial, Beckwith retried the defendants and secured three convictions. The defendants appealed to the Supreme Court which unanimously reversed the convictions in a case known as United States v. Cruickshank, decided in 1876. The case severely limited the power of the Federal government to enforce Reconstruction in the South. Indeed, it effectively ended Reconstruction. In his book, "The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction" (2008) Charles Lane offers a detailed factual and legal history of this critical, little-known event in American history. Lane wrote the book while working as a journalist covering the Supreme Court for the Washington Post. Lane writes of the Colfax Massacre: "[I]n the entire bloody epoch of Reconstruction, there might never have been a bloodier one-day incident of white terror than this frenzied killing on Easter Sunday." Understanding the Colfax Massacre requires consideration of complex facts involving many groups and individuals. Thus, Lane begins his account with a "Cast of Characters". Lane divides the protagonists into seven groups: the Republicans, White Supremacists, Politicians, Judges, Lawmen, Lawyers, and Soldiers. This introductory division allows the reader to get to know the main characters and groups in what took place at the Colfax Courthouse. Understanding the events also requires a background in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and the laws Congress passed to enforce them, which Lane provides in his book. Most fundamentally, understanding the Colfax Massacre requires familiarity with Reconstruction and with the broad disagreement in the United States about the proper scope of post-Civil War policy. This disagreement lies at the heart of Lane's book. The central character and hero of Lane's history is James Beckwith, the U.S. Attorney in New Orleans from 1870 -- 1877. Upon learning of the events at Colfax, Beckwith hired an undercover agent from the Secret Service to work in the community and to learn what took place. With only mild support from Washington, D.C., Beckwith a took the massacre before a Grand Jury, arrested nine of the protagonists and put them on trial for their lives. He developed the case using, out of necessity, African American witnesses almost exclusively and, after a mistrial, retried eight of the defendants, securing three convictions. His actions, Lane argues, required great courage, legal skill, perseverance, and a commitment to the goals of the Civil War and Reconstruction. In Lane's account, the Colfax Massacre resulted from a political conflict between Reconstructionists and white supremacist southerners. After a disagreement over the results of state elections in 1872, African Americans had occupied the Colfax Courthouse. Local whites organized a posse consisting in part of supremacist, terror organizations. They forced the African Americans into the courthouse, set it on fire, and fired upon them when the African Americans raised a white flag of surrender and tried to leave the burning courthouse. Then, the supremacists took prisoners, and shot them in the back, in groups of two, in the dead of night. A small number escaped and with other witnesses testified at the trial. The facts of the Massacre are complex and Lane devotes about one-half of the book to their development and background in Reconstruction Era Louisiana. The story is convoluted and difficult to follow in places. After developing his understanding of what transpired, Lane turns to the legal history of the case. Lane describes the trials in great detail. He also develops the underlying law to assist the reader in understanding the result. In addition to the trial judge, who presided, William Woods, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley rode circuit and participated in the retrial. He delivered a legal opinion which basically held that the Federal courts had no legal authority to try the defendants for what were, Justice Bradley concluded, essentially state crimes. Lane describes Bradley's opinion in depth. Courageously, Judge Woods did not agree with Justice Bradley. The case went to the Supreme Court for resolution. Lane again describes closely the Supreme Court proceedings and the resulting unanimous opinion in the 1876 Cruikshank case. The effect of Cruikshank was to end, in most circumstances, the possibility of Federal enforcement of Reconstruction. The disputed presidential election of 1876, which formally ended Reconstruction, reinforced this result. The factual background developed in this book about Louisiana Reconstruction politics and about Colfax are at times difficult to follow, but Lane's points and analysis come through clearly. The descriptions of the trials and of the law are lucid for a difficult subject. The book describes a specific event late in the Reconstruction period and can best be read by those with a good basic understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction and of the sometimes competing goals of preserving the Union on the one hand and ending slavery and enforcing the rights of the Freedpeople on the other hand which resulted in differing views of the goals of both the Civil War and Reconstruction. "The Day Freedom Died" is an important, difficult book about a seminal, lasting issue in American history. Robin Friedman

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelley

    This is a very difficult book to get into if you aren't necessarily familiar or don't really care about legal jargon, however it is necessary to tell the story. There is a lot of background here and all of it is quite painful to recount. I think my mouth was hanging open for more than half this book just reading the horrendous things that happened. The entire story is so important to read and never forget... and reading such horrific things is just the way to not forget. I will say that this was This is a very difficult book to get into if you aren't necessarily familiar or don't really care about legal jargon, however it is necessary to tell the story. There is a lot of background here and all of it is quite painful to recount. I think my mouth was hanging open for more than half this book just reading the horrendous things that happened. The entire story is so important to read and never forget... and reading such horrific things is just the way to not forget. I will say that this was not written in a way that over-dramatized the events, they were told in a pretty matter-of-fact way, put out there and moved on. Overall this isn't really a great book. I think the writing is a bit dry and hard to get into and stay into, HOWEVER... I think this is very informative book about extremely important events in the history of this country... so if you have any inclination, curiosity or other hankering to read this you definitely should pick it up and give it a go.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Books like this are hard to read. This details the true story of the Colfax Massacre at which about 80 black men were beaten, burned and murdered by a lawless mob of whites in Louisiana during Reconstruction. An event which resulted in the murderers going free, the end of enforcement of civil rights laws and protections for southern blacks, and the establishment of the violent rule of white supremacists in the South for almost the next 100 years. It's a horrible tragedy that highlights depravity, Books like this are hard to read. This details the true story of the Colfax Massacre at which about 80 black men were beaten, burned and murdered by a lawless mob of whites in Louisiana during Reconstruction. An event which resulted in the murderers going free, the end of enforcement of civil rights laws and protections for southern blacks, and the establishment of the violent rule of white supremacists in the South for almost the next 100 years. It's a horrible tragedy that highlights depravity, lack of humanity, and disrespect for the rule of law. Even more infuriating is that to this day in Colfax, LA there is an actual state historical marker commemorating the event that intimates the black victims were rioting and that the results of the case saved the south from "misrule." What a disgrace and an outrage...I'm writing Gov. Jindal a letter.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This is where it started folks and keeps it's presence in today's America. Charles Lane has written one of the most fascinating but very, very sad true account The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, The Supreme Court, and The Betrayal of Reconstruction is one of the most profound historical novels ever ascribed. A lot of folks right here in America wouldn't know a good book about true American History if their life depended on it. Plus, most couldn't tell the last historical book they read. This is where it started folks and keeps it's presence in today's America. Charles Lane has written one of the most fascinating but very, very sad true account The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, The Supreme Court, and The Betrayal of Reconstruction is one of the most profound historical novels ever ascribed. A lot of folks right here in America wouldn't know a good book about true American History if their life depended on it. Plus, most couldn't tell the last historical book they read. They rather voice their uneducated opinions that have no voice fall to the ears of the uneducated and hateful. This novel brings to home what has been a nemesis, plaque, between racial, political, cultural, and sociological forces not only of that time but present America in living color. Read it for you won't be the same for all the lies and non-truths that got covered up in American History.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    This book brought all the pieces home to me on why Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow began. I knew about the Rutherford B Hayes election and Plessy vs. Fergusson but didn't completely get the bigger picture and I definitely didn't know that civil rights rulings by the Supreme Court in the late 19th century were preventing improvement of laws now. One is that states primarily get to be a decision maker before the federal government which prevents laws from being implemented. I had never heard of This book brought all the pieces home to me on why Reconstruction ended and Jim Crow began. I knew about the Rutherford B Hayes election and Plessy vs. Fergusson but didn't completely get the bigger picture and I definitely didn't know that civil rights rulings by the Supreme Court in the late 19th century were preventing improvement of laws now. One is that states primarily get to be a decision maker before the federal government which prevents laws from being implemented. I had never heard of the Colfax Massacre or the role Louisiana played in undermining Reconstruction. My only complaint was that the writing was difficult and didnt draw me in. Still, this is an important subject.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adamdaigle

    The event and aftermath of this event is so disturbing. It was too intense to read at times. It's also disappointing to know that the U.S. was set to prosper as a true union during Reconstruction until those efforts were derailed by white supremacists.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo Delgado

    Heroic Stories Are Told The Day Freedom Died is a novel written by Charles Lane telling the story of a U.S attorney, by the name of James Beckwith, who tries to get justice for those who died in the Colfax massacre. “Thanks in part to Klan intimidation of Republican voters,white and black Democrats had returned to power in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia in the 1870’s elections.” James Beckwith, tries to get justice for the 60+ innocent African Americans killed by confede Heroic Stories Are Told The Day Freedom Died is a novel written by Charles Lane telling the story of a U.S attorney, by the name of James Beckwith, who tries to get justice for those who died in the Colfax massacre. “Thanks in part to Klan intimidation of Republican voters,white and black Democrats had returned to power in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia in the 1870’s elections.” James Beckwith, tries to get justice for the 60+ innocent African Americans killed by confederate soldiers on the 3rd of April, 1873. Beckwith endures a lot of hardships to try to get justice for those innocent lives that were lost that day. Does Beckwith accomplish his goal to punish the executioners? The main characters who were a part of this story were Joseph Bradley, Christopher Columbus Nash, Ulysses Grant, William Ward, Willie Calhoun, and James Beckwith. One thing that all these great characters have in common is that they all strive to get equal rights and justice for all people of color. Beckwith was my favorite character because he was the one who fought for there justice the most, he was the one who wanted equal rights the most. This novel is set in the past, it’s a perfect example of a group of people standing up for what is right, which is justice for the deaths of the many who tried to do the same. The tone is very recognizable, it is somewhat still around in today’s world where there’s a minority that is being discriminated for a vacuous or fatuous reason. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about these historic events and likes reading about someone who tries to make a difference in the society by defending the less fortunate. I’d say it’s most appropriate to those from the ages of 13 and up because it’s still a very mature book for kids to read. Charles Lane definitely accomplished what he sought out to do, which was to teach about the racism and the inequality towards african americans in the 1800’s . This historical non-fiction novel is sensational, but has a very somber storyline due to the fact that there were so many misconceptions about african americans back in the day. I personally thought that this book was magnificent and I really learned a lot from this novel, mostly about all the white supremacy in that era.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    An interesting story, but the book often gets dragged down in unnecessary detail such that it often reads more like a textbook. Its coverage of the events leading up to the massacre is at times just mind numbing when the basic story could have been told with much less detail that would have made for a much better narrative. The recounting of the massacre itself is done well, but when the story shifts to the Supreme Court it is largely limited to long block quotes from the oral arguments. See Cur An interesting story, but the book often gets dragged down in unnecessary detail such that it often reads more like a textbook. Its coverage of the events leading up to the massacre is at times just mind numbing when the basic story could have been told with much less detail that would have made for a much better narrative. The recounting of the massacre itself is done well, but when the story shifts to the Supreme Court it is largely limited to long block quotes from the oral arguments. See Curriden's "Contempt of Court" for an example of how a book largely about a Supreme Court decision on federal efforts to protect civil rights can be riveting without sacrificing information.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marcel

    Great read Helped me understand a lot about reconstruction and how it ended. This book explained how the foundation was laid for lynching in the south and how Jim Crow became the law of the land.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Casey Williams

    An important book about the Colfax Massacre and the legal proceedings that followed as white supremacists were unsuccessfully brought to justice at the end of the Reconstruction era.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Louise Filou

    Eye opening and heartbreaking.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    An expertly-researched and well-written account of the Colfac Massacre- one of the ugliest and deadliest incidents in Reconstruction, and how the legal ramifications of it are still felt to this day.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe Hall

    If you want to have a richer understanding of the legal circumstances that ended Black Reconstruction this is an excellent choice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction Charles Lane African American History 266 pages copyright: 2008 isbn: 0-8050-8342-1 Southern blacks viewed the three post–Civil War constitutional amendments as guaranteeing them equal protection under the law. Yet postwar dreams of equality would be dashed during Reconstruction. Much of that failure traces back to the Colfax Massacre. During Reconstruction, white supremacist groups such as the KKK used v The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction Charles Lane African American History 266 pages copyright: 2008 isbn: 0-8050-8342-1 Southern blacks viewed the three post–Civil War constitutional amendments as guaranteeing them equal protection under the law. Yet postwar dreams of equality would be dashed during Reconstruction. Much of that failure traces back to the Colfax Massacre. During Reconstruction, white supremacist groups such as the KKK used violence to prevent southern blacks from exercising their legal rights, and elections were deeply influenced by the de facto disenfranchisement of terrified blacks. After one disputed election, a group of black Republicans peacefully occupied the courthouse in Colfax, Louisiana. A white vigilante mob gathered, and on April 13, 1873, they attacked the courthouse, setting it and gunning down those who fled. Blacks who surrendered were executed, with the death toll reaching 60. The outraged U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, sought to convict the killers but got no cooperation from Colfax’s white community, and little help from blacks, who feared further reprisals. Charles Lane expertly describes the legal proceedings against nine whites, charged by Beckwith with federal crimes. In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Colfax killers were subject only to state law: "the Supreme Court had decreed," summarizes Lane, "that the Negroes must look to the states for protection." Predictably, the white defendants were freed by state authorities, and southern states began to restrict rather than protect civil rights. The federal government would not interfere with Jim Crow for nearly a century.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Allen

    On Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, a posse of white Louisianans attacked the black elected officials of Grant Parish, Louisiana. The black Republicans had taken refuge and fortified the Colfax courthouse along with most of the local black population, knowing that the attack was coming. They were overpowered and outgunned, and the whites eventually set fire to the courthouse to flush them out. Under a flag of surrender, the survivors were taken captive, then marched off in pairs and shot. Enough s On Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, a posse of white Louisianans attacked the black elected officials of Grant Parish, Louisiana. The black Republicans had taken refuge and fortified the Colfax courthouse along with most of the local black population, knowing that the attack was coming. They were overpowered and outgunned, and the whites eventually set fire to the courthouse to flush them out. Under a flag of surrender, the survivors were taken captive, then marched off in pairs and shot. Enough survivors escaped to tell the story to the federal prosecutor in New Orleans, as no state court would act against the white supremacist perpetrators. US Attorney James Beckwith brought federal charges against the murderers that they had violated the civil rights of the blacks by killing them. Despite general agreement that the murders had been committed by the men apprehended, the prosecution was only able to win a guilty verdict on two conspiracy counts. Even these convictions were overturned by the Supreme Court. The United States v Cruickshank decision in 1876 set a precedent that allowed white southerners free rein to intimidate, terrorize, and murder black citizens to prevent them from exercising political power; it would be nearly 100 years before black southerners won their voting rights again. The book is well written, and covers both the events and personalities involved admirably. It is a difficult book to read, because the events and their aftermath were so catastrophic for our nation. It’s a worthwhile read, though, for anyone who wants to understand how, after winning the Civil War, the US was unable to realize its promise even to the present day.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mia

    Not for those easily disturbed by true stories describing barbaric acts of violence and revenge. The details of the killings does underscore the discrepancy between the ideals of dispassionate "justice" and the realities that take place, as the results of debates around the 13th through 15th Amendments to the Constitution and the Enforcement Act ended up having drastic repercussions for states, especially those with majority African-American populations. I learned quite a lot -- not just about t Not for those easily disturbed by true stories describing barbaric acts of violence and revenge. The details of the killings does underscore the discrepancy between the ideals of dispassionate "justice" and the realities that take place, as the results of debates around the 13th through 15th Amendments to the Constitution and the Enforcement Act ended up having drastic repercussions for states, especially those with majority African-American populations. I learned quite a lot -- not just about the events in question (which I hadn't known of before), but that there had been black Congressmen from the South in the 1870s.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Neil Crossan

    Lane’s impressive research efforts to dot every i and cross every t cause a continuous narrative never to take hold. There is a cumbersome number of people mentioned in this story. And I understand the desire to cover all the players but it’s easy to get lost unless you are a fully dedicated reader. The legal aspect was rushed and another 30 pages of background wouldn’t have bloated the book. It’s still a worthwhile read to learn more about this time and place in our history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    I had a superficial understanding on the state of black Americans after the civil war, and scant knowledge of the realities of the life the freed slaves faced for years. This book really gave clarity to the hardships endured by the freedmen, which didn't improve much for the next 100 years. A painful, sad saga, but a worthwhile read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    While the details are sometimes difficult to fully absorb, the book begins with a harrowing account of the Colfax Massacre and then describes the ensuing court cases that ultimately, along with the Compromise of 1877, lead to the end of Reconstruction. This is information worth knowing if one is to understand the racial history of this country.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Disgusting what we, as human beings, do to other human beings....and get away with! This book has really peaked my interest in Civil Rights. Have another book on this massacre to read, and will be finding all the available sources given by the two books on the Colofax Massacre to read and study. A must read!!!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    How can a handful of men murder roughly 100, many at point blank range and get away with it? Assuming a basic knowledge of the Reconstruction period, this details a mass execution of black freemen in Colfax LA 1873 - and perhaps more startling to those of us just hearing about this for the first time, a lack of conviction of the perpetrators at the federal and supreme court level s.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    An important story to tell and Lane's book is very well researched. However, it gets bogged down in detail at times. A note to Supreme Court fans: the book is more bout the massacre than the court case that stemmed from it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    Very interesting read about how this case could have changed the outcome of Reconstruction. It makes me sad that civil rights could have gone in a different direction and created a South that would have given Blacks the right to seek justice for crimes committed against them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dominic

    "The Betrayal of Reconstruction," is so fitting on this title. The story of the Colfax massacre is the embodiment of the failure that was reconstruction. Lane does an exceptional job taking technical legal issues and making it flow into an understandable work.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Robinson

    Incredible book. Well researched. A very sad event in the US history where Whites massacred Blacks and got away with it. From what should have been a slam dunk legal case got brought down by legal precedents and manueverings. Very suspenseful and told well.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melih

    First time in a long time that I haven't been able to put a book down. A really excellent expose of the events that went into how Reconstruction ended in the US, and how local they started regardless of how national it ended up being. Fantastic book for any history buff.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ivy

    This drags on at some points and the timeline switches back and forth in the middle of the book. Overall, it is definitely an interesting read about the reconstruction era after the end of the Civil War, but it could have been summed up in less pages.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Not bad. Interesting read about the reconstruction period. Makes you think about how things could of been different. Non fiction

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