The Battle of Liberty Place Monument

Stop 3 of 4 in the Battle of Liberty Place tour
Stop 2 of 4 in the Confederate Monuments in New Orleans tour

Just two days after the battle, the Daily Picayune suggested the creation of a monument, and in 1882 the city set aside land for a marker. Finally, in 1891, the monument materialized due to the efforts of a group called the Fourteenth of September Monument Association and the Women's Auxiliary Committee, both of which were founded in 1886. Most of the men in the group were former Confederates, including William J. Behan, who had served as mayor in the 1880s.

On September 14, 1891, the cornerstone for the monument to the White League's dead was laid on Canal Street. The 35-foot-tall obelisk was made of granite from Maine and built by Charles A. Orleans, designer of many ornate tombs in Metairie Cemetery.

On September 15, the stone laying appeared on the front page in the Daily Picayune, which reported a large crowd honoring the surviving White League combatants. The ceremony included the Louisiana militia and military bands as well as several speakers. Such commemorations continued for years, depicting the White Leaguers as heroes and martyrs.

In 1932, the city government appeared to renew its interest in the monument by reconstituting its board of commissioners and adding a new plaque. The commissioners were to be either participants in the battle or their descendants. The new plaque directly linked the monument to white supremacist attitudes, stating,

"McEnery and Penn 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."

Taken off the street in 1965 because of construction in the area, the monument returned in time for the anniversary of the battle in 1970. Around this time, the typical September 14 ceremony consisted of a wreath laying followed by dinner at Antoine's Restaurant. Speakers at these events included US Representative F. Edward Hebert and New Orleans City Councilman James T. Moreau. Usually, these speakers characterized the battle as a fight against tyranny, downplayed racial tension, and left out the White League's white supremacist motivations.

While remaining aware of traffic, make sure you view all sides of the monument.

Images

Proposed Monument, circa 1891

Proposed Monument, circa 1891

Courtesy of The Times-Picayune View File Details Page

Liberty Place, circa 1910

Liberty Place, circa 1910

This Alexander Allison photograph demonstrates the central position of the monument in the city. The majority of streetcar lines turned around the obeslisk before leaving downtown New Orleans for their return trip to outlying neighbohoods. Courtesy of Louisiana Division/City Archives, New Orleans Public Library View File Details Page

Monument, circa 1932

Monument, circa 1932

Courtesy of The Times-Picayune View File Details Page

Commemorating September 14th

Commemorating September 14th

Some white citizens gathered at the monument to honor the White Leaguers every year on September 14th, even in the 1970's. Courtesy of The Times-Picayune View File Details Page

A Boy Scout Bugler at the monument

A Boy Scout Bugler at the monument

Despite increasing numbers of complaints, many white people still viewed the monument as a positive symbol. Courtesy of The Times-Picayune View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Gordon Chadwick, “The Battle of Liberty Place Monument,” New Orleans Historical, accessed May 28, 2017, http://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/150.
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