New Orleans Tribune Offices After November 1866: Growing Readership in the Reconstruction Era

In November 1866, the Tribune moved from its offices on Conti Street to 122-124 Exchange Alley. These new digs were in the shadow of the St. Louis Hotel (site now occupied by the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel). The St. Louis Hotel housed a large antebellum slave exchange. As free men of color, the men of the Tribune had witnessed the horror and degradation of the city's many slave pens and auction blocks, where over the years over 100,000 souls were stored, assigned a price, and sold as living property.

The Tribune grew and by 1866 claimed a daily circulation of 3,000. Readership was largely in the Afro-Creole community of New Orleans, but the newspaper made a point of its distribution to newly freed people, with whom it recognized the necessity of being “united in a common thought: the actual liberation from social and political bondage.” [1] The paper was read throughout Louisiana and the Gulf South. The journal claimed a wide following in the Union Army. Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives received every issue, and Radical Republicans in Congress corresponded frequently. Over 15 Northern newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Enquirer, reprinted news from the Tribune, greatly expanding its reach. [2] News from correspondents in many cities, including Boston, Paris, and Mexico City, was published regularly. The words of Victor Hugo and Guiseppe Garibaldi appeared within its pages, and the paper circulated among republican intellectuals in Europe. [3] It was regarded with great interest by Northern abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass, who wrote to Tribune publisher Jean Baptiste Roudanez, “I read it with very great pleasure. I am proud that a press so true and wise is devoted to the interests of liberty and equality.” [4] The Tribune kept all these audiences informed about the treatment of black Louisianans, bearing witness to their struggle as Reconstruction unfolded. 

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122 & 124 Exchange Alley, New Orleans, LA. ~ Site now occupied by the Louisiana State Supreme Court Building. Stand mid-block on Conti Street between Royal and Chartres. Face the Supreme Court Building with your back to Exchange Alley, imagine it’s 1866 and you are looking toward St. Louis Street.