Battle of Liberty Place

On December 14, 1874, what became known as the Battle of Liberty Place was fought between militant conservative Democrats known as the White League and Federalist forces led by the Municipal Police. As historian Justin Nystrom has written, the event effectively brought an end of Reconstruction policies in Louisiana. After the contested gubernatorial election of 1872, in which Democratic-Conservative John McEnery was defeated by the Republican ticket headed by US Senator William Pitt Kellogg, the White League planned on a military operation to replace Kellogg with McEnery. The main battle led to a 3-day period in which the White League controlled New Orleans. An angry President Grant ordered the US Army to force the League to surrender. Not wishing conflict with the federal government, three days after the League’s victory, it handed control of the city to federal troops, who in turn gave control back to Kellogg. The event also helped to return white Southern Democrats to power in the city. In 1891, a monument was erected on Canal Street to honor the White League. Now largely hidden from public view, the monument has had a history of its own.

Election Controversy and the Rise of the White League

The Battle of Liberty Place, which took place on September 14, 1874, exemplified the hostility that existed in Reconstruction-era New Orleans between the old social order on one side and so-called "carpetbaggers" and native Republicans on…

Government Forces and Fighting on Canal Street

On Canal Street, Reconstruction forces prepared to defend the state government and, most importantly, Governor Kellogg. Though the state used the St. Louis Hotel on Royal Street as its government building, Kellogg took shelter in the U.S. Custom…

The Creation of the Battle of Liberty Place Monument

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…

Protest and Removal of Battle of Liberty Place Monument

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…