The 2019 James Otis Lecture Program:
Reconstruction, the Failure of Law and its Enduring Consequences.
Our 2019 program will be especially important and timely given the current
social climate: “Reconstruction: The Failure of Law and Its Enduring
Consequences.” We will address the missed opportunities to develop a truly equal
society, the failures of Reconstruction, and the ramifications that still impact our
country. Charles Lane of the Washington Post, Professor James Stewart of
Macalester and Professor Heather Cox Richardson of Boston College will be the
Mr. Lane’s book, The Day Freedom Died, The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme
Court and the Betrayal of Reconstruction, is especially moving and important. The
author illustrates how the country retreated, perhaps ran from, the promises of the
13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and the Enforcement Act of 1870, and the horrible
consequences of the Colfax Massacre and the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v.
Cruikshank. Professor Richardson has written extensively in this area as well,
including the acclaimed The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor and Politics in
the Post-Civil War North. Professor Stewart is the most prominent living biographer
of Wendell Phillips (Liberty’s Hero), who tried so valiantly to foster equality
throughout his career, often at great personal sacrifice.
Phillips, a prominent lawyer, was one of the few leaders who recognized the
horror of white terrorism growing in Louisiana and tried to warn people about it –
even though most no longer wanted to hear it. We intend to highlight the Colfax
Massacre and the subsequent meeting that took place in Faneuil Hall where Phillips,
was derided for supporting President Grant’s efforts to restore order and support
General Sheridan and racial equality in Louisiana.
More information to come at a later date!