Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Colfax Massacre 

Charles Lane of the Washington Post has a fascinating editorial today about the fact that the Constitution's Second Amendment was used to help recently freed blacks after the Civil War.

During oral arguments on Tuesday, the justices debated what the framers of the Second Amendment intended. The members of the court did not mention Reconstruction. Yet during this period, we the people gave the Union a second "founding" through constitutional amendments abolishing slavery, granting blacks citizenship and enabling them to vote. And, to clarify blacks' newly secured freedom, Congress wrote laws identifying the specific rights of individual U.S. citizens. One of these was the right to have guns.
Unfortunately, guns were not enough to protect people at Colfax.

On April 13, 1873, in the tiny village of Colfax, La., white paramilitaries attacked a lightly armed force of freedmen assembled in a local courthouse. By the time the Colfax Massacre was over, more than 60 African American men lay shot, burned or stabbed to death. Most were killed after they had surrendered.
Mr. Lane has written a book on this tragedy.

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