Obstructing Reconstruction: John Archibald Campbell and the Legal Campaign against Louisiana's Republican Government, 1868-1873

By Ross, Michael A. | Civil War History, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Obstructing Reconstruction: John Archibald Campbell and the Legal Campaign against Louisiana's Republican Government, 1868-1873


Ross, Michael A., Civil War History


Historians of Reconstruction have long debated why it was that the Republican Reconstruction governments had such limited success with their efforts to bring a new political, economic, and social order to the American South during the years 1868 to 1877, Although almost all historians agree that a combination of political, economic, and social factors caused the relatively swift collapse of the Reconstruction regimes, they have differed in their emphasis as to the primary cause or causes of the Republicans' failure. Some scholars have emphasized the internal weaknesses within the Reconstruction governments themselves. These historians point to factionalism; patronage squabbles; fiscal policy disagreements; and regional, racial, and class differences that undermined Southern Republicans' ability to govern effectively and eroded their support in the North. While historians who favor this interpretation do not discount the impact that violent resistance by reactionary white Southerners had on the Republican regimes, they suggest that the violence simply sped the demise of governments that had fatal internal flaws. (1) Other scholars, however, have given greater emphasis to the debilitating effects that the violent acts of white paramilitary groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of the White Camelia had on the Republican governments and their supporters. (2)

Events in Louisiana during Reconstruction have provided proponents of both of these interpretations with some of their strongest evidence. The ferocious factional struggles that took place among Louisiana's Republican leadership were arguably the most debilitating intraparty feuds of any that occurred in the South during the period. Scholars who have waded into this vexing political morass have uniformly concluded that the "desperate struggles that pitted Radical against Radical" played a central role in the Republicans' downfall in the state. (3) But it is also true that Louisiana experienced some of the Reconstruction era's worst reactionary violence, and any study of the Republicans' failure in the state would he incomplete without a discussion of the legendary street battles and race riots that took place in New Orleans, as well as the politically and racially motivated massacres that occurred in smaller towns such as Colfax and Coushatta. (4)

Revisiting the history of Reconstruction in Louisiana suggests that there was yet another factor that helps explain the Republicans' failure in the state. Rather than focusing on the already well-chronicled accounts of violence and factionalism, this article looks to Louisiana's state and federal courts, where a cohort of Conservative New Orleans lawyers waged an extraordinarily effective legal campaign designed to obstruct the Reconstruction government. Led by former United States Supreme Court Justice and ex-Confederate John Archibald Campbell, this campaign impeded the centrist efforts of carpetbagger Governor Henry Clay Warmoth to build a viable Republican party in the state. Using legal briefs rather than guns, Campbell and his allies skillfully manipulated the judicial system in a manner that thwarted Reconstruction during the crucial initial years of Republican rule. Although their acts were nonviolent, their lawsuits supplemented and encouraged the actions of their more brutal counterparts in the Crescent City White League and the Knights of the White Camelia, eventually helping to spur the Republican infighting that occurred as frustrated party leaders turned against one another.

Campbell and his allies launched their reactionary legal campaign in response to the bold economic and political proposals announced by Governor Warmoth in 1868. Elected that spring, Warmoth was a twenty-six-year-old Union army veteran from Illinois who compensated for his inexperience with a combination of idealism, cunning, and exuberance. A zealous advocate of what one historian has called the Republicans' "gospel of prosperity," Warmoth believed he could win the hearts and minds of the state's moderate whites by offering a bold plan for reconstructing New Orleans and Louisiana that would have made his namesake, Senator Henry Clay, proud. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Obstructing Reconstruction: John Archibald Campbell and the Legal Campaign against Louisiana's Republican Government, 1868-1873
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.