by Steven Hahn for The New Republic Online (Nov. 23, 2006)
” Colfax, Louisiana was scarcely a town in 1873. It was more a collection of buildings on a plantation owned by William Calhoun. As much as any site in the former Confederate South, however, Colfax came to embody the complex political dynamics of Reconstruction, and the troubling relation of terror and democracy in the history of the United States.
Lying in the heart of the state’s lush Red River Valley, Colfax was the newly designated seat of the newly created Grant Parish, carved out by Louisiana’s Republican government in 1868 to weaken the Democrats’ hold in the countryside and fittingly named to honor the party’s sitting president and vice president, Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax. One of Calhoun’s stables served as the local courthouse, and the expectation was that, with a small black majority, the Republicans could control the parish government and send the party’s representatives to the state legislature.”