Largest Mass Lynching in U.S. History
This notice was published in the March 14, 1891 edition of the Times-Picayune. What followed,
on the same day, was the largest mass lynching in American history, which was precipitated by the murder of Police Chief,
David C. Hennessey. Ironically, on this date in 1889, Hennessey was appointed the city’s first Superintendent
On October 15, 1890, Hennessy was shot a half-block
from his home. The following day, as he was dying, he allegedly informed Captain William O’Connor that he had been
shot by "Dagos", an insulting term for Italians.
Italians were arrested. On October 18, Mayor Shakspeare appointed a "Committee of Fifty" to investigate the crime.
On December 13, a grand jury indicted 19 Italians. Many
of them had been identified by the Committee of Fifty. The grand jury foreman and one other juror were also members and financial
contributors to this group.
A trial for nine of the suspects took
place February 16–March 13, 1891, with Judge Joshua G. Baker presiding. Both Captain O'Connor and Hennessy's bodyguard
refused to testify. Mistrials were declared for three defendants. Not guilty verdicts were delivered for four as no evidence
had been presented against them.
Newspapers at the time blamed the outcome on bribery and jury tampering, although afterward the jurors themselves
defended the verdicts and explained how they were based on evidence presented at trial.
William Parkerson (whose name appears at the top of the second column in the advertisement), head of the Bourbon political
machine, and several other members of the Committee of Fifty, responded to the verdicts by calling for a mass meeting at
the statue of Henry Clay. at Canal Street near the river.
magnate James D. Houston (who is included at the bottom of the published notice pictured), as well as Times-Democrat which
printed "Rise, outraged citizens of New Orleans!... Peaceably if you can, forcibly if you must!", participated
in the incitement. Parkerson told the crowd that they needed to "remedy the failure of justice" that resulted
from bribery of the jury. Shouting "Kill the Dagoes," a large crowd stormed Parish Prison. Eleven of the 19 men
who had been indicted for Hennessy's murder were shot and killed. According to witnesses, the "cheers were deafening".
The killings were allegedly carried out by a 12-man "Execution Squad" led by Parkerson.
The headline in The New York Times
read, "Chief Hennessy avenged...Italian murderers shot down."
"The Italians had taken the law into their own hands and we had no choice but to do the same," said Mayor
The government of Italy protested, as some of those
lynched were still Italian citizens, and the government of the U.S. eventually paid reparations to Italy. A grand jury
refused to indict any individuals on the grounds that responsibility was collective because so many had participated.
The second image from Andrews, E. Benjamin's History of the United States,
volume V. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 1912, depicts the mob at the Treme Street gate of Parish Prison.
Charles/Carlos Matranga was awaiting trial when the lynching occurred.
His story can be seen below.
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Drew Brees signed with the New Orleans Saints on March 14, 2006.
William Jennings "Bill" Jefferson (born March 14, 1947) is a former American
politician from the U.S. state of Louisiana. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for nine terms from
1991 to 2009 as a member of the Democratic Party. He represented Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, which includes much
of the greater New Orleans area. He was Louisiana's first black congressman since the end of Reconstruction. On November
13, 2009, Jefferson was sentenced to thirteen years in federal prison for bribery after a corruption investigation, the longest
sentence ever handed down to a congressman for bribery or any other crime. He began serving that sentence in May 2012 at
a Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Beaumont, Texas.
Reputed New Orleans Mafia boss Charles/Carlos Matranga died on October 28, 1943 in Los Angeles of
natural causes. The Matranga crime family, established by Charles (1857-28 October 1943) and Antonio Matranga (Tony)
was one of the earliest recorded American Mafia crime families, operating in New Orleans during the late 19th century until
the beginning of Prohibition in 1920. Born in Sicily, Carlo and Antonio Matranga settled in New Orleans during the
1870s where they eventually opened a saloon and brothel. Using their business as a base of operations, the Matranga brothers
began establishing lucrative organized criminal activities including extortion and labor racketeering. Receiving tribute
payments from Italian laborers and dockworkers, as well as from the rival Provenzano crime family (who held a near monopoly
of commercial shipping from South American fruit shipments), they eventually began moving in on Provenzano fruit loading
operations intimidating the Provenzanos with threats of violence. Although the Provenzanos withdrew in favor of giving
the Matrangas a cut of waterfront racketeering, by the late 1880s, the two families eventually went to war over the grocery
and produce businesses held by the Provenzanos. As both sides began employing a large number of Sicilian mafiosi from their
native Monreale, Sicily, the violent gang war began attracting police attention, particularly from New Orleans police chief
David Hennessy who began investigating into the warring organizations. Within months of his investigation, Hennessy was
shot and killed by several unidentified attackers while walking home on the night of October 15, 1890. This was in keeping
with the Mafia practice of killing the government official who got in the Mafia's way. The murder of Hennessey created a
huge backlash from the city and, although Charles and several members of the Matrangas were arrested, they were eventually
tried and acquitted in February 1891 with Charles Matranga and a 14-year-old member acquitted midway through the trial as
well as four more who were eventually acquitted and three others released in hung juries. The decision caused strong protests
from residents, angered by the controversy surrounding the case (particularly in the face of incriminating evidence and
jury tampering), and the following month a lynch mob stormed the jail hanging 11 of the 17 Matranga members still waiting
to be brought to trial including Antonio Bagnetto, Bastiano Incardona, Antonio Marchese, Pietro Monastero and Manuel Politzi
on March 14, 1891. The Hennessey lynchings led to the American Mafia adopting a hard and fast rule that
policemen and other law enforcement officials were not to be harmed. Matranga was able to escape from the vigilante lynchings
and, upon returning to New Orleans, resumed his position as head of the New Orleans crime family eventually forcing the
declining Provenzanos out of New Orleans by the end of the decade. Matranga would rule over the New Orleans underworld until
shortly after Prohibition when he turned over leadership over to Sylvestro "Sam" Carollo in the early 1920s.
(According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans_crime_family#Matranga_crime_family).
On March 14, 1870, Algiers was annexed as part of New Orleans.
Thomas Banks, banker, financier, developer. Born, Thomas Leach, Chester, England, ca. 1778; son of
John and Mary Leach. Upon coming to the United States changed name to Thomas Banks and was residing in New Orleans prior
to 1810. Served in Capt. Thomas Beales Company in the War of 1812, ran a boarding house for sailors, and began investing
in merchant ships and real estate. By the 1820s he was part owner of a steamboat line and became closely associated with
Samuel J. Peters (q.v.) and James H. Caldwell (q.v.) in developing the English-speaking Faubourg St. Mary in rivalry to
the Creole French Quarter in New Orleans. Built the four-story City Hotel, 1832, and Banks Arcade, 1833, an imposing three-story
multipurpose structure with a glass covered central mall connecting shops, meeting rooms, offices, and a hotel. Here were
held meetings in favor of the Texas Revolution which Banks supported. Prominent in banking, insurance, and financial circles,
and one of the wealthiest men in New Orleans, Banks nevertheless suffered financial reverses following the Panic of 1837.
In 1842 while serving as alderman for the Second Municipality, he petitioned for bankruptcy and retired from business,
eventually repaying his creditors. Banks and his wife Charlotte Fogerty (1780-1849) had no children. Died, March
14, 1854; interred Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans. R.S.J. Sources: John Chase, Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children
(1949); Henry Rightor, ed., Standard History of New Orleans (1900); Ship Registers and Enrollments of New Orleans, Vols.
I-III; Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans, New Orleans City Archives; New Orleans Bee, October 14, 1835; obituary,
March 15, 1854; Gibson's Guide and Directory (1838); Orleans Parish Succession Records, No. 7552. From http://lahistory.org/site19.php