Monday, October 9, 2017

Michael A. Ross's "The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case"

Michael A. Ross is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. He is the author of the prize-winning Justice of Shattered Dreams: Samuel Freeman Miller and the Supreme Court during the Civil War Era and The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era.

Ross applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case and reported the following:
Page 99 does indeed reflect what readers can expect from The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case, a true story of a sensational trial in which the key participants were Afro-Creoles. Both the lead detective and the accused women in the famous Digby Kidnapping case were Afro-Creoles, members of an elite class of African Americans who had been free before the Civil War. It was 1870 in Louisiana, the height of Radical Reconstruction.  The state’s Republican governor had just integrated the New Orleans police force and issues of race and class had recently led to wild violence and riots. Startling crimes like the Digby kidnapping quickly became intertwined with the tumultuous politics of the time. And the fact that the accused women in the story came from a class many white people in New Orleans had once trusted created panic amongst those who feared the changes emancipation and Reconstruction had wrought. Page 99 helps explain why many members of Louisiana’s upper class found it so terrifying that they could no longer judge people based on their manners and style. It was one more sign that their world had been turned upside down.
Learn more about The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue