Richmond, Virginia - The General Assembly of Virginia passed the Vagrancy Act of 1866. It was an attempt to re-enslave black people after the Slavery (Civil) War. The all-white government of Virginia made it a crime if an adult had no job.
On January 24, 1866, Alfred H. Terry commanded the U. S. Army in Virginia. He made a proclamation that forbade the law from being enforced, in the state.
The actions of the General Assembly led to Reconstruction of the South. It was clear white, defeated Southerners had no intention to obey Federal laws after the Slavery war. At least, this was the case when it came to black people.
Vagrancy Act Full Transcript
Vagrancy Act of 1866
Background - Vagrancy Act of 1866
Washington, D. C. - The Civil Rights Act of 1866 passed. It promised equal rights to black people, with whites, after slavery. It came before the Fourteenth Amendment, which adopted much of its language.
The law made it a crime to deprive black people of their rights. It was a misdemeanor, if convicted.
1866 Civil Rights Bill
Memphis, Tennessee - It was one of the worst race riots in Memphis history (began Tuesday and ended Thursday). Whites killed black people for 3 days.
The massacre began after white police shot at black Army veterans, from the Union Army. There were prior complaints of police brutality. Yet, none had been resolved.
After the shooting incident, white mobs raced into the black areas of Memphis. Thus began a days long rampage of whites who murdered, burned, and raped in the black community.
More than 46 black people were murdered. Two (2) whites died. No whites died because of black people. 75 black people were injured. Over 100 black people were robbed. 5 black women were raped.
Whites destroyed 91 homes, four (4) churches and eight (8) schools. White mobs destroyed every black church and school in Memphis. By Thursday, May 3rd, Federal troops had restored order.
By 1870, the black population of Memphis had fallen by 25%, compared to 1865. No one was charged or held accountable. No black person was compensated for their loss.
The Federal government refused prosecution. They claimed it was a state matter. The State of Tennessee and local officials refused to investigate or charge anyone for the mayhem.
Washington D. C. - The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. It gave citizenship to anyone born in the United States and full protection under the law.
Washington, D. C. - The Buffalo Soldiers came from the 'Act to increase and fix the Military Peace Establishment on the United States.' It was drawn from black soldiers who served in the Slavery War.
Buffalo Soldiers Act p.332 (364)
New Orleans, Louisiana - On Monday, local police and other whites killed 34-50 black people and injured another 150. The race riot happened in one day.
By 1864, the American Slavery War ended for Louisiana. On May 27th, 1864, Louisiana created a new constitution. It promised black soldiers, black land owners, and literate black people the right to vote.
On April 11th, 1865, Lincoln promised all black people the right to vote. Lincoln's killer, John Wilkes Booth, was at the speech. Booth killed Lincoln 4 days later.
Black codes followed Lincoln's death. These limited the rights of black people in Louisiana and other Southern states. This increased hostility toward black people in Louisiana.
May 1st to 3rd, whites massacred black people in Memphis, sparked by white police violence. This was fresh in the mind in New Orleans, as a constitutional convention was held July 27th.
Ex-Confederate soldiers, led by New Orleans Sheriff Harry T. Hays, disrupted the convention. It was moved to July 30th.
At 12:00 p.m. (noon), July 30th, the convention was held. A crowd of white opponents waited outside. 200 freedmen (mostly veterans) paraded to the convention in support.
The freedmen neared the convention. The opposition bothered the freedmen more the closer they got to the convention. Sheriff Hays arrived and began to fire blindly into the crowd. Many black people died. Others ran into the Mechanics Institute.
General Absalom Baird wired the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.
Baird said the following 'It was no riot. It was an absolute massacre by the police, which was not excelled in murderous cruelty by that of Fort Pillow. It was a murder which the Mayor and police of the city perpetrated without the shadow of a necessity.'
This massacre and the one in Memphis, May 1st-3rd, led to Reconstruction policies of the former Confederate South.