The untold story of the slaying of a Southern town's ex-slaves and a white lawyer's historic battle to bring the perpretators to justice Following the Civil War, Colfax, Louisiana, was a town, like many, where African Americans and whites mingled uneasily. But on April 13, 1873, a small army of white ex-Confederate soldiers, enraged after attempts by freedmen to assert their new rights, killed more than sixty African Americans who had occupied a courthouse. With skill and tenacity, "The Washington Post"'s Charles Lane transforms this nearly forgotten incident into a riveting historical saga. Seeking justice for the slain, one brave U.S. attorney, James Beckwith, risked his life and career to investigate and punish the perpetrators--but they all went free. What followed was a series of courtroom dramas that culminated at the Supreme Court, where the justices' verdict compromised the victories of the Civil War and left Southern blacks at the mercy of violent whites for generations. "The Day Freedom Died "is an electrifying piece of historical detective work that captures a gallery of characters from presidents to townspeople, and re-creates the bloody days of Reconstruction, when the often brutal struggle for equality moved from the battlefield into communities across the nation.
Charles Lanediscovered the Colfax Massacre case while covering the Supreme Court for "The Washington Post." His journalism career has taken him from Washington to Tokyo, Berlin to Bosnia, Havana to Johannesburg. A former editor of "The New Republic," Lane has written for "Foreign Affairs," "The New York Review of Books," and "The Atlantic." He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard and studied law at Yale. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.