Comus ~ One of the oldest krewes. First paraded in 1857 ~ four years before Secession ~ with the parade theme: The Past, The Present, The Future.
Comus does not currently parade ~ a bitter hangover from political battles with former City Council Woman, Dorothy Mae Taylor, over race restrictions in luncheon clubs and Carnival krewes.
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Comus and Rex still hold an elaborate meeting-of-the-courts ball on Mardi Gras night. But only Rex parades.
New Orleans is a city built along a bend in The River, and organized around Carnival. Old line comedians tempered with cheeky Carnival spirit have been seen feigning the Sign of The Cross while saying, "Comus, Momus, Proteus and Rex," the big four of old line New Orleans krewes.
Zulu ~ A black krewe formed some forty years after the Civil War, and the post-war
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Battle of Liberty Place ~ a Reconstruction era battle that took place at the foot of Canal Street in front of today's Harrah's Casino. The battle's monument is in the news lately as it, too, is targeted by Mayor Landrieu for removal. Another Confederate memory banished to the land of
The obelisk commemorates the bloody battle of 14 September 1874. It was part of a terrorist plot that removed the elected governor, William Pitt Kellogg. The inscription on the monument refers to the National Elections two years later ~ 1876 ~ as the moment that ended failed-Reconstruction, and united Louisiana White Supremacy with Yankee Jim Crow Laws. Names of whites fallen in the battle were inscribed in the stone. Names of fallen blacks were not.
"De facto wage-slavery became the law of the land!"our pedicab driver says.
"At best," Norma chortled from inside a plume of cigarette smoke.
Some think the insurrection should be sharply remembered. Two out-of-town deconstruction companies hired to remove the Confederate memorials sent lawyer-letters to The City asking out of their contracts because of death threats.
For three days, in 1874, Governor Kellogg and his cronies (krewe?) took refuge in the newly built U. S. Custom House and Post Office, a handsome Union thumbprint first occupied in 1856 and serving through the Nineteenth Century (including the years of War Between the States) as the U. S. Post Office and Custom House. Still standing, at 423 Canal Street, across North Peters Street from Brooks Brothers, and not more than a block away from the sight of the Battle of Liberty Place. Today the crestfallen edifice is home to the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.
"The Bug House," Norma calls it.
The 1874 insurrection was drummed up by the Crescent City White League, a group of Confederate sympathizers, planters, and World traders who wanted what everyone wanted. At least everyone who was a World trader, planter, or Confederate sympathizer.
Hell, even President Grant wants this, they reckoned. Because, an ill-functioning Port of New Orleans makes for an ill-functioning Western Expansion of the United States. And if the Louisiana Purchase! Hell, the very War Between the States, itself, were for anything ~ more than evil slavery ~ they were for this! Grant would be too! So felt the White League-rs, anyway.
It was, however, reestablishment of a new Confederacy they were talking about, though this time aligned more with Washington and less with London.
Masterminds even sent a delegation to plead their case before Ulysses S. Grant, recently home from the war, and newly elected to steady the wheel of the US ship of state.
They told President Grant their Big Swamp City, port of New Orleans would make a fine seat for this new Confederacy.
Having personally just fought the Civil War to defeat Robert E. Lee and such a Confederacy,
Grant reasoned he must now send in troops to free Governor Kellogg, and said no to the boys from Louisiana. Whom he sent safely home to moan and groan over their grillades and grits for the next century and a half.
One wonders if Grant might have hanged them ~ it was surely treason they were preaching. Or if they were civil and polite at a sociable meeting that might have been at the Willard Hotel? Did they drink whiskey? We know Grant did. Did any of the Louisiana boys visit the famous pleasure houses of the victorious capitol?
Some of the men in the Louisiana delegation were from Grant Parish, founding site of the Louisiana White League. Grant Parish was a 1869 "Reconstruction Parish" (there were eleven created fromWinn and Rapides parishes after The War). Grant Parish is in an English part of Louisiana ~ around Alexandria and Pineville and where William Tecumseh Sherman once lived.
Sherman was from Ohio, and a recent graduate of West Point.
He was not yet a Union general when he was hired, in 1859, as first president of the newly founded
Known as "The Little Seminary," in its day. Later it moved to Baton Rouge and changed its name to Louisiana State University.
Yes, boys and girls, the first president of L. S. U. was
William Tecumseh Sherman!
"Guess that's why Governor Jindal thought he could starve L. S. U., and gain favor with both his hired D. C. handlers and his backhome Rome-burners," Norma said through a cloud of cigarette smoke.
"Sherman burned Atlanta," our cabbie said,
"Bobby Jindal burned Baton Rouge!"
Originally Zulu poked heavy handed fun at the white krewes, and would neither publish their parade route nor apply for City parade permits. They prefered to catch up with Comus, Momus, Proteus, or Rex, and taunt them unannounced.
The old line krewes did not like this and had been working for some way to stop it ever since it started.
"You can imagine the indignity of a float full of white-faced blacks coming up behind your Fatted Ox throwing coconuts!" Norma says this to visitors as she blows Camel Cigarette smoke in their faces ~ this time of year laced with Marijuana.
Mayor Barthelemy's 1987 solution softened the satire and Zulu now obtains a parade permit and publishes their route, usually following the Rex Parade.
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