This Day in History

March 1, 1874: White League Formed

Time Periods: 1865
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Racism & Racial Identity
Julia Hayden

Julia Hayden, a 17-year-old African American schoolteacher who was murdered by the White League in 1874. Source: Library of Congress

Describing themselves as defenders of a “hereditary civilization and Christianity,” a group of Confederate veterans in Louisiana formed the White League on March 1, 1874.

Their stated purpose was “the extermination of the carpetbag element” and restoration of white supremacy.

The paramilitary group operated openly to eliminate the Reconstruction government by targeting local Republican officeholders for assassination and terrorizing freed people to keep them from voting, political organizing, and getting an education.

The image to the right is of Julia Hayden, a 17-year-old schoolteacher who was shot to death by the White League within three days of starting to work at a school for freed people in Tennessee in the fall of 1874.

Similar organizations, called the White Line and the Red Shirts, were organized in Mississippi in 1875 and South and North Carolina in 1876.  

Read about Hayden’s murder. Find resources below to teach about the Reconstruction era, voter suppression, and terrorism.

Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction,” and find teaching resources on Reconstruction below.