Colfax, Louisiana

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Colfax (pronounced COLL FAX) is a town in and the parish seat of Grant Parish, Louisiana, United States.[1] The town, founded in 1869, is named for the vice president of the United States, Schuyler M. Colfax (pronounced COLE FAX), who served in the first term of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, for whom the parish is named. Colfax is part of the Alexandria, Louisiana Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,659 at the 2000 census.

Contents

History

Colfax began as a Red River port within Rapides Parish. Prior to the American Civil War, it was known as "Calhoun's Landing," named for the cotton and sugar planter Meredith Calhoun, a native of South Carolina. Calhoun also published the former National Democrat newspaper in Colfax.[2]

During the Reconstruction era, Colfax was the scene of the Colfax Riot on Easter, April 13, 1873. Nearly three hundred African-American fatalities occurred in the riot. The white militia was led by the incoming sheriff, a Fusionist/Democrat named Christopher Columbus Nash. A contemporary report by the U.S. military documented 3 whites and 105 black victims by name, with 15-20 unidentified bodies found in the Red River.[3] Because of the disproportionate number of deaths between whites and black and documented accounts that at least 50 black prisoners were executed while under control of the white militia, 20th century historians redefined the "riot" as a "massacre." The event is also significant because blacks organized against the power structure to defend themselves and their political rights.

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