In 1891, a mob of close to 20,000 gathered at the Henry Clay statue in downtown New Orleans to take the law into their own hands. One of the largest in history and led by a row of 100 men with shotguns, it marched to the Parish Prison to deliver its own brand of justice to 19 terrified Italians imprisoned there.
Listen to the show now:
Now that you've heard the story, see the sights:
The Chief's murder, the trials, and the riot captivated the national press as they unfolded and for decades after. This illustration from "The Mascot" newspaper in 1890 is a New Orleans' artists rendering of Hennessy's assassination:
A rare photo from the time shows the mob gathering (Photo courtesy of the Historic New Orleans Collection):
And several illustrations were commissioned in 1912 for a Scribner's history volume that resisted the event:
Remember the victims.
The March 15, 1891, New York Sun ran a long account of the incidents with the headline:
THE PEOPLE A MOB
Eleven Prisoners Lynched in the New Orleans Jail
LED BY LAWYERS AND MERCHANTS
Formed at the Foot of the Statue of Henry Clay
THE POLICE CHEER THE MOB ON
The account ran alongside these likenesses of victims.
Find out more.
There are few American cities with histories as interesting as New Orleans. And one of our favorite city histories is Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, a fantastic history of the city by one of its most passionate historians, Dr. Larry Powell, a Professor of History at Tulane University. Learn more here.
If you want to really dive in to this fascinating, little-known story, check out Tom Smith's The Crescent City Lynchings: The Murder of Chief Hennessy, the New Orleans "Mafia" Trials, and the Parish Prison Mob. Smith is a journalist known for well-researched books about notable trials, and this is one of his best. Learn more here.
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And the credits:
Sound Design/Audio Engineer:
Music from the Episode:
"Cold Sober" by Kevin MacLeod
"Cylinder Four," by Chris Zabriskie
"Funkorama," by Kevin MacLeod
"Friendly Day," by Kevin MacLeod
"Showdown," by Kevin MacLeod
"Invisible Sun," by Fatal Injection
"Passages," by Kai Engel
"Brooks," by Kai Engel
"Impending Boom," by Kevin MacLeod
"Road to Hell," by Kevin MacLeod
"Private Hurricane," by Josh Woodward
Compositions and performances licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License.
Gambino, Richard (2000). Vendetta: The True Story of the Largest Lynching in U.S. History. Guernica.
Powell, Lawrence. Interview February 6, 2017.
Smith, Tom (2007). The Crescent City Lynchings: The Murder of Chief Hennessy, the New Orleans "Mafia" Trials, and the Parish Prison Mob. Lyons Press.