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Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZC4-5947]

Louisiana Constitution of 1868

Louisiana's 1868 state constitution was a victory in the long struggle of Afro-Creole New Orleanians to secure full citizenship rights. As early as March 1864, E. Arnold Bertonneau and Jean-Baptiste Roudanez, a L'Union cofounder and a freeborn Louisianan of Haitian descent (like his brother Louis Charles Roudanez), met with President Lincoln to press for voting rights for black Louisianans, both enslaved and free. The driving force behind the constitution's racial egalitarianism was the New Orleans community of French-speaking Afro-Creoles. They pointed to the republican gains of the American, French, and Haitian Revolutions and demanded far-reaching change. Their idealism and activism ensured that the new constitution guaranteed black citizens equal civil and political rights. It also mandated the establishment of a state-funded system of public education. It alone among Reconstruction constitutions required equal treatment on public transportation and in all places of public accommodation. And it prohibited segregated schools. It was arguably the Reconstruction South's most radical blueprint for change.

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Image ID: 05_062
Title: Extract from the reconstructed Constitution of the state of Louisiana, with portraits of the distinguished members of the Convention and Assembly, A.D. 1868.
Location: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZC4-5947]
Subjects: Constitutions -- United States -- States
Reconstruction -- Louisiana -- 1860-1870

Keywords: Bertonneau, E. Arnold
Dunn, Oscar J.
Men - United States
Reconstruction - Louisiana
Roudanez, Jean-Baptiste
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