"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Black Republicans - Lt. Governor Orcar James Dunn

Lt. Governor Oscar James Dunn
New Orleans city council member.
Lt. Governor 1868 to 1871.

(Editor - Here is a profile of a great American from the olden days . . . from the days before 90% of Black voters sold their soul to the Democratic Party in return for a few Socialist crumbs form the table of the Big Brother Welfare State.)

Oscar James Dunn (1826 – November 22, 1871) was one of three African Americans who served as a Republican Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana during the era of Reconstruction.

In 1868, Dunn became the first elected black lieutenant governor of a U.S. state. He ran on the ticket headed by Henry Clay Warmoth, formerly of Illinois.

On December 22, 1866, Dunn testified before a select committee appointed to investigate the New Orleans Riot of July 30, 1866. He told the committee that he was "born in New Orleans in 1826 and was about forty-one years old". His parents were James and Maria Dunn. His father, James Dunn of Petersburg, Virginia, had been emancipated in 1819 by James H. Caldwell in New Orleans.

James Dunn became a free man of color and later emancipated his wife, Maria, and their two children, Oscar and Jane, in 1832. James Dunn worked as a carpenter; Maria Dunn ran a boarding house for actors and actresses that came to perform in theatres.

Oscar Dunn was neither a Creole of Color (gens de couleur), nor of fair complexion. He is described in an article in The New York Times on June 25, 1893 as "Jamaican, well educated, and pure African."

New Orleans Riots of 1866.
A riot over political power between ex-Confederates on one side and White and Black Republicans on the other.  The estimate of the number of casualties comes to 38 killed and 46 wounded.

Dunn was apprenticed as a young man to the plastering and painting contractor, A. G. Wilson, who had earlier verified Dunn's free status in the Mayor's Register of Free People of Color 1840-1864.

Having studied music, Dunn became both an accomplished musician and an instructor of the violin.

The social, political, and racial conditions in New Orleans were a catalyst for Dunn's focus on equality for those blacks who had been freed through the Thirteenth Amendment, ratified after the American Civil War. Dunn was an English-speaking black man in a city where a self-imposed caste system was the underpinning of daily life.

It was a city in which French culture was promoted as having been more refined than that established by the English speaking residents who came to the city in the early-to-mid-19th century.

Dunn was a member of Masonic lodge. In the latter 1850s, he was a Master and Grand Master of the lodge.  As a Freemason, he established a political power base useful for his political career. He resigned as Grand Master on January 9, 1868, when he was elected Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana.

In 1870, however, he returned to his position as Grand Master of the Eureka Grand Lodge and held that title until his death.

This 1867 engraving depicts freed African American men voting in New Orleans.

During Reconstruction

Dunn opened an employment agency that assisted in finding jobs for the freedmen. He actively promoted and supported the Universal Suffrage Movement; advocated land ownership for all blacks; taxpayer-funded education of all black children; and equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment.

He was Secretary of the Advisory Committee of the Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company of New Orleans, where he worked to insure that recently freed slave were treated fairly by former planters to who they were now contracted to perform the same duties they had once undertaken as slaves. In 1866, he organized the People's Bakery, an enterprise owned and operated by the Louisiana Association of Workingmen.

As a New Orleans city council member in 1867, Dunn was named chairman of a committee to consider alterations to Article 5 of the City Charter. He proposed that "all children between the ages of 6-18 be eligible to attend public schools and that the Board of Aldermen shall provide for the education of all children ... without distinction to color." In the Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868, this resolution was enacted into Louisiana law and laid the foundation for the public education system.

Election of 1868
Republican cartoon pointed out that Democratic candidate Horatio Seymour was supported by Democrat ex-Confederates who advocated KKK violence.

Dunn was very active in local, state and federal politics; with connections to President Ulysses S. Grant and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. At a hotly contested nominating convention held in New Orleans, immediately following the adoption of the Louisiana Constitution of 1867-1868, Francis E. Dumas declined the nomination of Lieutenant Governor. Dunn was consulted and agreed to the nomination. He defeated the white candidate for the nomination, W. Jasper Blackburn, the former mayor of Minden in Webster Parish, by a vote of fifty-four to twenty-seven.

Dunn's tomb.
The Warmoth-Dunn Republican ticket was elected, 64,941 to 38,046 and hence launched the reign of the Radical Republican Party in state politics. He was inaugurated lieutenant governor on June 13, 1868. In that capacity, he was also the President pro tempore of the Louisiana State Senate. 

He also served as President of the Metropolitan Police with an annual budget of nearly one million dollars and responsibility for maintaining stability in a toxic political atmosphere.


On November 22, 1871, after a brief and sudden illness, while campaigning for the upcoming state and presidential elections, Dunn died at his home on Canal Street.

The Dunn funeral is said to have been one of the largest that New Orleans ever witnessed. As many as fifty thousand lined Canal Street for the procession, and newspapers across the nation recorded the event.

State officials, masonic lodges, and civic and social organizations participated in the procession from the St. James A.M.E. church to his grave site. He was laid to rest in the Cassanave family mausoleum at St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.

(Wikipedia - Oscar Dunn)

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