Reconstruction was a time of great change in the city of New Orleans. The Civil War had just ended, and the South was devastated. Although Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had done much for racial equality, racial tension and conflict was ubiquitous in New Orleans. In June 1870, at the height of Reconstruction, 17-month-old Irish-American Mollie Digby was kidnapped from outside her home. The kidnapping was highly publicized in the media of the day, and residents of New Orleans followed the story with intense fervor, all the way to the sensationalized trial of two Afro-Creole women. In The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, Michael A. Ross looks at why the story of Mollie Digby was so important, and what it reveals about that point in New Orleans history. Below is an infographic depicting life in New Orleans at the time of Mollie Digby’s kidnap.
Heading image: 1857 view of Canal Street. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.