This is the final installment in a five-part series on The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, by Michael A. Ross.
As I approached the last chapters of this book many questions emerged, particularly during the courtroom drama which unfolds in Chapter 9, "Unveiling The Mystery."
- What message would be sent if the defendant is found guilty or not guilty?
- Who would claim victory?
- How would politics and the media, during this era of Reconstruction, use the verdict to influence public opinion?
- How would the verdict reverberate throughout New Orleans or for that matter, the rest of the nation?
- What would happen should this case fall apart altogether?
- And finally, how would the verdict be attributed to race?
I also found myself reflecting upon the historical "stamp of legitimacy" which emanates from our justice system and how legal decisions influence and shift the national mindset towards our ever-changing society. I began to appreciate even more John Adams’ political philosophy when he wrote that we are "a government of laws, and not of men" and how our laws and court decisions are applied to everyone regardless of personal positions, opinions and beliefs. Many famous Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sanford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia, were closely monitored by the public, press, and politicians in anticipation of national shifts toward defining who we are as a country.
I believe The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law and Justice in the Reconstruction Era, is a great entrance to a better understanding of the historical time period and the beginning of our interracial democracy as well as to seeing the echoes of that era which are still with us today.
If you had the opportunity to ask author Michael Ross anything related to his book, what questions do you have for him as an educator, citizen, student, or adult learner? Post your thoughts below.