One Of The Many Who Fought For Blacks To Vote

Written by: Maria Hernandez
About: Anthony Paul Dostie

Dr. A.P. Dostie, born in New York of French-German descent, moved to New Orleans in 1852. He was forced to flee the city in 1861 because he publicly opposed Louisiana joining the Confederate states in seceding from the United States.

He later returned to New Orleans after it was occupied by Union troops and quickly became a strong supporter of Nathaniel P. Banks, a military commander of the Department of the Gulf.

Dostie and Banks were part of the constitutional convention that made a new constitution for Louisiana in 1864. The document abolished slavery—before the United States did. Dostie was one of the supporters of giving blacks the right to vote in the new constitution also, but the convention could not come to agreement on that point. The members did, however, leave open the possibility of the legislature or a reconvened Constitutional Convention to give black suffrage.

In 1866, the forty-five-year old dentist endorsed reconvening the convention to give blacks the right to vote. To rally support for the convention, Dostie and his allies held a rally the on July 29, the night before the convention would reconvene. Speaking to a large, predominantly black crowd of supporters, Dostie shouted, " We have got you your freedom, now will you fight for your votes?"

"We will; we will," the crowd responded and then chanted, " Fight to vote! Fight to vote!" over and over. Dostie encouraged the crowd to come to the Mechanical Institute on Monday to show their support for the convention.

At the end of the march Dostie climbed the of the steps of City Hall and gave an impromptu speech: "Now friends, go home peaceably, quietly; make no noise; disturb no person; but I learn that there are prowling bands of armed men out to waylay you," Dostie warned. "If you are insulted by any of these bands of men, pay no attention to them. Go home right by them without saying a word to them; but if they strike you," Dostie concluded, "Kill them."

Before the convention Dostie was warned that New Orleans police and white mobs planned to attack delegates to the convention and their supporters. He said, "I know they want to take my life, but I think it is a good cause to die in."

A.P. Dostie was one of the many people who were killed or wounded (37 dead—three white and 34 black—and 146 wounded—17 white and 119 black) in the Race Riot of July 30, 1866. But let this go on record: he was white and he died so that maybe blacks' voices would be heard and taken into account.

So if you are reading this don't forget to go vote!!!

From the book An Absolute Massacre

Written By: James G. Hollandsworth, Jr.

Published By: Louisiana State University Press

In: 2001