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For those who now consider Itailian-Americans “white”–understand it wasn’t always so. The largest mass lynching in U.S. history took place in New Orleans in 1891 — and the victims were Italian-Americans. What was the reaction of our country’s leaders to these lynchings? Teddy Roosevelt, not yet president, famously said it was “a rather good thing.” The response in The New York Times on March 16, 1891 referred to the victims of the lynchings as “… sneaking and cowardly Sicilians, the descendants of bandits and assassins.” An editorial the next day argued that: “Lynch law was the only course open to the people of New Orleans. …” John Parker, who helped organize the lynch mob, later went on to be governor of Louisiana. In 1911, he said of Italians that they were “just a little worse than the Negro, being if anything filthier in [their] habits, lawless, and treacherous.”

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