Albion W. Tourgée in Reconstruction
Albion W. Tourgée (1838-1905) waged a courageous battle against the Ku Klux Klan during his term as a North Carolina judge during Reconstruction. In his judicial district, located in the central Piedmont region, Tourgée counted twelve murders, nine rapes, fourteen cases of arson, and over 700 beatings, including the whipping of a 103 year-old woman.
A native of Ohio, Tourgée served in the Union army and then became a carpetbagger lawyer and judge. He wrote several novels, including A Fool's Errand (1879) and Figs and Thistles (1879), which vividly illustrated the politics of the Reconstruction period. At the time, Tourgée complained of the self-interest exhibited by some northern politicians who cared more about the predominance of the Republican party than the welfare of Southern blacks. In 1896, the Citizens Committee of black residents of New Orleans hired him to argue the Plessy v. Ferguson case before the Supreme Court. He was unsuccessful, and the resulting decision legalized segregation for the next 58 years.