This Week in History: 1891: Vigilantes shoot and lynch 11 Italians in New Orleans

Mar 13, 2021 1000

BY: John Mackie

On Oct. 15, 1890, New Orleans police chief David Hennessey was shot as he was walking home late at night. Hennessey returned fire, but was mortally wounded. When police captain William O’Connor asked him, “Who gave it to you, Dave?” Hennessey whispered “dagoes,” a racist term for Italians. “ASSASSINATED,” read the front-page headline on the New Orleans Daily Picayune the following day. 

“Ambuscaded at his doorstep and six bullets shot into his body, one of which is pronounced fatal. The murderers declared to be Italians of the criminal class.” There was a lot of racism toward Italians in the U.S. at the time, particularly towards Sicilians. Hundreds of thousands of them had recently immigrated to the U.S., many to work as labourers in the Deep South. Newspapers suspected many were connected to the Mafia, including Hennessey’s killers.

Read more


You may be interested