When Belgian scientist Jean-Charles Houzeau arrived in New Orleans in 1857, he was disturbed that America, founded on the principle of freedom, still tolerated the institution of slavery. In late 1864, he became managing editor of the New Orleans Tribune, the first black daily newspaper published in the United States. Ardently sympathetic to the plight of Louisiana’s black population and reveling in the fact that his dark complexion led many people to assume he was black himself, Houzeau passionately embraced his role as the Tribune’s editor and principal writer. My Passage at the New Orleans “Tribune,” first published in Belgium in 1872, is Houzeau’s memoir of the four years he spent as both observer and participant in the drama of Reconstruction.
Gerard F. Denault is associate director of the Freshman Seminar Program at Harvard University.
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