The Lynching That Gave Us Columbus Day

After 11 Italians were lynched in New Orleans in 1891, President Benjamin Harrison declared “Columbus Day” the following year to honor the contributions of Italians and Italian Americans in the U.S.

In Mark Twain’s The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, published in 1894, a telegram from the fictional town of Dawson’s Landing is printed in a newspaper in St. Louis. It reads: “Judge Driscoll, an old and respected citizen, was assassinated here about midnight by a profligate Italian nobleman or barber, on account of a quarrel growing out of the recent election. The assassin will probably be lynched.”