Founded in 1873 under the motto “Equal Rights to All Men,” the Concordia Eagle was a four-page Republican weekly published in Vidalia, Louisiana, a small agricultural community located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, opposite Natchez, Mississippi. The paper’s founder was a black state legislator and political boss, David Young (b. 1836). Born in Kentucky, Young was captured as a runaway slave and eventually taken to Louisiana, where, after the Civil War, he became a prosperous farmer, businessman, minister, and officeholder. Although accused of political corruption, as editor of the Concordia Eagle (the official journal of Concordia Parish) he supported various civic projects, including the improvement of the Mississippi River. During the so-called Exodus of 1879, in which thousands of former slaves left north Louisiana in search of greater economic opportunities and more social freedom in Kansas, he dissuaded much of Concordia Parish’s large black population from leaving.
Young was succeeded by James Presley Ball, Jr. (1851-1923), son of a prominent black Cincinnati photographer and abolitionist. In the 1880s, Ball and his father operated a photography studio in Concordia Parish. He also served as clerk of the district court. Around 1885, Ball left Louisiana, possibly for Minneapolis, where his father is known to have owned a studio. In 1894, he edited the first black newspaper in Montana, theHelena Colored Citizen. Ball later practiced law in Honolulu and Seattle and worked for a time at the Seattle Republican, one of the most successful black newspapers of its era.
In 1885, the Concordia Eagle came under the editorship of Love S. Cornwell (1811-1888). Born in Kentucky and raised in Missouri, Cornwell moved to Kansas at the height of the Free Soil controversy of the 1850s, was elected to the Kansas territorial legislature in 1859, and participated in important votes on the issue of slavery. At the start of the Civil War, he was assaulted and driven out of Kansas by the famous “Jayhawker” Charles Jennison. At war’s end, he moved to Natchez, where he eventually became a prominent businessman.
Only scattered issues of the Concordia Eagle have survived. Of particular interest are reports on the devastating floods of 1882 and 1883, information on parish schools, news of elections, agricultural advice, a “ladies’ department,” and personal briefs from both Concordia Parish and Natchez. A small number of obituaries and marriage notices are available, as are minutes of the police jury, the governing body of the parish. Publication appears to have ceased in 1890.