The Memphis massacre of 1866 was a series of violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political and social racism following the American Civil War, in the early stages of Reconstruction. After a shooting altercation between white policemen and black veterans recently mustered out of the Union Army, mobs of white residents and policemen rampaged through black neighborhoods and the houses of freedmen, attacking and killing black soldiers and civilians and committing many acts of robbery and arson.
No criminal proceedings took place against the instigators or perpetrators of the Memphis riots. The United States Attorney General, James Speed, ruled that judicial actions associated with the riots fell under state jurisdiction. But, state and local officials refused to take action, and no grand jury was ever invoked.