Wilmington insurrection of 1898

Wilmington massacre of 1898
Part of the Nadir of American race relations
Shift in social, economic and political power born from Reconstruction; White supremacy
Mob posing by the ruins of The Daily Record
LocationWilmington, North Carolina
DateNovember 10, 1898
Target
  • Black residents
  • Black businesses
  • Elected Fusionists
  • The Daily Record newspaper
Attack type
Weapons
  • Gatling gun
  • Over 400 personal guns
Deathsest. 14–300 black residents killed[1][2][3][4][5]
Victims
  • est. 2,000 displaced black Americans
  • est. 20 Fusionists banished
  • Newspaper torched and gutted
Perpetrators
Assailants
No. of participants
2,000
Motive
Goals of Attack: (1) Government overthrow
(2) Maintenance of Antebellum Racial Hierarchy

The Wilmington insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington coup of 1898,[6] was a riot and insurrection carried out by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina, United States, on Thursday, November 10, 1898.[7] The white press in Wilmington originally described the event as a race riot caused by black people. Since the late 20th century and further study, the insurrection has been characterized as a coup d'état, the violent overthrow of a duly elected government, by a group of white supremacists. It is the only such incident in the history of the United States.[8][9]

Multiple causes brought it about.[1][10][11][12][13][14] The coup was the result of a group of the state's white Southern Democrats conspiring and leading a mob of 2,000 white men to overthrow the legitimately elected local Fusionist biracial government in Wilmington. They expelled opposition black and white political leaders from the city, destroyed the property and businesses of black citizens built up since the American Civil War, including the only black newspaper in the city, and killed an estimated 60 to more than 300 people.[2][3][4][5]

The Wilmington coup is considered a turning point in post-Reconstruction North Carolina politics. It was part of an era of more severe racial segregation and effective disenfranchisement of African Americans throughout the South, which had been underway since the passage of a new constitution in Mississippi in 1890 which raised barriers to the registration of black voters. Other states soon passed similar laws. Historian Laura Edwards writes, "What happened in Wilmington became an affirmation of white supremacy not just in that one city, but in the South and in the nation as a whole", as it affirmed that invoking "whiteness" eclipsed the legal citizenship, individual rights, and equal protection under the law that black Americans were guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.[15][16][17]

  1. ^ a b Collins, Lauren (September 19, 2016). "A Buried Coup d'État in the United States". The New Yorker.
  2. ^ a b Coates, Ta-Nehisi (April 4, 2014). "Black Pathology Crowdsourced: Why we need historians in debates about today's cultures".
  3. ^ a b DeSantis, John (June 4, 2006). "Wilmington, N.C., Revisits a Bloody 1898 Day and Reflects". The New York Times. pp. 1, 33. Archived from the original on September 11, 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  4. ^ a b McCoury, Kent. "Alfred Moore Waddell (1834–1912)". North Carolina History Project.
  5. ^ a b Watson, Richard L. Jr. (1989). Lindsey Butler; Alan Watson (eds.). "Furnifold Simmons and the Politics of White Supremacy". In Race, Class and Politics in Southern History: Essays in Honor of Robert F. Durden, Jeffrey Crow et al. Louisiana State University Press.
  6. ^ Waggoner, Martha (November 5, 2019). "Marker calls 1898 violence a 'coup,' not a 'race riot'". ABC News. Retrieved November 8, 2019. The state of North Carolina is moving away from using the phrase "race riot" to describe the violent overthrow of the Wilmington government in 1898 and is instead using the word "coup" on the highway historical marker that will commemorate the dark event. "You don't call it that anymore because the African Americans weren't rioting," said Ansley Herring Wegner, administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. "They were being massacred."
  7. ^ When white supremacists overthrew a government, retrieved September 8, 2019
  8. ^ Will Doran (January 1, 2018). "White supremacists took over a city – now NC is doing more to remember the deadly attack". The News & Observer.
  9. ^ Andrew Morgan Benton (2006). "The Press and the Sword: Journalism, Racial Violence, and Political Control in Postbellum North Carolina" (PDF). North Carolina State University.
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference Commission was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Brent Staples (2006). "When Democracy Died in Wilmington, N.C." The New York Times.
  12. ^ "How The Only Coup D'Etat In U.S. History Unfolded". National Public Radio. August 17, 2008.
  13. ^ LaFrance, Adrienne; Newkirk, Vann R. II (August 12, 2017). "The Lost History of an American Coup D'État". The Atlantic.
  14. ^ LeRae Umfleet (2010). "The Wilmington Massacre - 1898". NC Office of Archives and History.
  15. ^ Edwards, Laura F. (1998). "Captives of Wilmington: The riot and historical memories of political conflict, 1865–1898". In Cecelski, David S.; Tyson, Timothy B. (eds.). Democracy betrayed: The Wilmington race riot of 1898 and its legacy. University of North Carolina Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-8078-4755-8.
  16. ^ Wooley, Robert H. (1977). "Race and Politics: The Evolution of the White Supremacy Campaign of 1898 in North Carolina, Ph. D. Dissertation". University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  17. ^ McFarland, Ebone (2011). Why Whites Riot: The Race Riot Narrative and Demonstrations of Nineteenth Century Black Citizenship (PDF). Greensboro: The University of North Carolina.

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