|Wilmington massacre of 1898|
|Part of the Nadir of American race relations|
|Location||Wilmington, North Carolina|
|Date||November 10, 1898|
|Deaths||est. 14–300 black residents killed|
No. of participants
|Part of a series on the|
|Nadir of American|
The Wilmington insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington coup of 1898, was a riot and insurrection carried out by white supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina, United States, on Thursday, November 10, 1898. 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.
Multiple causes brought it about. 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.
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.
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."
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