FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 ! SECTION H ! RALEIGH, N.C. C M Y K The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON’S RACE RIOT AND THE RISE OF WHITE SUPREMACY 1H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 90 80 70 60 50Destruction of The Daily Record of Wilmington, said to be the only black-owned daily newspaper in the United States at the time, by white supremacists. 40 COURTESY N.C. OFFICE OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY 30 n Nov. 10, 1898, armed white men marched through the black sections of Wilmington, murdering all who dared to challenge O 20 them. As violence filled the streets, others snatched control of the government. After installing themselves in power, they ban- ished at least 21 successful blacks and their white allies. Although it is one of the most significant chapters in state history, it 10 is a story many have never heard. In this special report, historian Timothy B. Tyson describes the carefully orchestrated cam- paign that spread white supremacy across North Carolina and the South. He explains how many of the region’s leading fig- ures and institutions seized power, altering the state’s history and creating a legacy that haunts us still. STORY BY TIMOTHY B. TYSON
THE NEWS & OBSERVER ! FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT 3Introduction largely a hidden chapter in our state’s HOW A RAILROAD TICKET C M Y K history. It was only this year that INSPIRED JIM CROW LAWS North Carolina completed its offi- In 1892, Homer Plessy pur- cial investigation of the violence. chased a first-class railroad The report of the Wilmington Race Riot Commission concluded that the ticket — and thereby broke theEVENTS OF 1898 SHAPED OUR HISTORY tragedy “marked a new epoch in the law. Blacks were permitted to history of violent race relations in the ride only third class in his United States.” It recommended home state of Louisiana, which required separate railwayO n a chilly autumn morning 108 years ago this month, heavily armed columns of white payments to descendants of victims and advised media outlets, including accommodations for the races. men marched military-fashion into the black neighborhoods of Wilmington, then the state’s The News & Observer, to tell the Ultimately, the Supreme Court truth about 1898. heard, and rejected, Plessy’s largest city and the center of African-American political and economic success. “Under challenge, validating segrega- Even as we finally acknowledge thorough discipline and under command of officers,” one witness wrote, “capitalists and the ghosts of 1898, long shadowed tion in public facilities and by ignorance and forgetfulness, some inspiring a harsher wave of laborers marched together. The lawyer and his client were side by side. Men of large busi- ask: Why dredge this up now, when restrictive Jim Crow laws. ness interests kept step with the clerks.” we cannot change the past? But J. PEDER ZANE those who favor amnesia ignore how In the name of white supremacy, this well-ordered mob burned the offices of the local black news- the past holds our future in its grip, U.S. RACE RIOTS especially when it remains unac- 3H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006paper, murdered perhaps dozens of black residents — the precise number isn’t known — and ban- knowledged. The new world walks The march of urban racial forever in the footsteps of the old. massacres that Wilmington ledished many successful black citizens and their so-called “white nigger” allies. A new social order was was not confined to the South. The story of the Wilmington raceborn in the blood and the flames, rooted in what The News and Observer’s publisher, Josephus Daniels, riot abides at the core of North Car- In 1908, scores of blacks died olina’s past. in Springfield, Ill., in an attackheralded as “permanent good government by the party of the White Man.” And that story holds many lessons that drew force from Wilming- for us today. It reminds us that his- ton’s example. In East St. Louis, The Wilmington race riot of 1898 was a crucial turning point in the history of North Carolina. It was Ill., white mobs killed as many tory does not just happen. It does notalso an event of national historical significance. Occurring just two years after the Supreme Court had unfold naturally like the seasons or as 200 blacks and burned rise and fall like the tides. History is 6,000 out of their homes insanctioned “separate but equal” segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson, the riot signaled the embrace of an made by people, who bend and shape 1917. The Chicago race riot ofeven more virulent racism, not merely in Wilmington, but across the United States. the present to create the future. The 1919 left 15 whites and 23 history of Wilmington teaches us blacks dead; in 1919 alone, that the ugly racial conflict that similar riots in 26 other U.S. This deepening racial chasm shaped North Carolina and the na- cities from Omaha to Washing-launched an extraordinarily violent tion during much of the 20th century ton, D.C., left scores of bodies.and repressive era in this country. It was not inevitable. So long as we In Tulsa in 1921, between 150was a time when some state legisla- remember that past, we might over- and 200 blacks died in a masstures — in the North and South — come its legacy. assault.were controlled by members of the For more than a century, most his- TIMOTHY B. TYSONKu Klux Klan. It was a period when torians have obscured the triumph ofgroups of respectable white South- white domination in 1898 by callingerners gathered to burn black men FOUR-PRONGED PLAN it a “race riot,” though it was not thein public, brought their children to spontaneous outbreak of mob vio- The events in Wilmingtonwatch, and mailed their loved ones lence that the word “riot” suggests. were not just a single day ofsouvenir postcards of the smoldering In his seminal study, “We Have violence, but part of a four-corpses. It was a time when African- Taken a City” (1984), H. Leon pronged plan:Americans lost the right to vote to Prather calls it a “massacre and coup.” 1. Steal the election: Undera white South determined to con- What another scholar terms the 90 the banner of white supremacy,trol their lives and labor by any “genocidal massacre” in Wilmington the Democratic Party usedmeans necessary. North Carolina was the climax of a carefully orches- 80 threats, intimidation, anti-blackstripped the vote from black men in trated campaign to end interracial propaganda and stuffed ballot1900. By 1910, every state in the cooperation and build a one-party 70 boxes to win the statewideSouth had taken the vote from its state that would assure the power of elections on Nov. 8, 1898.black citizens, using North Carolina North Carolina’s business elite. 60 Black firefighters stand on the second floor of the destroyed Love 2. Riot. On Nov. 10, armedas one of their models. When the violence ended, a war of and Charity Hall in Wilmington. Children watch on the steps whites attacked blacks and Wilmington 1898 marked a flow- memory persisted. Our politically 50ering of the Age of Jim Crow. White below. The building housed the city’s black-owned newspaper. their property. correct public history, carved intoauthorities constructed the symbols 3. Stage a coup. As the riot COURTESY NEW HANOVER LIBRARY marble on our university buildings 40and signs of everyday life to show unfolded, white leaders forced and the statehouse lawn, exalts thepeople their place. “White” and “Col- consulted men who came to power ing that the state take the ballot from men who overthrew an elected gov- the mayor, police chief and 30ored” signs were erected at railroad by leading North Carolina’s white blacks. If whites could not disfran- ernment in the name of white su- other local leaders to resignstations, over drinking fountains and supremacy campaign. They included chise blacks legally in Georgia, Smith premacy, including Charles B. Ay- from their offices, placing 20at the doors of theaters and restau- Gov. Robert Glenn, U.S. Sens. Lee vowed, “we can handle them as they cock and Josephus Daniels. No themselves in charge.rants. Hubert Eaton, a black leader S. Overman and Furnifold Simmons did in Wilmington,” where the monument exists to the handful of vi- 4. Banish the opposition. 10in Wilmington, recalled his shock and former Gov. Charles B. Aycock. woods were left “black with their sionaries who were able to imagine After seizing power, whites re-and dismay in the 1950s to see two Overman urged white Georgians to hanging carcasses.” Right after a better future, beyond the bounds moved opposition by banishingBibles in every courtroom, clearly be prepared to use bloody violence Smith’s 1906 election, white mobs of white supremacy. Nor do we re- their most able and determinedmarked by race. and promised that disfranchisement raged in the streets of Atlanta and member those who gave their lives opponents, black and white. The Wilmington massacre in- would bring the “satisfaction which killed dozens of blacks. Soon, ex- for simple justice. Instead, we mis- J. PEDER ZANEspired bloody racist crusades across only comes of permanent peace af- actly as in North Carolina, the state take power for greatness and cele-the United States. When whites in ter deadly warfare.” of Georgia took the vote from its brate those responsible for our worstGeorgia, led by would-be governor Smith campaigned across Geor- African-American citizens. errors. The losers of 1898, thoughHoke Smith, sought to take the bal- gia, braying about the protection of Despite their importance, the flawed themselves, have far more tolot from black citizens in 1906, they “white womanhood” and demand- events in Wilmington have remained teach us than the winners.
4 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 ! THE NEWS & OBSERVER Chapter 19080 WILMINGTON: SYMBOL OF BLACK ACHIEVEMENT7060 A t the close of the 19th century, Wilmington was a sym- bol of black hope in post-Civil War America. The50 largest and most important city in North Carolina,40 it had a black-majority population — 11,324 African-30 Americans and 8,731 whites. The beautiful port city20 on the Cape Fear, about 30 miles upriver from the open Atlantic, boasted electric lights and streetcars when much10 of the state lumbered along in darkness. Its port did not quite Market Street between Front and Second streets, 1898. match those of Savannah or Charleston, but it shipped tons of cot- PHOTOS COURTESY N.C. OFFICE ton around the world. OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY Wilmington’s middling prosper- ity rested upon its black majority. Blacks owned 10 of the city’s 11 eat- 4H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 ing houses and 20 of its 22 barber- shops. Black entrepreneur Thomas Miller was one of Wilmington’s three real estate agents. The city’s business directory listed black-owned Bell & Pickens as one of only four dealers and shippers of fish and oysters. Many of Wilmington’s most sought- after craftsmen were also black: jew- elers and watchmakers, tailors, me- chanics, furniture makers, blacksmiths, shoemakers, stone- masons, plasterers, plumbers, wheel- wrights and brick masons. Frederick Sadgwar, an African-American ar- chitect, financier and contractor, owned a stately home that still stands as a monument to his talents and industry. What’s more, the black male lit- eracy rate was higher than that of whites. The Daily Record, said to be the only black-owned daily news- paper in the United States, was edited by the dashing and pro- gressive Alexander Manly, the mixed-race descendant of Charles Manly, governor of the state from 1849-51. Black achievement, however, was always fragile. Wealthy whites might be willing to accept some black advancement, so long as whites held the reins of power. But C M Y K black economic gains also pro- voked many poor whites who com- peted with them, and wealthy whites persistently encouraged an- imosity between poor whites and blacks in a divide-and-conquer Pedens Shop was one of many black-owned businesses in Wilmington. Blacks owned 20 of the city’s 22 barbershops. strategy. In the years after Recon- One of the city’s three real estate agents was black. And black-owned Bell & Pickens was one of four shippers of fish and oysters. struction, aspiring black farmers, businessmen and professionals of- ten found themselves the victims of exclusion, harassment, discrimi- nation and a range of violence that included the horrors of lynching.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER ! FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT 5Chapter 2 RUSSELL LEADS FUSION C M Y KTHE FUSION MOVEMENT: EXPERIMENT IN INTERRACIAL DEMOCRACYD espite their defeat in 1865, the feverish devotion of the former Confederates to white dominion did not burn off like mists in the midmorning sun. For many white Southerners, black citizenship remained unacceptable and justified any level of violence. Ku Klux Klan ter- rorism swept the South. As the federal government be- COURTESY UNC-CHAPEL HILLcame increasingly reluctant to protect the rights of former slaves, It would be several genera- 5H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006white terrorism and electoral fraud brought about the end of Re- tions before North Caroliniansconstruction. The Conservatives, who later changed their name to again witnessed the interracial cooperation that marked thethe Democrats, took power across the region by 1876, and worked race for governor in 1896. After a heated struggle, the Fusion-hard to limit black voting. ists nominated Daniel Russell, a broad-faced, fleshy white man The collapse of Reconstruction access to the ballot box and safety of nearly 300 pounds, for gov-left North Carolina with two dis- from white terrorism. ernor. Though many of thetinct political parties. While Repub- These “Pops” were not quite as African-American delegateslicans, favored by blacks, controlled devoted to white supremacy as had favored another candidate,many federal appointments from their conservative opponents. Russell swore his support forWashington, the Democrats ruled Still, poisonous ideas that had black advancement.the state and local governments from once served as a rationale for slav-1876 to 1894. But the coalition of ery — that God had distributed “I stand for the Negroes’wealthy, working class and rural moral, cultural and intellectual rights and liberties,” he de-whites that kept the Democrats in worth on the basis of pigmenta- clared. “I sucked at the breastpower began to unravel in the late tion — were as common among of a Negro woman. I judge from1880s as the American economy white Populists as they were the adult development the milkheaded toward depression. among Democrats. must have been nutritious and North Carolina became a hotbed As the economic depression deep- plentiful,” Russell joked, mock-of agrarian revolt as hard-pressed ened, these increasingly desperate ing his enormous girth. “Thefarmers soured on the Democrats Populists joined forces with Re- Negroes do not want control.because of policies that cottoned to publicans. Together they formed an They only demand, and theybanks and railroads. Many white dis- interracial “Fusion” coalition that ought to have it, every right asidents rallied around economic is- championed local self-government, white man has.”sues and eventually founded the Peo- free public education, modest reg- Campaign fliers from theple’s Party, also known as the ulation of monopoly capitalism and 1896 election reveal the Fu-Populists. As the ruling order dis- “one man, one vote,” which would sionist effort to appeal to black 90credited itself through its inability to give a black man the same voting voters. “To the Colored Votersmeet human needs, many of the eco- power as a white man. In the 1894 of Union County” reminded 80nomic dissidents became racial dis- and 1896 elections, the Fusion African-Americans that “twosidents, too. movement won every statewide of- years ago the Republicans and 70 Now they imagined what had been fice, swept the legislature and Populists of North Carolinaunimaginable: an alliance with elected its most prominent white united and made one grand 60blacks, who shared their economic leader, Daniel Russell, to the gov- A cartoon in The News and Observer on Oct. 26, 1898, warned struggle for liberty,” and thatgrievances but also sought secure ernorship. only this defeat of the Demo- 50 voters of the interracial Fusion coalition of Populists and In Wilmington, the Fusion tri- Republicans who championed local self-government, free public crats enabled blacks to vote umph lifted black and white Re- FUSION VICTORY again. “THE CHAINS OF SERVI- 40 education and giving a black man the same vote as a white man. publicans and white Populists to TUDE ARE BROKEN,” the inter- SOURCE: THE NEWS AND OBSERVERRepublicans and Populists power. The new Fusion legislature racial alliance reminded black 30 oined forces to defeat Demo- reformed local government to allow citizens in an appeal to racecrats in 1894. communities to pick their own lead- best. Nearly all of the white Fu- more democratic government, with pride. “NOW NEVER LICK THE 20 894 statewide election results ership, and won a majority of the sionists resisted equality for their all men eligible to vote and hold of- HAND THAT LASHED YOU.”North Carolina General Assembly Wilmington Board of Aldermen. But African-American allies. But since fice on equal terms, wealthy white Such appeals brought black 10 white Republicans and Populists they represented a vital part of Democrats vowed to regain control House Senate voters out in a gesture of auda- kept most offices to themselves; only the coalition, quite a few black of the government. cious hope that the interracial four of the 10 aldermen were North Carolinians took places on Beginning in 1897, they saw Fusion democracy born in Reconstruc- coalition African-Americans, despite the city’s county electoral tickets and won. their challenge as finding a strat- black majority. tion, but dead for 20 years, could Imperfect though it was, this Fu- egy that would move the focus of We must resist the temptation be revived. An estimated 87 sion coalition embodied a brighter disgruntled white voters away fromDemocrats to take a romantic view of the future for our state, not just in its their policies. What they needed percent of eligible black voters Fusionists and imagine that they ideals but in its practical approach was an issue that would shatter went to the polls in 1896, and 0 20 40 60 80 Russell was elected. Source: 1898 Wilmington Race represented the same vision as to coalition politics. the fragile alliance between poor Riot Commission Report the civil rights movement at its Horrified at the prospect of a whites and blacks. TIMOTHY B. TYSON
6 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 ! THE NEWS & OBSERVER Chapter 3 CHARLES B. AYCOCK Charles Brantley Aycock was90 born in Wayne County on Nov. 1, 1859, the youngest of 10 children.80 After graduating from the Univer- sity of North Carolina in 1880, he THE STATEWIDE WHITE SUPREMACY CAMPAIGN70 practiced law in Goldsboro and became involved in Democratic60 Party politics. As North Carolina’s C harles B. Aycock, governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905, has become the central governor from 1901 to 1905, he symbol of the state’s progressive traditions, first and most illustrious of our “education50 championed education and white supremacy. He died in 1912 while governors.” Politicians in North Carolina making high-minded appeals for education and40 delivering a speech on education. civility routinely invoke “the spirit of Aycock.” The contradictory truth is that Aycock earned30 his prominence by fomenting a bloody white supremacy revolution in North Carolina. This20 campaign — with Wilmington as its flash point — essentially overthrew the state gov- COURTESY UNC LIBRARY ernment by force and by fraud, ending meaningful democracy in the state for generations. How this10 happened is a lesson in the politics of racial violence and the ironies of public memory. JOSEPHUS DANIELS Josephus Daniels was born in Washington, N.C., in 1862. His fa- ther, a shipbuilder for the Confed- eracy, was killed before the child was 3. His mother soon moved the family to Wilson, where she worked 6H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 for the post office. At age 16, he entered the world of journalism; by 18 he had bought the Advance, a paper serving Wilson, Nash and Greene counties. After studying at the University of North Carolina’s law school, he was admitted to the bar in 1885, though he never practiced. In- stead he continued to publish and NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO edit newspapers, proving himself a fierce ally of the Democratic Party. He purchased The News and Observer in 1894, making it a pivotal instrument of the white supremacy campaign. President Woodrow Wilson named him secretary of the Navy in 1913. President Franklin Roosevelt appointed him ambassador to Mexico in 1933. Daniels died in Raleigh on Jan. 15, 1948. FURNIFOLD SIMMONS Furnifold Simmons was born on his father’s plantation near Pol- locksville in Jones County in 1854. After graduating from Trinity College (now Duke University) in As the 1898 political season loomed, ticipation remained a smoldering Observer. He spearheaded a propa- 1873, he studied law and began the Populists and Republicans hoped ember that they could fan to full ganda effort that made white parti- practicing in New Bern. He served to make more gains through Fusion. flame. So they made the “redemp- sans angry enough to commit elec- one term in Congress (1887-89), The Democrats, desperate to over- tion” of North Carolina from “Negro toral fraud and mass murder. then lost the next two elections come their unpopularity, decided to domination” the theme of the 1898 It would not be merely a campaign for that seat. place all their chips on racial antago- campaign. Though promising to re- of heated rhetoric but also one of vi- After losing statewide elections nism. Party chairman Furnifold Sim- store something traditional, they olence and intimidation. Daniels called in 1894 and 1896, North Carolina’s mons mapped out the campaign strat- would, in fact, create a new social or- Simmons “a genius in putting every- C M Y K Democratic Party named him its egy with leaders whose names would der rooted in white supremacy and body to work — men who could write, chairman. Simmons orchestrated be immortalized in statues, on build- commercial domination. men who could speak, and men who the campaign of 1898 that would ings and street signs: Aycock, Henry A propaganda campaign slander- could ride — the last by no means the restore the party to power. Show- G. Connor, Robert B. Glenn, Claude ing African-Americans would not least important.” By “ride,” Daniels COURTESY UNC-CHAPEL HILL ing its gratitude, the legislature Kitchin, Locke Craig, Cameron Mor- come cheap. Simmons made secret employed a euphemism for vigilante appointed him in 1900 to a seat in rison, George Rountree, Francis D. deals with railroads, banks and in- terror. Black North Carolinians had to the U.S. Senate that he would hold for 30 years. Winston and Josephus Daniels. dustrialists. In exchange for dona- be kept away from the polls by any These men knew that the Demo- tions right away, the Democrats means necessary. crats’ only hope was to develop cam- pledged to slash corporate taxes af- Though it would end in bloodshed, paign issues that cut across party ter their victory. the campaign began with an ordinary lines. Southern history and practical At the center of their strategy lay enough meeting of the Democratic ex- politics had taught them that white the gifts and assets of Daniels, edi- discomfort with black political par- tor and publisher of The News and CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE
THE NEWS & OBSERVER ! FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT 7 Chapter 4 SUPREMACY C M Y K CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGEecutive committee on Nov. 20, 1897.At its end, Francis D. Winston ofBertie County published a call for PROPAGANDA, PASSION ACROSS THE STATEwhites to rise up and “reestablish An-glo-Saxon rule and honest govern- Tment in North Carolina.” He attacked o achieve victory in 1898, Democrats appealed to ir-Republican and Populist leaders forturning over local offices to blacks. rational passions. They used sexualized images of“Homes have been invaded, and the black men and their supposedly uncontrollable lustsanctity of woman endangered,” theDemocratic broadside claimed. “Busi- for white women. Newspaper stories and stumpness has been paralyzed and prop-erty rendered less valuable.” speeches warned of “black beasts” and “black brutes” This claim ignored the enormous who threatened the pure flower of Southern wom-commercial expansion in North Car-olina in the 1890s. Despite the pain anhood. They cast any achievement or assertion by African-of farmers pelted by the national N&O cartoonist Norman Jennett penned caricatures of blacks. 7H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006agricultural depression, textile mills American men as merely an effort to get close to white women. THE NEWS AND OBSERVERhad increased fourfold; invested cap-ital had surged to 12 times its 1890 Aware that a picture could bevalue; the number of employed work- worth a thousand votes, Josephusers in North Carolina had skyrock- Daniels engaged the services of car-eted during the decade; and the rail- toonist Norman Jennett to pen front-road interests had obtained a 99-year page caricatures of blacks. Jennett’slease on public railways. But the masterpiece was a depiction of atruth was not the point. The Demo- huge vampire bat with “Negro rule”crats clearly planned to portray inscribed on its wings, and whitethemselves as the saviors of North women beneath its claws, with theCarolina from the Fusionist regime caption “The Vampire That Hovers— and from “Negro domination.” Over North Carolina.” Other images By any rational assessment, included a large Negro foot with aAfrican-Americans could hardly be white man pinned under it. The cap-said to “dominate” North Carolina tion: “How Long Will This Last?”politics. Helen G. Edmonds, the Sensational headlines and accountsscholar from N.C. Central Univer- of supposed Negro crimes weresity, which in her day was called Daniels’ stock in trade: “Negro Con-North Carolina College for Negroes, trol in Wilmington,” “A Negro In-weighed the matter in her classic sulted the Postmistress Because He1951 work, “The Negro and Fusion Did Not Get A Letter,” “NegroesPolitics in North Carolina, 1894- Have Social Equality” and “Negro On1901.” She wrote: A Train With Big Feet Behind “An examination of ‘Negro domi- White” were typical.nation’ in North Carolina revealed The News and Observer was onethat one Negro was elected to Con- of many newspapers spreading anti-gress; ten to the state legislature; four black propaganda. “The Angloaldermen were elected in Wilmington, Saxon/A Great White Man’s Rally,” 90two in New Bern, two in Greenville, read a headline in the state’s leadingone or two in Raleigh, one county conservative paper, the Charlotte 80treasurer and one county coroner in Daily Observer. It offered readers aNew Hanover; one register of deeds stream of sensationalized and fabri- The racist assumptions that made it Arms — Blacks to Be Prevented House in Raleigh, pounding the 70in Craven; one Negro jailer in Wilm- cated stories about black crime, effective were commonplace. With- from Voting in Wilmington, N.C. — podium for white supremacy andington; and one county commissioner corruption and atrocities against out the cooperation of the news- Prepared for Race War — Prop- the protection of white womanhood. 60in Warren and one in Craven.” white women. Star reporter H.E.C. papers, though, especially The News erty-Holding Classes Determined White men have neglected poor Indeed, all three political parties “Red Buck” Bryant traveled North and Observer, the white supremacy Upon Ending Negro Domination.” and long-suffering white women, 50were controlled by whites. Two of Carolina filing triumphant dispatches campaign could not have succeeded. The white supremacy forces did he explained in his famous “guiltthem — the Populists and the Demo- about the white supremacy cam- Although he never apologized for not depend solely upon newspapers, and degradation” speech, which he 40crats — could fairly be described as paign and disparaging accounts of his central role in the campaign, but required a statewide campaign repeated across the state that fall.hostile to blacks, though the Pop- the Fusion government. Daniels later acknowledged that his of stump speakers, torchlight pa- “For them,” he said of the wives, 30ulists supported a small degree of Populist leader Marion Butler, newspaper had been harsh, unfair rades and physical intimidation. daughters and sweethearts of whiteblack office-holding in an arrange- who was elected by the Fusion leg- and irresponsible. The News and Former Gov. Thomas J. Jarvis and men, “it is everything whether 20ment based on the arithmetic of po- islature to the U.S. Senate in 1895, Observer was “cruel in its flagella- future Govs. Robert B. Glenn and Negro supremacy is to continue.”litical power. Given that North Car- anticipated the crucial role news- tions,” Daniels wrote 40 years later. Cameron Morrison struck many a Wilmington, Aycock explained 10olina’s population was 33 percent papers would play in the 1898 cam- “We were never very careful about blow for the conservative cause. later, was “the storm center of theAfrican-American, it would be far paign. The year before, he wrote, winnowing out the stories or running “The king of oratory, however, white supremacy movement.” Heremore accurate to describe the state “There is but one chance and but them down … they were played up was Charles B. Aycock,” historian was the largest city in the state,of affairs as “white domination.” one hope for the railroads to cap- in big type.” H. Leon Prather writes, “the Demo- with a black majority and a black- But to white supremacists, the fact ture the next legislature, and that is Nor was it a secret, as Election cratic Moses, who would lead North owned daily newspaper, and sev-that black votes — usually for white for the ‘nigger’ to be made the issue” Day approached, that violence was Carolina out of the chaos and dark- eral African-American office hold-candidates — could sway elections with the Raleigh and Charlotte pa- part of the Democrats’ strategy. ness of ‘Negro domination.’ ” As he ers. Wilmington represented thewas tantamount to domination. They pers “together in the same bed shout- Two weeks before the slaughter in did throughout the campaign, Ay- heart of the Fusionist threat. And sowanted blacks removed from the po- ing ‘nigger.’ ” Wilmington, The Washington Post cock mesmerized a standing-room- it became the focus of the Democ-litical equation. This propaganda fell on fertile soil. ran these headlines: “A City Under only crowd at the Metropolitan rats’ campaign.
8 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 ! THE NEWS & OBSERVER Chapter 5 EDITORIAL STOKED ANGER WADDELL’S POLITICS9080 THE WILMINGTON CAMPAIGN7060 E arly in the fall of 1898, Democratic Party organizers white governor, Charles Manly. For Democratic strategists, arrived in Wilmington to press their cause. Most of the50 Manly’s editorial was a timely gift. white-owned businesses in town contributed money. In public, Furnifold Simmons40 fumed that Manly had “dared George Rountree, a local conservative, and Francis openly and publicly to assail the30 virtue of our pure white woman- Winston of Bertie County, organized white supremacy hood.” In private, however, the20 clubs in the port city. Lawyers William B. McCoy, Democratic Party’s chief strategist COURTESY UNC-CHAPEL HILL was far more cheerful. Walker Tay- PHOTO COURTESY OF LOWER CAPE FEAR Iredell Meares, John Dillard Bellamy and others allowed the White lor, a white Democrat from Wilm-10 HISTORICAL SOCIETY Alexander Manly’s editorial ington, wrote: “Senator Simmons, response in The Daily Record Government Union — as the Democratic Party headquarters in who was here at the time, told us Born in Hillsborough, Alfred to a pro-lynching speech deliv- Raleigh dubbed the local clubs — to meet in their offices. that the article would make an easy Moore Waddell began practicing ered by a Georgia woman victory for us and urged us to try law in Wilmington shortly after seemed heaven-sent to Demo- and prevent any riot until after the graduating from the University cratic leaders. Though the Benjamin Keith, a white Populist triumph of wealth and bigotry: election.” of North Carolina in 1853. Rising African-American editor articu- who served on the Wilmington “The business men of the State are Sen. Ben Tillman of South Car- to the rank of lieutenant colonel lated painful truths, his adver- Board of Aldermen, claimed that largely responsible for the victory. olina, the South’s most gifted racist during the Civil War, Waddell saries used it to support their support for the White Government Not before in years have the bank demagogue, saw no reason to wait. later served four terms in Con- 8H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 Union was not altogether volun- men, the mill men, and the busi- Tillman came to North Carolina in anti-black scare tactics. gress (1871-1879). tary; the clubs demanded that every ness men in general — the back- the fall of 1898 at the invitation of “The papers are filled often After his electoral defeat, he white man in the community join. bone of the property interest of Simmons and bragged that he and with reports of rapes of white practiced law, edited the Char- “Many good people were marched the State — taken such sincere in- his fellow Red Shirts, a terrorist women, and the subsequent from their homes, some by com- terest. They worked from start to lotte Journal-Observer for two militia, had seized power in South lynching of the alleged rapist. mittees, and taken to headquarters finish, and furthermore they spent years (1881-82) and remained Carolina by force and by fraud. Till- The editors pour forth volumes and told to sign,” Keith wrote. The large bits of money in behalf of the man urged the white supremacy active in Democratic politics. A of aspersions against all Negroes threat of banishment or worse was cause.” forces in North Carolina to adopt gifted orator, he championed because of the few who may be plain, he said: “Those that did not The campaign to persuade white his “shotgun policy” and shamed white supremacy in the 1898 guilty. If the papers and speakers [sign] were notified that they must men to commit wholesale violence them for failure to use violence al- election and was installed as the of the other race would con- leave the city … as there was plenty was made easier in August 1898 ready, especially against Manly. city’s mayor during the coup demn the commission of crime of rope.” when the black-owned Daily Record “Why didn’t you kill that damn nig- that occurred during the riot. because it is crime and not try to The white supremacy campaign of Wilmington answered an inflam- ger editor who wrote that?” Till- J. PEDER ZANE make it appear that the Negroes in Wilmington made fervent ap- matory article in the Wilm- man taunted the crowd. were the only criminals, they peals for the support of poor whites. ington Messenger. As “Send him to South RED SHIRT VIGILANTES would find their strongest allies With the blessing of the Chamber of part of the conserva- Carolina and let him in the intelligent Negroes them- Commerce, it demanded that whites tive propaganda publish any such The white sheets of the Ku selves … be given the jobs now held by barrage, the Mes- offensive stuff, Klux Klan have become the “Our experience among poor blacks, especially municipal posi- senger reprinted and he will be enduring symbol of racist white people in the country tions. However, the campaign was a year-old killed.” vigilantism, but Red Shirts also teaches us that the women of not led by that symbol of Southern speech by Re- Tillman struck fear in the hearts of that race are not any more racism — the uneducated “red- becca Felton of headlined the black people. First coming to particular in the matter of clan- neck.” Georgia that largest rally of prominence in South Carolina destine meetings with colored In fact, Wilmington’s elite directed urged white the white su- in the elections of 1876 that men than are the white men the charge. “The Secret Nine,” as an Southern men premacy cam- would spell the end of Recon- with colored women. Meetings admiring local white historian called to “lynch, a thou- paign, held in struction, red shirts were of this kind go on for some time the cabal that helped hatch the vio- sand times a week, Fayetteville on donned by men eager to com- until the woman’s infatuation or lence and coup in Wilmington, in- if necessary,” to pro- Oct. 20. By early mit violence against blacks and the man’s boldness bring atten- cluded J. Alan Taylor, Hardy L. tect white women from morning, in one ac- their white allies. During Wilm- tion to them and the man is Fennell, W.A. Johnson, L.B. Sasser, black rapists. count, “vehicles filling all ington’s white supremacy lynched for rape. … Tell your William Gilchrist, P.B. Manning, In response to this fabricated the streets and thoroughfares gave campaign of 1898, Red Shirts men that it is no worse for a E.S. Lathrop, Walter L. Parsley and rape scare and call for mass mur- evidence that the white people of patrolled the city’s streets to black man to be intimate with a Hugh MacRae. It was these men, der, the Record’s editor, Alexander upper Cape Fear had left the plow, intimidate blacks. and other scions of Eastern North Manly, pointed out that not all the machine shops, the kitchen, nay, C M Y K white woman, than for a white J. PEDER ZANE man to be intimate with a col- Carolina’s aristocracy, who orga- sexual contact between black men the very neighborhood school- nized armed militias to take con- and white women was coerced. He room.” Hundreds of white men ored woman. You set yourselves trol of the streets and drew up lists also noted that white men rou- showed up in red shirts, paying down as a lot of carping hypo- of black and white Fusionists to be tinely seduced or raped black homage to Tillman’s terrorist crites in that you cry aloud for banished or killed. women. Why, Manly asked, was it achievements. A delegation from the virtue of your women while Not only in Wilmington but worse for a black man to be inti- Wilmington led the parade, fol- you seek to destroy the morality across North Carolina, the white mate with a white woman than for lowed by 300 Red Shirts in mili- of ours. Don’t think ever that supremacy campaign represented a white man to be intimate with a tary formation, trailed by a float your women will remain pure the triumph of financial and man- black woman? with 22 beautiful young white while you are debauching ours. ufacturing interests. Later, the Manly’s charge was particularly in- women dressed in white. The con- You sow the seed — the harvest Charlotte Daily Observer would cendiary because he embodied its stant boom of cannons added a vi- will come in due time.” assess the white supremacy cam- truth — the black editor was a direct olent percussion to a brass band paign and proudly celebrate the descendant of North Carolina’s from Wilmington.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER ! FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006 The Ghosts of 1898 WILMINGTON RACE RIOT 9Chapter 6 C M Y KSILVER TONGUES AND RED SHIRTST hough Ben Tillman helped fire the boiler of white su- premacy, Wilmington had plenty of homegrown talent. The most effective advocate of violence probably was Alfred Moore Waddell. A lawyer and newspaper publisher born on Moorefield Plantation near Hillsborough, Waddell had fought as a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate cavalry.After the war, he served three terms in Congress, finally losing his seat 9H, FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2006to Daniel Russell, the Republican who would become the Fusionist gov-ernor of North Carolina. Unemployed in 1898, Waddell set out to over-throw the Russell regime by violence and demagoguery, becoming what Red Shirts were a paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party that disrupted black church services and Republican meetings. This photo was taken in Laurinburg in Scotland County in 1898.some called “the silver tongued orator of the east.” COURTESY N.C. OFFICE OF ARCHIVES & HISTORY Waddell packed an auditorium in [in the other.]” Guthrie warned munities, and drove would-be black A “White Man’s Rally” on Nov. 2 VOTING FRAUD IN 1898Wilmington early in the fall of 1898, the Fusionists: “Resist our march voters away with gunfire. “Before featured free barbecue and torch- Intimidation, violence andwhere he shared the stage with 50 of of progress and civilization and we we allow the Negroes to control light parades of armed men. Thethe city’s most prominent citizens. will wipe you off the face of the this state as they do now,” Con- night before the election, Waddell re- ballot-stuffing were the ElectionWhite supremacy, he declared, was Earth.” gressman W.W. Kitchin declared, minded the armed throng: “You are Day tools of choice of Demo-the sole issue and traitors to the Men weren’t the only ones calling “we will kill enough of them that Anglo-Saxons. You are armed and crats in Wilmington. The mostwhite race should be held account- for violence. Rebecca Cameron, there will not be enough left to prepared, and you will do your duty. egregious cases of electionable. “I do not hesitate to say this Waddell’s cousin, wrote to him on bury them.” If you find the Negro out voting, tell fraud occurred in heavily blackpublicly,” Waddell proclaimed, “that Oct. 26 to urge him to carry out his Russell, who was from Wilming- him to leave the polls, and if he re- sections of the First Ward.if a race conflict occurs in North murderous threats. “Where are the ton, complained before the election fuses, kill him, shoot him down in his In the Fourth Precinct, Demo-Carolina, the very first men that white men and the shotguns!” she that “citizens had been fired on tracks. We shall win tomorrow if we crats dramatically suppressedought to be held to account are the exclaimed. “It is time for the oft from ambush and taken from their have to do it with guns.” the black vote. Although 337white leaders of the Negroes who quoted shotgun to play a part, and homes at night and whipped; and The following day, Nov. 8, 1898, Republicans were registered inwill be chiefly responsible for it. … an active one, in the elections.” that peaceful citizens were afraid to many African-Americans in Wilm- the precinct, the party talliedI mean the governor of this state The situation was sufficiently des- register” to vote. To quell the vio- ington avoided the polls in hope of only 97 votes.who is the engineer of all the devil- perate, she believed, that not mere lence, Russell eventually withdrew evading bloodshed. Other black cit- In the Fifth Precinct, Demo-try.” But his fiery closing, which be- threats but “bloodletting is needed the Republican ticket from New izens attempted to vote. But the crats not only suppressed thecame the tag line of his standard for the hearts of the common man Hanover County. Yet this was not armed white men posted on every black vote, they also inflatedstump speech that fall, made clear and when the depletion commences enough to satisfy his opponents. block by the White Government their own totals. Thirty Demo-that blacks would bear the brunt of l t i b t o o g Urging her men- e t e h r u h!” When Russell traveled to Wilm- Union certainly kept many away crats were registered in thethe violence. “We will never sur- folk to eliminate Gov. Russell, in ington on Election Day, Red Shirt from the ballot box. Though the in- precinct, but the party earnedrender to a ragged raffle of Negroes,” particular, Cameron quoted the terrorists swarmed his train at Ham- timidation might have sufficed, 90 456 votes. A precinct with 343Waddell thundered, “even if we have Bible in her plea for bloodshed: let and tried to lynch him. To un- given the violent atmosphere and registered voters produced ato choke the Cape Fear River with “Solomon says, ‘There is a Time derstand the condition of the demo- the withdrawal of the local Repub- 80 total of 607 votes.carcasses.” to Kill.’ ” cratic process in North Carolina lican ticket, the Democrats never- J. PEDER ZANE Waddell unfurled his next blood- The threats were not empty. that year, we are forced to con- theless stuffed ballot boxes. Dowl- 70thirsty declaration in Goldsboro, The Red Shirts, a paramilitary template the governor huddling in ing, the Red Shirt leader who also GOVERNOR ELUDES MOBwhere 8,000 white Democrats came arm of the Democratic Party, a mail-baggage car, hiding from a served as a Democratic Party elec- 60to cheer the long-haired colonel thundered across the state on lynch mob organized by his elec- tion official, explained that he and Despite a flurry of threats,and other Democratic leaders, in- horseback, disrupting African- toral opponents. others were taught “how to deposit Republican Gov. Daniel Russell 50cluding Simmons, Aycock and American church services and Re- The Red Shirt mobs ruled the Republican ballots so they could be voted without incident in hisWilliam A. Guthrie, mayor of publican meetings. In Wilming- streets of Wilmington as the 1898 replaced.” hometown of Wilmington on 40Durham. ton, the Red Shirts patrolled every election approached. Mike Dowling, Democrats won in Wilmington Nov. 8. His return trip to Raleigh Waddell set the tone and elec- street in the city in the days before a former firefighter who had lost his by 6,000 votes, a huge swing from was not so quiet. His train was 30trified the crowd with his promise the election, intimidating and at- job for “incompetency, drunkenness two years before, when the stopped twice by Red Shirts —to throw enough black bodies into tacking black citizens. and continued insubordination,” led Fusionists earned a 5,000-vote including one gang led by a 20the Cape Fear River to block its The terror went far beyond them through the streets of Wilm- advantage. Even among the disap- future governor, Cameron Morri-passage to the sea. Guthrie, flanked Wilmington; it was felt in many of ington on horseback. pointed Fusionists, there was some son. Morrison warned the gover- 10by Red Shirts, imagined a bloody the eastern counties. “The Red Wealthy Democrats provided free relief that the city had been spared nor of vigilantes up the track,race war. “The Anglo-Saxon Shirt organization caused much un- food and liquor to the white mobs in widespread violence. and persuaded Russell to hide.planted civilization on this conti- rest and alarm,” the editor of the the streets. Leaders of the white “I awoke that morning with thank- The governor huddled in anent,” Guthrie claimed, “and wher- Maxton Blade recalled, “and just supremacy campaign also spent the ful heart that the election has mail-baggage car to avoid aever this race has been in conflict before election day made nightly staggering sum of $1,200 on a new, passed,” a white woman, Jane lynch mob.with another race, it has asserted raids, shot through houses, and rapid-fire Gatling gun. They demon- Cronly, wrote, “without the shed- TIMOTHY B. TYSONits supremacy and either con- warned Negroes not to go near the strated its power in early Novem- ding of the blood of either the inno-quered or exterminated the foe. polls.” On the day of the balloting, ber, leaving no doubt of the conse- cent or the guilty.”This great race has carried the Red Shirts blocked every road lead- quences for those who openly But even her small and measuredBible in one hand and the sword ing to Maxton and many other com- resisted the campaign. optimism was unfounded.