The Coup of 1898

This week we look at the Wilmington insurrection of 1898, and its ramifications that are still felt today.

Wilmington’s lie: the murderous coup of 1898 and the rise of white supremacy

Zucchino, David. Atlantic Monthly, 2020
448p bibl index, 9780802128386 $28.00, 9780802146489 $28.00

The November 10, 1898, race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, underscored the degree to which white North Carolinians were determined to regain hegemony over African Americans at the fin de siècle in what historians term the white supremacy campaign of that year. In August, Alexander Manly, the African American editor of Wilmington’s Daily Record, used what whites considered sexually inflammatory language to denounce the lynching of Black men for allegedly raping white women. Outraged white Democrats, who had gained political control of the state legislature just days earlier, descended on Wilmington, a Republican bastion thanks to its large Black voting population, to settle scores. Hundreds of white vigilantes ransacked and burned Manly’s office and then roamed Wilmington’s streets, terrorizing and murdering an unknown number of Black people. Many fled the city. Alfred M. Waddell, the mob’s ringleader, took control of Wilmington’s municipal government, ushering in decades of Jim Crow rule that enveloped the state. Zucchino, a journalist, has written the most lucid, fast-paced, and accurate history of the “crushing dislocation and racism stoked by the events of 1898.” His book is an essential reminder of the long and bloody history of racial control and violence that has stained the fabric of American history.

Summing Up: Essential. All levels.
J. D. Smith, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – History, Geography & Area Studies – North America
Choice Issue: Dec 2020