‘Worst moment in our history’: 122nd Anniversary of 1898 Massacre

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In 1898, the City of Wilmington was home to a successful African American middle class.

Black men held elected positions and the south’s only daily newspaper, The Daily Record, was owned by a Black man–Alexander Manly.

At the time, the conservative democratic party was led by former confederate leaders and white supremacists. A movement to oust progressive populists and republicans in upcoming elections began in 1897.

It came to a head in 1898 in Wilmington.

“A white supremacy campaign to win the 1898 election in North Carolina that led to a violent massacre of African Americans in our city,” Cape Fear Museum Historian Jan Davidson said.

Davidson says The Daily Record published an article in August that escalated racial tensions, placing a target on Manly’s back.

The democratic party succeeded in sweeping the 1898 election after threatening black voters.

The day after the election is when the violence began.

“A mob of white men organized, marched through the streets and went to the local African American newspaper,” Davidson said. “Then proceeded to the Northside of town where violence broke out.”

Davidson says as far as she knows, only Black men were killed and it’s unknown how many. Reports vary from 8 to hundreds.

A dark day in Cape Fear history, Davidson says this is something we should reflect on often.

“It is something that we as a community should acknowledge and learn from and we should do it every day, not necessarily just on November 10 every year,” Davidson said.

In a joint collaboration, New Hanover County’s Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, Public Library and Information Technology Department have worked together to create a map and timeline documenting the events of 1898 in Wilmington.

The City of Wilmington called the events of 1898 “the worst moment in our history” in a tweet Tuesday morning. Going on to detail the events in the thread before going silent on social media for the day to reflect on the events from 122 years ago.

The 1898 Massacre is the only Coup d’état in the history of the United States.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Top Stories

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