Our story begins with Alex Manly. Manly was a Black man, born in 1866, near Raleigh. In 1895, Alex and Frank, his brother, started a Black newspaper called the Wilmington Record. Wilmington had, in the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction, experienced a large Black migration to the city and by 1880, Whites numbered about 6,888 to the 10,462 Blacks, creating a safe majority for Blacks in the city. One can imagine that these demographic statistics, along with the Yankee carpetbaggers that also populated the higher levels of Wilmington, made a Black agitator like Alex Manly feel safe. Safe enough to dismiss White men’s concerns of White women being raped by Black men as simply the White women being attracted to the Black men and nothing more. Let’s put this in today’s context. How likely is it that White women are attracted to Black men? According to Pew Research, only 7% of newlywed Whites are in an interracial marriage.


In 2014, OkCupid (a dating site) say that White women’s attraction to Black men was as pictured above and had actually gotten worse from 2009. In fact, according to OkCupid, White men are the problem here and are more attracted to women outside their race than White women. Furthermore, dismissing rape claims and blaming the women is severely frowned upon in today’s society, as it should be.

But there was tension to the Wilmington atmosphere that had been added for some time. Northern carpetbaggers held the legislature of many Eastern Carolinian towns, especially Wilmington. With large Black majorities, cities like Wilmington were the perfect petri dish for Republican campaigns as Blacks mostly voted Republican. These carpetbaggers were largely corrupt, as is the nature of such a person. In November of 1896, Daniel Russell, a Republican won the election for governor.

Allegations of voter fraud also emerged. Once the new “Republican-Populist coalition dominated the State Legislature in 1894, the Wilmington City Charter was altered to affect a municipal government of 10 Aldermen—5 elected by voters and 5 appointed by the Governor to ensure absolute Republican control. In this way, democratic government was overthrown and although the citizens could vote for 5 aldermen, the Governor could negate their influence and dictate orders to the Wilmington mayor.”

Once November of 1898 rolled around, the city was abuzz with tension. Burglaries were regular as were the aforementioned rapes and corruption. Now reports of a Black mob marching from Brunswick County along with an increase of guns alarmed the White community. On the other side, the Redshirts marched in Wilmington on the 4th, many of whom had traveled from other counties.

The demonstration did little other than announce the presence of the Redshirts, concern the Blacks, and encourage the Whites. Then Manly made such senseless and antagonizing remarks about the surge of rapes that even Black Republicans attempted to silence him but it was too late and the waters were already stirred. Here is part of the editorial: “Poor white men are careless in the matter of protecting their women. Especially on the farms. They are careless of their conduct toward them. Our experience among poor white people in the country teaches us that women of that race are not more particular in the matter of clandestine meetings with colored men than the white men with colored women. Meetings of this kind go on for some time until the woman’s infatuation or the man’s boldness, bring attention to them, and the man is lynched for rape. Every Negro lynched is called ‘a big burly black brute.’ In fact, many of those who have been thus dealt with had white men for their fathers, and were not only not ‘black’ and ‘burly,’ but were sufficiently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love with them, as is very well known to all.”

On November 8, 1898, White Democrats under the lead of former Confederate, Alfred Moore Wadell, established the “White Declaration of Independence”, calling for the resignation of the Black mayor as well as a demand that Alex Manly shut down his newspaper and leave town within 24 hours. Manly did not leave however, and the demands went unheeded. On November 10, just days after local elections, Manly’s newspaper office was subsequently burned by an armed mob of White men. According to Wadell, the fire was unintentional and the White Democrats stopped to save the buildings beside the office. The mob then marched back home and marched through a section of the city that was inhabited by Blacks. Blacks then fired upon the White mob at Fourth and Harnett streets, starting the violence which spread from there. The White mob returned fire and killed three Black men while the Blacks wounded three Whites. The mayor and aldermen were then forced to resign while Whites and Blacks fought throughout the city. Only half of the aldermen were locally elected with the others being appointed by the governor. Later, Black churches were searched for weapons as they had been rumored to have housed hundreds of guns. The city was then put under martial law. The Raleigh News & Observer wrote on November 11: “Tonight the city is in the hands of a new municipal government and law and order is being established. This afternoon, the Board of Aldermen resigned one by one. As each alderman vacated, the remainder elected a successor named by the citizen’s committee, until the entire Board was changed legally. They resigned in response to public sentiment.”

Wilmington soon returned to stability after the Republican officials resigned and many Blacks returned to the city, having fled to the woods. The coup occurred successfully with no opposition from the North Carolina government due to the troops sent there assisting in the demonstrations as well as the fact that it was done somewhat legally. Carpetbagger Silas P. Wright left for New York City the next day and Wadell installed law and order back to the city after he was elected as mayor.

In 2000, the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission was established with 13 members to research the affair. In 2006 they released their report, advocating for reparations to Blacks. Seeing as how the researchers were biracial and included Blacks, the call for reparations is unsurprising. This commission as such can not be trusted as it is nothing but a biased think tank designed to guilt Wilmington’s mostly White population into diversifying and paying for perceived wrongs. The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot is what happens when you push a people so far. Northern invaders came and took over the government during reconstruction and continued staying in power for years afterwards. Combine that with high rates of crime and courts that do nothing, yes a race riot occurs. That’s not even bringing up the fact that the White mob was fired upon by Blacks while returning home. Research also showed that no property seizure occurred during the riot. The Wilmington 1898 Coup was only a coup in the sense that it overthrew the the corrupt and rigged city legislature. Many Blacks did leave the city and Wilmington gradually became majority White through immigration and Black emigration especially immediately after the coup and the great migration that take place not long after.

The events in Wilmington serve to teach us how we can deal with corrupt politicians, especially carpetbaggers. We should not stand for corrupt establishments that are erected to stand against our interests as Southern Nationalists. When we encounter these establishments we should protest and demonstrate against them and their supporters. As Thomas Jefferson once wrote, a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing.

-By Southern Revivalist

Works Cited:


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