The Wilmington Lie of 1898
In 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina, was a growing and prosperous city and the largest city in North Carolina, with a black middle class setting up businesses, buying homes, and experiencing freedom. It also had the only black daily newspaper, The Daily Record. The black and white coalition of legitimately elected politicians known as the Fusionists sought free education, debt relief, and equal rights. It has taken decades for officials to acknowledge what happened.
Many white Democrats were bitter about the Confederate defeat and joined the KKK, orchestrating violence at elections to suppress blacks voting rights. In the name of white supremacy, southern democrats led a mob of 2000 to overthrow and eliminate African Americans from the government.
The insurrection leaders in Wilmington were Charles B. Aycock and Alfred W. Waddell. Both were revered for decades, with streets, buildings, and statues erected honoring them. Recently, with the truth finally brought forward, statues will be removed, streets renamed, and buildings with their names replaced.
The leaders insisted that it was all due to a Black uprising which was the furthest thing from the truth.
The Wilmington Riots
Whites were outraged and made no secret their intentions to overthrow the duly elected politicians and replace them with their own. So they recruited a group known as the Red Shirts and thugs, similar to the KKK. Leaders Aycock and Waddell were white supremacists and segregationists.
At this time, the Democratic party was a party of white supremacy. The Wilmington Coup was enabled by the leadership of the whites. They were determined never to let the Negro dominate again.
Alfred Waddell told the Red Shirts, "...you are armed and will do your duty. Go to the polls tomorrow and if you find the Negro out voting....tell him to leave. If he refuses, kill him, shoot him down in his tracks."
The 2000 whites began by burning down the black-owned newspaper, the Daily Record." by Alexander Manley. Then violence escalated throughout the city, with guns being turned on the blacks. Over 60 blacks were shot down, and hundreds of men, women, and children fled to the swamps.
Within a few weeks, at least 2100 blacks abandoned the city. Alfred Waddell was now appointed mayor of Wilmington. The coup replacing the officials became a model for other places to impose the Jim Crow laws robbing black citizens of the vote and civil rights for decades. There is no doubt this was a conspiracy to retake control of the city, county, and state governments by the white supremacy campaign.
Yet the coup and insurrection were praised and honored for years. However, as historians have uncovered the truth of that day, calls are for statues to be removed, streets and buildings are being renamed, and government officials acknowledge the fact.
January 6, 2021
Who would have believed this coup in Wilmington would ever happen again. But, it did on January 6, 2021, supporters of Trump stormed the capitol in Washington, D.C., attempting to overthrow his defeat in the presidential election. Trump had just finished his speech at a rally inciting his supporters to fight. Trump lied about the election being stolen. As the crowd marched to the capitol, Trump returned to the White House to watch the mob attacking the capitol, never attempting to quash the mob, thrilled about the scene unfolding.
It seems as if the power goes to their heads, and they yield it to their liking.
How could this ever happen in our great capital? The Big Lie has been told repeatedly with absolutely no proof of voting fraud. The book, The Wilmington Lie by David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize winner, details the events of 1898 and discusses the 2021 attack on the capital comparisons.
Both were orchestrated from the top with the Big Lie, still perpetuated by some politicians and groups.
A documentary, Wilmington On Fire, was released in 2015 and can be seen on Amazon Prime Video or Vimeo On Demand.
David Zucchino, Author
David Zucchino's book, Wilmington's Lie, won the 2021 Pulitzer Price for non-fiction. Zucchino has been nominated four times for the Pulitzer, showing his skill in uncovering truths about historical events.