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Friday, November 10, 2017

“Hell Jolted Loose”

The only coup in US history:

The fever pitch of white supremacy rhetoric for the masses reached a breaking point in Wilmington on November 10. Edward Wootten, a student at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, was told by his mother in Wilmington that she feared violence, but “we need it and . . . it must come before things are settled.” Her sentiments were echoed by the Wilmington Messenger a few days after the riot when the editors stated that “the relations between the races were too strained for it to be avoided” since “matters had reached a point in Wilmington at which a conflict between the races was inevitable.” For the leaders, victory and gratification were theirs with the election win. For the masses, violence overrode sensible thought...

As bullets were flying through Brooklyn and the city’s government fell to armed politicians, men who were privy to the discussions of the Secret Nine, the Merchant’s Association, the Committee of Twenty-Five, the White Government Unions, and other organizations established a systematic program of banishment for black leaders and white Republicans. Many of those targeted for banishment were perceived as a threat by the leaders of the white community. The first group of black men identified by the whites was the Committee of Colored Citizens (CCC) assembled to hear the demands of the Committee of Twenty-Five and the White Declaration of Independence. Some of the men of the CCC were summarily found and arrested during the riot while others were arrested or coerced into leaving in the days and weeks following the riot.

During the riot, the WLI cooperated with the banishment campaign by detailing squads to arrest men named by the Secret Nine. Others were allowed to remain in Wilmington as long as they “knew their place.” While only the primary leaders of the black community were named as targets for banishment, others were arrested during the activities on the tenth and eleventh for their safety. While the men behind the scenes only wished to see primary obstacles to white rule, such as attorneys and businessmen, leave, others added their own choices for banishment, carrying the arrest and confinement processes into the days after the riot. Much to the coup leaders’ despair, this secondary banishment campaign was out of their control and promised to prevent an end to hostilities and cripple the city.

By the end of the day on November 10, the white leaders of Wilmington had successfully manipulated the masses into open warfare. The beneficiaries of the violence were the white leaders who regained control of city affairs through the coup d’etat. In a multitude of ways, the foremost victims of the tragedy were the city’s African Americans, who suffered banishment, the fear of further murders, deaths of loved ones, destruction of property, exile into cold swampland, or injury from gunfire.

It can't happen here...


November 10, 2017 | Permalink


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