Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wilmington NC in 1898 - America's Only Coup!

Captain Bama ventures far from the Highlands to Eastern North Carolina this morning. The image to the left is from a book I read with Dr. David Carter in his top drawer New South seminar several years back when spending energy and money on The Plains. Good book, as are most UNC efforts. Buy it a Powells or ...

The WaPo provides us "1898 Race Clash Ruled a Coup : Panel Asks N.C. To Consider Reparations" by the AP's Mike Baker which references Professor Gilmore's work. I knew enough about the Wilmington "Riots" to know that plenty of historians accepted this event was not completely, or perhaps even partially, spontaneous. Here's where this relates to Alabama:

Wilmington likely became a "catalyst" for the violent white-supremacist movement around the country, with other states taking note, lead researcher Lerae Umfleet said.

Later violence -- in Atlanta in 1906; Tulsa, Okla., in 1921; and Rosewood, Fla., in 1923 -- mimicked that in Wilmington, and some white leaders called on the North Carolina violence as an example to incite fear in blacks.

"Jim Crow had passed in a few other states," Umfleet said. "But the whole white-supremacy campaign in North Carolina was watched around the country. People built on what happened in Wilmington."

Glenda Gilmore, a Yale University professor who wrote about that turn-of-the-century strife in her 1996 book, "Gender and Jim Crow," said North Carolinians must understand their true heritage.

"The facts have been there for all to see -- it's the interpretation that's been a point of contention," Gilmore said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "Even the most well-intentioned white people think there was a sort of riot, when indeed it had been a racial massacre."

Before the violence, which led to a Democratic takeover from Republicans and Populists, black men in North Carolina had been able to vote for about three decades. But Democrats quickly passed voter literacy tests and a grandfather clause that disenfranchised black voters until the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

"The growth of Wilmington was stunted as a result of what happened in 1898," Joyner said. "Wilmington has never recovered economically, socially or politically."

Reuben Kolb? Anybody know what "fusion party" references? Eufaula in about 1900? The 1901 Constitution?

Here's the deal! The Big Mules (the old Planter Class and New South industrialists for the most part) knew they were done if poor whites and blacks figured out they could work together for change. Before resorting to violence you divide via "white supremacy". Intimidation can be direct or economics based. An example might be, "Sam, I'm not so sure I want to let you crop this land with what I've been hearing." Merchants and bankers not extending credit to the poor whites if they got out of line is yet another example. Just in case that sort of effort failed, the 1901 Constitution concentrated power up on Goat Hill to keep the few local abberations limited in what they could accomplish.

Although Alabama Citizens for Contitutional Reform had at one time some more easily obtained historical material (which I'd have used to provide links to my questions above) they still have much to offer on why we need a fresh start. "Coup" might be too strong yet this dreadful document comes mightly close. A hundred years is long enough! Peace ... or War!