Search using this query type:

Advanced Search (Items only)


James Sprunt published Chronicles of the Cape Fear River in 1916 that used the language and arguments of the riot’s white participants; he even footnotes this section of the book with the phrase “based in part on Colonel Waddell’s Memories.”[1] He claimed that the whites in Wilmington had patiently endured the evils brought about by "Negro Domination," and that the bloodshed, while regrettable, was necessary to restore peace and good government. He claimed that the years of peace immediately following the riot was proof that it was necessary.  Sprunt’s historical narrative became the foundation of all histories of North Carolina written until 1951. Historians J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, R. D. W. Connor, and Samuel A. Ashe’s histories were interwoven with Sprunt’s narrative.[2]

The first counter narrative to receive scholarly attention was The Negro in Fusion Politics by Helen G. Edmonds; it was not until 1984 when H. Leon Prater published We Have Taken A City that the counter narrative received legitimacy on par with Waddell’s masterful account of the event.[3] Prater refers to the riot as a massacre and coup as does the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission in their final report published in 2006. The commission concluded that the Democrats in Wilmington conspired to take control of the city of Wilmington by any means necessary, and while Manly’s editorial and the destruction of his printing office was the flash point for the riot, the coup would have occurred regardless.[4] This report is the most current thinking on the events in Wilmington.

[1] James Sprunt, Chronicles of The Cape Fear River, editor number 2 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 1916), 556

[2] LaRae Sikes Umfleet, A Day of Blood: The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot (Raleigh NC: North Carolina Office of Archives and History, 2009), XVIII

[3] Ibid

[4] LaRae Umfleet, “1898 Wilmington Race Riot Report,” North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, (accessed March 20, 2013), 64