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"Nineteen Negroes Shot to Death," New York Times, November 11, 1898


"Nineteen Negroes Shot to Death," New York Times, November 11, 1898


"Nineteen Negroes Shot to Death: Vengeance of White Citizens: Negro Publisher's Plant Destroyed by Indignant Men: New City Government Formed by the People of Wilmington: Steps Taken to Restore Order."

This newspaper article was printed in the New York Times on November 11, 1898. The article is an account of the riot that took place in Wilmington, North Carolina on November 10, 1898. The riot was in response to an article published in The Record, the only daily African America newspaper in the country which was edited by Alfred Manly. Members of the white community in Wilmington were upset about an article Manly published in The Record on August 18, 1898. The article was defamatory of white women, claimed the white men of Wilmington. The white businessmen of the city held a meeting and determined that this type of behavior would not be tolerated in their city and decided to order Manly and his printing press out of the city. A committee formed to carry out this task. They called the leading African American businessmen together, explained that they wanted their support in removing Manly and his press from the city within twelve hours and instructed the African American men that they had until 7:30 a.m. to reply. If they did not receive a reply, the white businessmen would destroy the printing press. 

No reply was received from the African American business men by the appointed time and the group of white businessmen gathered together and marched down to Manly’s place of business and proceeded to destroy the printing press and burned down Manly’s business. The response of the fire department alerted the African American community to what was happening and they spilled into the streets. This led to a confrontation between the group of white men who destroyed Manly’s publishing house and the African Americans. It is noted in the article that the African Americans fired the first shots that day and this fact is not in dispute. The day ended with an estimated nine African American dead and three white men wounded. A number of local towns sent men to help control the African American population as they held a majority in Wilmington.   

This article in the New York Times failed to mention the election that was held two days prior to the riot or the threats and intimidation that was placed on the African American population not to vote or put up a candidate for election. The article does mention that the Mayor and Alderman had resigned and had been replaced. The person replacing the Mayor was A. M. Waddell. Waddell was the leader of the committee of twenty-five that was tasked with removing Manly and his printing press from the city. Waddell also spoke to the white businessmen of Wilmington the night before the election and told the crowd that “You are Anglo-Saxons,” “You are armed and prepared, and you will do your duty…Go to the polls tomorrow, and if you find the negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls, and if he refuses, kill him. We shall win tomorrow, if we have to do it with guns.” The African American community were quit fearful in the days leading up to the event that the paper is writing about, but does not communicate any of these details that would allow for an alternative view of the riot.


New York Times




Cindy Koontz




Wilmington, North Carolina
New Hanover, North Carolina

Original Format

Newspaper Article


Nineteen Negroes Shot to Death Wilmington

Fatal Race Riots in north Carolina.

Vengeance of White Citizens

Negro Publisher's Plant Destroyed by Indignant Men.

New City Government Formed by the People of Wilmington, and Steps Taken to Restore Order.

 WILMINGTON, N. C., Nov. 10. – After a day of bloodshed and turbulence Wilmington has subsided to-night into comparative peacefulness. Nine negroes were killed and three white men wounded during the day, and of them, William Mayo, seriously.

      To-night the city is in the hands of a new municipal Government and law and order is being established. This afternoon the members of the Board of Aldermen resigned, one by one. As each Alderman vacated the remainder elected a successor named by the Citizens’ Committee until the entire board was changed legally. They resigned in response to public sentiment. The new board is composed of conservative Democratic Citizens.     

     The Mayor and the Chief of Police then resigned, and the new board elected their successors, according to law. Ex-Representative Waddell was elected Mayor, and L.G. Parmelee Chief of Police. The first act of the new Government was to swear in 250 special policemen, chosen from the ranks of reputable white citizens. They will take charge of the city. The citizens will remain on guard, however, throughout the town to prevent possible attempts at incendiarism. The new Government will devote its attention to restraining recklessness among the whites, as well as keeping down lawlessness among the negroes. Further trouble of a general or serious nature is not expected.

     Soon after the meeting George Rountree received a telegram from Gov. Russell, saying he would use all his efforts to influence the Mayor and the Aldermen to resign if that would restore peace. Mr. Rountree sent the following reply:

      “Mayor and Aldermen have resigned. Two hundred and fifty special policemen sworn in. Law will be maintained and peace restored.”

       Mr. Rountree is a prominent attorney here and a member of the Democratic Congressional Committee.

       The trouble in Wilmington to-day commenced at 8:30 o’clock this morning, when an armed body of citizens, numbering about 400 and led by ex-Representative Waddell, Chairmen of a committee of twenty-five appointed for the purpose, proceeded to the publishing house of a negro newspaper, The Record, to wreck it. The editor of this paper had published an article defamatory of white women, and a mass meeting of citizens yesterday ordered his expulsion from the city within twenty-four hours and the removal of his press. Fifteen leading negroes were called in by the committee of twenty-five last night and directed to notify the Chairman by 7:30 o’clock this morning whether they would agree to the removal of the press. They were informed that if no answer were returned the press would be demolished.

       No answer was received by the Chairman this morning, and, after waiting an hour, the citizens proceeded in a body and demolished the fixtures of the printing office. The building was also fired and gutted. The leaders say that this action was the work of irresponsible persons, and as soon as the fire was discovered the Fire Department was called to extinguish it.

      The burning of the printing office created a great commotion among the negroes of the town. The rumor spread that the whites were going to burn and murder in the negro quarter. This rumor reached the negro employes of a cotton compress, numbering three or four hundred, who quit work and hung about the streets in manifest terror. Other parties congregated in the negro section, and it was in one of these that the first tragedy was enacted. The men were standing on a corner and were ordered to disperse. They declined, and, it is claimed, fired into the whites.

      A fusillade was immediately opened upon them by the whites, and three negroes were killed. Two whites were wounded slightly. One negro ran down the street, and, passing a residence, fired a rifle at William Mayo, white, standing on the veranda, shooting him through the left lung. This negro was recognized, pursued, and captured while hiding under a bed. It is said he confessed to the shooting. He was riddled with shot by his captors and killed.

      In the meantime the town was in a state of excitement. The whites rushed to the scene from every direction, the local military company was ordered out, and a battalion of United States naval militia proceeded to the vicinity of the trouble with a rapid-fire gun.

      About 1 o’clock some negroes in a house fired upon a passing party of white men. The house was surrounded and four negroes captured and taken to jail. One negro broke away and ran, but was shot down and killed before he had proceeded half a block.

       During the afternoon there were other affairs of this kind, and eight negroes were killed at various times in the disturbed sections. Their names at this time are unknown. Another negro was killed to-night at Tenth and Mulberry Street. He was hailed by a guard, but refused to halt, and, continuing to advance, was shot.

       As the news of the riot spread though the neighboring cities, they offered to send help, and all such offers were declined, except in the case of Fayetteville from which town came about 150 men. As night fell the town was completely patrolled and guarded. Very few negroes were on the streets, and they were not allowed to congregate anywhere. The action of the citizens in organizing a new municipal government is expected to bring peace and order, and no rioting is expected to-night.

      It developed later in the day that the men composing the Negro Committee summoned last night had agreed to use their offices to have the press removed, although the editor had disappeared and they had no authority on the premises. Their letter to that effect, instead of being delivered to the Chairman of the committee of twenty-five in person, was put in the mail and did not reach him until three hour after the expiration of the time limit which had been fixed for the reception of an answer.

       A crowd was formed to-night to take from the jail and lynch two negroes, Thomas Miller and Ira Bryant, who were arrested to-day charged with making threats and were regarded as dangerous cases. The Mayor, Col. Waddell, promptly prohibited the assembling of the crowd at the jail, and he himself headed a guard of twenty-five men with Winchesters to guard the prisoners.

       Three companies of State militia will arrive during the night from neighboring cities and aid in maintaining order.


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New York Times , "Nineteen Negroes Shot to Death," New York Times, November 11, 1898, Civil War Era NC, accessed June 16, 2024,