About Wilmington 1898

Wilmington, NC–the largest city in the state through the beginning of the twentieth century–suffered fierce power struggles between white elites and African-American Republicans during the period of Reconstruction (ca. 1865-1877) and well beyond. By the end of the nineteenth century Wilmington had still not settled its political instability, though white Democrats had returned to power. With the success of the Fusion movement (1894-1896), where black Republicans joined forces with Populists and nonelite whites to form a powerful political bloc, Wilmington’s leadership once again turned away from the white elite. In response, whites launched a statewide white supremacy campaign, led largely by white Democrats and newspapers in Wilmington and Raleigh. Among the local targets of this campaign, which featured biting political cartoons and editorials denouncing black rule, were successful African American leaders and businessmen, including the only black-run newspaper in the state, The Daily Record. On 10 November 1898, an angry white mob set fire to the offices of The Daily Record, and the violence began to spread to the black community, leading the elected black officials to resign by the end of the day. In the end, an unknown number of blacks were killed or driven from Wilmington in a “banishment” campaign, and the white elite returned to power. Called by some an armed insurrection and others a coup d’etat, the race riot helped solidify Jim Crow segregation, codified in the Plessy v. Fergusson (1896) decision, across North Carolina and beyond.

How to use the site


Click on the ‘Take the Tour!’ link on the main navigation bar for a guided tour through the history of Wilmington 1898. Follow the numbered markers on the map.

Click on the marker, and a small screen will pop-up with a summary of that location. For more information, click on the ‘link’ button on the pop-up.

Each stop on the tour offers a brief history and access to several historical sources. Click on a thumbnail to see the object in full size, and learn more about it.


Want to learn more about some of the key historical figures of Wilmington 1898? Click on the “Biographies” link in the main navigation bar for a list of names. Click on a name to read more.


Click on any of the following pages under the “For Teachers” link on the main navigation bar.

The “Additional Resources” page lists sites that offer more information on Wilmington 1898, teaching, and digital history.

The “Activities” page contains curricula and lesson plans for teaching about Wilmington 1898.

The “Archive” page lists all the primary sources incorporated into the site. These are grouped by type of source: Articles and editorials; Historical Documents; Illustrations; Maps; Photographs; Political Cartoons; and Postcards

About the site

The beta version of this site was created by Shannon Harvey and Pavithra Vasudevan, in partnership with Christine Hinson Norris of the North Carolina Civic Education Consortium, with support from Stephanie Barnwell and Pamela Lach of the Digital Innovation Lab, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.