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Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White…

von David Zucchino

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
1655130,450 (4.28)5
"By 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, was a shining example of a mixed-race community-a bustling port city with a thriving African American middle class and a government made up of Republicans and Populists, including black alderman, police officers, and magistrates. But across the state-and the South-white supremacist Democrats were working to reverse the advances made by former slaves and their progeny. They were plotting to take back the state legislature in the November 8th election and then use a controversial editorial published by black newspaper editor Alexander Manly to trigger a "race riot" to overthrow the elected government in Wilmington. With a coordinated campaign of intimidation and violence, the Democrats sharply curtailed the black vote and stuffed ballot boxes to steal the 1898 mid-term election. Two days later, more than 2,000 heavily armed white nightriders known as Red Shirts swarmed through Wilmington, terrorizing women and children and shooting at least sixty black men dead in the streets. The rebels forced city officials and leading black citizens to flee at gun point while hundreds of local African Americans took refuge in nearby swamps and forests. This brutal insurrection is the only violent overthrow of an elected government in U.S. history. It halted gains made by blacks and restored racism as official government policy, cementing white rule for another seventy years. It was not a "race riot" as the events of November 1898 came to be known, but rather a racially-motivated rebellion launched by white supremacists. In Wilmington's Lie, David Zucchino uses contemporary newspaper reports, diaries, letters, and official communications to create a gripping narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate, fear, and brutality. This is a dramatic and definitive account of a remarkable but forgotten chapter of American history"--… (mehr)
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Won the 2021 Pulitzer!! ( )
  DugsBooks | Aug 8, 2021 |
David Zucchino uses diaries, letters, and newspaper stories that drive the narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate and fear in Wilmington, North Carolina. This tells the story of a largely forgotten event in American history.

Review from: The Write of Your Life. Books on race relations in America.
  stlukeschurch | Mar 8, 2021 |
Apparently this is what you get when a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper journalist tries to write history. You get excellent history. Early into my reading of this book, it was very easy to compare it to the best histories I've read of American Civil War battles, such as, Gettysburg, Antietam, and Shiloh. True, this wasn't about the Civil War -- it's from 33 years later -- but forces at work are very much derived from that war. Factors leading up to the event are well laid out. Key personalities are well drawn. The main event is reported in detail. The aftermath is followed out many years. But it should be pointed out that even if a reader already knew the basic elements of the Wilmington, North Carolina, event of 1896, and decided to forego the meticulous detail but compelling narrative the author provides, the Epilogue itself is worth the price of admission, in my opinion. The connections from the Civil War to 1896, and then from that time to today is stunningly clear without the author ever making a specific point about it. Somewhat amazingly, it was the day I finished reading this book that news came out about present day events in the same North Carolina city that could have just as easily been quoted in this book. Then again, maybe it's not amazing, but incredibly sad and disturbing. ( )
1 abstimmen larryerick | Jul 10, 2020 |
Excellent book about a little known massacre in North Carolina's history. In 1898, a group of white politicians organized a state-wide method to take back their state from Republican and black rule. In a cold blooded conspiracy of white supremacy, they attacked the black and Republican community in Wilmington, North Carolina, and murdered perhaps 60 black men, and banished even more black and white leaders so they could cement their control. Using infantry and naval units back from the Spanish-American war, black leaders were hunted down and either killed, chased away or banished from the town. Others were shot down by gleeful white "Red Shirts", KKK and drunken thugs who were told this was a riot by blacks who wanted to take over the town.
The end result was that innocent men were murdered in broad daylight, with no accounting of either the numbers of men killed or accountability for the white murderers. The attacks were coordinated along the east coast of North Carolina, so even fleeing blacks on the trains were met at each stop by white masked thugs who either denied them getting off the trains, or took them off for rough treatment or death.
Afterwards, the whites left extensive written and printed accounts of their deeds and intentions, but the blacks did not. David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize winner, did an excellent job of digging out what could be reconstructed from the viewpoints of the blacks who were attacked or fled or were burned out.
This is a horrible story that is not well known. What is particularly frightening about it is the political schemes to deny blacks the vote, or to hold office, or to register, are still being applied in North Carolina state politics. Many of the ideas and techniques for intimidation and denial were copied from and by other states, to shape the Southern politics of the turn of the century to the 1960s.For generations, white families felt justified in killing the blacks that they saw as murderous rioters and people who wanted control over white men and women. Instead, this is a cold blooded plan to deprive black citizens full citizenship and the right to vote. By overwhelming the black community, the white leaders suffered no political or legal consequences for their actions. This is the lie in Wilmington they told and lived for several generations.
This is a horrifying tale, ably told by a good writer. Recommended for history lovers who can objectively look at the dark side of American history. Also recommended for every high school and college in North Carolina and the southern east coast. ( )
2 abstimmen hadden | Jul 2, 2020 |
Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy is a thoroughly researched account of the organized mass murders and the subsequent effects of this illegal, immoral, and pure evil strategy.

This book gives as detailed an account as possible of the events of the coup as well as the lies told before, during, and after the murder spree by the whites both in North Carolina and across the country, especially in the south. There will be some who find this to be part of their "southern heritage," and to an extent they are right. Immorality and illegality are indeed among the largest portions of that heritage. There will even be reviewers, as one I have already seen, who misstate or intentionally misunderstands the difference between "being responsible for what my ancestors did" and in making amends for the benefits denied to those murdered (and their descendants) that have been unfairly given to them. If the white supremacists who committed this and the many other crimes, who wrote the bigoted and unconstitutional legislation that denied and/or took away rights and opportunities, had been prosecuted and spent the necessary time in prison and possibly received the death penalty, then today's self-righteous little "it isn't my fault" bigots would not have all of the benefits they now unjustifiably enjoy.

This is a difficult book to read for a couple of reasons. First, the events and the inhumanity of those who committed and condoned these actions is appalling. Second, the fact that the basic playbook of the white supremacists of that period is being updated and used today in state legislatures as well as the executive branch of the federal government illustrates the extent to which those who can only achieve success through denying it to others will do whatever they have to do to continue that trend.

Make no mistake, any reviewer who claims not to be responsible because it happened so long ago is trying to cover their own pathetic bigotry with such empty logic. They enjoy the fruits of those actions but they want none of the responsibility. That isn't justice, that is immoral inhumanity.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the extent to which people will go to maintain power that they cannot maintain through merit. It was true then and, with the election of Trumpenfuehrer, it is true today.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley. ( )
3 abstimmen pomo58 | Nov 2, 2019 |
In the sordid history of white supremacy and violence against blacks after the Civil War — attacks in Memphis and New Orleans in 1866, Atlanta in 1906, Springfield, Ill., in 1908, Chicago in 1919, and Tulsa in 1921, to name a few — Wilmington in 1898 stands apart.... “The coup,” Zucchino concludes, “transformed Wilmington from an American mecca for blacks to a bastion of white supremacy virulently hostile to its black citizens.” Deeply researched and relevant, “Wilmington’s Lie” explains how that happened and suggests how much work remains to be done to come to terms with what took place.
hinzugefügt von Lemeritus | bearbeitenThe Washington Post, Louis P. Masur (bezahlte Seite) (Jan 23, 2020)
 
Wilmington has the dubious distinction of being the site of what is apparently the only coup d’etat in American history.... Zucchino keeps his focus tightly on North Carolina, which might be its main weakness. What happened in Wilmington in 1898 was part of a growing trend of white supremacy that swept most of the states of the former Confederacy for a decade or more.
 
“Wilmington’s Lie” is a tragic story about the brutal overthrow of the multiracial government of Wilmington, N.C., in 1898.... His moral judgment stands at a distance. He simply describes what happened and the lies told to justify it all. A generalized terror comes into view as the white citizens of Wilmington mobilized to seize power through violence and outright fraud....Zucchino pulls the story into our present moment. He interviews descendants of those who perpetrated the violence and those who bore the brunt of it. What becomes clear, at least to me, is that memory and trauma look different depending on which side of the tracks you stand. The last sentence of “Wilmington’s Lie,” which quotes the grandson of Alex Manly, makes that point without a hint of hyperbole. “If there’s a hell, I hope they’re burning in it, all of them.”
hinzugefügt von Lemeritus | bearbeitenNew York Times Book Review, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (bezahlte Seite) (Jan 7, 2020)
 
Zucchino carefully outlines the roles that black people held in Wilmington’s government and explores why white people were bothered by what they called “Negro rule” when black people held only a small portion of elected positions in the city.... The results of these events “inspired white supremacists across the South. . . . Wilmington’s whites had mounted America’s first and only armed overthrow of a legally elected government. They had murdered blacks with impunity. . . . They had turned a black-majority city into a white citadel.” Wilmington’s Lie is a riveting and mesmerizing page turner, with lessons about racial violence that echo loudly today.
hinzugefügt von Lemeritus | bearbeitenBookPage, Henry L. Carrigan Jr. (Jan 1, 2020)
 
A searing and still-relevant tale of racial injustice at the turn of the 20th century.... The complexities of racial division and party politics in a time before the Republicans and Democrats effectively switched sides are sometimes challenging to follow, but Zucchino’s narrative is clear and appropriately outraged without being strident. A book that does history a service by uncovering a shameful episode, one that resonates strongly today.
hinzugefügt von Lemeritus | bearbeitenKirkus Reviews (Sep 24, 2019)
 
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The white man's happiness cannot be purchased by the black man's misery -Frederick Douglass
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Prologue: The killers came by streetcar.
Chapter One: The closing weeks of the Civil War brought chaos and upheaval to Wilmington.
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In Wilmington, whites embraced North Carolina’s Black Code and worked to stave off any move to grant suffrage or other civil rights to former slaves. The city’s civic leaders formed “white men’s clubs” to agitate against blacks. White-run newspapers derided Republicans for courting potential black votes and for treating blacks as citizens. SHALL NEGROES OR WHITE MEN RULE NORTH CAROLINA? the Wilmington Daily Journal asked. Even after North Carolina’s Black Code was nullified by a new state constitution in 1868, Wilmington’s whites behaved as if the code were still in effect, intimidating or beating any black man who resisted.
That prompted an acrimonious discussion of the proper address for a colored gentleman and whether, in fact, the term “nigger” was intended as an insult. A black delegate said the term meant “a low, dirty fellow.” The white reporter who had published the slur said he indeed intended it as an insult. He also said he wouldn’t object to being expelled from the convention. He was.
White politicians claimed there had been massive voter fraud. They demanded that the election results be invalidated. They vowed to renew their fight against a “mongrel race” and black suffrage. They recommitted themselves to white solidarity and to vengeance against blacks and against the blacks’ white allies.
Once in power, Democrats maneuvered to undermine the newly won black vote by eliminating the popular election of county commissioners. Instead, commissioners were to be chosen by justices of the peace, who were in turn selected by the state legislature. The change guaranteed that for as long as Democrats controlled the legislature, even Black Belt counties were powerless to elect black county officials. Democrats also controlled local election officials, who relied on procedural ruses to disqualify black voters. In 1876, Democrats congratulated themselves on redeeming the state in the name of white supremacy. Well before the close of Reconstruction in 1877, the vengeance of the Redeemers had essentially suspended the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments in North Carolina. White supremacy was triumphant. For the next seventeen years, the Redeemers ruled North Carolina.
Many poor whites were as virulently racist as any Democrat, but Populists aligned themselves with Republicans against moneyed interests, even at the risk of aligning themselves with blacks, at least politically. They teamed with Republicans, white and black, in an uneasy political and racial alliance known as Fusion. Many black voters did not fully trust their new partners. They had given the Fusionists their votes, but not their hearts. It was a bold and virtually unprecedented experiment. Nowhere else in the South during post-Reconstruction did whites and blacks so successfully unite in a multiracial political partnership. Fusionists managed to win the statewide election in 1894 and seize control of the North Carolina legislature.
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"By 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, was a shining example of a mixed-race community-a bustling port city with a thriving African American middle class and a government made up of Republicans and Populists, including black alderman, police officers, and magistrates. But across the state-and the South-white supremacist Democrats were working to reverse the advances made by former slaves and their progeny. They were plotting to take back the state legislature in the November 8th election and then use a controversial editorial published by black newspaper editor Alexander Manly to trigger a "race riot" to overthrow the elected government in Wilmington. With a coordinated campaign of intimidation and violence, the Democrats sharply curtailed the black vote and stuffed ballot boxes to steal the 1898 mid-term election. Two days later, more than 2,000 heavily armed white nightriders known as Red Shirts swarmed through Wilmington, terrorizing women and children and shooting at least sixty black men dead in the streets. The rebels forced city officials and leading black citizens to flee at gun point while hundreds of local African Americans took refuge in nearby swamps and forests. This brutal insurrection is the only violent overthrow of an elected government in U.S. history. It halted gains made by blacks and restored racism as official government policy, cementing white rule for another seventy years. It was not a "race riot" as the events of November 1898 came to be known, but rather a racially-motivated rebellion launched by white supremacists. In Wilmington's Lie, David Zucchino uses contemporary newspaper reports, diaries, letters, and official communications to create a gripping narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate, fear, and brutality. This is a dramatic and definitive account of a remarkable but forgotten chapter of American history"--

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