1898 At All Costs

Democrats capitalized on the timing of Manly’s response. Since May, Charles B. Aycock had traveled throughout the State calling for Democrats to engage in a “white supremacy campaign.” When Manly’s editorial appeared in August, Democrats gauged their response in a calculated way to woo poor white male farmers, the subject of Felton’s and Manly’s speeches, from the Populist Party. They formed the “White Government Union,” a political machine with a constitution and bylaws whose sole purpose was to ensure that all white men voted for the Democratic Party. Eventually, the WGU claimed 800 chapters statewide. In Wilmington, Alfred Moore Waddell assumed the mantle of local leadership and spoke frequently on white supremacy and the need for violence to great applause. One of his admirers, Rebecca Cameron, praised Waddell for his radical demands and urged him forward with his “work bloody tho’ it may be.” Newspaper reports identified prominent white Republicans and Populists who were targeted with death threats (for further research in Wilmington newspapers, below). Election day, November 8, passed without much incident and the Democrats reaped numerous electoral successes. However, the next day, Alfred Moore Waddell read a statement known as the “White Declaration of Independence” at a mass meeting of white citizens. How does the “White Declaration of Independence” define white men’s and black men’s roles in politics? Why did Waddell feel the need to read this document in the wake of Democratic electoral victory? Does Rebecca Cameron’s letter to Waddell provide any insight into the reasons behind Waddell’s actions?


Wilmington Messenger 

October 16, 1898 "Remember the Big Six" [newspaper

October 20, 1898 "Big Five" [newspaper

 October 21, 1898 "His Eyes Opened [newspaper; transcription]
"White Government Ticket [newspaper; transcription]
"Business and Politics" [newspaper; transcription]
"A Negro Defamer..." [newspaper; transcription]
"Look at This Trio" [newspaper; transcription

 October 25, 1898 [front page]
"The Thing Cannot Be" [newspaper; transcription]
"Incited Negroes To Assault" [newspaper; transcription]
"Sizzling Talk" [newspaper]

October 29, 1898 "At His Old Tricks" [newspaper

Wilmington Morning Star 

October 28, 1898 [front page]
"A Horrid Slander" [newspaper; transcription]