1898 Days of Blood

Elections took place on November 8, 1898 in a tense and intimidating environment. The Democratic strategy for victory depended upon intimidation of voters. The White Government Union, a state-wide supremacist organization, positioned members at the polls to intimidate voters, both black and white. Men known as “red shirters” rode armed through the city to monitor the turnout. Police chief J. R. Melton describes the Red Shirts in a federal deposition for the 1899 Dockery vs. Bellamy trial. As a result of such tactics, the Democratic Party took a wide margin of victory. For the next two days, however, tensions remained high. On November 10, the storm broke when Alfred Moore Waddell met an armed crowd at the Armory on Market Street. The armed crowd then proceeded to the building, Love and Charity Hall, that housed the Daily Record. Alex Manly had escaped the night before, but the crowd burned his press and the building. The alarm bells threw the city into a panic. Republicans and Populists fled the city. African-American women and children hid in the cemeteries and swamps. Those on the streets found themselves caught up in deadly violence. This map offers a visual interpretation of events that day.