THE WHITE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
The day after the elections, the victorious white Democrats took the next steps in the campaign to end "black rule" in Wilmington.
Thalian Hall, circa 1898
On November 9, 1898, over one thousand white citizens gathered in Thalian Hall, in which the leaders of the conspiracy announced their intention to oust the elected munical government.
Four hundred and fifty four men then signed the "The White Declaration of Independence," which proclaimed that the framers of the U.S. Constitution had never anticipated "the enfranchisement of an ignorant population of African origin" and "that the men of the State of North Carolina who joined the Union did not contemplate for their descendants a subjection to an inferior race."
They went on to declared that "we will no longer be ruled, and will never again be ruled, by men of African origin." Asserting that they represented the sentiment of the white people of the county, they proclaimed that Alexander Manly had to leave the city and the Record cease to be published, and that the Fusionist municipal government led by Mayor Wright and Chief of Police John Melton had to resign.
This declaration and ultimatum was then delivered to the Colored Committee, made up of twenty five black leaders, who were given until 8:00 the next morning to reply.
The stage was now set for the riot and coup that would follow.
Photocopy of Wilmington Messenger, November 14,
1898, with the "Declaration" and 454 signatories to it
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Link to Chapter 4.1:
THE ATTACK ON THE RECORD