The Wilmington coup d’état of 1898, began in Wilmington, North Carolina on 10 Nov, 1898 and continued for several days. It is considered a turning point in post-Reconstruction North Carolina politics. The event is credited as ushering in an era of severe racial segregation and disenfranchisement of African-Americans throughout the Southeastern United States.
Originally described by European-Americans as a race riot, the events are now classified as a coup d’etat, as white Democratic Party insurgents overthrew the legitimately elected local government. A mob of nearly 2,000 men attacked the only black newspaper in the state, and persons and property in black neighbourhoods, killing an estimated 15 to more than 60 victims.
Two days after the election of a Fusionist white mayor and biracial city council, two-thirds of which was white, Democratic Party white supremacists seized power and overturned the elected government. Led by Alfred Waddell, more than 2,000 white men participated in an attack on the black newspaper, Daily Record, burning down the building. They ran officials and community leaders out of the city, and killed many blacks in widespread attacks, especially destroying the Brooklyn neighbourhood. The Wilmington Light Infantry (WLI) and federal Naval Reserves, ordered to quell the riot, became involved with the rioters instead, using rapid-fire weapons and killing several black men in the Brooklyn neighbourhood. Both black and white residents appealed for help after the coup to President William McKinley, but his administration did not respond, as Governor Russell had not requested aid. After the riot, more than 2,100 blacks left the city permanently, having to abandon their businesses and properties, turning it from a black-majority to a white-majority city.