Theu.s. North Carolina, 1898

1427 Words Mar 28th, 2015 6 Pages
Wilmington, North Carolina, 1898.
It is election season in the Port City. Throughout the summer, and well into the fall, leaders of Wilmington’s Democratic party soaked their campaign speeches in the language of white supremacy and patriotism. The Democrats had lost everything in 1894. Their attacks on economic reform and farmers’ rights made them unpopular and allowed Republicans and Populists to sweep the state in 1894, creating a successful Fusion alliance. The Fusion movement extended full political participation to black North Carolinians and honored the black vote with opportunities for political office . Black office holders, in turn, supported the economic growth of black communities through civil service appointments and incentives for black businesses . This Fusion alliance won Daniel Russell the governor’s office in 1896. The Democrats had enjoyed control over the state since Reconstruction began, but by 1896 only 33 of the 170 state General Assembly members were Democrats. To make matters worse for the Democrats, Daniel Russell was a Wilmingtonian and targeted the county seat for his first wave of local government reforms.
In 1896, the black population of Wilmington was 56% of the total population of 20,055. Where some Wilmingtonians saw the potential for a truly biracial city and government, others fear black political power. Governor Russell understood that Wilmington’s powerful black voting block would be an issue in the 1898 campaign and devised a Board of…
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