The Struggle for Power

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The Struggle for Power Combine intolerance, smoldering tempers, and narrow minds and you have the situation in Wilmington North Carolina in 1898. On November tenth the racial tension boiled into dramatic violence. Due to the democrats being overwhelmed at the polls they were going to reclaim their power by any means necessary (Prather 20). Because of white ignorance and their fear of African Americans, whites were determined to strip them of their places of office and power. On November tenth by 8:30 in the morning the city of Wilmington was stirred into a frenzy. Men marched through the streets as business and activity unrelated ended for the day. The marchers reached Love and Charity Hall where they proceeded to break down the door and destroy Alexander Manly's press. The black population infuriated gathered on the corner of Fourth Street. Whites gathered on the opposing side. Sensing the confrontation a policeman attempted to disassemble the black men. However, a shot was fired setting off a flurry of other gun shots. Two black men died instantaneously (Prather 32). Battle had now begun. Red Shirts gathered and paraded in against the poorly armed African Americans. The battle soon turned into a hunt for Daniel Wright, a black politician (Prather 34). He was found and promptly shot. The death toll reports from November tenth vary depending upon what you read. The death toll ranges from nine to twenty in the different news papers and reports (Prather 35). Not only did the death toll vary depending on the source, the explanation for the violence differs according to different newspapers and historians. Leon Prather believed the violence stemmed from whites wanting at all costs to strip the blacks of their political standing. Prather also believed behind the white supremacy campaign were the democrats struggling for power. Newspapers put blacks in a negative light. They were accused of being corrupt and brutal (Prather 21). The News and Observer portrayed the events as "A day of bloodshed and turbulence"(News and Observer, November 10, p.2). It also talked about the increased police force for the night to make sure things were calm.

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