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Response To "Declaration Of White Independence"

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"It will ever be a day to be remembered in my heart with indignation and sorrow. At first indignation overwhelmed, now sorrow has taken its place." These were the emotions of Jane Cronly, a black American woman and resident of Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898, in response to what occurred on November 10 in that county. Although the details of what truly happened are still in question, what is for sure is that this date marked a climax for white supremacy in North Carolina and set off years of racial segregation and oppression.

Since the time blacks were awarded suffrage through the 14th Amendment in 1866, only a few blacks actually voted or gained political positions. However, by 1898, a very small percentage of black republicans controlled political positions in a white, democratic government. "Believing that the Constitution of the United States contemplated a government carried by enlightened people," and not that of an "ignorant population of African origin," the whites of Wilmington configured eight resolutions. Among them were demands that blacks were incapable of holding a political position and must resign office, that The Daily Record cease publication and be removed and the editor be banished from the community (Declaration of White Independence). If not responded to within twelve hours, force was assured. When the blacks reply was not received within the deadline, a mob lead by Alfred Waddell went out to wreck The Daily Record, and in doing so, set the house on fire. Following the mob's actions at The Daily Record, further trouble broke out in town. Many whites, having "abused and maltreated the negroes, were fearful of their just vengeance" (Cronly. "Account of..."). According to the accounts of B.F. Keith, who was a white resident of Wilmington, in his letters to Senator Butler and those of an anonymous writer in a letter to President McKinley, during this time the blacks were "slaughtered for office or political purpose...murdered in cold blood...and left to die like rats." Following the riot, all republican officials were replaced by Democratic officials.

According to the writers of the ultimatum, a climax was reached, action was needed, and the resolutions were written when the editor of The Daily Record produced an article so "vile and slanderous" that a lynching was an appropriate form of



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