The 1898 Wilmington Institute for Education and Research
Understanding The Conflict and Its Origins:
The racial conflict of November, 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina, sometimes labeled a race riot or rebellion, was the unfortunate result of many years of post-war political corruption, enforced Reconstruction upon Wilmington and North Carolina, and the concomitant Republican party dominance in the City.
That dominance was allowed and sustained by a majority-black population which kept a small group of Northern carpetbag politicians in office for many years after the close of the War Between the States. The Fusion of the Republican and Populist parties in 1894 created a political environment that white citizens feared would lead to a repeat of the Reconstruction horror they had endured under a previously dominant Republican party, blindly supported by the freedmen. A political opportunist who publicly denigrated his black supporters, Governor Daniel L. Russell helped sow the seeds of the November, 1898 conflict with his patronage payoffs to loyal black leaders who delivered the black vote and overlooked his overt dislike of their race—political position over principles.