The Wilmington Declaration, 1898

The Wilmington Declaration, 1898

Believing that the constitution of the United States contemplated a government to be carried on by an enlightened people:
believing that its framers did not anticipate the enfranchisement of an ignorant population of African origin, and believing
that those men of the State of North Carolina who joined in forming the Union did not contemplate for their descendants
subjection to an inferior race: We, the undersigned, citizens of the city of Wilmington and county of New Hanover, do hereby
declare that we will no longer be ruled, and will never again be ruled by men of African origin. “This condition we have in
part endured because we felt that the consequences of the war of secession were such as to deprive us of the fair consideration
of many of our countrymen. We believe that after more than thirty years this is no longer the case. “The stand to which
we now pledge ourselves is forced upon us suddenly by a crisis, and our eyes are open to the fact that we must act now
or leave our decendunts to a fate too gloomy to be borne. While we recognize the authority of the United States, and will
yield to it if exerted, we would not for a moment believe that it is the purpose of more than 60,000,000 of our own race
to subject us permanently to a fate to which no Anglo-Saxon has ever been forced to submit. We therefore, believing
that we represent unequivocally the sentiments of the white people of this county and city, hereby for ourselves, and as
representing them, proclaim: 1. That the time has passed for the intelligent citizens of this community owning 95 percent,
of the property and paying taxes in like proportion, to be ruled by negroes. 2. That we will not tolerate the action of
unscrupulous white men in affiliating with the negroes so that by means of their votes they can dominate the intelligent
and thrifty element in the community, thus causing business to stagnate and progress to be out of the question. 3. That
the negro has demonstrated by antagonizing our interest in every way, and especially by his ballot, that he is incapable
of realizing that his interests are and should be identical with those of the community. 4. That the progressive element
in any community is the white population, and that the giving of nearly all the employment to negro laborers has been
against the best Interests of this county and city, and is a sufficient reason why the city of Wilmington, with its natural
advantages, has not become a city of at least 50,000 inhabitants.

That we propose in future to give to white men a large part of the employment heretofore given to negroes because
we realize that white families cannot thrive here unless there are more opportunities for the employment of the different
members of said families. 6. That the white men expect to live in this community peaceably; to have and provide absolute
protection for their families, who shall be safe from insult and Injury from all persons whomsoever. We are prepared to
treat the negroes with justice and consideration in all matters which do not involve sacrifices of the Interests of the intelligent
and progressive portion of the community. But we are equally prepared now and immediately to enforce what we know
to be our rights. 7. That we have been, in our desire for harmony and peace, blinded both to our interests and our rights.
A climax was reached when the negro paper of this city published an article so vile and slanderous that it would in most
communities have resulted in the lynching of the editor. We deprecate lynching and yet there is no punishment provided
by the courts adequate for this offense. We therefore owe it to the people of this community and of this city, as a protection
against such license In the future, that the paper known as The Record cease to be published and that its editor be banished
from this community. We demand that he leave this city forever within twenty-four hours after the issuance of this proclamation. Second, that the printing press from which The Record has been issued be packed and shipped from the city without delay;
that we be notified within twelve hours of the acceptance or rejection of this demand. If the demand is agreed to within twelve
hours we counsel forbearance on the part of all white men. If the demand is refused or if no answer is given within the time mentioned, then the editor, Manly, will be expelled by force.

Last Updated on July 25, 2021 by Bill Arp

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