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The Maundy Monday Newsletter - This Week in History November 6 - November 12.
I’ve only been to Wilmington, North Carolina, once. It was back in 2015 when I was living in Raliegh for work. Since the beach town was only two hours away, I took a day trip to check it out.
Wilmington is a beautiful place. The beaches are long, with flat sand that stretches toward the ocean that isn’t choppy. When you drive into the town, you cross a bridge, and everywhere you look, the houses are beautiful.
If I remember correctly, the town has a small boardwalk that features multiple markets and restaurants with open spaces. I went everywhere that day. Into the water, strolled the boardwalk, and had dinner at a nice restaurant before heading back north.
But I had no idea of the terrible history Wilmington had.
In the late 19th century, right after the Civil War ended and the yet-to-be-ranked 14th Amendment was passed, Wilmington was the largest city in North Carolina, with just over 10,000 people. Most of the residents were black, and by 1870, more freed people had moved there from the rural areas where they were previously enslaved to seek job security, safety, and other freedoms without the oppression of white people.
Peer-freed blacks therefore ran the government of the city, and it won’t come as much of a surprise that the white people weren’t thrilled with the concept of “Negro Rule.”
So on November 10, 1898, a group of 2,000 armed men staged an insurrection on the local government, killing at least 60 people, and some estimates have this number as high as 300.
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The armed mob was led by Alfred Moore Waddell, a United States Congressman from 1871 to 1879 when he lost reelection. The former Confederate officer would begin his second career as a speechman, an orator of great demand who spoke out against perceived white oppression.
He even drafted a White Declaration of Independence that helped him recruit guys who wore red shirts to identify themselves with the cause.
On that fateful day, Waddell and his band of cowards burned down the local newspaper while murdering black leaders and bystanders. After the killing spree, Waddell installed himself as Mayor of Wilmington, a position he held until 1906.
Weeks later, another newspaper, this one more aligned with Waddell, described the massacre as a peaceful protest that went wrong. It wasn’t until decades later that the truth came out piece by piece.
There doesn’t appear to be any criminal prosecution regarding the coup. It just happened. And somehow, we moved on.
Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
1. The Allies and Germany signed an armistice on November 11, 1918. The precursor to the Treaty of Versailles signed the following year, ended the bloodiest conflict in the world’s history, where 17 million died. We messed up by demanding too much of the Germans and had to do this all over again about 15 years later.
2. The windshield wiper patent was approved on November 10, 1903. US Patent number 743,801 was conceived by Mary Anderson, who, in 1900, was touring New York City in a trolley car on a snowy day. She figured out some engineering stuff that I don’t understand, but I am thankful that I can wipe the rear window as well.
3. Mary Mallon died on November 11, 1938. Known as Typhoid Mary, the Irish-born American infected dozens of people with the disease. She worked as a cook for affluent families in New York City, and when we figured out she was patient zero, we quarantined her for thirty years. Just to ensure you understand, this isn’t a typo – 30 years.
Blue continues his recovery from cancer surgery. He has to take multiple pills twice daily and has been a good boy in doing so. We have to be careful with his energy and activity because, apparently, when you have tongue surgery, it involves a ton of blood vessels, which makes it important to monitor his blood pressure. Thanks for everyone’s kind words and for checking in.
It’s another week for travel. We only have eight weeks left in 2023, so I must stay focused! Have you mentioned I figured out what I plan on ranking next year? Cause I have! Please hit the like button if this excites you!
We begin another month together, and I am thankful for your continued support of Okay History.
Have a great week. See you on Friday with an Amendment ranking!