Article

“License to Do Evil in the Name of Good”: The Legacy of Anti-Electoral Violence and Organizational Success During the Wilmington Coup of 1898

Author: Jesse Joseph Miller (University of Iowa)

  • “License to Do Evil in the Name of Good”: The Legacy of Anti-Electoral Violence and Organizational Success During the Wilmington Coup of 1898

    Article

    “License to Do Evil in the Name of Good”: The Legacy of Anti-Electoral Violence and Organizational Success During the Wilmington Coup of 1898

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Abstract

This paper seeks to analyze the impact of local political actors on the development of the Wilmington coup of 1898, an event that stands out in American history due to the violent overthrow of a sitting city government. The event has been studied more in recent decades by Prather, Gilmore, and the state of North Carolina, and they tend to focus on the aspects of race and gender that pervaded the buildup to the coup against a government with African-American civic participation. I build on the existing scholarship to argue that, while white supremacy and gender hierarchy in the South were important to understand why the participants were convinced to engage in political violence more broadly, the influence that a group of dedicated conspiracists had on the events in Wilmington shows that it took the proper urging and coordination for the coup to unfold and succeed at all. Through comprehensive military planning and the nimble adaptation of rhetoric, Wilmington succeeded where other insurrections failed. I will also argue that the conditions and tactics that allowed Wilmington to succeed can be found in modern acts of political violence, such as the Capitol Insurrection. 

How to Cite:

Miller, J. J., (2024) ““License to Do Evil in the Name of Good”: The Legacy of Anti-Electoral Violence and Organizational Success During the Wilmington Coup of 1898”, Iowa Historical Review 10(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/2373-1842.31874

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Published on
21 Feb 2024
Peer Reviewed
License
CC BY 4.0