‘Destroyed by the white citizens of Wilmington….’

The attention rightly heaped upon David Zucchino’s “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup Of 1898 And The Rise Of White Supremacy” reminded me of this Miscellany post from seven years ago. (Sorry the eBay image of the printing-press fragment being auctioned hasn’t survived.)

I’ve seen a lot of remarkable North Caroliniana on eBay but nothing as breathtaking as this supposed artifact, inscribed “destroyed by the white citizens of Wilmington,” offered by a dealer in Oreland, Pa.

Here’s a reaction from historian Tim Tyson, who has written extensively about the black-owned Daily Record’s role in the nation’s only coup d’etat: “If it is the real thing, I sure would like to have it myself… I don’t know what it might be ‘worth,’ but I think it belongs well south of Pennsylvania!”

Anyone care to speculate on the initials, which seem to be “J.H.T.J.”?


2 thoughts on “‘Destroyed by the white citizens of Wilmington….’”

  1. Here’s a response from LeRae Umfleet, NCDCR chief of collections management and author of “A Day of Blood: The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot” (2009):
    “I saw that – interesting thing…. It’s plausible that it was a part of either the printing press http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/workshops/civilrights1/burned_press.jpg
    or some other machinery at the Manly shop.
    “There have been indications that other “mementos” of the press building were kept. There’s a reference to a gavel being made from some of the wood too.
    “I wish I had been the winning bidder! [It sold for $113.50.] I would like to see it in person and check out the handwriting. I’m sure the initials are someone involved, but I just can’t place them right now.”

    I’ve attached an image of the burned press (original in the New Hanover County Public Library). Someone who is familiar with antique printing press operations may be able to help us understand if this brass plate could have been part of the press.

    LeRae Umfleet

    NCDCR Chief of Collections Management

    4610 Mail Service Center

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