#OTD in 1884 the Chicago Tribune reported on Senate hearings regarding the Danville Massacre in Virginia. The massacre took place on November 3, 1883. The Chicago Tribune’s reporting highlights the tension between white Democrats, Black Republicans and voting at the time. Image
The Danville Massacre (also referred to as the Danville Race Riot) was a violent white backlash to bi-racial democracy in Virginia during the Readjuster movement. The Readjuster Party supported legislation to help alleviate the state's debt incurred during the Civil War.
Danville had thriving majority Black population by the 1880s. Many whites in the area described Black political power as "Negro rule." The Tribune's report quoted a white witness who stated that the Readjusters imposed "the worst rule any people were ever cursed with."
As the old socioeconomic racial hierarchy continued to crumble, white Democrats in Danville became increasingly hostile to the town’s Black residents. A month prior, prominent white Democrats expressed their anger and racism in "The Danville Circular."
The Circular spread throughout the area and claimed that white people had been subjected to "injustice and humiliation" brought on by "the domination and misrule of the radical or negro party." This was a call to action in preparation for the upcoming elections.
On November 3, only 3 days before the election, violence broke out when a white man named Charles Noel struck a Black man named Henderson Lawson during an altercation. Police responded as a crowd gathered around the scene.
Noel then walked to a Democratic Party meeting and recruited two other armed white men to go back with him to confront Lawson again. The two men followed Noel back to the scene, another altercation ensued, and they fired at a Black man named George Adams.
The mostly Black crowd demanded that George Lea, the white man who fired his weapon, be arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Then, suddenly, Lea and several other white men who came with him fired into the crowd.
Three Black men, Terry Smith, Edward Davis, and another who was not identified, were killed in the volley along with a known white Democrat named Walter Holland. Another Black man was also shot but died later from his wounds. An armed white mob began patrolling the streets.
Very few Black men voted in the elections three days later, leading to sweeping Democratic victories. A Black witness named R.W. Glass testified before Congress and was afraid to recount what he had seen. Glass stated: "I live in Danville, and have to go back there."
Still, he testified that a group of 300-400 armed white men roamed town in search of Black men to kill in the aftermath of the shooting. Glass claimed some white men in the mob say they were going to hold the election "by de point ob de gun."
The Chicago Tribune reported that George Lea claimed he "feared for the safety of the wives of the whites because of threats he heard that on election-day while the white men were fighting the negroes at the polls the negroes would be murdering the women in their homes."
Lea's testimony is a classic example of how many whites and the Democratic Party demonized Black people in order to justify their actions. And it worked. Black voter turnout plummeted and Democrats won decidedly by using violence to keep Black men from the polls.
A Black witness named John Stone testified that the Black community largely stayed home on Election Day. He asked people in the Black community to vote but claimed they refused, "saying they were not going to be slaughtered."
In the decades after the Danville Massacre the dominant narrative blamed the Black community their white Readjuster allies for the murders. After all, the massacre had helped reaffirm local white supremacy, which was the goal of the Democratic Party all along.
According to a newspaper in Richmond called the Daily Dispatch, the Black population of Danville had been taught a lesson that would "not be lost upon them, nor upon their race elsewhere in Virginia." Nobody was ever arrested, tried, or convicted for the murders in Danville.

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More from @TheCivilWarDoc1

Feb 18
#OTD in 1865 Charleston, South Carolina Mayor Charles Macbeth surrendered the city to Lieutenant Colonel A.G. Bennett of the 21st United States Colored Troops. The city had been under siege since the summer of 1863 and its harbor contained Ft. Sumter, where the war began. Image
Confederate General Beauregard ordered the evacuation three days earlier, nearly four years after he commanded the initial assault of Ft. Sumter in April, 1861. By the afternoon a company of the 54th Mass. (USCT) was helping to extinguish the flames set by the retreating rebels. Image
Many of the first Union soldiers to enter Charleston were from the USCT and they left a wake of liberation for Black Charlestonians who were legally enslaved the day prior. Days later the 55th Mass. (USCT) walked the streets of downtown singing "John Brown's Body." Image
Read 7 tweets
Feb 1
February 1st marks the beginning of #BlackHistoryMonth and we will be dedicating much of our #OTD posts to Black history throughout the 19th century, particularly during the Civil War Era. You can read about the origins of Black History Month here: asalh.org/about-us/origi…
With that said, #OnThisDay in 1865, Dr. John Rock became the first African American admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court. This occurred the same day President Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment. #History #HistoryMatters #USHistory #AmericanHistory
John Rock lived an extraordinary life. He was a teacher, a prolific abolitionist writer and speaker, a dentist, medical doctor, and lawyer. Rock was born a free man in New Jersey in 1825 and became a teacher at age 19 while studying medicine. #Abolitionist #Teacher
Read 10 tweets
Jan 31
#OTD in 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment passed the House of Representatives, sending it to the states for ratification. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States “…except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."
The amendment ended race-based chattel slavery in America, but did not rid the nation of forced labor, which exists through America’s prison system today. #13thAmendment #Constitution #slavery #HistoryMatters #CivilWar #USCivilWar #AmericanCivilWar #PoliticalHistory #knowhistory
Congress abolished slavery in Washington D.C. in 1862. The Emancipation Proclamation outlawed slavery in rebelling states Jan. 1, 1863 and former rebel states were forced to ban slavery in new state constitutions. Republicans in Congress still wanted a Constitutional Amendment.
Read 9 tweets
Jan 24
#OTD in 1861 a fugitive enslaved person named Sara Lucy Bagby became the last person to be returned to their owner under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. It is unclear when Bagby was born but she was sold in January of 1852 in Richmond to John Goshorn for $600 dollars.
Bagby (More commonly known as Lucy), escaped to Ohio via the Underground Railroad in 1860 and settled in Cleveland. For a short time, she worked as a domestic servant for Republican congressman Albert G. Riddle and as a jeweler
She was arrested on January 19, 1861 and was returned to Goshorn on the 24th. However, After the Emancipation Proclamation in early 1863, Bagby made her way to Pittsburgh, married a man named George Johnson, and relocated with him to Cleveland. Bagby died on July 14th, 1906.
Read 4 tweets
Jan 24
#OTD in 1848 gold was found at Sutter’s Mill, California. This spurred the California Gold Rush, as northern Free-Soilers and pro-slavery Southerners both flocked to the new territory acquired through the Mexican-American War. #OnThisDay #OnThisDate #TodayInHistory #GoldRush
The battle over California’s fate as a free or slave state ignited intense debate in Congress, deepening the divide between the free North and the slave South. #California #Slavery #CaliforniaHistory
The prospect of a free California threatened to upset the even balance between free and slave states, something that southern slaveholders were unwilling to accept without certain concessions. The issue was temporarily resolved through the Compromise of 1850.
Read 6 tweets
Nov 11, 2021
Meet Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who #OTD was awarded the Medal of Honor for her service during the Civil War. She remains the only woman to be be awarded this honor. She was a suffragist, suspected spy, POW, and surgeon.


#Twitterstorians #OTD #WomensHist
In 1855, she earned her MD from Syracuse Medical College. She and her husband opened their own practice, but it failed. She also refused to "obey" her husband, kept her last name, and wore a short skirt with trousers. They divorced.

#women #rights #feminism #histmed
When the war started, she joined the Union Army. She was refused a commission, so she worked as an"unpaid volunteer surgeon at the U.S. Patent Office Hospital in Washington." She wore men's clothing throughout the war and said it made doing her job easier. (NPS)
Read 7 tweets

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