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Men Who Could Draw:

The Cartoons of Norman Ethre Jennett

and the North Carolina Election of 1898

Rachel Marie-Crane Williams

I n 1898 America became entangled in the Spanish

American war over Cuba. Meanwhile, the Democrats,
Republicans, and Populists of North Carolina engaged in
a bitter battle for power. The issue on which the
Democrats built their platform was white supremacy.
As a result of the rhetoric they generated through
newspapers, cartoons, and orators, Wilmington, North
Carolina became an epicenter of racial violence and the
site of the only coup d’etat in the United States. Black
men lost their voting rights, the first Jim Crow Law was
passed and the state would never be the same again.
The Democratic Party controlled the
North Carolina Legislature from 1876 until 1894.

In the fall of 1894 the Republicans and

Populists joined together on
the same ticket and be-
came the Fusion Party.
While there was a
good deal of internal
strife, they were
victorious in the
election. For the first
time in decades the
Democrats were no
longer the most pow-
erful political force in
the state.
Leaders in the Democratic party turned to a campaign
of race baiting and fear-mongering. This political strat-
egy was devised by Furnifold Simmons the leader of the
N.C. Democratic Party, Charles B. Aycock, the “Idol of
the East,” who would eventually be elected governor,
and Josephus Daniels, the influential editor of the News
and Observer. All were “Men who could write, speak,
and ‘ride.’”1 All of these men would grow famous and
become pillars of the Southern brotherhood of patriar-
chy, white supremacy, and statesmanship in the annals of
North Carolina History.2

congressmen, Negro
solicitors, Negro revenue of-
ficers, Negro collectors of customs,
Negroes in charge of white institution
egro con-
Furnifold Simmons

Negroes in charge of white schools...N

men, Ne-
stables arresting white women and
gro magistrates trying white women
men, white convicts chained to Negro
convicts, and forced to social
equity with them...3

White men ha
r and long
neglected poo r
suffering wh
them it is eve

Charles B. Aycock
Josephus Daniels Josephus Daniels,
the editor of The
News and Observer,
one of the most
important men in
Simmons’ inner
circle, knew that in
order for their cam-
paign to be success-
ful they would need
to fuel the imagi-
nation, ignorance
and fear of whites
through horrible
and humorous
images and stories
about African-

Simmons, Daniels, and Aycock began to design the

Democratic campaign strategy at an unofficial meeting
at the Chatawka Hotel in Newbern, N.C.5
Josephus Daniels hired
Norman Ethre Jennett, North
Carolina’s, “first political
cartoonist”.6 By July, 1898
Jennett had returned to North
Carolina and was drawing
daily cartoons for The News
and Observer. His work be-
came instrumental in spreading
the rhetoric of white Norman E. Jennett
supremacy and a growing
fear of “negro domination.” J ennett’s cartoons and
inflammatory stories printed
by Daniels helped the Demo-
crats brew hate and discontent
among whites. Daniels pub-
lished accounts in The News
and Observer of incidents that
involved interracial violence.
Broadsides of The News and
Observer were reprinted and
distributed to voters by local
Democratic leaders.7
We were never
very careful about
winnowing out
stories or running
them down...
they were
played up
in big type.8

The stories and

images in The News
and Observer,
purposefully linked
sexuality and manhood,
with class issues and fear.

Jennett’s cartoons, depicted and promoted racist

stereotypes. Each of these depictions was
tied directly to racist myths and ideas found in
popular culture. They were designed to spawn white
supremacy and fear..

September 27, 1898

The News &
The Democrats hoped whites would believe that African-
Americans wanted to dominate the economy, politics,
and their bodies. Many of the stories and images the
Democrats used have been recirculated at other times
in history when there was intense racial strife between
blacks and whites.9
Black men are lusty beasts
Black men were portrayed
as dangerous predators who
sought to “soil” the purity
of white women and in turn
the white race as a whole.
“They” are the Enemy
Rumors of revolt and vio- It is natural for blacks
lence were spread. Howard to rape white women, even
Odum called this the “folk- though lynching is a possible
ways of self-defense.”11 He consequence; they are biologically
stated that whites believed
driven by a need to “improve”
violence was justifiable
their stock.10
if they caught wind of an
armed uprising in advance.
, 1898
98 & October 8
er 1, 18 rver
Novemb News & Obse
Th e
Many African American men saw the Spanish-American war as
a chance to prove their manhood and patriotism. 12
Black soldiers are When they return home they will
cowardly & dangerous be dangerous because now they
are trained to fight and kill!!!

Ironic...I fight to
nn ed
“liberate” dark-ski
people while living
a second class citi
at home.

In April the press

praised black sol-
diers, but by Oc-
tober newspapers
stated, that “sol-
diers”, in quotation
marks, on trains, “...
stood in the aisle,
occupied two seats
each and took off
their shoes.” In The
Newberne Journal
black soldiers were
called “creatures”
that should be
transported in
“cattle cars”.13

October 5, 1898,
The News & Observer
“Scene on The Atlantic and N.C. Railroad
-What Occurred When Negro ‘troops’
Were travelling on that Railroad under Republican Management”
All of these myths were embedded in images, songs,
and stories from popular culture. Jennett drew on these
familiar tropes to reinforce their messages in the Demo-
crat’s campaign.

September 11, 1898, October 15, 1898,

The News & Observer The News & Observer

Racist stereotypes had been a part of popular American culture

for decades.
The political climate of racial tension and division grew
steadily after
In the 1890s comical
depictions of African
Americans superseded
even the negative
images of the Irish.
“Coon” songs sung
by men in blackface
were a common form
of entertainment.14
courtesy of the Library of Congress.
“When I Do The Hootchy-Coochy In The Sky”
By Gussie L. Davis, 1898,

R acist images publications and print media all across

the White Atlantic. According to Lemons, whites used
comedy to openly humiliate African Americans and
deal with the growing hatred and tension between
blacks and whites. 15
In 1898 themes of imperialism and white
supremacy populated the print landscape
of American newspapers. Caricatures of

W.A. Rogers, Harper’s Weekly August 27, 1898,

native people who lived in Cuba, Guam
(Ladrones), the Philippines, and Ha-
waii were common. Often these images
were accompanied by speech bubbles
filled with, “...what US whites imagined
“[Southern] Negro” dialect to be.” 16
Like Kipling, these images portrayed
dark skinned people as “The White
Man’s Burden.”17
Charles Bartholomew, The Minneapolis Journal,

Courtesy of The Library of


Cartoonist tried to
persuade readers
to support Uncle
Sam’s thirst for
an empire with
images of happy,
July 2, 1898


The United States ignored

the irony of liberating dark-skinned
people abroad while within the US
borders lynching, segregation, and
domestic imperialism were still com-
monplace. At the turn of the century,
whites were unified across boundaries
of class; they formed a new national
identity supported by
notions of white supremacy.
Charles Bartholomew, The Minneapolis Journal, July 30,1898.
W hile the US spent 1898 acquiring Hawaii, The Philippines,
and Guam and wresting control of Cuba from Spain, the Demo-
crats in North Carolina were engaged in a battle for control of the
state. The twisted logic of white supremacy was tangled with an
ongoing national discourse of imperial patriarchy. This discourse
linked to “true manhood” fed on the white fear of “Negro domination”

Norman Jennett, Charles Bartholomew

The News & Observer, August 13, 1898 The Minneapolis Journal,
May 12, 1898
I n 1897 Rebecca Latimer
called for the lynching of
black men who raped white
women. She believed that
black men sexually crossed
the color line because white
men encouraged them to
break election laws in order
to garner their votes and win
control; this lawless cross-
ing led to rape, stealing, and
“ The papers are filled of-
ten with reports of rapes on
white women and the subse-
quent lynching of the alleged
Eventually, Alexander Manly, rapist...every negro lynched
the black son of the former white is called a “Big Burly Black
Brute”. When in fact many
governor Charles Manly, responded. of those who have thus been
dealt with had white men for
Alexander Manly was the editor of their fathers and were
The Wilmington Record, the only not only “black” and
“burly” but were suf-
African American daily paper in the ficiently attractive
state of North Carolina. His response for white girls of cul-
ture and refinement
to Felton caused indignation among fall in love with
them as is very well
Democrats and Republicans. 19 known to all.” 20
While William Randolph Hearst was running exaggerated stories
in The New York Journal of the atrocities Cuban women were
suffering at the hands of the Spaniards, the papers in North
Carolina were filled with stories of fearful white women threat-
ened by black men. Portions of Felton’s speech were used by the
Democratic press to condemn Manly and equate Fusion party
politics with images of lawless and lewd black men.

Various headlines from The News and Observer from 1898

I mages of helpless women
populated the print land-
scape in the United States
and in North Carolina.
Women were often drawn
by cartoonists begging for
help from white men. These
white men were symbols of
patriarchy and patriotism
while women symbolized
September 7, 1898, Puck Magazine both women as a whole
and the fate of the nation or
November 3, 1898
The News & Observer

The Democrats in North Caro-

lina wanted white male voters
to equate democratic control
and white supremacy with the
assured safety of white women.

According to Glenda Gilmore

“To be remade into killers, white
men had... to believe that one
duty--the exercise of patriarchy-
-prevailed over all other com-
mandments, including the bibli-
cal injunction against murder.”21
T he counterpart to the democrats’ helpless white women was
the “Honest white man.” Jennett depicted the honest white man
as a force that could stop the tide of “negro domination.”

There was implied violence in many of the images

produced by Jennett to persuade white men to join
Democrats in their rally against African Americans.
“Honest” white men were depicted as the only force preventing
“negro domination”, the sexual exploitation of white women,
and the miscegenation of the race. The News and Observer rep-
resented honest white men as the only group capable of “saving”
North Carolina.
September 6, 1898, The News and Observer

Jennett’s cartoons, editorials by Daniels, and other outrageous

stories, deployed in deliberate combination in the press, en-
gendered images of African Americans designed to elicit fear
and hate.
J ennett lampooned black and white politicians committed to the
Fusionist party in ways that called into question their manhood,
leadership, and loyalty to the white race.

His favorite targets were Governor Daniel Russell, Isaac H. Smith,

Oliver Dockery, Senator William Lee Person, Cyrus Thompson,
James Young, Hal Ayers, and A.E. Holton.

These men were held up as a contrast to “honest” white men. The

Democrats portrayed them as men controlled by African Ameri-
cans in the state; by late September and early October black men
were associated through images in the press with devils, beasts,
and vampires.
The rhetoric of speakers who traveled around the state to rally
support for the Democratic party urged Populists to reunite with
Democrats in order to prevent the state from being ruined by those
interested in “Negro rule.” Benjamin “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, the
popular one-eyed Senator from South Carolina even made appear-
ances in order to rally whites. One of the popular subjects of speak-
ers on the Democratic stump circuit was Alexander Manly.
Why didn’t you kill that
damn nigger editor who wrote
Send him down to South Carolina
and let him publish any such
offensive stuff, and He will
be killed.22

Some whites were inspired to violence by such speeches.

Hundreds, by some
of men in red
shirts made by
their sisters,
mothers, and
wives would
congregate on
horseback and ride
through towns and
the countryside
violence and
even physically
terrorizing black

Alfred M. Waddell

Threats of physical violence and intimidation by Democrats like

Alfred Waddell a 64 year- old unemployed former Lieutenant Col-
onel were common fodder for the masses as election day loomed.25
Wilmington became a sight of inevitable racial tension. Violence
was not only acted out on blacks but sympathetic whites as well.
After casting his vote in Wilmington Governor Daniel Russell
was almost killed on a train returning to Raleigh by a Red Shirt
ambush. He barely escaped detection by hiding in a mail car.26
W hile the United States and Spain were
slowly making peace, the Democratic party
assured their victory through a war in the
media, the Red Shirt riders, and on the stump
through incendiary speeches. This cartoon,
“We’ve Got Em on the Run,” appeared in the
News and Observer just 6 days before the
November 8th election. Two men, one who
looks a good deal like Wadell, and another
gentleman chase an elephant, symbolic of
the G.O.P. carrying Governor Russell, A.E.
Holton and Cyrus Thompson. The tail of the
elephant supports, like a sharpened pole, the
crudely drawn head of an African-American.
The rope trailing behind the fleeing elephant
suggests that the staked head belonged to a
man who perhaps was lynched and decapi-
tated. This cartoon seemed to foreshadow
the violence against Fusionists and African
Americans following close on the heels of the
On November 8th, 1898 the election was over. The Demo-
crats won by a large margin and gained control of the


While Jennett and Daniels celebrated their victory with Democrat-

ic leaders in the capitol city, Democrats in Wilmington gathered
together to conspire. Men led, by Alfred Waddell, created a white
declaration of independence. Within this document they called for
the exile of Alexander Manly and the resignation of the Republi-
can Mayor and Police Chief. They gave African American leaders
twelve hours to respond to their demands.27
I n spite of the fact
that African-Ameri-
can leaders in Wilm-
ington did respond,
an armed crowd of
White men led by
Waddell gathered
together at the
armory the follow-
ing morning. They
marched in a orderly
way into the black
community of Brook-
lyn and burned
Manly’s press to the
ground. Eventually
a unit of black fire
fighters arrived and
extinguished the
blaze. After the fire,
rumors of violence
spread through both
the black and white
neighborhoods of
According to historian
Helen Edmonds “...rioters
went from house to house
looking for Negroes whom
they considered offensive
and killed them, and poured
volleys into fleeing negroes
like sportsmen firing at
rabbits in an open field...”.28
The bodies of massacre victims were still warm when the
Democrats began a banishment campaign. Their targets were
the mayor, African American leaders and business men, those
who openly opposed the white supremacy campaign, and the
white Republicans and Populists who had been supported by
black men. They also fired all black municipal employees. In the
days and weeks following the massacre black families hid in the
swamps, lived behind locked doors in fear, or left the city
seeking a safer existence.
Life in North Carolina was never the same after the
elections of 1898 and the Wilmington Massacre
which followed.

On January 6, 1899
Francis Winston introduced a
suffrage bill written to
disenfranchise black men and
keep them from voting.30

The North Carolina

Legislature also intro-
duced the Jim Crow
Railroad Car Law in
1899. Railroads and
Steamboat companies
were to provide sepa-
rate but equal accom-
modations for whites
and blacks in passenger
stations and waiting
Norman Jennett left North Carolina,
finished his training in art in New York
City and became a fairly successful
commercial artist. During his career
he worked for the “New York Herald”,
“The Evening Telegram”, and “The
Brooklyn Eagle.” He was best know
for his comic strip “The Monkeyshines
of Marsaleen.” Jennett and Daniels
continued to correspond for many
decades. Jennett died in California in
1970 at the age of 93.32

Josephus Daniels was

appointed Secretary to
the Navy in 1913 and
later the ambassador to
Mexico. The News and
Observer remained under
the control of Daniels’
family until 1995. Daniels
passed away in January of

Charles B. Aycock was

governor of North Caro-
lina from 1901 until 1905.
He was known for his
Furnifold Simmons was dedication to education. He is
elected as a State Senator for still a beloved figure in North
North Carolina. In
Carolina 1912, when
in 1900 he was run-
and was ning for the
not de- senate seat
feated un- against Furni-
til 1930. fold Sim-
He died mons he died
a decade suddenly of a
later in heart
1940.34 attack. 35
W hile Daniels, Simmons, Aycock, and Jennett have become part
of North Carolina’s past, their actions continue to impact the pres-
ent. After 1898 blacks experienced political, educational, psycho-
logical, physical, and economic degradation. In 2000, the North
Carolina Legislature created the Wilmington Race Riot Commis-
sion under the leadership of Representative Thomas Wright and
Senator Luther Jordan. Jordan later died and Wright was incarcer-
ated for fraud. In 2006, the commission released their 600 page
report which included fifteen recommendations related to four
areas, empowerment, education, commemoration, and economic
redevelopment. In 2007 the North Carolina Democratic Party State
Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution that ac-
knowledged the role and responsibility of the Democratic Party of
1898 in the Wilmington race rebellion which led to the deaths of
many African Americans. The North Carolina NAACP continues
to pressure lawmakers in the state to enact legislation related to the
recommendations. 36

In July of 2008 African American artist Ayokunle Odeleye

installed a monument in Wilmington to memorialize the events
of 1898 so that the people of North Carolina will never forget.
1) Helen G. Edmonds, The Negro And Fusion Politics In North
Carolina, 1894-1901 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Caro-
lina Press, 1951) 8-33.

2) Furnifold Simmons was a United States senator for North

Carolina between 1901 and 1913. Josephus Daniels later became
Secretary of the Navy during World War I. According to Helen
Edmonds, “There was no man more responsible for shaping public
opinion against Fusion than he.” (1951, p. 13). Charles B. Aycock
was governor of North Carolina from 1901-1905.

3) Quote taken from an editorial written by Simmons and pub-

lished in the News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 3 November
1898. (retrieved from:

4) Glenda E.Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Poli-
tics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920. (Chapel
Hill:University of North Carolina Press, 1996) 94.

5) Ibid. & David S. Celcelski and Timothy Tyson, eds., Democracy

Betrayed (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

6) H.G. Jones, “The Rediscovery of The ‘Sampson Huckleberry’,”

The State: Down Home in North Carolina May 1977: http://files., retrieved, 1/30/09.

7) Helen G. Edmonds, The Negro And Fusion Politics In North

Carolina, 1894-1901 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Caro-
lina Press, 1951) 141.

8) Timothy Tyson, “The Ghosts of 1898: Wilmington’s race riot

and the rise of White supremacy,” The News and Observer, 17
Nov. 17, 2006: section H. 7.

9) For more information about race riots and rumors see: Howard
W. Odum, Race and Rumors of Race, (Baltimore: John Hop-
kins Press, 1997). Harris, Trudier. 1996 I Heard it Through the
Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture The Free Library
(March, 22), Heard it Through
the Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture-a018372108
(accessed April 04 2010), Patricia A. Turner, I Heard It Through
the Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture, (Los Angeles:
University of California Press, 1993).
10) Joseph Graves, The Emperor’s new clothes: Biological theories
of race at the millennium, (Piscataway: Rutgers University Press,
2003) 77.

11) Howard W. Odum, Race and Rumors of Race, (Baltimore:

John Hopkins Press, 1997) 5.

Carolina Press, 1996) 78.

12) Glenda E.Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the
Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920. (Cha-
pel Hill:University of North Carolina Press, 1996) 78.

13) ibid. 81.

14) Between 1890 and 1900 nearly 600 “coon” songs had been
published (Strausbaugh, 135, 2006). Also see J. Stanley Lemons,

15) . Stanley Lemons, “Black Stereotypes as Reflected in Popular

Culture, 1880-1920,” American Quarterly 29.1 (1977): 104.

16) Kelvin Santiago-Valles, “’Still Longing for de Old Plantation’:

The Visual Parodies and Racial National Imaginary of US Over-
seas Expansionism, 1898-1903,” American Studies Quarterly, 3

17) The “White Man’s Burden” is a poem written by Rudyard Ki-

pling in 1889 which first appeared in print in McClures Magazine
in February of 1899.

18) Gilmore 105.

19) Lewin Manly, The Injustices We Never Forget, News &Ob-

server, The (Raleigh, NC), November 19, 2006.

20) For a complete link to Manly’s editorial in the Daily record see Also see Ap-
pendix G in LeRae Umfleet, The Wilmington Race Riot Commis-
sion (Raleigh: North Carolina Office of Archives, 2006) 346-352.

21) Glenda Gilmore, The Flight of the Incubus, in David S.

Celcelski and Timothy Tyson, eds., Democracy Betrayed
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998) 77.

22) Robert Norell, Up from History, The Life of Booker T. Wash-

(Cambridge:Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009) 162.

23) H. Leon Prather, The Red Shirt Movement in North Carolina

1898-1900, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr.,
1977), pp. 174-184.

24) Robert Norell, Up from History, The Life of Booker T. Wash-

(Cambridge:Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009) 162.

25) For a more complete description of Alfred Moore Waddell see

chapter 4 in Glenda E.Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women
and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-
1920. (Chapel Hill:University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
Also see Chapter 3 in the final report produced by the Wilmington
Race Riot Commission in 2006.

26) For more information about the assassination attempt on Dan-

iel Russell see Rob Christensen, The Paradox of Tarheel Politics.
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2008) 21-23. Also see

27) For a more detailed account of the events in Wilmington fol-

lowing the election see, Leon Prather, We Have Taken a City, The
Wilmington Racial Massacre and Coup of 1898. (Wilmington,
Dramtree Books, 1996).

28) Helen G. Edmonds, The Negro And Fusion Politics In North

Carolina, 1894-1901 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Caro-
lina Press, 1951) 168.

29) Ibid, 182.

30) Helen G. Edmonds, The Negro And Fusion Politics In North

Carolina, 1894-1901 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Caro-
lina Press, 1951) 179.
31) See R.H. Boyd, Separate or Jim Crow Car Laws or Legisla-
tive enactments in Fourteen Southern States (Nashville: National
Baptist Publishing Board) 35.

32) H.G. Jones, “The Rediscovery of The ‘Sampson Huckle-

berry’,” The State: Down Home in North Carolina May 1977:, retrieved,

33) For more information about Josephus Daniels see: Howard E.

Covington, Jeffrey J. Crow ,North Carolina Century: Tar Heels
Who Made a Difference, 1900-2000(Chapel Hill: The University
of North Carolina Press, 2001).

34) Ibid and Rob Christensen, The Paradox of Tarheel Politics.

(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2008).

35) Rob Christensen, The Paradox of Tarheel Politics. (Chapel

Hill: University of North Carolina, 2008).

36) Episode #2315, UNCTV, Black Issue Forum, 2007-08 Broad-

cast Season.

37) See:

ctl/details/mid/3371/itemid/279.aspx. For more information about
Ayokunle Odeleye see:


Electronic sources
The North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina.
The North Carolina Election of 1898. 23 August 2008 < http://>.

North Carolina State Archives.Yellow and White: War with Spain

and the 1898 Elections. 3 March 2009 <http://www.archives.ncdcr.
gov/exhibits/dmedia/sect-2004.xml >.

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Marion Butler Papers. Southern Historical Collection. University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Alex Manly Papers. East Carolina University.
Alfred Moore Waddell Papers. Southern Historical Collection.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
African American Sheet Music Collection, 1850-1920. Library of

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The Caucasian (Raleigh, N.C.) (Courtesy of the University of
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News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (Courtesy of the University of
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Special thanks to the University of Iowa’s Arts and Humanities

Initiative, The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, Timothy
Tyson and his family, and especially Sean Kelley.

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