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“E” is for Ellenton Riot (September 1876)

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“E” is for Ellenton Riot (September 1876). The Ellenton Riot was one of the many racial clashes that occurred in the tense atmosphere of the 1876 gubernatorial campaign. The altercation featured many of the classic elements of conflict in South Carolina during Reconstruction, including allegations of African American criminal activity, paramilitary violence by whites, hostility toward the Black militia, and the profound inadequacies of the Republican state government. No African American in the vicinity was safe as White “gun clubs’ scoured the region for three days. The human cost was high. The estimate of African Americans killed ranged from thirty to more than one hundred. Two Whites were killed and three wounded. Among the dead was state legislator Simon Coker. Only the intervention of the U.S. Army ended the killing spree that was the Ellenton Riot.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.