Timeline

1875

September 4th, 1875

Clinton Massacre Leaves More Than 20 Blacks Dead in Mississippi

On September 4, 1875, Republicans in Hinds County, Mississippi, held a barbecue and meeting in the town of Clinton that was attended by 3000 people. Hoping to curb the risk of violent political conflict, Clinton authorities appointed special police and prohibited serving liquor. When the Republican speakers began making their political speeches in the afternoon, Democratic party representatives unexpectedly joined the meeting and requested speaking time. In the interest of keeping peace, Republicans accommodated the request and arranged for a public discussion between Judge Amos R. Johnston, a Democratic candidate for state senate, and Captain H.T. Fisher, Republican editor of the Jackson Times.

Both speakers were to be given an equal amount of speaking time, and Johnston spoke first, giving a cordial address. Fisher expressed optimism that meetings between the parties could take place peacefully in the future but eight minutes into his address the crowd was disrupted by an altercation. Soon after, a gunfight erupted between whites and blacks, and bystanders panicked in a rush to escape the danger. About 15 minutes later, three whites and four blacks were dead, and six whites and 20 blacks were wounded.

Newspapers reported that the blacks who fired weapons did so in self defense but local whites were enraged by the show of force. That night, armed whites from Clinton and Vicksburg formed roving bands intent on killing black men. By the next day, an estimated 50 blacks had been killed and many more had been forced into the woods and swampland to avoid attack, where they remained until the violence subsided on September 6, 1875.