This Day in History

Nov. 3, 1874: White League Attacks Black Voters

Time Periods: 1865
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights

Marker erected in 1979.

On Nov. 3, 1874, deadly election “riots” took place in Barbour County, Alabama.

The White League, (a paramilitary group affiliated with the Democratic party) attacked African American voters at the polls in Eufaula and Spring Hill. Seven African Americans were killed and 70 others wounded.

More than 1,000 African Americans were driven away from the polls due to the violence of the white supremacist group.

As explained on the Encyclopedia of Alabama website,

On Election Day eve, there may have been as many as 1,000 or more Black men from Barbour County camping out on the outskirts of Eufaula; accounts citing figures vary. In addition, persistent but false rumors of an “invasion” of the city circulated within the white community.

Republican politicians and officials were thrown out of office, the league didn’t count the votes cast for Republican candidates, and the Democrats were declared as winners of the 1874 elections.

Similar events took place in Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

These riots, state sanctioned violence, voter suppression, and Democratic party controlled government signaled an end to the Reconstruction era.

For more information about this event, read Election Riots of 1874.

There is a historical marker. However, as noted by Clio,

This historical marker was erected by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission in 1979 and offers a disturbing interpretation of the violence perpetrated by white supremacists who launched a violent coup that allowed them to seize power through force rather than allow all voters to participate in the elections in 1874.

We encourage students and teachers in the area to advocate for a new, truthful marker as part of the Make Reconstruction History Visible student project.

Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction,” and find teaching resources on Reconstruction below.