This Day in History

Sept. 4, 1875: Clinton, Mississippi Massacre

Time Periods: 1865
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity

Clinton Massacre | Zinn Education Project

The Reconstruction era Clinton Massacre began on Sept. 4, 1875, in the small town of Clinton, Mississippi at a Republican rally to introduce the party’s candidates who were running for political office in the upcoming November elections. The immediate death toll included five African American and three white men. Over the next several days, an estimated fifty African Americans were killed.

Over 1,500 black Republicans and their families gathered on the grounds of the former Moss Hill plantation for a barbecue and political rally. Approximately 100 whites also attended, including a few Democrats from the nearby town of Raymond.

While a Republican was giving a speech, shots were fired. When the gunfire ended, a total of five African Americans, including two children, and three white people were dead, and nearly thirty others were wounded.

The following days were marked by violence and bloodshed as the white mob indiscriminately shot and killed nearly fifty African Americans in Clinton and the surrounding area. In addition, the white mob murdered a white school teacher working in the African American community.

Although Governor Ames requested federal troops to assist in restoring order, President Ulysses Grant denied the request on September 14 and adopted a policy of non-intervention, leaving Ames and the local Black and white Republicans without protection.

Description above from by Sheren Sanders, Alcorn State University.

Learn more from the detailed account in Clinton Riot of 1875: From Riot to Massacre (Mississippi Historical Society). The article includes testimonies from the time and recent efforts by the town to recognize and teach about the history. Also, see Clinton Massacre Leaves More Than 20 Blacks Dead in Mississippi (Equal Justice Initiative.)

Teach about the Reconstruction era and the long history of the struggle for voting rights with the resources listed below.

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.