Primary Resource

"The Danville Riot," Richmond Dispatch (November 4, 1883)

In "The Riot in Danville," published on November 4, 1883, the Richmond Dispatch reports on racial violence in Danville that left at least five people dead.

Transcription from Original

The Danville Riot.

We this morning furnish our readers not only the particulars of the riot which took place in Danville yesterday, but as far as we could learn it, the feeling of the people of the State in regard to it. It is deplorable that such an issue should have been forced upon the white people of any town; but it must be added that the white men of Danville seem to have forborne the defence of their rights until forbearance had ceased to be a virtue. They acted when compelled to act; not before. Nobody can blame them for striking when no other course was open to them.

Every white man's blood was boiled when he read of the indignities to which the whites of Danville had for some time been subjected by the negroes there. These negroes had evidently come to regard themselves as in some sort the rightful rulers of the town. They have been taught a lesson—a dear lesson, it is true; for the whites did not come out of the conflict without the smell of fire upon their garments—but nevertheless a lesson which will not be lost upon them, nor upon their race elsewhere in Virginia.

It is difficult to restrain the utterance of the exasperated feelings which find a place in every true white man's breast when writing of such a conflict between whites and blacks as that which took place yesterday at Danville. The temptation to make inflammatory appeals is great. Nevertheless, we let the facts speak for themselves for the present. It is best to err if at all up on the side of forbearance. Perhaps the riot at Danville may present riots at other places. Perhaps the troubles of yesterday may stave off troubles on the day after to-morrow [Election Day]. Perhaps the blood shed there may save a much greater flow of it elsewhere. It depends upon the negroes themselves. One thing is certain, and they may as well understand it now as later, and that is, that the white people of Virginia do not intend to hold their rights at the will of the negroes.