Clinton is a city with a rich history of influence on Mississippi politics. Many events and people that helped shape our state have significant ties to the city. One such event was the Clinton Riot of 1875 that became a catalyst for ending Reconstruction in Mississippi.
For years, varying accounts of the riot have been passed down from generation to generation in homes and classrooms alike. Over the years many efforts have been made to chronicle and memorialize the event and its role in Mississippi history. Two important components to this important story have been missing for some time. First, was the absence of a historical marker in the city to commemorate the Riot of 1875. Second, a comprehensive record of the riot that included the stories of all those involved: bystanders, press, victims and perpetrators.
Through the work of local historians, both of these issues have been resolved and a significant portion of Clinton’s history has been preserved for future generations.
Working with the city of Clinton’s History Committee, the historians, led by Dr. Walter Howell developed a historical marker recognizing the event and historical significance.
Additionally, through research, interviews with descendants, and hours of dialogue, the historians compiled a clear account of the event that takes into account the stories of blacks and whites involved in the Riot of 1875, or otherwise referred to as the events of Moss Hill.
On September 3-4, 2015, the city of Clinton hosted two events in commemoration of the Riot of 1875 with placement of a new Historical Marker, including dramatic readings of “voices” of the Clinton Riot, and a symposium on history and race relations.
On Friday, September 4, 2015 the city unveiled the historical marker with a ceremony and dramatic reading of historical accounts from the riot as well as the reading of the names of those lost in the ensuing violence of the riot of 1875. Voices of the Clinton riot includes firsthand accounts taken from, congressional reports, newspaper editorials, diaries and other written sources, accounts include Charles Caldwell, a prominent African-American political leader, and George Harper editor of the Hinds County Gazette.