RED 8 l 0,SIN MAR ASSCLa:TION
S' EPIU T THE .
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT
OF COLORED PEOPLE .
fao-n. aLa n I.To PrviS.c 1Joqn I ,&Il ,T Scr-v '
-0 FIFTH %VENUE NNW YORK
Price, 10 Cents
At the conclusion of the address on "The Negro Question,"
by Mr. Moorfield Storey, which appears in the following
pages, the Wisconsin Bar Association appointed a special
committee to consider it. This committee, headed by Chief
Justice (of the Supreme Court) John Bradley Winslow, sub-
mitted the following report:-
Your committee to whom was referred the address of Hon.
Moorfield Storey, with a view to having an expression from
this Association on the evils which were so graphically out-
lined in the address, have given the matter such attention as
the brief time at their disposal will allow. We have been
deeply impressed by Mr. Storey's address, and while we realize
that it is not possible to formulate an adequate program of
action at the spur of the moment, we are able nevertheless to
express, and do, while yet under the spell of our speaker's elo-
quence, hereby express our unqualified condemnation of mob
violence which has occurred and wherever it has occurred in
our land, towards the colored race. It is a time when all the
civilized world is profoundly shocked by the inhuman treat-
ment of the weak and suffering by the strong and brutal hand
of the oppressors. But we have to-day been told of things done
in our own midst to our colored fellow-citizens that are no less
barbaric than the heartrending treatment of the little peoples
of the world by their oppressors. We shall reap the whirlwind
if we continue to sow the wind, and as lawyers and judges
who are sworn to uphold and administer the law let us at
once pay heed to the solemn warning that the words of Mr.
Storey have sounded in our ears. The acts of violence to this
unfortunate race tend to make us indifferent to acts of violence
to other races and peoples. The fair name of more than one
American community within recent months has been indelibly
stained by these outbursts of race hatred and bigotry. It is
high time that we, the lawyers and judges, invoke the law and
suppress, so far as we may, the rule of the mob. We lawyers,
therefore, pledge ourselves to uphold and inculcate among our
fellow-citizens respect for the law, and respect for the legal
rights of all races of all members of our own community while
we are crying out against the wrongs of people and races upon
the other side of the Atlantic. We ask, Mr. Chairman, that a
place be made on the program of our meeting next year for a
report which we shall then endeavor to have ready, in which
we shall hope to give some adequate expression to our hatred
of that lawless disregard of the political and social rights of
the colored race, which has long disgraced us as a nation, and
suggest methods by which this.protest may be made more effec-
tual in the way of influencing public opinion throughout the
country on the subject.
------ --,-. --~----- ---
THE NEGRO QUESTION.
There are in this country to-day from ten to twelve
millions of native Americans entitled under the Con-
stitution and laws of the United States to every right
that any American citizen enjoys and protected against
hostile legislation in any State by the Fourteenth
Amendment. Yet all over the country their rights are
ignored and they are subjected to indignities of every
kind, simply because they are Negroes.
The Constitution expressly provides that the right of
citizens to vote "shall not be denied or abridged
. . on account of race, color or previous con-
dition of servitude." Yet in many States this pro-
vision is set at naught. The Negroes have felt the
murderous violence of the Ku Klux Klan, they have
seen brutality followed by fraud when elections were
carried by tissue-paper ballots, and the same results
accomplished later by "grandfather clauses" and
laws intended to enable election officers to reject
their votes. We need not enumerate the methods
for we all know that in the Southern States
the Negro vote has been and is suppressed. This is
admitted and justified by the Southern people.
Negroes are denied the protection which the law af-
fords the lives and property of other citizens. If only
charged with crime or even misdemeanor, they are at
the mercy of the mob and may be killed and tortured
with absolute impunity. In many States they cannot
obtain justice in the courts. At hotels, restaurants and
theatres they are not admitted or are given poor accom-
modation. In the public parks and public conveyances,
even in the public offices of the nation, they are set apart
from their fellow-citizens. The districts which they
occupy in cities are neglected by the authorities,
and of the money which the community devotes to edu-
cation, a very small fraction is allotted to them, so
that their schoolhouses and their teachers are grossly
inadequate. It is notorious that in many cities they are
wretchedly housed and charged unreasonable rents for
their abodes. Labor unions will not receive them as
members, and as non-union men they find it hard to get
employment. If in spite of every obstacle they gain
an education, they find door after door closed to them
which would have opened to receive them gladly had
their skins been white. The deliberate effort is made
to stamp them as inferior, to keep them "hewers of
wood and drawers of water," to deny them that oppor-
tunity to rise which America offers to every other citi-
zen or emigrant no matter how ignorant or how de-
graded. These are the unquestionable facts, and they
are not controverted.
Let me give you some testimony from the South. Says
the Atlanta Constitution:-
"We must be fair to the Negro. There is no use
in beating about the bush. We have not shown this
fairness in the past, nor are we showing it to-day,
either in justice before the laws, in facilities af-
forded for education, or in other directions."
Some years ago a Mississippi lawyer addressing the
Bar Association of that State said:-
"A Negro accused of a crime during the days of
slavery was dealt with more justly than he is to-
day? . It is next to an impossibility to con-
vict even upon the strongest evidence any white
man of a crime of violence upon the person of a
Negro . and the converse is equally true
that it is next to an impossibility to acquit a Negro
of any crime of violence where a white man is con-
and well did he add,
"We cannot either as individuals, as a country,
as a State, or as a nation continue to mete out one
kind of criminal justice to a poor man, a friendless
man, or a man of a different race, and another kind
of justice to a rich man, an influential man, or a
man of our own race without reaping the conse-
From the Vicksburg Herald come these words:-
"The Herald looks with no favor upon drafting
Southern Negroes at all, believing they should be
exempt in toto because they do not equally 'share
in the benefits of government.' To say that they
do is to take issue with the palpable truth. 'Taxa-
tion without representation,' the war-cry of the
Revolutionary wrong against Great Britain, was
not half so plain a wrong as requiring military
service from a class that is denied suffrage and
which lives under such discrimination of inferi-
ority as the 'Jim Crow' law and inferior school
equipment and service."
One might criticise such an utterance as intended to
encourage resistance to conscription by the Negroes,
or might imagine that the writer from these premises
would argue against the "wrong" which he recognizes.
Alas, no. His argument is that the wrong must be made
permanent and the conscription of Negroes abandoned
because it makes the wrong too apparent. He says,
"Drafting Negroes as soldiers is a gross travesty and
contradiction of the color-line creed," and rather than
abandon that creed he would deprive his country in
this terrible crisis of all the soldiers which twelve mill-
ions of people are ready and anxious to supply.
If we ask what is done for education, the report of
a careful investigation published by the Bureau of
Education in the Department of the Interior is melan-
choly reading. It gives the facts as to the 16 Southern
States, the District of Columbia and Missouri, in which
the population contains a considerable portion of Ne-
groes, and states that in 15 States and the District of
Columbia "for which salaries by race could be obtained"
the figures showed an expenditure of "$10.32 for each
white child and $2.89 for each colored child." The
conditions are even worse than these figures indicate,
for, as the report states, "the per capital expenditure
for Negro children is higher in the border States, where
the proportion of colored people is relatively small and
the proportion for colored high schools is better." The
more numerous the Negroes the smaller is the provision
for their education. A table in the report shows that
in the counties where the percentage of Negroes in the
population is less than 10 per cent., the per capital ex-
penditure for white and colored is nearly equal. It
evidently does not pay to maintain separate schools.
Where, however, the percentage of Negroes is between
50 and 75 per cent. the expenditure for the whites is
$12.53 per capital and for the colored $1.77, while where
the percentage exceeds 75 per cent. the expenditure for
the whites is $22.22 and for the Negroes only $1.78 per
The results may be imagined, and we cannot be sur-
prised at the testimony which the same report gives
from competent witnesses. I quote:-
"The supervisor of white elementary rural schools
in one of the States recently wrote concerning the
'I never visit one of these [Negro] schools with-
out feeling that we are wasting a large part of this
money and are neglecting a great opportunity. The
Negro schoolhouses are miserable beyond all de-
scription. They are usually without comfort, equip-
ment, proper lighting, or sanitation. Nearly all of
the Negroes of school age in the district are crowded
into these miserable structures during the short
term which the school runs. Most of the teachers
are absolutely untrained and have been given cer-
tificates by the county board, not because they have
passed the examination, but because it is necessary
to have some kind of a Negro teacher. Among the
Negro rural schools which I have visited, I have
found only one in which the highest class knew
the multiplication table.'
"A State superintendent writes:-
'There has never been any serious attempt in
this State to offer adequate educational facilities
for the colored race. The average length of the
term for the State is only four months; practically
all of the schools are taught in dilapidated churches,
which, of course, are not equipped with suitable
desks, blackboards, and the other essentials of a
school; practically all of the teachers are incompe-
tent, possessing little or no education and having
had no professional training whatever, except a
few weeks obtained in the summer schools; the
schools are generally overcrowded, some of them
having as many as 100 students to the teacher;
no attempt is made to do more than teach the chil-
dren to read, write, and figure, and these subjects
are learned very imperfectly.' "
But more dangerous and more wicked than neglect
is the barbarous cruelty of lynching. I need not revive
the figures of the past. What has happened within a
.year is enough. Since the United States entered the war
a careful investigation shows that 219 Negro men,
women and children have been killed and lynched by
mobs in addition to two white men, one of these being
Robert Prager. Four Negroes were lynched in Ala-
bama, 2 in Arkansas, 1 in Florida, 7 in Georgia, 1 in
Kentucky, 11 in Louisiana, 3 in Mississippi, 1 in North
Carolina, 2 in Oklahoma, 2 in South Carolina, 5 in
Tennessee, 9 in Texas, 3 in Virginia, 1 in West Virginia,
and I in Wyoming. In addition to these cases 175 men,
women and children were tortured, burned and killed
,at East St. Louis in July, 1917, and three Negroes were
killed by a mob at Chester, Pennsylvania, in September,
1917.* Since 1885 between 3,000 and 4,000 cases of lynch-
ing have been reported, and in only three instances does
investigation show that any lyncher was punished. In
two of these cases the victim of the mob was white. In
the third case, that of a particularly atrocious murder
of a Tennessee farmer and his two daughters, the lynch-
ers were two young and friendless white boys.
That you may realize what lynching is, let me give
you instances. Dyersburg in Tennessee is a prosperous
town of some 7,500 people, the county seat and a repre-
sentative community of the better class. In this town
on Sunday morning, December 2, in a lot the corner
of which adjoins the public square, and which is within
a stone's throw of two churches and the residences of
several ministers, as well as of the mayor of the town,
while the people of Dyersburg surrounded the scene,
watched all that occurred and approved, since no.
protest was made, a Negro was thus dealt with:
"The Negro was seated on the ground and a
buggy-axle driven into the ground between his legs.
His feet were chained together, with logging chains,
and he was tied with wire. A fire was built. Pokers.
and flat-irons were procured and heated in the fire.
It was thirty minutes before they were red-hot.
"His self-appointed executors burned his eyeballs.
with red-hot irons. When he opened his mouth
to cry for mercy a red-hot poker was rammed down
his gullet. Red-hot irons were placed on his feet,
back and body, until a hideous stench of burning
human flesh filled the Sabbath air of Dyersburg.
"Thousands of people witnessed this scene. They
had to be pushed back from the stake to which the
Negro was chained. Roof-tops, second-story win-
dows and porch-tops were filled with spectators.
Since this address was written, and between May 15 and June 2 last,
three colored men and one woman were lynched in Georgia for alleged com-
plicity in a murder, one has been lynched and his body burned in Tennessee,.
the whole colored population of the town being forced to witness the burning,
and a mother and her five sons have been shot to death in Texas on account
of an altercation between one of them and a white man, the woman's daugh--
ter also being fatally wounded.
Children were lifted to shoulders, that they might
behold the agony of the victim.
"A little distance away, in the public square,
the best citizens of the county supported the burn-
ing and torturing with their near-by presence."
The Memphis News-Scimitar thus describes the scene:
"Not a domino hid a face. Every one was un-
masked. Leaders were designated and assigned
their parts. Long before the mob reached the city
the public square was choked with humanity. All
waited patiently. Women, with babies, made them-
"At last the irons were hot.
"A red streak shot out; a poker in a brawny
hand was boring out one of the Negro's eyes. The
Negro bore the ordeal with courage, only'low moans
escaping him. Another poker was working like
an auger on the other orbit.
"Swish. Once, twice, three times a red hot iron
dug gaping places in Lation Scott's back and sides.
'Fetch a hotter one,' somebody said. The ex-
ecution went on.
"Now some one had another poker-jabbing its
fiery point into the ribs of the doomed black.
"Then rubbish was piled high about the agonized
body, squirming beneath its load.
"More and more wood and rubbish were fed the
fire, but at three o'clock Lation Scott was not dead.
Life finally fled at four o'clock.
"Women scarcely changed countenance as the
Negro's back was ironed with the hot brands. Even
the executioners maintained their poise in the face
of bloody creases left by the irons,-irons which
some housewife had been using.
"Three and a half hours were required to com-
plete the execution."
We cannot but wonder whether on that Sunday morn-
ing, in the shadow of the churches, any of the respectable
church-going citizens of Dyersburg who witnessed these
horrors remembered the immortal words, "Inasmuch as
ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least,
ye did it unto me."
At Estill Springs in Tennessee a Negro charged with
killing two white men was in like manner tortured and
burned alive. The Chattanooga Times thus describes
"Jim McIlherron, the Negro who shot and killed
Pierce Rodgers and Jesse Tigert, two white men,.
at Estill Springs, last Friday, and wounded Frank
Tigert, was tortured with a red-hot crowbar and
then burned to death here to-night at 7.40 by twelve
masked men. A crowd of approximately 2,000 per-
sons, among whom were women and children, wit-
nessed the burning.
"Mcllherron, who was badly wounded and unable
to walk, was carried to the scene of the murder,
where preparation for a funeral pyre was begun.
"The captors proceeded to a spot about a quarter
of a mile from the railroad station and prepared
the death fire. The crowd followed and remained
throughout the horrible proceedings. The Negro
was led to a hickory tree, to which they chained him.
After securing him to the tree a fire was laid. A
short distance away another fire was kindled, and
into it was put an iron bar to heat.
"When the bar became red hot a member of the
mob jabbed it toward the Negro's body. Crazed
with fright, the black grabbed hold of it, and as it
was pulled through his hands the atmosphere was
filled with the odor of burning flesh. This was
the first time the murderer gave evidence of his
will being broken. Scream after scream rent the
air. As the hot iron was applied to various parts
of his body his yells and cries for mercy could be
heard in the town.
"After torturing the Negro several minutes one
of the masked men poured coal oil on his feet and
trousers and applied a match to the pyre. As the
flames rose, enveloping the black's body, he begged
that he be shot. Yells of derision greeted his re-
quest. The angry flames consumed his clothing
and little blue blazes shot upward from his burning
hair before he lost consciousness."
The example to these lynchers was set in Memphis,
and I quote the following statement from Rt. Rev.
Thomas F. Gailor, Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee, a
Southern white man, who wrote in the Nashville
"I realize that it is futile to attempt by any writ-
ten word to stem the tide of what seems to be the
popular will; but a man can, at least, declare his
abhorrence of such atrocities.
"This kind of lynching seems to be becoming epi-
demic in our State. About two years ago a Negro
from Fayette County was lynched most barbarously
near Memphis, and parts of his body, according to
the newspapers, carried away as souvenirs. Many
citizens of Memphis protested, but they were ig-
nored. Last winter a Negro man near Memphis
was burned at the stake, gasoline was poured over
his body, and his head was cut off and taken through
the city streets as a trophy. Last fall a Negro was
burned to death in Dyersburg, and thousands of
white people stood by and gloated over his agonies.
And now, at Estill Springs, we have another burn-
ing, where the white men in charge first tortured
the miserable creature with a'red-hot iron, 'to
break his will,' while the victim, already shot nearly
to death, with one eye hanging out, screamed for
mercy, and a thousand white men, with hundreds
of women and children, looked on and were not
These details are revolting, and you may ask me why
I harrow you by reciting them. Because unless the
hideous horror of the disease is brought home to you,
you will not rouse yourselves to find the remedy.
The massacre of St. Louis is fresh in your memories,
and its horrors are well known at the South, as appears
by the article in the Greenville News, published at
Greenville, South Carolina, of all days on July 4,
1917, under the title "The Banner Lynching":-
"Twenty Negroes have been killed, three hundred
are injured, and more than one hundred and fifty
of their homes have been burned. This was the
work of a mob that showed no Negro mercy, that
did not stop to discriminate between the good and
the bad. All that could be caught were beaten, if
not slain, and battered into pulp. White women
caught Negro women and tore their clothes off, beat
them and ran them away. As the Negroes ran out
of their burning houses, fired by the mob, they were
shot down like dogs. One thousand five hundred
soldiers do not suffice to control the situation. Hun-
dreds of Negroes, many of them carrying babies, are
fleeing from their former homes. Five hundred of
the mob are in jail.
"The Memphis burning of a Negro at the stake,
the Abbeville lynching of Crawford, seem insignifi-
cant when compared with the East St. Louis sham-
bles, when the streets ran red with Negro blood,
when Negro women, innocent and unoffending, were
brutally beaten, when Negro men were shot down
for competing with white labor."
Pages could be filled with the agonizing details of
these and similar atrocities. The governors of Tennes-
see, Mississippi and Louisiana have been appealed to,
but have refused to act, pleading a lack of power. In
striking contrast has been the action taken by the Gov-
ernors of Kentucky and both Carolinas, but in spite of
their efforts the men who commit these crimes go free
like the men who confessed that they murdered Prager.
Coatesville in Pennsylvania, Springfield in Illinois the
home of Abraham Lincoln, have witnessed scenes
scarcely less atrocious, and, though the men who com-
mitted these hideous crimes were well known and were
in some cases indicted, not one was ever punished. The
juries refused to convict.
It is conceivable that in a country as large as ours
ruffians might be found so degraded and ferocious as to
commit these horrible crimes, but that no attempt should
be made to punish them, that respectable men and
women should look on and let their children witness
such horrors would be inconceivable were it not clearly
true. The great body of the community approves or
lynching would stop. Men justify their treatment of
the Negroes by saying that it is necessary "to preserve
their civilization," while the editor of the Little Rock
Daily News recently wrote that he considered white
men "just a little lower than the angels" and the Negro
"just a little higher than the brutes." What sort of
"civilization" do such actions reveal, and who are the
angels whom these white men so closely resemble?
The excuse that such things are done to prevent crimes.
against women is without foundation. Let me answer
it by Southern testimony. Dr. W. C. ,rng's of the
Louisiana State University says: "Not only is lynching
no preventive of crimes against women, but statistics
prove that only one time in four are such crimes the
cause of lynching. In 1915 only 16 per cent. of the
persons lynched were charged with crimes against wom-
anhood." I have emphasized the word "charged" for a
charge is easily made and often falsely, as figures
abundantly prove. In court the man who is charged
is presumed to be innocent. To the mob the charge is
proof of guilt.
The figures for 1917 abundantly confirm Dr.
"Rape and attempted rape................................. 11
Murder ................... ................................ 5
Assault and wounding.................................... 4
Robbery and theft ......................................... 6
White women (intimacy, annoying, striking, entering room,
etc.) ........................... ..................... 7
Race prejudice (refusing to give up farm, accidental killing).. 2
Opposing draft ..................................... ..... 1
Resisting arrest........................................... 1
Unreported ............................................ 4
Vagrancy, disputing ................................... 3
Killed by mobs.................. ............................ 17
No saner words on the subject have been uttered than
these which I quote from Henry Watterson:-
"Lynching should not be misconstrued. It is not
an effort to punish crime. It is a sport which has
as its excuse the fact that a crime, of greater or less
gravity, has been committed or is alleged. A lynch-
ing party rarely is made up of citizens indignant
at the law's delays or failures. It often is made
up of a mob bent upon diversion, and proceeding in
a mood of rather frolicsome ferocity, to have a
thoroughly good time. Lynchers are not persons
who strive from day to day toward social better-
ment. Neither are they always drunken ruffians.
Oftentimes they are ruffians wholly sober in so far
as alcoholic indulgence is concerned, but highly
stimulated by an opportunity to indulge in spec-
tacular murder when there is no fear that the next
grand jury will return murder indictments against
This is the situation which confronts this country.
We call it "The Negro problem," but it is not. The
Negroes did not come to this country as voluntary emi-
grants. We white men took them from their homes
and brought them here to be our slaves. We held them
in slavery for more than two centuries. We called
them "chattels," we refused them all the rights of men
and did our best to make them brutes. We were afraid
to let them learn and we kept them ignorant. Their
patience, their kindliness, their gentleness made all
this possible. Had they been less patient, slavery would
have perished at the outset.
During the Civil War waged, at least after 1863, to
free them, they showed a loyalty to their masters which
is without a parallel in history. They tilled the soil
and raised the crops which fed the Southern soldiers,
who were fighting to keep them slaves. To their pro-
tection these soldiers confided their wives and children,
and, as a leading Southern gentleman said to me, "There
was not a single case in which this trust was betrayed,"
adding with tears in his voice, "There never was a
better race than the Negroes." This shows how far
they were from brutes. There were in the Confederate
States nearly four million slaves, but, as Mr. Rhodes
says, they "made no move to rise." In the graphic
words of Henry Grady, "a thousand torches would have
disbanded the Southern army, but there was not one."
The Negroes had no voice in reconstruction, nor did
they propose or in any way help to carry the amend-
ments to the Constitution which secure their rights. We
forget that Andrew Johnson reconstructed the Southern
States on a white basis, and that legislatures of
white men chosen by white votes at once passed laws
which virtually re-established slavery. The amendments
were adopted to save the country from such a calamity
and to preserve forever the results of the war. The con-
temporary records abundantly establish these propo-
If in the first few years the Negroes made a foolish
use of their newly acquired power, they acted under
white leaders who led them wrong, and who were able
to do so, because the men to whom for four years they
had shown such unexampled loyalty refused to lead them
right. At the worst they acted as people act who are
ignorant and unfamiliar with the business of the gov-
ernment. Who had kept them so ignorant and so unpre-
pared to exercise their rights as men? Compare them
with the Bolsheviki, or even with the French in 1789,
and tell me that they suffer by the comparison. Com-
pare their worst follies with the deeds of the Ku Klux
Klan, or the atrocities of East St. Louis and Dyersburg,
and you must admit that we white men, who for cen-
turies have been civilized, can cast no stone against
What is there, then, in the Negro which justifies or
in any way excuses our treatment of his race? We
brought him here and we have governed him ever since.
The conditions which exist are of our own creation. We
have made the laws under which he lives; we administer
them. Save in a few States his vote is negligible. He
has no representative in Congress or in executive office.
He simply exists as God made him and as we have de-
graded him. While we deny these millions of men their
rights as citizens, we demand of them the fulfilment of
all the obligations of citizens. We tax their property,
and in this supreme crisis of the world's history we
demand their lives. Our conscription law recognizes
no distinction of color, and loyally they answer their
They do not hold back or plot against the government
as do the Sinn Feiners in Ireland, but now as always in
our history they have been as ready to fight for their
country as any white men. Let me give you the testi-
mony of their Southern white neighbors. It is from
the Charlotte (North Carolina) News that I quote:-
"It is the marvel of the South, as it ought to be
the admiration of the whole United States, that
when the colored man in the hard stages of the war,
through which we are beginning to pass, is being
put to the test, he is measuring up to the full
valuation of a citizen and a patriot. There has been
nothing wanting about him. In every activity to
which the mind of the country has been directed
since it was committed by its great President to
war, the Negro has fulfilled his obligation.
There has not only been a total absence of re-
sistance, but there has been, rather, a hearty re-
sponse to every appeal of the government, a thor-
ough fitting-in with every enterprise that had of
necessity to be founded, first of all, upon a spirit
of patriotism. These multiplied diversities need
not be enumerated. What the colored man has done
is made all the more glittering by what he has re-
fused to do. His efforts and activities speak in
terms of eloquence that become the despair of those
who seek to portray them."
And to these words I add from the Charleston News
and Courier the following:-
"The Negroes have met the first test admirably.
Both the drafted men and the Negro leaders of
South Carolina have earned the commendation of
them which is being freely voiced by white citizens
everywhere. The leaders have realized, as it was
hoped they would, that in a way their race is on
trial. Evidently they are determined that it shall
acquit itself well."
Is there nothing in all this which touches the con-
science of their countrymen, which appeals to their sense
of justice? I put the question to you: Does it touch your
It is a white man's problem which confronts us. The
fault is in us, not in our colored neighbors. It is our
senseless and wicked prejudice against our fellow-men
which is the root of all our troubles. The question is,
how can we make the white people of this country recog-
nize the rights which they themselves have given to
the Negro, how can we induce them to enforce the laws
which they themselves have made for his protection,
how persuade them to do him simple justice, how lead
them to allow him equal opportunity, to educate the
men of whose ignorance we complain, to set the Negro
an example of civilization and not of worse than medi-
aval brutality,--in a word, to help the Negro up and
not to beat him down. We can blame him for nothing,
for we are responsible for him and his situation. Can
we not make the American people feel how cruel, how
wicked, how cowardly is their treatment of men who
have never injured them, and who are in numbers and
resources so much weaker? This is the question on the
answer to which the future of this country in no small
measure depends. For the crime of establishing and
maintaining slavery the white people of this country
paid bitterly by the sufferings, losses and demoraliza-
M __ 1 -
tion entailed by four years of civil war. We may well
heed the words of Edmund Burke and "reflect seriously
on the possible consequences of keeping in the hearts
of your community a bank of discontent, every hour
accumulating, upon which every company of seditious
men may draw at pleasure."
When the Irish troops were brought to London by
James II., Macaulay tells us how they were regarded
by the English:-
"No man of English blood then regarded the abo-
riginal Irish as his countrymen. They did not be-
long to our branch of the great human family. They
were distinguished from us by more than one moral
and intellectual peculiarity. They had an aspect
of their own, a mother tongue of their own. . .
They were therefore foreigners; and of all foreign-
ers they were the most hated and despised; the most
hated, for they had during five centuries always
been our enemies; the most despised, for they were
our vanquished, enslaved, and despoiled enemies.
. The Irish were almost as rude as the sav-
ages of Labrador. [The Englishman] was a free-
man; the Irish were the hereditary serfs of his race.
He worshipped God after a pure and rational fash-
ion; the Irish were sunk in idolatry and super-
stition; . and he very complacently inferred
that he was naturally a being of a higher order than
the Irishman, . who were generally despised
in our island as both a stupid and cowardly people."
Could the most prejudiced white man use stronger
terms to paint the inferiority of his colored neighbor?
The Irish nation to-day is extremely prosperous, yet
the memory of ancient wrongs coupled with the desire
for greater political rights makes her a thorn in Eng-
land's side, when England needs the loyal support of
all her citizens. "England's extremity is Ireland's op-
portunity" in bitter truth. We may well bear this ex-
ample in mind, and remember how small a fraction of
the English Empire is the discontented part of Ireland,
and how much this small discontent costs. We may well
ask what is in store for us. If it cost us four years
of civil war to hold some three or four millions of ig-
norant Negroes in slavery, what may it not cost us to
trample upon the rights and feelings of twelve million
freemen, constantly gaining in numbers and education,
resources and self-respect! These are questions for me
and for you, as well as for every citizen of the United
States. What are you doing to answer them?
Men say that it is for the Southern States to deal
with the situation, and that we must not interfere. So
in 1850 they said that slavery was a Southern question
and that none but Southern men could understand or
deal with it. The Grand Army of the Republic living
and dead, the soldiers' monuments in every town, the
green graves in Southern and Northern land alike, bear
witness to the falsity of the claim, and prove that the
whole nation pays for the fault of any part. It was
the blood of white men which was drawn by the sword
to pay for the blood of black men drawn by the lash.
You may say that this is a rhetorical answer. Let us
turn to facts and figures. The Presidential election of
1916 stirred the country deeply, and we may take the
vote cast then to illustrate my point. Louisiana, Kansas
and Mississippi are each entitled to 8 representatives
in Congress, and must have therefore nearly equal pop-
ulations. Ignoring the votes of the small parties, the
people of Kansas cast 592,246 votes, the people of Loui-
siana 86,341 votes, the people of Mississippi 84,675.
More than half the people of the latter State are colored,
and the proportion is nearly as large in Louisiana.
South Carolina with 7 representatives cast 63,396 votes.
Arkansas with the same representation 160,296, while
Connecticut with only 5 representatives cast 206,300.
About 9,000 votes elected a representative from South
Carolina. A few more than 10,000 chose one in Lou-
isiana and Mississippi, if all the votes were cast for the
winning candidates, and as only 1,550 Republican votes
were cast in South Carolina, 4,253 in Mississippi and
6,466 in Louisiana, they do not seriously affect my point.
In Kansas about 74,030 persons on an average voted for
each representative, and the delegation was divided, 3
Republicans and 5 Democrats. Similar comparisons
might be made between other States with like results.
We should not perhaps be so greatly concerned if
these figures merely meant a lack of interest on the part
of the voters. Their significance lies in the fact that
there was in the Southern States no conflict, for the rea-
son that the Negro vote was suppressed. The Negroes
are counted as voters in determining how many repre-
sentatives the State shall have, but are not allowed to
cast their own votes, so that each Democrat votes for
himself and for one or more Negroes, and consequently
exercises a much larger influence in the choice of Presi-
dent and Congress than the voter in Wisconsin or Massa-
chusetts. In the latter States the voter casts one ballot,
in the Southern States he casts two or three in effect.
Remembering how small is the majority in the House of
Representatives, it is clear that the policy of the country
on all important questions like the incidence of taxation,
as well as the administration of the laws by which
the taxes are collected, is determined by men who cast.
votes which they have no right to cast. Men say that
"the South is in the saddle" and the political situation
which that phrase describes is due to the suppression of
the Negro vote. If the Negroes were not counted in the
basis of representation, or if they were allowed to vote
freely, this situation would not exist.
I am not concerned to consider whether the govern-
ment which rests on a South thus made "solid" is good
or bad. I dwell on the facts to make you see that the
suppression of the Negro vote does concern you. It
takes away a large fraction of your voting power, and
if you care whether the administration is in Republican
or Democratic hands, or if you think it possible that
cases may arise when issues must be decided which are
vital to the country, you must realize that a situation is
dangerous where large bodies of citizens can cast votes
to which they are not entitled,-when one man's vote
counts two or three times as much as another's.
How is it with the Southern States themselves? Ask
their wise men whether the present condition places
the fittest citizens in power, ask them what its effect
is on the political life of the community, and they will
tell you that it is bad. Do not rely on the statements
of men in office who owe their positions to the fact
that the Negroes cannot vote. They of course speak
well of the bridge which has carried them safely over.
Ask men who have retired and are disinterested spec-
tators, ask the men of affairs, ask the students of history,
and if they answer fairly they will tell you that where
there is only one party and no opposition in a free state,
its government will not continue to be good; that where
all great public questions are decided not upon their
merits but according to a single prejudice, they cannot
be decided wisely; and that where a whole community
combines to perpetrate or tolerate injustice upon any
class of citizens or even upon a single man, no citizen's
rights are safe, for every man's sense of justice is
blunted, and he who rides to power on one prejudice to-
day may be the victim of another prejudice to-morrow.
The attempt to punish Dreyfus for a crime he did not
commit, supported though it was by the highest officials
and the strongest influences in France, nearly overthrew
the republic. We may take warning from that lesson.
It is still as true as 'hen the ancient statesman uttered
it that "only that government is good where an injury
to the meanest citizen is regarded as an injury to the
The suppression of the Negro vote injures the whole
country, and we must all recognize this and insist that
no man shall cast the ballot which belongs to another,
and that the right of every citizen to cast his own vote
shall be secure.
Does not the lack of education concern us? Can a
country have a better asset than a body of well-educated
citizens? Have we such a superfluity of labor, is our
business future so assured, that we can afford to throw
away competent men? Even if men are only to be used
as soldiers, they need education to be good soldiers.
(1) They cannot sign their names.
(2) They cannot read their orders posted daily
on the bulletin-board in camp.
(3) They cannot read their manual of arms.
(4) They cannot read their letters or write home.
(5) They cannot understand the signals nor fol-
low the signal corps in time of battle.
We may well be ashamed to think that out of the many
thousand Negroes who are enlisted in our ranks and
ready to die for us "many cannot even write a letter to
their anxious mothers at home, so little training have
they had in the schools of their country."
As in the human body a diseased part infects the
whole, so in the body politic an ignorant and degraded
body of citizens is a menace to the State. Such a class
is bad company for its neighbors, its habitations are
breeding-places for pestilence which easily spreads from
the hovel to the palace, they are also sources of moral
infection which spreads even more readily, and they
offer retreats for criminals of every kind. They are in
fact the bases for hostile raids by enemies of the
The Report on Negro LEIIIa iliIfiI to which reference
has already been made well says:-
"However much the white and black millions may
differ, however serious may be the problems of sani-
tation and education developed by the Negroes, the
economic future of the South depends upon the ade-
quate training of the black as well as the white
workman of that section. The fertile soil, the mag-
nificent forests, the extensive mineral resources, and
the unharnessed waterfalls are awaiting the trained
mind and the skilled hand of both the white man
and the black man."
The open letter by the Southern University Race Com-
mission, from which the following passage is 'quoted,
has been called "the most clear-cut statement in favor
of the education of the Negroes that has been issued
by any body of Southern white men." It says:--
"The solution of all human problems ultimately
rests upon rightly directed education. In its last
analysis education simply means bringing forth all
the native capacities of the individual for the bene-
fit both of himself and of society. It is axiomatic
that a developed plant, animal, or man is far more
valuable to society than an undeveloped one. It is
likewise obvious that ignorance is the most fruitful
source of human ills. Furthermore it is as true
in a social as in a physical sense that a chain is no
stronger than its weakest link. The good results
thus far obtained, as shown by the Negro's progress
within recent years, prompt the commission to urge
the extension of his educational opportunities.
"The inadequate provision for the education of
the Negro is more than an injustice to him; it is an
injury to the white man. The South cannot realize
its destiny if one-third of its population is unde-
veloped and inefficient. For our common welfare
we must strive to cure disease wherever we find it,
strengthen whatever is weak, and develop all that is
undeveloped. The initial steps for increasing the
efficiency and usefulness of the Negro race must
necessarily be taken in the schoolroom."
There is no answer to the question which Carl Schurz
put to the Southern States,-
"How can you expect to succeed in competition with
neighboring communities if it is your policy to keep
your laborers ignorant and degraded when it is their
policy to educate and elevate theirs?"
We are all interested in the prosperity of every com-
munity in this country. Whatever helps one helps us
all. It is not-it cannot be-a question which does not
concern us whether education is given or denied to the
How is it with lynching? Does not this affect us all?
In the first place these horrors occur over a wide
area. Pennsylvania and Illinois have furnished hideous
examples as well as Georgia and Tennessee. While
such crimes as these go unpunished and therefore evi-
dently approved by public opinion, how can we denounce
the cruelties of Germany? How do you suppose such
things affect our country's reputation with really civil-
ized nations? You can answer this question for your-
selves if you will remember your boyish feelings about
the North American Indians, who never did anything
more cruel than these white Americans, or if you will
imagine hearing that such things had been done in
Turkey, or Russia, or by Germans in Belgium or Poland.
We must end these horrors at home before we can attack
What are we doing? From the President of the
United States down and by all great leaders of public
opinion silence is maintained. When Prager was hung
by the mob the Attorney-General of the United States
at once brought the case before the Cabinet, the whole
influence of the Administration was used to stir the
authorities of Illinois to action and they responded.
The prosecution failed because the jurymen did not
realize what they were doing, but it was made clear that
the Government condemned the act. When, however,
Dyersburg and Estill Springs stain our good name only
a few voices of little authority are raised in protest,
and no attempt is made to punish the criminals. Col-
lege festivals come and go, but what college president,
what orator at Commencement, takes the evil of lynch-
ing as his subject. The universal silence disgraces us
more than the acts themselves. The lynchers are ruf-
fians and act as such, but the silent statesmen, clergy-
men and scholars are the best men in the country.
If the effect on the country's good name is bad, what
think you is the effect on ourselves? What education
are the children getting whose mothers take them to
witness such barbarities, and whose fathers hold them
up that their view may be uninterrupted? These children
will govern this country in a few years, and how will
they govern it? A community so brutalized as those com-
munities must be where the men are thus tortured is a
bad neighbor. We do not let our little children torture
animals, for we know that the practice of cruelty de-
praves those who are guilty of it. Why are we silent
when whole communities are thus degraded? If they
were threatened with the destruction of property by
conflagration or flood, we should rush to help them.
Barbarism is a worse foe than flood or fire. It is a pesti-
lence whose spread is not recognized until it breaks out
in such horrors as that of East St. Louis. Should we
not help them to stay its ravages?
Cannot you realize that your own house is on fire?
Attorney-General Gregory in addressing the executive
committee of the American Bar Association in May
"We must set our faces against lawlessness within
our borders. Whatever we may say about the
causes for our entering this war, we know that one
of the principal reasons was the lawlessness of the
German nation-what they have done in Belgium,
and in Northern France, and what we have reason
to know they would do elsewhere. For us to toler-
ate lynching is to do the same thing that we are
condemning in the Germans. Lynch law is the
most cowardly of crimes.
"Invariably the victim is unarmed, while the men
who lynch are armed and large in numbers. It is
a deplorable thing under any circumstances, but
at this time above all others it creates an ex-
tremely dangerous condition. I invite your help
in meeting it.
"The two excuses usually given are that there are
no adequate laws and that the laws we have are
not properly enforced. The people of this country
must be given to understand that we have means
of protecting those in the field and those at home
and what is being done to accomplish that result.
"I urge you through such machinery as you see
fit to adopt to assist in getting before the people
of this country the facts that laws are now on the
statute books or will be within a few weeks which
will reasonably protect the interior defences of
our country, that an honest, adequate and earnest
force is dealing with this situation; and that unless
the hysteria which results in the lynching of men
is checked it will create a condition of lawlessness
from which we will suffer for a hundred years."
He had in mind the case of Prager, but what he said
applies with even greater force to the lynching of Ne-
groes, and it is absolutely true. Lawlessness is a dis-
ease which spreads rapidly and insidiously. You have
not forgotten the night-riders of Kentucky who terror-
ized large parts of the State and paralyzed the adminis-
tration of the law for a considerable time. Their efforts
were intended to prevent their neighbors from selling
tobacco at prices and to a customer that they did not
approve,-in a word, from exercising their unquestion-
able right to deal as they would with their own prop-
erty. You must remember also the trials at Indian-
apolis and Los Angeles which showed that the leaders
of labor unions had been engaged in a gigantic con-
spiracy to promote their objects by blowing up factories,
bridges, buildings and newspaper offices, causing enor-
mous damage to property and more terrible danger to
human life. You have not forgotten the case of Leo
Frank in Georgia taken from the State Prison and
lynched though he had been duly convicted and im-
prisoned according to law. The Georgia mob blamed
the Governor for commuting his sentence from death
to imprisonment and therefore killed Frank. The lynch-
ers were known and might have been prosecuted, but
they were set free, while the Governor who commuted
the sentence was threatened with being lynched him-
self. You read in the newspapers every little while that
some man has been tarred and feathered or otherwise
abused because he has not bought as many Liberty Bonds
as some of his neighbors think he ought to have bought.
Criticism of the Government is attended to-day with
great risks even in the courts, where extraordinary sen-
tences are imposed for the expression of unpopular
opinions. The mob is waiting in all these cases and,
ignorant of the facts, asserts its own standard of pa-
triotism or generosity, any deviation from which is
punished by death without trial.
When this war is over we know that contests between
employer and employee are certain, and the air is full
of wild claims made by the Bolsheviki and their con-
geners all over the world. Such periods of readjust-
ment as that which awaits this nation are always dan-
gerous, and if lynchers go unpunished we may find their
methods employed against the capitalists who excite
their wrath, the courts and the public officers who
stand in the way of what the mob of the moment de-
sires, and even counsel may share the fate of their
clients. Lawyers have never been very popular since
the days of Jack Cade, and many ruffians believe with
him that they should all be hanged. When the Mis-
souri Compromise was repealed, Charles Sumner warned
the Senate of the United States that they were sowing
dragon's teeth which in time would arise as armed
men. Four years of civil war proved him a true prophet.
We are repeating the sowing, and the crop is just as
sure. Believe me, the dangers which threaten our civil-
ization from lawlessness are greater and far more real
than any which Prussian soldiers can inflict.
I have come half across the continent to see if I
cannot make you realize the situation and stir some of
you at least to action. We are lawyers, who more than
any other men are bound to support the law. We under-
stand what lawlessness means and what its dangers
are. The men in the communities where lynchings
occur, who are silent, must confess either that they
approve the crimes or are too cowardly or too selfish
to make a public protest. The ruffians are essentially
weak--they are cowards, or they would not treat as they
do their helpless victims. Public opinion, the strongest
force in any country, once aroused and expressed would
stop these outrages. There is no man in this country,
North or South, in Massachusetts and Wisconsin as
well as in Louisiana or Mississippi, who is not bound
to help rouse this public opinion. If we are silent we
also must admit that we are cowardly or indifferent,
or that we approve. Either attitude should be impos-
sible. Let us speak out and keep speaking out until
our condemnation is felt by every community, and the
men who now commit these hideous barbarities learn
from what we say that this country cannot tolerate
them. The enforcement of the law by the constituted
authorities would frighten the perpetrators. Are they
afraid to do their duty? If so, the community must give
them courage or elect better men. If they dread the
loss of office, make them realize that the law-abiding
citizens have more votes than the criminal classes, and
that they will not forgive neglect of duty.
We are asking our Negro fellow-citizens to give their
lives to their country. Such arguments as I have quoted
from the Vicksburg Herald might well have made them
hesitate, but with cheerful readiness and loyalty they
have come forward at our call. They have been met
with jeers from many quarters, with insults, with the
suggestion from high officers that they should not ex-
ercise their legal rights for fear of exciting unjust race
prejudice, with proposals that they should serve as la-
borers and not as soldiers, but notwithstanding all these
things they have never failed or faltered. They are men
with feelings and ambitions like our own. Do you think
they do not realize the contrast between Houston and
East St. Louis? Of the occurrences at the latter the
Grand Jury after investigation said:-
"East St. Louis was visited by one of the worst
race riots in history, a siege of murder, brutality,
arson and other crimes, hitherto of such a loath-
some character as to challenge belief. After hear-
ing all evidence we believe the riots-at least the
occurrences which led up to them-were deliber-
At Houston no one who reads the evidence can doubt
that the Negroes were stung into action by great provo-
cation. Here are the comparative figures:-
17 white persons killed.
13 colored soldiers hanged.
41 colored soldiers imprisoned
4 colored soldiers imprisoned.
5 colored soldiers under sen-
tence of death; temporarily
reprieved by President.
40 colored soldiers on trial for
White policeman who caused the
riot not even indicted.
No white army officers tried.
East St. Louis
125 Negroes killed.
10 colored men imprisoned for
4 white men imprisoned four-
teen to fifteen years.
5 white men imprisoned five
11 white men imprisoned under
18 white men fined. One col-
ored man still on trial for
17 white men acquitted.
How does the contrast affect you? How must it affect
our colored fellow-citizens?
__ __P ___ _r
We owe it to them-we owe it to ourselves-that
while they are giving their lives abroad to make the
world safe for democracy we should do our part to make
this country safe for their kindred at home, or, to quote
a better phrase, we should "make America safe for
Upon me, upon all of you, rests the clear duty of
helping create the public opinion which will accomplish
this end. The time has been when in Wisconsin regard
for human rights and determination that they should
be respected animated this people, when they followed
leaders who really believed in the principles proclaimed
in the Declaration of Independence, when in their zeal
they even defied the Supreme Court of the United States.
May I express the hope that this faith is not dead and
that the cause which I am advocating may find here
leaders and friends?