Microfilm Reel 285, File 543, "Lynching"

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All the microfilm scans from the file number 543, "Lynching," on reel 285 from the Executive Office files of the Woodrow Wilson Papers, series 4 in the Library of Congress finding aid.

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WALLING, William English New London, Conn.

July 3. 1917.

As a member of the Board of Directers of the National Association of Colored People protests against the outrages incident to the East St. Louis (ILL.) Anti Negro Riots. Wants federal protection for the negroes

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MILLER, Kelly Howard University, Washington, D. C.

Aug. 4. 1917.

Re East St. Louis riots. Writes at length on the abuses and persecutions to which the Negro race has been subjected in the United States. Cites instances of their loyalty in the past and assures the President that they are no less patriotic now. Suggests as a patriotic and military necessity, that the President ask the Congress to invest him with the power to prevent lynching and to quell lawlessness and violence in all parts of the country during the continuance of the war.

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The President, Washington, D. C.

Sir:

We members of the Executive Committee of the Negro Silent Protest Parade have had the honor of presenting you through your Secretary a petition praying the suppression of lynching and its kindred ills.

We now request you to make a public utterance that will assure twelve million colored children, women, and men whose wrongs cry to heaven for justice, that your great and far reaching influence will be exerted to prevent their color from militating against their ability or proving a barrier to their advancement; that you will use your powers and as far as you can, the forces of the Government to bring the perpetrators of the crimes of lynching, burning, and arson to justice: and urge Congress to cleanse the "damned spot" from the fair hands of America by making lynching a Federal crime.

We further pray that God’s blessing will rest upon this Country, and bring us out of this death struggle for human rights a strong, pure, and chastened nation.

Dated New York, August 14, 1917.

F. A. Cullen Mme. C. J. Walker S. M. B. Casey Chas. D. Martin. Secy.

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Feb. 15, 1918. [Akgd 2/16/18]

His Excellency, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, White House, Washington, D. C.

My dear Mr. President:

The colored people, as you know, are doing everything that their leaders advise to aid in this great crisis which has come to the nation. Those of us, who are not in the army are preaching the doctrine of loyalty and patriotism from the pulpits, behind the closed doors of secret organizations, in our homes and in the columns of our newspapers.

The recent unfortunate and unlawful burning of a colored man in the state of Tennessee the other day makes our work difficult among the masses. While the thoughtful and intelligent leaders of the race know that the Federal Government cannot interfere and therefore has no supervision over the state in such a case as this, nevertheless, we feel if the President in a time like this would make sone public statement comdemning mob and lynch law, it would have a very wholesome and determining effect upon the ten or more millions of colored Americans. And we are asking in the name of the Colored Division of the Maryland Council of Defense, a body commissioned by the Governor of the State, if consistent with the public good, that you will cause some expression to be made in order to strengthen the hands of those who have implicit confidence in your management of the affairs of the nation.

Very respectfully, Ernest LYON, Chairman.

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THE WHITE HOUSE FEB 19 1918 RECEIVED

Ackgd 2/19/18

February 18. 1918.

Mr. Joseph P. Tumulty, Secretary to the President, Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C.

Dear Sir:

I am in receipt of yours of February 14 informing us that the President had referred to the Attorney General our appeal for a word of condemnation of the torturing and burning at Estill Springs, Tenn., of a colored man accused of murder. This morning we have a letter from the Attorney General, by William C. Fitts, Assistant Attorney General, informing us that "under the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Federal Government has absolutely no jurisdiction over matters of this kind; nor are they connected with the war in any such way as to justify the action of the Federal Government under the war power."

On February 15 we telegraphed Governor Rye of Tennessee, a copy of which is attached. On the 14th Covernor Rye is reported in the Knoxville Journal and Tribune and other Tennessee papers as saying that he did not know what authority he had in the matter. No reply or acknowledgment of our appeal to the Governor of Tennessee has yet been made.

In view of this statement of the Attorney General and the silence of the Governor of Tennessee, we beg you to lay this matter again before the President lest the laws be flouted and justice denied. A statement from the President at this time, if he would be disposed to make it, would have a tremendously stimulating effect on the morale of the colored people whose sons are preparing to give their lives for America and who in sadness of heart and some disturbance of mind are looking apprehensively toward Tennessee to see whether in our own nation law or mob violence is to be supreme.

The President's inspiring moral leadership as a man, no

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