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Extraordinary Isolation? Woodrow Wilson and the Civil Rights Movement

  • Nicholas F. Jacobs (a1) and Sidney M. Milkis (a1)
Abstract

This article explores the contentious and dynamic relationship between Woodrow Wilson and a nascent, diverse civil rights movement from 1912 to 1919. The pivotal relationship between Wilson and the early civil rights movement emerged out of two concurrent and related political developments: the increasing centrality of presidential administration in the constitutional order and the growing national aspirations of political strategies and goals among reform activists. Not only do we illustrate an early form of social movement politics that was largely antithetical to the administration's objectives, but we also trace how the strategies adopted by civil rights leaders were contingent on an early, still-to-be institutionalized administrative presidency. We highlight Wilson's involvement in the racial unrest that emerged from the debut of the film The Birth of a Nation and in the race riots that accompanied the Great Migration and World War I in his second term. These early twentieth-century episodes legitimized a form of collective action and helped to recast the modern presidency as an institution that both collaborated and competed with social movement organizations to control the timing and conditions of change.

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Email: nfjacobs@virginia.edu
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1. Tulis, Jeffrey K., The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Ceaser, James W., Presidential Selection: Theory and Development (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979); Hofstadter, Richard, The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It (New York: Random House, 1989; first published by Knopf, 1949; ); McDonald, Forrest, The American Presidency: An Intellectual History (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1994); Cooper, John Milton Jr., Woodrow Wilson: A Biography (New York: Vintage Books, 2011); Arnold, Peri, Remaking the Presidency: Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, 1901–1916 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009).

2. Sidney M. Milkis and Daniel Tichenor, Rivalry and Reform: Presidents, Social Movements and the Transformation of American Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming).

3. Skowronek, Stephen, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative Capacities (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

4. Milkis and Tichenor, Rivalry and Reform.

5. Wilson, John, Introduction to Social Movements (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 8 (emphasis added).

6. Wilson, Woodrow, “The Study of Administration,” Political Science Quarterly 2 (1887): 197222 .

7. Croly, Herbert, The Promise of American Life (New York: Dutton, 1963; first published 1909).

8. Hornsby, Alton Jr., ed., A Companion to African American History (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008); Brown, David and Webb, Clive, Race in the American South: From Slavery to Civil Rights (Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 2007); Logan, Rayford, The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877–1901 (New York: Dial Press, 1954).

9. Riley, Russell, The Presidency and the Politics of Racial Equality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); Sanders, Elizabeth, “Presidents and Social Movements: A Logic and Preliminary Results,” in Formative Acts: American Politics in the Making, ed. Skowronek, Stephen and Glassman, Matthew, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

10. Diani, Mario, “The Concept of Social Movement,” The Sociological Review 40, no. 1 (1992): 13; Tilly, Charles, Social Movements, 1768–2004 (New York: Routledge, 2004), 4.

11. Tilly, Charles, “Social Movements and National Politics,” in State-Making and Social Movements: Essays in History and Theory, ed. Bright, Charles and Harding, Susan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984), 306.

12. Skowronek, Stephen, The Politics Presidents Make: Leadership from John Adams to Bill Clinton (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1997), 2728 .

13. Arnold, Remaking the Presidency. Arnold writes that FDR's second term, particularly the creation of the Brownlow Committee and the enactment of the 1939 Executive Reorganization Act, marked the point that “the progressive presidency's asymmetry between large responsibilities and few resources was ending and the modern presidency was beginning” (p. 207). We agree, as noted in the conclusion, that FDR's institutional reforms consolidated modern executive power, but many critical features of the reconstituted presidency, including a contentious but critical relationship with social movement organizations, began during the Progressive Era.

14. Milkis, Sidney M., Tichenor, Daniel J., and Blessing, Laura, “Rallying Force: The Modern Presidency, Social Movements, and the Transformation of American Politics,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 43 (2013): 641–70.

15. Lowi, Theodore, The Personal President: Power Invested, Promise Unfulfilled (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985), 41.

16. Cornwell, Elmer B., Presidential Leadership and Public Opinion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965), 10.

17. Arnesen, Eric, “Reconsidering the ‘Long Civil Rights Movement,’Historically Speaking 10, no. 2 (2009): 265–88.

18. Miroff, Bruce, “Presidential Leverage over Social Movements: The Johnson White House and Civil Rights,” Journal of Politics 43, no. 1 (February 1981): 123 .

19. Lunardini, Christine A., From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party, 1910–1928 (New York: New York University Press, 2000); Tichenor, Daniel, “The Presidency, Social Movements, and Contentious Change,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 29, no. 1 (1999): 1425 ; Stone, Geoffrey, “Mr. Wilson's First Amendment,” in Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson, ed. Cooper, John Milton Jr. (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008).

20. Francis, Megan Ming, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

21. David Levering Lewis, “Civil Rights [Mis]Calculations: Woodrow Wilson and the African American Leadership” (paper presented at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Symposium “1912: An Election to Remember,” Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA, September 14, 2012).

22. To write about Wilson's record on race is to recognize that much of what is currently “known” about Wilson is often apocryphal. For example, both Francis and Lewis embellish their arguments about the tension between the White House and civil rights leaders by referencing Wilson's infamous endorsement of the film: “It is like writing history with lightening. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” However, historians have long noted this common error and continue to trace the development of this quotation and its use in popular and academic accounts. See especially, Benbow, Mark E., “Birth of a Quotation: Woodrow Wilson and ‘Like Writing History with Lightning,” Journal of the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era 9, no. 4 (2010): 509–33; Lennig, Arthur, “Myth and Fact: The Reception of ‘The Birth of a Nation,’Film History 16, no. 2 (2004): 117–41.

23. See especially, Gerstle, Gary, “Race and Nation in the Thought and Politics of Woodrow Wilson,” in Reconsidering Woodrow Wilson, ed. Cooper, John Milton Jr. (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2008), 93124 ; Skowronek, Stephen, “The Reassociation of Ideas and Purposes: Racism, Liberalism, and the American Political Tradition,” American Political Science Review 100 (2006): 385401 .

24. Kilson, Martin, Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia, 1880–2012 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014); Alridge, Derrick P., The Educational Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Intellectual History (New York: Teachers College Press, 2008); Moses, Wilson J., Conflict in African American Thought: Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

25. Sherman, Richard B., The Republican Party and Black America from McKinley to Hoover, 1896–1933 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1973); Calhoun, Charles W., Conceiving a New Republic: The Republican Party and the Southern Question, 1869–1900 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2006).

26. Wilson, Woodrow, Constitutional Government in the United States (New York: Columbia University, 1908), 93.

27. As Bruce Miroff so aptly described in his history of LBJ and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, from “the standpoint of presidential politics, what is distinctive—and troublesome about social movements is their preference for mass mobilization over elite negotiations, their propensity to confront issues directly rather than exerting pressure through Washington lobbying, and their desire for public attention and controversy rather than quiet coalition-building.” Miroff, “Presidential Leverage over Social Movements,” 5.

28. “Editorial,” The Crisis, November 1910, 11.

29. Gould, Lewis L., Four Hats in the Ring: The 1912 Election and the Birth of Modern American Politics (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2008); Milkis, Sidney M., Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2009); Eisenach, Eldon, Review, Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, Perspectives on Politics 8 (2010): 368–69.

30. Wilson, Woodrow, “Liberty: An Address at Hampton Institute,” January 31, 1897, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 10, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 127–34.

31. In seeking to advance the cause of racial equality through economic progress and by building parallel and segregated institutions in the black community, Washington believed that the route of gradual persuasion offered better hope of racial progress than strategies of confrontation; see Gerstle, “Race and Nation,” 106.

32. Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt.

33. W. E. B. Du Bois to Oswald Garrison Villard, October 18, 1946, W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, Series 1: Correspondence, Box 112, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

34. Milkis et al., “Rallying Force.”

35. Villard, Oswald Garrison, Fighting Years: Memoirs of a Liberal Editor (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1939), 223.

36. Woodrow Wilson to Alexander Walters, October 16, 1912, W. E. B. Du Bois Papers, Series 1: Correspondence, Box 112, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

37. For Walters's work in helping to expand the Democratic Party, Wilson would later offer Walters the post of minister to Liberia in September, 1915—a position Walters would decline in order to continue his work in the church. See Walters, Alexander, My Life and Work (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1917), p. 196.

38. “Few to Get Offices,” Washington Post, March 26, 1913; “Merit Guides Wilson in Filling Offices,” New York Times, March 11, 1913.

39. “Democrats Are Uneasy,” Afro-American, April 26, 1913.

40. See Wilson, Woodrow to McAdoo, William Gibbs, June 27, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 1011 ; McAdoo, William Gibbs to Wilson, Woodrow, July 1, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 20; McAdoo, William Gibbs to Wilson, Woodrow, July 18, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 4041 ; “Patterson's Case Discussed by Senator Gore with President Wilson,” Washington Post, July 29, 1913, p. 3; “Drops Negro as Candidate,” New York Times, August 3, 1913.

41. “Wilson Names a Colored Man,” Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1913; see also, “Fight Negro for Register,” New York Times, July 27, 1913.

42. “War on ‘Favorites,’” Washington Post, July 26, 1913; “Revolt on Patterson,” Washington Post, July 27, 1913.

43. “Senate May Not Confirm Patterson,” Afro-American, August 2, 1913, p. 1.

44. “Patterson Shows White Feather,” Afro-American, August 9, 1913, p. 1.

45. Wood, Robert N. to Wilson, Woodrow, August 5, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 27, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 115.

46. “What Caused the Fall of Adam?” Afro-American, August 16, 1913, p. 4.

47. Yellin, Eric S., Racism in the Nation's Service: Government Workers and the Color Line in Woodrow Wilson's America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013), 102103 .

48. “Calls Lynching Best,” Washington Post, August 7, 1913, p. 2.

49. Wilson uses the analogy of a conductor and a choir in a speech titled, Abraham Lincoln: A Man of the People,” February 12, 1909, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 10, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 127–34.

50. Villard, Oswald Garrison to Wilson, Woodrow, September 18, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 289–90.

51. Moorefield Storey to Oswald Garrison Villard, September 25, 1913, NAACP Papers, Library of Congress.

52. Villard, Oswald Garrison to Wilson, Woodrow, September 29, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 342–44.

53. Wesley Lisey Jones, a Republican senator from Washington State sent Wilson the petition on September 29.

54. Gavit, John Palmer to Villard, Oswald Garrison, October 1, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 348–50. Gavit would continue to suggest that, “When the Republicans were in power, it was necessary for them to pretend, at least, that they held to the first view of the negro's position; they needed his vote in a number of the big doubtful states… . In point of fact, the extent to which “segregation” has been actually attempted has been much exaggerated. Even Miss Nerney's report, the accuracy of which I assume, confirms me in this.”

55. Wilson, Woodrow to Villard, Oswald Garrison, October 3, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 352–53.

56. Wilson, Woodrow to Villard, Oswald Garrison, August 29, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 245.

57. Nerney, May Childs to Villard, Oswald Garrison, September 30, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 402.

58. Villard, Oswald Garrison to Wilson, Woodrow, October 14, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 401.

59. Wilson, Woodrow to Villard, Oswald Garrison, October 17, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 413–14.

60. McAdoo, William Gibbs to Villard, Oswald Garrison, October 27, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 453–55.

61. “Denied by M'Adoo,” Washington Post, October 28, 1913, p. 1.

62. “Reviving the Abolition Spirit,” Afro-American, October 25, 1913, p. 1.

63. Wilson's Reply and a Dialogue, November 6, 1913, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 496500 .

64. “Independent Political League Makes Protest,” Afro-American, November 22, 1913.

65. “President's Intention to Investigate Alleged Wrongdoing Commended,” Afro-American, November 29, 1913.

66. “Independent Political League Makes Protest,” Boston Guardian, November 15, 1913. Cited in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 28, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 498.

67. From Storey, Moorefield and Others, January 6, 1914, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 29, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 105.

68. See the February 1914 edition of The Crisis for a summary report of various news organizations.

69. “Has the President Been Deceived?” Afro-American, January 24, 1914. See also “Segregation is Checked,” Afro-American, March 21, 1914.

70. See the exchange between Wilson and Trotter in An Address to the President by William Monroe Trotter,” November 12, 1914, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 31, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 298309 .

71. Ibid., 300.

72. Ibid., 305.

73. Ibid.

74. Ibid.

75. Milkis, Sidney M. and Tichenor, Daniel J., “Reform's Mating Dance: Presidents, Social Movements and Racial Realignments,” Journal of Policy History 23 (2011): 451–90.

76. Thomas Dixon, Jr. to Woodrow Wilson, July 2, 1913, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress. See also White House Memorandum, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

77. Woodrow Wilson to Thomas Thacher, April 30, 1915, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

78. Wilson, Woodrow, A History of the American People: Reunion and Nationalization, vol. 5. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1902), 6475 .

79. As Dixon would recount in his memoirs, Southern Horizons, he was disappointed that the film could not be shown in a movie theater in Washington, DC, as part of the silent film's cinematic spectacle came from a massive orchestra accompanying the film; no doubt, a public outing from a president still in official mourning over the death of his wife to attend a movie premier would have added to the film's publicity.

80. Thomas Dixon to Joseph Patrick Tumulty, May 1, 1915, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress (emphasis in original).

81. “News and Gossip of the Stage,” Washington Post, February 21, 1915, SM2.

82. Link, Arthur S., Wilson and the New Freedom (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956).

83. D. W. Griffith to Woodrow Wilson, March 2, 1915. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

84. Woodrow Wilson to D. W. Griffith, March 5, 1915. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

85. All of these newspaper accounts come from clippings Dixon sent Wilson on March 5, 1915—two days after the New York premier.

86. “‘The Birth of a Nation’ Master Work Says Dorothy Dix,” Dix Review, March 5, 1915.

87. Original letters, excerpts, and attachments, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

88. “Applause for Mr. Griffith,” Boston Globe, April 10, 1915 (morning edition), 2.

89. “Why ‘The Birth of a Nation’ Is Shown,” Boston Globe, April 9, 1915 (morning edition), 15.

90. “Race Riot at Theater,” Washington Post, April 18, 1915, p. 2; “Birth of Nation Causes Near-Riot,” Boston Sunday Globe, April 18, 1915, p. 1; “Boston Race Leaders Fight Birth of a Nation,” Chicago Defender, April 24, 1915, p. 4.

91. “Birth of Nation Causes Near-Riot,” p. 1.

92. Ibid., 3.

93. Wilson, Woodrow to Tumulty, , April 24, 1915, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 33, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978). The dictated message originally reads “Tucker,” which is almost certainly an error on the typist's part.

94. Edward Douglass White, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, was the first to bring these rumors to the White House's attention on April 5. White's name had been used as a word-of-mouth endorsement of the film, and he suggested to an acquaintance that, “if the owners were wise they would stop the rumors,” lest he denounce the film publicly. Other reports of this rumor came from members of the White House Correspondents Association, forwarding letters from their respective readers as to the president's true feelings. See White House Correspondents’ Association to Joseph Tumulty, April 20, 1915. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

95. See the internal, White House Correspondence between Tumulty and Wilson. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

96. See reprinted responses to W. H. Lewis and Alexander Walters in The Crisis, June 1915. For Walter's original letter to Wilson, see Alexander Walters (National Democratic Colored League) to Woodrow Wilson, April 30, 1915, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, Library of Congress.

97. One of the major African American dailies, the Chicago Defender provided exhaustive coverage of these protests across the United States and into Canada. In no less than thirty-three major American cities did the Defender report instances of citizen protest—from May 1915 in Detroit to June 1916 in Pensacola, Florida. Many were unsuccessful, although some citizen groups managed to cut some of the most vitriolic scenes from the film. However, the film was banned—albeit temporarily—from production in Chicago (the next stop after the Boston premiers). The Defender also reports instances of “extralegal” protest: Reels of the film were destroyed in Mason City, Iowa, in December 1915, and large demonstrations turned into episodic violence when the film premiered in Philadelphia that September of the same year. The Defender's own view of its role in perpetuating the fight is most clearly evoked in an editorial in the September 11, 1915, edition, p. 8.

98. Fighting a Vicious Film: Protest against “The Birth of a Nation” (Boston, MA: Boston Branch of the NAACP, Library of Congress Collection of Books by Colored Authors, Rare Book Collection, 1915), 29.

99. “Fifty-Fifty in Presidential Race,” Afro-American, September 2, 1916, p. 1.

100. The Crisis, October 1916. See also, “A Negro Party,” Afro-American, October 7, 1916, p. 4.

101. “The Great Question,” Afro-American, November 18, 1916, p. 4.

102. Sanders, “Presidents and Social Movements,” 224.

103. Dudziak, Mary L., Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000).

104. Astor, Gerald, The Right to Fight: A History of African-Americans in the Military (Darby, PA: Diane, 1998); Barbeau, Arthur E. and Henri, Florette, The Unknown Soldiers: African-American Troops in WWI (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1996).

105. The term total war applied in part to the Civil War. But with the development of the modern state, war became an instrument of national policy that mobilized the society's entire population and resources for prolonged conflict. See Corwin, Edward, Total War and the Constitution (New York: Knopf, 1947).

106. “Memphis or East St. Louis?” The Crisis, July 1917, p. 114.

107. “Defense Board Warned against Negro Influx,” Chicago Tribune, July 1, 1917, p. 13; See also “Labor Rivalry behind Trouble Leading to Riot,” Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1917, p. 2. Both these reports are in response to sporadic outbreaks of violence that had hit the city in the previous month.

108. “Race Rioters Fire East St. Louis and Shoot or Hang Many Negroes,” New York Times, July 3, 1917. See also “Labor Rivalry Behind Trouble Leading to Riot,” Chicago Tribune, July 3, 1917; “Mob Shoots and Burns Negroes by Scores in East St. Louis Riots,” Washington Post, July 3, 1917; “The Riot in East St. Louis,” The Crisis, August 1917.

109. Wilson, Woodrow to Gregory, Thomas Watt, July 7, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 297–98.

110. Capper, Arthur to Wilson, Woodrow, July 6, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 112. For Wilson's response, see Wilson, Woodrow to Capper, Arthur, July 8, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 123.

111. See Tumulty, Joseph Patrick to Wilson, Woodrow, July 10, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 139.

112. Dyer, Leonidas Carstarphen to Wilson, Woodrow, July 20, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 112.

113. “Negroes in ‘Silent’ Race Riot Protest,” Washington Post, July 29, 1917, p. 10.

114. “Joseph Patrick Tumulty to Governor Frank Orren, with Enclosures (August 1, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Arthur S. Link (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 342.”

115. Tumulty, Joseph Patrick to Wilson, Woodrow, August 1, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 342–43.

116. New York Globe, August 7, 1917. This clipping is attached to the letter Cosey sent Wilson on August 9, 1917, Woodrow Wilson Papers, Reel 230, Library of Congress.

117. “Wilson Pledge to Negroes,” Washington Post, August 17, 1917, p. 2.

118. Gregory, Thomas Watt to Wilson, Woodrow. July 27, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 43, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 298.

119. Wilson, Woodrow to Baker, Newton Diehl, August 21, 1917, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 44, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 10.

120. Haynes, Robert V., A Night of Violence: The Houston Riot of 1917 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976).

121. Ibid., 271.

122. “Noose Avenges Riot Murderers,” Los Angeles Times, December 12, 1917, p. 15.

123. “Houston Incident Closed—Not Forgotten,” Afro-American, December 15, 1917, p. 4.

124. Lane, Ann J., The Brownsville Affair: National Crisis and Black Reaction (Port Washington, NY: National University Publications, 1971).

125. “President's Order Is Well-Received,” Chicago Defender, January 5, 1918, p. 5.

126. Wilson, Woodrow to Baker, Newton Diehl, February 19, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 46, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 385.

127. “President Wilson Issues Reprieve for Convicted Men of 24th Infantry,” Afro-American, March 1, 1918.

128. Two Letters from Baker, Newton Diehl to Wilson, Woodrow, August 22, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 29, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 324–28.

129. Wilson, Woodrow, “Statement on the Houston Riots,” August 31, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 49, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 400402 .

130. Despite claims to the contrary, Wilson was not the first president to publicly denounce lynching. After Booker T. Washington personally called on Theodore Roosevelt to make a speech against mob violence in a letter on February 6, 1902, the president responded to his request a few months later in a Memorial Day address at Arlington National Ceremony. In a speech principally concerned with American occupation of the Philippines, Roosevelt inserted an entire paragraph to distinguish the actions of the U.S. military from the acts of deplorable injustice taking place in the South: “Is it only in the army in the Philippines that Americans sometimes commit deeds that cause all other Americans to regret? No! From time to time there occur in our country, to the deep and lasting shame of our people, lynchings carried on under circumstances of inhuman cruelty and barbarity, cruelty infinitely worse than any that has ever been committed by our troops in the Philippines; worse to the victims, and far more brutalizing to those guilty of it. The men who fail to condemn these lynchings, and yet clamor about what has been done in the Philippines, are indeed guilty of neglecting the beam in their own eye while taunting their brother about the mote in his.” For the full remarks, see Theodore Roosevelt, Memorial Day Address (May 30, 1902), Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, Theodore Roosevelt Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

131. Johnson, James Weldon, Along This Way (New York: Viking, 1933), 324–25.

132. Shillady, John R. to Tumulty, Joseph Patrick, February 18, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 46, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 380–81.

133. Wilson, Woodrow to Tumulty, Joseph Patrick, August 11, 1916, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 38, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 24.

134. Morris, Emery T. and Others to Wilson, Woodrow, March 5, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 46, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 550–51.

135. This set of correspondence is contained in the Woodrow Wilson Papers, Series 4, Reel 332, Case File 2247, documents 199629–199639, Library of Congress.

136. “League Protests Lynch Law to President Wilson,” Afro-American, May 31, 1918, p. 1.

137. “Telegram Sent Wilson, Senators, Congressmen,” Chicago Defender, December 8, 1917, p. 10.

138. Moton, Robert Russa to Wilson, Woodrow, June 15, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 48, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 323.

139. Wilson, Woodrow to Tumulty, Joseph Patrick, June 13, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 48, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 302.

140. See, for example, Walton, Lester Alger to Tumulty, Joseph Patrick, June 13, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 48, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 302; Wilson, Woodrow to Moton, R. R., June 18, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 48, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 346; Dyer, Leonidas to Wilson, Woodrow, July 23, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 49, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 6162 .

141. Leonidas Dyer to Woodrow Wilson, July 23, 1918,” 61–62.

142. Wilson, Woodrow, “A Statement to the American People” July 26, 1918, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 49, ed. Link, Arthur S. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978), 9798 .

143. “President Wilson's Proclamation Denouncing Lynching,” Afro-American, August 2, 1918, p. 1.

144. “President Wilson against Mob Rule,” Chicago Defender, August 3, 1918, p. 1.

145. “Our President Has Spoken,” Chicago Defender, August 3, 1918, p. 16.

146. Miroff, “Presidential Leverage Over Social Movements,” 14.

147. Woodrow Wilson, Constitutional Government, 68.

148. Riley, The Presidency; Sanders, “Presidents and Social Movements.”

149. Arnesen, “Reconsidering the ‘Long Civil Rights Movement,’” 265–88.

150. “Wilson Backs Amendment for Woman Suffrage,” New York Times, January 10, 1918, p. 1.

151. Stone, “Mr. Wilson's First Amendment,” 213.

152. Francis, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State, 171.

153. Daniels was secretary of the navy during Wilson's two terms as president. FDR, famously following in his cousin's footsteps, served as assistant secretary of the navy under Daniels. Daniels's private diary informs us of the earliest conversations that took place inside the White House over the segregation of the civil service. In a letter to FDR, Daniels expresses Wilson's dismay for how he handled Trotter's second invitation to the White House, admitting to have “lost my temper and played the fool.” Josephus Daniels to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, June 10, 1933, F. D. Roosevelt Papers, Official File 237, Papers as President: The President's Official File, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum.

154. Langston Hughes, “Poem for a Man: To A. Phillip Randolph on Achieving His Seventieth Year,” April 15, 1959, in The Papers of A. Philip Randolph, ed. John H. Bracey and August Meier (Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC). As Hughes exalted in this poem honoring Randolph on his seventieth birthday: “[He] played the checkered game of King jump King. And jump[ed] a president.”

155. On the development of a racial realignment during the New Deal era, see Schickler, Eric, Racial Realignment: The Transformation of American Liberalism, 1932–1965 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016).

156. Milkis, Sidney M., The President and the Parties: The Transformation of the American Party System Since the New Deal (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).

157. Milkis et al., “Rallying Force.”

158. Indeed, Neustadt's analysis of modern presidential power is the intellectual heir, and analytical extension of Wilson's political science. As Neustadt writes, “A President may retain the liberty, in Woodrow Wilson's phrase, ‘to be as big a man as he can.’ But nowadays he cannot be as small as he might like.” Neustadt, Richard E., Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan (New York: The Free Press, 1990/1960), 6.

159. Wilson, Congressional Government, 74.

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Studies in American Political Development
  • ISSN: 0898-588X
  • EISSN: 1469-8692
  • URL: /core/journals/studies-in-american-political-development
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