Friday, October 12, 2007

Special Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Presidential Edition

My thesis is this: virtually every American President, including those we glorify most, has been a racist.

—Melvin Steinfield, Our Racist Presidents, p. vii

This is the 1-year anniversary of my Friday Dead Racist Blogging series, started 52 posts ago on Friday, October 13. Therefore today's is a special post, four months in the making.

Modern racists (and even less-modern racists) like to point to the racist attitudes of men who are held in high esteem—partly to provide justification for their views; partly as an appeal to authority; and partly to make them feel better about their own racism. For example, a troll over at David Neiwert's Orcinus with the original handle "Whiteman" recently posted a comment on a post:

Most White men in history have been White nationalists -- Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, even Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson.


If you want to say that White people throughout history have been "pathological" well then I guess I'm in good company... .

Simply bolstering his own ego by comparing himself to Lindbergh, Edison, Jefferson, and Lincoln—because, I suppose, their racism is what made them great. It's not as though they're remembered for anything else.

Whiteman's stupidity aside, he ably demonstrates that pointing out that former U.S. presidents were racist is common, as though it somehow makes racism legitimate. For instance, in the '50s and '60s groups dedicated to segregation such as the Citizens' Councils of America took out ads in numerous newspapers (see for one the New York Times, 11 February 1964, p. 32) with the title "Lincoln's Hope for the Negro in His Own Words"; this ad was nothing but racist quotes from Abraham Lincoln. I also have a small pamphlet from a Christian Identity group with the title "God and Lincoln on Negro-White Marriages", which is basically the same as the Lincoln ad except that it also includes a quote from Thomas Jefferson, and has a horrible sermon by Sheldon Emry wrapped around it. That they put Lincoln and God side-by-side as if the two were equal authorities always amuses me.

Aside from the blatant appeal to authority, some people take a slightly different tack. After quoting numerous widely-respected Americans, Jared Taylor in "The Racial Revolution" wrote that "views that are considered unacceptable by today's standards were so widespread that virtually anyone who said anything about race reflected those views" and concludes that such views were simply "common sense." Hence, it is those who decry such views who aren't using their common sense. Of course, he doesn't stray too far from the appeal to authority, as a few paragraphs later he writes "Whatever Abraham Lincoln or Theodore Roosevelt thought about other races, they would have been insulted to be told it was prejudice, that is to say, unreasonable preconceived judgment." The implication is clear: Roosevelt and Lincoln are heralded as thoughtful men, therefore they couldn't have "unreasonable preconceived judgment[s]." Surely they came to their conclusions after long deliberations, and hey, who are you to disagree with Abraham Lincoln's conclusions?

As thoughtful as they may have been, though, they couldn't escape the culture in which they lived. Melvin Steinfield writes "virtually every American President has been infected by racism." Simply living in a country that since before its founding has set up white supremacist institutions to subjugate black slaves, and to kill Native Americans and rob them of their land, is enough to be "infected by racism"; it doesn't matter whether the people so infected would later grow up to be heralded as near demi-gods, as with our founding fathers. And so I have gathered as many racist quotes as I could from all the presidents of the United States: to show that even great men were still products of their environments, and these men's environments were invariably racist; to show exactly how racist our country has been since its founding, if we accept the presidents as representatives of the countries they led; and just to show that no-one will one-up me on dead racists. And who knows, maybe I'll get some sort of award for "longest blog post ever—no, really, what the hell is wrong with you?"

I must stress that these quotes are in no way meant to be balanced, in-depth examinations of our presidents' views on matters of race; in fact, rather the opposite. As much as it offends my sense of fairness and pseudo-scholarliness, I have cherry-picked their quotes only to get ones that I felt reflected poorly on their notions of racial matters, I have ignored context, I have certainly not included complimentary things they had to say about people of other races. I have also not taken into account how their racial views developed over their lifetimes; this my readers should keep in mind as they peruse the following lists, for our presidents' racial views did change over time. Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman, for example, were both fairly ignorant of the nature of oppression of blacks in this country until the 1927 Mississippi flood for Hoover and Truman's ascension to the presidency. After being informed of specific atrocities while president, Truman is said to have exclaimed "My God. I had no idea it was as terrible as that. We've got to do something!" The article "'A Perpetual Harrow upon My Feelings': John Quincy Adams and the American Indian" and the book George Washington and the Negro both examine how their subjects' views evolved over their lifetimes.

In addition to cherry-picking, I have also not been overly charitable towards the presidents, and so some quotes I have included may be interpreted in a more reasonable, liberal sense. For instance, I have a quote by current President Bush in which he referred to the citizens of Pakistan as "Pakis". I do not truly believe that he has a disparaging attitude towards Pakistanis; I rather suspect he was not aware of the inflammatory nature of that word (I do not think it is a very common slur in the United States, though I may be mistaken) and was simply sloppy in his speaking. I have also included several quotes by presidents wherein they express almost any approach to slavery but immediate abolition, even though many of said presidents considered themselves anti-slavery. Many of the presidents felt that slavery should be left to the states, and they may have been legally correct in their assessment that the Constitution had not given the federal government any power over slavery, but I still included quotes to this effect because they put states' rights over blacks'.

On the other hand, I have mostly tried to avoid judging the presidents by what they neglected to say, or by meticulous scrutiny of their words, or by the men they surrounded themselves by, or by whom they appointed to judicial or cabinet positions, or their campaign themes. I have tried to include only quotable statements from our presidents, or actions of their administration in which they were directly involved or commented upon. This is also very misleading as regards the presidents' racial attitudes: much of the poor relationships between African Americans and our chief executives were not because of outright malignance on the latter’s' parts. Instead blacks had to contend with apathy, as our presidents simply ignored their plights and failed to comment on, much less denounce, the overtly racist actions of others. Donald Lisio writes that "It was not so much what Hoover and Al Smith said about black issues as what they failed to say and do that gave blacks the greatest cause for concern." Presidents failed to denounce racist campaigning on their behalf; they failed to take actions against lynching and efforts to disfranchise blacks; and they simply failed to reach out to black voters, while at the same time courting Southern whites. Because such racist actions (and inactions) often cannot be reduced to a quote by the president, I have also included some other items. These are separated from the main list of quotes by a line of three asterisks.

If you want a more balanced, thorough view of our presidents' records on race than I provide, I suggest some of the books and articles that I cite liberally below.

I'm also afraid that the selection of quotes will be rather imbalanced. Some presidents didn't speak much on race—like many politicians, they tried to tip-toe around divisive issues and hope they would just go away. There is also the little matter, as Steinfield writes, "that it is no longer fashionable to be a bigot result[ing] in a paucity of overtly racist statements by recent presidents." And then there were others who were quite vocal—George Sinkler writes, "One finds more intemperate racial utterances and Negrophobic epithets expressed in the speeches of Andrew Johnson than in the writings of the other nine Presidents [from Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt] combined." So when I have a heap of quotes from one president and hardly any from another, I'm not picking on anybody in particular. It was just easier to find quotes from some presidents than from others; Lincoln and Jefferson in particular have had their racist sayings spread far and wide to contradict the images of them as the Great Emancipator and the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Further, while I have tried to be thorough, the following probably does not consist of every racist quote uttered by a president that has been published. There's simply too much information out there for me to sift through entirely (the papers of Woodrow Wilson alone comprise 69 volumes). For that matter, I cannot necessarily guarantee that every quote is 100% accurate, though I have tried to verify as much as I can. There are too many mangled, misattributed, or simply made-up phrases out there, even in scholarly works. Despite all this I consider my work satisfactory.

Finally, we must keep in mind that even what we consider racist today may have been fanatically liberal by their standards, and it is unfair to judge all these men by our current sensibilities, but I'm doing it anyways.

The presidential portraits were borrowed from the White House website. Text of inauguration speeches and State of the Union addresses were taken from John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The Presidency Project, along with veto messages with no other attributed sources. Also, if the citation I give does not provide a page number, it is because I took that quote from a version of the quoted work that I found on the Internet in a format that stripped out the original page numbers. Further, if you go to the bother of trying to verify some of my quotes, I can't guarantee that my page numbers will be accurate simply because many of these works have been printed in so many editions.

Also (I'm going to get to the good stuff soon, I promise) in addition to giving a direct link to each president, I also have an anchor for each individual quote.

George Washington

(1) George Washington : 1789-1797

The youthful Washington revealed prejudices toward blacks, quite natural for the day. At mid-century, when referring to his frontier experiences, amid "a parcel of Barbarians and an uncouth set of People," he described never taking off his clothes, sleeping in them "like a Negro." In other words, blackness, in his mind, was synonymous with uncivilized behavior.
—Philip Morgan, "'To Get Quit of Negroes': George Washington and Slavery", 39 Journal of American Studies 3 (2005), p. 408

It is "a fact very well known that his Negroes & stock never can be disposed of at a more favourable juncture than in the Fall," Washington callously stated, "when they are fat and lusty and must soon fall of[f] unless well fed."
Ibid., p. 412

[M]ost of the time [Washington] considered slaves "clumsy," "ignorant," "idle," "lazy," and "deceitful"; in his mind, they committed "atrocious villainies" and while "capable of much labour," generally have "no ambition to establish a good name," and therefore "too regardless of a bad one."
Ibid., p. 425, fn. 34

Washington wanted his white workers to be housed away from the blacks at Mount Vernon, believing that close racial intermixture was undesirable.
—"George Washington and the Problem of Slavery", 34 Journal of American Studies 2 (2000), p. 285. The actual text of Washington's letter is provided here.

I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it; but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, and that is by Legislative authority; and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting. But when slaves who are happy and contented with their present masters, are tampered with and seduced to leave them; when masters are taken unawares by these practices; when a conduct of this sort begets discontent on one side and resentment on the other, and when it happens to fall on a man, whose purse will not measure with that of the Society [of Quakers], and he looses his property for want of means to defend it; it is oppression in the latter case, and not humanity in any; because it introduces more evils than it can cure.
—George Washington to Robert Morris, 12 April 1786. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, vol. 28, p. 408

What then is to be done with the other family. I cannot bear the thought of adding to the distress I know they must be in by turning them a drift; and it would be as disagreeable to let them come into that part of the Green house adjoining the Shoemakers room; their habits are not good; and to mix them among the Negros would be attended with many evils as it respected themselves; and no good as it respected me. It would be better therefore on all accounts if they were removed to some other place even if [I] was to pay the Rent provided it was low, or make some allowance towards it. Donaldson and family will get disgusted by living among the Negros if he is still in the Green house.
—George Washington to William Pearce, 2 November 1794. The Writings of George Washington, vol. 34, p. 13

The only other entry in the diary concerning the Negroes of the islands [Barbados] is one in which he said "the Ladys Generally are very agreeable but by ill custom or wit they effect the Negro style."
—Walter Mazyck, George Washington and the Negro, p. 4

On January 22, 1763, Washington entered into an agreement with one Christopher Hardwick for the stocking of a plantation in which the acquisition of Negroes and cattle is spoken of in much the same language.
Ibid., p. 15

...Washington [prepared] his first report to the Congress since assuming command. In the course of which he says, "From the number of Boys, Deserters and Negroes which have been inlisted in the troops of the Province, I entertain some doubts whether the number required can be raised here."

The Commander-in-Chief's opinion of Negroes as soldiers is not very high since he classes them with "Boys" and "Deserters." Later in his report he writes, "If these Regiments shold be completed to their establishment, the dismission of those unfit for duty on account of their age and Character would occasion considerable Reduction." The inference, if not clear, indicates at least that those to be dismissed because of "Character" included "Deserters" and "Negroes."
Ibid., pp. 35-36. Mazyck also theorizes that Washington was responsible for orders not to enlist black troops: "These records disclose this irrefutable fact. Before Washington and his fellow Virginian Adjutant General arrived in camp, Negroes were in the militia around Boston; seven days after Washington took command they were not to be enlisted." Ibid., p. 37

Of this purchase Washington wrote from Mount Vernon on May 19, 1786, "The benevolence of your heart, my dear Marquis, is so conspicuous upon all occasions, that I never wonder at any fresh proofs of it; but your late purchase of an estate in the Colony of Cayenne, with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit might diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this Country. But I despair of seeing it. Some petitions were presented to the Assembly, at its last session, for the abolition of slavery, but they could scarcely obtain a reading. To set the slaves at float at once would, I really believe, be productive of much inconvenience and mischief... ."
Ibid., p. 94

In June 1783 he had supported the plan for establishing settlements of ex-soldiers in the west, arguing that the appearance of such formidable settlements in the vicinity of the Indian towns "would be the most likely means to enable us to purchase upon equitable terms of the Aborigines their right of preoccupancy; and to induce them to relinquish our Territories; and to remove into the illimitable regions of the West."
—Reginald Horsman, "American Indian Policy in the Old Northwest, 1783-1812", 18 William and Mary Quarterly 1 (January, 1961), pp. 36-37

[H]e left little doubt of his own view of the Indians: "the gradual extension of our Settlements will as certainly cause the Savage as the Wolf to retire; both being beasts of prey tho' they differ in shape."
Ibid., p. 38

The leading advocates of abolition in a transatlantic context in the late eighteenth century were the Quakers, who were deeply committed to this reform issue on humanitarian grounds; they believed, inter alia, in the equality of all men before God, and could not accept the capturing of slaves through violence or warfare. Washington considered, however, that the Quaker abolitionist crusade was rash, and that its interference with slavery south of Pennsylvania was uncalled for and likely to cause more evil than it cured. In March 1790 the Quakers presented several memorials to Congress over the abolition of the slave trade, but a House of Representatives committee had resolved that Congress could not abolish the slave trade to the United States before 1808, the date already agreed at the constitutional convention. In addition, Congress could not interfere over the matter of abolitionism or the internal regulation of individual states pertaining to slavery. Washington refused to discuss the Society of Friends' position when visited privately by the prominent Quaker abolitionist Warner Mifflin in 1790. Since it was an issue that might well come before him as president for an official decision, he was not disposed to discuss the matter beforehand. Washington thought this abolitionist attempt by the Quakers was very poorly timed: "The memorial of the Quakers (& a very malapropos one it was) has at length been put to sleep, from which it is not [illegible] it will awake before the year 1808." He added later that the Quaker petitions were "not only an ill-judged piece of business, but occasioned a great waste of time. The final decision thereon, however, was as favourable as the proprietors of that species of property could well have expected considering the great dereliction to Slavery in a large part of this Union."
—Kenneth Morgan, "George Washington and the Problem of Slavery", 34 Journal of American Studies 2, 2000, p. 296

On April 12, 1786, Washington wrote Robert Morris from Mount Vernon to complain of the activities of a Quaker abolitionist society in Philadelphia. A Mr. Dalby of Alexandria, Virginia, according to Washington, "is called to Philadelphia to attend what he conceives to be a vexatious lawsuit respecting a slave of his, which a Society of Quakers in the city (formed for such purposes) have attempted to liberate. . . ." From what Dalby had told him, Washington continued,

it should seem that this Society is not only acting repugnant to justice so far as its conduct concerns strangers, but, in my opinion extremely impolitickly with respect to the State, the City in particular; and without being able, (but by acts of tyranny and oppression) to accomplish their own ends. He says the conduct of this society is not sanctioned by Law: had the case been otherwise, whatever my opinion of the Law might have been, my respect for the policy of the State would on this occasion have appeared in my silence; because against the penalties of promulgated Laws one may guard; but there is no avoiding the snares of individuals, or of private societies. And if the practice of this Society of which Mr. Dalby speaks, is not discountenanced, none of those whose misfortune it is to have slaves as attendants, will visit the city if they can possibly avoid it; because by so doing they hazard their property; or they must be at the expence (and this will not always succeed) of providing servants of another description for the trip.

Washington hastened to assure Morris that it was not his "wish to hold the unhappy people, who are the subject of this letter, in slavery."
—Paul Boller, Jr., "Washington, the Quakers, and Slavery", 46 Journal of Negro History 2, April 1961, p. 84

In a letter to a friend Washington complained, "When an overlooker's back is turned, the most of them will slight their work, or be idle altogether."
—"White Supremacists Who Once Occupied the White House," Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 24, Summer 1999, p. 76

While it is true that he provided in his will for the freeing of his own slaves, during his lifetime he was not above callous mistreatment of some of his slaves. For example, after one of his slaves, Tom, had run away from his plantation repeatedly, Washington sold him with the advice to the new owner that Tom be kept "handcuffed, lest he should attempt to escape."

In October of 1775, General Washington issued an order banning the enlistment of Negro soldiers in the Continental Army. It was only after the British had succeeded in luring slaves to escape and fight for the King that the Revolutionary leaders were compelled to reverse their prohibition against the enlistment of Black soldiers. Necessity, not changed sentiments, caused Washington to reverse his racist stance on that issue.

When the Revolutionary War ended, Washington wanted to have the escaped slaves who fought for the British returned to their "owners". On April 15, 1783, Congress instructed Washington to arrange for the return of American property—a term that included slaves who had fought for the British in exchange for promises of freedom.
—Melvin Steinfield, ed., Our Racist Presidents: From Washington to Nixon, pp. 5-6

If America deserves to be called a racist country, then there is no question about George Washington's right to be considered the father of his country. For who can take pride in a letter written two days before the 4th of July, 1776 by George Washington:

"Sir: With this letter comes a Negro (Tom) which I beg the favor of you to sell in any of the islands you may go for whatever he will fetch and bring me in return from him: One hogshead of best molasses, one ditto of best rum. . . ." Thus, to satisfy his desire for drink, the man destined to become the first President of the United States sold a black man down the river.
Ibid., p. 6

General Washington again observed that he conceived this Conduct on the part of Sir Guy Carleton a Departure both from the Letter and Spirit of the Articles of Peace and particularly mentioned a Difficulty that would arise in compensating the Proprietors of Negroes admitting this infraction of the Treaty could be satisfied by such compensation as Sir Guy Carleton had alluded to, as it was impossible to ascertain the Value of the Slaves from any Fact or Circumstance which may appear in the Register, the value of a Slave consisting chiefly in his Industry and Sobriety, and General Washington further mentioned a Difficulty which would attend identifying the Slave supposing him to have changed his own Name or to have given in a wrong Name of his former Master.
—"Report of a Conference Between George Washington and Sir Guy Carleton", in Ibid., p. 8. This was the meeting after the Revolutionary War when Washington tried to have escaped slaves returned to their owners. Steinfield acerbically comments, "Washington seems most concerned about the value of the slaves as property."

Many publications and pamphlets of the revolutionary period compared colonial conditions under the British king to slavery. As early as 1774, the ever influential George Washington noted the coming crisis over colonists' rights: "The crisis is arrived when we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition, that can be heaped upon us, till custom and use shall make us tame and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway."
—Joe Feagin, Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, and Future Reparations, p. 13

* * *

George Washington was, of course, a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

Washington signed into law the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793

John Adams

(2) John Adams : 1797-1801

The Indians are known to conduct their wars so entirely without faith and humanity that it would bring eternal infamy on the Ministry throughout all Europe if they should excite those savages to war. . . . To let loose these blood hounds to scalp men and to butcher women and children is horrid.
—David McCullough, John Adams, p. 73

[James] Callender and Sally [Hemings] will be remembered as long as Jefferson as blots on his character. The story of the latter is a natural and almost unavoidable consequence of that foul contagion in the human character, Negro slavery.
Ibid., p. 581

When the national convention in France voted all the negroes in St. Domingo, Martinique, Guadaloupe, St. Lucia, &c., free, at a breath, did the poor democracy among the negroes gain any thing by the change? Did they not immediately fall into the power of aristocrats of their own color? Are they more free, from Toussaint to Petion and Christophe ? Do they live better ? Bananas and water they still enjoy, and a whole regiment would follow a leader who should hold a saltfish to their noses.


SUPPOSE congress should, at one vote, or by one act, declare all the negroes in the United States free, in imitation of that great authority, the French sovereign legislature, what would follow? Would the democracy, nine in ten, among the negroes, be gainers? Would not the most shiftless among them be in danger of perishing for want? Would not nine in ten, perhaps ninety-nine in a hundred of the rest, petition their old aristocratical masters to receive them again, to protect them, to feed them, to clothe them, and to lodge and shelter them as usual? Would not some of the most thinking and philosophical among the aristocratical negroes ramble into distant states, seeking a poor and precarious subsistence by daily labor? Would not some of the most enterprising aristocrats allure a few followers into the wilderness, and become squatters? or, perhaps, incorporate with Indians?
The Works of John Adams, vol. 6, p. 511

At the End of the Year, when you send Horses for me again, send some other Man. I will not have him. A low lived Fellow, playing Cards with Negroes, and behaving like a Rival with them for Wenches.
—John Adams to Abigail Adams, 11 August 1777

Dr. Cooper quoted another Proverb, from his Negro Glasgow — a Mouse can build an House without Timble — and then told us another Instance of Glasgows Intellect, of which I had before thought him entirely destitute.
—Diary of John Adams, 14 May 1771

Shall we say that a few handful of scattering tribes of savages have a right of domain and property of a quarter of this globe capable of nourishing hundreds of millions of happy human beings? The Indian has a right to life, liberty and property in common with all men; but what right to domain or property beyond these? Every Indian has a right to his wigwam, his arrow, his utensils; where he had burned the woods around him and planted his corns and beans ... will you infer from this, that he had rights of exclusive domain and property of immense regions of uncultivated wilderness that he never saw, that he might have the exclusive privilege of hunting and fishing in them, which he himself never expected or hoped to enjoy.
—John Adams to William Tudor, 29 September 1818, Works of John Adams, vol. 10, pp. 354-60. Reprinted in Frederick M. Binder, The Color Problem in Early National America as Viewed by John Adams, Jefferson and Jackson.

Emancipation, then, must come—but slowly and carefully. All nations, civil and savage, he repeated, have practiced slavery; time must be allowed to eradicate the evil.
—John Howe, Jr., "John Adams's Views of Slavery", 49 Journal of Negro History 3, July 1964, p. 203

Thomas Jefferson

(3) Thomas Jefferson : 1801-1809

He [King George III] has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
—Declaration of Independence

Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson expressed the position clearly in April 1791 when he said before St. Clair's expedition that "I hope we shall drub the Indians well this summer & then change our plan from war to bribery."
—"American Indian Policy in the Old Northwest", p. 44

A marriage between a person of free condition and a slave, or between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a mulatto, shall be null.
—1786 Virginia bill, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. Printed in Werner Sollors, ed., Interracialism: Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature, and Law, 2000, p. 3

Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu filled up by free white laborers. If on the contrary it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. We should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation or deletion of the Moors. This precedent would fall far short of our case.
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul Leicester Ford, vol. 1. These volumes are available on-line here.

If any white woman shall have a child by a negro or mulatto, she and her child shall depart the commonwealth within one year thereafter. If they shall fail so to do, the woman shall be out of the protection of the laws, and the child shall be bound out by the Aldermen of the county, in like manner as poor orphans are by law directed to be, and within one year after its term of service expired shall depart the commonwealth, or on failure so to do, shall be out of the protection of the laws.
—"A Bill Concerning Slaves", Works of Jefferson, vol. 2. The Virginia legislature did not pass this bill.

Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet from such we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it [157] their spirit, warp and bias its directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass. I may appeal to experience, during the present contest, for a verification of these conjectures. But, if they be not certain in event; are they not possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience 27 years and three months longer, for the attainment of any degree of population desired or expected? May not our government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable?
Notes on Virginia, Query 8, printed in Works of Jefferson, vol. 3, pp. 156-57

[In Virginia there are] 567,614 inhabitants of every age, sex and condition. But 296,852, the number of free inhabitants, are to 270,762, the number of slaves, nearly as 11 to 10. Under the mild treatment our slaves experience, and their wholesome, though coarse food, this blot in our country increases as fast, or faster than the whites.
Ibid., p. 161

To emancipate all slaves born after passing the act. The bill reported by the revisers does not itself contain this proposition; but an amendment containing it was prepared, to be offered to the legislature whenever the bill should be taken up, and further directing, that they should continue with their parents to a certain age, then be brought up, at the public expence, to tillage, arts, or sciences, according to their geniusses, till the females should be eighteen, and the males twenty-one years of age, when they should be colonized to such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper, sending them out with arms, implements of household and of the handicraft arts, seeds, pairs of the useful domestic animals, &c. to declare them a free and independant people, and extend to them our alliance and protection, till they shall have acquired strength; and to send vessels at the same time to other parts of the world for an equal number of white inhabitants; to induce whom to migrate hither, proper encouragements were to be proposed. It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state, and thus save the expence of supplying by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions, which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.—To these objections, which are political, may be added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarfskin, or in the scarfskin itself; whether it proceeds from the colour of the blood, the colour of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them as uniformly as is the preference of the Oran-ootan for the black woman over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour. This greater degree of transpiration, renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold than in the whites. Perhaps too a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus, which a late ingenious experimentalist has discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in expiration, to part with more of it. They seem to require less sleep. A black after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight or later, though knowing that he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female; but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. We will consider them here, on the same stage with the whites, and where the facts are not apochryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America. Most of them, indeed, have been confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society: yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites. Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad. The Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never seen even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more generally gifted than the whites, with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry.—Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar œstrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion, indeed, has produced a Phyllis Whately; but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism. The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem. Ignatius Sancoh has approached nearer to merit in composition; yet his letters do more honour to the heart than the head. They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and general philanthropy, and show how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his style is easy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrication of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric, as is the course of a meteor through the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process of sober reasoning; yet we find him always substituting sentiment for demonstration. Upon the whole, though we admit him to the first place among those of his own color who have presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived and particularly with the epistolary class in which he has taken his own stand, we are compelled to enrol him at the bottom of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published under his name to be genuine, and to have received amendment from no other hand; points which would not be of easy investigation. The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the white, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life. We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America. The two sexes were confined in separate apartments, because to raise a child cost the master more than to buy one. Cato, for a very restricted indulgence to his slaves in this particular, took from them a certain price. But in this country the slaves multiply as fast as the free inhabitants. Their situation and manners place the commerce between the two sexes almost without restraint.—The same Cato, on a principle of economy, always sold his sick and superannuated slaves. He gives it as a standing precept to a master visiting his farm, to sell his old oxen, old waggons, old tools, old and diseased servants, and everything else become useless. 'Vendat boves vetulos, plaustrum vetus, feramenta vetera, servum senem, servum morbosum, si quid aliud supersit vendat.' Cato de re rusticâ, c. 2. The American slaves cannot enumerate this among the injuries and insults they receive. It was the common practice to expose in the island Æsculapius, in the Tyber, diseased slaves whose cure was like to become tedious. The Emperor Claudius, by an edict, gave freedom to such of them as should recover, and first declared that if any person chose to kill rather than to expose them, it should be deemed homicide. The exposing them is a crime of which no instance has existed with us; and were it to be followed by death, it would be punished capitally. We are told of a certain Vedius Pollio, who, in the presence of Augustus, would have given a slave as food to his fish, for having broken a glass. With the Romans, the regular method of taking the evidence of their slaves was under torture. Here it has been thought better never to resort to their evidence. When a master was murdered, all his slaves, in the same house, or within hearing, were condemned to death. Here punishment falls on the guilty only, and as precise proof is required against him as against a freeman. Yet notwithstanding these and other discouraging circumstances among the Romans, their slaves were often their rarer artists. They excelled too in science, insomuch as to be usually employed as tutors to their master's children. Epictetus, Terence, and Phædrus, were slaves. But they were of the race of whites. It is not their condition then, but nature, which has produced the distinction.—Whether further observation will or will not verify the conjecture, that nature has been less bountiful to them in the endowments of the head, I believe that in those of the heart she will be found to have done them justice. That disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any depravity of the moral sense. The man in whose favour no laws of property exist, probably feels himself less bound to respect those made in favour of others. When arguing for ourselves, we lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right: that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience; and it is a problem which I give to the master to solve, whether the religious precepts against the violation of property were not framed for him as well as his slave? And whether the slave may not as justifiably take a little from one who has taken all from him, as he may slay one who would slay him? That a change in the relations in which a man is placed should change his ideas of moral right and wrong, is neither new, nor peculiar to the colour of the blacks. Homer tells us it was so 2600 years ago.

Jove fix'd it certain, that whatever day
Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away.

But the slaves of which Homer speaks were whites. Notwithstanding these considerations which must weaken their respect for the laws of property, we find among them numerous instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude, and unshaken fidelity. The opinion that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the Anatomical knife, to Optical glasses, to analysis by fire or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of all the senses; where the conditions of its existence are various and variously combined; where the effects of those which are present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them. To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them? This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question, 'What further is to be done with them?' join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.
Notes on Virginia, Query 14, printed in Works of Jefferson, vol. 4, pp. 251-65. Please don't blame me for this unseemly block of text; Jefferson really wrote all that as one paragraph.

The papers from the free people of colour in Grenada, which you did me the honour to inclose, I apprehend it will be best to take no notice of. They are parties in a domestic quarrel, which I think we should leave to be settled among themselves. Nor should I think it desireable were it justifiable, to draw a body of sixty thousand free blacks & mulattoes into our country.
—Thomas Jefferson to the President of the United States [George Washington], 20 June 1791, Works of Jefferson, vol. 6

Perhaps the first chapter of this history, which has begun in St. Domingo, & the next succeeding ones, which will recount how all the whites were driven from all the other islands, may prepare our minds for a peaceable accommodation between justice, policy & necessity; & furnish an answer to the difficult question, whither shall the colored emigrants go? and the sooner we put some plan underway, the greater hope there is that it may be permitted to proceed peaceably to it's ultimate effect. But if something is not done, & soon done, we shall be the murderers of our own children.
—Thomas Jefferson to St. George Tucker, 28 August 1797, Works of Jefferson, vol. 8

The idea seems to be to provide for these people by a purchase of lands; and it is asked whether such a purchase can be made of the U S in their western territory? A very great extent of country, north of the Ohio, has been laid off into townships, and is now at market, according to the provisions of the acts of Congress, with which you are acquainted. There is nothing which would restrain the State of Virginia either in the purchase or the application of these lands; but a purchase, by the acre, might perhaps be a more expensive provision than the H of Representatives contemplated. Questions would also arise whether the establishment of such a colony within our limits, and to become a part of our union, would be desirable to the State of Virginia itself, or to the other States—especially those who would be in its vicinity?

Could we procure lands beyond the limits of the U S to form a receptacle for these people [blacks]? On our northern boundary, the country not occupied by British subjects, is the property of Indian nations, whose title would be to be extinguished, with the consent of Great Britain; & the new settlers would be British subjects. It is hardly to be believed that either Great Britain or the Indian proprietors have so disinterested a regard for us, as to be willing to relieve us, by receiving such a colony themselves; and as much to be doubted whether that race of men could long exist in so rigorous a climate. On our western & southern frontiers, Spain holds an immense country, the occupancy of which, however, is in the Indian natives, except a few insolated spots possessed by Spanish subjects. It is very questionable, indeed, whether the Indians would sell? whether Spain would be willing to receive these people? and nearly certain that she would not alienate the sovereignty. The same question to ourselves would recur here also, as did in the first case: should we be willing to have such a colony in contact with us? However our present interests may restrain us within our own limits, it is impossible not to look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand itself beyond those limits, & cover the whole northern, if not the southern continent, with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar forms, & by similar laws; nor can we contemplate with satisfaction either blot or mixture on that surface.
—Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 24 November 1801, Works of Jefferson, vol. 9

The consequences of permitting emancipations to become extensive, unless a condition of emigration be annexed to them, furnish also matter of solicitude to the legislature of Virginia, as you will perceive by their resolution inclosed to you. Although provision for the settlement of emancipated negroes might perhaps be obtainable nearer home than Africa, yet it is desirable that we should be free to expatriate this description of people also to the colony of Sierre Leone, if considerations respecting either themselves or us should render it more expedient.
—Thomas Jefferson to Rufus King, 13 July 1802, Works of Jefferson, vol. 9

I have received the favor of your letter of August 17th, and with it the volume you were so kind as to send me on the Literature of Negroes. Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to them by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on a par with ourselves. My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State, where the opportunities for the development of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them therefore with great hesitation... .
—Thomas Jefferson to Henri Grigoire, 25 February 1809, Works of Jefferson, vol. 11

A day or two after I received your letter to Bishop Gregoire, a copy of his diatribe to you came to hand from France. ... He wrote to me also on the doubts I had expressed five or six and twenty years ago, in the Notes of Virginia, as to the grade of understanding of the negroes, and he sent me his book on the literature of the negroes. His credulity has made him gather up every story he could find of men of color, (without distinguishing whether black, or of what degree of mixture,) however slight the mention, or light the authority on which they are quoted. The whole do not amount, in point of evidence, to what we know ourselves of Banneker. We know he had spherical trigonometry enough to make almanacs, but not without the suspicion of aid from Ellicot, who was his neighbor and friend, and never missed an opportunity of puffing him. I have a long letter from Banneker, which shows him to have had a mind of very common stature indeed.
—Thomas Jefferson to Joel Barlow, 8 October 1809, Works of Jefferson, vol. 11

You have asked my opinion on the proposition of Mrs. Mifflin, to take measures for procuring, on the coast of Africa, an establishment to which the people of color of these States might, from time to time, be colonized, under the auspices of different governments. Having long ago made up my mind on this subject, I have no hesitation in saying that I have ever thought it the most desirable measure which could be adopted, for gradually drawing off this part of our population, most advantageously for themselves as well as for us. Going from a country possessing all the useful arts, they might be the means of transplanting them among the inhabitants of Africa, and would thus carry back to the country of their origin, the seeds of civilization which might render their sojournment and sufferings here a blessing in the end to that country.
—Thomas Jefferson to John Lynch, 21 January 1811, Works of Jefferson, vol. 11

For men probably of any color, but of this color we know, brought from their infancy without necessity for thought or forecast, are by their habits rendered as incapable as children of taking care of themselves, and are extinguished promptly wherever industry is necessary for raising young. In the mean time they are pests in society by their idleness, and the depredations to which this leads them. Their amalgamation with the other color produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character can innocently consent.
—Thomas Jefferson to Edward Coles, 25 August 1814, Works of Fefferson, vol. 11

In the disposition of these unfortunate people, there are two rational objects to be distinctly kept in view. First. The establishment of a colony on the coast of Africa, which may introduce among the aborigines the arts of cultivated life, and the blessings of civilization and science. By doing this, we may make to them some retribution for the long course of injuries we have been committing on their population. And considering that these blessings will descend to the "nati natorum, et qui nascentur ab illis," we shall in the long run have rendered them perhaps more good than evil. To fulfil this object, the colony of Sierra Leone promises well, and that of Mesurado adds to our prospect of success. Under this view, the colonization society is to be considered as a missionary society, having in view, however, objects more humane, more justifiable, and less aggressive on the peace of other nations, than the others of that appellation.

The second object, and the most interesting to us, as coming home to our physical and moral characters, to our happiness and safety, is to provide an asylum to which we can, by degrees, send the whole of that population from among us, and establish them under our patronage and protection, as a separate, free and independent people, in some country and climate friendly to human life and happiness. That any place on the coast of Africa should answer the latter purpose, I have ever deemed entirely impossible. And without repeating the other arguments which have been urged by others, I will appeal to figures only, which admit no controversy. I shall speak in round numbers, not absolutely accurate, yet not so wide from truth as to vary the result materially. There are in the United States a million and a half of people of color in slavery. To send off the whole of these at once, nobody conceives to be practicable for us, or expedient for them. Let us take twenty-five years for its accomplishment, within which time they will be doubled. Their estimated value as property, in the first place, (for actual property has been lawfully vested in that form, and who can lawfully take it from the possessors?) at an average of two hundred dollars each, young and old, would amount to six hundred millions of dollars, which must be paid or lost by somebody. To this, add the cost of their transportation by land and sea to Mesurado, a year's provision of food and clothing, implements of husbandry and of their trades, which will amount to three hundred millions more, making thirty-six millions of dollars a year for twenty-five years, with insurance of peace all that time, and it is impossible to look at the question a second time. I am aware that at the end of about sixteen years, a gradual detraction from this sum will commence, from the gradual diminution of breeders, and go on during the remaining nine years. Calculate this deduction, and it is still impossible to look at the enterprise a second time. I do not say this to induce an inference that the getting rid of them is forever impossible. For that is neither my opinion nor my hope. But only that it cannot be done in this way. There is, I think, a way in which it can be done; that is, by emancipating the after-born, leaving them, on due compensation, with their mothers, until their services are worth their maintenance, and then putting them to industrious occupations, until a proper age for deportation. This was the result of my reflections on the subject five and forty years ago, and I have never yet been able to conceive any other practicable plan.
—Thomas Jefferson to Jared Sparks, 4 February 1824, Works of Jefferson, vol. 12

On the subject of emancipation I have ceased to think because not to be a work of my day. The plan of converting the blacks into Serfs would certainly be better than keeping them in their present condition, but I consider that of expatriation to the governments of the W. I. of their own colour as entirely practicable, and greatly preferable to the mixture of colour here. To this I have great aversion; but I repeat my abandonment of the subject.
—Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 18 January, 1826, Works of Jefferson, vol. 12, p. 434

When they [Indians] withdraw themselves to the culture of a small piece of land, they will perceive how useless to them are their extensive forests, and will be willing to pare them off from time to time in exchange for necessaries for their farms and families. To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands.
—Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, 27 February 1803. Quoted in Robert Owens, "Jeffersonian Benevolence on the Ground: The Indian Land Cession Treaties of William Henry Harrison", 22 Journal of the Early Republic 3, Autumn 2002, p. 417

Jefferson's desire to vindicate the red men did not prevent him from admitting that they were less civilized than the transplanted Europeans. Indeed, he does not hesitate to characterize the Indians as a "barbarous people". If white civilization could have affected the red race more favorably, one of the advantages might have been the eradication of the latter's forced inequality between the sexes. It would have taught the red man to "subdue the selfish passions, and to respect those rights in others which we value in ourselves".
—William Richardson, "Thomas Jefferson & Race: The Declaration & Notes on the State of Virginia", 16 Polity 3, Spring 1984, p. 454

To a Mexican expatriate, seeking American aid to help revolutionize Mexico, Jefferson had responded that, "a successful revolution was still at a distance with them ... they must begin by enlightening and emancipating the minds of their people ... "
—Lyon Rathbun, "The Representation of Mexicans and the Transformation of American Political Culture, 1787-1848", Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1994, p. 44

Near the end of his life, in 1825, Jefferson contrasted the Saxon and the Norman conquests of England, "the former exhibiting the genuine form and political principles of the people constituting the nation, and founded in the rights of man; the latter built on conquest and physical force, not at all affecting moral rights, nor even assented to by the free will of the vanquished. The battle of Hastings, indeed, was lost, but the natural rights of the nation were not staked on the events of a single battle. Their will to recover the Saxon constitution continued unabated."
—Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Anglo-Saxonism, p. 21. This may not seem so racist, but consider it as laying the foundations for the later belief that only white people valued liberty.

In the next year [1786] Thomas Jefferson wrote that "our Confederacy must be viewed as the nest from which all America, North and South, is to be peopled."
Ibid., p. 86

...Jefferson ignored the agricultural aspects of Indian society and preached the adoption of agriculture and private property as the path to civilization. "Let me entreat you therefore," he told a delegation of Indians in 1808, "on the lands now given you to begin to give every man a farm, let him enclose it, cultivate it, build a warm house on it, and when he dies let it belong to his wife and children after him."
Ibid., pp. 107-08

* * *

Thomas Jefferson was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

Jefferson's opinions in regard to the Mental Qualities of the Negro Race were certainly not favourable for he considered them to be as far inferior to the Rest of Mankind as the mule is to the Horse, and as made to carry Burthens, while he augured but little good as likely to result from their Emancipation, observing that it was an English Hobby, and that the English are apt to ride their Hobbies to Death, and while riding them will hardly suffer any Contradiction, scouting any body that opposes them and he quoted Laws South Sea Scheme, the Tea Tax on America and appeared to think that we should only render the Negroes' fate more miserable by our Perseverance in endeavouring to abolish the Trade.
—Margaret Bailey Tinkcom, "Caviar along the Potomac: Sir Augustus John Foster's 'Notes on the United States,' 1804 -1812", 8 The William and Mary Quarterly 1, 3rd series, January 1951, p. 103. This is a quotation from Augustus John Foster's "Notes on the United States of America."

James Madison

(4) James Madison : 1809-1817

A general emancipation of slaves ought to be—1. Gradual. 2. Equitable, and satisfactory to the individual immediately concerned. 3. Consistent with the existing and durable prejudices of the nation.


To be consistent with existing and probably unalterable prejudices in the United States, the freed blacks ought to be permanently removed beyond the region occupied by, or allotted to, a white population. The objections to a thorough incorporation of the two people, are, with most of the whites, insuperable; and are admitted by all of them to be very powerful. If the blacks, strongly marked as they are by physical and lasting peculiarities, be retained amid the whites, under the degrading privation of equal rights, political or social, they must be always dissatisfied with their condition, as a change only from one to another species of oppression; always secretly confederating against the ruling and privileged class; and always uncontrolled by some of the most cogent motives to moral and respectable conduct. The character of the free blacks even where their legal condition is least affected by their color, seems to put these truths beyond question. It is material, also, that the removal of the blacks to be a distance precluding the jealousies and hostilities to be apprehended from a neighboring people, stimulated by the contempt known to be entertained for their peculiar features; to say nothing of their vindictive recollections, or the predatory propensities which their state of society might foster.
—James Madison to Robert J. Evans, 15 June 1819, Letters and other Writings of James Madison, vol. 3, pp. 133-34. Quoted in "James Madison's Attitude Toward the Negro", 6 Journal of Negro History 1, January 1921, p. 79

If an asylum could be found in Africa, that would be the appropriate destination for the unhappy race among us. Some are sanguine that the efforts of an existing Colonization Society will accomplish such a provision; but a very partial success seems the most that can be expected. Some other region must, therefore, be found for them as they become free and willing to emigrate. The repugnance of the whites to their continuance among them is founded on prejudices, themselves founded on physical distinctions, which are not likely soon, if ever, to be eradicated. Even in States, Massachusetts for example, which displayed most sympathy with the people of colour on the Missouri question, prohibitions are taking place against their becoming residents. They are every where regarded as a nuisance, and must really be such as long as they are under the degradation which public sentiment inflicts on them.
—James Madison to General LaFayette, 1821, Letters and other Writings of James Madison, vol. 3, pp. 239-40. Quoted in ibid., p. 85

Generally idle and depraved; appearing to retain the bad qualities of the slaves, with whom they continue to associate, without acquiring any of the good ones of the whites, from, whom [they] continue separated by prejudices against their colour, and other peculiarities.
—James Madison to Dr. Jed. Morse, 28 March 1823, Letters and other Writings of James Madison, vol. 3, p. 315. This is in reply to Morse's question, "What is their [free blacks'] general character with respect to industry and order, as compared with that of the slaves?" Quoted in ibid., p. 90

[T]he impression remains, and it seems to be indelible, that the two races cannot co-exist, both being free and equal. The great sine qua non, therefore, is some external asylum for the coloured race.
—James Madison to General LaFayette, November 1826, Letters and other Writings of James Madison, vol. 3, p. 542. Quoted in ibid., p. 93

Nor ought another contingent receptable for emancipated slaves to be altogether overlooked. It exists within the territory under the control of the United States, and is not too distant to be out of reach, whilst sufficiently distant to avoid, for an indefiite period, the collisions to be apprehended from the vicinity of people distinguished from each other by physical as well as other characteristics.
—James Madison to Thomas R. Drew, 23 February 1833, Letters and other Writings of James Madison, vol. 4, p. 276. Quoted in ibid., p. 99

...[Madison] concluded that "the prejudices of whites, prejudices which proceed principally from the difference of colour must be considered as permanent and insuperable."
—Donald Burke, "James Madison's Dystopian Vision: The Failure of Equilibrium", 43 American Journal of Legal History 3, July 1999, p. 277

* * *

James Madison was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

In 1833 James Madison became president of the American Colonization Society, which advocated colonizing free blacks in what is now Liberia.

James Madison

(5) James Monroe : 1817-1825

I enclose you some resolutions of the General Assembly of this Commonwealth, passed at its last session explanatory of a resolution of the preceding session authorizing a correspondence with you relative to the purchase of lands without the limits of the State, to which persons obnoxious to the laws or dangerous to the peace of society might be removed. You will recollect that as the precise import of the first resolution was not clearly understood, it was thought proper to submit our communication on it to the General Assembly, that its object and policy might be more accurately defined. The resolutions which I have now the pleasure to communicate to you have removed all doubt on that subject, by confining the attention in procuring the asylum sought to the accommodation of negroes only, and by specifying for what causes, under what circumstances, and (in the case of felons) to what countries it is wished to send them. You will be pleased to observe that there are two descriptions of negroes embraced by these resolutions, the first comprizes [sic] those who being slaves may commit certain enumerated crimes. For such an asylum is preferred on the continent of Africa or the Spanish or Portuguese settlements in South America. The second respects free negroes and mulattoes, including those who may hereafter be emancipated and sent, or choose to remove to such place as may be acquired. For these a preference is not expressed in favor of any particular region or country, nor is the right of sovereignty over such place desired. In removing these people without our limits, no restraint is imposed to preclude the attainment of an asylum anywhere, whereby the object of the State might be defeated, or to prevent that attention to their interests in case an alternative of places is presented, by inhibiting a preference for that which may be deemed best adapted to their constitution, genius, and character.
—James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 13 February 1802. Reprinted in Stanislaus Hamilton, ed., The Writings of James Monroe, vol. 3, pp. 336-37

If the European has more wisdom & energy, than the African, or Asiatick, I am satisfied that the citizens of this Republick, have in like proportion, more, & for the same causes, than the inhabitants of any other portion of this hemisphere, not excepting those, or their descendants, who emigrated from other countries, than that, from which we took our origin.
—James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, 23 August 1820. The Writings of James Monroe, vol. 6, p. 152. Referenced in Race and Manifest Destiny p. 93

My impression is equally strong that it would promote essentially the security and happiness of the tribes within our limits if they could be prevailed on to retire west and north of our States and Territories on lands to be procured for them by the United States, in exchange for those on which they now reside. Surrounded as they are, and pressed as they will be, on every side by the white population, it will be difficult if not impossible for them, with their kind of government, to sustain order among them. Their interior will be exposed to frequent disturbances, to remedy which the interposition of the United States will be indispensable, and thus their government will gradually lose its authority until it is annihilated. In this process the moral character of the tribes will also be lost, since the change will be too rigid to admit their improvement in civilization to enable them to institute and sustain a government founded on our principles, if such a change were compatible either with the compact with Georgia or with our general system, or to become members of a State, should any State be willing to adopt them in such numbers, regarding the good order, peace, and tranquility of such State. But all these evils may be avoided if these tribes will consent to remove beyond the limits of our present States and Territories.
—Address to Congress, 30 March 1824. James Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, vol. 2, pp. 235-36

Being deeply impressed with the opinion that the removal of the Indian tribes from the lands which they now occupy within the limits of the several states and Territories to the country lying westward and northward thereof, within our acknowledged boundaries, is of very high importance to our Union, and may be accomplished on conditions and in a manner to promote the interest and happiness of those tribes, the attention of the Government has been long drawn with great solicitude to the object. For the removal of the tribes within the limits of the State of Georgia the motive has been peculiarly strong, arising from the compact with that State whereby the United States are bound to extinguish the Indian title to the lands within it whenever it may be done peaceably and on reasonable conditions. ... [T]he removal of the tribes from the territory which they now inhabit to that which was designated in the message at the commencement of the session ... would not only shield them from impending ruin, but promote their welfare and happiness. Experience has clearly demonstrated that in their present state it is impossible to incorporate them in such masses, in any form whatever, into our system. It has also demonstrated with equal certainty that without a timely anticipation of and provision against the dangers to which they are exposed, under causes which it will be difficult, if not impossible to control, their degradation and extermination will be inevitable.

The great object to be accomplished is the removal of these tribes to the territory designated.... This can be done only be conveying to each tribe a good title to an adequate portion of land to which it may consent to remove, and by providing for it there a system of internal government which shall protect their property from invasion, and, by the regular progress of improvement and civilization, prevent that degeneracy which has generally marked the transition from the one to the other state.
—Address to Congress, 27 January 1825. Ibid., pp. 280- 81

The digest of such a government, with the consent of the Indians, which should be endowed with sufficient power to meet all the objects contemplated—to connect the several tribes together in a bond of amity and preserve order in each; to prevent intrusions on their property; to teach them by regular instruction the arts of civilized life and make them a civilized people—is an object of very high importance. It is the powerful consideration which we have to offer to these tribes as an inducement to relinquish the lands on which they now reside and to remove to those which are designated. It is not doubted that this arrangement will present considerations of sufficient force to surmount all their prejudices in favor of the soil of their nativity, however strong they may be. Their elders have sufficient intelligence to discern the certain progress of events in the present train, and sufficient virtue, by yielding to momentary sacrifices, to protect their families and posterity from inevitable destruction. They will also perceive that they may thus attain an elevation to which as communities they could not otherwise aspire.
Ibid., p. 282

* * *

James Monroe was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

John Quincy Adams

(6) John Quincy Adams : 1825-1829

Mr. G. W. Cherry was here again this morning, and I had a long conversation with him upon his project of colonization. He is one of the most benevolent visionaries of that fraudulent charitable institution, the Colonization Society.


I observed that by the very last accounts published by the Society itself it appeared that even now, after twenty years of continued migration to the settlement, they were starving for want of bread, with a fertile soil and a latitude close upon the equator. And the cause assigned for it is, that the colonists waste their time in idleness and will not work.
Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, vol. 9, pp. 437-438.

To condemn vast regions of territory to perpetual barrenness and solitude that a few hundred savages might find wild beasts to hunt upon it, was a species of game law that a nation descended from the Britons would never endure. It was incompatible with the moral as with the physical nature of things.
Diary of John Quincy Adams, 1 September 1814, vol. 29, p. 142

I said I took little interest in the character of Desdemona; whose sensual passions I thought over ardent so as to reconcile her to a passion for a black man—and although faithful to him I thought the Poet had painted her as a Lady of rather easy virtue... .
Diary of John Quincy Adams, 11 November 1831, vol. 38, p. 296.

Who can sympathise with the love of Desdemona?—the daughter of a Venetian nobleman, born and educated to a splendid and lofty station in the community. She falls in love and makes a runaway match with a blackamoor, for no better reason than that he has told her a braggart story of his hair-breadth escapes in war. For this, she not only violates her duties to her father, her family, her sex, and her country, but she makes the first advances. She tells Othello she wished Heaven had made her such a man, and informs him how any friend of his may win her by telling her again his story. On that hint, says he, I spoke; and well he might. The blood must circulate briskly in the veins of a young woman, so fascinated, and so coming to the tale of a rude, unbleached African soldier.

The great moral lesson of the tragedy of 'Othello' is, that black and white blood cannot be intermingled in marriage without a gross outrage upon the law of Nature; and that, in such violations, Nature will vindicate her laws. The moral of Othello is not to beware of jealousy, for his jealousy is well founded in the character and conduct of his wife, though not in the fact of her infidelity with Cassio. Desdemona is not false to her husband, but she has been false to the purity and delicacy of her sex and condition when she married him; and the last words spoken by her father on parting from them, after he has forgiven her and acquiesced in the marriage, are—

'Look to her, Moor; have a quick eye to see:
She has deceived her father, and may thee.'

And this very idea is that by which the crafty villain Iago works up into madness the jealousy of Othello.

Whatever sympathy we feel for the sufferings of Desdemona flows from the consideration that she is innocent of the particular crime imputed to her, and that she is the victim of a treacherous and artful intriguer. But, while compassionating her melancholy fate, we cannot forget the vice of her character. Upon the stage, her fondling with Othello is disgusting. Who, in real life, would have her for his sister, daughter, or wife? She is not guilty of infidelity to her husband, but she forfeits all the affection of her father and all her own filial affection for him. When the duke proposes, on the departure of Othello for the war, that she should return during his absence to her father's house, the father, the daughter and the husband all say 'No!' She prefers following Othello, to be besieged by the Turks in the island of Cyprus.
—John Quincy Adams, "Misconceptions of Shakspeare [sic] Upon the Stage", 9 New-England Magazine 6, December 1835, pp. 438-39

There are critics who cannot bear to see the virtue and delicacy of Shakespeare's Desdemona called in question; who defend her on the ground that Othello is not an Ethiopian, but a Moor; that he is not black, but only tawny; and they protest against the sable mask of Othello upon the stage, and against the pictures of him in which he is always painted black. ... To them; therefore, Desdemona is a perfect character; and her love for Othello is not unnatural because he is not a Congo Negro but only a sooty Moor, and has royal blood in his veins.
—John Quincy Adams, "The Character of Desdemona", American Monthly Magazine, March 1863

My objection to the character of Desdemona arise not from what Iago, or Roderigo, or Brabantio, or Othello says of her; but from what she herself does. She absconds, from her father's house, in the dead of night, to marry a blackamoor. She breaks a father's heart, and covers his noble house with shame, to gratify—what? Pure love, like that of Juliet or Miranda? No! Unnatural passion; it cannot be named with delicacy. Her admirers now say this is criticism of 1835; that the color of Othello has nothing to do with the passion of Desdemona. No? Why, if Othello had been white, what need would there have been for her running away with him? She could have made no better match. Her father could have made no reasonable objection to it; and there could have been no tragedy. If the color of Othello is not as vital to the whole tragedy as the age of Juliet is to her character and destiny, then have I read Shakespeare in vain. The father of Desdemona charges Othello with magic arts in obtaining the affection of his daughter. Why, but because her passion for him is unnatural; and why is it unnatural, but because of his color!

The first action of Desdemona discards all female delicacy, all filial duty, all sense of ingenuous shame. So I consider it—and so it is considered by her own father. Her offense is not a mere elopement from her father's house for a clandestine marriage. I hope it requires no unreasonable rigor of morality to consider even that as suited to raise a prepossession rather unfavorable to the character of a young woman of refined sensibility and elevated education. But an elopement for a clandestine marriage with a blackamoor! That is the measure of my estimation of the character of Desdemona from the beginning; and when I have passed my judgment upon it, and find in the play that from the first moment of her father's knowledge of the act it made him loathe his life, and that it finally broke his heart, I am then in time to inquire, what was the deadly venom which inflicted the immedicable wound—and what is it, but the color of Othello?

I still retain, then, the opinion—
First. That the passion of Desdemona for Othello is unnatural, solely and exclusively because of his color.
Second. That her elopement to him, and secret marriage with him, indicate a personal character not only very deficient in delicacy, but totally regardless of filial duty, of female modesty, and of ingenuous shame.
Third. That her deficiency in delicacy is discernible in her conduct and discourse throughout the play.

I have said the moral of the tragedy is, that the intermarriage of black and white blood is a violation of the law of nature. That is the lesson to be learned from the play. To exhibit all the natural consequences of their act, the poet is compelled to make the marriage secret. It must commence by an elopement, and by an outrage upon the decorum of social intercourse. He must therefore assume, for the performance of this act, persons of moral character sufficiently frail and imperfect to be capable of performing it, but in other respects endowed with pleasing and estimable qualities.

The marriage, however, is the source of all her calamities; it is the primitive cause of all the tragic incidents of the play, and of its terrible catastrophe. That the moral lesson to be learned from it is of no practical utility in England, where there are no valiant Moors to steal the affections of fair and high-born dames, may be true; the lesson, however, is not the less, couched under the form of an admirable drama; nor needs it any laborious effort of the imagination to extend the moral precept resulting from the story to a salutary admonition against all ill-assorted, clandestine, and unnatural marriages.

Dear Thomas, deem it no disgrace
    With slaves to mend thy breed,
Nor let the wench's smutty face
    Deter thee from the deed.
At Troy's fam'd seige the bullying blade
Who swore no laws for him were made,
    Robs, kills, sets all in flame—
A slave in petticoats appears,
And souse! in love! head over ears
    The Lion's heart is tame!

Lord of the world, when Nero reign'd,
    When fires were his delight
A slave the Tyger's bosom chain'd,
    That slave indeed was white.
Lo! at his feet the fawning train,
His Smith, Blake, Cheetham and Duane,
    Howling his praise are seen!
Vice turns to virtue at his nod;
Imperial Nero, grows a god
    And acte grows a Queen.

Speak but the word! alike for thee
    Thy venal tribe shall swear
purest of mortals thou shalt be
    And sally shall be fair.
No blasted brood of Afric's earth
Shall boast the glory of her birth
    And shame thy daughter's brother,
To prove thy panders shall conspire
Some king of Congo was her sire—
    Some Ethiop Queen her mother.

Yet, from a princess and a king
    Whatever be their hue,
Since none but idiots spring,
    And gods must spring from you.
We'll make thy Tommy's lineage lend;
Black and white genius both shall blend
    In him their rays divine.
From Phillis Wheatley we'll contrive
Or brighter Sancho to derive
    Thy son's maternal line.

Though nature o'er thy Sally's frame
    Has spread her sable veil,
Yet shall the loudest trump of fame
    Resound your tender tale.
Her charms of person, charms of mind
To you and motley scores confin'd
    Shall scent each future age;
And still her jetty fleece and eyes
Pug nose, thick lips and ebon [?thighs]
    Shall blacken Clio's page.

Nay, Thomas, fumble not thy head,
    Though Sally's worth I sing,
In me, no rival canst thou dread,
    I cause no horns to spring.
Besides my three score years and ten
I was not form'd like other men
    To burn for beauteous faces—
One pint of brandy from the still
My soul with fiercer joys can fill
    Than Venus and her graces.
—"Ode to Xanthia Phoceus", Port Folio, 30 October 1802. Republished in James G. Basker, Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems About Slavery, 1660-1810, pp. 576-78

Slavery in a moral sense is an evil, but as connected with commerce it has its uses.
—Binder, Color Problem, p. 29

[A]fter leaving the presidency, Adams noted that there was "misapprehension and much prejudice" about the treatment of southern slaves. He wrote that there were perhaps a few cases of "extreme opposition and cruelty, but I believe them to be very rare and that the general treatment of slaves is mild and moderate." Adams was later highly critical of the abolitionists, particularly William Lloyd Garrison, claiming that they would destroy the Union to satisfy their ends.
—"The Antislavery Views of President John Quincy Adams", Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, no. 18, Winter 1997-98, p. 102

The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union.
—John Quincy Adams to John Adams, 31 August 1811, in Worthington Chauncey Ford (ed.), Writings of John Quincy Adams, volume 4, p. 209. Cited in Walter MacDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World Since 1776, p. 78

In Adams' estimation, the cultural divide between North and South America was as deep as the gulf between the United States and the monarchies of Europe. Meditating on a recent discussion with Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary,

I yet see no prospect that they [South Americans] would establish free or liberal institutions of government. They are not likely to promote the spirit either of freedom or order by their example. They have not the first element of good or free government. Arbitrary power, military and ecclesiastical, was stamped upon their education, upon their habits, and upon all their institutions. Civil dissension was infused into all their seminal principles. War and mutual destruction was in every member of their organization, moral, political, and physical. I had little expectation of any beneficial result to this country from any future connection with them, political or commercial. We should derive no improvement to our own institutions by any communion with theirs...

—"The Representation of Mexicans", pp. 107-08

Back in 1817, when the embryonic Mexican Congress was sending its ardent thanks to Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams was opposing aid to the revolutionary movements in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. Republican government, he had declared, could not emerge within a "heterogeneous mass of Creoles, Indians, and Negro slaves who had no spirit of freedom and no common principle of reason." The premier nationalist of the period, John Quincy Adams was sure that republicanism could only be secured in the Americas by expanding the dominion of the United States across the North American continent.
Ibid., pp. 226-27

Rebuking the Southern members who generally opposed the resolution to terminate joint occupancy of Oregon, Adams took the floor on February 9 and declared, "I do hold the title of the United States to be clear and unquestionable." Blatantly contradicting his Spartan arguments against the annexation of Texas, Adams asked the clerk to open the Bible and read the 26th, 27th, and 28th verses of the first chapter of Genesis, which culminates in God's admonishment to,

be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

"There Sir," Adams declared, "in my judgment is the foundation not only of our title to Oregon, but the foundation of all human title to all human possessions."

Having caught his listeners' attention, Adams proceeded to explain, "We claim that country for what? To make the wilderness blossom as the rose, to establish laws, to increase, multiply and subdue the earth, which we are commanded to do by the first behest of God Almighty." In contrast, the British wanted Oregon only "to keep it open for navigation, for hunters to hunt the wild beasts ... for the buffaloes, braves, and savages of the desert."
Ibid., p. 339

...[A]s Secretary of State, Adams defended not only Andrew Jackson's invasion of Spanish Florida, but also his execution of certain Indian prisoners without trial. "It is thus only," he wrote in a widely publicized diplomatic dispatch, "that the barbarities of the Indians can successfully be encountered."
—Lynn Hudson Parsons, "'A Perpetual Harrow upon My Feelings': John Quincy Adams and the American Indian", 46 The New England Quarterly 3, September 1973, p. 340

Noting that those whom he styled "moralists" and "philanthropists" had raised the issue, Adams defended the rights of the European through arguments already used by such authorities as Vattel and Locke, namely, that intensive agrarian communities have stronger claims to the same land than do extensive hunting or nomadic groups. The Indians, far less numerous than the Europeans, had no right to stand in the way of the white man, who would use the land to sustain several times the number of human beings:

What is the right of a huntsman to the forest of a thousand miles over which he has accidentally ranged in quest of prey?. . .Shall the fields and the vallies, which a beneficent God has formed to teem with the life of innumerable multitudes, be condemned to everlasting barrenness? Shall the mighty rivers poured out by the hands of nature, as channels of communication between numerous nations, roll their waters in sullen silence and eternal solitude to the deep? Have hundreds of commodious harbours, a thousand leagues of coast, and a boundless ocean been spread in the front of this land, and shall every purpose of utility to which they could apply be prohibited by the tenant of the woods? No, generous philanthropists! Heaven has not been thus inconsistent in the works of its hands!

Ibid., p. 343

His diary and correspondence indicate that Adams was prepared to go further than any of his colleagues in asserting white power over the natives, as well as proclaiming the inevitable expansion of Anglo- Saxon civilization. In his proposed draft of an American reply to the British Indian proposal he reiterated the Plymouth arguments:

It cannot be unknown to the British government that the principal if not the only value of lands to the Indian state of society is their property as hunting grounds. That in the unavoidable, and surely not to be regretted, progress of a population increasing with unexampled rapidity, and of the civilized settlements consequent upon it, the mere approximation of cultivated fields, of villages and of cities, necessarily diminishes and by degrees annihilates the only quality of the adjoining deserts, which makes them subject of Indian occupancy.

Therefore, concluded Adams, it was in the Indian's own best interests to make way for the white man, and to sell the lands which the latter's encroachments had made worthless. Any idea of an independent Indian state was not only contrary to the interests of all concerned, but in defiance of the flow of history. Even if Great Britain were successful in extracting "a concession so pernicious and degrading" from the Americans,

Can she believe that the swarming myriads of her own children, in the process of converting the western wilderness to a powerful empire, could be long cramped or arrested by a treaty stipulation confining whole regions of territory to a few scattered hordes of savages, whose numbers to the end of ages would not amount to the population of one considerable city?

Ibid., pp. 344-45

He pointed out that it was American policy to respect the possessions of the Indian tribes, who, like the Cherokees, had adopted agricultural ways. "But," Adams went on, "the greater part of the Indians could never be prevailed upon to adopt this mode of life. . . .It was impossible for such people ever to be said to have possessions."
Ibid., p. 345

He proposed that his colleagues insist on "the moral and religious duty of the American nation to cultivate their territory, though to the necessary extinction of all the rights of savage tribes, by fair and amicable means." Gallatin and the others were willing to acknowledge this "duty," but circumspectly preferred to leave God and morality out of it. Even after the British abandoned the demand for an independent Indian state, Adams opposed any settlement of the War of 1812 which did not explicitly recognize total white American control over the natives. He told his wife that he would have been prepared to break off negotiations over the issue, but his colleagues prevailed upon him to relent.
Ibid., p. 346

Placing the blame for the affair [Andrew Jackson's execution of Seminoles without trial in 1818] on Spanish inability or unwillingness to control the Seminoles and the "banditti of negroes" who were their allies, Adams presented a highly inaccurate picture of the events which led to Jackson's invasion of Florida. He concentrated on the "barbarous, unrelenting, and exterminating character of Indian hostilities," and even concealed—or abandoned—his reservations over the execution of the Indian prisoners. "Contending with such enemies," he told the American Minister at Madrid, "although humanity revolts at entire retaliation upon them. . .yet mercy herself surrenders to retributive justice the lives of their leading warriors taken in arms. . . ." In a more restrained mood, Adams later told Gallatin, at that time American Minister in Paris, that the deterrent effects of the invasion "will be the greatest benefit ever conferred by a white man upon their tribes, since it will be the only possible means of redeeming them from the alternative otherwise unavoidable of their utter extermination."
Ibid., pp. 347-48

As Adams reported late in 1825:

Mr. Clay said he thought. . . that it was impossible to civilize Indians; that there never was a full-blooded Indian who took to civilization. It was not in their nature. He believed they were destined to extinction, and, although he would never use or countenance inhumanity towards them, he did not think them, as a race, worth preserving. He considered them as essentially inferior to the Anglo-Saxon race, which were now taking their place on this continent. They were not an improvable breed, and their disappearance from the human family will be no great loss to the world. In point of fact they were rapidly disappearing, and he did not believe that in fifty years from this time there would be any of them left.

"Governor Barbour was somewhat shocked at these opinions," noted Adams, adding significantly "for which I fear there is too much foundation."
Ibid., p. 357

Faced by a divided cabinet and intransigent plans, Barbour was forced to modify his plans, and he suggested to the cabinet that the Indians should be removed, but that they should be brought to civilization and incorporated into the union by combining them in a separate territory west of the Mississippi. Barbour was to make it quite clear later that he had no real faith in this plan, which had been forced upon him. The cabinet accepted the plan, not out of conviction, but because it was the only politically acceptable one. On the day Barbour reluctantly proposed it to the cabinet, Adams commented about the Indians that "I fear there is no practicable plan by which they can be organized into one civilized, or half-civilized, Government. Mr. Rush, Mr. Southard, and Mr. Wirt all expressed their doubts of the practicability of Governor Barbour's plan; but they had nothing effective to propose, and I approved it from the same motive."
Race and Manifest Destiny, pp. 198-99

John Quincy Adams hastened to defend himself against the charges of racism leveled by the two newspapers [that were criticizing his article "Misconceptions of Shakspeare Upon the Stage"]. Writing to Dr. Parkman, whom he had authorized to publish his critique of Othello, the congressman argued, "If the colour of Othello is not as vital to the whole tragedy as the age of Juliet is to her character and destiny, then I have read Shakespeare in vain."


Thus, Adams' strong objections to Othello as a mate for Desdemona were based upon grounds of both social class and race. Apparently, during the period 1830-1831, he had first recorded his objections to the Othello love scene. ... Writing to Pennsylvania author Charles Jared Ingersoll in February 1831, Adams referred to Desdemona as a "wanton trollop" and "fair damsel of Venice," who received her just dessert for "falling in love with a blackamoor."
—William Jerry MacLean, "Othello Scorned: The Racial Thought of John Quincy Adams," 4 Journal of the Early Republic 2, Summer 1984, p. 149

Adams could not rid himself of his revulsion for miscegenation, however, and sometimes used such derogatory expressions as "half- breed" and "mongrel" in referring to persons of mixed race. Writing to abolitionist leader Benjamin Lundy in 1836, Adams denounced what he believed to be a conspiracy between high officials in the United States, Mexico, and Texas to cede the latter to the United States. In this instance, he was especially critical of the "craven cowadice [sic] of the mongrel Mexican." Three years later, Adams used similar language in describing a confrontation with British antislavery advocate John Scoble. The congressman termed Scoble's proposal of immediate emancipation of West Indian slaves impractical. In his diary, Adams boasted that he had successfully pressed Scoble into admitting that if the Englishman's scheme was implemented, the islands would ultimately be taken over by "a mongrel half-breed of African and European blood" who would proceed to drive whites away.
Ibid., p. 151

Andrew Jackson

(7) Andrew Jackson : 1829-1837

In a set of points he intended to raise with his envoy to Mexico, scribbled in the summer of 1829, Jackson lists among the advantages of the possible acquisition of Texas the prospect that the "additional territory" could be used for "concentrating the Indians," thereby "relieving the states of the inconveniences which the residue within their limits at present afford."
—Alfred A. Cave, "Abuse of Power: Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830", 65 Historian 6, Winter 2003, p. 1338

[I]n his 1830 annual message to Congress, Jackson in effect repudiated his 1829 observations about the cruelty of compelling "aborigines to abandon the graves of their fathers and seek a home in a distant land." "Doubtless," the president now declared, "it will be painful for them to leave the graves of their forefathers, but what do they do more than our ancestors did or our children are now doing?"
Ibid., p. 1339

[A] typical example of Jackson's response to Indian petitioners is found in his message to the Cherokee, dated 16 March 1835, wherein he declared, "you cannot remain where you now are. Circumstances that cannot be controlled, and which are beyond the reach of human laws, render it impossible that you can flourish in the midst of a civilized community. . . . Deceive yourselves no longer. . . . Shut your ears to bad counsels."
Ibid., pp. 1340-41

"I could not bear the idea of inhumanity to my poor negroes," Jackson said of his own human property. Yet he advertised in the press for the return of runaway slaves (with a greater reward for those captured and whipped), and concocted stories if discipline crippled or killed a slave. Of a beaten woman, he wrote to a partner in one such cover-up: "You may say to Dr. Hogg, that her lament was occasioned by a stroke from Betty [another slave], or jumping over a rope, in which her feet became entangled, and she fell."
—Kenneth O'Reilly, Nixon's Piano: Presidents and Racial Politics from Washington to Clinton, p. 32

Fearing that the Union faced a more immediate threat from abolitionist literature flooding the South, the president embraced the southern solution ("a most fearful surveillance of the post office"). He ordered Postmaster General Amos Kendall to deny the abolitionists the use of the mail and asked Congress for a federal law prohibiting circulation of antislavery propaganda. Only southern subscribers who demanded abolitionist literature ought to receive it, he noted, and the newspapers ought to publish the recipients' names. "[For] those in the South, who were patronizing these incendiary works," Jackson would deliver, along with the mail, "such disrepute with all the South, that they would be compelled to desist, or move from the country." Abolitionists, the president held, were "monsters" sent by moneyed masters to "stir up amongst the South the horrors of servile war." They intended to free the Negro and drive him North to drive down working-class wages.
Ibid., pp. 32-33

It has long been the policy of Government to introduce among them the arts of civilization, in the hope of gradually reclaiming them from a wandering life. This policy has, however, been coupled with another wholly incompatible with its success. Professing a desire to civilize and settle them, we have at the same time lost no opportunity to purchase their lands and thrust them farther into the wilderness. By this means they have not only been kept in a wandering state, but been led to look upon us as unjust and indifferent to their fate. Thus, though lavish in its expenditures upon the subject, Government has constantly defeated its own policy, and the Indians in general, receding farther and farther to the west, have retained their savage habits. A portion, however, of the Southern tribes, having mingled much with the whites and made some progress in the arts of civilized life, have lately attempted to erect an independent government within the limits of Georgia and Alabama.
—First State of the Union Address, 8 December 1829

Surrounded by the whites with their arts of civilization, which by destroying the resources of the savage doom him to weakness and decay, the fate of the Mohegan, the Narragansett, and the Delaware is fast over-taking the Choctaw, the Cherokee, and the Creek. That this fate surely awaits them if they remain within the limits of the States does not admit of a doubt.

Humanity has often wept over the fate of the aborigines of this country, and Philanthropy has been long busily employed in devising means to avert it, but its progress has never for a moment been arrested, and one by one have many powerful tribes disappeared from the earth. To follow to the tomb the last of his race and to tread on the graves of extinct nations excite melancholy reflections. But true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another. In the monuments and fortifications of an unknown people, spread over the extensive regions of the West, we behold the memorials of a once powerful race, which was exterminated or has disappeared to make room for the existing savage tribes. Nor is there any thing in this which, upon a comprehensive view of the general interests of the human race, is to be regretted. Philanthropy could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms, embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization, and religion?
—Second State of the Union Address, 6 December 1830

Treaties, either absolute or conditional, have been made extinguishing the whole Indian title to the reservations in that State, and the time is not distant, it is hoped, when Ohio will be no longer embarrassed with the Indian population. The same measures will be extended to Indiana as soon as there is reason to anticipate success. It is confidently believed that perseverance for a few years in the present policy of the Government will extinguish the Indian title to all lands lying within the States composing our Federal Union, and remove beyond their limits every Indian who is not willing to submit to their laws.

Thus will all conflicting claims to jurisdiction between the States and the Indian tribes be put to rest. It is pleasing to reflect that results so beneficial, not only to the States immediately concerned, but to the harmony of the Union, will have been accomplished by measures equally advantageous to the Indians. What the native savages become when surrounded by a dense population and by mixing with the whites may be seen in the miserable remnants of a few Eastern tribes, deprived of political and civil rights, forbidden to make contracts, and subjected to guardians, dragging out a wretched existence, without excitement, without hope, and almost without thought.

But the removal of the Indians beyond the limits and jurisdiction of the States does not place them beyond the reach of philanthropic aid and Christian instruction. On the contrary, those whom philanthropy or religion may induce to live among them in their new abode will be more free in the exercise of their benevolent functions than if they had remained within the limits of the States, embarrassed by their internal regulations. Now subject to no control but the superintending agency of the General Government, exercised with the sole view of preserving peace, they may proceed unmolested in the interesting experiment of gradually advancing a community of American Indians from barbarism to the habits and enjoyments of civilized life.
—Third State of the Union Address, 6 December 1831

My original convictions upon this subject have been confirmed by the course of events for several years, and experience is every day adding to their strength. That those tribes can not exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition. Established in the midst of another and a superior race, and without appreciating the causes of their inferiority or seeking to control them, they must necessarily yield to the force of circumstances and ere long disappear.
—Fifth State of the Union Address, 3 December 1833

Forthright and hardhitting, he adopted a no-nonsense policy toward hostile Indians that endeared him to the frontiersmen. For example, when a white woman was taken captive by the Creeks, he declared: "With such arms and supplies as I can obtain I shall penetrate the creek Towns, untill the Captive, with her Captors are delivered up, and think myself Justifiable, in laying waste their villiages, burning their houses, killing their warriors and leading into Captivity their wives and children, untill I do obtain a surrender of the Captive, and the Captors." In his general orders to the Tennessee militia after he received news of the Fort Mims massacre, he called for "retaliatory vengeance" against the "inhuman blood thirsty barbarians."
—F. P. Prucha, "Andrew Jackson's Indian Policy: A Reassessment", 56 Journal of American History 3, December 1969, p. 529

It is true, of course, that he did not consider the Indians to be noble savages. He had, for example, a generally uncomplimentary view of their motivation, and he argued that it was necessary to operate upon their fears, rather than on some higher motive. Thus, in 1812 he wrote: "I believe self interest and self preservation the most predominant passion. [F]ear is better than love with an indian." Twenty-five years later, just after he left the presidency, the same theme recurred; and he wrote: "long experience satisfies me that they are only to be well governed by their fears. If we feed their avarice we accelerate the causes of their destruction. By a prudent exertion of our military power we may yet do something to alleviate their condition at the same time that we certainly take from them the means of injury to our frontier."
Ibid., p. 531

Jackson's own draft of this first annual message presents a more personal view than the final public version and gives some insight into his reasoning. He wrote:

The policy of the government has been gradually to open to them the ways of civilisation; and from their wandering habits, to entice them to a course of life calculated to present fairer prospects of comfort and happiness. To effect this a system should be devised for their benefit, kind and liberal, and gradually to be enlarged as they may evince a capability to enjoy it. It will not answer to encourage them to the idea of exclusive self government. It is impracticable. No people were ever free, or capable of forming and carrying into execution a social compact for themselves until education and intelligence was first introduced. There are with those tribes, a few educated and well informed men, possessing mind and Judgment, and capable of conducting public affairs to advantage; but observation proves that the great body of the southern tribes of Indians, are erratic in their habits, and wanting in those endowments, which are suited to a people who would direct themselves, and under it be happy and prosperous.

Ibid., p. 533

Immediately after the first abolitionist mail bombing of the South, President Andrew Jackson wrote to advise Amos Kendall on how the matter should be handled. Following the code of "community obligation," Jackson thought that it was best to let southern neighbors pressure other southerners to reject the publications. "We can do nothing more than direct that those inflamatory [sic] papers be delivered to none but who will demand them as subscribers," wrote Jackson. "In every instance the Postmaster ought to take the names down, and have them exposed thro the publik [sic] journals as subscribers to this wicked plan of exciting the negroes to insurrection and to massacre." Jackson's response was typical of other southerners—locals should take care of the problem at home with unification, vigilance, and threats. Jackson believed that with such publicity "every moral and good citizen will unite to put them in coventry, and avoid their society. This, if adopted, would put their circulation down everywhere, for there are few so hardened in villainy, as to withstand the frowns of all good men."
—Jennifer Rose Mercieca, "The Culture of Honor: How Slaveholders Responded to the Abolitionist Mail Crisis of 1835", 10 Rhetoric & Public Affairs 1, Spring 2007, p. 66

Jackson made the issue a federal concern in his December 7, 1835, message to Congress. His outrage at the mail bombing was evident when he described it as "destructive of the harmony and peace of the country, and so repugnant to the principles of our national compact, and to the dictates of humanity and religion." Like Congressman Jones of Virginia, President Jackson found the country to be "fortunate" because of the professed anti-abolitionist sentiment expressed by "the good sense, the generous feeling, and the deep-rooted attachment of the people of the non-slaveholding States of the Union." But, like other slaveholders who had called for more action and less talk, Jackson found this anti-abolitionist talk lacking.

But if these expressions of the public shall not be sufficient to effect so desirable a result, not a doubt can be entertained that the non-slaveholding States, so far from countenancing the slightest interference with the constitutional rights of the South, will be prompt to exercise their authority in suppressing, so far as in them lies, whatever is calculated to produce this evil.

Just as other slaveholders had done, Jackson called upon the North to take action to censor and to prohibit the association of abolitionists in order to secure southern safety. He asked Congress to pass "such law as will prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection." Even though Jackson supported the use of local community law—both North and South—to control the bad mail, like other southerners he hoped that the federal government would assume its responsibility, its "great trust," and close abolitionists' access to the southern public sphere. He argued that doing so would "preserve inviolate the relations created among the States by the Constitution." Thus we see an exact replica of slaveholder outrage as printed in local newspapers and in Committee of Safety Resolutions: abolitionists had violated southern rights and safety and while the North may have feigned support for slaveholders, direct action was required to preserve the Constitution and the Union.
Ibid., p. 67

* * *

Andrew Jackson was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

The election of Jackson in 1828 sealed the fate of the southern Indians. Since 1814 Jackson had been anxious to clear the Indians from the southern states. After the War of 1812 his presence as a commissioner to negotiate Indian treaties had regularly been requested in the South. The states knew well that he would do all that was possible to obtain land. He was determined to have removal. As president he made it known through Secretary of War John Eaton that he would no longer protect the Indians against the southern states who wanted their lands. Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee had all given Jackson crushing popular majorities in the 1828 election. Once Jackson was elected the southern states could extend their jurisdiction over the Indian lands within their borders. Neither John Marshall at the Supreme Court nor the missionaries among the Indians could save them.
Race and Manifest Destiny, p. 201

Jackson, a leading proponent of removal, signed into law the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Treaty of New Echota was also negotiated during his term, and the enforcement of it in Van Buren's term led to the Trail of Tears.

Martin Van Buren

(8) Martin Van Buren : 1837-1841

The last, perhaps the greatest, of the prominent sources of discord and disaster supposed to lurk in our political condition was the institution of domestic slavery. Our forefathers were deeply impressed with the delicacy of this subject, and they treated it with a forbearance so evidently wise that in spite of every sinister foreboding it never until the present period disturbed the tranquillity of our common country. Such a result is sufficient evidence of the justice and the patriotism of their course; it is evidence not to be mistaken that an adherence to it can prevent all embarrassment from this as well as from every other anticipated cause of difficulty or danger. Have not recent events made it obvious to the slightest reflection that the least deviation from this spirit of forbearance is injurious to every interest, that of humanity included? Amidst the violence of excited passions this generous and fraternal feeling has been sometimes disregarded; and standing as I now do before my countrymen, in this high place of honor and of trust, I can not refrain from anxiously invoking my fellow-citizens never to be deaf to its dictates. Perceiving before my election the deep interest this subject was beginning to excite, I believed it a solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it, and now, when every motive for misrepresentation has passed away, I trust that they will be candidly weighed and understood. At least they will be my standard of conduct in the path before me. I then declared that if the desire of those of my countrymen who were favorable to my election was gratified "I must go into the Presidential chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of every attempt on the part of Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia against the wishes of the slaveholding States, and also with a determination equally decided to resist the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists." I submitted also to my fellow-citizens, with fullness and frankness, the reasons which led me to this determination. The result authorizes me to believe that they have been approved and are confided in by a majority of the people of the United States, including those whom they most immediately affect. It now only remains to add that no bill conflicting with these views can ever receive my constitutional sanction. These opinions have been adopted in the firm belief that they are in accordance with the spirit that actuated the venerated fathers of the Republic, and that succeeding experience has proved them to be humane, patriotic, expedient, honorable, and just. If the agitation of this subject was intended to reach the stability of our institutions, enough has occurred to show that it has signally failed, and that in this as in every other instance the apprehensions of the timid and the hopes of the wicked for the destruction of our Government are again destined to be disappointed. Here and there, indeed, scenes of dangerous excitement have occurred, terrifying instances of local violence have been witnessed, and a reckless disregard of the consequences of their conduct has exposed individuals to popular indignation; but neither masses of the people nor sections of the country have been swerved from their devotion to the bond of union and the principles it has made sacred. It will be ever thus. Such attempts at dangerous agitation may periodically return, but with each the object will be better understood. That predominating affection for our political system which prevails throughout our territorial limits, that calm and enlightened judgment which ultimately governs our people as one vast body, will always be at hand to resist and control every effort, foreign or domestic, which aims or would lead to overthrow our institutions.
—Inaugural address, 4 March 1837

Abolition, he said, was no more than a movement "of evil disposed persons to disturb the harmony of our happy Union through its agency."
Nixon's Piano, p. 34

Van Buren quickly established good relationships with the political and royal leadership in Britain including Prime Minister Lord Palmerston. Correspondence between the two showed a friendly repartee that even included a letter from Van Buren in February 1832 on behalf of slaveholders in the United States requesting the return of slaves seized by the British. In the tradition of Van Buren's constitutional view of the issue, he argued that it was the slaveholders' "property" that had been confiscated by the British and should therefore be returned.
—Scott David Stempson, "Defenders of the Union: Five Antebellum Presidents and the Civil War", Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Nebraska, pp. 16-17

William Marcy, an old friend of Van Buren's from the Albany Regency, had recently been sworn in as the new governor of New York. Van Buren wrote him a letter in February 1833 advising him on what he should do in regard to the rising "agitation," as Van Buren called it, of the abolitionists in their home state. Abolition, the idea that slavery should be ended immediately, was gaining in momentum by the 1830s; and many, including Van Buren, believed it to be too radical a step to take at the time. In his letter to Marcy, he advised him to use the power of the "people and government" to not let the actions of the "agitators" get out of hand. He wrote that the "formation of abolitionist societies" had "roused the feelings of the people to a point which cannot be trifled with." Van Buren went even further in writing that the abolitionists were "meddling...where they have no right to," and that "their interference besides doing great injury to the slaves is endangering the lives of our southern brethren, destroying the harmony and the existence of our blessed union."
Ibid., pp. 18-19

Occasionally, Van Buren would write letters clarifying a position he had taken on various issues like his letter to Samuel Gwin, apparently a southern slave holder, in July 1834, regarding the rumor that he was in favor of the congressional manumission of slaves who had escaped to free states. He wrote that he was "not in favor of our interference by Congress in manumitting your slave property." Not only that, but he believed that was not even something Congress had the authority to do: "I do not see on what authority the government could interfere without a change of the constitution."
Ibid., p. 19

He began his letter by unequivocally stating that he believed "Congress has no right to interfere in any manner, or to any extent, with the subject of slavery in the States;" and that he was "against the propriety of their [Congress] doing so in the District of Columbia." He then expanded by writing that he was "in full concurrence in the sentiments that had been made at a public meeting in Albany, all of which he listed. Some of those "sentiments" Van Buren quoted that appear to be the closest to his personal feelings follow: "That the relation of master and slave is a matter exclusively belonging to the people of each state, within its own boundary, and that any attempt by the Government or people of any other State, or by the General Government, to interfere with or disturb it, would violate the spirit of that compromise which lies at the basis of the federal compact."

Van Buren continued to quote the sentiments of the Albany meeting: "That we can only hope to maintain the Union of the States by abstaining from all interference with the laws, domestic policies and peculiar interests of every other state...That they deprecated the conduct of those who are attempting to coerce their brethren in other States into the abolition of slavery, by appeals to the fears of the master into the passions of the slave; and that they could not but consider them as disturbers of the public peace, and would, by all constitutional means, exert their influence to arrest the progress of such measures." The people of Albany and Van Buren himself wanted to emphasize that the majority of northerners were not part of the radical abolitionist movement: "That the people of the south would do great injustice if they allow themselves to believe that the few who are interfering with the question of slavery, are acting in accordance with the sentiments of the north upon the subject."


Up to this point, Van Buren would only vaguely allude to the presidential campaign and his participation in it with words like "from the lights now before me," and at another point he wrote about the "conspicuous situation in which I have been placed before the public." However, he finally mentioned the office when he wrote: "I prefer that not only you, but all the people of the United States shall now understand, that if the desire of that portion of them which is favorable to my elevation to the Chief Magistracy, should be gratified, I must go into the Presidential chair, the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of any attempt on the part of Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, against the wishes of the slave-holding States; and also with the determination equally decided, to resist the slightest interference with the subject in the States where it exists." Boiled down, Van Buren was telling these gentlemen as well as the nation—this letter was printed in the Richmond Enquirer—that as president, he would not interfere with slavery where it existed and that if Congress did so in the District of Columbia or anywhere else, it would surely "endanger the perpetuity, and if sanctioned by the General Government, would inevitably occasion the dissolution of our happy Union." That was not going to happen on Van Buren's watch if he had anything to say about it.

He also took this opportunity to take one more shot at the abolitionists. He was attempting to persuade the southerners that they were a minority in the North: "All future attempts on the part of the abolitionists to do so [make ending slavery part of party politics] will then only serve to accumulate and concentrate public odium on themselves...their numbers, when compared to the rest of the community, are very inconsiderable; and if the condition of things be not greatly aggravated by imprudence, many of them, I have no doubt, will ultimately adopt sounder views on the subject; and the efforts of those who may persist in the work of agitation, may be overcome by reason, or rendered inoperative by constitutional remedies."

It is interesting to note that toward the end of this correspondence, Van Buren offers a common 18th Century paternalistic view toward the slaves: "...the slaves must be left to control of the slave-holding States themselves, without molestation or interference from any other quarter; that foreign interference of every description can only be injurious to the slave, without benefit to any interest, and will not be endured by any section of our country...instead of accusing our countrymen who hold property in slaves, with disregarding the general principles of liberty and the dictates of pure religion, they will recognize, in this class of our citizens, as sincere friends to the happiness of mankind as any others, and will become sensible that this species of property, the result of causes over which they had no control, is an inheritance which they only know how to dispose of." Only the slave-owners, according to Van Buren, were qualified to decide what to do with their "species of property" and as president, Van Buren would not interfere with that unique relationship.
Ibid., pp. 24-27. All of the quotes come from a single 19-page letter written by Martin Van Buren, 6 March 1836

While a hundred Cherokees a day were perishing of exhaustion and cold on that dreadful road, President Van Buren on December 3, 1838 addressed Congress: "The measures [for Cherokee removal] authorized by Congress at its last session have had the happiest effects. . . . The Cherokees have emigrated without any apparent reluctance."
—Jim Collier, Indians of the Americas, in Our Racist Presidents p. 82

Van Buren had argued in the [1821 constitutional convention] debates that he did not wish to continue extending "the right of suffrage to the poor degraded blacks."
—William Shade, "'The Most Delicate and Exciting Topics': Martin Van Buren, Slavery, and the Election of 1836", 18 Journal of the Early Republic 3, Autumn 1998, p. 470

Most slave states recently had enacted or revised legislation restricting freedom of speech and assembly for both free men and slaves. In the Senate Calhoun pushed through committee a measure that would have allowed the federal government to aid the enforcement of these state laws, accompanied by a report vigorously attacking abolitionists. Although Calhoun's measure eventually failed, the crucial Senate vote on engrossing the bill ended in a tie, and Vice President Martin Van Buren calmly cast his vote in favor of such censorship of the mails.
Ibid., p. 475

* * *

Martin Van Buren was raised in a slave-holding family, and himself owned a single slave, Tom, who ran away in 1814.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

In 1838 Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott, heading 7000 troops, to forcibly remove Indians from their land, thus starting the Trail of Tears.

William Henry Harrison

(9) William Henry Harrison : 1841-1841

In 1802 territorial Governor Harrison had presided at the Vincennes Convention that had petitioned Congress for an alteration or suspension of Article VI [of the Ordinance of 1787, which prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory]. He had also been a prime mover in organizing the petition campaign that set the stage for the convention. As a Virginian and a slaveowner himself, Harrison was more than just sympathetic to those who favored slavery: he was one of them.
—Paul Finkelman, "Evading the Ordinance: The Persistence of Bondage in Indiana and Illinois", 9 Journal of the Early Republic 1, Spring 1989, p. 34

Starting in 1803 Harrison [began] adopting laws that allowed slavery to grow in Indiana. After 1805 the territorial legislature reenacted these laws, or passed new ones, to protect bondage in the region.

The territorial laws did not establish de jure slavery. That would have directly violated the Northwest Ordinance, and perhaps led to congressional intervention. Nevertheless, the territory adopted laws that sanctioned and supported bondage and involuntary servitude. "A Law concerning Servants" adopted in 1803 illustrates this. This law, in conjunction with similar acts adopted in 1805 and 1806, became the basis of all regulation of slavery and involuntary servitude in the Indiana Territory until 1809 and in Illinois until well after statehood.

The law of 1803 was based on a Virginia statute for the regulation of slaves and indentured servants. The first section declared that "All negroes and mulattoes . . . who shall come into this territory under contract to serve another . . . shall be compelled to perform such contract specifically during the term thereof." Other sections provided punishments—usually in the form of whipping—for servants who would not perform their duties. The law also allowed masters to add time to the agreed-upon contract to make up for lost labor due to laziness, running away, or other infractions. As with slaves, "the benefit of the said contract" for the indentured black could be sold or assigned to a new master, as well as bequeathed to a master's heirs. Third parties were prohibited from doing business with servants, entertaining them, or harboring them.
Ibid., p. 35. At this point the Indiana Territory did not have a legislature, and all laws were borrowed from other states by the Governor (Harrison) and a trio of judges, hence I feel comfortable including it here. Finkelman notes that, while these laws were not de jure slavery, "the differences between this law and a slave code were largely illusory."

Harrison did at this time call the Weas, Piankeshaws, and Eel River Indians the "greatest scoundrels in the world" ....
—"Jeffersonian Benevolence on the Ground", p. 412 fn.

Harrison knew that he was paying the Indians a mere pittance for the value of their lands. Writing to Dearborn, Harrison noted that "knowledge of the value of land is fast gaining ground amongst the Indians, and, in the course of the negotiation, one of the chiefs observed, that he knew that a great part of the land was worth six dollars per acre." After the treaty with the Miamis in August 1805, he wrote to President Jefferson that to his best estimate he had promised about one cent per acre for the ceded lands. "This is much higher than I could have wished it to have been," Harrison groused, "but it was impossible to make it less." He then stated that although he could not avoid guaranteeing the Miamis their remaining lands, he believed that after a few years, dividing (and presumably purchasing) the lands they held in common would be easy.
Ibid., p. 425

Harrison viewed the Prophet [Tenskwatawa, brother of Tecumseh] as "an engine set to work by the British for some bad purpose." The governor chose not to realize that his treaties provided much of the engine's steam.
Ibid., p. 426

[In] a December 24, 1810, letter to the secretary of war, ... Harrison advocated seeking still more land cessions—despite his promise at Fort Wayne that he would seek no additional lands—"for without such a further purchase Indiana cannot for many years become a member of the Union and I am heartily tired of living in a Territory."
Ibid., p. 434

* * *

William Henry Harrison was a slave-holder, though he did not own slaves while president.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

John Tyler

(10) John Tyler : 1841-1845

[W]e cannot raise the black man up to the level with the white—and that we have not the constitutional power to do so none here have denied... .
—A speech on the Missouri Compromise, Annals of Congress, 16th Congress, 1st Session, p. 1384

The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Sergeant) has inquired, Is the right to hold persons in bondage essential to sovereignty? I answer this question by asking others. Is the trial by jury essential to sovereignty? Is the habeas corpus, are Parliament and Congress, essentially necessary to constitute a State sovereign? No one doubts the sovereignty of Russia, or of the Ottoman Porte; and yet, no trial by jury, no habeas corpus act, no Parliaments or Congresses, are known to these empires. A State can be sovereign, and yet all the power be lodged in the hands of a single despot. In what, then, does sovereignty consist? In nothing but the right to decide whether there shall or shall not exist this or that municipal regulation. Deny to an empire the violation of deciding for itself any question of local policy, and you necessarily, so far as the prohibition extends, deprive it of its sovereignty. The State must be left complete volition, or otherwise it is a misuse, not to say abuse, of terms, to call it sovereign. So, sir, if this restriction prevail, you may call Missouri what else you please, but she is not sovereign.
Ibid., pp. 1387-88

When, then, gentlemen from the North proclaim their doctrine, let them not forget themselves. Rail at slavery as much as you please; I point you to the Constitution, and say to you, that you have not only acknowledged our right to this species of property, but that you have gone much further, and have bound yourselves to rivet the chains of the slave. You not only have consented to tolerate it, but more—when the victim has fled to you for protection and countenance, you have agreed to deliver him over to his bondage. Those who framed this Constitution were sound practical men. They were not led away by idle theories.
Ibid., p. 1388

One moiety of the Union is deeply interested in opposing this restriction. Slavery has been represented on all hands as a dark cloud, and the candor of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Whitman) drove him to the admission that it would be well to disperse this cloud. In this sentiment, I entirely concur with him. How can you otherwise disarm it? Will you suffer it to increase in its darkness over a particular portion of this land until its horrors shall burst upon it? Will you permit the lightnings of its wrath to break upon the South, when, by the interposition of a wise system of legislation, you may reduce it to a summer's cloud? How is the North interested in pursuing such a course? The man of the North is far removed from its influence; but he may smile, and experience no disquietude. But, exclude this property from Missouri, by the exercise of an arbitrary power; shut it out from the Territories; and I maintain that you do not consult the interests of this Union.

The gentleman from Massachusetts also conceded that for which we contend—that, by increasing this population extensively, you increase the prospects of emancipation. What enabled New York, Pennsylvania, and other States, to adopt the language of universal emancipation. Rely on it, nothing but the paucity of the numbers of their slaves. That which it would have been criminal in those States not to have done, would be an act of political suicide in Georgia or South Carolina to do. By this dispersion you also ameliorate the condition of the black man; for I appeal to gentlemen who come from the South to say, whether the bettering of the condition of the slave has not been owing to the increased demand for his labor? This increased demand has made it the interest of the master, independent of other considerations, to be more tender in his treatment to his dependants. These considerations and concessions on the part of the gentleman from Massachusetts, had led me to hope that his conclusions also would have corresponded with my own; but unfortunately he saw, or fancied he saw, humanity urging him to the extinguishment of the African slave trade.
Ibid., p. 1391

A moment's reflection will also convince us that we do not, by extending this population, add to their numbers by any ordinary means. The great rule which controls the progress of the multiplication of the human species, and accelerates it, will equally apply for the next century, if no longer, whether Missouri throw open her gates or not. The means of subsistence are abundant in the present slaveholding country, and will continue to increase with an increase of population. You subserve then the purposes of humanity by voting down this amendment to the bill on your table—you advance the interest, and secure the safety of one-half of this extended Republic; you ameliorate the condition of the slave, and you add much to the prospects of emancipation and the total extinction of slavery.
Ibid., pp. 1392-93. The amendment Tyler refers to would have gradually abolished slavery in Missouri "by not allowing additional slaves to enter the state and by freeing the children of slaves when they reach a certain age." Defenders of the Union p. 37

In a November 16, 1860, letter to Dr. Silas Reed, Tyler confided that Virginia "will never consent to have her blacks cribbed and confined within proscribed and specified limits — and thus be involved in all the consequences of a war of the races in some 20 or 30 years. She must have expansion, and if she cannot obtain for herself and sisters that expansion in the Union, she may sooner or later look to Mexico, the West India Islands, and Central America as the ultimate reservations of the African race." An embittered Tyler concluded that Lincoln's victory signalled that "now everything is reversed, and no more Slave States has apparently become the shibboleth of Northern political faith."
—Edward Crapol, "John Tyler and the Pursuit of National Destiny", 17 Journal of the Early Republic 3, Autumn 1997, pp. 489-490

When John Tyler took the helm of the Virginia chapter of the [Colonization] society in 1838, he made a point to play up the "civilizing" effects of the society: "...the negro is torn from Africa, a barbarian, ignorant and idolatrous: he is restored civilized, enlightened, and a Christian. The Colonization Society is the great African missionary society. In my humble judgment it is worth more, twice told, than all foreign missionary societies combined." He even went so far as to compare the new African colony to one a little closer to home: "The colony is planted—advances and rapid strides—and Monrovia will be to Africa what Jamestown and Plymouth have been to America." He also took this opportunity to blast the abolitionists and, in his view, their misuse of women, an ever- growing percentage of that group: "They [abolitionists] seek to enlist woman, she who was placed on this earth, as the rainbow is in the heavens, as a sign that the tempest of the passions should subside. Woman is made an instrument to expel us from the paradise of union in which we dwell."
Defenders of the Union, pp. 45-46

The Wilmot Proviso then (a name forever accursed, if evil, the greatest of all evil, come out of it) is to the free states an abstraction, while to the South is a reproach and insult of the deepest dye...We live under a political partnership, in which each partner is alike in interest, and yet to exclude the Southern States by positive enactment from entering upon the possession of the territory of the Union, along with their property, abrogates the principles of equality, and annuls the very foundation on which the government rests.
Ibid., p. 54

In 1820, during the debate over the Missouri Compromise, he had advocated the diffusion argument. Now he offered a different one: "Climate should be left to determine the question of slavery, as it will most assuredly. It has already abolished it as far as Delaware, and if left to work out its results, will, at no distant day, produce similar effects on Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia." In the end, Tyler made it very clear how he felt about the Wilmot Proviso when he described it as "anti-American and destructive."
Ibid., pp. 54-55

As the debate [over the annexation of Texas] resumed, Tyler delivered a special message to the House warning its members that annexation was urgently required to prevent the perfidious Mexican army from invading Texas and slaughtering "all ages, sexes, and conditions of existence." The appeal dramatizes how leading expansionists exploited the disparaging depiction of Mexicans conveyed in recent travel narratives. To underscore the absense of civility within Mexico, Tyler drew explicitly on the damning exemplum of Mexican barbarism that George Kendell had memorialized in his Texan Santa Fe Expedition. "The fate of those who became her captives in war," Tyler declared,

many of whom, no longer able to sustain the fatigues and privations of long journeys, were shot down by the way side, while their companions who survived were subjected to sufferings even more painful than death, has left an indelible stain on the page of civilization.

Tyler evoked the same antithesis between Mexican barbarism and Anglo-American civility emphasized in so many recently published narratives about Mexico's northern territories. He used Kendall's narrative to give members of Congress the rationale they would need to appropriate the northern half of the Mexican nation.
—"The Representation of Mexicans", pp. 331-32

[I]n the decades before the Civil War there was a dramatic increase in popularly expressed racism, including racist images, attitudes, and invectives. One place this is seen is in the growing popularity, especially among white workers, of whites-in-blackface minstrel shows. In front of large crowds, composed mostly of working-class men, white performers made up in blackface did musical numbers and other comedy skits on the stage. Extreme caricatures and mimicking of black Americans were centerpieces of these shows, which featured a reinvigorated vocabulary of racist epithets (such as "coon" and "buck"), a mocking of black English, and a portrayal of fantasies and fictions held in white heads (for example, the white-male fantasy of the oversexed black woman). By presenting blackness in such negative terms, the virtues of whiteness were highlighted for everyone present. It was implied that whites were smart, courageous, and civilized, because blacks were presented as dumb, cowardly, deviant, oversexed, and uncivilized. The shows were very popular with white workers, including the new immigrants then seeking definition as "white." Moreover, they were also eagerly attended by many members of the elite, including presidents John Tyler (at his inauguration) and Abraham Lincoln.
Racist America, pp. 107-08

* * *

John Tyler was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

James K. Polk

(11) James K. Polk : 1845-1849

"The abolition agitation," he said, "is now as it has ever been, political in its object and design."
Nixon's Piano, p. 36

Ought we now to disturb the Missouri and Texas compromises? Ought we at this late day, in attempting to annul what has been so long established and acquiesced in, to excite sectional divisions and jealousies, to alienate the people of different portions of the Union from each other, and to endanger the existence of the Union itself?

From the adoption of the Federal Constitution, during a period of sixty years, our progress as a nation has been without example in the annals of history. Under the protection of a bountiful Providence, we have advanced with giant strides in the career of wealth and prosperity. We have enjoyed the blessings of freedom to a greater extent than any other people, ancient or modern, under a Government which has preserved order and secured to every citizen life, liberty, and property. We have now become an example for imitation to the whole world. The friends of freedom in every clime point with admiration to our institutions. Shall we, then, at the moment when the people of Europe are devoting all their energies in the attempt to assimilate their institutions to our own, peril all our blessings by despising the lessons of experience and refusing to tread in the footsteps which our fathers have trodden? And for what cause would we endanger our glorious Union? The Missouri compromise contains a prohibition of slavery throughout all that vast region extending twelve and a half degrees along the Pacific, from the parallel of 36° 30' to that of 49°, and east from that ocean to and beyond the summit of the Rocky Mountains. Why, then, should our institutions be endangers because it is proposed to submit to the people of the remainder of our newly acquired territory lying south of 36° 30', embracing less than four degrees of latitude, the question whether, in the language of the Texas compromise, they "shall be admitted [as a State] into the Union with or without slavery." Is this a question to be pushed to such extremities by excited partisans on the one side or the other, in regard to our newly acquired distant possessions on the Pacific, as to endanger the Union of thirty glorious States, which constitute our Confederacy? I have an abiding confidence that the sober reflection and sound patriotism of the people of all the States will bring them to the conclusion that the dictate of wisdom is to follow the example of those who have gone before us, and settle this dangerous question on the Missouri compromise, or some other equitable compromise which would respect the rights of all and prove satisfactory to the different portions of the Union.
—Address to the House of Representatives, upon accepting Oregon into the Union, 14 August 1848. Printed in A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. 5, pp. 608-609

It is a source of deep regret that in some sections of our country misguided persons have occasionally indulged in schemes and agitations whose object is the destruction of domestic institutions existing in other sections—institutions which existed at the adoption of the Constitution and were recognized and protected by it. All must see that if it were possible for them to be successful in attaining their object the dissolution of the Union and the consequent destruction of our happy form of government must speedily follow.

I am happy to believe that at every period of our existence as a nation there has existed, and continues to exist, among the great mass of our people a devotion to the Union of the States which will shield and protect it against the moral treason of any who would seriously contemplate its destruction.
—Inaugural address, 4 March 1845

In organizing governments over these territories no duty imposed on Congress by the Constitution requires that they should legislate on the subject of slavery, while their power to do so is not only seriously questioned, but denied by many of the soundest expounders of that instrument. Whether Congress shall legislate or not, the people of the acquired territories, when assembled in convention to form State constitutions, will possess the sole and exclusive power to determine for themselves whether slavery shall or shall not exist within their limits. If Congress shall abstain from interfering with the question, the people of these territories will be left free to adjust it as they may think proper when they apply for admission as States into the Union. No enactment of Congress could restrain the people of any of the sovereign States of the Union, old or new, North or South, slaveholding or nonslaveholding, from determining the character of their own domestic institutions as they may deem wise and proper. Any and all the States possess this right, and Congress can not deprive them of it. The people of Georgia might if they chose so alter their constitution as to abolish slavery within its limits, and the people of Vermont might so alter their constitution as to admit slavery within its limits. Both States would possess the right, though, as all know, it is not probable that either would exert it.
—Fourth State of the Union Address, 5 December 1848

In 1832 (before the nullification crisis), when he was still a relatively young congressman, Polk provoked an angry debate in the House of Representatives about an antislavery petition. The Virginia colonizationist congressman Charles Mercer had submitted to the House a petition signed by forty residents of Cirencester, England, praying the House to look favorably on the colonization of American slaves. The House routinely referred the petition to its committee on colonization. But when Polk read the petition, he asked the House to reconsider its vote, and to undertake some action which would discourage any foreign petition criticizing slavery from ever again being submitted to the House. Polk's invervention was quickly followed by a speech from a South Carolina congressman, threatening war when the slave issue was seriously moved; and Mercer was then prevailed upon to withdraw the offending petition. Here was a precursor of the controversy four years later over the Gag Rule: and its instigator was James Polk.
—William Dusinberre, "President Polk and the Politics of Slavery", 3 American Nineteenth Century History 1, Spring 2002, pp. 1-2

[When Polk was Speaker of the House] his procedural rulings enabled slave-state representatives, with the support of many northern Democrats, to ram this Gag Rule through the House. Speaker Polk (in Leonard Richard's words) had 'stacked' the committee which drafted this new rule 'with eight administration men and one border-state Whig.' When the committee reported, Speaker Polk let advocates of a Gag Rule defend it at length; but when he saw former President John Quincy Adams rise to challenge the committee report, Polk gave the floor instead to a committee member who called 'the previous question,' thus ensuring an immediate vote before an opponent of the measure had a change to argue against it.
Ibid., p. 2

* * *

James Polk was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

Zachary Taylor

(12) Zachary Taylor : 1849-1850

It is true that he was hostile to Southern disunionists, but he was also an enemy of Northern agitators. In a letter of August, 1847, he no doubt expressed his honest convictions:

While I would on the slavery question, respect the opinions and feelings of the North and be careful not to do any act which would interfere with legal rights as regards the same, I would be equally careful that no encroachments were made on the rights of the citizens of the slaveholding states as regards that description of property or anything else. . . .

Slavery agitation only "added fuel to the flames," widening "instead of healing the breach between the parties concerned." General Taylor selected the word "concerned" advisedly for he declared:

I will not say interested, for those of the non-slave holding states have no interest in the matter. Let them go on to discuss the institutions of the South without notice as regards the matter in question, without its being noticed, but the moment they go beyond that point where resistance becomes right and proper, let the South act promptly, boldly and decisively with arms in their hands if necessary, as the Union in that case will be blown to atoms, or will be no longer worth preserving.

—Zachary Taylor to Jefferson Davis, 14 August 1847. Printed in "Zachary Taylor as President", 4 Journal of Southern History 3, August 1938, p. 280

The position of the Sandwich Islands [Hawaii] with reference to the territory of the United States on the Pacific, the success of our persevering and benevolent citizens who have repaired to that remote quarter in Christianizing the natives and inducing them to adopt a system of government and laws suited to their capacity and wants, and the use made by our numerous whale ships of the harbors of the islands as places of resort for obtaining refreshments and repairs all combine to render their destiny peculiarly interesting to us. It is our duty to encourage the authorities of those islands in their efforts to improve and elevate the moral and political condition of the inhabitants, and we should make reasonable allowances for the difficulties inseparable from this task.
—First State of the Union Address, 4 December 1849

* * *

Zachary Taylor was a slave-holder.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

In two treaties, in 1837 and 1842, several bands of Chippewa Indians ceded all of their lands east of the Mississippi River, in what are now the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, to the United States, while retaining unceded lands in what is now Minnesota, as well as hunting, fishing, and gathering rights on the ceded lands. ... However, the government wanted more: President Zachary Taylor ordered the Chippewas removed from the ceded lands, and considerable pressure was put on the Indians to leave and to re-establish themselves on the unceded lands.
—Robert Laurence, "Antipodean Reflections on American Indian Law", 20 Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law 3, 2003, pp. 542-43

Millard Fillmore

(13) Millard Fillmore : 1850-1853

Privately he worried about race war based on his projections of black and white birth rates, and to avoid this horror dreamed of colonization. In the manner of Madison he worked our the details of a plan, in private, to send "100,000 per annum" back to Africa.
Nixon's Piano, p. 38

Just prior to the elections in 1838, Congressman Fillmore received a questionnaire from the Buffalo Anti-Slavery Society. There were four questions to which the society was hoping for affirmative answers. They dealt with the gag rule in Congress, the annexation of Texas, the abolition of the slave trade and the immediate abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. Fillmore reportedly threw the letter on the floor and exclaimed, "The Philistines are upon us."
Defenders of the Union, p. 67

Fillmore's prediction that the campaign of 1848 would center on the question of slavery proved to be accurate. Fillmore found himself fending off the accusations from the South that he was an abolitionist. ... As with other politicians of the time and the other presidents in this study, Fillmore used the Constitution when discussing his beliefs on the federal government's role on the issue of slavery. Later in the same letter [to John Gayle of Mobile, Alabama] he explained his position while in Congress: "I regarded slavery as an evil, but one with which the national government had nothing to do. That by the Constitution of the United States the whole power over that question was vested in the several States where the institution was tolerated...I did not conceive that Congress had any power over it, or was in any way responsible for its continuance in the several states where it existed."
Ibid., p. 72

Another accusation against Fillmore was that he believed Congress had the right to interfere with the transportation of slaves from one slave-holding state to another. Slave-holders believed that their slaves were their property and any disruption of that property "right" was met with passionate resistance. In a September letter that was reprinted in Fillmore's local newspaper the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, as well as other papers across the country, he recounted an 1841 Mississippi judge's decision in the case of Groves and others vs. Slaughter: "He came to the conclusion that the constitutional power over this matter was vested in the several States, and not in Congress. So far as my knowledge extends, this opinion carried conviction to every unprejudiced mind, and the question was considered settled. At any rate that was my opinion then, and I have seen to [sic] cause to change it since."
Ibid., p. 73

Fillmore rarely made an argument for any issue without mentioning the Constitution, and the Fugitive Slave Act was no exception. He ended his letter to Webster by mentioning how important he believed the issue of slavery was and why it could not be ended at the present time: "God knows that I detest Slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not responsible, and we must endure it, and give it such protection as is guaranteed by the Constitution, 'till we can get rid of it without destroying the last hope of free government in the world."
Ibid., p. 83

He proceeded to give a history of slavery in the United States in which he talked about the first slaves being brought to the continent in 1620 and because of their "degradation and suffering" in Africa, "it is hardly to be doubted that their condition was greatly improved by the transfer." The debates that this point could provoke could no doubt fill volumes.


He spent much of his speech arguing against the work of the abolitionists. Fillmore had long had to answer charges that he was an abolitionist, and his arguments against the idea were possibly directed at his accusers. He said that he spoke "not of the merits or demerits of the sentiment in which this agitation originates [abolition], but look only at its effects upon the body politic." Fillmore felt believed that although he believed the abolitionists to be "sincere and honest in their convictions," their "agitation" had actually hurt the chances of achieving their stated goals. " signally have they [abolitionists] failed to produce any result favorable to their declared object, that all their efforts, thus far, have only tended to rivet the chains of slavery, and to deprive the bondman of many indulgences which, before the era of this mischievous effort, had been cheerfully accorded to him by his master." In other words, if the slave owner treated his slaves harshly, it was the fault of the abolitionists—another rather dubious point.

Typically, Fillmore used the Constitution and his belief that the federal government had no right to step in and end slavery. He argued that the Constitution provides only the states with that power. In particular, he argued, the states in which slavery existed: "Whatever, therefore is done to rid the country of this evil must be done chiefly by the slave states themselves. They must first appreciate the danger, indicate the remedy, and lead the way; and then the free states and the general government can aid them." It is difficult to imagine that Fillmore believed this was possible. While he may have had a point that this was probably the only remedy short of civil war, he must have known the chance of slave states ending the institution that provided the backbone to their economic system was remote.

The solution Fillmore advocated was not a new one. He thought removing freed blacks from the country was the only way to solve the problem that would benefit both races: "I confess that I see no remedy but by colonizing the free blacks, either in Africa or the West Indies, or both. This, it appears to me, is all that Congress can do. It cannot abolish slavery, it can only invite emancipation by removing the free black man from his dangerous proximity to the slave." It is in the final section of his speech that Fillmore's true feelings about the black race seem to shine through in a very paternalistic and racist way: "There can be no well-grounded hope for the improvement of either their [blacks] moral or social condition, until they are removed from a humiliating sense of inferiority in the presence of a superior race, and are enabled to feel the wholesome stimulus of social equality." He envisions the freed slaves to have a purpose once they colonize in Africa: "...the devout Christian, who has longed for the conversion of Africa, and mourned over its heathen idolatry and degradation, will see in these Christian slaves, emancipated and returned to their own country, the true missionaries to Africa..."
Ibid., pp. 88-91. All quoted portions are parts of Fillmore's draft for his last State of the Union address, which were excised before he actually gave the speech

While he was not necessarily against imperial movements by the government, he believed certain cultures were not advanced enough to be worth our time, "I must say if new territory is to be annexed, I greatly prefer the Anglo-Saxon races who have some rational ideas of government according to law, to the Latin races, none of which has ever yet been able to maintain a free, republican government. Time ripens fruit that is spoiled by being plucked too early."
Ibid., p. 282

In his annual message, submitted in December 1852, President Millard Fillmore summed up the Cuban dilemma. He admitted the grave sectional implications of the acquisition, but he also went to the crux of the racial problem: "Were this Island comparatively destitute of inhabitants, or occupied by a kindred race, I should regard it, if voluntarily ceded by Spain, as a most desirable acquisition. But, under existing circumstances, I should look upon its incorporation into our Union as a very hazardous measure. It would bring into the Confederacy a population of a different national stock, speaking a different language, and not likely to harmonize with the other members."
Race and Manifest Destiny, p. 283

Franklin Pierce

(14) Franklin Pierce : 1853-1857

In a special message to Congress on January 24, 1856, he condemned the [Kansas] territory's entire Free-Soil movement as good for "nothing but unmitigated evil, North and South."
Nixon's Piano, p. 39

He was unwilling that any imputation should rest upon the North, in consequence of the misguided and fanatical zeal of a few—comparatively very few—who, however honest might have been their purposes, he believed had done incalculable mischief, and whose movements he knew received no more sanction among the great mass of the people of the North than they did at the South. For one, he, (Mr. P[ierce],) while he would be the last to infringe upon any of the sacred reserved rights of the people, was prepared to stamp with disapprobation, in the most express and unequivocal terms, the whole movement upon this subject.

Mr. P. said he would not resume his seat without tendering to the gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. Mason,] just and generous as he always was, his acknowledgments for the admission frankly made in the opening of his remarks. He had said, that during the period that he had occupied a seat in this House, (as Mr. P. understood him,) he had never known six men seriously disposed to interfere with the rights of the slaveholders at the South. Sir, (said Mr. P.,) gentlemen may be assured there was no such disposition as a general sentiment prevailing among the people—at least, he felt confidence in asserting, that among the people of the State which he had the honor, in part, to represent, there was not one in a hundred who did not entertain the most sacred regard for the rights of their southern brethren—nay, not one in five hundred who would not have those rights protected at any and every hazard. There was not the slightest disposition to interfere with any rights secured by the Constitution, which binds together, and which he humbly hoped would bind together, this great and glorious Confederacy as one family.
—Speech in the House of Representatives on the subject of abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, 21 December 1835. Congressional Globe, 24th Congress, 1st Session, p. 33

His speech had captured the attention of none other than John C. Calhoun in the Senate. Calhoun argued that Pierce's "one in five hundred" quote was incorrect as he had a newspaper clipping from the Herald of Freedom, a Concord abolitionist newspaper, which had printed a list of petitions signed by citizens of New Hampshire that numbered much more than one in five hundred. Pierce answered the claim by saying he had meant one in five hundred men and that the petitions had been signed mostly by women and children. Pierce was later named to a committee that was "instructed" by the Congress to report that Congress had no right to interfere with slavery in the states and "ought" not to interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia. The committee did so but went further when they resolved that "...all petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions or papers, relating in any way or to any extent whatever, to the subject of slavery, or the abolition of slavery, shall, without being printed or referred, be laid upon the table, and no further action shall be had thereon." It was this resolution for which the Twenty- Fourth Congress would be most remembered. The so called "Gag Rule" prevented the subject of abolition from even being debated on the House floor for eight years. Pierce voted for the resolution primarily because of his antagonism toward the abolitionists. He truly believed they were doing much more harm than good and they threatened the safety of the union.
Defenders of the Union, pp. 97-98

Later in the same letter he blamed the North for the war, at least a portion of the North: "Come what may, the foul schemes of the Northern abolitionism, which have resisted for so many years are now to be consummated by arms on bloody fields."
Ibid., pp. 232-33

Pierce said this act [the Emancipation Proclamation] showed that the true purpose of the war was to wipe out states and destroy "property." He did not understand how people would "tolerate this attempt to butcher their own race for the sake of inflicting emancipation on the four million Negroes who were in no sense capable of profiting by freedom." ...

When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in its final form and signed by the president on New Year's Day 1863 (incidentally no Southern states accepted his offer), Pierce wrote the following day that he believed the final draft of the proclamation to be the "climax of folly and wickedness" and one of the "most devious dictates" he had ever seen. Because Pierce believed this changed the whole context of the war and for what purpose it was being fought, he demanded in the name of "humanity, honor and common honesty, to say nothing of patriotism...the withdrawal of support promptly and irrevocably." He then attacked Lincoln himself by writing that the proclamation was proof that the abolitionists had used Lincoln with his "limited ability and narrow intelligence" as "their willing instrument for all the woe which (had) thus far been brought upon the country and for all the degradation, all the atrocity and all the desolation and ruin which the war had so far wrought. He went so far as to accuse the president of committing a crime against humanity and that the "civilized world" would see it as such. He wrote of this being an example of the "reckless march of barbarism" and that his "heart is sick at the contemplation." He said he believed that as a result of the president's actions, the black race would "in six entire States and in parts of several others rise and with all the barbaric features which must be inseparable from a successful servile insurrection to slay and devastate without regard to age or sex." It was not one of Pierce's finer moments.
Ibid., pp. 247-48

I have thus passed in review the general state of the Union, including such particular concerns of the Federal Government, whether of domestic or foreign relation, as it appeared to me desirable and useful to bring to the special notice of Congress. Unlike the great States of Europe and Asia and many of those of America, these United States are wasting their strength neither in foreign war nor domestic strife. Whatever of discontent or public dissatisfaction exists is attributable to the imperfections of human nature or is incident to all governments, however perfect, which human wisdom can devise. Such subjects of political agitation as occupy the public mind consist to a great extent of exaggeration of inevitable evils, or over zeal in social improvement, or mere imagination of grievance, having but remote connection with any of the constitutional functions or duties of the Federal Government. To whatever extent these questions exhibit a tendency menacing to the stability of the Constitution or the integrity of the Union, and no further, they demand the consideration of the Executive and require to be presented by him to Congress.

Before the thirteen colonies became a confederation of independent States they were associated only by community of transatlantic origin, by geographical position, and by the mutual tie of common dependence on Great Britain. When that tie was sundered they severally assumed the powers and rights of absolute self-government. The municipal and social institutions of each, its laws of property and of personal relation, even its political organization, were such only as each one chose to establish, wholly without interference from any other. In the language of the Declaration of Independence, each State had "full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do." The several colonies differed in climate, in soil, in natural productions, in religion, in systems of education, in legislation, and in the forms of political administration, and they continued to differ in these respects when they voluntarily allied themselves as States to carry on the War of the Revolution. The object of that war was to disenthrall the united colonies from foreign rule, which had proved to be oppressive, and to separate them permanently from the mother country. The political result was the foundation of a Federal Republic of the free white men of the colonies, constituted, as they were, in distinct and reciprocally independent State governments. As for the subject races, whether Indian or African, the wise and brave statesmen of that day, being engaged in no extravagant scheme of social change, left them as they were, and thus preserved themselves and their posterity from the anarchy and the ever-recurring civil wars which have prevailed in other revolutionized European colonies of America.
—Third State of the Union Address, 31 December 1855

Of the circumstances of local condition, interest, and rights in which a portion of the States, constituting one great section of the Union, differed from the rest and from another section, the most important was the peculiarity of a larger relative colored population in the Southern than in the Northern States.

A population of this class, held in subjection, existed in nearly all the States, but was more numerous and of more serious concernment in the South than in the North on account of natural differences of climate and production; and it was foreseen that, for the same reasons, while this population would diminish and sooner or later cease to exist in some States, it might increase in others. The peculiar character and magnitude of this question of local rights, not in material relations only, but still more in social ones, caused it to enter into the special stipulations of the Constitution.

Hence, while the General Government, as well by the enumerated powers granted to it as by those not enumerated, and therefore refused to it, was forbidden to touch this matter in the sense of attack or offense, it was placed under the general safeguard of the Union in the sense of defense against either invasion or domestic violence, like all other local interests of the several States. Each State expressly stipulated, as well for itself as for each and all of its citizens, and every citizen of each State became solemnly bound by his allegiance to the Constitution that any person held to service or labor in one State, escaping into another, should not, in consequence of any law or regulation thereof, be discharged from such service or labor, but should be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor might be due by the laws of his State.

Thus and thus only, by the reciprocal guaranty of all the rights of every State against interference on the part of another, was the present form of government established by our fathers and transmitted to us, and by no other means is it possible for it to exist. If one State ceases to respect the rights of another and obtrusively intermeddles with its local interests; if a portion of the States assume to impose their institutions on the others or refuse to fulfill their obligations to them, we are no longer united, friendly States, but distracted, hostile ones, with little capacity left of common advantage, but abundant means of reciprocal injury and mischief. Practically it is immaterial whether aggressive interference between the States or deliberate refusal on the part of any one of them to comply with constitutional obligations arise from erroneous conviction or blind prejudice, whether it be perpetrated by direction or indirection. In either case it is full of threat and of danger to the durability of the Union.

Placed in the office of Chief Magistrate as the executive agent of the whole country, bound to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and specially enjoined by the Constitution to give information to Congress on the state of the Union, it would be palpable neglect of duty on my part to pass over a subject like this, which beyond all things at the present time vitally concerns individual and public security.

It has been matter of painful regret to see States conspicuous for their services in rounding this Republic and equally sharing its advantages disregard their constitutional obligations to it. Although conscious of their inability to heal admitted and palpable social evils of their own, and which are completely within their jurisdiction, they engage in the offensive and hopeless undertaking of reforming the domestic institutions of other States, wholly beyond their control and authority. In the vain pursuit of ends by them entirely unattainable, and which they may not legally attempt to compass, they peril the very existence of the Constitution and all the countless benefits which it has conferred. While the people of the Southern States confine their attention to their own affairs, not presuming officiously to intermeddle with the social institutions of the Northern States, too many of the inhabitants of the latter are permanently organized in associations to inflict injury on the former by wrongful acts, which would be cause of war as between foreign powers and only fail to be such in our system because perpetrated under cover of the Union.

Is it possible to present this subject as truth and the occasion require without noticing the reiterated but groundless allegation that the South has persistently asserted claims and obtained advantages in the practical administration of the General Government to the prejudice of the North, and in which the latter has acquiesced? That is, the States which either promote or tolerate attacks on the rights of persons and of property in other States, to disguise their own injustice, pretend or imagine, and constantly aver, that they, whose constitutional rights are thus systematically assailed, are themselves the aggressors. At the present time this imputed aggression, resting, as it does, only in the vague declamatory charges of political agitators, resolves itself into misapprehension, or misinterpretation, of the principles and facts of the political organization of the new Territories of the United States.

If the friends of the Constitution are to have another struggle, its enemies could not present a more acceptable issue than that of a State whose constitution clearly embraces "a republican form of government" being excluded from the Union because its domestic institutions may not in all respects comport with the ideas of what is wise and expedient entertained in some other State. Fresh from groundless imputations of breach of faith against others, men will commence the agitation of this new question with indubitable violation of an express compact between the independent sovereign powers of the United States and of the Republic of Texas, as well as of the older and equally solemn compacts which assure the equality of all the States.

But deplorable as would be such a violation of compact in itself and in all its direct consequences, that is the very least of the evils involved. When sectional agitators shall have succeeded in forcing on this issue, can their pretensions fail to be met by counter pretensions? Will not different States be compelled, respectively, to meet extremes with extremes? And if either extreme carry its point, what is that so far forth but dissolution of the Union? If a new State, formed from the territory of the United States, be absolutely excluded from admission therein, that fact of itself constitutes the disruption of union between it and the other States. But the process of dissolution could not stop there. Would not a sectional decision producing such result by a majority of votes, either Northern or Southern, of necessity drive out the oppressed and aggrieved minority and place in presence of each other two irreconcilably hostile confederations?

It is necessary to speak thus plainly of projects the offspring of that sectional agitation now prevailing in some of the States, which are as impracticable as they are unconstitutional, and which if persevered in must and will end calamitously. It is either disunion and civil war or it is mere angry, idle, aimless disturbance of public peace and tranquillity. Disunion for what? If the passionate rage of fanaticism and partisan spirit did not force the fact upon our attention, it would be difficult to believe that any considerable portion of the people of this enlightened country could have so surrendered themselves to a fanatical devotion to the supposed interests of the relatively few Africans in the United States as totally to abandon and disregard the interests of the 25,000,000 Americans; to trample under foot the injunctions of moral and constitutional obligation, and to engage in plans of vindictive hostility against those who are associated with them in the enjoyment of the common heritage of our national institutions.

Nor is it hostility against their fellow-citizens of one section of the Union alone. The interests, the honor, the duty, the peace, and the prosperity of the people of all sections are equally involved and imperiled in this question. And are patriotic men in any part of the Union prepared on such issue thus madly to invite all the consequences of the forfeiture of their constitutional engagements? It is impossible. The storm of frenzy and faction must inevitably dash itself in vain against the unshaken rock of the Constitution. I shall never doubt it. I know that the Union is stronger a thousand times than all the wild and chimerical schemes of social change which are generated one after another in the unstable minds of visionary sophists and interested agitators. I rely confidently on the patriotism of the people, on the dignity and self-respect of the States, on the wisdom of Congress, and, above all, on the continued gracious favor of Almighty God to maintain against all enemies, whether at home or abroad, the sanctity of the Constitution and the integrity of the Union.

James Buchanan

(15) James Buchanan : 1857-1861

Obviously the authority of the [Dred Scott v. Sandford] decision would be weakened if it had the approval of only a bare majority of the Court, especially one consisting entirely of Southerners. Could one of the northern Democrats be persuaded to join them? Nelson, who had already written his opinion, was a less likely prospect than Grier, whose commitment to a narrow opinion was less firmly fixed. Since Grier was a Pennsylvanian, it occurred to Justice Catron of Tennessee that Buchanan might be of assistance, and he seemed to discern no ethical problem in soliciting a politician to intervene for the purpose of influencing the action of one of the justices in a case before the Court. Buchanan, eager to have a judicial decision on the territorial issue, seemed equally indifferent to the ethics of the matter and readily complied.

This extraordinary correspondence began innocently enough on February 3, when Buchanan wrote Catron asking whether the Court was likely to give its opinion in the Dred Scott case before the day of his inauguration. Catron replied that the timing depended upon the Chief Justice, but he would "ascertain and inform" the President-elect within a few days. On February 10 he wrote less discreetly that some judges might write opinions touching the territorial question, but he thought that the court's decision would "settle nothing." His own opinion, he added, was that Congress clearly had the power to govern the territories. A contrary decision "after a practice of 68 years would . . . subject the Sup. Court to . . . ridicule." However, Catron believed that the Missouri Compromise violated the terms of the Louisiana Purchase treaty of 1803, which protected the property, including slaves, of all inhabitants prior to statehood. Thus, in his view, "the Treaty settles the controversy."

Nine days later Catron sent Buchanan the welcome news that the majority had decided to give an opinion on the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise. He might "safely say" in his inaugural address that the Supreme Court would thus "decide and settle a controversy" which had "so long and seriously affected the country." Catron then asked Buchanan to "drop Grier a line, saying how necessary it is . . . to settle the agitation by an affirmative decision of the Supreme Court, the one way or the other." Grier, he reported, believed the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional, but he was inclined, like Nelson, to avoid the issue—"to take the smoothe handle for the sake of repose." On February 23, in response to an urgent note from Buchanan, Catron reported that the two dissenters were ready and the five Southerners were nearly ready; but, he added, "I want Grier speeded."

On the same day, Grier, unaware of Catron's involvement, wrote a long reply to the letter he had received from Buchanan urging a broad decision. He had shown the letter "to our mutual friends from Judge Wayne and the Chief Justice," both of whom agreed that it was desirable to have "an expression of the opinion of the Court on this troublesome [territorial] question." Claiming that Curtis and McLean had forced the issue on the majority, Grier revealed that he was now "anxious that it should not appear that the line of latitude should mark the line of division in the court." Nor did he think it wise for the majority opinion to be founded on "clashing and inconsistent arguments." Hence, "On conversation with the chief justice I have agreed to concur with him. . . . There will therefore be six if not seven (perhaps Nelson will remain neutral) who will decide the compromise law of 1820 to be of non- effect." Grier assured Buchanan that none of the other justices would be told "about the cause of our anxiety to produce this result." This, he admitted, was "contrary to our usual practice," but he, as well as Wayne, and the Chief Justice, thought it proper to apprise the President-elect "in candor and confidence [of] the real state of the matter." Thus, three southern justices, one compliant northern justice, and the President-elect secretly made a pawn of Dred Scott in a game of judicial politics.
America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink, Kenneth Stampp, pp. 91-92.

I cordially congratulate you upon the final settlement by the Supreme Court of the United States of the question of slavery in the Territories, which had presented an aspect so truly formidable at the commencement of my Administration. The right has been established of every citizen to take his property of any kind, including slaves, into the common Territories belonging equally to all the States of the Confederacy, and to have it protected there under the Federal Constitution. Neither Congress nor a Territorial legislature nor any human power has any authority to annul or impair this vested right. The supreme judicial tribunal of the country, which is a coordinate branch of the Government, has sanctioned and affirmed these principles of constitutional law, so manifestly just in themselves and so well calculated to promote peace and harmony among the States. It is a striking proof of the sense of justice which is inherent in our people that the property in slaves has never been disturbed, to my knowledge, in any of the Territories. Even throughout the late troubles in Kansas there has not been any attempt, as I am credibly informed, to interfere in a single instance with the right of the master. Had any such attempt been made, the judiciary would doubtless have afforded an adequate remedy. Should they fail to do this hereafter, it will then be time enough to strengthen their hands by further legislation. Had it been decided that either Congress or the Territorial legislature possess the power to annul or impair the right to property in slaves, the evil would be intolerable. In the latter event there would be a struggle for a majority of the members of the legislature at each successive election, and the sacred rights of property held under the Federal Constitution would depend for the time being on the result. The agitation would thus be rendered incessant whilst the Territorial condition remained, and its baneful influence would keep alive a dangerous excitement among the people of the several States.
—Third State of the Union Address, 19 December 1859

These acts of Congress [prohibiting the slave trade], it is believed, have, with very rare and insignificant exceptions, accomplished their purpose. For a period of more than half a century there has been no perceptible addition to the number of our domestic slaves. During this period their advancement in civilization has far surpassed that of any other portion of the African race. The light and the blessings of Christianity have been extended to them, and both their moral and physical condition has been greatly improved.

Reopen the trade and it would be difficult to determine whether the effect would be more deleterious on the interests of the master or on those of the native-born slave. Of the evils to the master, the one most to be dreaded would be the introduction of wild, heathen, and ignorant barbarians among the sober, orderly, and quiet slaves whose ancestors have been on the soil for several generations. This might tend to barbarize, demoralize, and exasperate the whole mass and produce most deplorable consequences.

The effect upon the existing slave would, if possible, be still more deplorable. At present he is treated with kindness and humanity. He is well fed, well clothed, and not overworked. His condition is incomparably better than that of the coolies which modern nations of high civilization have employed as a substitute for African slaves. Both the philanthropy and the self-interest of the master have combined to produce this humane result. But let this trade be reopened and what will be the effect? The same to a considerable extent as on a neighboring island, the only spot now on earth where the African slave trade is openly tolerated, and this in defiance of solemn treaties with a power abundantly able at any moment to enforce their execution. There the master, intent upon present gain, extorts from the slave as much labor as his physical powers are capable of enduring, knowing that when death comes to his relief his place can be supplied at a price reduced to the lowest point by the competition of rival African slave traders. Should this ever be the case in our country, which I do not deem possible, the present useful character of the domestic institution, wherein those too old and too young to work are provided for with care and humanity and those capable of labor are not overtasked, would undergo an unfortunate change. The feeling of reciprocal dependence and attachment which now exists between master and slave would be converted into mutual distrust and hostility.

His inaugural address echoed eerily his predecessor's in many ways including his feeling that the bitter sectionalism was now behind them: "The whole territorial question being thus settled upon the principle of popular sovereignty...all agree that, under the Constitution, slavery in the States is beyond the reach of any human power, except that of the States themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long agitation on this subject is approaching its end...Most happy it will be for the country when the public mind shall be diverted from this question to others of more pressing and practical importance.
Defenders of the Union, p. 120

He said that while he was "not friendly to slavery in the abstract," and that "I need not say I never owned a slave, and I know I never shall own one," he also recognized the importance of the Union and if given the choice of slavery in Texas or the end of the Union he would "never risk the blessings of the glorious confederacy."
Ibid., p. 131

Fifteen years before the Civil War and a decade before he would be elected to the presidency, Buchanan recognized the crisis this issue would bring: "Touch this question of slavery seriously...and the Union is from that moment dissolved....Although in Pennsylvania we are all opposed to slavery in the abstract, yet we will never violate the constitutional compact we have made with out sister states. Their rights will be held sacred by us. Under the Constitution it is their question; and there let it remain."
Ibid., pp. 133-34

Seven years before the Dred Scott decision would push the nation one step closer to civil war, Buchanan seemed to broach the subject in the same letter [to Cave Johnson]: "So when men, under the conviction that they possess the right under the Constitution, will carry their slaves to the territories and will there be met by Northern men, under an equally strong conviction that these slaves are free. Without any law for the protection of the master, without any recognition of his right, if it exists, how is he to hold his slaves under these circumstances..."
Ibid., p. 138

Buchanan continued his harangue against the "agitation" of Northern abolitionists against the South in various letters. He repeated his reasoning that they were damaging their own cause but now began to add a new wrinkle—that they were hurting the slaves: "This agitation has hitherto produced unqualified evil to the slaves themselves, by compelling their masters, in self-defense, to subject them to greater restraints than formerly existed; and it has entirely arrested the natural and constitutional progress of emancipation...if the Southern people had been left to themselves, laws at this day would have been in existence for gradual emancipation in the states of Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky..."
Ibid., p. 139

When discussing the issue of slavery in the territories, he comes as close as he ever has to endorsing the Southern view of it and his understanding of their rights showed through: "The equality of the States in the Territories is a truly Democratic doctrine which must eventually prevail...The Supreme Court...have affirmed this equality and have placed property in slaves upon the same footing with all other property. Without self-degradation the Southern States cannot abandon this equality and hence they are now all in a flame."
Ibid., pp. 209-10

Some of Buchanan's final letters recorded his opposition to [the 14th amendment]: "Emancipation is now a Constitutional fact; but to prescribe the right and privilege of suffrage belongs exclusively to the states." Lest one might think Buchanan was in favor of the states supporting suffrage, he made it clear he was not: "The opposition to Negro Suffrage in the South as well as in the North has been the principle cause of our [Democrats] triumph everywhere. Abandon this and we are gone...This principle the Democracy must uphold in opposition to the Reconstruction Acts."
Ibid., p. 270

In arriving at the conclusion to support this treat, I had to encounter but one serious obstacle, and this was the question of slavery. Whilst I ever have maintained, and ever shall maintain, in their full force and vigor, the constitutional rights of the southern States over their slave property, I yet feel a strong repugnance, by any acts of mine, to extend the present limits of the Union over a new slave-holding territory. After mature reflection, however, I overcame these scruples, and now believe that the acquisition of Texas will be the means of limiting, not enlarging, the dominion of slavery. In the government of the world, Providence generally produces great changes by gradual means. There is nothing rash in the counsels of the Almighty. May not, then, the acquisition of Texas be the means of gradually drawing the slaves far to the South, to a climate more congenial to their nature; and may they not finally pass off into Mexico, and there mingle with a race where no prejudice exists against their color? The Mexican nation is composed of Spaniards, Indians, and negroes, blended together in every variety, who would receive our slaves on terms of perfect social equality. To this condition they never can be admitted in the United States.
—John Moore, ed., The Works of James Buchanan, volume 6, pp. 15-16. Quoted in Reginald Horsman, "Scientific Racism and the American Indian in the Mid-Nineteenth Century", 27 American Quarterly 2, May 1975, p. 165

It is, I verily believe, the true interest of Mexico that Texas should be annexed to the United States. It is utterly impossible that a nation chiefly composed of native-born Americans, who carried with them all the principles and safeguards of political liberty—the habeas corpus, the trial by jury, a strict constitutional limitation of the powers of government, and a division of these powers into legislative, executive, and judicial—can ever remain citizens of Mexico, where all these blessings are practically unknown. Besides, in the very nature of things, our race can never be subjected to the imbecile and indolent Mexican race. Sooner, far sooner, in all human probability, will Texas conquer Mexico, than Mexico subdue Texas.
Ibid., pp. 40-41. Quoted in Robert Fikes, Jr., "Racist Quotes from Persons of Note Part I", 15 Journal of Ethnic Studies 3, Fall 1987, p. 136

Suffice it to say, that Texas never had owed allegiance to the present government of Mexico for a single hour; and if she once did, she had achieved her independence in the bloody fields of San Jacinto. And what she then acquired by the sword she was able to maintain against Mexico by the sword. The Anglo-Saxon blood could never be subdued by any thing that claimed Mexican origin.
Ibid., p. 100. Quoted in Race and Manifest Destiny, p. 217, though the endnote erroneously cites volume 5 of this work, not volume 6

You desire to annex the Country [Mexico] on this side of the Sierra Madre Mountains to the United State. This would not be in accordance with public opinion in our country. How should we govern the mongrel race which inhabits it? Could we admit them to seats in our Senate & House of Representatives? Are they capable of Self Government as States of this Confederacy?
—James Buchanan to General Shields, 23 April 1847. Ibid., volume 7, p. 286. Quoted in "Scientific Racism and the American Indian", p. 166

Secretary of State James Buchanan had a particularly low opinion of Mexican character and talents and for much of the war balked at the idea of annexing territory that contained any large number of Mexicans. In his official instructions to Slidell he asked his envoy to be as conciliatory as possible and patiently to endure any unjust reproaches. "It would be difficult," he said, "to raise a point of honor between the United States and so feeble and degraded a Power as Mexico."
Race and Manifest Destiny, p. 232

In the cabinet Secretary of State James Buchanan often expressed his fear of the admission of any large number of Mexicans to the union. He argued in the spring of 1847 that the United States should obtain Upper and Lower California, New Mexico, and Rio Grande boundary, and that the safest way of extending the republic was by the acquisition of areas colonized almost exclusively by Americans. The acquisition of lands southward to the Sierra Madre mountains would raise the question of slavery, but more importantly it would raise basic questions about the nature of the population: "How should we govern the mongrel race which inhabits it? Could we admit them to seats in our Senate & House of Representatives? Are they capable of Self Government as States of this Confederacy?"
Ibid., pp. 240-41

Abraham Lincoln

(16) Abraham Lincoln : 1861-1865

The following protest was presented to the House, which was read and ordered to be spread on the journals, to wit:

"Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.

They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than to abate its evils.

They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.

They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; but that that power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the people of said District.

The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest."



Representatives from the county of Sangamon.
—Protest in Illinois Legislature on Slavery. Roy P. Basler, ed., Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, volume 1, pp. 74-75. These volumes are available on-line here.

Having been led to allude to domestic slavery so frequently already, I am unwilling to close without referring more particularly to Mr. Clay's views and conduct in regard to it. He ever was, on principle and in feeling, opposed to slavery. The very earliest, and one of the latest public efforts of his life, separated by a period of more than fifty years, were both made in favor of gradual emancipation of the slaves in Kentucky. He did not perceive, that on a question of human right, the negroes were to be excepted from the human race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of slaves. Cast into life where slavery was already widely spread and deeply seated, he did not perceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how it could be at once eradicated, without producing a greater evil, even to the cause of human liberty itself. His feeling and his judgment, therefore, ever led him to oppose both extremes of opinion on the subject. Those who would shiver into fragments the Union of these States; tear to tatters its now venerated constitution; and even burn the last copy of the Bible, rather than slavery should continue a single hour, together with all their more halting sympathisers, have received, and are receiving their just execration; and the name, and opinions, and influence of Mr. Clay, are fully, and, as I trust, effectually and enduringly, arrayed against them.
—Eulogy on Henry Clay. Ibid., volume 2, p. 130. Cited in Forced Into Glory p. 222.

The American Colonization Society was organized in 1816. Mr. Clay, though not its projector, was one of its earliest members; and he died, as for the many preceding years he had been, its President. It was one of the most cherished objects of his direct care and consideration; and the association of his name with it has probably been its very greatest collateral support. He considered it no demerit in the society, that it tended to relieve slave-holders from the troublesome presence of the free negroes; but this was far from being its whole merit in his estimation. In the same speech from which I have quoted he says: "There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion, civilization, law and liberty. May it not be one of the great designs of the Ruler of the universe, (whose ways are often inscrutable by short-sighted mortals,) thus to transform an original crime, into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate portion of the globe?" This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the African race and African continent, was made twenty-five years ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its realization. May it indeed be realized!
Ibid., pp. 131-32. Cited in Forced Into Glory p. 224.

My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia,—to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough in the world to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not hold one in slavery at any rate; yet the point is not clear enough to me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill- founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.
—Speech at Peoria, Illinois, 16 October 1854. Lincoln later quoted this passage in the first of his 1858 debates with Senator Douglas. Ibid., pp. 255-56.

Let it not be said I am contending for the establishment of political and social equality between the whites and blacks. I have already said the contrary.
Ibid., p. 266

In the course of his reply, Senator Douglas remarked, in substance, that he had always considered this government was made for the white people and not for the negroes. Why, in point of mere fact, I think so too.
Ibid., p. 281. Quoted in Forced Into Glory, p. 147

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races.... [Judge Douglas] finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes ALL men, black as well as white; and forth-with he boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, and eat, and sleep, and marry with negroes! He will have it that they cannot be consistent else. Now I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.
—Speech at Springfield, Illinois, 26 June 1857. Ibid., p. 405

But Judge Douglas is especially horrified at the thought of the mixing blood by the white and black races: agreed for once—a thousand times agreed. There are white men enough to marry all the white women, and black men enough to marry all the black women; and so let them be married. On this point we fully agree with the Judge; and when he shall show that his policy is better adapted to prevent amalgamation than ours we shall drop ours, and adopt his. Let us see. In 1850 there were in the United States, 405,751, mulattoes. Very few of these are the offspring of whites and free blacks; nearly all have sprung from black slaves and white masters. A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation but as an immediate separation is impossible the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas. That is at least one self-evident truth. A few free colored persons may get into the free States, in any event; but their number is too insignificant to amount to much in the way of mixing blood. In 1850 there were in the free states, 56,649 mulattoes; but for the most part they were not born there—they came from the slave States, ready made up. In the same year the slave States had 348,874 mulattoes all of home production. The proportion of free mulattoes to free blacks—the only colored classes in the free states—is much greater in the slave than in the free states. It is worthy of note too, that among the free states those which make the colored man the nearest to equal the white, have, proportionably the fewest mulattoes the least of amalgamation. In New Hampshire, the State which goes farthest towards equality between the races, there are just 184 Mulattoes while there are in Virginia—how many do you think? 79,775, being 23,126 more than in all the free States together.

These statistics show that slavery is the greatest source of amalgamation; and next to it, not the elevation, but the degeneration of the free blacks. Yet Judge Douglas dreads the slightest restraints on the spread of slavery, and the slightest human recognition of the negro, as tending horribly to amalgamation.

This very Dred Scott case affords a strong test as to which party most favors amalgamation, the Republicans or the dear Union-saving Democracy. Dred Scott, his wife and two daughters were all involved in the suit. We desired the court to have held that they were citizens so far at least as to entitle them to a hearing as to whether they were free or not; and then, also, that they were in fact and in law really free. Could we have had our way, the chances of these black girls, ever mixing their blood with that of white people, would have been diminished at least to the extent that it could not have been without their consent. But Judge Douglas is delighted to have them decided to be slaves, and not human enough to have a hearing, even if they were free, and thus left subject to the forced concubinage of their masters, and liable to become the mothers of mulattoes in spite of themselves—the very state of case that produces nine tenths of all the mulattoes—all the mixing of blood in the nation.


I have said that the separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation. I have no right to say all the members of the Republican party are in favor of this, nor to say that as a party they are in favor of it. There is nothing in their platform directly on the subject. But I can say a very large proportion of its members are for it, and that the chief plank in their platform—opposition to the spread of slavery—is most favorable to that separation.

Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected by colonization; and no political party, as such, is now doing anything directly for colonization. Party operations at present only favor or retard colonization incidentally. The enterprise is a difficult one; but "when there is a will there is a way;" and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be. The children of Israel, to such numbers as to include four hundred thousand fighting men, went out of Egyptian bondage in a body.
Ibid., pp. 407-09

We were often—more than once at least—in the course of Judge Douglas' speech last night, reminded that this government was made for white men—that he believed it was made for white men. Well, that is putting it into a shape in which no one wants to deny it, but the Judge then goes into his passion for drawing inferences that are not warranted. I protest, now and forever, against that counterfeit logic which presumes that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I do necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I need not have her for either, but as God made us separate, we can leave one another alone and do one another much good thereby. There are white men enough to marry all the white women, and enough black men to marry all the black women, and in God's name let them be so married. The Judge regales us with the terrible enormities that take place by the mixture of races; that the inferior race bears the superior down. Why, Judge, if we do not let them get together in the Territories they won't mix there.
—Speech at Chicago, Illinois, 10 July 1858. Ibid., p. 498. Cited in Forced Into Glory p. 125

What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races.
—Speech at Springfield, Illinois, 17 July 1858. Ibid., p. 521

[A]nything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary.... I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects—certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.
—First Lincoln-Douglas debate, 21 August 1858. Ibid., volume 3, p. 16

While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.... I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.... I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distinguished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as to be entirely satisfied of its correctness—and that is the case of Judge Douglas's old friend Col. Richard M. Johnson. I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I give him the most solemn pledge that I will to the very last stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.
—Fourth Lincoln-Douglas debate, 18 September 1858. Ibid., pp. 145-46

[Edit 3/19/2008] It just occurred to me, but it's worth pointing out: "Richard M. Johnson" is Richard Mentor Johnson, the 9th vice-president of the United States. There was something of a scandal during the election because he had a black woman for a wife (technically the law prevented them from marrying, but for all intents and purposes they were man and wife). So when Lincoln refers to Johnson as the only "distinguished instance that I ever heard of" of "a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men", that is what he is referring to. To Lincoln, as to so many others of his day, "equality" implied "intermarriage."

Judge Douglas has said to you that he has not been able to get from me an answer to the question whether I am in favor of negro citizenship. So far as I know, the Judge never asked me the question before. He shall have no occasion to ever ask it again, for I tell him very frankly that I am not in favor of negro citizenship. ... Now my opinion is that the different States have the power to make a negro a citizen under the Constitution of the United States if they choose. The Dred Scott decision decides that they have not that power. If the State of Illinois had that power I should be opposed to the exercise of it. That is all I have to say about it.
Ibid., p. 179

I have all the while maintained, that in so far as it should be insisted that there was an equality between the white and black races that should produce a perfect social and political equality, it was an impossibility.
—Fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate, 7 October 1858. Ibid., pp. 221-22

[A]t our first meeting, at Ottawa, I read an extract from an old speech of mine, made nearly four years ago, not merely to show my sentiments, but to show that my sentiments were long entertained and openly expressed; in which extract I expressly declared that my own feelings would not admit a social and political equality between the white and black races, and that even if my own feelings would admit of it, I still knew that the public sentiment of the country would not, and that such a thing was an utter impossibility, or substantially that.
—Sixth Lincoln-Douglas debate, 13 October 1858. Ibid., p. 248

I do not perceive how I can express myself, more plainly, than I have done in the foregoing extracts. In four of them I have expressly disclaimed all intention to bring about social and political equality between the white and black races, and, in all the rest, I have done the same thing by clear implication.
—Letter to James N. Brown, 18 October 1858. Ibid., p. 327

Negro equality! Fudge!! How long, in the government of a God, great enough to make and maintain this Universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagougeism as this.
—Notes for a speech. Ibid., p. 399

Lincoln was loudly called for and he promptly mounted the stand and responded to the call. He spoke of the purpose for which the meeting was called—the Republican triumphs lately obtained in the East and West—that many such demonstrations were being made in many places—that, perhaps, the victories would be celebrated in St. Louis, the chief mart and emporium of the South-Western Slave States, and which was thoroughly Republican in sentiment. He then spoke of the evils and disasters attending the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, by which the barriers protecting freedom and free labor were broken down and the Territories transformed into asylums for slavery and niggers, and clearly showed that, by this breach of a sacred compact a scope of Territory half as large as the whole United States was thrown open to the blighting influences of slavery.
—Speech at Clinton, Illinois, 14 October 1859. Ibid., pp. 487-88. Cited in Forced Into Glory p. 98

If there was a necessary conflict between the white man and the negro, I would be for the white man as much as Judge Douglas... .
—Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio, 17 September 1859. John G. Nicolay and John Hay, ed., Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, Comprising His Speeches, Letters, State Papers, and Miscellaneous Writings, vol. 1, p. 563

And why ... should the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should be separated....

Your race is suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as a fact with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would. It is a fact about which we all think and feel alike, I and you. We look to our condition. Owing to the existence of the two races on this continent, I need not recount to you the effects upon the white men, growing out of the institution of slavery.

I believe in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present condition—the country engaged in war—our white men cutting one another's throats—none knowing how far it will extend—and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of slavery, and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. I know that there are free men among you who, even if they could better their condition, are not as much inclined to go out of the country as those who, being slaves, could obtain their freedom on this condition. I suppose one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is that the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it. You may believe that you can live in Washington, or elsewhere in the United States, the remainder of your life as easily, perhaps more so, than you can in any foreign country; and hence you may come to the conclusion that you have nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign country.

This is (I speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the case. You ought to do something to help those who are not so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us. Now, if you could give a start to the white people, you would open a wide door for many to be made free.
—Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Colored Men, 14 August, 1862. Abraham Lincoln: Complete Works, vol. 2, pp. 222 -223

Under and by virtue of the act of Congress entitled "An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes," approved August 6, 1861, the legal claims of certain persons to the labor and service of certain other persons have become forfeited, and numbers of the latter thus liberated are already dependent on the United States and must be provided for in some way. Besides this, it is not impossible that some of the States will pass similar enactments for their own benefit respectively, and by operation of which persons of the same class will be thrown upon them for disposal. In such case I recommend that Congress provide for accepting such persons from such States, according to some mode of valuation, in lieu, pro tanto, of direct taxes, or upon some other plan to be agreed on with such States respectively; that such persons, on such acceptance by the General Government, be at once deemed free, and that in any event steps be taken for colonizing both classes (or the one first mentioned if the other shall not be brought into existence) at some place or places in a climate congenial to them. It might be well to consider, too, whether the free colored people already in the United States could not, so far as individuals may desire, be included in such colonization.

To carry out the plan of colonization may involve the acquiring of territory, and also the appropriation of money beyond that to be expended in the territorial acquisition. Having practiced the acquisition of territory for nearly sixty years, the question of constitutional power to do so is no longer an open one with us. The power was questioned at first by Mr. Jefferson, who, however, in the purchase of Louisiana, yielded his scruples on the plea of great expediency. If it be said that the only legitimate object of acquiring territory is to furnish homes for white men, this measure effects that object, for the emigration of colored men leaves additional room for white men remaining or coming here. Mr. Jefferson, however, placed the importance of procuring Louisiana more on political and commercial grounds than on providing room for population.
—First State of the Union Address, 3 December 1861

In this view I recommend the adoption of the following resolution and articles amendatory to the Constitution of the United States:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring), That the following articles be proposed to the legislatures (or conventions) of the several States as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths of the said legislatures (or conventions ), to be valid as part or parts of the said Constitution, viz:

ART.—Every State wherein slavery now exists which shall abolish the same therein at any time or times before the 1st day of January, A.D. 1900, shall receive compensation from the United States as follows, to wit:

The President of the United States shall deliver to every such State bonds of the United States bearing interest at the rate of per cent per annum to an amount equal to the aggregate sum of____for each slave shown to have been therein by the Eighth Census of the United States, said bonds to be delivered to such State by installments or in one parcel at the completion of the abolishment, accordingly as the same shall have been gradual or at one time within such State; and interest shall begin to run upon any such bond only from the proper time of its delivery as aforesaid. Any State having received bonds as aforesaid and afterwards reintroducing or tolerating slavery therein shall refund to the United States the bonds so received, or the value thereof, and all interest paid thereon.

ART—All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by the chances of the war at any time before the end of the rebellion shall be forever free; but all owners of such who shall not have been disloyal shall be compensated for them at the same rates as is provided for States adopting abolishment of slavery, but in such way that no slave shall be twice accounted for.

ART.—Congress may appropriate money and otherwise provide for colonizing free colored persons with their own consent at any place or places without the United States.

I beg indulgence to discuss these proposed articles at some length. Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.


The emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of perpetual slavery, but the length of time should greatly mitigate their dissatisfaction. The time spares both races from the evils of sudden derangement—in fact, from the necessity of any derangement—while most of those whose habitual course of thought will be disturbed by the measure will have passed away before its consummation. They will never see it. Another class will hail the prospect of emancipation, but will deprecate the length of time. They will feel that it gives too little to the now living slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves them from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great, and it gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity shall be free forever. The plan leaves to each State choosing to act under it to abolish slavery now or at the end of the century, or at any intermediate time, or by degrees extending over the whole or any part of the period, and it obliges no two States to proceed alike. It also provides for compensation, and generally the mode of making it. This, it would seem, must further mitigate the dissatisfaction of those who favor perpetual slavery, and especially of those who are to receive the compensation. Doubtless some of those who are to pay and not to receive will object. Yet the measure is both just and economical. In a certain sense the liberation of slaves is the destruction of property—property acquired by descent or by purchase, the same as any other property.
—Second State of the Union Address, 1 December 1862

I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I strongly favor colonization.

I, Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, proclaim and declare, that the government of the United States, had no knowledge, information, or belief, of an intention on the part of General Hunter, to issue such a proclamation; nor has it yet, any authentic information that the document is genuine. And further, that neither General Hunter, nor any other commander, or person, has been authorized by the Government of the United States, to make proclamations declaring slaves of any State free; and that the supposed proclamation, now in question, whether genuine or false, is altogether void, so far as respects such declaration.
Our Racist Presidents, p. 97. This was a statement issued by Lincoln on May 19, 1862, revoking General David Hunter's order that freed slaves in the conquered portions of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

As his insistence upon gradual emancipation and colonization suggests, the President's constitutionalism and his concern for the border slave states were equaled by his profound concern over the social and economic consequences of emancipation. This was best revealed by his words and actions following the passage of the law freeing the slaves in the District of Columbia. After the passage of this bill in April of 1862, Lincoln praised Congress for including the principles of compensation and deportation in the measure. Senator Doolittle privately said that the bill would have been vetoed had it not provided for colonization. However this may have been, Lincoln certainly had serious objections to the measure, even though he signed it. He confided his dissatisfaction to Browning, complaining that the act called for immediate rather than gradual freedom—"that now families would at once be deprives of cooks, stable boys & c. and they of their protectors without any provision for them." He continued, "in the strictest confidence," that he would delay signing the bill for two days while a Kentucky congressman removed from Washington "two family servants who were sickly, and who would not be benefitted by freedom." He did so delay. Perhaps a number of healthier slaves also were removed from Washington while Lincoln waited.
—V. J. Voegeli, Free But Not Equal: The Midwest and the Negro During the Civil War, in Our Racist Presidents pp. 132- 33

On the same day that Lincoln announced his intention of using freedmen as laborers, he once again turned to colonization—his favorite answer to the race problem. On July 21, 1862, the President advised the cabinet that he was considering an executive order on colonization; but he changed his mind the next day and apparently dropped the plan.
Ibid., p. 137

Even as president, Abraham Lincoln, often called the Great Emancipator, was willing to support a constitutional amendment making slavery permanent in the existing southern states if that would prevent a civil war. Such a projected proslavery amendment was supported by many Republicans and was actually approved by both houses of the U.S. Congress in early 1861.
—Joe Feagin, Racist America, p. 15. This is known as the Corwin Amendment.

The Presidential campaign of 1860 was over, and the victor was stretching his legs and shaking off the cares of the world in his temporary office in the state capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Surrounded by the perks of power, at peace with the world, the president-elect was regaling old acquaintances with tall tales about his early days as a politician. One of the visitors interrupted this monologue and remarked that it was a shame that "the vexatious slavery matter" would be the first question of public policy the new president would have to deal with in Washington.

The president-elect's eyes twinkled and he said he was reminded of a story. According to eyewitness Henry Villard, President-elect Abraham Lincoln "told the story of the Kentucky Justice of the Peace whose first case was a criminal prosecution for the abuse of slaves. Unable to find any precedent, he exclaimed angrily: 'I will be damned if I don't feel almost sorry for being elected when the niggers is the first thing I have to attend to.'"

This story, shocking as it may be to Lincoln admirers, was in character. For the president-elect had never shown any undue sympathy for Blacks, and none of his cronies was surprised to hear him suggest that he shared the viewpoint of the reluctant and biased justice of the peace. As for the N-word, everybody knew that old Abe used it all the time, both in public and in private.
—Lerone Bennett, Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream, p. 5

General James Samuel Wadsworth, who saw Lincoln almost every day at the height of the crisis and who was with him "frequently for 5 or 6 hours at the War Department," was shocked by the racism in the Lincoln White House, where Lincoln "frequently" spoke of "the nigger question" and debated whether this or that act would "touch the nigger." On a typical occasion, Wadsworth was, he said, "talking against [General George] McClellan with [Postmaster General Montgomery] Blair, in Lincoln's presence," when he was "met by Blair with the remark, 'He'd have been all right if he'd stolen a couple of n——rs.' A general laugh, in which Lincoln laughed, as if it were an argument." General Wadsworth said that Lincoln was contemptuous of abolitionists and "spoke often of the slaves as cattle."
Ibid., p. 14

Nothing, we are told, gave Lincoln more pleasure than minstrel shows. Whitney said he "was especially fond of Negro minstrel performances." Author Jesse Weik said "he had an insatiable fondness for Negro minstrelsy and seemed to extract the greatest delight from the crude jokes and harmless [sic] fun of the black-faced and red- lipped performers."
Ibid., p. 90. The "sic" was inserted by Bennett.

On one occasion, a literary man tried to find out if Lincoln while in St. Louis had attended a lecture by the celebrated English writer William Makepeace Thackeray. One of Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois, friends sent a message back that if Lincoln "was in St. Louis and the wonderful Mr. Thackeray was billed to lecture in one public hall and Campbell's or Rumsey's Negro Minstrels were to hold forth in another hall on the same evening, it would have been folly to look for Lincoln at the lecture. Instead of the latter the 'n——'r show' would have caught him every time."

It was a minstrel show or as he and his friends said indelicately "a n——r show" that caught Lincoln on his visit to Chicago two months before he was nominated for president of the United States. Whitney said that when, on March 23, 1860, he was presented three tickets to Rumsey and Newcomb's Minstrels, he "asked him if he would like to go to a 'n——r show' that night. Lincoln "assented rapturously," saying: "Of all things I would rather do to-night that suits me exactly. . . ."
Ibid., pp. 93-94

Before, after and during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in public and in private, Lincoln used and abused the N-word. In the Carlinville, Illinois, speech, he used the word twice, and it is surprising that historians who are always praising Lincoln's skill in opening speeches never mention the Carlinville speech, which started, according to the Carlinville Democrat, with this sentence: "He said the question is often asked, why this fuss about niggers?" The answer, Lincoln said, was that the extension of slavery posed a threat to White workers. "Sustain these men and Negro equality will be abundant, as every white laborer will have occasion to regret when he is elbowed from his plow or his anvil by slave niggers." Sandburg and others, as we have noted, suggested that Lincoln was misquoted, and it is odd that a different reporter heard the same word when Lincoln told a crowd in Elwood, Kansas, a year later, "People often ask, why make such a fuss about a few niggers?"
Ibid., pp. 97-98

Even before Lincoln went to Washington, he was renowned for stories like the one he told at a Chicago banquet about "the darky who, when a bear had put its head into the hole and shut out the daylight, cried out, "What was darkening de hole?" "Ah," cried the other darky, who was on to the tail of the animal, "if de tail breaks you'll find out."
Ibid., pp. 100

Whether humor was a vent or a diversion or, as seems most likely, a life-defining way of dealing with the world, President Lincoln joked his way through his term, telling stories on, among other things, "darky" arithmetic and "darky" theology. There was the time, for instance, that the president of the United States, to the dismay of Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, interrupted a White House discussion on the tragically high Union mortality rate to tell a group of English visitors a story about "darky" arithmetic.

The "dignified representatives of the learning and higher thought of Great Britain and her American dominion" were shocked.

"I did not know, Mr. President," one said, "that you have two systems of arithmetic."

"Oh, yes," said the president. "I will illustrate that point by a little story: Two young contraband, as we have learned to call them, were seated together, when one said, 'Jim, do you know 'rithmetic?'"

"Jim answered, 'No; what is 'rithmetic?'

'Well,' said the other, 'it's when you add up things. When you have one and one, and you put them together, they makes two. And when you subtracts things. When if you have two things, and you takes one away, only one remains.'

'Is dat 'rithmetic?'


'Well, 'tain't true den; it's no good.'

"Here a dispute arose, when Jim said:

'Now, you s'spose three pigeons sit on that fence, and somebody shoots one of dem, do t'other two stay dar? I guess not, dey flies away quicker'n odder feller falls. . . ."

Wilson said that if he had known a thousand stories he wouldn't have told that one to Professor [Godwin] Smith "and his grave-looking English friends [who seemed to enjoy the performance] and he was mortified that the President . . . should so inopportunely indulge in such frivolity."

Inopportunely or not, the president of the United States indulged in such frivolities at cabinet meetings. During a discussion on Spain and Santo Domingo on February 2, 1864, thirteen months after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the president said he was reminded, Secretary of Navy Gideon Welles noted in his diary, "of an interview between two Negroes, one of whom was a preacher endeavoring to admonish and enlighten the other. 'There are,' said Josh, the preacher, 'two roads for you, Joe. Be careful which you take. One ob dem leads straight to hell, de odder go right to damnation.' Joe opened his eyes under the impressive eloquence and awful future and exclaimed, 'Josh, take which road you please; I go, troo de wood.' I am not disposed to take any new trouble," said the President, "just at this time, and shall neither go for Spain nor the Negro in this matter, but shall take to the woods."
Ibid., pp. 102-04

[H]e routinely used the term boy to refer to Black men of all ages and made racial distinctions in listing White House employees, giving Whites the standard courtesy titles and calling Black women aunt. On November 9, 1862, he sent the following note to his wife: "Mrs. Cuthbert & Aunt Mary want to move to the White House, because it has grown so cold at Soldiers Home. Shall they?" Is there a scholar anywhere in the world who doesn't know the racial identity of Mrs. Cuthbert and Aunt Mary?

This was not a social lapse caused by inattention or the press of business—this was Lincoln's habitual address to Blacks. He apparently made an exception for Frederick Douglass, although Lincoln's secretary, John Hay, called Douglass "Frederick." Neither Hay nor Lincoln made an exception for Sojourner Truth. And it tells you a lot about the current state of historiography when contemporary White historians don't find it strange or offensive that the autograph Lincoln gave to that great and gracious lady in 1864 was to "Aunty Sojourner Truth."
Ibid., p. 109

If you consult the House Journal of the Ninth General Assembly [of Illinois], which can be found in the Chicago Public Library, you will discover that shortly after 2 p.m. on the day in question [5 January 1836] Abraham Lincoln voted on the following resolution:

"Resolved, That the price of the public lands ought to be reduced.
Resolved, That all white male citizens of the age of 21 years upwards, are entitled to the privilege of voting whether they own real estate or not.
Resolved, That the elective franchise should be kept pure from contamination by the admission of colored votes.
Resolved, That we approve of the granting of pre-emption rights to settlers on the public lands."


One of the thirty-five White men who voted on Tuesday, January 5, 1836, to keep the Illinois franchise pure from contamination by Black voters was the twenty-six-year-old representative from Sangamon County, the Honorable Abraham Lincoln.
Ibid., pp. 115-16

He said it at Galesburg:

I have all the while maintained that inasmuch as there is a physical inequality between the white and black, that the blacks must remain inferior....

Ibid., p. 212

The year 1864 soon came to an end and the fateful year 1865 arrived. That Lincoln had not given up his years-long interest in colonization is evidenced by conversations he had with ex-General Benjamin F. Butler, probably sometime in February, 1865. These are at least worth noting, whatever Butler's credibility and though unsupported by other evidence. At that time Lincoln was very much concerned, according to Butler, about the Negroes who would soon be in the category of ex-soldiers. "I can hardly believe that the South and the North can live in peace, unless we get rid of the negroes," Butler quoted Lincoln as saying.

Certainly they cannot if we don't get rid of the negroes whom we have already armed and disciplined and who have fought with us, to the amount, I believe, of some one hundred and fifty thousand men. I believe it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate, which they could have to themselves.

According to Butler, the President encouraged him in a plan to build an Isthmian canal, using the labor of Negro soldiers who, with their families, would found a loyal colony, but nothing came of it.
—Paul Scheips, "Lincoln and the Chiriqui Colonization Project", 37 Journal of Negro History 4, October 1952, pp. 448-49

[Edit 8/29/2009]

Early conceptions of the Civil War as "a white man's war" with limited objectives were not the only deterrent to raising a black army. Even if black enlistments should be deemed desirable, few whites believed that black men possessed the necessary technical skills, intelligence, and courage to become effective soldiers. "If we were to arm them," President Lincoln conceded in September 1862, "I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands of the rebels."
—Leon F. Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long, p. 66. Citing "Reply to Emancipation Memorial Presented by Chicago Christians of All Denominations", in Basler, ed., Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, volume 5, p. 423.

[Edit 8/29/2009]

He began by saying that the employment of colored troops at all was a great gain to the colored people; that the measure could not have been successfully adopted at the beginning of the war; that the wisdom of making colored men soldiers was still doubted; that their enlistment was a serious offense to popular prejudice; that they had larger motives for being soldiers than white men; that they ought to be willing to enter the service upon any condition; that the fact that they were not to receive the same pay as white soldiers seemed a necessary concession to smooth the way to their employment at all as soldiers, but that ultimately they would receive the same.
—Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, p. 423. Cited in Litwack, Been in the Storm So Long, p. 81.

Andrew Johnson

(17) Andrew Johnson : 1865-1869

A little further on, I find a motion, made by the venerable gentleman from Massachusetts, that the bill be recommitted, with instructions to the committee to strike out the word "white;" so that, if the bill passed with the amendment, it would place every splay- footed, bandy-shanked, hump-backed, thick-lipped, flat-nosed, woolly- headed, ebon-colored negro in the country upon an equality with the white man.
—Speech before the House, 31 January 1844. Appendix to the Congressional Globe, 28th Congress, 1st Session, p. 97. The Congressional Globe itself has a slightly different wording (p. 213): "it would enable every woolly-headed, bandy-shanked, flat-footed negro to vote."

When we take the Declaration of Independence and connect it with the circumstances under which it was written, is there a man throughout the length and breadth of this broad Republic who believes for one instant that Mr. Jefferson, when he penned it, had the negro population in his mind? Notwithstanding, he says that "all men are created equal, and that they are by their Creator endowed with certain inalienable rights, that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," is there an intelligent man throughout the whole country, is there a Senator, when he has stripped himself of all party prejudice, who will come forward and say that he believes that Mr. Jefferson, when he penned that paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, intended it to embrace the African population? Is there a gentleman in the Senate who believes any such thing? Is there any one who will stake his reputation on the assertion that that is the correct interpretation of the Declaration of Independence? There is not a man of respectable intelligence who will hazard his reputation upon such an assertion. Why then indulge in this ad captandum discussion? Why try to delude and deceive the great mass of people by intimating that Mr. Jefferson meant Africans or the African race? How were we situated when Mr. Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence? Did he not own slaves? Did not most of the persons in the Congress which adopted the Declaration own slaves, and after the Declaration was adopted, by way of giving a correct interpretation to it, what do we find incorporated in the Constitution of the United States? Were negroes then considered the persons who were embraced in the Declaration of Independence? Were they not considered as property? In fixing the representation, slaves were regarded as property, and only three fifths of them were to be counted, clearly recognizing that they were one of the forms of property, and not persons intended to be embraced in the Declaration of Independence, as contended by some. I think it is clear.

What more was provided in the Constitution of the United States, by way of giving a clear construction to the Declaration of Independence? It was provided that fugitives from labor should be restored to the States from which they escaped, upon demand being made. Does that look as if this description of persons were embraced in the Declaration of Independence, and were considered equal to the white race? It is evident to my mind, and it must be so to everybody else, that Mr. Jefferson meant the white race, and not the African race.
—Speech before the Senate, 12 December 1859. Congressional Globe, 36th Congress, 1st Session, p. 100

[W]hen our people speak of men being equals they do not include the African race, but regard them as an inferior race.

Johnson fought the Radicals because he was an absolute white supremacist. "This is a country for white men," he said, "and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men." His own private secretary, William G. Moore, who was no less white in most matters, worried about the president's "morbid distress and feeling against negroes." When meeting with a group of blacks headed by Frederick Douglass, Johnson said the freedmen's fate ("this thing") would be decided by "the [white] people of the states . . . for themselves." He would merely observe this process because he did "not want to be engaged in a work that will commence a war of races." After the delegation left Johnson said "those damned sons of bitches thought they had me in a trap. I know that damned Douglass; he's just like any nigger, and he would sooner cut a white man's throat than not."
Nixon's Piano, pp. 50-51

President Johnson proposed that Mississippi adopt literacy tests to keep black suffrage down and vetoed a voting rights bill for the District of Columbia. "It is within their power, in one year," he warned (with one-third of Washington's population already black), "to come into the District in such numbers as to have the supreme control of the white race, and to govern by their own officers."
Ibid., p. 51

"It is upon the intelligent free white people of the country that all government should rest, and by them all government should be controlled," said the future President. He once told a cheering Tennessee Legislature that he stood for a white man's government controlled by free, white voters, excluding blacks. In this speech he struck hard at the planters, accusing them of starting the war in order to establish "an aristocracy or Negro [-based] oligarchy. As war governor of Tennessee, he decreed that one had to be "a free white man" in order to vote. One of Johnson's correspondents recalled a conversation in the winter of 1865 in which Johnson had declared himself in favor of a white man's government.
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, p. 97

A persistent pre-Civil War racial theme of Andrew Johnson was that the blacks hated the poor whites of the South and looked upon them with contempt. Before the Civil War, Andrew Johnson did not think that America would become a permanent home for blacks. In 1845, he called for the annexation of Mexico as a gateway out of which blacks "would pass from bondage to freedom when they can become merged in a population congenial with themselves, who know and feel no distinction in consequence of the various hues of skin and crosses of blood." Johnson was aware of the partiality of the Caucasian when complexion was involved. In 1847, he implied that the "various hues of skin and crosses of blood" were indicative of some kind of ethnological sin on the part of Mexico. He attributed America's successful war with Mexico to "the right . . . arm of an angry God [punishing the latter's racial infidelity and using] the Anglo-Saxon race . . . as the rods of her retribution."
Ibid., p. 99

In his third annual message the presidential tone began to sound like certain of his letter writers from the South and New England. He was more firm than ever in his conviction of the incompatibility of the races:

The great difference between the two races in physical, mental and moral characteristics will prevent an amalgamation or fusion of them together in one homogeneous mass. If the inferior obtains the ascendency, it will govern with reference only to its own interests.

In his last annual message Johnson showed himself solidly convinced that Reconstruction was a failure and that the two races were in powerful opposition to each other:

The attempt to place the white population under the domination of persons of color in the South has impaired, if not destroyed the kindly relations that had previously existed between them; and mutual distrust has engendered feelings of animosity which leading in some instances to collision and bloodshed, has prevented that cooperation between the two races so essential to the success of industrial enterprise in the Southern States.

Ibid., pp. 101-02

This talk about "nigger equality" is all humbug. I have seen more of it in the South than I have in the North.
Ibid., p. 105

The veto message next called attention to another possible consequence of federal power over civil rights: "May not Congress repeal, in the same way, all state laws discriminating between the two races, on the subject of suffrage and office." This was a strong point with Johnson; especially in view of his pre-Civil War theory about a white man's government. May not "Congress . . . also declare by law, who, without regard to race or color, shall have the right to act as juror or as judge, to hold office, and finally to vote in every state and territory of the United States?" In other words, political opposition to the bill was predicated on the racial principle that this was indeed a white man's country to be controlled by white men. The bill, charged the veto, might indiscriminately make citizens of gypsies, Indians, Chinese and blacks.

In the opinion of the veto message's author the black man was not a citizen but an alien incompetent to exercise the "privilege and immunities of citizenship of the United States. . . ."
Ibid., p. 114, referring to Johnson's veto of the Civil Rights Bill of 1866. There is dispute over whether Johnson wrote his own veto messages, but I think that they can be included in this project.

By the time the Congressional Reconstruction Act was passed in 1867, Johnson had become almost intemperate in his anti-black sentiments. When the veto of the supplementary Reconstruction bill was written the President or his ghost writer seems to have drawn upon all the anti-black contents of the presidential mailbag for choice invectives to heap upon the blacks and the "ill-founded attempt" to put the ignorant and incompetent African over the Caucasian:

The object of the bill . . . is to put the Southern states . . . in the hands of the Negroes. They are wholly incompetent to administer such a trust. Ninety-nine in a hundred of them have no idea what a constitution means. . . . It is vain to deny that they are an inferior race—very far inferior to the European variety. They have learned in slavery all that they know in civilization. When first brought from the country of their origin they were naked savages and where they have been left to their own devices or escaped the control of the white race they have relapsed, to a greater or less degree into barbarism.

Johnson conjured up blood-soaked visions of Santo Domingo as evidence of black degeneracy when away from the watchful eye of the white superior. Indeed, the government was doing for the helpless blacks "what no government ever did before for any class of its people except children, idiots, and lunatics. It has fed them, bought their clothes, superintended their labor, appointed officers to make their bargains and collected their wages." If the blacks could not manage "the most trifling concerns of their own . . . ," argued Johnson with some reason, how could they act as "lawgivers for a great nation"? Blacks simply had no "capacity for so high a function." They were satisfied to enjoy their own freedom and had no desire to seek control of public affairs, Johnson thought.

Johnson next prepared, but did not submit, a veto for the District of Columbia Equal Rights Bill which was of exactly the same tenor. He continued to interpret every attempt to secure equal rights for blacks as another move to put blacks over whites. Here he objected to blacks serving on juries in cases where whites were involved, describing this as not only unconstitutional but insulting to the white mass of the American people. ... Johnson attacked the repeal of all limitations upon the rights of office holding or serving on juries in the District of Columbia as an unjust removal of initiative from the local people, by which was meant the white people: "I cannot believe that the American people are prepared to see . . . the government of the capital of the nation in the hands of negroes. Johnson resented the doctrine that "negroes are the peers and equals of white men" and hoped that it would not be sustained, lest it bring on a conflict between the races. A man had the right to be tried by his peers. "Does a white citizen of this District enjoy that right if negroes may be called to try him? I think not. . . . To put a citizen at the mercy of another class . . . which not only differs from his own in physical structure, in mental characteristics and moral sentiments, but which is besides hostile to his rights and liberties is to violate the Constitution. . . ." In another burst of Negrophobia, the hopelessly unreconstructed Johnson said: "We all know, all men know, that between the black and the white . . . on this continent there is socially and morally a great gulf completely dividing them and totally preventing all fusion or amalgamation of the two. . . ."
Ibid., pp. 115-17

The message was long and rather thorough. In essence the veto said: Since only 35 out of 6556 white voters favored having black voters, Congress had obviously disregarded the will of the people and violated the sacred principle of self-government. Northern states with much, much smaller black populations had refused to give blacks the ballot; the black man was not competent to pass on important questions because he had no property and would not have the interest of the District at heart. Why force blacks upon an unwilling white people and engender race hatred? Blacks had not yet been on probation long enough to successfully take up the duties of citizenship. But more important, there were so many blacks in the District that they could, with an unlimited vote, control the elections of the city. Finally, Johnson conjured up visions of a mass invasion of the District by blacks from adjacent Southern states: "It is within their power in one year to come here in such numbers as to have the supreme control of the white race and to govern them by their own officers and by the exercise of all municipal authority. . . ."
Ibid., pp. 126-27, referring to Johnson's veto of the District of Columbia Voting Bill

On January 28, 1867, the President vetoed a bill admitting Colorado to the Union. He did so on the grounds that the enabling clause gave the vote to blacks and mulattoes against the expressed will of the people. Two days later Johnson vetoed the admission of Nebraska for the same reason. He also vetoed the First Reconstruction Bill of March 2, 1867. "The Negroes," he said (though his mail does not confirm this), "have not asked for the privilege of voting—the vast majority of them have no idea what it means. . . ."
Ibid., p. 127

To propose that blacks should rule the white race and shape the destiny of the country was to Johnson ludicrous. He had grave doubts about the capacity of the black man to govern himself. "It must be acknowledged that in the progress of nations Negroes have shown less capacity for government than any other race of people. . . . It is the glory of the white man to know that they have these qualities." The ballot being the very epitome of democracy, the very safety of our form of government required that the franchise be ensconced in the bosom of none but the most highly qualified electors, "those who are fitted morally and mentally to administer it well." Such were the ideas on race expressed in Johnson's third annual message to Congress.

On June 20, 1868, Johnson, the racial gatekeeper, pronounced anathema upon an attempt to bring Arkansas into the Union. The Arkansas Constitution, in addition to stating that all males over twenty-one could vote, contained a clause reminiscent of the egalitarian fervor of the French Revolution. Every voter had to make the following declaration: "I accept the civil and political equality of all men, and agree not to attempt to deprive any person or persons, on account of race, color or previous condition, of any political or civil right, privilege or immunity enjoyed by any other class of men." Johnson had his doubts about the validity of such a sweeping injunction. "It is well known," he countered, "that a very large portion of the electors in all the states, if not a large majority of them, do not believe in or accept the political equality of Indians, Mongolians, or Negroes with the white race to which they belong." The whites of the North would refuse to vote "rather than comply" with the "degrading conditions" of such a declaration, said Johnson.
Ibid., p. 128

It is manifestly and avowedly the object of these laws to confer upon negroes the privilege of voting and to disfranchise such a number of white citizens as will give the former a clear majority at all elections in the Southern States. This, to the minds of some persons, is so important that a violation of the Constitution is justified as a means of bringing it about. The morality is always false which excuses a wrong because it proposes to accomplish a desirable end. We are not permitted to do evil that good may come. But in this case the end itself is evil, as well as the means. The subjugation of the States to negro domination would be worse than the military despotism under which they are now suffering. It was believed beforehand that the people would endure any amount of military oppression for any length of time rather than degrade themselves by subjection to the negro race. Therefore they have been left without a choice. Negro suffrage was established by an act of Congress, and the military officers were commanded to superintend the process of clothing the negro race with the political privileges torn from white men.

The blacks in the South are entitled to be well and humanely governed, and to have the protection of just laws for all their rights of person and property. If it were practicable at this time to give them a Government exclusively their own, under which they might manage their own affairs in their own way, it would become a grave question whether we ought to do so, or whether common humanity would not require us to save them from themselves. But under the circumstances this is only a speculative point. It is not proposed merely that they shall govern themselves, but that they shall rule the white race, make and administer State laws, elect Presidents and members of Congress, and shape to a greater or less extent the future destiny of the whole country. Would such a trust and power be safe in such hands?

The peculiar qualities which should characterize any people who are fit to decide upon the management of public affairs for a great state have seldom been combined. It is the glory of white men to know that they have had these qualities in sufficient measure to build upon this continent a great political fabric and to preserve its stability for more than ninety years, while in every other part of the world all similar experiments have failed. But if anything can be proved by known facts, if all reasoning upon evidence is not abandoned, it must be acknowledged that in the progress of nations negroes have shown less capacity for government than any other race of people. No independent government of any form has ever been successful in their hands. On the contrary, wherever they have been left to their own devices they have shown a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism. In the Southern States, however, Congress has undertaken to confer upon them the privilege of the ballot. Just released from slavery, it may be doubted whether as a class they know more than their ancestors how to organize and regulate civil society. Indeed, it is admitted that the blacks of the South are not only regardless of the rights of property, but so utterly ignorant of public affairs that their voting can consist in nothing more than carrying a ballot to the place where they are directed to deposit it. I need not remind you that the exercise of the elective franchise is the highest attribute of an American citizen, and that when guided by virtue, intelligence, patriotism, and a proper appreciation of our free institutions it constitutes the true basis of a democratic form of government, in which the sovereign power is lodged in the body of the people. A trust artificially created, not for its own sake, but solely as a means of promoting the general welfare, its influence for good must necessarily depend upon the elevated character and true allegiance of the elector. It ought, therefore, to be reposed in none except those who are fitted morally and mentally to administer it well; for if conferred upon persons who do not justly estimate its value and who are indifferent as to its results, it will only serve as a means of placing power in the hands of the unprincipled and ambitious, and must eventuate in the complete destruction of that liberty of which it should be the most powerful conservator. I have therefore heretofore urged upon your attention the great danger—to be apprehended from an untimely extension of the elective franchise to any new class in our country, especially when the large majority of that class, in wielding the power thus placed in their hands, can not be expected correctly to comprehend the duties and responsibilities which pertain to suffrage. Yesterday, as it were, 4,000,000 persons were held in a condition of slavery that had existed for generations; to-day they are freemen and are assumed by law to be citizens. It can not be presumed, from their previous condition of servitude, that as a class they are as well informed as to the nature of our Government as the intelligent foreigner who makes our land the home of his choice. In the case of the latter neither a residence of five years and the knowledge of our institutions which it gives nor attachment to the principles of the Constitution are the only conditions upon which he can be admitted to citizenship; he must prove in addition a good moral character, and thus give reasonable ground for the belief that he will be faithful to the obligations which he assumes as a citizen of the Republic. Where a people—the source of all political power—speak by their suffrages through the instrumentality of the ballot box, it must be carefully guarded against the control of those who are corrupt in principle and enemies of free institutions, for it can only become to our political and social system a safe conductor of healthy popular sentiment when kept free from demoralizing influences. Controlled through fraud and usurpation by the designing, anarchy and despotism must inevitably follow. In the hands of the patriotic and worthy our Government will be preserved upon the principles of the Constitution inherited from our fathers. It follows, therefore, that in admitting to the ballot box a new class of voters not qualified for the exercise of the elective franchise we weaken our system of government instead of adding to its strength and durability.

I yield to no one in attachment to that rule of general suffrage which distinguishes our policy as a nation. But there is a limit, wisely observed hitherto, which makes the ballot a privilege and a trust, and which requires of some classes a time suitable for probation and preparation. To give it indiscriminately to a new class, wholly unprepared by previous habits and opportunities to perform the trust which it demands, is to degrade it, and finally to destroy its power, for it may be safely assumed that no political truth is better established than that such indiscriminate and all-embracing extension of popular suffrage must end at last in its destruction.

I repeat the expression of my willingness to join in any plan within the scope of our constitutional authority which promises to better the condition of the Negroes in the South, by encouraging them in industry, enlightening their minds, improving their morals, and giving protection to all their just rights as freedmen. But the transfer of our political inheritance to them would, in my opinion, be an abandonment of a duty which we owe alike to the memory of our fathers and the rights of our children.

The plan of putting the Southern States wholly and the General Government partially into the hands of Negroes is proposed at a time peculiarly unpropitious. The foundations of society have been broken up by civil war. Industry must be reorganized, justice reestablished, public credit maintained, and order brought out of confusion. To accomplish these ends would require all the wisdom and virtue of the great men who formed our institutions originally. I confidently believe that their descendants will be equal to the arduous task before them, but it is worse than madness to expect that Negroes will perform it for us. Certainly we ought not to ask their assistance till we despair of our own competency.

The great difference between the two races in physical, mental, and moral characteristics will prevent an amalgamation or fusion of them together in one homogeneous mass. If the inferior obtains the ascendency over the other, it will govern with reference only to its own interests—for it will recognize no common interest—and create such a tyranny as this continent has never yet witnessed. Already the Negroes are influenced by promises of confiscation and plunder. They are taught to regard as an enemy every white man who has any respect for the rights of his own race. If this continues it must become worse and worse, until all order will be subverted, all industry cease, and the fertile fields of the South grow up into a wilderness. Of all the dangers which our nation has yet encountered, none are equal to those which must result from the success of the effort now making to Africanize the half of our country.

I would not put considerations of money in competition with justice and right; but the expenses incident to "reconstruction" under the system adopted by Congress aggravate what I regard as the intrinsic wrong of the measure itself. It has cost uncounted millions already, and if persisted in will add largely to the weight of taxation, already too oppressive to be borne without just complaint, and may finally reduce the Treasury of the nation to a condition of bankruptcy. We must not delude ourselves. It will require a strong standing army and probably more than $200,000,000 per annum to maintain the supremacy of Negro governments after they are established. The sum thus thrown away would, if properly used, form a sinking fund large enough to pay the whole national debt in less than fifteen years. It is vain to hope that Negroes will maintain their ascendency themselves. Without military power they are wholly incapable of holding in subjection the white people of the South.
—Third State of the Union Address, 3 December 1867. Printed in A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. 6, pp. 564-7

Andrew Johnson of Tennessee both during and after the war argued that Mexico was doomed as a nation; it "had reached its acme, its apex of power under her present rulers." God intended to punish the "perfidious and half-civilized" Mexico, and "the Anglo-Saxon race has been selected as the rod of her retribution."
Race and Manifest Destiny, p. 237

Now, we are talking about where we are going to begin. We have got at that hate that existed between the two races. The query comes up, whether these two races, situated as they were before, without preparation, without time for passion and excitement to be appeased, and without time for the slightest improvement, whether the one should be turned loose upon the other, and be thrown together at the ballot- box with this enmity and hate existing between them. The query comes up right there, whether we don't commence a war of races. I think I understand this thing, and especially is this the case when you force it upon a people without their consent.

You have spoken about government. Where is power derived from? We say it is derived from the people. Let us take it so, and refer to the District of Columbia by way of illustration. Suppose, for instance, here, in this political community, which, to a certain extent, must have government, must have laws, and putting it now upon the broadest basis you can put it—take into consideration the relation which the white has heretofore borne to the colored race—is it proper to force upon this community, without their consent, the elective franchise, without regard to color, making it universal?

Now, where do you begin? Government must have a controlling power—must have a lodgment. For instance, suppose Congress should pass a law authorizing an election to be held at which all over twenty-one years of age, without regard to color, should be allowed to vote, and a majority should decide at such election that the elective franchise should not be universal; what would you do about it? Who would settle it? Do you deny that first great principle of the right of the people to govern themselves? Will you resort to an arbitrary power, and say a majority of the people shall receive a state of things they are opposed to?
—Interview with the President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, by a delegation of Negroes, headed by Frederick Douglass and George T. Downing, 7 February 1866, in Our Racist Presidents, pp. 150-51

It is the people of the States that must for themselves determine this thing. I do not want to be engaged in a work that will commence a war of races. I want to begin the work of preparation, and the States, or the people in each community, if a man demeans himself well, and shows evidence that this new state of affairs will operate, will protect him in all his rights, and give him every possible advantage when they become reconciled socially and politically to this state of things. Then will this new order of things work harmoniously; but forced upon the people before they are prepared for it, it will be resisted, and work inharmoniously. I feel a conviction that driving this matter upon the people, upon the community, will result in the injury of both races, and the ruin of one or the other. God knows I have no desire but the good of the whole human race. I would it were so that all you advocate could be done in the twinkling of any eye; but it is not in the nature of things, and I do not assume or pretend to be wiser than Providence, or stronger than the laws of nature.
Ibid., p. 152

Once slavery was ended, black families were promised some productive land by federal officials. Those newly freed pressed for "forty acres and a mule" with which to begin a new life. Some federal generals initially gave confiscated Confederate lands to African Americans. The famous Special Field Order 15, issued by General William T. Sherman as he marched through the South, gave former slaves confiscated plantation lands. Soon more than 40,000 freed blacks were working large areas of farmland. Yet more of the new black farmers lost this land when the new president, Andrew Johnson, a southerner and slaveholder, overruled Sherman.
Racist America, p. 61

[S]ix months before his nomination for the vice-presidency, Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, told a Tennessee audience he was for setting the Negroes free, but an effort would have to be made " 'to colonize the blacks' " in the event they could not get along with the dominant race.
—"Lincoln and the Chiriqui Colonization Project", p. 419

* * *

Andrew Johnson was a slave-holder, but of course not while he was president.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

Ulysses S. Grant

(18) Ulysses S. Grant : 1869-1877

Grant, the soldier, had no doubt that the war would end slavery. One result of the effort to send "the secession army howling," he told wife Julia, would be that "negroes will depreciate so rapidly in value that no body will want to own them and their masters will be the loudest in their declamations . . . The nigger will never disturb this country again." He had one worry (the possibility of "negro revolts" as his soldiers marched forward and Robert E. Lee's rebels fled), yet had "no doubt but a Northern army would hasten South to suppress anything of the kind." When President Johnson sent him on a southern fact-finding tour after the war he reported to the cabinet that blacks should have no role in Reconstruction. The task belonged to "the thinking people of the South," he said, an observation that encouraged Johnson in his pitiless work.
Nixon's Piano, p. 52

Former president Grant remarked that he "was not in favor of the Chinese coming to this country" ....
—Andrew Gyory, Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act, p. 243

How did the President really feel about social equality? He was not indifferent to that subject. In his second annual message of 1873, he said to Congress, "Social equality is not a subject to be legislated upon, nor shall I ask that anything be done to advance the social status of the colored man, except to give him a fair chance to develop what there is good in him, give him access to the schools, and when he travels let him feel assured that his conduct will regulate the treatment and fare he will receive." It would appear from this statement that Grant approved of integrated transportation, if not mixed schools. What caused the President to make this public denial of any intention to advance social equality? The answer probably lies buried in the missing Grant papers or in Grant's own reticence. Yet it is not unlikely that because of his disposition to enforce the laws he was accused of pushing social equality. Twelve years later Grant reflected that in spite of the fact that the nation had given the black man his freedom, the ballot, and public schools, "the nation still lives, and the people are just as free to avoid social intimacy with the blacks as ever they were, or as they are with white people."
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, p. 162

[A]fter the Civil War, Grant felt that there was no alternative course with the hostile Apaches but "active and vigorous war till they are completely destroyed; or forced to surrender as prisoners of war." Grant even wanted the Indian Bureau transferred from the Interior to the War Department and the Indian Agencies abolished.
Ibid., p. 172

Grant next directed that Sheridan be allowed to use his troops ". . . to compel Indians in Utah to go upon reservations."
Ibid., p. 175

[H]e was now convinced that were the English to leave India the Indians would start raping, murdering and fighting among themselves again. "It would be a sad day for the people of India and for the commerce of the world if the English would withdraw," he told his nephew.
Ibid., p. 183

I append to this message, for convenient reference, a synopsis of administrative events and of all recommendations to Congress made by me during the last seven years. Time may show some of these recommendations not to have been wisely conceived, but I believe the larger part will do no discredit to the Administration. One of these recommendations met with the united opposition of one political party in the Senate and with a strong opposition from the other, namely, the treaty for the annexation of Santo Domingo to the United States, to which I will specially refer, maintaining, as I do, that if my views had been concurred in the country would be in a more prosperous condition to-day, both politically and financially.


The island is but sparsely settled, while it has an area sufficient for the profitable employment of several millions of people. The soil would have soon fallen into the hands of United States capitalists. The products are so valuable in commerce that emigration there would have been encouraged; the emancipated race of the South would have found there a congenial home, where their civil rights would not be disputed and where their labor would be so much sought after that the poorest among them could have found the means to go. Thus in cases of great oppression and cruelty, such as has been practiced upon them in many places within the last eleven years, whole communities would have sought refuge in Santo Domingo. I do not suppose the whole race would have gone, nor is it desirable that they should go. Their labor is desirable—indispensable almost—where they now are. But the possession of this territory would have left the negro "master of the situation," by enabling him to demand his rights at home on pain of finding them elsewhere.
—Eighth State of the Union Address, 5 December 1876. Reprinted in Stanley Hirshson, Farewell to the Bloody Shirt: Northern Republicans & the Southern Negro, 1877-1893, pp. 63-64

* * *

Ulysses Grant owned a few slaves, and his wife and father-in-law owned others over whom Grant had, and exercised, control.
—See for example this page and this one for information on slave-holding presidents

Rutherford B. Hayes

(19) Rutherford B. Hayes : 1877-1881

In 1880, nearly fifteen years before the famed Atlanta Exposition, President Hayes made a remark that anticipated Booker T. Washington's historic pronouncement on social equality. The occasion was the twelfth anniversary of Hampton Institute where Hayes was one of the speakers. He cited the problem of a multiracial society as the most difficult facing the nation and then cast his lot with the anti-amalgamationists:

We would not undertake to violate the laws of nature, we do not wish to change the purpose of God in making these differences of nature. We are willing to have these elements of our population separate as the fingers are, but we require to see them united for every good work, for national defense, one, as the hand. And that good work Hampton is doing.

Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, pp. 203- 04

Apparently Hayes approved of separate but equal educational facilities in the South. In this connection he said to Guy M. Bryan: "I, of course, don't believe in forcing whites and blacks together. But both classes should be fully provided for."
Ibid., p. 225

Hayes ... told students at a Johns Hopkins commencement that the Slater Fund was willing to finance the education of young capable blacks with talent in literature and the arts, but "hitherto their chief and almost only gift has been that of oratory." There were those who came immediately to the defense of black capacity, and Hayes was swamped with candidates for free schooling who had aptitude for more than loquacity, including a budding young black scholar at Harvard, W. E. B. Du Bois. Hayes wanted to know from several candidates whether or not their parents were of "full African blood." Hayes wished to see what the blacks could do, unaided by what was called "white blood."

I am satisfied the present Chinese labor invasion (It is not in any proper sense immigration. Women and children do not come) is pernicious and should be discouraged. Our experience in dealing with the weaker races—the Negroes and the Indians, for example—is not encouraging. We shall oppress the Chinaman, and their presence will make hoodlums or vagabonds of their oppressors. I therefore would consider with favor suitable measures to discourage the Chinese from coming to our shores.
Ibid., p. 229

Hayes carefully pointed out that after ten years of Chinese immigration the Chinese were not melting down in the racial pot: "It may be necessary," he speculated, "in the light of this apparent unassimilableness of the Chinese that this section of the Burlingame Treaty be mutually reconsidered . . . and . . . replaced by more careful methods, securing the Chinese and ourselves against a larger and more rapid infusion of this foreign race than our system of industry and society can take up and assimilate with ease and safety."
Ibid., p. 230. This was part of Hayes' message on vetoing the Chinese Exclusion Bill because, in his view, it violated the Burlingame Treaty.

It may be impossible to raise [the Indian] fully up to the level of the white population of the United States....
—Second State of the Union Address, 2 December 1878

[B]y humane and peaceful influences the Indian can be led to abandon the habits of savage life and to develop a capacity for useful and civilized occupations.
—Third State of the Union Address, 1 December 1879

After the election, Hayes was deeply concerned with its effects upon the Negro. Certain that he had been defeated, he lamented:

I don't care for myself; and the party, yes, and the country, too, can stand it, but I do care for the poor colored men of the South. . . . The result will be that the Southern people will practically treat the constitutional amendments as nullities and then the colored man's fate will be worse than when he was in slavery, with a humane master to look after his interests. That is the only reason I regret the news as it is.

Farewell to the Bloody Shirt, pp. 24-25. Despite the concern for blacks displayed in this statement, I have included it for its almost sympathetic view of slavery.

James A. Garfield

(20) James A. Garfield : 1881-1881

Of African Americans in general he admitted that he "never could get in love with [the] creatures," that Capitol Hill was too "infested" with their presence for his comfort. He hoped they could be "colonized, sent to heaven or got rid of in any decent way."
Nixon's Piano, p. 56

Representative James A. Garfield of Ohio, who eventually supported Negro suffrage for pragmatic reasons, confessed privately in July, 1865, that he had "a strong feeling of repugnance when I think of the negro being made our political equal and I would be glad if they could be colonized, sent to heaven, or got rid of in any decent way. . . ."
—George Fredrickson, The Black Image in the White Mind, p. 185

He opposed annexation of territory in the tropics on racial grounds. He hoped that a treaty of commercial relations would make the inclusion of the Hawaiian Islands in the American body politic unnecessary. He was wary of any thought of union with Mexico or the islands of the West Indies because

both . . . are inhabited by people of the Latin races strangely degenerated by their mixture with native races—a population and a territory that I earnestly hope may never be made an integral part of the United States.

If he were given the approval of the entire world plus ten million dollars in gold to annex Cuba, he would refuse to take it. The future of the great Anglo-Saxon makers of civilization lay in the Temperate Zone. The people and the government would be weakened by any flight of the Anglo-Saxon to the tropics.
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, p. 244

To Garfield the Indian was uncivilized and ignorant. It seemed ridiculous to him that representatives of the government of the United States should "sit in a wigwam and make treaties with a lot of painted and half-naked savages. . . ."
Ibid., p. 253

Of the Chinese he reportedly said:

. . . They have no assimilation whatever to Caucasian civilization. The Negro assimilates with the Caucasian. He wants all that we want. He adopts our civilization . . . hence we can take him up in the circulation of the body politic and assimilate him—make a man and brother of him, as the phrase goes; but not so in the least degree with the Chinaman.

Ibid., p. 255

The material interests of this country, the traditions of its settlement, and the sentiment of our people, have led the Government to offer the widest hospitality to emigrants who seek our shores for new and happier homes, willing to share the burdens as well as the benefits of our society, and intending that their posterity shall become an undistinguishable [sic] part of our population. The recent movement of the Chinese to our Pacific coast partakes but little of the qualities of such an immigration, either in its purposes or its result. It is too much like an importation to be welcomed without restriction; too much like an invasion to be looked upon without solicitude. We cannot consent to allow any form of servile labor to be introduced among us under the guise of immigration.
—"Garfield on the Chinese - His Real Sentiments as Stated in His Letter of Acceptance", New York Times, 24 October 1880, p. 7

Chester A. Arthur

(21) Chester A. Arthur : 1881-1885

I refer, of course, to the policy of dealing with the various Indian tribes as separate nationalities, of relegating them by treaty stipulations to the occupancy of immense reservations in the West, and of encouraging them to live a savage life, undisturbed by any earnest and well-directed efforts to bring them under the influences of civilization.

The unsatisfactory results which have sprung from this policy are becoming apparent to all.
—First State of the Union Address, 6 December 1881. Printed in James Daniel Richardson (ed.), A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, vol. 8, p. 55

For the success of the efforts now making to introduce among the Indians the customs and pursuits of civilized life and gradually to absorb them into the mass of our citizens, sharing their rights and holden to their responsibilities, there is imperative need for legislative action.

Many of them [Indians] realize the fact that their hunting days are over and that it is now for their best interests to conform their manner of life to the new order of things.

I advise a liberal appropriation for the support of Indian schools, because of my confident belief that such a course is consistent with the wisest economy.


The success of the schools which are in operation at Hampton, Carlisle, and Forest Grove should not only encourage a more generous provision for the support of those institutions, but should prompt the establishment of others of a similar character.

They are doubtless much more potent for good than the day schools upon the reservation, as the pupils are altogether separated from the surroundings of savage life and brought into constant contact with civilization.

* * *

President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

Grover Cleveland

(22) & (24) Grover Cleveland : 1885-1889 & 1893-1897

Cleveland criticized the Reconstruction era's carpetbag governments and even when promoting education as the solution to the nation's race problem called for "separate schools."
Nixon's Piano, p. 57

Cleveland had to defend himself against the stigma of social equality on a number of occasions. First the Southerners charged that he approved of mixed schools for New York City when he was governor. Cleveland vigorously denied the charge in 1887 and again in 1904 when he said: "Whatever I did I was in favor of maintaining separate colored schools instead of having them mixed."
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, pp. 267-68

Cleveland had to fight off still another charge of social equality. He told Charles Bartlett:

I have received a number of inquiries similar to yours touching my invitation to Fred Douglass to a wedding reception and signing, while Governor of New York, a bill providing for mixed schools. I do not suppose that Mr. Thomas E. Watson believed or had any reason to believe either of the allegations when he made them. At any rate, they are both utterly and absolutely false. I cannot afford to devote a great deal of time in denying such foolish tales. I shall therefore attempt to cover every phase of the subject once and for all.

He then launched into a final denial of the charges. For the friends of freedom there was little consolation:

It so happens that I have never in my official position, either when sleeping or waking, alive or dead, on my head or on my heels, dined, lunched, or supped, or invited to a wedding reception any colored man, woman, or child.

Ibid., pp. 269-70

Four years later the ex-President gave [Booker T.] Washington a cold, unsympathetic, and unflattering appraisal of the black problem. As he saw it the problem was what to do with

eight million, who, though free, and invested with all the rights of citizenship, still constitute in the body politic a mass largely affected with ignorance, slothfulness, and a resulting lack of appreciation of the obligations of citizenship.

Ibid., p. 271

"The days of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' are passed . . . ," reflected Cleveland. The Civil War amendments no more purged the blacks of their "racial and slavery bred imperfections than it changed the color of their skins." Freedom to the contrary, there was still "a grievous amount of ignorance, a sad amount of laziness and thriftlessness" among the freedmen. These were powerful and penetrating racial adjectives to come from an Eastern man. Cleveland's sympathies at this time were clearly with his "kith and kin." He reserved his sympathies for the Caucasian, not for the black brother. Because of the racial deficiencies of blacks "our fellow-countrymen in the Southern and late slave holding states . . . are entitled to our utmost consideration and sympathetic fellowship." They bore the brunt of the black problem.

Enlightened Northern philanthropic support of the industrial education efforts of Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee pointed to the solution of the "vexatious Negro problem at the South." Northern hopes for the black man could only be realized through the blacks themselves and "the sentiment and conduct of the leading and responsible white men of the South. . . ." Twenty-seven years after Hayes, the racial melody of "leave the Negro to the Southern white man" could still seduce Northerners. Even Booker T. Washington was affected by this refrain. Whether from ignorance, conviction or political necessity, Cleveland was willing to trust the Southern white man with blacks and was very tolerant of Southern racial folkways:

I do not know how it may be with the other Northern friends of the Negro, but I have faith in the honor and sincerity of the respectable white people of the South in their relations with the Negro and his improvement and well being. They [Southerners] do not believe in the social equality of the race, and they make no false pretense in regard to it. That this does not grow out of hatred for the Negro is very plain.

If not hatred, then what was the basis for the white rejection of blacks as social equals? Cleveland did not elaborate but found "abundant sentiments and abundant behavior among the Southern whites toward the Negro to make us doubt the justice of charging this denial of social equality to prejudice, as we understand the word." Cleveland thought "perhaps it is born of something deeper and more imperious than prejudice as to amount to a radical instinct."
Ibid., pp. 272-73

Some of them [Indians] had actually achieved the art of self- government, while others still abounded in the squalor, dependence and the "savagery of their natural state."
Ibid., p. 275

[T]he Indian had to be brought within the pale of civilization because "barbarism and civilization cannot live together. It is impossible that such incongruous conditions should coexist on the same soil," thought Cleveland.
Ibid., p. 276

In a message to the Senate on October 1, 1888, the President repudiated Chinese immigration and announced the experiment of mixing white and yellow a failure:

The experiment of blending the social habits and mutual race idiosyncracies of the Chinese laboring classes with those of the great body of the people of the United States has proved by the experience of twenty years and ever since the Burlingame Treaty of 1868, to be in every sense unwise, impolitic, and injurious to both nations.

Ibid., p. 280

The laws should be rigidly enforced which prohibit the immigration of a servile class to compete with American labor, with no intention of acquiring citizenship, and bringing with them and retaining habits and customs repugnant to our civilization.
—First inaugural address, 4 March 1885

On July 7, in a public letter he charged that the doctrines embodied in the Lodge bill were "a direct attack upon the spirit and theory of our Government, and while such a measure especially menaces the welfare and prosperity of the South, it must be condemned and denounced by all those everywhere who love their country and have the least claim to be numbered among those who believe in the principles of true Democracy." Two days later, Cleveland called the act "a most atrocious measure." He did "not see how any Democrat can think otherwise."
Farewell to the Bloody Shirt, p. 240. The Lodge bill would have allowed the federal government to ensure that elections were fair, and was designed especially with the disfranchised southern blacks—who were intimidated and sometimes even killed to prevent them from voting—in mind.

Benjamin Harrison

(23) Benjamin Harrison : 1889-1893

Reminding southern whites of his Virginia ancestors, he pledged to respect his party's Lily-White wing by appointing blacks only to minor positions. These positions, he reiterated, would involve no "personal contact with any official authority over white citizens . . . which you and your people find so offensive."
Nixon's Piano, p. 59

According to Harrison, "the good work of reducing the larger Indians Reservations by allotments in severalty to the Indians and the cession of the remaining lands to the United States for disposition under the Homestead law has been prosecuted during the year with energy and success. . . . In September, I was able to open to settlement in the territory of Oklahoma 900,000 acres of land, all of which was taken up by settlers in a single day." Obviously pleased with himself, Harrison proceeded to apologize to Congress for having been unable to make even more Indian land available: "It was a source of great regret that I was not able to open at the same time the surplus lands of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Reservations, amounting to about 3,000,000 acres . . . deserving and impatient settlers are waiting to occupy these lands. . . ." An insufficient appropriation by Congress was holding up the purchase of this acreage. The President asked for a "special appropriation" so that the settlers could have their homesteads by early spring.

Harrison also reported that he had hoped to get his hands on over 900,000 additional acres of the Cherokee strip but the Indians there refused the price of $1.25 an acre which he thought was ". . . fair and adequate . . . and should have been accepted by the Indians."
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, p. 330

We are also clearly under a duty to defend our civilization by excluding alien races whose ultimate assimilation with our people is neither possible nor desirable. The family has been the nucleus of our best immigration, and the home, the most potent assimilating force in our civilization.

The objections to Chinese immigration are distinctive and conclusive, and are now so generally accepted as such that the question has passed entirely beyond the stage of argument.
—Letter of acceptance of the Republican presidential nomination, 11 September 1888. Quoted in Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, p. 333

William McKinley

(25) William McKinley : 1897-1901

McKinley, however, attributed the recent antiforeign demonstrations in China to "the character of the Chinese races, and the traditions of their government." To him they were "a primitive people. . . ."
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, p. 356

This sense of duty was expressed forcefully by President William McKinley. Speaking in 1898, he asserted that American control over any land and people "is always for the sake of humanity and the advancement of civilization," and he applied this philosophy to Indians as well as Filipinos. In fact, in his official instructions to the Philippine Commission in 1900, the president wrote: "In dealing with the uncivilized tribes of the islands the commission should adopt the same course followed by Congress in permitting the tribes of our North American Indians to maintain their tribal organization. . . . Such tribal governments should, however, be subjected to wise and firm regulation; and . . . active effort should be exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs."
—Walter Williams, "United States Foreign Policy and the Debate Over Philippine Annexation: Implications for the Origins of American Imperialism", 66 Journal of American History 4, March 1980, pp. 822-23

The truth is, I didn't want the Philippines, and when they came to us, as a gift from the gods, I did not know what to do with them. When the Spanish war broke out, Dewey was in Hong Kong, and I ordered him to go to Manila, and he had to; because, if defeated, he had no place to refit on that side of the globe, and if the Dons (the Spanish) were victorious they would likely cross the Pacific and ravage Oregon and California coasts. And so he had to destroy the Spanish fleet, and he did it! But that was as far as I thought then. When next I realised that the Philippines had dropped into our lap, I confess I did not know what to do with them. I sought counsel from all sides — Democrats as well as Republicans — but got little help. I thought first we would take only Manila; then Luzon; then the other islands, perhaps, also. I am not ashamed to tell you, gentlemen, that I went down on my knees and prayed to almighty God for light and guidance more than one night. And one night it came to me this way — I don't know how it was but it came: (1) That we could not give them back to Spain. That would be cowardly and dishonourable; (2) That we could not turn them over to France or Germany — our commercial rivals in the Orient — that would be bad business and discreditable; (3) That we could not leave them to themselves — they were unfit for self-government — and they would soon have anarchy and misrule over there worse than Spain's was; and (4) That there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos; and uplift and civilise and Christianise them, and, by God's grace, do the very best we could by them, as our fellowmen for whom Christ also died. And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our map maker) and told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States; and there they are, and there they will stay while I am president!
—Chris Rowthorn, Philippines, p. 16. There appears to be a bit of controversy over whether McKinley actually said these words. See Lewis Gould, The Presidency of William McKinley, pp. 140- 42, or failing that, this section on Wikipedia and this response on LiveJournal.

As a Congressman, he supported immigration restriction and voted for the Chinese Exclusion Act, believing that it would benefit labor. McKinley also argued that immigration restriction was necessary to promote good citizenship.
—Hans Peter Vought, "Redefining the 'Melting Pot': American Presidents and the Immigrant, 1897-1933", Ph.D. dissertation, University of Connecticut, 2001, p. 28

Morality required that the United States assume responsibility for a people who could not be returned to cruel Spain, were judged incapable of self-government, would fall prey to other powers if simply freed from Spain, and would provide fertile fields for American missionaries. "Do we need their consent to perform a great act for humanity?" McKinley asked.
—Paolo E. Coletta, "McKinley, the Peace Negotiations, and the Acquisition of the Philippines", 30 Pacific Historical Review 4, November 1961, p. 346

* * *

The Philippine-American War began during McKinley's term. The war made the Philippines a colony of the United States, preventing independence until 1946. The United States also annexed Hawaii, Guam and Puerto Rico, and made Samoa an American territory, all under McKinley's watch.

Theodore Roosevelt

(26) Theodore Roosevelt : 1901-1909

All coons do not look alike to me!
Nixon's Piano, p. 5

He carried a gene hierarchy in his head and spent endless hours compiling and cataloguing "stronger races" and "weaker races." Negroes found themselves placed near rock bottom among the "most utterly underdeveloped." "Suffering from laziness and shiftlessness" and prone to "vice and criminality of every kind," blacks threatened white citizens and "race purity." Roosevelt studied the problem scientifically, in the progressive manner, and concluded that Negro "evils" were "more potent for harm to the black race than all acts of oppression of white men put together." "[This] perfectly stupid race can never rise," he added on another occasion. "The Negro . . . has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as by anything else."
Ibid., p. 65

Rather than push educational opportunity, Roosevelt, a patrician and at forty-two America's youngest chief executive, championed white reproduction and motherhood against black birth rates, appearance, and odors. In an odd way he also championed segregation, yet another scientific solution to racial problems. "As a race and in the mass they are altogether inferior to the whites," he noted. Observation not only proved this but located "the real problem"—namely, the "presence of the negro." Slavery itself had been "merely the worst possible method of solving the problem."
Ibid., pp. 65-66

[H]e saw only cowardice in the performance of black troops when reflecting on his Rough Rider tour in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. While editors and politicians debated the wisdom of using Negro soldiers in the Philippines, he attributed a poor performance in San Juan Hill environs to "the superstition and fear of the darkey." When this criticism became an issue in the 1900 campaign, he explained, as ever, that he was no racist. His children "sat in the same school with colored children," and colored men "eat at my table and sleep in my house."
Ibid., p. 66

"Inasmuch as [the Negro] is here and can neither be killed nor driven away," he once wrote Albion Tourgée, author of a well- known book on Reconstruction (A Fool's Errand), "the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is treat each black man and each white man strictly on their merits as a man."
Ibid., p. 70

In this vein Theodore Roosevelt—who loved to expatiate on the international "duties" of "the mighty civilized races"—defended the annexation of the Philippines. In an address of 1901 he said: "It is our duty toward the people living in barbarism to see they are freed from their chains, and we can free them only by destroying barbarism itself. The missionary, the merchant, and the soldier may each have a part to play in this destruction, and in the consequent uplifting of the people." On another occasion he argued that "if we do our duty aright in the Philippines, we . . . will greatly benefit the people of the Philippine Islands, and above all we will play our part well in the great work of uplifting mankind."
The Black Image in the White Mind, p. 308

Taking his cue from animal phyla, Roosevelt arrived at the conclusion that the Caucasian was superior to all other people in race and civilization. In The Winning of the West, he unblushingly awarded the prize of superiority in race and culture to the white- skinned, English-speaking Anglo-Saxon. He was impressed with the rise and spread of civilized man over the earth, his advances in the conquest of nature, and his achievements in the arts and sciences between 1492 and 1910. Who was responsible for this progress, almost unparalleled in human history? "One race, the so-called white race, or . . . more accurately, the group of peoples living in Europe, who undoubtedly have kinship of blood, who profess the Christian religion, and trace back their culture to Greece and Rome." Earlier, he had said that civilization could be attributed not to one but a variety of racial types. Perhaps he was speaking of a variety of white types. Who could blame him for being impressed with the fact that "peoples of European blood [held] dominion over all America and Australia and the Islands of the sea, over most of Africa and the major half of Asia?" ...

In a bust of ethnocentric adoration of Western civilization, Roosevelt credited "substantially all of the World's achievements worth remembering [since 1492] . . . to the people of European descent." He was generous in sharing the glory equally among his white compeers and did not limit the applause for carrying the torch of civilization to any one branch of the Caucasian racial tree. Beginning with the Iberian peoples of Portugal and Spain, almost every nation of Europe had sought and found a place in the movement of expansion, according to Roosevelt. Even so, he thought that the moment of greatness had arrived for the modern progeny of the hoary Anglo-Saxon: "For the last three centuries, the great phenomenon of mankind has been the growth of the English speaking peoples and their spread over the world's waste spaces," he told an English audience. He attributed the urban inclinations of the white race at the end of the nineteenth century to the characteristic tendency of the "highly civilized races" to dwell in cities.
Racial Attitudes of American Presidents, pp. 380-81

...Roosevelt detested the Chinese. He praised the United States and Australia for having the "clear instinct of race selfishness, [which] saw the race foe and kept out the dangerous alien," and for preserving the choice spots of the Temperate Zone for white occupancy. Those two countries recognized that the presence of the Chinese was "ruinous to the white race," and future civilization would be grateful to them for this foresight. Roosevelt was glad to see the Russians holding back the Chinese in Asia. He chided the English aristocracy for depositing the African in the Temperate Zone.
Ibid., p. 384

No less than his contemporaries, Roosevelt was of the opinion that contemporary white supremacy in race and civilization imposed heavy duties and responsibilities in regard to the inferior alien races of the globe. He boasted of the long centuries of preparation for self- government that allegedly lay behind the Anglo-Saxon:

It is no light task for a nation to achieve the temperamental qualities without which the institutions of free government are but an empty mockery. . . . What has taken us thirty generations to achieve we cannot expect another race to accomplish out of hand, especially when a large portion of that race start very far behind the point which our ancestors had reached even thirty generations ago. . . .

Roosevelt took this approach in regard to the Filipinos and told Congress that "patience and strength, forbearance and steadfast resolution . . ." had to be exercised in regard to the Filipinos. "Our aim is high . . . to make them fit for self-government. . . ." He doubted that history would be able to produce "a single instance in which a masterful race such as ours . . ." had shown such "disinterested zeal" for the progress of an alien people.
Ibid., pp. 384-84

Roosevelt showed his impatience with those who waxed sentimental on the Philippine question when he said to Bishop Potter: "I do not care a rap for the ordinary anti-imperialist creature. . . ." He was also impatient with intellectuals who wanted to give up on the islands: "It is to my mind the mark of a lazy, careless, ignorant, or timid man to advocate the easy talk of abandoning our duty towards less advanced races by insisting upon the obvious untruth that they should be treated as, for instance, the Swiss or Norwegians, or men of Vermont or Iowa can and must be treated." He told the great poet laureate of imperialism, Rudyard Kipling, that he had trouble dealing with "the fools who seem to think that any group of pirates and head-hunters needs nothing but independence in order that it may be turned forthwith into a darkhued New England town meeting."
Ibid., pp. 385-86

He [said] that "this has nothing to do with social intermingling, with what is called social equality."
Ibid., p. 387

In Roosevelt's hierarchy of race the black man was inferior. "I entirely agree with you that as a race, and in the mass, the [blacks] are altogether inferior to the whites," he wrote in 1901 to the author Owen Wister. For Roosevelt, intellectual development was very important in social evolution. "A perfectly stupid race can never rise to a very high place. The Negro, for instance, has been kept down as much by lack of intellectual development as by anything else." Commenting further to Owen Wister, he said: "The Negro and the white man as shown by their skulls, are closely akin, and taken together, differ widely from the round skulled Mongolian..." ...Roosevelt saw the American black as a fledgling, unable to stand alone: "I do not believe that the average Negro in the United States is as yet in any way fit to take care of himself and others as the average white man—for if he were, there would be no Negro race problem."
Ibid., pp. 387-88

The Anglo-Saxon racial citadel predicated on a dislike of amalgamation, was to be held inviolate. While Roosevelt's wall of race and culture did not reach the height of that erected by many of his contemporaries, he, as they, had his own racial inner sanctum. And the prospect of Asiatics and blacks entering therein was not pleasing to him. While he tended to praise national more than "racial unity," Roosevelt contended that when "we come to race differences as fundamental as those which divide from one another the half dozen great ethnic divisions of mankind . . . differences of nationality, speech and creed [sank] into littleness."

Two groups whose ethnic differences were of such consequence as to militate against race mixing, were the Chinese and the Japanese. ...

Roosevelt preferred to see the Hawaiian Islands remain primarily a haven for white men.

Hawaii whether it wills or not shall, so far as in my power lies, be kept for the small, white land-owners, and we shall discourage by every method the race suicide which would be encouraged by the planters in their insistence upon bringing every kind of Asiatic to help them make fortunes for a moment and insure the extinguishment of their blood in the future.

Ibid., pp. 389-90

...Roosevelt called for the immediate annexation of Hawaii in 1896, mainly to control Asiatic immigration there. Already, he complained about, "the influx of population [there consisted] . . . not of white Americans but of low caste laborers drawn from the yellow races." Roosevelt called the failure of annexation "a crime against the United States . . . a crime against white civilization."
Ibid., p. 391

That the Japanese situation in America was a race question standing by itself was not immediately apparent to Roosevelt: "I did not clearly see this at the outset." But gradually he saw the light: "It was merely a recognition of the fact that in the present stage of social development of the two peoples . . . it is not only undesirable but impossible that there should be racial intermingling and the effect is sure to bring disaster." Roosevelt wondered how the country could assimilate, en masse, a people with whom Americans had little cultural and racial affinity, without inciting race conflict.

The position of Roosevelt on Japanese immigration in California presented both an interesting puzzle and a splendid example of the embarassing position into which the mental reservation against racial intermingling could get one. According to his great rule a man should be treated according to his worth. On that basis he had admitted the Japanese to the society of civilized nations. Yet, he denied them entrance to his racial inner sanctum, that is, social intermingling, and rejected mass Japanese immigration not because "either nation is inferior to the other . . . [but] because they are different. Visible differences of race and culture made it impossible for him to forget that the Japanese were one of the "alien races." His great rule of righteousness lost its potency upon encountering the greater rule of race consciousness.

If Roosevelt was adverse to the mixing of whites with the Japanese, a race which he thought culturally and mentally equal to the Caucasian, the chance of his extending this right to blacks was slim indeed. He preferred to avoid the subject of social equality between whites and blacks, and rarely, if ever, let the words fall from his lips. During a discussion of the voting right section of the Fourteenth Amendment, however, he wrote to Grenville Dodge: "I wish to emphasize that we are not fighting for social equality, and that we do not believe in miscegenation; but that we do believe in equality of opportunity, in equality before the law." Here was an all too important racial platform upon which whites of the North and South could join with a minimum of discomfort.

Roosevelt had given thought to the scientific aspects of race crossing. In past centuries there had existed a persistent, though by no means exclusive, belief that race mixing would destroy one or both races involved. Now, with Mendelian discoveries as yet imperfectly understood, Roosevelt believed that when "two divergent and persistent human types" such as white and black were crossed, neither the white nor the black type persisted in the mulatto offspring in any degree of purity. Only if the mulatto continued to breed to either the white or the black type exclusively would one of the types reappear in pure form in succeeding generations, thus eliminating one ancestral root.

Five years before he died, Roosevelt went to Brazil and was shocked at the degree of race mixing and the attitude of the old Iberians toward mixing with blacks and Indians: "The difference between the United States and Brazil is the tendency of Brazil to absorb." He gaped and marveled that in Brazil "any Negro or mulatto who shows himself fit is without question given the place to which his abilities entitle him." He saw blacks laboring side by side with the white working class in all walks of life and "apparently nobody had any idea of discriminating against them in any office or business relationship because of their color." Even for the cosmopolitan Roosevelt, this was a sight to behold. He noted that "in the lower ranks intermarriages are the most numerous, especially between the Negroes and the most numerous immigrant races of Europe." He carefully emphasized that the blacks were not marrying into the upper classes, noting that "the great majority of the men and women of high social position in Rio are of unmixed blood . . . [and] the great majority of the political leaders are pure whites. . . ."

Race mixing in Brazil was not going to create a mongrel race, Roosevelt thought, because the black was disappearing through absorption. Brazil was making him a white man! Roosevelt did not comment on how he felt this related to the problem in the United States. He would only say that the ideas of the two countries regarding the treatment of blacks were wholly different: "The best men in the United States, not wholly among the whites, but among the blacks also, believe in the complete separation of the races so far as marriage is concerned." Again his great rule could not stand the test. Roosevelt was casting his lot with "the best men."
Ibid., pp. 399-402

...[Roosevelt] defended the "winning of the West" on the ground that nothing should have been allowed to stand in the way of civilization—not even the Indian. "The most ultimately righteous of all wars," the young and strenuous Roosevelt once said, "is a war with savages." Had the whites been repulsed, civilization would have been obliterated, he felt. ...[T]he clash between the Indian and the white man was inevitable and the results justified: "It is nonsense to talk about our having driven most of these Indians out of their lands. They did not own the land at all in the white sense [italics added], they merely occupied it as the white buffalo hunter did. . . ."
Ibid., pp. 403-04

The President's long awaited attack upon lynching in the South came in August of 1903, in the form of a letter of congratulations to a Northern governor, Durbin of Indiana, for the thwarting of lynchings in that state. Almost half of the letter to Governor Durbin dealt with the horrors of rape and the necessity for swift trial and conviction of rapists and murderers. In Roosevelt's opinion the crime of rape was so terrible that the rapist had forfeited "the right to any kind of sympathy whatsoever." Such a statement on the part of the President was certainly not calculated to foster moderation in the heart of the lyncher. More than that, when President spoke on rape he seemed to have only blacks in mind; the rapist, he said, did more harm to his race "than any white man can possibly do them." The President seemed more concerned with the effect of the lynchings on the white man and his children than he was about the black lynch victim: "There are certain hideous sights which when once seen can never be wholly erased from the mental retina. . . ."
Ibid., p. 432

In 1903, Roosevelt wrote the editor of a Georgia newspaper that his application of the great rule to federal patronage had nothing to do with "social equality" or "Negro domination."
Ibid., p. 439

Theodore Roosevelt believed that the English-speaking peoples were the superior race. He argued that the United States' policy towards the Philippines was in "the interest of civilization." We are marching along "the path of wise and proper treatment of weaker by stronger race," he contended. It is the duty of the English-speaking peoples, with their high form of civilization, to spread "lasting benefit" to the weaker races. Roosevelt distinguished between stronger and weaker racial groups; the Negro he placed in the latter category.
—Seth M. Scheiner, "President Theodore Roosevelt and the Negro, 1901-1908", 47 The Journal of Negro History 3, July 1962, p. 170

Roosevelt could not help thinking of the Negro as a group, "which are bad enough by nature." He caught himself upon the horns of a dilemma in the following statement:

I would not be willing to die for what I regard as the untrue abstract statement that all men are in all respects equal, and are all alike entitled to the same power; but I would be quite willing to die . . . for the proposition that each man has certain rights which no other man should be allowed to take away from him.

Ibid., p. 178

The safety for the colored man in Louisiana is to have a white man's party which shall be responsible and honest, . . . in which he shall not be the dominant force.
Ibid., p. 179

At present they [Filipinos] are utterly incapable of existing in independence at all or of building up a civilization of their own. I firmly believe that we can help them to rise higher and higher in the scale of civilization and of capacity for self-government, and I most earnestly hope that in the end they will be able to stand, if not entirely alone, yet in some such relation to the United States as Cuba now stands. This end is not yet in sight, and it may be indefinitely postponed if our people are foolish enough to turn the attention of the Filipinos away from the problems of achieving moral and material prosperity, of working for a stable, orderly, and just government, and toward foolish and dangerous intrigues for a complete independence for which they are as yet totally unfit.
—Fourth State of the Union Address, 6 December 1904

The greatest existing cause of lynching is the perpetration, especially by black men, of the hideous crime of rape—the most abominable in all the category of crimes, even worse than murder. Mobs frequently avenge the commission of this crime by themselves torturing to death the man committing it; thus avenging in bestial fashion a bestial deed, and reducing themselves to a level with the criminal.
—Sixth State of the Union Address, 3 December 1906

When home ties are loosened; when men and women cease to regard a worthy family life, with all its duties fully performed, and all its responsibilities lived up to, as the life best worth living; then evil days for the commonwealth are at hand. There are regions in our land, and classes of our population, where the birth rate has sunk below the death rate. Surely it should need no demonstration to show that wilful sterility is, from the standpoint of the nation, from the standpoint of the human race, the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race death; a sin for which there is no atonement; a sin which is the more dreadful exactly in proportion as the men and women guilty thereof are in other respects, in character, and bodily and mental powers, those whom for the sake of the state it would be well to see the fathers and mothers of many healthy children, well brought up in homes made happy by their presence. No man, no woman, can shirk the primary duties of life, whether for love of ease and pleasure, or for any other cause, and retain his or her self-respect.

The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English- Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian- Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic. The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American. There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.
—Theodore Roosevelt, Fear God and Take Your Own Part, p. 362. Originally a speech delivered before the Knights of Columbus at New York, 12 October 1915

We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile. We have room for but one language here and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, and American nationality, and not as dwellers in a pollyglot [sic] boarding house; and we have room for but one soul [sic] loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people.
—Theodore Roosevelt to Richard Hurd, 3 January 1919. An image of the letter is available here.< /P>

The problem is so to adjust the relations between two races of different ethnic type that the rights of neither be abridged nor jeoparded; that the backward race be trained so that it may enter into the possession of true freedom, while the forward race is enabled to preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers.
—Speech at the Lincoln Dinner of the Republican Club, New York, 13 February 1905. Published in Alfred Lewis, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Speeches of Theodore Roosevelt, 1901- 1905, p. 562

I am about to quote from the address of the Right Rev. Robert Strange, Bishop Coadjutor of North Carolina, as given in the Southern Churchman of October 8, 1904.

The bishop first enters an emphatic plea against any social intermingling of the races; a question which must, of course, be left to the people of each community to settle for themselves, as in such a matter no one community—and, indeed, no one individual—can dictate to any other; always provided that in each locality men keep in mind the fact that there must be no confusing of civil privileges with social intercourse. Civil law can not regulate social practices. Society, as such, is a law unto itself, and will always regulate its own practices and habits. Full recognition of the fundamental fact that all men should stand on an equal footing, as regards civil privileges, in no way interferes with recognition of the further fact that all reflecting men of both races are united in feeling that race purity must be maintained.
Ibid., p. 564

Roosevelt illustrated the racial justification of imperialism when, as Governor of New York, he addressed Chicago's Hamilton Club on April 10, 1899. Calling on the nation to play a vigorous role in world affairs, Roosevelt endorsed American control of Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii, and the Philippines. Predicting that "savage anarchy" would result if the United States abandoned these areas, the future president described the Filipino population as "half-caste and native Christians, warlike Moslems, and wild pagans. Many of their people are utterly unfit for self-government, and show no signs of becoming fit."

Roosevelt suggested that Americans were engaged in a competition between races by claiming that if the United States failed to control the Philippines, then "some stronger and more manful race" would. He argued that a strong army and navy were necessary to advance "the cause of civilization," for "with such people as those . . . weakness is the greatest of crimes."

The governor amplified his belief in the necessity of using force against supposedly inferior people in an essay, "Expansion and Peace," published in the Independent December 21, 1899. In advancing the curious logic that peace can come only through war, Roosevelt claimed that "war is generally normal" in the confrontation of "civilization and barbarism":

In the long run civilized man finds he can keep the peace only by subduing his barbarian neighbor; for the barbarian will yield only to force . . .Every expansion of a civilized power means a victory for law, order, and righteousness.

Roosevelt's militant expansionism resulted in his apparent call for racial war on a global scale, a view somewhat ironic for a man who won the Nobel Peace Prize seven years later:

It is only the warlike power of a civilized people that can give peace to the world . . . . Peace follows . . . the power of the mighty civilized races which have not lost the fighting instinct, and which by their expansion are gradually bringing peace into red wastes where the barbarian peoples of the world hold sway.

—Allen Meriam, "Racism in the Expansionist Controversy of 1898-1900", 39 Phylon 4, 4th Quarter, 1978, p. 372

As examples of barbarians he cited "the Red Indian on the frontier of the U.S." and "the Afghan on the border of British India."
Ibid. fn.

Roosevelt's attitude towards the Indians as a race was unequivocal. He detested them for their cruelty, and even more for their emphasis on cruelty as a virtue to be carefully developed as a white man might develop a sense of chivalry; but he recognized the fact that they had rights as human beings and as members of tribes having treaty relations with the United States, and insisted in season and out of season that those rights be respected.

I suppose I should be ashamed to say that I take the Western view of the Indian [he said in the course of a lecture which he delivered in New York, during January, 1886]. I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian. Turn three hundred low families of New York into New Jersey, support them for fifty years in vicious idleness, and you will have some idea of what the Indians are. Reckless, revengeful, fiendishly cruel, they rob and murder, not the cowboys, who can take care of themselves, but the defenseless, lone settlers on the plains. As for the soldiers, an Indian chief once asked Sheridan for a cannon. "What! Do you want to kill my soldiers with it?" asked the general. "No," replied the chief, "want to kill the cowboy; kill soldier with a club."

—Hermann Hagedorn, Roosevelt in the Bad Lands, p. 355. Wolfgang Mieder, quoting this passage from Hagedorn's book, says "I was unable to locate the entire speech in any of the many volumes on Theodore Roosevelt that I checked", so it is possible that Roosevelt never really said this. See Wolfgang Mieder, "'The Only Good Indian is a Dead Indian': History and Meaning of a Proverbial Stereotype", 106 Journal of American Folklore 419, Winter 1993, p. 56 fn.

His commitment to the state's Indian peoples was, in effect, his attempt to carry out the four-pronged program of the reform movement: the Americanization of the Indian through the promotion of missionary work, compulsory and boarding school education, severalty ownership, and citizenship.

As illustrative of the first point, on April 21, 1900, Governor Roosevelt addressed the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions at Carnegie Hall. In typical evangelical reformer fashion, he claimed that "no more practical works, no work more productive of the fruit for civilization could exist than the work being carried on by the men and women who give their lives to preaching the gospel of Christ to mankind." He described the need for missionary work among the Indians, adding that the "aim must be in each case to teach the man to help himself. That is the kind of help that is best worth giving."

Governor Roosevelt's attitudes and policies on educational matters also reflected the reformers' views. To Roosevelt, education was an integral part of the Americanization process. During his administration, all Indian children on the Tonawantla Reservation were compelled to speak only English on the school premises; those that continued to talk the Seneca language were punished, being forced to remain in their seats during recess.
—Laurence Hauptman, "Governor Theodore Roosevelt and the Indians of New York State", 119 Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 1, February 21, 1975, p. 3

The imperialist who wrote most about Indians was Theodore Roosevelt, and his feelings were as strong on one subject as on the other. His multivolume The Winning of the West was filled with accounts of gory atrocities by Indians, while similar actions by whites were excused as having been inevitable and due mainly to justifiable revenge. Roosevelt's basic claim was that Indians did not own their homelands, and thus had no right to oppose white expansion. He wrote

the Indians never had any real title to the soil, they had not half as good a claim to it, for instance, as the cattlemen now have to all of eastern Montana, yet no one would assert that the cattlemen have a right to keep immigrants off . . . this great continent could not have been kept as nothing but a game preserve for squalid savages . . . the man who puts the soil to use must of right dispossess the man who does not, or the world will come to a standstill.

In an 1893 report on reservation administration, Roosevelt declared that any claims about Indians owning their lands were "nonsense." Agriculture, he felt, was the only thing that entitled people to own land (this argument ignored the many Indian groups that were agricultural). Although there were some exceptions, Roosevelt felt that the government had generally treated the original Americans "with great justice and fairness." The future president held a strong belief that a clash between savagism and civilization was inevitable. That civilization would ultimately triumph he had no doubt, and in the process many of the Indians would be exterminated. But he warned his readers not to be overcome with sympathy for the "decay" of the Indians because "the survivors will come out American citizens" and be amalgamated into Western culture. For those who did not survive in this Darwinian process, and for those native cultures subjected to genocide, Roosevelt had no sympathy.
—"United States Policy and the Debate Over Philippine Annexation", p. 816

In his acceptance speech to the Republican nomination for the vice-presidency in 1900, Roosevelt stated that on Indian reservations "the army officers and the civilian agents still exercise authority without asking the 'consent of the governed.' We must proceed in the Philippines with the same wise caution."
Ibid., p. 819

The imperialist who made the most comparisons [between American policy towards Native Americans and the Philippines] was Roosevelt, who habitually employed words like "wild and ignorant," "savages," "Apaches," and "Sioux" to Filipinos. He saw the American position in the Philippines as exactly like the expansion over Indians, and he wrote that if whites were "morally bound to abandon the Philippines, we were also morally bound to abandon Arizona to the Apaches. Such a suggestion was ridiculous to Roosevelt, who never questioned the rightness of expansion over Native Americans. Responding to a charge of atrocities by United States troops in the Philippines, Roosevelt admitted that such incidents "happened hundres [sic] of times in our warfare against the Indians," and were no reason to question the "righteousness" of imperialism. Expansion was, he wrote, "precisely parallel between the Philippines and the Apaches and Sioux. My doctrine is what I preached in my Winning of the West. . . to withdraw from the contest for civilization because of the fact that there are attendant cruelties, is, in my opinion, utterly unworthy of a great people."

Ultimately, Roosevelt contended, the civilization of the Philippines under American domination would be of benefit to the Filipinos. As it had occurred with Indians, peace and order could only come about after subjugation to civilization, "for the barbarian will yield only to force." Indian-white warfare "had to continue until we expanded over the country. . . The same will be true of the Philippines. . . so that one more fair spot of the world's surface shall have been snatched from the forces of darkness. Once this civilizing process had occurred, and Indians had become "fit for self-government," they should be granted equality; but until then, "There would be no justification whatever in treating this fact as a reason for abandoning the wild tribes to work out their own destruction. Exactly the same reasoning applies in the case of the Philippines. To turn over the islands to Aguinaldo and his followers [would bring]. . . tyrannical oppression."
Ibid., pp. 825-26

Again, the most explicit comparison between American Indian and Filipino resistance was made by Roosevelt. His acceptance of the Republican vice-presidential nomination in 1900 was filled with analogies between the two peoples. He began by drawing a parallel between the purchase of the Philippines and past territorial purchases. In the case of Florida, "the Seminoles, who had not been consulted in the sale, rebelled and waged war exactly as some of the Tagals have rebelled and waged war in the Philippines." These parallels were so "exact," Roosevelt concluded, that "we are making no new departure." The reasoning that justified warfare against Sitting Bull also justified warfare against Aguinaldo, because to Roosevelt a grant of self-government to the Philippines "would be like granting self-government to an Apache reservation under some local chief." He felt that tribal peoples did not deserve independence, because they were divided into disunified warring tribes. White conquest had brought peace to Indians, Roosevelt believed, and it would do likewise for Filipinos by rescuing them from "the anarchy of the corrupt and bloody insurgent chiefs" whose cruelty was supposedly "equal to the sort inflicted by our Indians in their worst days."
Ibid., p. 827

In his diary for 1882, he described the Irish Democrats in the state House of Representatives as "a stupid, sodden, vicious lot," and when one of them, J. J. Costello, insulted him in an Albany bar, he beat him up, warning Costello to conduct himself like a gentleman in the presence of one.
—"Redefining the 'Melting Pot'", pp. 39-40

He groused to Lodge in 1892, "I wish the cholera would result in a permanent quarantine against most immigrants!"
Ibid., p. 44

Although he preached that "Americanism is a question of spirit, conviction, and purpose, not of creed or birthplace," he called for restriction to "keep out races which do not assimilate readily with our own," as well as "laborers who tend to depress the labor market" and "the unworthy of all races."
Ibid., p. 48

Roosevelt explained his policy to Taft's incoming Secretary of State Philander C. Knox in February 1909. He said that he had "reluctantly come to feel" that the desire to exclude Japanese immigrants was "entirely warranted, and not only must be, but ought to be, heeded by the national Government in the interest of our people and our civilization," despite the fact that the manifestations of this opposition were "unwise and improper to the highest degree." Permitting Japanese immigration would "cause a race problem and invite and insure a race contest." However, it was also necessary to show "all possible courtesy and consideration" in carrying out this policy. He added in a handwritten note that the Japanese should be shown "that our keeping them out means not that they are inferior to us — in some ways they are superior — but that they are different: so different that, whatever the future may hold, at present the two races ought not to come together in masses." However, he knew that such logic would not be convincing to the Japanese. The United States government was clearly catering to the racism of some of its people, who did consider the Japanese as inferior. Knowing that Japanese resentment could not really be mollified, he also urged Knox to make sure the nation was "thoroly [sic] armed," and to begin replacing Japanese workers in Hawaii with Europeans.
Ibid., pp. 74-75

Former president Theodore Roosevelt liked some aspects of scientific racism and praised [Madison] Grant's book [The Passing of the Great Race] for its "grasp of the facts our people need to realize."
Racist America,p. 86

"I would say that when they [the Filipinos] are fit to walk alone they should walk alone, but I would not pledge myself as to a definite date for giving them independence. . . . I would certainly try to prove to the islanders that we intended not merely to treat them well but to give them a constantly increasing measure of self-government, and that we should be only too delighted when they are able to stand alone." ... "I do not believe that as the world is now constituted permanent good comes to any nation merely from the smashing of some other nation. I acted upon this belief when as President I insisted upon our promise to Cuba being kept and Cuba being freed, and when I started the Philippines on a road which inevitably led to their ultimate independence [sic]."
—David H. Burton, "Theodore Roosevelt: Confident Imperialist", 23 The Review of Politics 3, July 1961, p. 356 fn. The "sic" was inserted by Burton.

"Our people do not desire to hold foreign dependencies and do believe in self-government for them. Not a European nation would have given up Cuba as we gave it up. . . . We keep Porto Rico because we can not help ourselves."
Ibid., p. 357 fn

"Of course the best thing that can happen to any people that has not already a high civilization of its own is to assimilate and profit by American and European ideas, the ideas of civilization and Christianity, without submitting to alien control; but such control, in spite of all its defects, is in a very large number of cases the prerequisite condition to the moral and material advance of the peoples who dwell in the darker corners of the earth."
Ibid., p. 358 fn

He justified the wrestling of land from the barbarian Indians as a service to humanity and saw the American experiment in the far Pacific in a similar light. The American record in Minnesota and the Dakotas was not without mistakes nor would it be in the Philippines but, whatever the errors, Americans were justified in their conquests because civilization was advanced. This apologia for imperialism Roosevelt had first proposed in The Winning of the West. It mattered little whether the American whites had won the land by fair treaty or by force, or by a mixture of these methods, "so long as the land was won. It was all-important that it should be won, for the benefit of civilization and in the interests of mankind." To oppose such action as immoral or unjust argued a "warped, perverse, silly morality."
Ibid., p. 359

"English rule in India and Egypt like the rule of France in Algiers or of Russia in Turkestan means a great advance for humanity. English rule in India has been one of the mighty feats of civilization, one of the mighty feats of the white race during the past four centuries, the time of its extraordinary expansion and dominance. That you have committed faults I have not the slightest doubt, though I do not know them ... ."
Ibid., p. 361 fn

According to Roosevelt's standards Filipino backwardness appeared in their deficient appreciation of the essence of self-rule: the majesty of law. This made them incapable of effective selfgovernment. As the issue of America's rule in the Islands became national, Roosevelt vigorously espoused United States paternalism. "So far as I am aware not one competent witness who has actually known the facts believes the Filipinos capable of self- government at the present time." American withdrawal would mean confusion and bloodshed.
Ibid., p. 367

South Africa was to be a "White Man's Africa, a great Commonwealth where the Dutch and the English will mingle. . . ."
Ibid., p. 373. Here Roosevelt is talking in reference to the First Boer War.

"In international matters to make believe that nations are equal when they are not equal is as productive of far-reaching harm as to make the same pretense about individuals in a community. Keir Hardie has attempted to insist that in Natal the native Kaffirs should be treated on a political equality with the white colonists. The practical effort to do this would result inside of thirty days in the annihilation of nine tenths of the black men at one another's hands and the return of Natal to the condition in which it was when the white colonists first went there and found a vacant land, thanks to the extermination of the people by Chaka's Zulus."
Ibid., p. 374 fn

Unlike many of his contemporaries Roosevelt never yielded to the argument that self-determination was right and proper for all peoples. He was committed to the conviction that "some nations are not fit for self-determination, that democracy within their limits is a sham and that their offenses against justice and right are such as to render interference by their more powerful and more civilized neighbors imperative."
Ibid., pp. 374-75

[Edit 3/9/2008]

Australia, which was much less important than America, was also won and settled with far less difficulty. The natives were so few in number and of such a low type, that they practically offered no resistance at all, being but little more hindrance than an equal number of ferocious beasts.
—Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West, vol. 1, p. 14. Reprinted in S.T. Joshi, ed., Documents of American Prejudice, p. 137.

William H. Taft

(27) William H. Taft : 1909-1913

"The problem of the colored race," he said at Fisk University, "is a problem which . . . is solving itself" with the help of "sympathy . . . among the southern white men." Even if proved wrong on this, Taft believed things would improve anyway because everyone would soon recognize that prejudice was not in their "pecuniary" interests.
Nixon's Piano, p. 76

He called black disenfranchisement in the South a "turn for the better"; supported voting rights only "in such small numbers . . . as not to threaten control by the baser element of the community"; promised to exclude blacks from patronage; and saw nothing wrong constitutionally or otherwise with election laws which barred "an ignorant electorate." In his inaugural address he outlined "a policy of not making Southern appointments from Negroes" in any "community in which the race feeling is so widespread and acute."


Taft defended his policy of not appointing southern Negroes to office as being in the best interest of the Negros themselves in that it might prevent lynching or some other tragedy. "Personally, I have not the slightest prejudice or feeling," he claimed. "I [merely] question the wisdom of a policy that is likely to increase [white southern violence against blacks]." In line with this logic the president removed the black postmaster of Port Gibson, Mississippi, because "the presence of a number of female schools there seems to increase the friction due to his remaining."
Ibid., p. 77

With the utterly frank goal of building "a decent white man's party" below the Mason-Dixon line, Taft understood the nature of the white man's burden at home and abroad. "Our little brown brothers" would need "fifty or one hundred years . . . to develop anything resembling Anglo-Saxon political principles and skills," he once said of the Filipinos. His view of American blacks was scarcely different.
Ibid., p. 78

The fear that in some way or other a social equality between the races shall be enforced by law or brought about by political measures really has no foundation except in the imagination of those who fear such a result. The Federal Government has nothing to do with social equality. The war amendments do not declare in favor of social equality. All that the law or Constitution attempt to secure is equality of opportunity before the law and in the pursuit of happiness, and in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. Social equality is something that grows out of voluntary concessions by the individuals forming society.
—Speech before the North Carolina Society of New York, 7 December, 1908

In an address to Negro students at Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University), Charlotte, North Carolina, in May, 1909, he ridiculed the idea that the two races could live amicably together in the United States and argued that the only way to solve the race problem was to send Negroes out of the United States. In conclusion he insisted: "Your race is adapted to be a race of farmers, first, last and for all times."
—Rayford W. Logan, The Negro in the United States: A Brief History, p. 66

President William H. Taft indeed did have plenty of experience in colonial affairs. But this did not mean be believed native non-Anglo- Saxon peoples to be capable of self-government. His governing attitude was one of paternalistic authority, seen clearest perhaps in his characterization of the Filipinos as "unreasonable and childish in many ways."
—Truman Clark, "President Taft and the Puerto Rican Appropriation Crisis of 1909", 26 The Americas 2, October 1969, p. 161

Later that day the President sent his special message on the Puerto Rican appropriation crisis to Congress. After recommending the amendment, he criticized the House of Delegates for rendering the insular government helpless instead of leaving the question of changing the Foraker Act in the hands of Congress. He said he had no doubt that the Foraker Act could be improved, but that this must be "sought in an orderly way." No congressional action should be taken to revise the organic act until "the absolute power of appropriation is taken away from those who have shown themselves too irresponsible to enjoy it." Puerto Ricans had "forgotten the generosity of the United States," but this was to be expected from a people with so little education. The appropriation crisis proved that "we have gone somewhat too fast in the extension of political power to them for their own good." Taft concluded by affirming:

There is not the slightest evidence that there has been on the part of the governor or of any member of the executive council a disposition to usurp authority, or to withhold approval of such legislation as was for the best interests of the island, or a lack of sympathy with the best aspiration of the Porto Rican people.

Ibid., pp. 162-63

[T]here was ... a sense of uneasiness in his acceptance of the Japanese. For as he put it: "a Jap is first of all a Jap and would be glad to aggrandize himself at the expense of anybody."
—Ralph Eldin Minger, "Taft's Missions to Japan: A Study in Personal Diplomacy", 30 The Pacific Historical Review 3, August 1961, p. 280

Taft had formed clear convictions on the subject of the importation of Asiatic labor into the United States. Before leaving the United States he set forth his views in a letter to a California congressman indicating that these views were also those of the President." "We agree," he wrote, "the Asiatic laborer does not amalgamate with the laborers of this country." Echoing popular prejudices of the time, he noted that "in spite of the progress that has been made both by the Chinaman and the Japanese, there is a real difference much more fundamental than between European immigrants and our American people." Because of these feelings, Taft and the President favored a treaty with Japan that would exclude Japanese labor.
Ibid., p. 285

Then he turned to the issue of Korea. Here he reasoned that Japan had "undertaken with a legitimate intent in so close a neighbor to reform and rejuvenate an ancient kingdom that had been governed or misgoverned by fifteenth century methods.

Discussing this country then little known in the United States, Taft expanded his views. He was confident, no matter what criticisms might be uttered, that the Japanese government was "pursuing a policy in Korea that would make for justice and civilization and the welfare of a backward people." There was in his thinking a kind of basic rationale to justify such situations. In words equally applicable to American policy toward Latin America, Taft gave expression to what had become dogma for the Roosevelt administration in such matters:

We are living in an age when the intervention of a stronger nation in the affairs of a people unable to maintain a government of law and order to assist the latter to better government becomes a national duty and works for the progress of the world.

Ibid., p. 290

Complementary to this, there was American preoccupation with the Philippines. Here the objectives of the United States, he continued, were the establishment of "a government of law and order and prosperity," and in fitting the people of these islands for the grand experiment of self-government.

Taft shared the standard imperialist view that any of the "uncivilized races" needed a major power to assist "in the maintenance of a government which shall secure law and right," as he was doing in the Philippines. He spoke of the Filipinos as "in the condition of children" and "in a state of tutelage," terms that were used to describe Indians as well.
—"United States Indian Policy and the Debate Over Philippine Annexation", pp. 829-30. I should note that I do not believe the author meant that Taft himself described the Indians in this way, only that similar language was used to describe both the Native Americans and the Filipinos.

Taft genuinely liked the Filipinos and showed them far more respect than did his fellow commissioners or the army. He believed that they would not be ready for self-government for decades, and he denigrated several of the native peoples, in particular the Muslim Moros and the darker-skinned Negritos. However, he saw hope for those Filipinos who had embraced the civilizing influence of Spanish culture and Roman Catholic Christianity. "They are a Christian people, and they have been educated in Christianity for three hundred years," he explained to the Yale Alumni Association at a banquet in Washington, D.C. in 1904. "Sometimes the Christianity which was taught them seems a little different from our Christianity," Taft conceded to his mostly Protestant audience. Nevertheless, "their ideals are all European or American." Taft recognized that Filipinos and Americans shared at least one basis of civilization: a common religious faith.
—"Redefining the 'Melting Pot'", pp. 98-99

Taft showed a similar patronizing respect for the Chinese and Japanese, although he supported the Roosevelt Administration's exclusionist policy. ... Presenting the commencement address at Miami University in Ohio on June 15, 1905, the Secretary of War supported the exclusion of Chinese laborers because they did not "become a part of the real population of the country," but instead refused "to amalgamate and to stake their all as citizens of this Republic." Furthermore, their "habits and views of life are so much at variance with those of our civilization as to make it impossible for them to ever become a useful and intelligent part in this self-governing community." He did not mention that the Chinese were barred by law from becoming citizens, and were not welcome in the community.
Ibid., pp. 100-01

"We think we can help these people," explained Governor Taft, "we think we can elevate them to an appreciation of popular government, educating them in self-government, until their knowledge of government, their knowledge of individual liberty shall be such that further action may be taken either by giving them statehood or by making them a quasi-independent government. . . or if they desire it, by independence."
—Julian Go, "'Racism' and Colonialism: Meanings of Difference and Ruling Practices in America's Pacific Empire", 27 Qualitative Sociology 1, Spring 2004, p. 48

In response to incredulous senators, Taft explained that the policy was well-founded because the Filipinos' inferiority was not interminable: "While there is to-day a palpable unfitness for self- government upon them, there is in them a capacity for future development, for future preparation for self-government, which justifies the plan we have adopted."
Ibid., p. 50

Senator Carmack reverted to some of Gov. Taft's former testimony to the effect that the Filipinos are not industrious, and asked whether this condition would render necessary the importation of Chinese. Gov. Taft said that it was to be profoundly hoped that this would not prove to be the case.
—"Expenses in Philippines", New York Times, 11 February 1902, p. 3

Woodrow Wilson

(28) Woodrow Wilson : 1913-1921

An extraordinary and very perilous state of affairs had been created in the South by the sudden and absolute emancipation of the negroes, and it was not strange that the southern legislatures should deem it necessary to take extraordinary steps to guard against the manifest and pressing dangers which it entailed. Here was a vast "laboring, landless, homeless class," once slaves, now free; unpracticed in liberty, unschooled in self-control; never sobered by the discipline of self-support, never established in any habit of prudence; excited by a freedom they did not understand, exalted by false hopes; bewildered and without leaders, and yet insolent and aggressive; sick of work, covetous of pleasure, — a host of dusky children untimely put out of school. In some of the states they outnumbered the whites,—notably in Mississippi and South Carolina. They were a danger to themselves as well as to those whom they had once served, and now feared and suspected; and the very legislatures which had accepted the Thirteenth Amendment hastened to pass laws which should put them under new restraints.
—Woodrow Wilson, "The Reconstruction of the Southern States", 87 Atlantic Monthly 519, January 1901, p. 6

By an act of March 3, 1865, it established, as a branch of the War Department, a Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, which was authorized and empowered to assist the one-time slaves in finding means of subsistence, and in making good their new privileges and immunities as citizens. The officials of this bureau, with the War Department behind them, had gone the whole length of their extensive authority; putting away from the outset all ideas of accommodation, and preferring the interests of their wards to the interests of peaceable, wholesome, and healing progress.

Whatever their mistakes or weaknesses of temper or of judgment, what followed the reconstruction they effected was in almost every instance much worse than what had had to be endured under military role. The first practical result of reconstruction under the acts of 1867 was the disfranchisement, for several weary years, of the better whites, and the consequent giving over of the southern governments into the hands of the negroes. And yet not into their hands, after all. They were but children still; and unscrupulous men, "carpetbaggers," — men not come to be citizens, but come upon an expedition of profit, come to make the name of Republican forever hateful in the South, — came out of the North to use the negroes as tools for their own selfish ends; and succeeded, to the utmost fulfillment of their dreams. Negro majorities for a little while filled the southern legislatures; but they won no power or profit for themselves, beyond a pittance here and there for a bribe. Their leaders, strangers and adventurers, got the lucrative offices, the handling of the state moneys raised by loan, and of the taxes spent no one knew how. Here and there an able and upright man cleansed administration, checked corruption, served them as a real friend and an honest leader; but not for long. The negroes were exalted; the states were misgoverned and looted in their name; and a few men, not of their number, not really of their interest, went away with the gains. They were left to carry the discredit and reap the consequences of ruin, when at last the whites who were real citizens got control again.
Ibid., p. 11

There is a large laboring class in the South—composed of men and their families who before the war were known among the negroes as the "poor whites"—which is now furnishing excellent material out of which to make skilful operatives. Few of the negroes have yet proved themselves capable of acquiring any considerable amount of proficiency in any of the mechanical arts save carpentering, bricklaying, and the like. This may be due to their never having been tried in any other of the employments which call for expertness and dexterity—for they are a race peculiarly quick in imitation; but the fact remains and suggests the necessity of looking elsewhere for additions to the force of skilled employees; and by looking elsewhere for the supply is meant, of course, looking to immigration, either from the North or from beyond sea.
—Woodrow Wilson, "New Southern Industries", New York Evening Post, 26 April 1882. Reprinted in Arthur Link, ed., The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, p. 123

The law which excluded Chinese immigrants had been passed at the urgent solicitation of the men of the Pacific coast. Chinese laborers had poured in there, first by hundreds, then by thousands, finally by hundreds of thousands, until the labor situation of the whole coast had become one almost of revolution. Caucasian laborers could not compete with the Chinese, could not live upon a handful of rice and work for a pittance, and found themselves being steadily crowded out from occupation after occupation by the thrifty, skillful Orientals, who, with their yellow skin and strange, debasing habits of life, seemed to them hardly fellow men at all, but evil spirits, rather.
—Woodrow Wilson, A History of the American People, volume 5, p. 185. Cited in Henry Blumenthal, "Woodrow Wilson and the Race Question", 48 Journal of Negro History 1, January 1963, p. 17

"Dr. W. [Wilson] thought it an unwise piece of bravado . . . to put that negro [Crum] over white wholesale traders—too much for them to stand." Wilson then told a "darky" joke about the Booker Washington dinner.
Nixon's Piano, p. 83

Wilson was primarily worried about white women working under the same roof with black men. His progressive solution (what he called "a plan of concentration") "will put them all together and will not in any one [federal] bureau mix the two races."
Ibid., p. 85

Oswald Garrison Villard, grandson of the abolitionist and NAACP board chairman, tried to convince Wilson to abandon the segregation project. ... [Wilson] simply advised Villard that it would be "a blunder." "The segregation of the colored employees in the several departments," he explained, was "as much in the interest of the negroes as for any other reason, and with the idea that the friction, or rather the discontent and uneasiness, which had prevailed in many of the departments would thereby be removed. It is . . . [not] a movement against the negroes. . . . We are rendering them more safe in their possession of office and less likely to be discriminated against."
Ibid., p. 86

What Mr. Wilson Said:

"In reply the President said that after our last visit he and his cabinet officers had investigated as he promised, and cabinet officers told him the segregation was caused by friction between colored and white clerks, and not done to injure or humiliate the colored clerks, but to avoid friction. Members of the cabinet had assured him that the colored clerks would have comfortable conditions, though separated. He had taken their view that the segregation was the best way to meet this situation and that the best thought of the administration has so decided.

"The white people of this country," the President continued, "as well as I, wish to see the colored people progress, and admire the progress they have already made, and want to see them continue along independent lines. There is, however, a great prejudice against colored people, but as Mr. Spencer says, we are all colored, but I mean those of African descent. It will take one hundred years to eradicate this prejudice, and we must deal with it as practical men. Segregation is not humiliating but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen. If your organization goes out and tells the colored people of the country that it is a humiliation, they will so regard it, but if you do not tell them so, and regard it rather as a benefit, they will regard it the same. The only harm that will come will be if you cause them to think it is a humiliation."
—"Readings from the Crisis: Commentary", Crisis July/August 2000, p. 60. This is a reprint from the Crisis of January 1915, detailing a conversation between Monroe Trotter and several other members of the National Independent Equal Rights League with Wilson in November, 1914

Woodrow Wilson served as Princeton's president from 1902 to 1910. Wilson was a steadfast segregationist determined to keep Princeton lily-white at a time when all of the other Ivy League institutions were admitting a modest number of black students. In a 1904 letter to a colleague Wilson wrote, "I would say that, while there is nothing in the law of the University to prevent a Negro's entering, the whole temper and tradition of the place are such that no Negro has ever applied for admission and it seems extremely unlikely that the question will ever assume a practical form."
—"Woodrow Wilson and the Negro Question at Princeton University", Journal of Blacks in Higher Education no. 17, Autumn 1997, p. 120

In the matter of Chinese and Japanese coolie immigration I stand for the national policy of exclusion (or restricted immigration) The whole question is one of assimilation of diverse races. We cannot make a homogeneous population out of people who do not blend with the caucasian race. ... Democracy rests on the equality of the citizen. Oriental coolieism will give us another race problem to solve, and surely we have had our lesson.
—Woodrow Wilson to James Duval Phelan, 3 May 1912. Printed in Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 24, pp. 382-83

Throughout the century men of the sturdy stocks of the north of Europe had made up the main strain of foreign blood which was every year added to the vital working force of the country, or else men of the Latin-Gallic stocks of France and northern Italy; but now [in 1890] there came multitudes of men of the lowest class from the south of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence; and they came in numbers which increased from year to year, as if the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population, the men whose standards of life and of work were such as American workmen had never dreamed of hitherto.
—Woodrow Wilson, A History of the American People, volume 5, pp. 212-13. Quoted in Robert Fikes, Jr., "Racist Quotes from Persons of Note Part II", 16 Journal of Ethnic Studies 1, Spring 1988, p. 140

When a reporter asked about the California anti-alien land ownership law at a press conference in April 1913, Wilson maintained that the 1911 Commercial Treaty negotiated by Taft and Secretary of State Philander C. Knox was unconstitutional because the federal government could not make a treaty which interfered with a state's right to pass local laws. "Nobody can for a moment challenge the constitutional right of California to pass such land laws as she pleases," Wilson said.
—"Redefining the 'Melting Pot'", p. 154

By August 1918 Wilson's disgust with the constant pressure from Irish Americans was already evident. Colonel Edward M. House recorded in his diary that the president declared privately "that he did not intend to appoint another Irishman to anything; that they were untrustworthy and uncertain," although he made an exception for [his secretary, which would now be called chief of staff, Joseph] Tumulty. The end of the war and the start of the Paris peace conference only intensified Irish-American pressure and concomitantly, Wilson's ire. On March 4, 1919, after a speech at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and just before he returned to Paris, Wilson met with Governor Alfred Smith and the delegates of the Irish Race Convention, but only after they eliminated Daniel Cohalan from the group. The delegates wanted Wilson to promise to work for the creation of an independent Irish republic in Paris, but the president declined, calling it "a domestic affair for Great Britain and Ireland to settle themselves, and not a matter for outside interference." When Bishop Peter J. Muldoon of Illinois compared the Irish to the Slavic peoples granted independence at Versailles, Wilson snapped back, "These nations, Bishop, fell into our lap!" Discussing the meeting the next night aboard ship with Dr. Cary Grayson, Wilson said that "the Irish as a race are very hard to deal with owing to their inconsiderateness, their unreasonable demands and their jealousies," and he feared that Irish and German Americans would work to defeat the Democratic party in 1920.
Ibid., pp. 197-98

Wilson began to sympathize with the British more as he tried to unite his divided party and country. At lunch with Lloyd George in Paris, the American president explained to the British prime minister how Abraham Lincoln had not approved of social equality between the races even though he opposed slavery. Lloyd George, perhaps seeing a parallel, then congratulated Wilson on his handling of the "impossible" Irish. Wilson quipped that if it were up to him, he would grant home rule but reserve the movie rights, implying that the Irish would be no more capable of self-government than he imagined Southern blacks had been during Reconstruction.
Ibid., pp. 199-200

Not only did Wilson's latent prejudice surface in 1919, but he also expressed his willingness to arouse the hatred of his fellow Protestants. To Ray Stannard Baker, he declared that he would unleash anti-Catholic bigotry if the Irish Americans did not relent. "I have one weapon which I can use against them — one terrible weapon, which I shall not use unless I am driven to it," he told the journalist. "I have only to warn our people of the attempt of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to dominate our public opinion, and there is no doubt about what America will do," Wilson threatened.
Ibid., p. 201

In Pueblo, Colorado, just before he collapsed, Wilson warned again that the "organized propaganda" against the treaty and the League of Nations came from exactly the same source as the anti-war propaganda. He portrayed these hyphenated Americans in sinister tones, using the stereotype of the violent, knife-wielding immigrant. He declared that "any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this republic whenever he gets the chance," and such a man was "an enemy of the republic."
Ibid., p. 205. By men "who carr[y] a hyphen" with them, Wilson meant "hyphenated Americans", especially German-Americans and Irish-Americans. Wilson's views on "hyphenated Americans" were very similar to those of his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt (see here). As the proposal for the League of Nations went down, though, he became increasingly vituperative and blamed these immigrants for the failure. See Ibid., pp. 203-205.

Speaking in 1890 before members of the Johns Hopkins historical seminary, Wilson explained confidently that enslavement "had done more for the negro in two hundred and fifty years than African freedom had done since the building of the pyramids."
—John David Smith, Slavery, Race, and American History: Historical Conflict, Trends and Method, 1866-1953, p. 19

Resembling countless other white southerners of this day, Wilson portrayed the Old South as a land of patriarchal slave masters. The bondsmen resided in comfortable slave quarters and rarely experienced harsh treatment. Inhuman conditions were exceptional, never the rule. Such statements would seem to confirm Wilson's membership in the proslavery school.
Ibid., p. 20

As he explained in his magnum opus, A History of the American People, Republican congressmen erred by criticizing the Black Codes. Allowing their idealism to cloud their judgment, they failed to 'consider the pressing necessity or the extraordinary circumstances which justified such legislation.'
—Michael Dennis, "Looking Backward: Woodrow Wilson, the New South, and the Question of Race", 3 American Nineteenth Century History 1, Spring 2002, p. 80

In 1881, he explained that the South's hostility toward the Republican Party was rooted in its belief that 'the dominance of an ignorant and inferior race was justly dreaded."
Ibid., p. 82

In Wilson's view, southern Republicanism and black voting had never been politically legitimate; only the restoration of southern white control brought the 'real citizens' into the region's polity. Instead of correcting the racial inequalities ratified by the Founding Fathers, the Reconstruction amendments illustrated the Republican determination to make '[t]he dominance of the negroes of the South' a tenet of the Constitution.

In Wilson's chronicle of the period, white southerners finally ended the Republican torment by uniting behind the Democratic campaign and returning the South's 'real citizens' to power. The dangerous prospect that had faced the 'English' people of the South was domination by an allegedly inferior race. Although the threat remained, the termination of Reconstruction in 1877 ended 'the dark chapter of history.' Anchoring his support for disfranchisement in the lessons of history, he argued that whites had been justified in restricting the franchise since passions rather than reason ruled African-American voters. Long after his New South musings, Wilson continued to justify suffrage restrictions aimed at African Americans. In textbooks and articles, he disseminated the Tragic Era version of Reconstruction, a period when northern fanatics tried to put 'the white men of the South, for the nonce at any rate, under the negroes' heel.'
Ibid., pp. 82-83

According to Wilson, the Force Act threatened southern white hegemony and revived images of 'radical' Reconstruction. Had Congress endorsed the measure, Wilson was certain that federal supervisors would have operated as Republican partisans, favoring black voters over white Democrats:

Though the white men of the South were at last in control of their state governments, federal law still held them off from excluding negroes from the exercise of the suffrage by any fair or open method which should set aside with out breach of law what reconstruction had done. They were driven, if the incubus of that ignorant and hostile vote was to be lifted from their affairs, to resort to covert, tricky, fraudulent means which brought their own deep demoralization.

Ibid., p. 83

The lesson that the white South drew from the trauma of Reconstruction was 'never to suffer themselves to be ruled by another race in every respect unlike themselves, and in that resolve they cannot be, they shouldn't be, shaken.' Echoing antebellum justifications of slavery, he argued that white southerners were vindicated in using extreme measures of self-protection. Weaving the myth of 'Black' Reconstruction in monographs read by a nation audience, Wilson depicted black voting in conspiratorial, monolithic terms. He attributed the 'solid' (non-competitive) Democratic South to the demand for racial order against mob voting. Since, according to this widely held view, blacks were susceptible to control by the highest bidder, the elimination of black voting promised the restoration of genuine political competition.
Ibid., pp. 83-84

On the meaning of the Compromise of 1877, the agreement that settled a disputed presidential election by terminating military occupation of the South in exchange for the appointment of a Republican to the White House, Wilson minced no words: 'The supremacy of the white people was henceforth assured in the administration of the southern States.' The future of the South depended on their continued control of political affairs.
Ibid., p. 84

Wilson crafted his identity in public, but it was in private that he expressed his uninhibited views on African Americans. In her personal diary, Mary Yates, the daughter of a friend of Wilson's in England with whom he visited while on vacation, recorded these comments he made while 'At tea:'

He told of a coloured cook they had who needed winding up about every three weeks; then he would go down & artificially get into a raving bad temper. She wd. Be frightened, & for a week after wd. Be superb, the next one, fair, & the next abominable again. It is the only way to deal with colored servants [said Wilson]... Thence to the social position of educated negroes. A ma [master?] with a very comfortable relation between himself & his darkies, said, when once asked if he'd seen the President, "No, & I don't much want to see a man who has asked a black man to eat with him." The darky answered "Misser Roosevelt, he don' know niggers like we know 'em!" Another darky at a white man's dinner table was asked if he ever ate with them down south, "Oh, no, they're gentlefolks there!" Individually many negroes are splendid, but they are exceptions. Dr. W. thought it an unwise piece of bravado in president R. to put that negro over white wholesale traders — too much for them to stand. And intermarriage would degrade white nations, for in Africa the blacks were the only nation which did not rise...Social intercourse would bring about intermarriage.

Wilson's comments contain several recurring themes in southern conservative thought. The natural function of African Americans — particularly women — was subservience to whites; blacks required compulsion in order to work, and any deviance from white expectations simply confirmed black indolence. Educated African Americans posed the greatest threat to white middle-class sensibilities, since they challenged assumptions about the connection between race and class subordination; social interactions between blacks and whites was a slippery slope leading to interracial marriage and the dilution of white racial purity, as well as the belief that Republican policies fostered such dire consequences. Offering his comments to a non-American audience, Wilson suggested that his views on race carried universal validity.

Roosevelt's appointment of blacks to political positions in the South irritated Wilson considerably. As a guest speaker at a reunion of the Princeton Association of Maryland in 1903, he aired his views on Roosevelt's policies: 'The President started a hurrah by asking the company if they had heard why the ground hog went back into his hole this year. The answer was, he said, because the ground hog was afraid the President of the United States would put a "coon" in.'
Ibid., pp. 92-93

While segregation orders were conceived and issued by subordinates, it is clear that Wilson made little or no effort to stop them. He summed up his own attitude in a letter to the editor of the Congregationalist:

. . . I would say that I do approve of the segregation that is being attempted in several of the departments. . . . I certainly would not . . . have . . . if I had not thought it to their [Negroes'] advantage and likely to remove many of the difficulties which have surrounded the appointment and advancement of colored men and women.

—Nancy J. Weiss, "The Negro and the New Freedom: Fighting Wilsonian Segregation", 84 Political Science Quarterly 1, March 1969, p. 65

[Oswald Garrison Villard] urged the President to repudiate a disastrous policy, due, he hoped, "to the individual initiative of department heads without your knowledge and consent." But Wilson insisted that departmental segregation was "in the interest of the negroes . . . ." "My own feeling," he wrote, "is, by putting certain bureaus and sections of the service in the charge of negroes we are rendering them more safe in their possession of office and less likely to be discriminated against."
Ibid., p. 67

[Thomas] Dixon appealed to Wilson to see [The Birth of a Nation]. The president, who was not appearing in public because his wife had recently died, invited Dixon to show the film at the White House. This first movie screened at the White House swept Wilson off his feet. "It is like writing history with lightning," as Dixon reported the president's words, "and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true." When the new NAACP and humanitarian social reformers tried to have Birth banned, Dixon used Wilson's endorsement to promote the film for months, before political pressures finally forced the president publicly to separate himself from the movie.
—Michael Rogin, "'The Sword Became a Flashing Vision': D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation", Representations 9, Winter 1985, p. 151. Interestingly, Griffith relied not only on Dixon's The Clansman for writing his screenplay, but also Wilson's History of the American People.

[Edit 1/27/2008] A history professor who specializes in the time period of Wilson cautions us that Wilson may never have actually said this.

Among the freed Negros of the postbellum South, wrote Woodrow Wilson, "Some stayed very quietly by their old masters and gave no trouble; but most yielded, as was to have been expected, to the novel impulse and excitement of freedom. . . . The country was filled with vagrants looking for pleasure and gratuitous fortune. . . . The tasks of ordinary life stood untouched; the idlers grew insolent, dangerous; nights went anxiously by, for fear of riot and incendiary fire." There was, Wilson continued, a "veritable apotheosis of the negro" among northerners. They saw him "as the innocent victim of circumstances, a creature who needed only liberty to make him a man." Embracing Thaddeus Stevens's "policy of rule or ruin," the North determined to "put the white South under the heel of the black south."

Stevens's policies, Wilson went on, caused "the veritable overthrow of civilization in the South." Forced "by the mere instinct of self-preservation" to take the law into their own hands, white southern men made "the delightful discovery of the thrill of awesome fear which their sheeted, hooded figures sent among their former slaves." "It threw the Negroes into a very ecstasy of panic to see these sheeted 'Ku Klux' move near them in the shrouded night," wrote Wilson, "until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, an Invisible Empire of the south."
Ibid., p. 152

Wilson was so impressed by Birth that he offered to cooperate with more of Griffith's historical projects. "I am deeply interested in what you intimate as to future motion pictures," he wrote the filmmaker, "and if it is possible for me to assist you with an opinion about them at any time, I shall certainly try to do so."
Ibid., p. 154

* * *

Segregation in federal departments increased notably during Wilson's administration, and although he was not directly responsible for it he did express his support of the practice.

Warren G. Harding

(29) Warren G. Harding : 1921-1923

There is abundant evidence of the dangers which lurk in racial differences. I do not say racial inequalities—I say racial differences. I am ever ready to recognize that the civilization of the Orient is older than ours, that her peoples have their proud and honorable traditions.

In spite of the honor of these Oriental peoples, and in spite of their contributions to the world's advancement, it is conceivable that they may be so different in racial characteristics or in manner of life or practice from other peoples of equal honor and achievement that, no matter whether it be on the soil of one or upon the soil of the other, these differences, without raising any question of inferiority, superiority or inequality, may create, as I believe they have created upon our Pacific Coast, without blame to either side, a friction that must be recognized. The nation owes it to the Pacific Coast to recognize that fact. The nation owes it to the Pacific Coast States to stand behind them in necessary measures consistent with our national honor to relieve them of their difficulties.

The problem incident to racial differences must be accepted as one existing in fact and must be adequately met for the future security and tranquility of our people.
—"Harding Proposes Immigration Curb", New York Times, 15 September 1920, p. 3

"Politically andeconomically there need be no occasion for great and permanent differentiation, provided on both sides there shall be recognition of the absolute divergence in things social and racial," said the President. "I would say let the black man vote when he is fit to vote; prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote. I wish that both the tradition of a solidly Democratic South and the tradition of a solidly Republican black race might be broken up. I would insist upon equal educational opportunity for both.

"Men of both races may well stand uncompromisingly against every suggestion of social equality. This is not a question of social equality, but a question of recognizing a fundamental, eternal, inescapable difference.

"Racial amalgamation there cannot be. Partnership of the races in developing the highest aims of all humanity there must be if humanity is to achieve the ends which we have set for it. The black man should seek to be, and he should be encouraged to be, the best possible black man and not the best possible imitation of a white man.

"The World War ... has made the South realize its industrial dependence on the labor of the black man and made the North realize the difficulties of the community in which two greatly differing races are brought to live side by side.
—A speech in the Woodrow Wilson Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Reprinted in "Harding Says Negro Must Have Equality in Political Life", New York Times, 27 October 1921, p. 11

"...Whoever will take the time to read and ponder Mr. Lothrop Stoddard's book on 'The Rising Tide of Color,' or, say, the thoughtful review of some recent literature on this question which Mr. F. D. Lugard presented in a recent Edinburgh Review, must realize that our race problem here in the United States is only a phase of a race issue that the whole world confronts. Surely we shall gain nothing by blinking the facts, by refusing to give thought to them. That is not the American way of approaching such issues.

"Mr. Lugard, in his recent essay, after surveying the world's problem of races, concludes thus:

"Here, then, is the true conception of the interrelation of color—complete uniformity in ideals, absolute equality in the paths of knowledge and culture, equal opportunity for those who strive, equal admiration for those who achieve; in matters social and racial a separate path, each pursuing his own inherited traditions, preserving his own race purity, and race pride; equality in things spiritual; agreed divergence in the physical and material.

"Here, it has seemed to me, is suggestion of the true way out. Politically and economically there need be no occasion for great and permanent differentiation, for limitations of the individual's opportunity, provided that on both sides there shall be recognition of the absolute divergence in things social and racial. ...

"Men of both races may well stand uncompromisingly against every suggestion of social equality. Indeed, it would be helpful to have that word 'equality' eliminated from this consideration; to have it accepted on both sides that this is not a question of social equality, but a question of recognizing a fundamental, eternal and inescapable difference. We shall have made real progress when we develop an attitude in the public and community thought of both races which recognizes this difference.

"Take the political aspect. I would say let the black man vote when he is fit to vote: prohibit the white man voting when he is unfit to vote. Especially would I appeal to the self-respect of the colored race. I would inculcate in it the wish to improve itself as a distinct race, with a heredity, a set of traditions, an array of aspirations all its own. Out of such racial ambitions and pride will come natural segregations, without narrowing and rights, such as are proceeding in both rural and urban communities now in Southern States, satisfying natural inclinations and adding notably to happiness and contentment.

"On the other hand I would insist upon equal educational opportunity for both. This does not mean that both would become equally educated within a generation or two generations or ten generations. Even men of the same race do not accomplish such an equality as that. There must be such education among the colored people as will enable them to develop their own leader, capable of understanding and sympathizing with such a differentiation between the two races as I have suggested—leaders who will inspire the race with proper ideals of race pride, of national pride, of an honorable destiny; and important participation in the universal effort for advancement of humanity as a whole. Racial amalgamation there cannot be. ...

I would accept that a black man cannot be a white man, and that he does not need and should not aspire to be as much like a white man as possible in order to accomplish the best that is possible for him. He should seek to be, and he should be encouraged to be, the best possible black man, and not the best possible imitation of a white man.

Like Wilson, Harding compared the perceived threat of immigrant disloyalty in World War I to the disunity which resulted in the Civil War. In the 1850s and 1860s, the United States had been split along sectional lines; now the division was along racial and ethnic lines. In his Memorial Day speech at Columbus in 1917, Senator Harding argued that just as the Civil War was fought to maintain the union, the current war was being fought to maintain American rights and "reconsecrate" American citizens. The war exposed the threat which being an asylum posed. "It is the pitiable truth, under the banners of our boasted freedom, with open gates to the oppressed of the world, we were becoming the haven of a polyglot people instead of the reasured home of a patriotic people," he warned.
—"Redefining the 'Melting Pot'", pp. 223-24

* * *

President Harding signed into law the Emergency Quota Act of 1921

Calvin Coolidge

(30) Calvin Coolidge : 1923-1929

No civilization can exist without a background—an active community of interest, a common aspiration—spiritual, social, and economic. It is a duty our country owes itself to require of all those aliens who come here that they have a background not inconsistent with American institutions.

Such a background might consist either of a racial tradition or a national experience. But in its lowest terms it must be characterized by a capacity for assimilation.
—Calvin Coolidge, "Whose Country Is This?", 72 Good Housekeeping 2, p. 13

We might avoid this danger were we insistent that the immigrant, before he leaves foreign soil, is temperamentally keyed for our national background. There are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons. Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides. Quality of mind and body suggests that observance of ethnic law is as great a necessity to a nation as immigration law.
Ibid., p. 14. Sometimes Coolidge is quoted as saying "America must be kept American. Biological laws show that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races," but this is an inaccurate pastiche of Coolidge sayings.

The economic reasons for restricting immigration are not always the most important. We have certain standards of life that we believe are best for us. We do not ask other nations to discard theirs, but we do wish to preserve ours. Standards, government and culture under free institutions are not so much a matter of constitutions and laws as of public opinion, ways of thought and methods of life of the people.

We reflect on no one in wanting immigrants who will be assimilated into our ways of thinking and living. Believing we can best serve the world in that way, we restrict immigration.
—"Think Things Over With Calvin Coolidge", Waterloo Daily Courier, 15 December 1930, p. 1. Coolidge had a newspaper column from 1930-1931, generally called "Calvin Coolidge Says", but not so in this paper

American institutions rest solely on good citizenship. They were created by people who had a background of self-government. New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this purpose, it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration. It would be well to make such immigration of a selective nature with some inspection at the source, and based either on a prior census or upon the record of naturalization. Either method would insure the admission of those with the largest capacity and best intention of becoming citizens. I am convinced that our present economic and social conditions warrant a limitation of those to be admitted. We should find additional safety in a law requiring the immediate registration of all aliens. Those who do not want to be partakers of the American spirit ought not to settle in America.
—First State of the Union Address, 6 December 1923

President Coolidge, in signing the Immigration Act of 1924, made this statement regarding the exclusion provision: "There is scarcely any ground for disagreement as to the result we want, but this method of securing it is unnecessary and deplorable at this time."
—Eliot Mears, "California's Attitude Towards the Oriental", 122 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, November 1925, p. 213 fn.

* * *

Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924, which barred immigration from Asia and set (further) restrictions on immigration from southern and eastern Europe.

Herbert Hoover

(31) Herbert Hoover : 1929-1933

How far intelligence is a factor indispensable to skill can be well illustrated by a comparison of the results obtained from working labor of a low mental order, such as Asiatics and negroes, with those achieved by Americans or Australian miners. In a general way, it may be stated with confidence that the white miners above mentioned can, under the same physical conditions, and with from five to ten times the wage, produce the same economic results,—that is, an equal or lower cost per unit of production. Much observation and experience in working Asiatics and negroes as well as Americans and Australians in mines, leads the writer to the conclusion that, averaging actual results, one white man equals from two to three of the colored races, even in the simplest forms of mine work such as shoveling or tramming. In the most highly skilled branches, such as mechanics, the average ratio is as one to seven, or in extreme cases even eleven. The question is not entirely a comparison of bare efficiency individually; it is one of the sum total of results. In mining work the lower races require a greatly increased amount of direction, and this excess of supervisors consists of men not in themselves directly productive.
—Herbert Hoover, Principles of Mining: Valuation, Organization and Administration, p. 163. Quoted in Nixon's Piano, p. 103

A third handicap to widespread Occidental industrialization is the fact that the Chinese are a less mechanical-minded people than the European-descended races. Our inventions and machinery came out of our racial instincts and qualities. Our people learn easily how to make them work efficiently. The consequence of the Chinese mental lack of mechanical instinct is that they require many times more men to operate our intricate machines. The cotton mills at the time of my visits required men to watch each modern loom. Our workmen can operate a dozen at one time. They required seven or eight men to operate a modern locomotive—two to watch the tracks ahead, three to fire the boilers, and two to operate the various devices, and usually one to watch the other seven to see that they kept their minds on the job. At Tongshan we installed a very large and intricate winding engine to haul several thousands tons of coal daily from a fairly deep shaft with ten stops at different levels. It was equipped with signals, indicators, gauges and gadgets designed for one engine driver to know and do everything. Yet we were constantly killing men through the mistakes of the engine driver. We finally had to put on nine men to watch the different indicators and gadgets and one more to watch all of them. ...

Our general conclusion from the Tongshan experience with 25,000 healthy men in all positions was that it took about two Chinese to perform the common labor tasks of an American, about four to one to operate the machines, and about ten to one skilled in mechanical trades to assemble intricate machines. They could imitate anything if given time enough, but no world-startling mechanical invention has come out of China. That does not apply to their artistic development or architecture—but even here, their advance was slow. ...

Another of the illusions of the Western world concerns democracy and China. There never has been and there never will be, in another generation, truly representative government whereby the common people determine their own fate. That is impossible in the face of 90 per cent illiteracy and the low standard of living among the masses. Nevertheless, some time with the fine streak of idealism in its intellectual groups, it should be able to build up a sort of democratic oligarchy which will serve until the masses can be lifted at least to partial literacy.

Moreover, as I have said, the Chinese are not administrators from a Western point of view. Democracy is a Western concept which requires the same form of administrative machinery as we have developed for production and distribution. My fear is that any real democracy in China would fail on its administrative side. In fact, the Chinese are not good administrators. They can at times be successful dictators—but usually not even that.
The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: Years of Adventure, 1874- 1920, pp. 70-72

As he sought to build a political base in California following his return to the United States, he conformed easily to the prevailing anti-Asian prejudice of the Pacific coast. Writing to California Congressman John Raker in 1924 Hoover said, "Ever since I have been able to think and talk I have strongly supported restriction of Asiatic immigration to the United States."
—"Redefining the 'Melting Pot'", p. 292

In 1932, Filipino leaders negotiated a deal with the American Federation of Labor to work together for an independence bill that would assign a very small immigration quota to the Philippines. California Republican Hiram Johnson amended the bill in the Senate to apply the quota only to people "eligible for citizenship." The conference committee rejected this amendment and stipulated that the Asian exclusion provisions of the 1924 law would apply to the Philippines. Hoover vetoed the legislation in January 1933, but not because of its immigration features — in fact, he called for the immediate exclusion of all Filipinos in his veto message. Clearly Hoover's low opinion of Asians had not improved over the years.
Ibid., p. 312

If the American people consider that they have discharged their responsibilities to the Philippine people, have carried out the altruistic mission which we undertook, if we have no further national stake in the islands, if the Philippine people are now prepared for self-government, if they can maintain order and their institutions, if they can now defend their independence, we should say so frankly on both sides. I hold that this is not the case. Informed persons on neither side have made such declarations without many reservations. Nor can these conditions be solved by the evasions and proposals of this bill without national dishonor.
—Veto of a Bill Providing for the Independence of the Philippine Islands

On May 2, two days before Barnett wrote Hoover, the Reverend Harold M. Kingsley had reported on the matter to the national leaders of the NAACP. Although Kingsley confirmed that Negroes in the flood area were being held in boxcars at gunpoint, officials of the NAACP were somewhat skeptical of these claims at first. On 10 May James Weldon Johnson, the executive secretary of that organization, wrote to Robert R. Church, Jr., a prominent NAACP leader and Republican political leader in Memphis, Tennessee, and to George W. Lucas, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP, to inform them that he was having difficulty authenticating the reports concerning mistreatment of Negroes and to ask them to investigate them personally. Two days later Walter White, who would soon succeed Johnson as NAACP director, cautioned Kingsley that if the mistreatment was "only a temporary condition, it would hardly be worth our while to kick up a row about it." As the reports persisted, however, White finally undertook his own personal inspection and working closely with Robert Church, documented the authenticity of many of the charges. Indeed, in White's considered judgment, the Red Cross was cooperating fully with plantation owners and, as a result of tying food and supplies to peonage, subjecting many black people to exposure and malnutrition.

While Hoover did not yet know about the inquiries being made by the NAACP, he had received reliable information from two different sources whom he trusted, Barnett and Capper. Even so, at first he too could not bring himself to believe the charges. Unlike the leaders of the NAACP who did investigate the allegations before making public pronouncements, Hoover immediately defended the Red Cross. He indignantly denied the truth of the accusations and thereby revealed both his naïveté about race relations and his persistent tendency to reject or parry criticism. The Negroes, he insisted, were not complaining; instead they were "pathetic and overwhelming" in their gratitude. He interpreted the boxcars not as prisons but as safe, dry, and thus highly desirable improvisations. Continuing with his positive perception, Hoover suggested that the Negroes wore tags not to facilitate recovery by the planters, but to prevent repetition in vaccinations and in daily food rations. He refused to believe that it was possible for planters to charge their Negro tenants for Red Cross supplies. Instead he maintained that the lack of Red Cross records indicated that the food and supplies had been given directly to the people. Hoover did concede that some planters might well have established their own camps for tenants before the Red Cross arrived, but he believed that these were exceptions and that they were entirely independent of the relief organizations under his direction.
—Donald Lisio, Hoover, Blacks, & Lily-Whites: A Study of Southern Strategies, pp. 6-7. These conditions were the aftermath of the 1927 Mississippi flood. I should note that Lisio's thesis is that Hoover was not hostile towards blacks, merely incredibly ignorant of racism and tended to view groups such as the NAACP as just another special-interest lobbying group, which he refused to pander to. Other historians view Hoover as a Lily- White—a Republican who actively tried to get blacks out of their party and politics in general.

Later, in 1920 and again in 1924 when he was secretary of commerce, he reiterated his prejudice against nonwhites. Although he highly praised the Japanese culture, he nonetheless supported the exclusion of Japanese, indeed, the exclusion of all Asian immigrants, in order to prevent interracial marriages. It was a "biological fact," he argued, that intermarriage between whites and Orientals, and, by implication, between whites and blacks, resulted in "degenerate" offspring and great racial antagonism. This practice therefore was harmful both to the races involved and to society, which could not assimilate these misfits.
Ibid., p. 24

In 1921, when Hoover became secretary of commerce, the United States suffered from a severe economic recession in which over 5,000,000 workers were unemployed. To provide solutions to the unemployment problem, Hoover called together a conference of leaders representing all major sections of the economy. Almost immediately, A. L. Jackson, assistant to the president of the Chicago Defender, complained to Hoover that although Negroes comprised 10 percent of the population and 7 percent of the labor force, he had not included a black person to represent the interests of the Negro race. Eugene Kinckle Jones, executive secretary of the National Urban League, also objected, as did Emmett J. Scott, the secretary-treasurer of Howard University and for many years a leader in the Republican party. But Hoover refused to consider "groups" in selecting representatives. After repeated protests his secretary, Edward Eyre Hunt, informed James G. Blaine, vice-president of the New York Trust Company, that when he had taken up the matter with "the Chief" again, Hoover had made it clear that "the principle on which the Conference is built does not allow for representation of the negro race per se." Exactly what that principle might have been is not clear. Apparently representatives of economic special interests were legitimate, but representatives of racial interests somehow violated administrative "principle." Indeed, not until President Harding intervened did Hoover inform the protesters that two Negro representatives would attend the conference.
Ibid., p. 25

Barnett was forthright in his complaint to the secretary. The Negro businessman remained at the bottom of the economic ladder, he told Hoover, because the Department of Commerce "was paying too little attention to his problems." Stung by this unexpected criticism, Hoover pointed to his department's numerous publications, which he argued were great aids to the Negro businessman. Not so, Barnett insisted. The literature was written in language that the Negro could not understand. "It's written in English," Hoover retorted. "Does the Negro speak a foreign language?"
Ibid., p. 26

Through Walter Newton, his political secretary, he insisted that the invitation [of Mrs. De Priest, the wife of a black congressman, to tea] had been an official duty and repeatedly denied the southerners' claim that it was an effort to promote social equality.
Ibid., p. 137

To counter the NAACP, the Society of Friends, Moton, and the AF of L, he began to insist that the overriding issue was the principle of an independent judiciary, which could render its judgments free from the pressure of political special-interest groups. To allow special- interest minorities to determine the selection of Supreme Court justices would inevitably lead to judicial chaos. It was not Parker's fitness for the position but the erroneous perception of his alleged politics that motivated the opposition, and that opposition stemmed from two politically active minorities: the blacks and union labor.
Ibid., p. 219. Hoover's nominee for the Supreme Court, John J. Parker, during a gubernatorial campaign in North Carolina said, that the Republican Party accepted the grandfather clause "in the spirit in which it was passed and the Negro has so accepted it" (five years after it had been knocked down by the Supreme Court) and "he [the Negro] has not yet reached that state in his development when he can share in the burdens and responsibilities of Government." This understandably had some blacks upset.

The "failure of my party to support me [in the nomination of Judge Parker]," he recalled, "greatly lowered the prestige of my administration.

Hoover seemed to place most of the blame on the NAACP. He not only suspected that it was financed by Democratic enemies, but he even had the Justice Department investigate it for radical or illegal activities. In his Memoirs he erroneously and unfairly claimed that Parker had been denounced "by a Negro association upon the wholly fictitious statement that, when twenty-one years old, he had made some remark bearing on white supremacy in the South."
Ibid., p. 229

The president and his intimate advisers felt "very gloomy" over the Parker defeat. It was a major blow to the president, one which he later admitted had greatly diminished the prestige of his administration. Partly as a result Hoover, who always found it difficult to relax, became more tense than ever. ...

Unfortunately in an unguarded outburst of anger Hoover soon revealed his "great disappointment . . . in finding political contacts so uncertain and political individuals so untrustworthy." The recipient of this indiscretion was Robert N. Hardy, a delegate to the American Bankers Association convention and close friend of Hoover's military aide, Col. Campbell B. Hodges, who had requested a brief, private interview. While shaking hands with the president, Hardy offered the remark that the American Bankers Association had supported him in the Parker fight, and Hoover shot back, "Judge Parker's rejection is an outrage. I don't know what the country is coming to if things are to be run by demagogues and Negro politicians."
Ibid., p. 232

* * *

President Hoover vetoed a bill that would have granted independence to the Philippines in 1933 (see here). The veto was overridden, but the Philippine government itself rejected the terms of the bill.

What is less well-known was the manner in which Hoover's top campaign managers allowed their thirst for an unprecedented victory to prompt them, on occasion, to utter lies and even racial slurs. Coming from the campaign leaders, these statements helped to lower the level of campaigning in the South. One of the worst precedents was set by Work himself. In response to allegations that Hoover's desegregation order proved that he favored social equality of the races, Work flatly denied that Hoover had ever issued any such desegregation order. Work's desire for southern white votes was never more blatant. "Changes in the location of these people was [sic] an administrative necessity," he lied, "and was [sic] done by some of his people, rather than by himself." Other top aides offered differing versions of the false denial: that the desegregation order had been only a temporary arrangement, or that whites working near the Negroes had complained of their proximity and brought about their dispersion in preference to integration. Twice Hoover himself succumbed to political expedience, when in response to a southern inquiry he denied that he favored segregation.

In October, as the campaign swung into its most heated phase, Gov. Theodore G. Bilbo of Mississippi did his part to provoke Hoover's supporters into blunders. When Bilbo proclaimed that Hoover had danced with a Negro woman, George Akerson, Hoover's political secretary, rose to the bait. Akerson had cultivated the support of the lily- whites in Mississippi prior to the convention, and in reaction to Bilbo's charge he lost his self-control and revealed the depth of his disrespect for blacks.

The woman to whom Bilbo referred was Mary Booze, a national Republican committeewoman from Mississippi and wife of Eugene P. Booze, leader of the economically independent Negro farming community of Mound Bayou, the settlement that Hoover had addressed in 1927. Hoover genuinely respected both Mary and Eugene Booze, and it is possible that he had them in mind when he informed Work of the need to replace [Perry] Howard with reputable black leaders. In any case, as the claim was false, Mary Booze immediately issued a public denial, but her denial was virtually lost in the furor over Akerson's response. Bilbo's claim that Hoover had danced with a Negro woman, Akerson retorted, was "the most indecent and unworthy statement in the whole of a bitter campaign." It was, furthermore, the most "untruthful and ignoble assertion ever made by a public man in the United States."
Hoover, Blacks, & Lily-Whites, pp. 86-7

Franklin D. Roosevelt

(32) Franklin D. Roosevelt : 1933-1945

Let us first examine that nightmare to many Americans, especially our friends in California, the growing population of Japanese on the Pacific slope. It is undoubtedly true that in the past many thousands of Japanese have legally or otherwise got into the United States, settled her and raised up children who became American citizens. Californians have properly objected on the sound basic ground that Japanese immigrants are not capable of assimilation into the American population. If this had throughout the discussion been made the sole ground for the American attitude all would have been well, and the people of Japan would today understand and accept our decision.

Anyone who has traveled in the Far East knows that the mingling of Asiatic blood with European or American blood produces, in nine cases out of ten, the most unfortunate results. There are throughout the East many thousands of so-called Eurasians — men and women and children partly of Asiatic blood and partly of European or American blood. These Eurasians are, as a common thing, looked down on and despised, both by the European and American who reside there, and by the pure Asiatic who lives there.

The argument works both ways. I know a great many cultivated, highly educated and delightful Japanese. They have all told me that they would feel the same repugnance and objection to having thousands of Americans settle in Japan and intermarry with the Japanese as I would feel in having large numbers of Japanese come over here and intermarry with the American population.

In this question, then, of Japanese exclusion from the United States, it is necessary only to advance the true reason — the undesirability of mixing the blood of the two peoples. This attitude would be fully understood in Japan, as they would have the same objection to Americans migrating to Japan in large numbers.

Unfortunately, Japanese exclusion has been urged for many other reasons — their ability to work for and live on much smaller wages than Americans — their willingness to work for longer hours, their driving out of native Americans from certain fruit growing or agricultural areas. The Japanese themselves do not understand these arguments and are offended by them.


The Japanese people and the American people are both opposed to intermarriage of the two races — there can be no quarrel there.
—"Roosevelt Says", Macon Telegraph, 30 April 1925. Roosevelt wrote 9 editorials for that paper, which are reprinted here. My thanks to David Neiwert and Todd Morman for leading me to this

When serving in the New York State Senate he scribbled a note in the margin of a speech to remind himself about a "story of a nigger." Telling jokes about how some "darky" contracted venereal disease was a habit never outgrown. He used the word "nigger" casually in private conversation and correspondence, writing Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt of his trip to Jamaica and how "a drink of coconut water, procured by a naked nigger boy from the top of the tallest tree, did much to make us forget the dust."
Nixon's Piano, p. 110

"Senator Harding is quoted as saying: 'Practically all we know now is that thousands of native Haitians have been killed by American Marines, and that many of our gallant men have sacrificed their lives at the behest of an executive department in order to establish laws drafted by an Assistant Secretary of the Navy to secure a vote in the League, and to continue, at the point of the bayonet, a military domination which at this moment requires the presence of no less than 3,000 of our armed men on that foreign soil'.

"Such a statement as that is the merest dribble, and if Senator Harding made it he did it in an apparently deliberate attempt to deceive, for even he, through his service in the United States Senate, must know why the Marines were sent and why they are kept there. It is in line with the same policy observed by President Roosevelt and President Taft, under which for years we have maintained and still are maintaining small detachments of Marines in Pekin and Nicaragua.

"Such tactics on the part of Senator Harding is another evidence of his 'win at any cost' policy of trying to rouse racial hatreds. It is happily true that this will neither disturb our sister republics nor deceive intelligent Americans."
—"'Merest Dribble,' Roosevelt Answers", New York Times, 18 September 1920, p. 3

Desperate to deflect some of the criticism [of the invitation of Mrs. De Priest to tea by Mrs. Hoover], Col. Henry W. Anderson circulated the rumor that Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York State had extended similar invitations to Negroes. Already hard at work on his own southern strategy for 1932, Roosevelt quickly demanded and received a retraction.
Hoover, Blacks, & Lily-Whites, p. 137

After his inauguration as president in 1933, Roosevelt immediately banned black reporters from his news conferences. This policy continued for the next 11 years.
—"Getting to Know the Racial Views of Our Past Presidents: What About FDR?", Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 38, Winter 2002-2003, p. 44

A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, proposed a protest march on Washington in the summer of 1942 to protest employment discrimination in U.S. defense industries. Preoccupied with World War II, President Roosevelt did not want the nation drawn into a domestic battle on race. He summoned Randolph to the White House in an effort to head off Randolph's planned protest. Randolph had proposed that if the president issued an executive order banning employment discrimination in defense industries, he would call off the mass protest. Roosevelt balked saying that if he issued an order benefiting black workers, other ethnic groups would also demand action. In what the White House viewed as an act of an "uppity nigger," Randolph told the president, "There is no use in my remaining with you." Randolph left the meeting and returned to New York to continue his work to organize the demonstration.
Ibid., pp. 45-46. It is unclear whether the phrase "uppity nigger" is a direct quote from Roosevelt, someone else in the White House, or simply the author of the article's own words. Roosevelt did back down and issued an executive order that created the Fair Employment Practices Committee.

* * *

Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans

Harry S. Truman

(33) Harry S. Truman : 1945-1953

Once in the White House the first lady trimmed domestic staff in economy's name by dismissing the whites and keeping the blacks—a decision that devastated two Irish maids, Nora and Annie. Eleanor again took pride in her "all darky" household, assembling what Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman called, after a White House meal, "an army of coons."
Nixon's Piano, p. 116

The FBI then looked into "Pushing Clubs" whose black members supposedly went "about pushing white persons in public places . . . shadowed or escorted by a sufficient number of other colored people who protect them, subdue the resisting whites with force, promote a race riot if possible, and blame the white people for originating the clash." Harry Truman, among those who believed this absurdity, ordered daughter Margaret not to ride the Washington streetcar downtown on Thursdays because that was the day "they push people off." After extensive investigation the FBI admitted that no such pushing clubs existed.
Ibid., p. 141. O'Reilly mentions in an endnote that "Truman later denied having made the remark."

Senator Truman accepted separate-but-equal doctrines and often spoke out against "social equality" (still the day's great racial bugaboo). "The highest types of Negro leaders," he told the National Colored Democratic Association in 1940, "say quite frankly that they prefer the society of their own people." If he occasionally balanced such words with a call for "political equality," he had no timeline for that goal and never spoke with a sense of urgency or underlying moral commitment. "Regarding the negro problem," he wrote one constituent in 1942, "it is a most difficult problem to discuss because of its repercussions politically, and I would prefer not to discuss it with you until I have the chance to give it a great deal of thought, which I have been doing for the last ten years."
Ibid., p. 146

Truman called [New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.] "that damn nigger preacher"
Ibid., p. 149

[F]ormer President Truman ... dismissed the sit-ins as Communist inspired and advised "the Negro . . . [to] behave himself."
Ibid., p. 185

Former President Harry S. Truman said yesterday he did not believe white persons should marry Negroes. He said that racial intermarriages ran counter to teachings of the Bible.


He was asked whether he thought racial intermarriages would become widespread in the United States.

"I hope not," said Mr. Truman. "I don't believe in it. What's that word about four-feet long? Miscegenation?"

He turned to the reporter and asked, "Would you want your daughter to marry a Negro?"

When the reporter responded that he would want his daughter to marry the man she loved, Mr. Truman said, "You haven't answered my question."

"Well, she won't love someone who isn't her color," the former President continued. "You'll edit the man she goes out with. I did, and mine married the right man."
—"Truman Opposes Biracial Marriage", New York Times, 12 September 1963, p. 30

I think one man is just as good as another so long as he's honest and decent and not a nigger or a Chinaman. Uncle Will says that the Lord made a white man from dust, a nigger from mud, then threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman. He does hate Chinese and Japs. So do I. It is race prejudice I guess. But I am strongly of the opinion that negroes ought to be in Africa, yellow men in Asia, and white men in Europe and America.
—Harry Truman to Bess Wallace, 22 June 1911. Printed in Robert H. Ferrell, ed., Dear Bess: The Letters from Harry to Bess Truman, p. 39

Alonzo Hamby, Truman's most authoritative biographer, notes the former president's continuing occasional use of racial epithets in the 1960s, such as telling a group of college students that "personally I don't care to associate with niggers.
—Thomas Borstelmann, "Jim Crow's Coming Out: Race Relations and American Foreign Policy in the Truman Years", 29 Presidential Studies Quarterly 3, September 1999, p. 554 fn

Truman literally learned at his mother's knee to share the South's view of the War Between the States. He grew up detesting the meddlesome abolitionists, decried the racial experimentation of Reconstruction, and sneered at Thaddeus Stevens, that "crippled moron."
—William E. Leuchtenburg, "The Conversion of Harry Truman", 42 American Heritage 7, November 1991

[I]n a letter to his wife in 1939, he referred to "nigger picnic day."

...Truman had made a point of announcing that he did not question Jim Crow. In 1940 he told the National Colored Democratic Association of Chicago: "I wish to make it clear that I am not appealing for social equality of the Negro. The Negro himself knows better than that."

In one respect, his opponents in the South misperceived Truman, for he never wholly abandoned the racist view he had absorbed from his family or his sympathy for the Southern tradition of localism. Even after blacks hailed him as their champion, he continued to sprinkle his private conversation with terms such as nigger. He not only opposed the 1960s sit-ins but thought they might well be Communist- inspired. In 1961 he told reporters that Northerners who went south on Freedom Rides were meddling outsiders bent on stirring up mischief where they did not belong, and in 1965 he called the Selma to Montgomery march "silly" and Martin Luther King, Jr., a "troublemaker."

[H]is outward support for causes favored by most blacks appears to have been not a matter of conscience but rather a calculated appeal to black voters, who at the time were an important swing vote for which both parties competed. For example, when the antilynching bill came before the Senate, Truman told a southern Senate colleague, "You know I am against this bill, but if it comes to a vote, I'll have to vote for it. All my sympathies are with you but the Negro vote in Kansas City and St. Louis is too important."

While Truman openly supported political and economic equality for blacks, he often spoke out against "social equality." For example, Truman believed that managers of a hotel or a restaurant had the right to refuse service to anyone they pleased. He told supporters that if a Negro ever tried to order a meal in a restaurant in his hometown of Independence, he "would be booted out." In a 1940 speech to the National Colored Democratic Association, he told the gathering that "the highest types of Negro leaders say quite frankly that they prefer the society of their own people."
—"The Transformation of the Racial Views of Harry Truman", Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 26, Winter 1999/2000, p. 29

In 1948 Truman issued the revolutionary Executive Order 9981 outlawing segregation in the armed forces. Yet Truman issued the order only after A. Philip Randolph threatened a march on Washington. ... Randolph's ... threat to mount a protest march in Washington on the segregation in the armed forces occurred in an election year when the black vote in the North was important to Truman's reelection prospects. A. Philip Randolph met with President Truman on March 22. He told the president that "I can tell you the mood among Negroes of this country is that they will never bear arms again until all forms of bias and discrimination are abolished." Truman responded, "I wish you hadn't made that statement. I don't like it at all." Truman stormed out of the meeting.

That spring, Randolph testified before Congress on the issue of segregation in the armed forces and received favorable publicity from the national media. He also picketed the White House. Truman knew that a massive protest march in Washington against his policies would cost him tens of thousands of black voters in northern cities that he needed in order to win the election. Truman finally caved in and signed the executive order integrating the military.
Ibid., p. 30

* * *

[W]hen Truman assumed the presidency, very few Americans knew much about the new president, particularly his views on race relations. Truman's sister assured a white reporter, "Don't worry, Harry is no more for nigger equality than any of us."
—"Getting to Know the Racial Views of Our Past Presidents: What About FDR?", p. 46

Dwight D. Eisenhower

(34) Dwight D. Eisenhower : 1953-1961

He was a voluntarist and habitually uncomfortable in black company. On those rare occasions where he addressed an African-American audience he would take off his glasses and ad lib, saying, "Now, you people have to be patient." Having spent forty years in a segregated Army, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1948 that segregation should continue at the platoon level and below. He told "nigger jokes" to the men around him on the campaign trail and later in the White House, jokes he picked up from his golfing friends at the Bobby Jones club in Augusta, Georgia.
Nixon's Piano, pp. 165-66

The school cases themselves, Eisenhower continued, "tended to becloud the original decision [Plessy] of 'equal but separate' facilities. One of these decisions, I am told, even held that a Negro in graduate school attending exactly the same classes as whites, but separated from them by some kind of railing, was held to be the victim of discrimination and could not be so separated from the white students." Graduate school admission was the "one place" where Eisenhower "thought the South . . . wrong." He told HEW Secretary Oveta Culp Hobby, herself an ardent segregationist, "that the graduate schools of the recognized universities should establish disinterested boards to decide by examination . . . the eligibility of all students." To separate black graduate students from white within the classroom, the president had no objection to "some kind of railing." Anyone who objected to this Jim Crow prop was an "extremist."
Ibid., p. 170

Eisenhower was not certain that the nation was marching forward or even that it should. "The entire situation distresses me profoundly," he told Atlanta Constitution publisher Ralph McGill. "There doesn't seem to be any solution in sight—for the simple reason that not even the principles of political and economic equality will be accepted in some of our states."
Ibid., p. 186

It was exactly a week after Little Rock—the morning of October 1, 1957. That afternoon President Eisenhower was scheduled to meet with a committee of governors, headed by Governor Luther Hodges of North Carolina, that had been deputed by the Governors' Conference meeting at Sea Island, Georgia, to work out, if possible, a withdrawal of the federal troops sent by Eisenhower to enforce the federal court order integrating Central High School in Little Rock. We were discussing a couple of memoranda I had written to him on initiatives he might take with this group, and with the country at large.

He stressed repeatedly two themes that were already familiar: he was determined to stay within the bounds of his constitutional powers, and he was determined not to take sides on the merits of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, that had held in 1954 that school segregation was a violation of the Constitution. But then he dropped a bombshell.

"As a matter of fact," he said, "I personally think the decision was wrong."
—Arthur Larson, Eisenhower: The President Nobody Knew, p. 124

Immediately after making his flat statement that he thought the decision was wrong, the President went on to add that the Court should have gone no further than to require equal opportunities, and that to require integration was not necessary. This impelled me to launch into a presentation of the central rationale of the decision, which was that segregation has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of Negro children because of the feeling of inferiority generated by the very fact of separation. The earlier doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson, which had stood ever since 1896, and which had held that the Constitution was satisfied if "separate but equal" educational facilities were provided for Negroes, was overruled on the ground that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." President Eisenhower listened patiently to this exposition, and then replied: "Yes, I am thoroughly familiar with that argument, but I do not find it compelling."
Ibid., pp. 125-26.

My first attempt at a passage on race relations [in the 1956 Acceptance Speech] began by referring to "that ugly complex of injustices called discrimination." This phrase was thrown out immediately. Eisenhower told me that he did not like the word "discrimination" and, indeed, he seemed uneasy about even using the word "racial."

Nevertheless, I persisted in trying to get a strong and unequivocal condemnation of racial discrimination into the speech. On July 20, and again on July 26, I brought him a paragraph ("Alternative draft A") beginning: "Unjust discrimination of every kind, including racial, must be eliminated through intelligent understanding and vigorous work. Great progress toward social equality in political and economic fields has been made. It must and will continue."

He stressed again his distaste for the word "discrimination." He added that, as one who had lived in the South, he wanted to be sure to make it clear that social equality of political and economic opportunity did not mean necessarily that everyone has to mingle socially—"or that a Negro should court my daughter."

There it was. The oldest cliché in the race relations dialogue, a cliché that was threadbare even at the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. From that time on, I realized that this man, whose views on so many other subjects were easy for me to identify myself with, had views on race relations that to me were distinctly old-fashioned or of another generation, and not a little Southern. Indeed, he himself made a practice, particularly when trying to conciliate some of the more intractable Southern Senators, of stressing the fact that he was born in the South and had lived in the South a considerable part of his life.
Ibid., pp. 126-27.

From all this there emerges the inescapable conclusion that President Eisenhower, during his presidential tenure, was neither emotionally nor intellectually in favor of combating segregation in general. It was not merely that he thought the Supreme Court school decision was wrong; he thought that the underlying theory on which it was based was also wrong. That theory was that separation and segregation were themselves hurtful, and that they may affect the hearts and minds of the persons subjected to segregation in a way unlikely ever to be undone.
Ibid., p. 128

The President had a program for discussing problems with groups of people at occasional White House dinners. When the Brown case was under submission, he invited me to one of them ... and I accepted. There were several people present at this particular one. I was the ranking guest, and as such sat at the right of the President and within speaking distance of John W. Davis, the counsel for the segregation states. During the dinner, the President went to considerable lengths to tell me what a great man Mr. Davis was. At the conclusion of the meal, in accordance with custom, we filed out of the dining room to another room where coffee and an after-dinner drink were served. The President, of course, precedes, and on this occasion he took me by the arm, and, as we walked along, speaking of the Southern states in the segregation cases, he said, "These are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes."

...Shortly thereafter, the Brown case was decided, and with it went our cordial relations.
The Memoirs of Earl Warren, pp. 291-92

Segregation in the schools led to Eisenhower's first civil rights crisis. Truman's Justice Department had filed a friend-of- the-court brief in December 1952 challenging the separate but equal doctrine, and six months later the Supreme Court "invited" Attorney General Herbert Brownell to submit arguments in Brown v. Board of Education and other pending cases. ... [Eisenhower] adopted what he considered a posture of strict neutrality, telling Brownell to write a brief that took no position on segregation pro or con.
—Kenneth O'Reilly, "Racial Integration: The Battle General Eisenhower Chose Not to Fight", Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Winter 1997/1998, pp. 111-112

He promised Governor Byrnes that the administration would not enforce school desegregation "with all deliberate speed," as required by a subsequent court decision. Instead the administration would "make haste slowly." When Attorney General Brownell presented the Justice Department's brief to the Supreme Court the President added, he was "appearing as a lawyer, not as a member of he Eisenhower [team]."
Ibid., p. 112

When the [Montgomery bus] boycott ended with the Supreme Court upholding a special three-judge panel's decision against segregation on intrastate buses, Eisenhower was crushed. "In some of these things," he said, "[I] was more of a 'States Righter' than the Supreme Court." The President believed that the decision was such a backward step that "even the so-called great liberals are going to have to take a second look at the whole thing."
Ibid., p. 113

John F. Kennedy

(35) John F. Kennedy : 1961-1963

John F. Kennedy's values and opinions on racial issues were grounded in the nineteenth century. Profiles in Courage, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book completed in 1955 while he recovered from surgery, took a neo-Wilsonian slant on Reconstruction. Dismissing Thaddeus Stevens ("crippled, fanatical") and Charles Sumner ("the South's most implacable enemy"), Kennedy condemned the era as "a black nightmare . . . nourished by Federal bayonets."
Nixon's Piano, p. 189

Eventually the [Civil Rights Commission] recommended that the White House withhold federal funds from Mississippi, prompting the president to present himself as protector of the White South against the "draconian" commission.
Ibid., p. 205

When Harris Wofford briefed the president on the Freedom Riders' plans to continue their journey [after becoming victims of mob violence in Alabama], he received a startling order. "Tell them to call it off!" "I don't think anybody's going to stop them right now," Wofford responded. Yet the president persisted in his effort to obstruct the civil rights movement.
Ibid., p. 213

That night, however, fanatics threw bombs at Martin Luther King's motel room and the home of King's younger brother, A. D. King. Rioting rocked the city's black neighborhoods the next day. ... The president speculated (however briefly) that George Wallace might have been right in his outlandish charge that the bombs were thrown by "Negro extremists" who, knowing the Klan would be blamed, hoped to bring Birmingham to a boil. "It could be Black Muslims," JFK offered. RFK's simple response ("I doubt it") ended that Oval Office fantasy.
Ibid., p. 222

Mr. President, in some 24 states there are all over the country, there are miscegenation laws in various forms. California courts once found them unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment and said that marriage is a fundamental right of free men. Now, in your crusade against racial discriminations for all races, will you seek to abrogate these laws and how would you go about it?

A. Well, I, the law would, if there was a marriage of the kind you described, I would assume that and if any legal action was taken against the party then I, they would have a relief, it would seem to me, in the courts, and it would be carried, I presume, to the higher courts depending on the judgment so that the laws themselves would be affected by the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court.

So that I think that there are legal remedies for any abuses in this field now available. Miss Craig?

Q. Cannot the Department of Justice take some discrimination cases to the courts themselves?

A. I'm not sure they could as you describe it because I'm not sure they would be a party in the case. It would probably be an order to have the case heard and this is a legal matter which I'm not familiar with and I speak with some, the valor of ignorance, as I'm not a lawyer.

I would think that they would have to, there would have to be a party at interest who would bring the suit. But this is a matter which I'd be glad to have the Attorney General or the Solicitor speak to you about personally, Miss Craig.
—"Transcript of the President's News Conference on Foreign and Domestic Matters", New York Times, 2 August 1963, p. 10. As an interesting aside, Attorney General Robert Kennedy was involved—albeit tangentially—in the case Loving v. Virginia. Mildred Loving wrote a letter to him about her case, and he referred her to the ACLU (see Phyl Newbeck, Virginia Hasn't Always Been for Lovers, p. 135)

The analysis of Kennedy's public papers for this article relies on a targeted computer word search of Kennedy's attention to race during his tenure. For example, if a speech otherwise devoted to race contains a digression on some other issue, the digression is not included. From this, it emerges that in Kennedy's first two years in office, he paid minimal attention to racial issues—5 and 6 percent of the material in his public statements made explicit reference to race. In his final year, this rose to 13 percent.
—Daniel Stevens, "Public Opinion and Public Policy: The Case of Kennedy and Civil Rights", 32 Presidential Studies Quarterly 1, March 2002, p. 117

Figure 1 ... has two measures of the monthly attention and support Kennedy gave to civil rights—with and without answers to press questions. It makes little difference.

The figure supports the impression gained from the simple count of material; Kennedy paid little attention to civil rights before 1963... .

Lyndon B. Johnson

(36) Lyndon B. Johnson : 1963-1969

"It wasn't fair for a few irresponsible agitators to spoil it for me and for all the rest of the Negroes, who are basically peace- loving and nice," he said. "A few hoodlums sparked by outside agitators who moved around from city to city making trouble. Spoiling all the progress I've made in these last few years."
Nixon's Piano, p. 256. Here Johnson is bemoaning the Watts riot in Los Angeles that closely followed the signing of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

"[R]emember the Negroes in Reconstruction who got elected to Congress and then ran into the chamber with bare feet and white women"
Ibid., p. 275

Johnson did not consciously discriminate against black youths, but he did not appoint blacks to paid supervisory capacities, and he was interested only in helping black youths economically, not in altering traditional social patterns. In a special report to his superiors, Johnson wrote: "The racial question during the past one hundred years in Texas . . . has resolved itself to a definite system of customs which cannot be up-set over night. So long as these customs are observed, there is peace and harmony between the races in Texas, but it is exceedingly difficult to step over a line so long established, and to up-set a custom so deeply rooted, by any act which would be shockingly against precedence . . ." Johnson's was a paternalistic administration committed to the status quo in regard to race relations.
—Monroe Billington, "Lyndon B. Johnson and Blacks: The Early Years", 62 Journal of Negro History 1, January 1977, p. 31. This is in reference to Johnson's stint as director of Texas' National Youth Administration.

[V]iewed from the perspective of his voting record alone, Johnson was a traditional southern congressman on the subject of civil rights for blacks. He voted against an anti-lynching bill in 1940, as well as anti-poll tax bills in 1942, 1943, 1945, and 1947. During the Second World War, when the Congress desired to provide more convenient absentee ballots for overseas soldiers, he voted with southerners who favored a state (as opposed to a federal) ballot, so that the states could control the voting process (i.e. regulate the black vote). In 1946 when Congress was considering a federal school-lunch program, he voted "No" on an antidiscrimination amendment offered by Adam Clayton Powell of Harlem, and in that same year he voted with those southerners who successfully employed parliamentary tactics to kill a bill to create a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC).
Ibid., p. 33. Johnson did not actually vote on the 1947 bill, but he was opposed to it.

When he ran for the Senate in 1948, he opposed President Harry Truman's announced civil rights program. Opening his senatorial bid on May 22 before a large crowd in Austin and over a twenty- station radio hookup, Johnson said: "The Civil Rights Program is a farce and a sham-an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty. I am opposed to that program. I have voted AGAINST the so- called poll tax repeal bill; the poll tax should be repealed by those states which enacted them. I have voted AGAINST the so-called antilynching bill; the state can, and DOES, enforce the law against murder. I have voted AGAINST the FEPC; if a man can tell you whom you must hire, he can tell you whom you can't hire."
Ibid., p. 34

Throughout his first term in the Senate, Johnson continued to hold the same public stand in regard to civil rights for blacks which he had previously held. In May 1949 he voted "Yes" on a discriminatory public accommodations amendment proposed by Mississippi Senator James Eastland to the perennial District of Columbia home rule bill. In 1950 he voted to table an amendment to outlaw poll taxes; he voted down the line with his southern colleagues against an FEPC measure the Senate was considering; he voted to table an amendment to prohibit racial discrimination in unions; and he supported an unsuccessful amendment to a military draft law providing that a young man have the right to choose to serve in a unit composed only of members of his own race.
Ibid., p. 40

When the Supreme Court in 1954 handed down its famous decision requiring the desegregation of the nation's schools, southerners in Congress circulated a "Southern Manifesto" expressing their opposition. Every senator from the old Confederacy except Johnson signed the protest document. He was "firmly opposed to forced integration," and he believed that "the states should be allowed to work out their own solutions to problems coming within their proper jurisdiction," but he could not sign the document.
Ibid., p. 41

He told reporters, "I am not a civil rights advocate." A few months later when a well-known reporter entitled a nationally-syndicated column "Lyndon Pushes Civil Rights," Johnson protested that he was not involved in planning civil rights legislation. Johnson was upset that a nationally-circulated newspaper column so clearly identified him with efforts on Capitol Hill to legislate in this area.

Richard M. Nixon

(37) Richard M. Nixon : 1969-1974

Things got no better at the Gridiron that night. Absolutely determined that a good time would be had by all, and equally determined to bring down the hose, Richard Nixon appeared as the final act. The curtain pulled back to reveal the president and Vice President Spiro Agnew seated at two modest black pianos (Dwight Chapin at the White House had requested grand pianos or at least baby grands but the Statler Hilton could only manage uprights). This was the first time a chief executive had appeared on the Gridiron stage, and Nixon opened by asking: "What about this 'southern strategy' we hear so often?" "Yes suh, Mr. President," Agnew replied, "Ah agree with you completely on yoah southern strategy." The dialect, as Wilkins observed, got the biggest boffo.

After more banter with the "darky" Agnew, Nixon opened the piano duet with Franklin Roosevelt's favorite song ("Home on the Range"), then Harry Truman's ("Missouri Waltz"), then Lyndon Johnson's ("The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You"). Agnew drowned him out a few bars into each with a manic "Dixie" on his piano, and the Gridiron crew got louder and louder.
Nixon's Piano, p. 7

Kissinger's ego was big enough, in any event, to produce a jealous fit over the excellent press coverage given to Secretary of State William Roger's African trip. A phone call from Nixon calmed him down: "Henry, let's leave the niggers to Bill and we'll take care of the rest."

Those remarks were no aberration. Once in Key Biscayne, home to one black (the island's "garden man"), Kissinger and staff worked on a draft of the first presidential message to Congress on foreign policy while Nixon was at play with Bebe Rebozo and Robert Ablanalp on Rebozo's yellow houseboat. When telephoning ship-to-shore for an update, Nixon told Kissinger to "make sure there's something in it for the jigs." A minute later he asked again: "Henry . . . is there something in it for the jigs?" Kissinger assured him that there was. The president constantly used the words "nigger" and "jigaboo" in his phone calls... .
Ibid., p. 292

The president once told Haldeman "that there has never in history been an adequate black nation, and they are the only race of which this is true. Says Africa is hopeless."
Ibid., p. 292 endnote 28

When criticism from civil rights groups and other liberals continued and a few administration officials responded defensively, emphasizing the suits that were moving forward, Nixon exploded. "Our people have got to quit bragging about school desegregation. We do what the law requires—nothing more. This is politics, and I'm the judge of schools; believe me, all this bragging doesn't help. It doesn't cool the blacks. . . . They must not—they will not—be sucked into praising 'our great record.'"
Ibid., pp. 300-01

Nixon found positive results in the Savannah News and other southern newspapers that stopped running "Tricky Dick" pieces in favor of stories with headlines like "Desegregation Deadlines Won't Be Enforced." When Dent showed him this one he wrote a two-word reply. "Excellent job."
Ibid., p. 301.

In response to a South Carolina story predicting (again) that he would lose the South unless he stopped HEW and the Civil Rights Division and federal judges from wrecking the schools, the president turned to Haldeman and Ehrlichman. "What is our answer to this? . . . Can't we do or say something to bring some sense into the dialogue?—I just disagree completely with the Courts naive stupidity—& think we have a duty to explore ways to mitigate it." "I was determined," he later explained, "that the many young liberal lawyers . . . [not] run wild through the South enforcing compliance with extreme or punitive requirements they had formulated in Washington."

The palace guard responded by reading the riot act to department heads, repeating the president's instruction for the upteenth time: "Nothing more is to be done in the South beyond what the law requires." At that the departments were told not to open offices on site and instead work out of the District (or if absolutely necessary motel rooms) and otherwise keep "the lowest possible profile." Ehrlichman got his orders from the top: "Ride herd" on Justice's Civil Rights Division, HEW and other agencies ("vigilante squads") that took the law too seriously.

Nixon's hands-on approach again led to personal involvement in the purge of civil rights advocates. Horace Bonahan, a black man with Civil Service protection, was an early target. As acting regional director of the Office of Civil Rights in Atlanta, Bonahan kept the NAACP posted and displayed other tendencies "to go off on his own." When Stanley Pottinger got him out of the civil rights field (by arranging a job change to the Maritime Commission in the Commerce Department), Nixon had a typically brief response: "Excellent job." Enthusiastic civil rights lawyers in the Justice Department, like Texas-based Joseph Rich, were ordered back to Washington and fired. "In line with your instructions . . . over the telephone," as the White House counsel's office assured the president. "Good was the only response.
Ibid., pp. 301-02

In much the same manner in which he had forced Panetta's resignation (and also EEOC chair Clifford Alexander's), Nixon drover Father Theodore Hesburgh from the Civil Rights Commission chair by criticizing the way he waffled on the busing issue. Busing had emerged as the most divisive and therefore the most useful school desegregation issue for the president. It was also the specific issue that led to Panetta's ouster. Inspired by Alexander Bickel's New Republic article arguing that busing was self-defeating, Nixon drew a line in the sand. "I have decided to reverse this process. We will take heat from the professional civil righter—but education comes first. I want Panetta's resignation on my desk Monday (as a starter)." "This is my decision," he reminded his staff. "If there are those in the Administration who disagree they can resign."
Ibid., pp. 303-04

"What we need now is not just speaking out against busing," Nixon told Congress. "We need action to stop it." "The president pressed full court on bussing," one White House aide said, moving beyond rhetoric to a game plan that included a moratorium. "Whether Congress passed the bussing moratorium was not as important as that the American people understood that Richard Nixon opposed busing as much as they did," Ehrlichman again elaborated, for emphasis. Charles Colson pointed out a potential problem nonetheless: White southern backlash was possible because busing had already begun in that region and thus the South might conclude that the moratorium would only stop busing in the North. Nixon then suggested a constitutional amendment outlawing busing forever and told Ehrlichman to "put some of your boys on this."
Ibid., pp. 304-05

"Well, it's a good thing," he said after discovering that federal scholarship programs for blacks did exist. "They're just down out of the trees."
Ibid., p. 311

Nixon told Ehrlichman that the Great Society's programs were a waste on every level, that at best "America's blacks could only marginally benefit . . . because blacks were genetically inferior to whites."
Ibid., p. 327

The appearance of public equality, he had concluded, was essential to the public order—particularly in maintaining peace in urban black ghettoes—and the appearance of domestic calm and concern was essential to his own political standing. Actually, he believed black people were genetically inferior to whites. Talking about welfare reform with Moynihan out of the room, Nixon told Haldeman and Ehrlichman: "You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to. . . ." In private he would assert that there had never in history been a successful or adequate black nation. "Africa is hopeless," he told Ehrlichman. "The worst is Liberia, which we built. . . ."
—Richard Reeves, President Nixon: Alone in the White House, p. 110

On May 24, 1969, Haldeman had written: "Went through his whole thesis re: blacks and their genetic inferiority and the hopelessness of any early change in the situation. Have to wait for in- breeding—in the meantime just take care of them and help the few good ones to rise up. I firmly believe he's right." That entry was excised before publication. ... Finally, nine years later, in 1982, during a two-hour conversation, Nixon told me that he thought "yellow" Asians were genetically superior to Caucasians, at least in intellect, and that blacks were markedly inferior to both Asians and Caucasians. He said, then, that he expected Asians to dominate the world by the middle of the twenty-first century. At home, he offered these thoughts: "What people resent is this business of some colleges pushing blacks too far for their own good, making them doctors and everything else. . . . The racism has receded, I think, but it's there and it always will be there. . . . A lot of people are just as racist as now, but it's not fashionable anymore—and I think that's damned important. You can't talk about blacks like you once did."
Ibid., p. 110 fn

RICHARD NIXON: We're going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family—let people like Pat Moynihan and [special consultant] Leonard Garment and others believe in all that crap. But I don't believe in it. Work, work—throw 'em off the rolls. That's the key.

JOHN D. EHRLICHMAN: The key is Reagan's neutrality. If Reagan blasts this thing and says it's not strong enough on the work- requirement end, that will be very bad.

NIXON: I have the greatest affection for them [blacks], but I know they're not going to make it for 500 years. They aren't. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they're dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don't live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.
—James Warren, "All the Philosopher-King's Men", Harper's February 2000, p. 22. Part of a conversation between Nixon, John D. Ehrlichman, and H. R. Haldeman.

NIXON: The Italians. We mustn't forget the Italians. Must do something for them. The, ah, we forget them. They're not, we, ah, they're not like us. Difference is they smell different, they look different, act different. After all, you can't blame them. Oh no. Can't do that. They've never had the things we've had.

EHRLICHMAN: That's right.

NIXON: Of course, the trouble is . . . the trouble is, you can't find one that's honest.
—Recorded in the Nixon Tapes. See, for example, Cristogianni Borsella, On Persecution, Identity & Activism, p. 109

The second point is that coming out—coming back and saying that black Americans aren't as good as black Africans—most of them, basically, are just out of the trees. Now, let's face it, they are.
—Richard Nixon speaking with Donald Rumsfeld, 22 July 1971. Quoted in "Rumsfeld denies backing Nixon racial remarks unearthed in old White House tapes", article, 11 January 2001

One theme was that Nixon had always been a racist but did not know the correct derogatory words until he moved from California to New York in the 1960s. After Nixon had referred to blacks as "jungle bunnies" during one of his telephone talks with Kissinger in 1969, Kissinger whimsically explained to an aide that Nixon had seen Hair while in New York "and had gotten educated." (One scene in the play consists of a recitation, put to music, of various derogatory and slang phrases for blacks, including "jungle bunny.")
—Seymour Hersh, "The United States President Who Liked to Call Blacks 'Jigaboos'", Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 23, Spring 1999, p. 138

When considering an African American for the post [of United Nations Ambassador], Nixon says, "We don't owe the blacks a damn thing, anyway."

[Chuck] Colson [Nixon's chief counsel] agrees: "Oh, hell no. As a matter of fact, Mr. President, I think it's a bad signal to put a black in the cabinet."
—John Cochran and Jennifer Parker, "Nixon Tapes Reveal Anti-Semitic Remarks", ABC article, 11 July 2007

[S]oon after Nixon's inauguration the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) reversed the policies it had followed since 1965 by requesting a slowdown under desegregation guidelines for school districts in South Carolina and Mississippi. In a parallel shift, the Department of Justice also reversed itself in 1969, arguing for the first time since the 1954 Brown decision for a delay in court-ordered school desegregation. In 1970, Nixon forced the resignation of Leon E. Panetta, director of HEW's Office for Civil Rights, for resisting the administration's policy of easing school desegregation guidelines.
—Hugh Davis Graham, "Richard Nixon and Civil Rights: Explaining an Enigma", 26 Presidential Studies Quarterly 1, Winter 1996, p. 94

In February 1970, discussing southern school desegregation: Nixon "feels we have to take some leadership to try to reverse Court decisions that have forced integration too far, too fast. Has told [Attorney General] Mitchell to file another case, and keep filing until we get a reversal." Nixon told Ehrlichman to move fast on developing a constitutional amendment banning school busing for racial balance. "Feels we should bite bullet now and hard, if its [sic] called racism, so be it! Feels we have to take a black or white position (didn't even notice the pun), can't be on both sides because we just get hit from both and please no one. Feels the only good thing we've done in this area is to fire Panetta. Says an act is better than a statement, because it comes through loud and clear."

...Nixon was "very upset that he had been led to approve the IRS ruling about no tax exemptions for segregated private schools." Nixon read Dent's memo analyzing problems with the South and issued a "whole series of orders about no more catering to liberals and integrationists to our political disadvantage. . . . Wants me to tell all staff P[resident] is conservative, does not believe in integration, will carry out the law, nothing more." On federal enforcement of school desegregation: "Had me tell Mitchell not to open Southern offices and not to send his men down en masse, only when needed on a spot basis. Also set policy that we'll use no federal troops or marshals to enforce, must be done by locals." "We take a very conservative civil rights line," Nixon instructed.
Ibid., pp. 98-99. Here Graham is quoting from The Haldeman Diaries.

Gerald Ford

(38) Gerald Ford : 1974-1977

The president also ordered a study to document busing's harmful effects (for use in argument before the courts) and submitted legislation to Congress restricting the judiciary's use of "radical remedies" when addressing the problem of segregation in the schools. He said the purpose of the School Desegregation Standards and Assistance Bill was to protect "community control of schools."
Nixon's Piano, p. 334

Jimmy Carter

(39) Jimmy Carter : 1977-1981

Carter also sent mixed messages during the 1976 push for the White House. The most controversial were his remarks about busing and use of the phrase "ethnic purity" to describe white-ethnic enclaves and neighborhood schools. The remark, originally reported on April 2 by New York Daily News political correspondent Sam Roberts, was buried on page 134 (paragraph sixteen). Primaries in New York and Wisconsin came and went before CBS News picked it up, and correspondent Ed Bradley, then traveling with the campaign team, asked Carter about it in Indianapolis. Follow-up questions in South Bend and Pittsburgh led to additional warnings from the candidate about "alien groups" and "black intrusion." "Interjecting into [a community] a member of another race" or "a diametrically opposite kind of family" or a "different kind of person" threatened what Carter called the admirable value of "ethnic purity."
Nixon's Piano, p. 339

To his credit, Carter continued to speak to African American audiences. Polls showed the overwhelming majority of these voters supporting Sanders, and Kirbo argued that Carter should just cut his losses and focus his energy elsewhere. But Carter persisted. He also never once made a public comment that could be literally construed as racist.

Even so, the comments Carter did make were often worded in ways that implied, without directly stating, racist sentiments. In addition to implying that he supported [George] Wallace, for example, he also forthrightly opposed school busing. Promising once to appoint blacks to policy-making positions, he qualified his promise with the insulting caveat that he would not choose "any of the so-called black leaders who have in the past taken money to deliver the black vote." e also courted — and received — endorsements from acknowledged segregationists like Georgia Speaker of the House Roy Harris and even former governor Marvin Griffin.
—Kenneth Morris, Jimmy Carter, American Moralist, p. 187

On June 21, 1970, Carter told a Georgia reporter that if he received the Democratic nomination for governor, "I would run as a local Georgia conservative Democrat.... I'm basically a redneck." Nine weeks later, he went out of his way to deny having said that the Supreme Court decisions on school integration and other issues were "morally and legally correct."

In the runoff primary, Carter received only 7 percent of the black vote, against 93 percent for Sanders. His appeal to black voters had not been helped by his well-publicized visit to a whites-only private academy five days before primary day. The school had been established to avoid school integration, and when Carter told the press that he was there to "reassure Georgians of my support for private education," the implication was clear. Carter also ran with a promise to invite George Wallace to speak before the state legislature, and with the endorsement of Roy Harris, a virulent segregationist who had run Wallace's Presidential campaigns in Georgia, and who had organized the state's White Citizens' Council.
—Steven Brill, "Jimmy Carter's Pathetic Lies", Harper's, March 1976, p. 79. This article was denounced by Carter as "the most remarkable piece of fiction I've ever read", and his campaign issued a detailed rebuttal (which I have not read). See Phil Stanford, "'The Most Remarkable Piece of Fiction' Jimmy Carter Ever Read", 15 Columbia Journalism Review 2, July/August 1976, p. 13. A brief search did not reveal any other source for Carter's denial of agreeing with the Supreme Court integration decisions.

Carter said he would be against any job-opportunity plan that required the hiring of specific percentages of persons from minority groups, and he thinks the union seniority system should not be amended to help blacks and women.
Ibid., p. 82

...Carter's civil-rights record should not be exaggerated. For example, he now says that although he is against busing, he does not favor a constitutional amendment to ban it. But in 1972 he praised a Georgia legislative resolution calling on Congress to pass such an amendment, and he urged Georgians to demonstrate against the assignment of students or teachers on the basis of race. On August 17, 1971, he praised George Wallace's defiance of a court desegregation order.
Ibid., p. 85. A brief search did not reveal another source for Carter's alleged praise of Gov. Wallace's action.

* * *

Behind the scenes, the not-so-subtle racism of the Carter campaign [in the Democratic primary of the Georgia gubernatorial race] was more blatant. Mailed to white barbershops, beauty parlors, and Baptist ministers — and even personally distributed at a Ku Klux Klan rally — were copies of a photograph showing Sanders with two black members of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team (which [former governor Carl] Sanders partially owned) who were pouring victory champagne over the former governor. The photograph, Bill Shipp later explained, had the double negative effect of showing Sanders with alcohol and "cavorting" with blacks. (It might also have had a third negative effect of showing Sanders as the kind of urban businessman- politician wealthy enough to own a professional sports team.) Although Carter and other members of his campaign denied distributing this photograph (and in fairness, the Sanders campaign retaliated by preparing a photograph linking Carter with black activist Hosea Williams), there is little doubt that it occurred and that someone in the Carter campaign was responsible for it. Nor is there much doubt, given that the photograph was distributed at a Klan rally, that the intention was to appeal to white racists.
Jimmy Carter, American Moralist, p. 187

Carter denies any knowledge of the leaflet, saying, "The campaign was not involved in any way." However, Ray Abernathy, an Atlanta public-relations man who worked for Carter's media director, Rafshoon, in 1970 says, "We distributed that leaflet. It was prepared by Bill Pope, who was then Carter's press secretary. It was part of an operation we called 'the stink tank.' " He also says that Carter's current campaign manager, Hamilton Jordon, was "directly involved in the mailing. He and Rafshoon masterminded it." Pope, who no longer works for Carter, confirmed Abernathy's allegation that the campaign was involved but denied his own role. Rafshoon and Jordon deny any knowledge of the mailing.
—"Jimmy Carter's Pathetic Lies", p. 79. "The leaflet" is the one mentioned above, which showed Sanders rubbing elbows with blacks.

On August 4, 1972, Carter replied to a letter from Mrs. Lena Mae Dempsey, who had written to complain to him that he should have endorsed Wallace at the Democratic Convention instead of Jackson. Carter wrote back as follows:

Dear Mrs. Dempsey:

I have never had anything but the highest praise for Governor Wallace. My support for Senator Jackson was based upon a personal request from our late Senator Richard Russell shortly before his death. I think you will find that Senator Jackson, Governor Wallace and I are in close agreement on most issues.

Let me ask you to consider one other factor before I close. There are times when two men working toward the same end can accomplish more if they are not completely tied together. I think you will find that Governor Wallace understands this.

Please let me know when I can be of service to you or your children in Atlanta. I hope I have been able to give you a slightly better impression of me.

Jimmy Carter

Ibid., pp. 84-85. This letter was not written by Carter himself, but apparently by his press secretary, Jody Powell. See "'The Most Remarkable Piece of Fiction' Jimmy Carter Ever Read" p. 15

Ronald Reagan

(40) Ronald Reagan : 1981-1989

"I believe in states' rights," he said while opening his campaign at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The men who murdered Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman sixteen summers earlier believed in states' rights, too, and there was no mistaking Reagan's intent.
Nixon's Piano, p. 350

[The New York Times] had already reported matter of factly on the Republican party's direct appeals for the racist vote. These items included Reagan tales about standing in a grocery check- out line behind a "strapping young buck" who used food stamps to purchase T-bone steaks and booze or cigarettes with the change. (Only in the South did Reagan use "buck," once a common slave-auction term for males—"wenches" for females.)
Ibid., p. 351

[Carter's] staff compiled a thick "book" of Reagan remarks on the assumption, in Stuart Eizenstat's words, that "the most effective way" to attack the Republican nominee "is simply by quoting him." "What makes the case against Reagan compelling," another White House aide reasoned, "is the procession of one simplistic or unrealistic statement after another." So the campaign did exactly that, quoting Reagan on (among other topics included in the book):

The restrictive housing covenant he signed in 1941 ("I never read the deed and wouldn't have known how to interpret the legal technology there");
Brown ("there was nothing that said there had to be—while it said you could not enforce segregation, it did not say that you had to force integration");
Hearts and minds ("you can pass a law, but you don't change the heart of the individual who is discriminating now");
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("bad . . . legislation . . . [that] went beyond and infringed on the individual rights of citizens");
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 ("humiliating to the South");
The Roosevelt coalition ("the Negro has delivered himself to those who have no other interest than to create a federal plantation");
Busing ("it isn't a racial issue");
Affirmative action ("reverse discrimination");
The riots following King's assassination ("if the Negroes don't cool it, Martin Luther King will have died in vain");
The Attica prison riot ("if civilization is to survive, we can never buy peace through appeasement").

Ibid., p. 352

Reynolds moved on to the colleges in pursuit of the Reagan administration's most spectacular crusade—the battle to grant a tax exemption to Bob Jones University of Greenville, South Carolina. This grew out of a 1980 Republican platform plank promising to "halt the unconstitutional regulatory vendetta launched by Mr. Carter's IRS commissioner against independent schools," and Mississippi Congressman (later Senator) Trent Lott's letter to Reagan in 1981 reminding him of the plank. With the case heading for the Supreme Court, Lott asked the president to take Bob Jones's side. "I think we should," Reagan wrote in the margin of Lott's letter.
Ibid., pp. 370-71. James Miller writes that Reagan's note was written in the margin of a memo summarizing Lott's letter, and not the actual letter itself. "Ronald Reagan and the Techniques of Deception", 253 Atlantic Monthly 2, February 1984, p. 64

Commenting on his opposition [to the Civil Rights Voting Act], Reagan later stated that although he was "in complete sympathy with the goals and purposes of the legislation," it had "flaws and faults" some of which he viewed as unconstitutional. On another occasion he stated that he opposed the Voting Rights Act because it "humiliated the South."
—Randall Kennedy, "Persuasion and Distrust: A Comment on the Affirmative Action Debate", 99 Harvard Law Review 6, April 1986, p. 1342

The law [the 1965 Voting Rights Act] says that every voting district with a past history of discrimination must submit every proposed change in its balloting procedures—from major redistrictings down to such minor matters as changes in polling hours—to the department's Civil Rights Division for review. And it gives the department power to veto any changes, out of the thousands submitted to it each year, that it views as discriminatory.

These policing powers were what opponents of the act wanted to weaken. They proposed two amendments—one that would make it much harder for the department to prove that voting rules were discriminatory, and the other to reduce substantially the number of districts obliged to submit their changes for review.

What position did the President take on these amendments? At first he refused to take any position, saying that he was studying the problem. His neutrality enabled civil-rights forces to score a smashing victory in the House of Representatives, which rejected the amendments and sent the bill to the Senate by the landslide margin of 389 to 24. Then, shortly after the House action, the President stepped into the fight. Calling the House version "pretty extreme," he urged the Senate to adopt the two amendments. He also authorized his two top voting-rights enforcement officials, William French Smith and William Bradford Reynolds, to lobby for the amendments, and he backed them up by threatening to veto the bill if it was passed without the amendments.
—James Nathan Miller, "Ronald Reagan and the Techniques of Deception", 253 Atlantic Monthly 2, February 1984, p. 65. Reagan never did veto the bill and eventually signed it into law.

There are some today who, in the name of equality, would have us practice discrimination. They have turned our civil rights laws on their head, claiming they mean exactly the opposite of what they say. These people tell us that the government should enforce discrimination in favor of some groups through hiring quotas, under which people get or lose particular jobs or promotions solely because of their race or sex. Some bluntly assert that our civil rights laws apply only to special groups and were never intended to protect every American. Well, they couldn't be more wrong. . . . That's discrimination pure and simple and is exactly what the civil rights laws were designed to stop. Quotas also cast a shadow on the real achievements of minorities, which makes quotas a double tragedy.
—Steven Shull, A Kinder, Gentler Racism?: The Reagan-Bush Civil Rights Legacy, p. 54

Also regarding education, Reagan stated on several occasions that "this administration is unalterably opposed to forced busing of school children".
Ibid., p. 56

Reagan defended his nominations [of, for instance, Clarence Pendleton to the Civil Rights Commission] by saying that liberal members appointed by previous presidents had not been accused of compromising the agency's independence: "These appointees are under fire for supposedly doing that. In truth, they are independent. They don't worship the altar of forced busing and mandatory quotas. They don't believe you can remedy past discrimination by mandating new discrimination".
Ibid., p. 115

Although Reagan had opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on constitutional grounds, the president nevertheless routinely paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., just as many of his predecessors had done. On the anniversary of King's birth in 1982, for example, Reagan stated of King, "To America, he symbolized courage, sacrifice, and the tireless pursuit of justice too long denied". A year later, the president further underscored King's accomplishments and reinforced the idea that King's importance was not limited just to black Americans when he said, "Martin Luther King freed the white man. And we didn't know until he did how heavy the burden of racism was that we had been bearing all of those years. And thank God for what he has done, and he should be remembered". Despite these expressed sentiments, however, Reagan continued to oppose a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday for most of his first term in office. The president's statements about the establishment of a national oliday shed light upon Reagan's attitudes toward King and civil rights, at the same time that they reveal his perceived need to associate himself positively with the slain civil rights leader's memory.

Reagan's rhetoric about the proposed holiday was at odds with his affirming words about King, for they suggested that King was a hero only to a particular segment of American society. As the president explained at a press briefing in Chicago in May 1982, "We're quite a mix in this country" and "There's no way that we could afford all of the holidays that we would have with people who are also revered figures in the history of many of the groups that make up our population here in America". King may have been important to both blacks and whites and to the United States as a whole in Reagan's celebratory comments, but he was demoted to the category of a noteworthy ethnic hero whenever the president was questioned about the possibility of a federal Martin Luther King Day.
—Denise Bostdorff and Steven Goldzwig, "History, Collective Memory, and the Appropriation of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Reagan's Rhetorical Legacy", 35 Presidential Studies Quarterly 4, December 2005, p. 668

The president shed further light on his views in a January 1985 interview when he grumbled about black leaders who were criticizing his civil rights policies:

I think there is a tendency of some individuals who have positions in organizations that have been created for whatever purpose, but for some purpose—to rectify some ill—that then, once that gets going, they're reluctant to admit how much they've achieved, because it might reveal then that there's no longer a need for that particular organization, which would mean no longer a need for their job.

And so, there's a tendency to keep the people stirred up as if the cause still exists.

For Reagan, the attacks on his policies were politically inspired because the need for civil rights had dissipated.
Ibid., pp. 670-71

In a radio address in January 1986, Reagan said, "We're committed to a society in which all men and women have equal opportunities to succeed, and so we oppose the use of quotas. We want a colorblind society that, in the words of Dr. King, judges people 'not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character' ".


Despite King's clear position on the issue of compensatory treatment, President Reagan's discourse appropriated those words and images already most familiar to Americans to argue for policies that were the very antithesis of what King advocated.

When reporter Helen Thomas challenged the president's opposition to affirmative action, he replied, "We want what I think Martin Luther King asked for: We want a colorblind society. The ideal will be when we have achieved the moment when no one—or nothing is done for anyone because of race, differences, or religion, or ethnic origin." Thomas then pointed out that affirmative action law forbade quotas and "you're the enforcer." Reagan responded, "Not individually and personally, no. But we find down there at the bureaucracy level and out there actually in personnel offices and so forth, they choose the easy course—set down a system of numbers and say, 'Well, we'll go by that' ". Reagan's answers here depicted affirmative action as a discriminatory policy at odds with King's ideals. Interestingly, too, the president who so insistently urged the need for individual responsibility in other venues was unwilling to assume responsibility for the appropriate enforcement of federal civil rights policy. And while it is literally the case that the federal judiciary and the Justice Department are responsible for interpreting the law and ensuring law enforcement, a president's appointments can make a crucial difference in the application of the law.
Ibid., pp. 676-77. See this post of mine for "King's clear position on the issue of compensatory treatment."

Reagan insisted that the large cuts he imposed on social programs, coupled with tax breaks for the upper income brackets, were really initiatives for freedom that would benefit minorities. According to the president, social programs created economic dependency and harmed the economy by leading to excessive government growth and taxation. He told the NAACP in June 1981:

I believe many in Washington, over the years, have been more dedicated to making needy people government—dependent rather than independent. They've created a new kind of bondage, because regardless of how honest their intention in the beginning, those they set out to help soon became clients essential to the well- being of those who administered the programs. . . .

Just as the Emancipation Proclamation freed black people 118 years ago, today we need to declare an economic emancipation.

Reagan argued that cuts to social programs would force people to become independent, while his tax cuts for upper-class Americans would stimulate the economy and therefore benefit everyone. In his words, the economy would function for black Americans as it had in the past, as "something of an underground railroad" that "spirited them away from poverty to middle-class prosperity and beyond".
Ibid., pp. 677-78

Reagan's route to the nomination was not without potholes, but he dug most of them himself. There was, for example, the joke on the campaign bus in New Hampshire. "How do you know the Polish guy at the cock fight?" Reagan asked. "He's the one with the duck. How do you tell the Italian guy? He's the one who bets on the duck. How do you know the Mafia was there? The duck wins."
—Walter Mears, Deadlines Past: Forty Years of Presidential Campaigning, p. 172. Quoted in Robert Fikes, Jr., "Racist Quotes from Persons of Note Part II", 16 The Journal of Ethnic Studies 1, Spring 1988, p. 140

Later in 1986, Reagan made his greatest demonstration yet that black bodies were "expendable." Congress had finally had enough of the carnage to vote for limited sanctions [against the apartheid regime of South Africa]. Reagan vetoed them. Congress overrode the veto. Reagan proceeded to put no muscle behind the sanctions. Mandela remained in jail and at least 2,000 political prisoners remained detained without trial. In 1987 Reagan published a report that said additional sanctions "would not be helpful." The gleeful South African foreign minister, Roelof Botha, said that Reagan "and his administration have an understanding of the reality of South Africa."
—Derrick Jackson, "Reagan's Heart of Darkness", Boston Globe, 9 June 2004

George H. W. Bush

(41) George H. W. Bush : 1989-1993

Bush explained his stance in a series of speeches in May and early June [of 1991]. At the University of Michigan he attacked "the notion of political correctness" and "multiculturalism." Advocates of such un-Americanisms were "political extremists" bent on roaming "the land, abusing the privilege of free speech, setting citizens against one another on the basis of their class or race."
Nixon's Piano, p. 395

In August 1963, after Martin Luther King led the March on Washington, the civil rights and labor leaders behind the march used the occasion to mount an extensive lobbying campaign on behalf of Kennedy's controversial civil rights bill. Two weeks later George Bush announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat held by the liberal-populist Democrat Ralph Yarborough, making opposition to Kennedy's civil rights bill the centerpiece of his campaign. "I believe in the finest concept of States' rights—in keeping the government closest to the people," Bush told a press conference in Austin. He acknowledged that the states' rights doctrine might be repugnant to blacks and advocates of racial integration, but he insisted that moral persuasion under present laws was the only correct approach to the racial problem. "The question of a person's heart in the civil rights quest is going to determine the solution," Bush said.

According to the San Antonio Express, Bush "emphatically" opposed the provisions in the civil rights bill which would guarantee blacks equal access to restaurants, hotels, restrooms, and other public accommodations. "Texas has done a wonderful job" on civil rights, he said. "We don't need additional legislation of the public accommodations sort." At the time, legally segregated public accommodations were common in East Texas and not unknown in Houston.
—Jefferson Morley, "Bush and the Blacks: An Unknown Story", 39 New York Review of Books 1&2, 16 January 1992

Ralph Yarborough, who as a member of the Commerce Committee had voted for the bill in October 1963, said he would vote for the bill on the floor of the Senate too. On March 17, 1964, George Bush warned an audience at the Dallas Country Club of Yarborough's position on the civil rights bill. "I think most Texans share my opposition to this legislation," Bush said.

In the spring of 1964, George Wallace ran with an openly segregationist appeal against LBJ in the Democratic presidential primaries in three northern states and won 34 percent of the vote in Wisconsin, 30 percent in Indiana, and 45 percent in Maryland. Bush told The Dallas Morning News that Wallace's showing "indicates to me that there must be a general concern from many responsible people over the civil rights bill all over the nation." He interpreted the Wallace vote as a protest vindicating his position against the fair employment practices and public accommodations sections of the bill, which he described as "unconstitutional."

In early April 1964, Senator Edward Kennedy charged that those opposing the bill were hate-mongers. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Bush replied in a speech to the Downtown Republican Club in Houston. "We all deplore the hate mongers of this world. The only thing I hate to see is our Constitution trampled in the process of trying to solve civil rights problems." Bush insisted that the bill would "make further inroads into the rights of individuals and the states, and even provide for the ultimate destruction of our trial by jury system."


Here it is worth recalling that in the spring of 1964, Texas newspaper editors were fascinated by stories of criminal violence by blacks, especially in New York City. A mugging on the New York subway could make the front page in Dallas. When Bush criticized the civil rights bill in June 1964 for denying jury trials in job discrimination cases, he cited New York as an example of "where the case is tried in the street," adding that New York State had both a fair employment practices commission and a law banning discrimination in public accommodation laws. By raising the specter of black violence against whites, Bush was further distancing himself from the liberal racial politics of the East Coast.

Rhetoric attacking the Civil Rights Act was a staple of the "Bandwagon for Bush." On September 7, 1964, the road show drew a crowd of three thousand people in Quanah, a small city near the Oklahoma border. According to a report in The Dallas Morning News, Bush told the crowd that "union dues are being used today for the promotion of extremist groups," that the United Auto Workers "guided and influenced" the civil rights movement by providing organizers and funds to such groups as the Committee for Equal Opportunity, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Bush even quoted the scandalous amounts that these "extremist groups" had received; the NAACP, for example, had received $15,000 from the union. The report closed by noting that Bush said the UAW "even donated $50 to the militant Martin Luther King." It is not clear from the article if the adjective "militant" was Bush's or the reporter's.

In his speeches Bush portrayed the Civil Rights Act as a threat to the interests of white people. ... And on October 27 Bush told hundreds of workers at the Ling-Temco-Vought cafeteria in Grand Prairie that "the new civil rights act was passed to protect 14 percent of the people. I'm also worried about the other 86 percent."

In the final week of the campaign, Bush attacked Yarborough for encouraging racial divisiveness. Addressing a Goldwater rally in Houston, Bush described him as a liberal who "tries to hyphenate Americans. The left-wing speaks of Latin-American and Negro- Americans...sets class against class, race against race."

One issue that Bush tried to avoid during the 1966 congressional campaign was the open housing bill, then pending in Congress. The legislation, forbidding discrimination in real estate transactions, was promoted by President Johnson as the natural next step in the civil rights program. State Republican leaders were strongly against the bill, according to Jim Leonard, Bush's former campaign manager, as were most white home-owners in Bush's district. Frank Briscoe declared his opposition to open housing and charged that Bush "hopes to obscure his views on issues and substitute quips for stands on issues." By October, Bush had come out in opposition to open housing legislation, insisting that there were "wonderful alternatives in the field of housing that will help all persons attain home ownership."
Ibid. Bush later voted in favor of the housing bill, and declared in his autobiography that "nothing I've experienced in public life, before or since, has measured up to the feeling I had when I went home that night."

In 1964 he opposed the Civil Rights Act as legislation that "violates the constitutional rights of all people."

More recently, Bush has used a counterfeit issue, alleged employment quotas that favor members of minority groups, to veto the Civil Rights Act of 1990. He is doing the same thing this year. Ray Jenkins, who is the editorial-page editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun (and who covered civil rights for an Alabama newspaper), has noted that Bush took words right out of George Wallace's mouth when he told a business group this past June that supporters of the civil rights legislation were courting "different blocs of voters." (In the 1960s, a politician who wished to avoid using the word "nigger" but who wanted to get the same thought across used the term "bloc vote.")

Bush has failed to rid federal agencies of discrimination, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which back then was an active agent of segregation. When it appeared that a group of business and civil rights leaders was about to arrive privately at a workable consensus on affirmative action, Bush sent over his ace hatchet man, John Sununu, to intimidate the business leaders and torpedo the compromise.
—Fred Powledge, "George Bush is Whistling 'Dixie'", 253 The Nation 12, 14 October 1991, p. 447

* * *

Aware of the interplay among the PAC ads, the Bush speeches, and the furlough ad, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen on October 23 [1988] suggested that the bush campaign was making racial appeals. Asked if there was a racial element to the Republican focus on prison furloughs, Bentsen replied "When you add it up, I think there is, and that's unfortunate" (American Broadcasting Company, 1988). Dukakis's campaign manager, Susan Estrich, added, "There is no stronger metaphor for racial hatred in our country than the black man raping the white woman. . . . If you were going to run a campaign of fear and smear and appeal to racial hatred you could not have picked a better case to use than this one" (New York Times, 1988d). Former Democratic contender Jesse Jackson argued that "that use of the Willie Horton example is designed to create the most horrible psycho-sexual fears" (New York Times, 1988d).
—Kathleen Jamieson, "Context and the Creation of Meaning in the Advertising of the 1988 Presidential Campaign", 32 The American Behavioral Scientist 4, March/April 1989, p. 418

Bill Clinton

(42) Bill Clinton : 1993-2001

What, if anything, can a President do about [blacks and Hispanics being worse off than the rest of the country]? Clinton specifically rejected using quotas to enforce "equality as a result," as Lyndon Johnson proposed in his famous Howard University speech in 1965, or expanding civil-rights law, so that disadvantaged groups can more easily use the courts to defend their economic interests.

"I don't think the government in this society is capable of mandating equality of result . . . that the American people should try to mandate a quota system on our society. [As for civil rights laws,] I don't think they are irrelevant. As long as there is a disproportionate impact by race or gender on the difficulties we face, they're not irrelevant. But I think a lot of what we do doesn't have to be race-based. I mean, Social Security wasn't a constitutional right. It was a political decision. We ought to have an election and a political debate in which we say there are several ways in which we are diminishing the capacities of our people and weakening our country."
—"A Visit with Bill Clinton", 270 The Atlantic Monthly 4, October 1992

President Clinton eulogized former Senator J. William Fulbright today as a mentor and an inspiration, a man who "stood against the 20th century's most destructive forces and fought to advance its brightest hopes."


In those 32 years [in Congress], "Bill Fulbright changed our country and our world forever and for the better," the President said in a memorial service at the National Cathedral. "He lived with passion tempered by reason. He loved politics but cautioned against the arrogance of power."


"The Fulbright scholarship program is a perfect example of Bill Fulbright's faith: different kinds of people learning side by side, building what he called a capacity for empathy, a distaste for killing other men and an inclination for peace," the President said.
—"Clinton, in a Memorial Tribute, Hails Fulbright as an Inspiration", New York Times, 18 February 1995, p. 28. Fulbright was an ardent segregationist and one of the signers of the Southern Manifesto (compare to Trent Lott's praise of Strom Thurmond). Clinton also bestowed Fulbright with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993.

* * *

An advertisement sponsored by the California Democratic Party in 1996, for example, highlighted Clinton's efforts to stop illegal immigration. The ad was filled with images of Hispanics coming across the Mexican/American border, while the narrator claimed that these "foreign workers" were stealing jobs from "American workers." When the narrator claimed that Clinton was working to halt the flow of illegal immigrants in order to protect "our jobs and our values," a white family appeared on screen.
—Nicholas Valentino, Vincent Hutchings, Ismail White, "Cues That Matter: How Political Ads Prime Racial Attitudes During Campaigns", 96 American Political Science Review 1, March 2002, p. 76

George W. Bush

(43) George W. Bush : 2001-

"Do you have blacks in Brazil?" Bush asked.
—Fernando Cardoso, The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir, p. 260. Snopes classifies this as an undetermined quote, but I think Cardoso's memoir should be a reliable source

Touring New Orleans last week, he met a man who had survived for days on canned goods before being evacuated to Utah. "Were you the only black man in Salt Lake City?" Bush asked.
—Mike Allen, "The President's Mission: Stay Relevant", Time, 12 March 2006

President George W. Bush on Monday defended his decision not to attend the NAACP's 93rd annual convention being held in Texas this week during an afternoon news conference with White House reporters.

The president was in the midst of answering questions, when Dallas Morning News reporter Bob Hillman asked the president to respond to criticism that he has not attended a NAACP convention since his election and that his administration's civil rights record was not considered stellar.

Bush paused briefly and with a slight smile, answered Hillman's question.

"Let's see. There I was, sitting around the table with foreign leaders, looking at Colin Powell and Condi Rice. Yeah," Bush said.
—Kathy Gambrell, "Bush defends decision on NAACP convention", UPI, 8 July 2002

I don't believe the situation is defused yet, but I do believe there is a way to do so, and we are working hard to convince both the Indians and the Pakis there's a way to deal with their problems without going to war.
Press Conference, 7 January 2002

* * *

Quick. Before they take it down. Go to your computer, log on to—the official Bush/Cheney '04 reelection website.

OK, now notice how running horizontally along the top there's a row of file tabs: Economy, Compassion, Health Care, Education, Homeland Security and so forth.

So, hmmm: Compassion. What could that mean? What might that involve, thematically speaking? Click the tab, and there you are on the Compassion page.

Nice big picture of Bush merrily shooting the breeze with two black teenage girls. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you'll find a quadrant labeled Compassion Photos, with the invitation, "Click here for the Compassion Photo Album." Do so.

And let's see, what have we got? First one up: short-sleeved Bush, holding a black kid in his arms, a bleacher full of black kids behind him, and he's merrily waving to the crowd. Click "next." And it's Bush at a Waco Habitat for Humanity building site, his arm draped around a black woman, his other hand tapping the shoulder of another of the black construction volunteers. Next: Bush waving to the Urban League. Next: Bush working a crowd, a black—or maybe, in this case, South Indian—kid prominently featured in the foreground, gazing on in amazement. Bush in an African thatch-roofed schoolroom.

It's incredible: The guy is so compassionate. His wife too: She doesn't seem to have any trouble reading to a bunch of kindergartners of color.

And now, there he is again, reading to a different roomful of black schoolchildren. It's amazing—photo after photo, 19 in all, and almost every single one of them giving further testimony to the astonishing capaciousness of the guy's Compassion, by which we are given to understand: He just has no trouble at all touching black people! Hammering with them, bagging groceries, tottering alongside them on weirdly high stools.

It's like Ben Hur among the lepers — the guy doesn't hesitate, he just goes and does it! Why, the Compassion page even includes a photo of him standing next to his own secretary of State, Colin Powell!
—Lawrence Weschler, "He's the Picture of Racial Compassion", Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2004. Some of this can still be accessed via the Internet Wayback Machine, and MoveOn created a mirror of the page

In South Carolina, Bush Republicans were facing an opponent who was popular for his straight talk and Vietnam war record. They knew that if McCain won in South Carolina, he would likely win the nomination. With few substantive differences between Bush and McCain, the campaign was bound to turn personal. The situation was ripe for a smear.

It didn't take much research to turn up a seemingly innocuous fact about the McCains: John and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter named Bridget. Cindy found Bridget at Mother Theresa's orphanage in Bangladesh, brought her to the United States for medical treatment, and the family ultimately adopted her. Bridget has dark skin.

Anonymous opponents used "push polling" to suggest that McCain's Bangladeshi born daughter was his own, illegitimate black child. In push polling, a voter gets a call, ostensibly from a polling company, asking which candidate the voter supports. In this case, if the "pollster" determined that the person was a McCain supporter, he made statements designed to create doubt about the senator.

Thus, the "pollsters" asked McCain supporters if they would be more or less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black. In the conservative, race-conscious South, that's not a minor charge. We had no idea who made the phone calls, who paid for them, or how many calls were made. Effective and anonymous: the perfect smear campaign.
—Richard Davis and Davis Manafort, "The Anatomy of a Smear Campaign", Boston Globe, 21 March 2004


Anonymous said...

Terrific research!

Galamb_Borong said...

I read all of it, do I get a "I read two-hundred years worth of racist comments by American presidents, and all I got was this crappy t-shirt" t-shirt? I'm rather amused by the fired Irish maids and the Clinton border patrol ad ( I've got to try to find the latter on youtube ).
To be honest, I was completely unaware of the blog change-over till I saw your comment on my friends list this morning; I'd just assumed you were busy with University.
I hope you're planning to use this research for a book or something similar: you've put a lot of work into this subject, and it would be a shame to see it limited to your blog.

Skemono said...

I read all of it
Really? Wow. You're a fast reader.

do I get a "I read two-hundred years worth of racist comments by American presidents, and all I got was this crappy t-shirt" t-shirt?
I'll see if I can get Cafe Press to do that.

To be honest, I was completely unaware of the blog change-over till I saw your comment on my friends list this morning
Oh. And here I'd just assumed you were snubbing me.

I'd just assumed you were busy with University.
Nope. Graduated, actually.

I hope you're planning to use this research for a book or something similar: you've put a lot of work into this subject, and it would be a shame to see it limited to your blog.
Why thank you. I have some indefinite plans about a book, but I don't know about this subject in particular. This was really intended just for a massive, 1-year anniversary blog post, although my brother and I have joked about turning it into a book via or or something.

Droug said...

_I_ hadn't been joking about getting it printed at Blurb, I'm just not sure anymore if I can do that with how massive you made it. And I have hardly started, though I have it printed out in a binder (A bright white binder for amusement value) so I can read it and make notes about anything I want clarification on.

Skemono said...

_I_ hadn't been joking about getting it printed at Blurb, I'm just not sure anymore if I can do that with how massive you made it.
Ha! That oughta show you for me being an over-achiever.

And I have hardly started, though I have it printed out in a binder (A bright white binder for amusement value) so I can read it and make notes about anything I want clarification on.
I'll clarify, all right... clarify you good!