Leaving Chicago, and having business with the President, I visited him at Canton, was kindly received, and accomplished the object of my visit, little thinking that, in common with my countrymen I was so soon to be horrified and appalled by an atrocity which bathed the country in tears and startled the world in the taking-off of one of the purest patriots that had ever trod his native soil.
The tragedy occurred at 4 o'clock p. m., on the 6th of September, 1901, in the Temple of Music on the grounds of and during the Exposition at Buffalo, N. Y. Surrounded by a body-guard, among whom was Secret Service Detective Samuel R. Ireland, of Washington, who was directly in front of the President, the latter engaged in the usual manner of handshaking at a public reception at the White House. Not many minutes had expired; a hundred or more of the line had passed the President, when a young-looking man named Leon Czolgosz, said to be of Polish, extraction, approached, offering his left hand, while his right hand contained a pistol concealed under a handkerchief, fired two shots at the President.
James Parker, a colored man, a very hercules in height, who was next to have greeted the President, struck the assassin a terrific blow that felled him to the floor, preventing him (as Czolgosz himself avers in the following interview) from firing the third shot:
"Yesterday morning I went again to the Exposition grounds. Emma Goldman's speech was still burning me up. I waited near the central entrance for the President, who was to board his special train from that gate, but the police allowed nobody but the President's party to pass where the train waited. So I stayed at the grounds all day waiting.
"During yesterday I first thought of hiding my pistol under my handkerchief. I was afraid if I had to draw it from my pocket I would be seen and seized by the guards. I got to the Temple of Music the first one, and waited at the spot where the reception was to be held.
"Then he came, the President—the ruler—and I got in line and trembled and trembled until I got right up to him, and then I shot him twice through my white handkerchief. I would have fired more, but I was stunned by a blow in the face—a frightful blow that knocked me down—and then everybody jumped on me. I thought I would be killed, and was surprised the way they treated me."
Czolgosz ended his story in utter exhaustion. When he had about concluded he was asked:
"Did you really mean to kill the President?"
"I did," was the cold-blooded reply.
"What was your motive; what good could it do?"
"I am an anarchist. I am a disciple of Emma Goldman. Her words set me on fire," he replied, with not the slightest tremor.
During the first few days after he was shot there were cheering bulletins issued by the medical fraternity in attendance, all typical of his early recovery, and the heart of the nation was elated, to be, a week later, depressed with sadness at the announcement that a change had come and that the President was dying. Never was grief more sincere for a ruler. He was buried encased with the homage and love of his people. William McKinley will live in history, not only as a man whose private life was stainless, and whose Administration of the Government was beyond reproach, but as one brilliant, progressive, wise, and humane.
Pre-eminent as an arbiter and director, developing the nation as a world power, and bringing to the effete and semi-civilized peoples of the Orient the blessings of civilized Government; as a leader and protector of the industrial forces of the country, William McKinley was conspicuous. With strength of conviction, leading at one time an almost forlorn hope, by his statesmanship and intensity of purpose, he had grafted on the statute books of the Nation a policy that has turned the wheels of a thousand idle mills, employed a hundred thousand idle hands, and stimulated every manufacturing industry.
This accomplished, in his last speech, memorable not only as his last public utterance, but doubly so as to wise statesmanship in its advocacy of a less restrictive tariff, increased reciprocity, and interchange with the world's commodities. His love of justice was imperial. He was noted in this, that he was not only mentally eminent, but morally great. During his last tour in the South, while endeavoring to heal animosities engendered by the civil war and banish estrangement, he was positive in the display of heartfelt interest in the Negro, visiting Tuskegee and other like institutions of learning, and by his presence and words of good cheer stimulating us to noble deeds.
Nor was his interest manifest alone in words; his appointments in the bureaus of the Government of colored men exceeded that of any previous Executive—a representation which should increase in accordance with parity of numbers and fitness for place.
* * * * *
The following excerpts from the Washington Post, the verity of which was echoed in the account of the crime by the New York and other metropolitan journals on the day following the sad occurrence, gives a sketch of the manner and expressions of the criminal, and throws light on a peculiar phase of the catastrophe, that for the truth of history and in the interest of justice should not be so rudely and covertly buried 'neath the immature "beatings of time."
Washington Post: In an interview Secret Service Detective Ireland, who, with Officers Foster and Gallagher, was near the President when the shots were fired, said:
"A few moments before Czolgosz approached a man came along with three fingers of his right hand tied up in a bandage, and he had shaken hands with his left. When Czolgosz came up I noticed he was a boyish-looking fellow, with an innocent face, perfectly calm, and I also noticed that his right hand was wrapped in what appeared to be a bandage. I watched him closely, but was interrupted by the man in front of him, who held on to the President's hand an unusually long time. This man appeared to be an Italian, and wore a short, heavy, black mustache. He was persistent, and it was necessary for me to push him along so that the others could reach the President. Just as he released the President's hand, and as the President was reaching for the hand of the assassin, there were two quick shots. Startled for a moment, I looked and saw the President draw his right hand up under his coat, straighten up, and, pressing his lips together, give Czolgosz the most scorn and contemptuous look possible to imagine.
"At the same time I reached for the young man, and caught his left arm. The big Negro standing just back of him, and who would have been next to take the President's hand, struck the young man in the neck with one hand, and with the other reached for the revolver, which had been discharged through the handkerchief, and the shots from which had set fire to the linen.
"Immediately a dozen men fell upon the assassin and bore him to the floor. While on the floor Czolgosz again tried to discharge the revolver, but before he could point it at the President, it was knocked from his hand by the Negro. It flew across the floor, and one of the artillerymen picked it up and put it in his pocket."
Another account: "Mr. McKinley straightened himself, paled slightly, and riveted his eyes upon the assassin. He did not fall or make an outcry. A Negro, named Parker, employed in the stadium, seized the wretch and threw him to the floor, striking him in the mouth. As he fell he struggled to use the weapon again, but was quickly overpowered. Guard Foster sprang to the side of Mr. McKinley, who walked to a chair a few feet away."
Washington Post, Oct. 9: James Parker, the six-foot Georgia Negro, who knocked down the assassin of President McKinley on the fatal day in the Temple of Music, after the two shots were fired, gave a talk to an audience in the Metropolitan A. M. E. Church last night. He was introduced by Hon. George H. White. Parker arose, and after a few preliminary remarks, in which he thanked the crowd for its presence, he said he was glad to see so many colored people believed he did what he claimed he did at Buffalo.
"When the assassin dealt his blow," said Parker, "I felt it was time to act. It is no great honor I am trying to get, but simply what the American people think I am entitled to. If Mr. McKinley had lived there would have been no question as to this matter. President McKinley was looking right at me; in fact, his eyes were riveted upon me when I felled the assassin to the floor.
"The assassin was in front of me, and as the President went to shake his hand, he looked hard at one hand which the fellow held across his breast bandaged. I looked over the man's shoulder to see what the President was looking at. Just then there were two flashes and a report, and I saw the flame leap from the supposed bandage. I seized the man by the shoulder and dealt him a blow. I tried to catch hold of the gun, but he had lowered that arm. Quick as a flash I grasped his throat and choked him as hard as I could. As this happened he raised the hand with the gun in it again as if to fire, the burning handkerchief hanging to the weapon. I helped carry the assassin into a side room, and helped to search him."
Parker told of certain things he was about to do to the assassin when one of the officers asked him to step outside. Parker refused. He declared the officers wanted to get him out of the way. He said he helped to carry the assassin to the carriage in which the wretch was taken to jail.
"I don't know why I wasn't summoned to the trial," he said.
Parker said Attorney Penney took his testimony after the shooting.
"I was not at the trial, though," concluded Parker in an injured tone. "I don't say this was done with any intent to defraud me, but it looks mighty funny, that's all."
The above interviews with officers present agree with Parker's version of the affair, and whether the afterthought that further recognition of his decisive action would detract from the reputation for vigilance which they were expected to observe is a fitting subject for presumption.
At the time of the occurrence Parker was the cynosure for all eyes. Pieces of the clothing that he wore were solicited and given to his enthusiastic witnesses of the deed, to be preserved as trophies of his action in preventing the third shot. No one present at that perilous hour and witnessing doubted or questioned that Parker was the hero of the occasion. This, the better impulse, indicating a just appreciation was destined soon to be stifled and ignored. At the sittings of the coroner's jury to investigate the shooting of the President, he was neither solicited nor allowed to be present, or testimony adduced in proof of his bravery in attempting to save the life of the Chief Magistrate of the Republic. Therefore, Parker, bereft of the well-earned plaudits of his countrymen, must content himself with duty done.
Remarkable are the coincidences at every startling episode in the life of the Nation. Beginning at our country's history, the Negro is always found at the fore. He was there when Crispus Attacks received the first of English bullets in the struggle of American patriots for Independence; there in the civil war, when he asked to be assigned to posts of greatest danger. He was there quite recently at El Caney; and now Parker bravely bares his breast between the intended third shot of the assassin and that of President McKinley.
If this dispensation shall awaken the Nation to the peril of admitting the refuse of nations within our borders, and clothing them with the panoply of American citizenship; if it shall engender a higher appreciation of the loyalty and devotion of the Negro citizens of the Republic by the extension of justice to all beneath the flag, William McKinley will not have died in vain.
Taking up the reins of the Administration of the Government, with its complex statesmanship, where a master had laid them down, President Roosevelt, heretofore known for his sterling worth as an administrator, and his imperial honesty as a man, has put forth no uncertain sound as to his intended course. The announcement that the foreign policy of his illustrious predecessor would be chiefly adhered to has struck a responsive chord in every patriotic heart. The appointment of ex-Gov. Jones, of Alabama, to a Federal judgeship was an appointment in unison with the best of popular accord. The nobility of the Governor in his utterances on the subject of lynching should endear him to every lover of justice and the faithful execution of law. For he so grandly evinced what is so sadly wanting in many humane and law-abiding men—the courage of his convictions.
"For when a free thought sought expression, He spoke it boldly, spoke it all."
It is only to the fruition of such expressions, the molding of an adverse sentiment to such lawlessness that we can look for the abolishment of that crime of crimes which, to the disgrace of our country, is solely ours.
This appointment is considered eminently wise, not only for the superior ability of the appointee as a jurist, but for his broad humanity as a man, fully recognizing the inviolability of human life and its subjection to law. For the Negro, his primal needs are protection and the common liberty vouchsafed to his fellow-countrymen. To enjoy them it is necessary that he be in harmony with his environments. A bulwark he must have, of a friendship not the product of coercion, but a concession from the pulse-beat of justice. Such appointments pass the word down the line that President Roosevelt, in his endeavor to be the exponent of the genius of American citizenship, will recognize the sterling advocates of the basic elements of constitutional Government, those of law and order, irrespective of party affiliation.
This appointment will probably cause dissent in Republican circles, but it may be doubted if the Negro advances his political fortunes by invidious criticism of the efforts of a Republican Administration to harmonize ante-bellum issues. For while he in all honesty may be strenuous for the inviolability of franchises of the Republican household, and widens the gap between friendly surroundings, each of the political litigants meet with their knees under each other's mahogany, and jocularly discuss Negro idiosyncrasies, and tacitly agree to give his political aspirations a "letting alone." For, with character and ability unquestioned for the discharge of duties, the vote polled for him usually falls far short of the average of that polled by his party for other candidates on the ticket.
The summary killing of human beings by mobs without the form of law is not of late origin. Ever since the first note of reconstruction was sounded, each Administration has denounced lynching. All history is the record that it is only through discussion and the ventilation of wrong that right becomes a valued factor. But regard for justice is not diminishing in our country. The judiciary, although weak and amenable to prevailing local prejudices in localities, as a whole is far in advance on the sustenance of righteous rule than in the middle of the last century, when slavery ruled the Nation and its edicts were law, and its baleful influence permeated every branch of the Government.
Of the judiciary at that period Theodore Parker, an eminent Congregational divine and most noted leader of Christian thought, during a sermon in 1854, said:
"Slavery corrupts the judicial class. In America, especially in New England, no class of men has been so much respected as the judges, and for this reason: We have had wise, learned, and excellent men for our judges, men who reverenced the higher law of God, and sought by human statutes to execute justice. You all know their venerable names and how reverentially we have looked up to them. Many of them are dead, and some are still living, and their hoary hairs are a crown of glory on a judicial life without judicial blot. But of late slavery has put a different class of men on the benches of the Federal Courts—mere tools of the Government creatures who get their appointments as pay for past political service, and as pay in advance for iniquity not yet accomplished. You see the consequences. Note the zeal of the Federal judges to execute iniquity by statute and destroy liberty. See how ready they are to support the Fugitive Slave Bill, which tramples on the spirit of the Constitution and its letter, too; which outrages justice and violates the most sacred principles and precepts of Christianity. Not a United States Judge, Circuit or District, has uttered one word against that bill of abominations. Nay, how greedy they are to get victims under it. No wolf loves better to rend a lamb into fragments than these judges to kidnap a fugitive slave and punish any man who desires to speak against it. You know what has happened in Fugitive Slave Bill courts. You remember the 'miraculous' rescue of a Shadrach; the peaceable snatching of a man from the hands of a cowardly kidnapper was 'high treason;' it was 'levying war.' You remember the trial of the rescuers! Judge Sprague's charge to the jury that if they thought the question was which they ought to obey, the laws of man or the laws of God, then they must 'obey both,' serve God and Mammon, Christ and the devil in the same act. You remember the trial, the ruling of the bench, the swearing on the stand, the witness coming back to alter and enlarge his testimony and have another gird at the prisoner. You have not forgotten the trials before Judge Kane at Philadelphia and Judge Greer at Christiana and Wilkesbarre.
"These are natural results from causes well known. You cannot escape a principle. Enslave a negro, will you? You doom to bondage your own sons and daughters by your own act."
At the death of Theodore Parker, among the many eulogies on his life was one by Ralph Waldo Emerson, highly noted for his humanity, his learning and his philosophy. It contains apples of gold, and richly deserves immortality; for in the worldly strife for effervescent wealth and prominence, a benign consciousness that our posthumous fame as unselfish benefactors to our fellow-men is to live on through the ages, would be a solace for much misrepresentation. Emerson said: "It is plain to me that Theodore Parker has achieved a historic immortality here. It will not be in the acts of City Councils nor of obsequious Mayors nor in the State House; the proclamations of Governors, with their failing virtue failing them at critical moments, that generations will study what really befel; but in the plain lessons of Theodore Parker in this hall, in Faneuil Hall and in legislative committee rooms, that the true temper and authentic record of these days will be read. The next generation will care little for the chances of election that govern Governors now; it will care little for fine gentlemen who behaved shabbily; but it will read very intelligently in his rough story, fortified with exact anecdotes, precise with names and dates, what part was taken by each actor who threw himself into the cause of humanity and came to the rescue of civilization at a hard pinch; and those who blocked its course.
"The vice charged against America is the want of sincerity in leading men. It does not lie at his door. He never kept back the truth for fear of making an enemy. But, on the other hand, it was complained that he was bitter and harsh; that his zeal burned with too hot a flame. It is so hard in evil times to escape this charge for the faithful preacher. Most of all, it was his merit, like Luther, Knox, and Latimer and John the Baptist, to speak tart truth when that was peremptory and when there were few to say it. His commanding merit as a reformer is this, that he insisted beyond all men in pulpit—I cannot think of one rival—that the essence of Christianity is its practical morals; it is there for use, or it is nothing: If you combine it with sharp trading, or with ordinary city ambitions to glaze over municipal corruptions or private intemperance, or successful frauds, or immoral politics, or unjust wars, or the cheating of Indians, or the robbing of frontier natives, it is hypocrisy and the truth is not in you, and no love of religious music, or dreams of Swedenborg, or praise of John Wesley or of Jeremy Taylor, can save you from the Satan which you are."
The accord so generally given to the appointment of ex-Governor Jones, of Alabama—a Gold Democrat, having views on domestic order in harmony with the Administration—to a Federal judgeship was destined to be followed by a bitter arraignment of President Roosevelt for having invited Booker T. Washington to dine with him at the White House. As a passing event not without interest, in this era of the times, indicative of "shadow and light," I append a few extracts from Southern and Northern Journals:
In all parts of the country comment has been provoked by the fact that President Roosevelt, on Wednesday night last, entertained at dinner in the White House, Booker T. Washington, who is generally regarded as the representative of the colored race in America. Especially in the South has the incident aroused indignation, according to the numerous news dispatches. The following comments from the editorial columns of newspapers and from prominent men are given:
New Orleans, Oct. 19.—The Times-Democrat says:
"It is strange news that comes from Washington. The President of the United States, for the first time in the history of the nation, has entertained a Negro at dinner in the White House. White men of the South, how do you like it? White women of the South, how do you like it?
"Everyone knows that when Mr. Roosevelt sits down to dinner in the White House with a Negro he that moment declares to all the world that in the judgment of the President of the United States the Negro is the social equal of the white man. The Negro is not the social equal of the white man. Mr. Roosevelt might as well attempt to rub the stars out of the firmament as to try to erase that conviction from the heart and brain of the American people."
The Daily States: "In the face of the facts it can but appear that the President's action was little less than a studied insult to the South adopted at the outset of his Administration for the purpose of showing his contempt for the sentiments and prejudices of this section."
Richmond, Va., Oct. 19.—The Dispatch says:
"With many qualities that are good—with some, possibly, that are great—Mr. Roosevelt is a negrophilist. While Governor of New York he invited a Negro (who, on account of race prejudice, could not obtain accommodation at any hotel) to be his guest at the Executive Mansion, and, it is said, gave him the best room in the house.
"Night before last the President had Prof. Booker T. Washington to dine with him at the White House. That was a deliberate act, taken under no alleged pressure of necessity, as in the Albany case, and may be taken as outlining his policy toward the Negro as a factor in Washington society. We say 'Washington society,' rather than 'American society,' because the former, on account of its political atmosphere, is much more 'advanced' in such matters than that of any other American city of which we know anything. The President, having invited Booker T. Washington to his table, residents of Washington of less conspicuous standing may be expected to do likewise. And if they invite him they may invite lesser lights—colored lights.
"When Mr. Cleveland was President he received Fred Douglass at some of his public entertainments—'functions,' so-called—but we do not remember that Fred was singled out for the distinguished honor of dining with the President, as Booker Washington has been.
"We do not like Mr. Roosevelt's negrophilism at all, and are sorry to see him seeking opportunities to indulge in it. He is reported to have rejoiced that Negro children were going to school with his children at Oyster Bay. But then, it may be said, too, that he has more reasons than the average white man to be fond of Negroes, since it was a Negro regiment that saved the Rough Riders from decimation at San Juan Hill. And but for San Juan Hill it is quite unlikely that Mr. Roosevelt would be President today.
"Booker Washington is said to have been very influential with the President in having Judge Jones put upon the Federal bench in Alabama, and we are now fully prepared to believe that statement.
"With our long-matured views on the subject of social intercourse between blacks and whites, the least we can say now is that we deplore the President's taste, and we distrust his wisdom."
Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 19.—The Enterprise says:
"It remained for Mr. Roosevelt to establish a precedent humiliating to the South and a disgrace to the nation. Judge Jones owes a duty to the South, to his friends and to common decency to promptly resign and hurl the appointment back into the very teeth of the white man who would invite a nigger to eat with his family."
Augusta, Ga., Oct. 19.—The Augusta Chronicle says, in its leading editorial, today:
"The news from Washington that President Booker T. Washington, of Tuskegee Institute, was a guest at the White House at a dinner with President and Mrs. Roosevelt and family, and that after dinner there was the usual social hour over cigars, is a distinct shock to the favorable sentiment that was crystallizing in the South for the new President.
"While encouraging the people in the hope that the Negro is to be largely eliminated from office in the South, President Roosevelt throws the fat in the fire by giving countenance to the Negro's claims for social equality by having one to dine in the White House.
"President Roosevelt has made a mistake, one that will not only efface the good impression he had begun to create in the South, but one that will actively antagonize Southern people and meet the disapproval of good Anglo-Saxon sentiment in all latitudes.
"The South does not relish the Negro in office, but that is a small matter compared with its unalterable opposition to social equality between the races. President Roosevelt has flown in the face of public sentiment and precipitated an issue that has long since been fought out, and which should have been left in the list of settled questions."
Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 19.—The Evening Banner says:
"Whatever justification may be attempted of the President's action in this instance, it goes without saying that it will tend to chill the favor with which he is regarded in the South, and will embarrass him in his reputed purpose to build up his party in this section."
Louisville, Ky., Oct. 19.—The Times of yesterday afternoon says:
"The President has eliminated the color line from his private and official residences and with public office is hiring white Democrats to whitewash it down South."
Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 19.—Governor Candler says:
"No self-respecting white man can ally himself with the President after what has occurred. The step has done the Republican party no earthly good, and it will materially injure its chances in the South. The effect of the Jones appointment is largely neutralized. Still, I guess it's like the old woman when she kissed the cow. As a matter of fact, Northern people do not understand the Negro. They see the best types and judge of the remainder by them."
Philadelphia, Oct. 19.—The Ledger this morning says:
"Because President Roosevelt saw fit, in his good judgment, to invite Booker T. Washington to dinner, strong words of disapproval are heard in the South. Mr. Washington is a colored man who enjoys the universal respect of all people in this country, black and white, on account of attainments, character and deeds. As the President invited him to be his private guest, and did not attempt to enforce the companionship of a colored man upon any one to whom the association could possibly be distasteful, any criticism of the President's act savors of very great impertinence. But, considered in any light, the invitation is not a subject for criticism. Booker T. Washington is one of the most notable citizens of the country, just because he has done noteworthy things. He is the founder and the successful executive of one of the most remarkable institutions in the United States, the Tuskegee (Alabama) Institute, which not only aims, but in fact does, educate and train the youth of the negro race to become useful, industrious and self-supporting citizens.
"Booker T. Washington is the embodiment of common sense and, instead of inciting the members of his race to dwell upon their wrongs, to waste their time upon politics and to try to get something for nothing in this life, in order to live without work, he has constantly preached the gospel of honest work, and has founded a great industrial school, which fits the young Negroes for useful lives as workers and teachers of industry to others. This is the man who was justly called by President McKinley, after he had inspected Tuskegee, the "leader of his race," and in the South no intelligent man denies that he is doing a great service to the whole population of both colors in this land. It is evident that the only objection that could be brought against association with such a man as that is color alone, and President Roosevelt will not recognize that prejudice."
The Evening Bulletin says:
"President Roosevelt night before last had Booker T. Washington, the worthy and much-respected colored man who is at the head of the Tuskegee Institute, as a guest at his private table in the White House. This has caused some indignation among Southerners and in Southern newspapers.
"Yet all the President really seems to have done was an act of courtesy in asking Mr. Washington to sit down with him to dinner and have a talk with him. As Booker T. Washington is an entirely reputable man, as well as an interesting one, the President doubtless enjoyed his company. Many Presidents in the past have had far less reputable and agreeable men at their table. If Mr. Roosevelt shall have no worse ones among his private guests, the country will have no cause for complaint.
"The right of the President to dine with anyone he may please to have with him is entirely his own affair, and Theodore Roosevelt is not a likely man to pick out bad company, black or white, for his personal or social companionship. The rumpus which some indiscreet Southerners are trying to raise because he has been hospitable to a colored man is a foolish display of both manners and temper."
Boston, Oct. 19.—Commenting on President Roosevelt's action in extending hospitality to Booker T. Washington, President Charles Eliot, of Harvard, said:
"Harvard dined Booker Washington at her tables at the last commencement. Harvard conferred an honorary degree on him. This ought to show what Harvard thinks about the matter."
William Lloyd Garrison: "It was a fine object lesson, and most encouraging. It was the act of a gentleman—an act of unconscious natural simplicity."
Charles Eliot Norton: "I uphold the President in the bold stand that he has taken."
NO SYMPATHY WITH PREJUDICE.
New York Herald: The President has absolutely no sympathy with the prejudice against color. He has shown this on two occasions. Once he invited to his house at Oyster Bay, Harris, the Negro half-back of Yale, and entertained him over night. The other occasion was when he took in at the Executive Mansion at Albany, Brigham, the Negro baritone of St. George's Church, who was giving a concert in Albany and had been refused food and shelter by all the hotels.
WASTING THEIR BREATH.
Philadelphia Press: President Roosevelt's critics are wasting breath and spilling ink. There is an obstinate man in the White House. The cry of "nigger" will neither prevent him from continuing to appoint to any office in the Southern States the best men, under whatever color of politics, who can be found under current conditions, or recognizing in the hospitalities of the White House the best type of American manhood, under whatever color of skin it can be found.
New York Tribune: The Southern politician who criticises President Roosevelt's action in inviting Prof. Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House is likely to raise the query whether the manager of the Tuskegee Institute or himself is really the more deserving and genuine friend of the South.
DEMOCRATS HAVE CHANGED ATTITUDE.
Glad of Booker T. Washington's Help in Securing Office.
NOW JEER ROOSEVELT.
Berate President for Dining With a Negro.
Some Noted Occasions When the Alabama Educator Has Received the Plaudits of the South.
Washington, D. C., Oct. 19.—President Roosevelt has a fine sense of humor, and while he regrets that he has without malice stirred up a tempest in a teapot for the Southern editors by entertaining Professor Booker T. Washington at dinner, he cannot put aside the humorous side of the situation. It is only a few weeks since a number of white Democrats co-operated with Booker Washington in regard to the appointment of ex-Governor Jones to the vacancy on the Federal bench in Alabama, and Washington spoke for these white Democrats when he came to the capital and assured President Roosevelt that Jones would accept the appointment and that it would be satisfactory to all classes.
Washington had seen the President and had acted as his agent in interviewing Governor Jones and others as to the appointment. The Southern Democrats applauded the appointment of Jones, and they praised Washington for using his influence at the White House to secure such an appointment for a Democrat. Then they all spoke of Washington as a gentleman of culture, who had the refined sense to cut loose from the Republican leaders of the Negro party in the South and work in harmony with the best class of whites. Now they are abusing the President for dining with a "nigger."
Washington has entertained more distinguished Northern men and more distinguished Southern men at the Tuskegee Institute than any other man in the State, if not in the South. President McKinley and his Cabinet, accompanied by many other distinguished gentlemen, were the guests of Washington at Tuskegee two years ago, and they lunched at his table. Washington was the guest of honor at a banquet in Paris three years ago, when Ambassador Porter presided and ex-President Harrison and Archbishop Ireland were among the guests. This same "nigger" was received by Queen Victoria and took tea in Buckingham Palace the same year.
INVITATION FROM WHITE HOUSE.
When he returned to this country Washington received invitations from all parts of the South to deliver addresses and attend receptions given by white people. He was received by the Governors of Georgia, Virginia, West Virginia and Louisiana. He spoke to many mixed audiences in the South, where whites and blacks united to do him honor. When the people of Atlanta wanted an appropriation from Congress for their Exposition in 1895 they sent a large committee of the most distinguished men in the South to the National Capital to plead their cause. Booker T. Washington was one of these distinguished Southern men. Congressman Joseph E. Cannon, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations in the House, says that Washington by his force and eloquence secured that appropriation of $250,000 for the Atlanta Exposition.
The Southern people had only praise for him when he was arranging to take Vice-President Roosevelt to Tuskegee and Montgomery and Atlanta this fall, and they were eager to co-operate with him in entertaining such a distinguished visitor. They still hope to have President Roosevelt visit the South, and if he goes he will go as the guest of Booker T. Washington.
The President knows, too, that the real leaders of the South, white Democrats, do not sympathize with this hue and cry of Southern editors because Washington was a guest at the White House. Today the President has received many messages from Southern men, urging him to pay no attention to the yawp of the bourbon editors, who have not been able to get over the old habit of historical discussion of "social equality." Southern men called at the White House today as usual to ask for favors at the hands of the President, and they are not afraid of contamination by meeting the man who "ate with a nigger."
AMUSES THE PRESIDENT.
President Roosevelt cannot help seeing the humorous side of the situation he has created by asking his friend to dinner, and he is pursuing the even tenor of his way as President without worrying over the outcome. He has, in the last two weeks, given cause for much excitement in the South. The first was when he appointed a Democrat to office and ignored the professional Republican politicians, who claimed to carry the "nigger" vote in their pocket. He was not disturbed by the threats of the Southern Republican politicians over that incident, and he is not disturbed by the threats of the Southern Democratic editors over this incident.
As to the Southern objection to dining, with a Negro, Opie Read, of Chicago, tells a story about M. W. Gibbs, who has just resigned his position as United States Consul at Tamatave, Madagascar. Gibbs is now in Washington on his way home to Little Rock. He resigned to give a younger man a chance to serve his country as a Consul. Here is the story Opie Read told about Gibbs dining with white men at a banquet in honor of General Grant in Little Rock:
In the reconstruction days a Negro by the name of Mifflin Wistar Gibbs located in Little Rock, Ark. He showed the community that he was keener than a whole lot of its leading citizens, who had kept the offices in their families for generations. Under the new order of things he was appointed Attorney of Pulaski County. His ability and the considerate manner in which he conducted his relationship with the whites gave him a greater popularity than any other colored man had ever before enjoyed in that place. His influence increased, until General Grant, then President, appointed him Register of the United States Land Office at Little Rock.
GIBBS' SPEECH THE BEST.
"When General Grant visited our city a banquet was prepared, and it was finally decided that for the first time in the history of the 'Bear State' a Negro would be welcomed at a social function on terms of absolute equality. I was then editor of the Gazette, and my seat was next to that of Gibbs. The speaker who had been selected to respond to the toast, 'The Possibilities of American Citizenship' was absent. I asked Gibbs if he would not talk on that subject. He consented, and I arranged the matter with the toastmaster. The novelty and the picturesqueness of the thing appealed to me. Every guest was spellbound, and General Grant was astonished. Not only was the speech of the Negro the best one delivered on that occasion, but it was one of the most remarkable to which I have ever listened.
"The owner of the Gazette was a Democrat of the Democrats, and a strict keeper of the traditions of the South. Moreover, his paper was the official organ of the Democratic party, and we were in the heat of a bitter campaign. In spite of all this, however, I came out with the editorial statement that Gibbs had scored the greatest oratorical triumph of the affair. Perhaps this didn't stir things up a little. But the gratitude of Gibbs was touching. He is now United States Consul at Tamatave, Madagascar. In my opinion he is the greatest living representative of the colored race. We have been close friends ever since that banquet."
BOOKER WASHINGTON THE VICTIM.
(From the Washington (D. C.) Post, October 23, 1901.)
Quite the most deplorable feature of the Booker Washington incident is, in our opinion, the effect it is likely to have on Washington himself; yet this is an aspect of the case which does not seem to have occurred thus far to any of the multitudinous and more or less enlightened commentators who have bestowed their views upon the country. Criticisms of the President are matters of taste. For our part, we hold, and have always held, that a President's private and domestic affairs are not proper subjects of public discussion. A man does not surrender all of his personal liberties in becoming the Chief Executive of the Nation. At least, his purely family arrangements are not the legitimate concern of outsiders. The Presidency would hardly be worth the having otherwise. The country, however, has a right to consider the incident in the light of its probable injury to Washington and to the great and useful work in which he is engaged.
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In closing this page of "Shadow and Light" I am loath to believe that this extreme display of adverse feeling regarding the President's action in inviting Mr. Washington to dine with him, as shown in some localities, is fully shared by the best element of Southern opinion. Few Southern gentlemen of the class who so cheerfully pay the largest amount of taxation for the tuition of the Negro, give him employment and do much to advance him along educational and industrial lines, fear that the President's action will cause the obtrusion of his bronze pedals beneath their mahogany. Trusting that he will be inspired to foster those elements of character so conspicuous in Mr. Washington and that have endeared him to his broad-minded countrymen both North and South. The best intelligence, the acknowledged leaders of the race, are not only conservative along political lines, but are in accord with those who claim that social equality is not the creature of law, or the product of coercion, for, in a generic sense, there is no such thing as social equality. The gentlemen who are so disturbed hesitate, or refuse such equality with many of their own race; the same can be truthfully said of the Negro. Many ante-bellum theories and usages have already vanished under the advance of a higher civilization, but the "old grudge" is still utilized when truth and justice refuse their service.
Washington, the American "Mecca" for political worshipers, is a beautiful city, but well deserving its "nom de plume" as "the city of magnificent distances;" for any one with whom you have business seems to live five miles from every imaginable point of the compass; and should you be on stern business bent, distance will not "lend enchantment to the view." It is here that the patriot, and the mercenary, the ambitious and the envious gather, and where unity and divergence hold high carnival.
Dramatists have found no better field for portraying the vicissitudes and uncertainties, the successes and triumphs of human endeavor. The ante-room to the President's office presents a vivid picture, as they wait for, or emerge from, executive presence, delineating the varied phases of impressible human nature—the despondent air of ill success; the pomp of place secured; the expectant, but hope deferred; the bitterness depicted in waiting delegations on a mission of opposition bent; the gleam of gladness on success; homage to the influential—all these figure, strut or bemoan in the ratio of a self-importance or a dejected mien. There is no more humorous reading, or more typical, than the ups and downs of office-seekers. Sometimes it is that of William the "Innocent," and often that of William the "Croker." The trials of "an unsuccessful," a prototype of "Orpheus C. Kerr," the nom de plume of that prince of writers, on this subject, is in place:
Diary of an office-seeker, William the "Innocent":
March 2d—Just arrived. Washington a nice town. Wonder if it would not be as well to stay here as go abroad.
March 4th—Saw McKinley inaugurated. We folks who nominated him will be all right now. Think I had better take an assistant secretaryship. The Administration wants good men, who know something about politics; besides, I am getting to like Washington.
March 8th—Big crowd at the White House. They ought to give the President time to settle himself. Have sold my excursion ticket and will stay awhile. Too many people make a hotel uncomfortable. Have found a good boarding house.
March 11th—Shook hands with the President in the East Room and told him I would call on a matter of business in a few days. He seemed pleased.
March 15th—Went to the Capitol and found Senator X. He was sour. Said the whole State was there chasing him. Asked me what I wanted, and said, "Better go for something in reach." Maybe an auditorship would be the thing.
March 23d—Took my papers to the White House. Thought I'd wait and have a private talk with the President, but Sergeant Porter said I'd have to go along with the rest. What an ill-natured set they were. Elbowed me right along just because they saw the President wanted to talk with me. Will have to go back and finish our conversation.
March 27—Got some money from home.
March 29th—Went to the White House, but the chap at Porter's door wouldn't let me in. Said it was after hours. He ought to be fired.
April 3d—Saw Mark Hanna, after waiting five hours. Asked him why my letter had not been answered. He said he was getting 400 a day and his secretaries would catch up some time next year. I always thought Hanna overestimated. Now I know it.
April 5th—Had an interview with the President. Was last in the line, so they could not push me along. When I told him of my services to the party, he replied: "Oh, yes;" and for me to file my papers in the State Department. Said he had many good friends in Indiana and hoped they would be patient. Can he have forgotten I am not from Indiana? Probably the tariff is worrying him. Shameful the way the Senate is acting.
April 7th—Borrowed a little more money. Washington is an expensive town to live in.
April 11th—Senator X. says all the auditorships were mortgaged before the election, but he will indorse me for a special agency or a chief clerkship, if I can find one that is not under the civil service law.
April 12th—D—n the civil service law.
April 17th—Didn't know there were so many good positions abroad. Ought to have gone for one of them in the first place. That State Department is a great thing. Think I'll start with Antwerp and check off a few which will suit me. Wonder where I can negotiate a small loan?
April 19th—Got in to see the President and told him I could best serve the Administration and the party abroad. He said, "Oh, yes," and to file my papers in the Post-office Department, and he hoped his friends in Massachusetts would be patient. What made him think I was from Massachusetts? I suppose he gets mixed sometimes.
April 20th—Senator X. says there is one chance in a million of getting a Consulate; but if I will concentrate on Z town he and the delegation will do what they can. Salary, $1,000; fees, $87.
April 21st—-Have concentrated on Z town. Got in line today just for a moment to tell the President it would suit me. He said, "Oh, yes," and to file my papers in the Treasury Department, and he hoped his friends in Minnesota would be patient till he could get around to them. Queer he should think I was from Minnesota.
April 26th—The ingratitude of that man McKinley! He has nominated Jones for Z town, when he knew I had concentrated on it. After my services to the party, too! Who is Jones, anyhow?
April 27th—I am going home. Senator X has got me a pass. Will send for my trunk later. It is base ingratitude.
William the "Croker," the other applicant for official favor, wanted "Ambassador to Russia," and while not attaining the full measure of his ambition, was nevertheless rewarded for his pertinacity. His sojourn in Washington had been long, and was becoming irksome, particularly so to the Senators and Members of Congress from his State, who had from time to time ministered to his pecuniary wants. But Seth Orton was noted at home and abroad for his staying qualities. He came from an outlying district in his State that was politically pivotal, and Seth had been known on several occasions by his fox-horn contributions to rally the "unwashed" and save the day when hope but faintly glimmered above the political horizon. For his Congressional delegation Seth was both useful at home and expensive abroad. That the mission for which he aspired was beyond his reach they were fully aware; that he must be disposed of they were equally agreed. After having adroitly removed the props to his aspirations for Ambassador, Minister Plenipotentiary and Consul, they told him they had succeeded in getting him an Indian agency, paying $1,000 a year. He was disgusted, and proclaimed rebellion. They appeased him by telling him that the appropriation for supplies and other necessaries the last year was ten thousand dollars, and they were of the opinion that the former agent had saved half of it. A gleam of joy and quick consent were prompt! Walking up and down his Congressman's room, pleased, then thoughtful, then morose, he finally exclaimed to his patron, "Look here, Mr. Harris; don't you think that $5,000 of the $10,000 too much to give them d—n nigger Indians?"
On the official side of colored Washington life, we see much that is gratifying recognition. The receipt by us of over a million dollars annually, on the one side, and the rendering of a creditable service on the other, while our professional and business status in the District is equally commendable, and much more prolific in the bestowal of substantial and lasting benefit. And on the domestic side we have much that is cheering, comprising a large representation of wealth and intelligence, living in homes indicating refinement and culture, and with a social contact the most desirable.
Mr. Andrew F. Hilyer, editor and compiler of "The Twentieth Century Union League Directory," in his introduction to that able and useful publication, says: "This being the close of the nineteenth century, after a generation of freedom, it was thought to be a good point at which to stop and take an account of stock, and see just what is the actual status of the colored population of Washington, the Capital of the Nation, where the colored population is large, and where the conditions are the most favorable, to see what is their actual status as skilled workmen, in business, in the professions, and in their organizations; in short, to make a study, at first hand, of their efforts for social betterment."
This publication contains the names, character and location of 500 business men and women. It is creditable to the compiler and encouraging for the subjects of its reference.
The colored newspapers of the District, several in number, are of high order, and maintain a reputation for intelligent journalism, and for energy and devotion to the cause they espouse are abreast with those of sister communities. The growth of Negro journals in our country has been marked. We have now three hundred or more newspapers and magazines, edited and published by colored men and women. The publisher of a race paper early finds that it is not a sinecure nor a bed of roses. If he is zealous and uncompromising in the defense of his race, exposing outrages and injustice; advertisements are withdrawn by those who have the most patronage to bestow. Should he "crook the pregnant hinges of the knee, that thrift may follow fawning," and fail to denounce the wrong, the paper loses influence and subscriptions of those in whose interest it is professedly established, and hence, as an advertising medium, it is deserted.
So, as for the publisher (in the words of that eccentric Puritan, Lorenzo Dow), "He'll be damned if he does, and be damned if he don't." He is between "Scilla and Carribdes," requiring versatility of ability, courage of conviction and a wise discretion, that he may steer "between the rocks of too much danger and pale fear," and reach the port of success. The mission of the Negro press is a noble one, for "Right is of no sex, and Wrong of no color," and God, the Father of us all, with these as its standard, to be effectual it must give a "plain, unvarnished tale, nor set down aught in malice." The white journals of the country often quote the Negro press as to Negro wants and Negro aspirations, and as time and conditions shall justify it will necessarily become more metropolitan and less exclusive, dealing more with economic and industrial subjects on broader lines and from more material standpoints.
Howard University was established by a special act of Congress in 1867. It takes its name from that of the great philanthropist and soldier, Gen. O. O. Howard, who may be called its founder and greatest patron. It was through the untiring efforts of General Howard that this special act passed Congress to establish a university on such broad and liberal lines as those that characterize Howard University.
This University admits students of both sexes and any color to all of its departments. The great majority of its students, however, are colored, and some of its graduates are the most distinguished men of the Negro race in America. It has splendid departments of law, medicine, theology and the arts and sciences.
Howard University is situated on one of the most beautiful sites of the Capital of the Nation.
Having two members of my family as teachers in the public schools of Washington City, I have learned considerable about them. They are said to rank among our best public schools, and are constantly improving, under the careful supervision of a highly competent superintendent, and a paid board of trustees. There are 112 school buildings in the city—75 for white and 37 for colored, the number being regulated according to population, about one-third being colored. New manual training schools have just been erected, for both races, and a growing disposition exists to provide equal (though separate) accommodation and opportunity. The colored schools are taught exclusively by colored teachers, the grade schools being conducted by the graduates of the Washington Normal School almost entirely. The M Street High School, a leading sample of the best public schools of the country, has a teaching faculty of twenty teachers, most of them graduates of our best colleges, such as Howard, Yale, Oberlin, University of Michigan, Amherst, Brown and Cornell.
R. H. Terrill, the present principal, is a graduate of Howard, with the degree of "Cum laude," and, after having won golden opinions from the board and attaches of the school for his scholarship and supervising ability, has been appointed by President Roosevelt to a judgeship of the District, and will assume the duties thereof in January, 1902.
All such appointments are helpful, coming from the highest ruler, and for place, at the fountain head of the Government, have a reflex influence upon much which is unjust. With each success we should beware of envy, the offspring of selfishness, which is apt to creep insidiously into our lives. We should crown the man who has achieved distinction and advise him as to pitfalls. "No sadder proof," Carlisle has said, "can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men." There is no royal road to a lasting eminence but the toilsome pathway of diligence, self-denial and high moral rectitude; surely not by turning sharp corners to follow that "will-o'-the wisp" transient success, at the expense of upright conduct. Neither suavity of manner nor the gilding of education will atone for disregarding the sanctity of obligation, the violation of which continues to wreck the lives and blast the promise of many. By sowing the seed of uprighteousness, by unceasing effort and rigid frugality, the harvest, though sometimes tardy, will be sure to produce an hundred fold in Christian virtues and material prosperity. The latter is a necessity for our progress; for, say what you will about being "just as good as anybody," the world of mankind has little use for a penniless man. The ratio of its attention to you is largely commensurate with your bank account and your ability to further ends involving expenditure. Whether this estimate is in accord with the highest principle, the Negro has not time to investigate, for he is up against the hard fact that confronts the great majority of mankind, and one with which each for himself must grapple. Opportunity may be late, but it comes to him who watches and waits while diligent in what his hands may find to do. For, with all that may be said, gracious or malicious, of the "Negro problem," we are unmistakably on the upward grade, educationally and financially, while these bitter criticisms and animadversions will be the moral weights to steady our footsteps and give surety to progress.
Granting no excuse for ignorance or unfitness in a political aspirant, or for a religious ministry at the present day, we cannot but remember that our present lines in more pleasant places, both in Church and State, had impetus through the trying ordeal of toil, suffering and massacre during the era of reconstruction. Many, though unlettered, with a nobility of soul that oppression could not humble, were martyrs to their Christian zeal for the right and finger boards and beacon lights on the dark and perilous road to our present advanced position.
In concluding this imperfect autobiography, containing mention of "men I have met" in the nineteenth century, absence of many co-laborers, both white and colored, will be observable, whose ability, devotion and sacrifice should be treasured as heirlooms by a grateful people.
And now, kind reader, who has followed me in my wanderings—
"Say not 'Good night,' but in some brighter clime bid me 'Good morning.'"