1918 July 26

President Wilson Finally Denounces Mob Violence, Lynching


After the U.S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917, the country was beset by mob violence against alleged “disloyal” people and also racial violence, especially the East St. Louis race riot that erupted on July 2, 1917. Despite pleas that he speak out, President Woodrow Wilson refused to publicly denounce mob violence. On this day, he finally he released a statement to the media condemning mob violence. Significantly, however, he did not make a public speech, which would have had far more impact on public attitudes.

President Wilson: “I therefore very earnestly and solemnly beg that the governors of all the States, the law officers of every community, and, above all, the men and women of every community in the United States, all who revere America and wish to keep her name without stain or reproach, will cooperate–not passively merely, but actively and watchfully—to make an end of this disgraceful evil. It cannot live where the community does not countenance it.”

Read Wilson’s full statement: http://www.amistadresource.org/documents/document_07_06_030_wilson.pdf

Learn more about President Wilson’s record on civil liberties and race issues: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

Learn more about the Dyer anti-lynching bill: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/dyer-anti-lynching-bill-1922

Read the 2015 report on the number of lynchings: Equal  Justice Initiative, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror (2015)

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