1922 April 23

Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes Calls for Religious Tolerance


Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes on this day issued a call for greater religious tolerance. The occasion for his remarks was the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone of the National Baptist Memorial to Roger Williams, the person generally regarded as the father of the idea of religious tolerance in America.

Anti-Catholic intolerance in the 1920s was most vigorously pushed by the KKK, which was a national power in the decade. The Klan sponsored a law in Oregon that would have shut down Catholic and other parochial schools in Oregon, on November 7, 1922. It became a major issue at the 1924 Democratic Party Convention (see July 6, 1924). And in a brazen display of its power, on August 8, 1925, 35,000 members, dressed in the Klan robes, staged a march in Washington, D.C.

Hughes was a powerful voice in the U.S. in these years. He had been a Justice on the Supreme Court from 1910 to 1916, the Republican Party candidate for president in 1916, and then the Secretary of State. He would be reappointed to the Supreme Court in 1930 as Chief Justice, and served until 1941.

Learn more: Charles Evans Hughes, The Autobiographical Notes of Charles Evans Hughes (1973)

Hughes on the Supreme Court: Michale Parrish, The Hughes Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy (2002)

Learn more about Hughes: http://www.history.com/topics/charles-evans-hughes

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