Ray Stannard Baker

Ray Stannard Baker


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Ray Stannard Baker was born in Michigan in 1870. He joined McClure's Magazine, where he worked with Lincoln Steffens and Ira Tarbell in the kind of investigative journalism that became known as muckraking. Baker himself was involved in exposing railroad and financial corruption.

In February 1905 he wrote an article on lynching for the McClure's Magazine: "On Monday afternoon the mob began to gather. At first it was an absurd, ineffectual crowd, made up largely of lawless boys of sixteen to twenty - a pronounced feature of every mob - with a wide fringe of more respectable citizens, their hands in their pockets and no convictions in their souls, looking on curiously, helplessly... A sort of dry rot, a moral paralysis, seems to strike the administrators of law in a town like Springfield. What can be expected of officers who are not accustomed to enforce the law, or of a people not accustomed to obey it - or who make reservations and exceptions when they do enforce it or obey it?... So the mob came finally, and cracked the door of the jail with a railroad rail. This jail is said to be the strongest in Ohio, and having seen it, I can well believe that the report is true. But steel bars have never yet kept out a mob; it takes something a good deal stronger: human courage backed up by the consciousness of being right. They murdered the Negro in cold blood in the jail doorway; then they dragged him to the principal business street and hung him to a telegraph-pole, afterward riddling his lifeless body with revolver shots."

In 1906 Baker joined with Lincoln Steffens, Ida Tarbell and William A. White to establish the radical American Magazine. Steffens's biographer, Justin Kaplan, the author of Lincoln Steffens: A Biography (1974), has argued: "That summer he and his partners celebrated their freedom from McClure's house of bondage, as they now saw it. There was a spirit of picnic and honeymoon about the enterprise; affections, loyalties, professional comradeship had never seemed quite so strong before and never would again. They dealt with each other as equals." Steffens later commented: "We were all to edit a writers' magazine." It soon established itself as one of America's leading investigative magazines. However, its opponents accused the magazine of muckraking journalism.

President Theodore Roosevelt responded to investigative journalism by initiating legislation that would help tackle some of the problems illustrated by these journalist. This included persuading Congress to pass reforms such as the Pure Food and Drugs Act (1906) and the Federal Meat Inspection Act (1906).

President Theodore Roosevelt was seen to be on the side of these investigative journalists until David Graham Phillips began a series of articles in Cosmopolitan entitled The Treason in the Senate. This included an attack on some of Roosevelt's political allies and he responded with a speech where he compared the investigative journalist with the muckraker in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress: "the man who could look no way but downward with the muck-rake in his hands; who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth on the floor."

Investigative journalists like Baker objected to being described as muckrakers. They felt betrayed as they felt they had helped President Theodore Roosevelt to get elected. Lincoln Steffens was furious with Roosevelt and the day after the speech told him: "Well, you have put an end to all these journalistic investigations that have made you." Baker argued: "In the beginning I thought, and still think, he did great good in giving support and encouragement to this movement. But I did not believe then, and have never believed since, that these ills can be settled by partisan political methods. They are moral and economic questions. Latterly I believe Roosevelt did a disservice to the country in seizing upon a movement that ought to have been built up slowly and solidly from the bottom with much solid thought and experimentation, and hitching it to the cart of his own political ambitions. He thus short-circuited a fine and vigorous current of aroused public opinion into a futile partisan movement."

In 1908 Baker produced a series of five articles on the plight of the African Americans. In this pioneering work in the study of race relations in the United States, Baker dealt with issues such as political leadership, Jim Crow laws, lynching and poverty. These articles were eventually turned into the book, Following the Color Line (1908).

In May 1912 Baker covered the Lawrence Textile Strike: "It is not short of amazing, the power of a great idea to weld men together. There was in it a peculiar, intense, vital spirit if you will, that I have never felt before in any strike. At first everyone predicted that it would be impossible to hold these divergent people together, but aside from the skilled men, some of whom belonged to craft unions, comparatively few went back to the mills. And as a whole, the strike was conducted with little violence."

Other books written by Baker include Woodrow Wilson and World Settlement (1922), Adventures in Understanding (1925) and Adventures in Solitude (1931).

Ray Stannard Baker died on 12th July 1946.

The Nineteenth Ward is fertile soil for growing a ward boss. Its population consists of Italians, Polish and Russian Jews, Irish of the poorest class, and the offscourings of a dozen other nationalities. They live huddled together in ill-smelling houses, and few of the older people, many of whom are day laborers, have any understanding of American institutions, or even of the English language. They are capable of being herded and driven by any one who is strong enough to wield the rod.

Johnny Powers has been the undisputed political boss for many years. Powers has been more than ordinarily successful as a ward boss. He is cool-headed, cunning, and wholly unscrupulous, and yet he possesses the effective gift known, for lack of a better name, as "good-fellowship" or good-heartedness". Among his constituents he appears in his kingly aspects of unlimited power and benevolence. He impresses them with the primitive generosity which has turkeys to give away by thousands at Christmas time, which elevates a faithful follower to a position on the city pay-roll in a single day, or discharges him with equal ease. He is the feudal lord who governs his retainers with open-handed liberality or crushes them to poverty as it suits his nearest purpose.

The streets and alleys of the ward were notoriously filthy, and the contractors habitually neglected them, not failing, however, to draw their regular payments from the city treasury. At last it fell to the women of Hull House to take the initiative. Miss Addams herself applied for the position of garbage inspector, and, to the astonishment of Johnny Powers and his retainers, received the appointment. Within two months the Nineteenth Ward was one of the cleanest in the city.

Well, on Monday afternoon the mob began to gather. At first it was an absurd, ineffectual crowd, made up largely of lawless boys of sixteen to twenty - a pronounced feature of every mob - with a wide fringe of more respectable citizens, their hands in their pockets and no convictions in their souls, looking on curiously, helplessly. They gathered hooting around the jail, cowardly, at first, as all mobs are, but growing bolder as darkness came on and no move was made to check them. The murder of Collis was not a horrible, soul-rending crime like that at Statesboro, Georgia; these men in the mob were not personal friends of the murdered man; it was a mob from the back rooms of the swarming saloons of Springfield; and it included also the sort of idle boys "who hang around cigar stores," as one observer told me. The newspaper reports are fond of describing lynching mobs as "made up of the foremost citizens of the town." In no cases that I know of, either South or North, has a mob been made up of what may be called the best citizens; but the best citizens have often stood afar off "decrying the mob" - as a Springfield man told me piously - and letting it go on. A mob is the method by which good citizens turn over the law and the government to the criminal or irresponsible classes.

And no official in direct authority in Springfield that evening, apparently, had so much as an ounce of grit within him. The sheriff came out and made a weak speech in which he said he "didn't want to hurt anybody." They threw stones at him and broke his windows. The chief of police sent eighteen men to the jail but did not go near himself. All of these policemen undoubtedly sympathized with the mob in its efforts to get at the slayer of their brother officer; at least, they did nothing effective to prevent the lynching. An appeal was made to the Mayor to order out the engine companies that water might be turned on the mob. He said he didn't like to; the hose might be cut! The local militia company was called to its barracks, but the officer in charge hesitated, vacillated, doubted his authority, and objected finally because he had no ammunition except Krag-Jorgenson cartridges, which, if fired into a mob, would kill too many people! The soldiers did not stir that night from the safe and comfortable precincts of their armory.

A sort of dry rot, a moral paralysis, seems to strike the administrators of law in a town like Springfield. What can be expected of officers who are not accustomed to enforce the law, or of a people not accustomed to obey it - or who make reservations and exceptions when they do enforce it or obey it?

When the sheriff made his speech to the mob, urging them to let the law take its course they jeered him. The law! When, in the past, had the law taken its proper course in dark County? Someone shouted, referring to Dixon:

"He'll only get fined for shooting in the city limits."

"He'll get ten days in jail and suspended sentence."

Then there were voices:

"Let's go hang Mower and Miller" - the two judges.

This threat, indeed, was frequently repeated both on the night of the lynching and on the day following.

So the mob came finally, and cracked the door of the jail with a railroad rail. But steel bars have never yet kept out a mob; it takes something a good deal stronger: human courage backed up by the consciousness of being right.

They murdered the Negro in cold blood in the jail doorway; then they dragged him to the principal business street and hung him to a telegraph-pole, afterward riddling his lifeless body with revolver shots.

That was the end of that. Mob justice administered. And there the Negro hung until daylight the next morning - an unspeakably grisly, dangling horror, advertising the shame of the town. His head was shockingly crooked to one side, his ragged clothing, cut for souvenirs, exposed in places his bare body: he dripped blood. And, with the crowds of men both here and at the morgue where the body was publicly exhibited, came young boys in knickerbockers, and little girls and women by scores, horrified but curious. They came even with baby carriages! Men made jokes: "A dead ****** is a good ******." And the purblind, dollars-and-cents man, most despicable of all, was congratulating the public:

'"It'll save the county a lot of money!"

Significant lessons, these, for the young!

But the mob wasn't through with its work. Easy people imagine that, having hanged a Negro, the mob goes quietly about its business; but that is never the way of the mob. Once released, the spirit of anarchy spreads and spreads, not subsiding until it has accomplished its full measure of evil.

One of the points in which I was especially interested was the Jim Crow regulations, that is, the system of separation of the races in street cars and railroad trains.

I was curious to see how the system worked out in Atlanta. Over the door of each car, I found the sign: "White people will seat from front of car toward the back and colored people from toward front". Sure enough, I found the white people in front and the Negroes behind.

As the sign indicates, there is no definite line of division between the white seats and the black seats, as in many other Southern cities. This very absence of a clear demarcation is significant of many relationships in the South. The colour line is drawn, but neither race knows just where it is. Indeed, it can hardly be definitely drawn in many relationships, because it is constantly changing. This uncertainty is a fertile source of friction and bitterness.

The very first time I was on a car in Atlanta, I saw the conductor - all conductors are white - ask a Negro woman to get up and take a seat farther back in order to make a place for a white man. I have also seen white men requested to leave the Negro section of the car.

"We pay first-class fare," said one of the leading Negroes in Atlanta, "exactly as the white man does, but we don't get first-class service. I say it isn't fair."

Charles T. Hopkins, a leader in the Civic League and one of the prominent lawyers of the city, told me that he believed the Negroes should be given their definite seats in every car; he said that he personally made it a practice to stand up rather than to take any one of the four back seats, which he considered as belonging to the Negroes.

A few years ago no hotel or restaurant in Boston refused Negro guests; now several hotels, restaurants, and especially confectionary stores, will not serve Negroes, even the best of them. The discrimination is not made openly, but a Negro who goes to such places is informed that there are no accommodations, or he is overlooked and otherwise slighted, so that he does not come again. A strong prejudice exists against renting flats and houses in many white neighbourhoods to coloured people. The Negro in Boston, as in other cities, is building up "quarters," which he occupies to the increasing exclusion of other classes of people.

In the sixteen years from 1984 to 1900 the number of persons lynched in the United States was 2,516. Of these 2,080 were in the Southern states and 436 in the North; 1,678 were Negroes and 801 were white men; 2,465 were men and 51 were women. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia - the black belt states - are thus seen to have the worst records.

Every argument on lynching in the South gets back sooner or later to the question of rape. Ask any high-class citizen - the very highest - if he believes in lynching, and he will tell you roundly, "No". Ask him about lynching for rape, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he will instantly weaken.

Lynching, he says, is absolutely necessary to keep down this crime. You ask him why the law cannot be depended upon, and he replies: "It is too great an ordeal for the self-respecting white woman to go into court and accuse the Negro ravisher and withstand a public cross-examination. It is intolerable. No woman will do it. And, besides, the courts are uncertain. Lynching is the only remedy."

If the white man sets an example of non-obedience to law, of non-enforcement of law, and an example of non-obedience to law, of non-enforcement of law, and of unequal justice, what can be expected of the Negro? A criminal father is a poor preacher of homilies to a wayward son. The Negro sees a man, white or black, commit murder and go free, over and over again in all these lynching counties. Why should he fear to murder?

Nothing has been more remarkable in the recent history of the Negro than Washington's rise to influence as a leader, and the spread of his ideals of education and progress. It is noteworthy that he was born in the South, a slave, that he knew intimately the common struggling life of the people and the attitude of the white race toward them. The central idea of his doctrine is work. He teaches that if the Negro wins by real worth a strong economic position in the country, other rights and privileges will come to him naturally. He should get his rights, not by gift of the white man, but by earning them himself.

Whenever I found a prosperous Negro enterprise, a thriving business place, a good home, there I was almost sure to find Booker T. Washington's picture over the fireplace or a little framed motto expressing his gospel of work and service. Many highly educated Negroes, especially, in the North, dislike him and oppose him, but he has brought new hope and given new courage to the masses of his race. He has given them a working plan of life. And is there a higher test of usefulness? Measured by any standard, white or black, Washington must be regarded today as one of the great men of this country: and in the future he will be so honored.

Dr. Du Bois was born in Massachusetts of a family that had no history that had no history of Southern slavery. He has a large intermixture of white blood. Broadly educated at Harvard and in the universities of Germany, he is today one of the most able sociologists of this country.

His economic studies of the Negro made for the United States Government and for the Atlanta University conference (which he organised) are works of sound scholarship and furnish the student with the best single source of accurate information regarding the Negro at present obtainable in this country. And no book gives a deeper insight into the inner life of the Negro, his struggles and his aspirations, than, The Souls of Black Folk.

Dr. Du Bois has the temperament of the scholar and idealist - critical, sensitive, humorous, impatient, often covering its deep feeling with sarcasm and cynicism. "What shall the Negro do about discrimination?" his answer was the exact reverse of Washington's: it was the voice of Massachusetts: "Do not submit! agitate, object, fight."

In the beginning I thought, and still think, he did great good in giving support and encouragement to this movement. He thus short-circuited a fine and vigorous current of aroused public opinion into a futile partisan movement.

It is not short of amazing, the power of a great idea to weld men together. And as a whole, the strike was conducted with little violence.

Ray Stannard Baker came to Chicago, and with my references for a start and my idea for a title, wrote a stirring article, Capital and Labour Get Together. While I had been reporting political corruption, Ray Stannard Baker had been describing the corruption of labor unions by contractors in the building business, and Miss Ida M. Tarbell had been writing the history of the Standard Oil Company.

© John Simkin, April 2013


Muckraker

The muckrakers were reform-minded journalists in the Progressive Era in the United States (1890s–1920s) who exposed established institutions and leaders as corrupt. They typically had large audiences in popular magazines. The modern term generally references investigative journalism or watchdog journalism investigative journalists in the US are often informally called "muckrakers".

The muckrakers played a highly visible role during the Progressive Era. [1] Muckraking magazines—notably McClure's of the publisher S. S. McClure—took on corporate monopolies and political machines, while trying to raise public awareness and anger at urban poverty, unsafe working conditions, prostitution, and child labor. [2] Most of the muckrakers wrote nonfiction, but fictional exposés often had a major impact, too, such as those by Upton Sinclair. [3]

In contemporary American usage, the term can refer to journalists or others who "dig deep for the facts" or, when used pejoratively, those who seek to cause scandal. [4] [5] The term is a reference to a character in John Bunyan's classic Pilgrim's Progress, "the Man with the Muck-rake", who rejected salvation to focus on filth. It became popular after President Theodore Roosevelt referred to the character in a 1906 speech Roosevelt acknowledged that "the men with the muck rakes are often indispensable to the well being of society but only if they know when to stop raking the muck." [4]


He graduated from Michigan Agricultural College with a B.S. in 1889, and studied law and literature at the University of Michigan. In 1892, he moved to Chicago and began his writing career he soon became a national figure. Much of his writing focused on his boyhood experience of Wisconsin. He worked as a journalist and editor from 1892 to 1915 for the Chicago Record, McClure's Magazine and the American Magazine as a muckraker. In serialized articles, he showed interest in Robert M. La Follette's reform movement.

In 1906, Baker adopted the pen name "David Grayson." He devoted his writing to the charms of rural life. His Wisconsin background was apparent in many romantic references to his boyhood and the northland. His most famous works from this period include "Adventures in Contentment" in 1907, "Adventures in Friendship" in 1910 and "Adventures in Understanding" in 1925. During World War I, Baker served as a special commissioner of the Department of State and became an intimate friend and admirer of President Wilson. In 1919, Baker was appointed director of the press bureau at the Paris peace conference. Baker went on to write the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters" from 1927 to 1939. Among his last works were the autobiographical "Native American" in 1941 and "American Chronicle" in 1945.


By Ray Stannard Baker

In this paper I endeavor to lay down the fundamental principles which should govern the Negro franchise in a democracy, and to outline a practical programme for the immediate treatment of the problem.

As I see it, the question of Negro suffrage in the United States presents two distinct aspects:-

SECOND: the practical aspect.

It will be admitted, I think, without argument, that all governments do and of a necessity must exercise the right to limit the number of people who are permitted to take part in the weighty responsibilities of the suffrage. Some governments allow only a few men to vote in an absolute monarchy there is only one voter other governments, as they become more democratic, permit a larger proportion of the people to vote.

Our own government is one of the freest in the world in the matter of suffrage and yet we bar out, in most states, all women we bar out Mongolians, no matter how intelligent we bar out Indians, and all foreigners who have not passed through a certain probationary stage and have not acquired a certain small amount of education. We also declare-for an arbitrary limit must be placed somewhere- that no person under twenty-one years of age may exercise the right to vote, although some boys of eighteen are to-day better equipped to pass intelligently upon public questions than many grown men. We even place adult white men on probation until they have resided for a certain length of time, often as much as two years, in the state or the town where they wish to cast their ballots. Our registration and ballot laws eliminate hundreds of thousands of voters and finally, we bar out everywhere the defective and criminal classes of our population. We do not realize, sometimes, I think, how limited the franchise really is, even in America. We forget that out of nearly ninety million people in the United States, fewer than fifteen million cast their votes for President in 1908-or about one in every six.

Thus the practice of a restricted suffrage is very deeply implanted in our system of government. It is everywhere recognized that even in a democracy lines must be drawn, and that the ballot, the precious instrument of government, must be hedged about with stringent regulations. The question is, where shall these lines be drawn in order that the best interests, not of any particular class, but of the whole nation, shall be served.

Upon this question, we, as free citizens, have the absolute right to agree or disagree with the present laws regulating suffrage and if we want more people brought in as partakers in government, or some people who are already in, barred out, we have a right to organize, to agitate, to do our best to change the laws. Powerful organizations of women are now agitating for the right to vote there is an organization which demands the suffrage for Chinese and Japanese who wish to become citizens. It is even conceivable that a society might be founded to lower the suffrage age-limit from twenty-one to nineteen years, thereby endowing a large number of young men with the privileges, and therefore the educational responsibilities, of political power. On the other hand, a large number of people, chiefly in our Southern States, earnestly believe that the right of the Negro to vote should be curtailed, or even abolished.

Thus we disagree, and government is the resultant of all these diverse views and forces. No one can say dogmatically how far democracy should go in distributing the enormously important powers of active government. Democracy is not a dogma it is not even a dogma of free suffrage. Democracy is a life, a spirit, a growth. The primal necessity of any sort of government, democracy or otherwise, whether it be more unjust or less unjust toward special groups of its citizens, is to exist, to be a going concern, to maintain upon the whole a stable and peaceful administration of affairs. If a democracy cannot provide such stability, then the people go back to some form of oligarchy. Having secured a fair measure of stability, a democracy proceeds with caution toward the extension of the suffrage to more and more people-trying foreigners, trying women, trying Negroes.

And no one can prophesy how far a democracy will ultimately go in the matter of suffrage. We know only the tendency. We know that in the beginning, even in America, the right to vote was a very limited matter. In the early years, in New England, only church- members voted then the franchise was extended to include property-owners then it was enlarged to include all white adults then to include Negroes then, in several Western States, to include women.

Thus the line has been constantly advancing, but with many fluctuations, eddies, and back-currents-like any other stream of progress. At the present time the fundamental principles which underlie popular government, and especially the whole matter of popular suffrage, are much in the public mind. The tendency of government throughout the entire civilized world is strongly in the direction of placing more and more power in the hands of the people. In our own country we are enacting a remarkable group of laws providing for direct primaries in the nomination of public officials, for direct election of United States Senators, and for direct legislation by means of the initiative and referendum and we are even going to the point, in many cities, of permitting the people to recall an elected official who is unsatisfactory. The principle of local option, which is nothing but that of direct government by the people, is being everywhere accepted. All these changes affect, fundamentally, the historic structure of our government, making it less republican and more democratic.

Still more important and far-reaching in its significance is the tendency of our government, especially our Federal Government, to regulate or to appropriate great groups of business enterprises formerly left wholly in private hands. More and more, private business is becoming public business.

Now, then, as the weight of responsibility upon the popular vote is increased, it becomes more and more important that the ballot should be jealously guarded and honestly exercised. In the last few years, therefore, a series of extraordinary new precautions have been adopted: the Australian ballot, more stringent registration systems, the stricter enforcement of naturalization laws to prevent the voting of crowds of unprepared foreigners, and the imposition by several states, rightly or wrongly, of educational and property tests. It becomes a more and more serious matter every year to be an American citizen, more of an honor, more of a duty.

At the close of the Civil War, in a time of intense idealistic emotion, some three-quarters of a million of Negroes, the mass of them densely ignorant and just out of slavery, with the iron of slavery still in their souls, were suddenly given the political rights of free citizens. A great many people, and not in the South alone, thought then, and still think, that it was a mistake to bestow the high powers and privileges of a wholly unrestricted ballot-a ballot which is the symbol of intelligent self- government-upon the Negro. Other people, of whom I am one, believe that it was a necessary concomitant of the revolution it was itself a revolution, not a growth, and like every other revolution it has had its fearful reaction. Revolutions, indeed, change names, but they do not at once change human relationships. Mankind is reconstructed not by proclamations, or legislation, or military occupation, but by time, growth, education, religion, thought. At that time, then, the nation drove down the stakes of its idealism in government far beyond the point it was able to reach in the humdrum activities of everyday existence. A reaction was inevitable it was inevitable and perfectly natural that there should be a widespread questioning as to whether all Negroes, or indeed any Negroes, should properly be admitted to full political fellowship. That questioning continues to this day.

Now, the essential principle established by the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was not that all Negroes should necessarily be given an unrestricted access to the ballot but that the right to vote should not be denied or abridged 'on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.' This amendment wiped out the color-line in politics so far as any written law could possibly do it.

Let me here express my profound conviction that the principle of political equality then laid down is a sound, valid, and absolutely essential principle in any free government that restrictions upon the ballot, when necessary, should be made to apply equally to white and colored citizens and that the Fifteenth Amendment ought not to be, and cannot be repealed. Moreover, I am convinced that the principle of political equality is more firmly established to-day in this country than it was forty years ago, when it had only Northern bayonets behind it. For now, however short the practice falls of reaching the legal standard, the principle is woven into the warp and woof of Southern life and Southern legislation. Many Southern white leaders of thought are to-day CONVINCED, not FORCED believers in the principle and that is a great omen.

Limitations have come about, it is true, and were to be expected as the back-currents of the revolution. Laws providing for educational and property qualifications as a prerequisite to the exercise of the suffrage have been passed in all the Southern States, and have operated to exclude from the ballot large numbers of both white and colored citizens, who on account of ignorance or poverty are unable to meet the tests. These provisions, whatever the opinion entertained as to the wisdom of such laws, are well within the principle laid down by the Fifteenth Amendment. But several Southern States have gone a step further, and by means of the so-called 'grandfather laws,' have exempted certain ignorant white men from the necessity of meeting the educational and property tests. These unfair 'grandfather laws,' however, in some of the states adopting them, have now expired by limitation.

Let me then lay down this general proposition:-

Nowhere in the South to-day is the Negro cut off LEGALLY, as a Negro, from the ballot. Legally, to-day, any Negro who can meet the comparatively slight requirements as to education, or property, or both, can cast his ballot on a basis of equality with the white man. I have emphasized the word legally, for I know the PRACTICAL difficulties which confront the Negro votes in many parts of the South. The point I wish to make is that legally the Negro is essentially the political equal of the white man but that practically, in the enforcement of the law, the legislative ideal is still pegged out far beyond the actual performance.

Now, then, if we are interested in the problem of democracy, we have two courses open to us. We may think the laws are unjust to the Negro, and incidentally to the 'poor white' man as well. If we do, we have a perfect right to agitate for changes and we can do much to disclose, without heat, the actual facts regarding the complicated and vexatious legislative situation in the South, as regards the suffrage. Every change in the legislation upon this subject should, indeed, be jealously watched, that the principle of political equality between the races be not legally curtailed. The doctrine laid down in the Fifteenth Amendment must, at any hazard, be maintained.

But, personally,-and I am here voicing a profound conviction,-I think our emphasis at present should be laid upon the practical rather than upon the legal aspect of the problem I think we should take advantage of the widely prevalent feeling in the South that the question of suffrage has been settled, legally, for some time to come: of the desire on the part of many Southern people, both white and colored, to turn aside from the discussion of the political status of the Negro.

In short, let us for the time being accept the laws as they are, and build upward from that point. Let us turn our attention to the practical task of finding out why it is that the laws we already have are not enforced, and how best to secure an honest vote for every Negro and equally for every 'poor white' man, who is able to meet the requirements, but who for one reason or another does not or cannot now exercise his rights. I include the disfranchised white man as well as the Negro, because I take it that we are interested, first of all, in democracy, and unless we can arouse the spirit of democracy, South and North, we can hope for justice neither for Negroes, nor for the poorer class of white men, nor for the women of the factories and shops, nor for the children of the cottonmills.

Taking up this side of the problem we shall discover two entirely distinct difficulties:-

First, we shall find many Negroes, and indeed hundreds of thousands of white men as well, who might vote, but who, through ignorance, or inability or unwillingness to pay the poll-taxes, or from mere lack of interest, disfranchise themselves.

The second difficulty is peculiar to the Negro. It consists in open or concealed intimidation on the part of the white men who control the election machinery. In many places in the South to- day no Negro, how well qualified, would dare to present himself for registration when he does, he is rejected for some trivial or illegal reason.

Thus we have to meet a vast amount of apathy and ignorance and poverty on the one hand, and the threat of intimidation on the other.

First of all, for it is the chief injustice as between white and colored men with which we have to deal,-an injustice which the law already makes illegal and punishable,-how shall we meet the matter of intimidation? As I have already said, the door of the suffrage is everywhere legally open to the Negro, but a certain sort of Southerner bars the passage-way. He stands there and, law or no law, keeps out many Negroes who might vote and he represents in most parts of the South the prevailing public opinion.

Shall we meet this situation by force? What force is available? Shall the North go down and fight the South? You and I know that the North to-day has no feeling but friendship for the South. More than that-and I say it with all seriousness, because it represents what I have heard wherever I have gone in the North to make inquiries regarding the Negro problem-the North, wrongly or rightly, is to-day more than half convinced that the South is right in imposing some measure of limitation upon the franchise. There is now, in short, no disposition anywhere in the North to interfere in internal affairs in the South-not even with the force of public opinion.

What other force, then, is to be invoked? Shall the Negro revolt? Shall he migrate? Shall he prosecute his case in the courts? The very asking of these questions suggests the inevitable reply.

We might as well, here and now, dismiss the idea of force, express or implied. There are times of last resort which call for force but this is not such a time.

What other alternatives are there?

Accepting the laws as they are, then, there are two methods of procedure, neither sensational nor exciting. I have no quick cure to suggest, but only old and tried methods of commonplace growth.

The underlying causes of the trouble in the country being plainly ignorance and prejudice, we must meet ignorance and prejudice with their antidotes, education and association.

Every effort should be made to extend free education among both Negroes and white people. A great extension of education is now going forward in the South. The Negro is not by any means getting his full share but, as certainly as sunshine makes things grow, education in the South will produce tolerance. That there is already such a growing tolerance no one who has talked with the leading white men in the South can doubt. The old fire-eating, Negro-baiting leaders of the Tillman-Vardaman type are swiftly passing away: a far better and broader group is coming into power.

In his last book, Mr. Edgar Gardner Murphy, of Alabama, expresses this new point of view when he says,-

'There is no question here as to the unrestricted admission [to the ballot] of the great masses of our ignorant and semi-ignorant blacks. I know no advocate of such admission. But the question is as to whether the individuals of the race, upon conditions or restrictions legally imposed and fairly administered, shall be admitted to adequate and increasing representation in the electorate. And as that question is more seriously and more generally considered, many of the leading publicists of the South, I am glad to say, are quietly resolved that the answer shall be in the affirmative.'

From an able Southern white man, a resident of New Orleans, I received recently a letter containing these words:-

'I believe we have reached the bottom, and a sort of quiescent period. I think it most likely that from now on there will be a gradual increase of the Negro vote. And I honestly believe that the less said about it, the surer the increase will be.'

Education-and by education I mean education of all sorts, industrial, professional, classical, in accordance with each man's talents-will not only produce breadth and tolerance, but will help to cure the apathy which now keeps so many thousands of both white men and Negroes from the polls: for it will show them that it is necessary for every man to exercise all the political rights within his reach. If he fails voluntarily to take advantage of the rights he already has, how shall he acquire more rights?

And as ignorance must be met by education, so prejudice must be met with its antidote, which is association. Democracy does not consist in mere voting, but in association, the spirit of common effort, of which the ballot is a mere visible expression. When we come to know one another we soon find that the points of likeness are much more numerous than the points of difference. And this human association for the common good, which is democracy, is difficult to bring about anywhere, whether among different classes of white people, or between white people and Negroes. As one of the leaders of the Negro race, Dr. Du Bois, has said,-

'Herein lies the tragedy of the age. Not that men are poor: all men know something of poverty. Not that men are wicked: who is good? Not that men are ignorant: what is truth? Nay, but that men know so little of each other.'

After the Atlanta riot I attended a number of conferences between leading white men and leading colored men. It is true those meetings bore evidence of awkwardness and embarrassment, for they were among the first of the sort to take place in the South, but they were none the less valuable. A white man told me after one of the meetings,-

'I did not know that there were any such sensible Negroes in the South.'

And a Negro told me that it was the first time in his life that he had ever heard a Southern white man reason in a friendly way with a Negro concerning their common difficulties.

More and more these associations of white and colored men, at certain points of contact, must and will come about. Already, in connection with various educational and business projects in the South, white and colored men meet on common grounds, and the way has been opened to a wider mutual understanding. And it is common enough now, where it was unheard of a few years ago, for both white men and Negroes to speak from the same platform in the South. I have attended a number of such meetings. Thus slowly- awkwardly, at first, for two centuries of prejudice are not immediately overcome-the white man and Negro will come to know one another, not merely as master and servant, but as co-workers. These things cannot be forced.

One reason why the white man and the Negro have not got together more rapidly in the South than they have, is because they have tried always to meet at the sorest points. When sensible people, who must live together whether or no, find that there are points at which they cannot agree, it is the part of wisdom to avoid these points, and to meet upon other and common interests. Upon no other terms, indeed, can a democracy exist, for in no imaginable future state will individuals cease to disagree with one another upon something less than half of all the problems of life.

'Here we all live together in a great country,' say the apostles of this view 'let us all get together and develop it. Let the Negro do his best to educate himself, to own his own land, and to buy and sell with the white people in the fairest possible way.'

It is wonderful, indeed, how close together men who are stooping to a common task soon come.

Now, buying and selling, land ownership and common material pursuits, may not be the highest points of contact between man and man, but they are real points, and help to give men an idea of the worth of their fellows, white or black. How many times, in the South, I heard white men speak in high admiration of some Negro farmer who had been successful, or of some Negro blacksmith who was a worthy citizen, or of some Negro doctor who was a leader of his race.

It is curious, once a man (any man, white or black) learns to do his job well, how he finds himself in a democratic relationship with other men. I remember asking a prominent white citizen of a town in Central Georgia if he knew anything about Tuskegee. He said,-

'Yes: I had rather a curious experience last fall. I was building a hotel and couldn't get any one to do the plastering as I wanted it done. One day I saw two Negro plasterers at work in a new house that a friend of mine was building. I watched them for an hour. They seemed to know their trade. I invited them to come over and see me. They came, took the contract for my work, hired a white man to carry mortar at a dollar a day, and when they got through it was the best job of plastering in town. I found that they had learned their trade at Tuskegee. They averaged four dollars a day each in wages. We tried to get them to locate in our town, but they went back to school.'

When I was in Mississippi a prominent banker showed me his business letter-heads.

'Good job, isn't it?' he said. 'A Negro printer did it. He wrote to me asking if he might bid on my work. I replied that although I had known him a long time I couldn't give him the job merely because he was a Negro. He told me to forget his color, and said that if he couldn't do as good a job and do it as reasonably as any white man could, he didn't want it. I let him try, and now he does most of our printing.'

Out of such points of contact, then, encouraged by such wise leaders as Booker T. Washington, will grow an ever finer and finer spirit of association and of common and friendly knowledge. And that will inevitably lead to an extension upon the soundest possible basis of the Negro franchise. I know cases where white men have urged intelligent Negroes to come and cast their ballots, and have stood sponsor for them, out of genuine respect. As a result, to-day, the Negroes who vote in the South are, as a class, men of substance and intelligence, fully equal to the tasks of citizenship.

Thus, I have boundless confidence not only in the sense of the white men of the South, but in the innate capability of the Negro, and that once these two come really to know each other, not at sore points of contact, but as common workers for a common country, the question of suffrage will gradually solve itself along the lines of true democracy.

Another influence also will tend to change the status of the Negro as a voter. That is the pending break-up of the political solidarity of the South. All the signs point to a political realignment upon new issues in this country, both South and North. Old party names may even pass away. And that break-up, with the attendant struggle for votes, is certain to bring into politics thousands of Negroes and white men now disfranchised. The result of a real division on live issues has been shown in many local contests in the South, as in the fight against the saloons, when every qualified Negro voter, and every Negro who could qualify, was eagerly pushed forward by one side or the other. With such a division on new issues the Negro will tend to exercise more and more political power, dividing, not on the color line, but on the principles at stake.

Thus in spite of the difficulties which now confront the Negro, I cannot but look upon the situation in a spirit of optimism. I think sometimes we are tempted to set a higher value upon the ritual of a belief than upon the spirit which underlies it. The ballot is not democracy: it is merely the symbol or ritual of democracy, and it may be full of passionate social, yes, even religious significance, or it may be a mere empty and dangerous formalism. What we should look to, then, primarily, is not the shadow, but the substance of democracy in this country. Nor must we look for results too swiftly our progress toward democracy is slow of growth and needs to be cultivated with patience and watered with faith.


Ray Stannard Baker - History

Ray Stannard Baker, What is a Lynching?, McClure's Magazine (February, 1905)

Well, on Monday afternoon the mob began to gather. At first it was an absurd, ineffectual crowd, made up largely of lawless boys of sixteen to twenty - a pronounced feature of every mob - with a wide fringe of more respectable citizens, their hands in their pockets and no convictions in their souls, looking on curiously, helplessly. They gathered hooting around the jail, cowardly, at first, as all mobs are, but growing bolder as darkness came on and no move was made to check them. The murder of Collis was not a horrible, soul-rending crime like that at Statesboro, Georgia these men in the mob were not personal friends of the murdered man it was a mob from the back rooms of the swarming saloons of Springfield and it included also the sort of idle boys "who hang around cigar stores," as one observer told me. The newspaper reports are fond of describing lynching mobs as "made up of the foremost citizens of the town." In no cases that I know of, either South or North, has a mob been made up of what may be called the best citizens but the best citizens have often stood afar off "decrying the mob" - as a Springfield man told me piously - and letting it go on. A mob is the method by which good citizens turn over the law and the government to the criminal or irresponsible classes.

And no official in direct authority in Springfield that evening, apparently, had so much as an ounce of grit within him. The sheriff came out and made a weak speech in which he said he "didn't want to hurt anybody." They threw stones at him and broke his windows. The chief of police sent eighteen men to the jail but did not go near himself. All of these policemen undoubtedly sympathized with the mob in its efforts to get at the slayer of their brother officer at least, they did nothing effective to prevent the lynching. An appeal was made to the Mayor to order out the engine companies that water might be turned on the mob. He said he didn't like to the hose might be cut! The local militia company was called to its barracks, but the officer in charge hesitated, vacillated, doubted his authority, and objected finally because he had
no ammunition except Krag-Jorgenson cartridges, which, if fired into a mob, would kill too many people! The soldiers did not stir that night from the safe and comfortable precincts of their armory.

A sort of dry rot, a moral paralysis, seems to strike the administrators of law in a town like Springfield. What can be expected of officers who are not accustomed to enforce the law, or of a people not accustomed to obey it - or who make reservations and exceptions when they do enforce it or obey it?

When the sheriff made his speech to the mob, urging them to let the law take its course they jeered him. The law! When, in the past, had the law taken its proper course in dark County? Someone shouted, referring to Dixon:

"He'll only get fined for shooting in the city limits."

"He'll get ten days in jail and suspended sentence."

"Let's go hang Mower and Miller" - the two judges.

This threat, indeed, was frequently repeated both on the night of the lynching and on the day following.

So the mob came finally, and cracked the door of the jail with a railroad rail. This jail is said to be the strongest in Ohio, and having seen it, I can well believe that the report is true. But steel bars have never yet kept out a mob it takes something a good deal stronger: human courage backed up by the consciousness of being right.

They murdered the Negro in cold blood in the jail doorway then they dragged him to the principal business street and hung him to a telegraph-pole, afterward riddling his lifeless body with revolver shots.

That was the end of that. Mob justice administered. And there the Negro hung until daylight the next morning - an unspeakably grisly, dangling horror, advertising the shame of the town. His head was shockingly crooked to one side, his ragged clothing, cut for souvenirs, exposed in places his bare body: he dripped blood. And, with the crowds of men both here and at the morgue where the body was publicly exhibited, came young boys in knickerbockers, and little girls and women by scores, horrified but curious. They came even with baby carriages! Men made jokes: "A dead nigger is a good nigger." And the purblind, dollars-and-cents man, most despicable of all, was congratulating the public:

'"It'll save the county a lot of money!"

Significant lessons, these, for the young!

But the mob wasn't through with its work. Easy people imagine that, having hanged a Negro, the mob goes quietly about its business but that is never the way of the mob. Once released, the spirit of anarchy spreads and spreads, not subsiding until it has accomplished its full measure of evil.


Ray Stannard Baker - History

Ray Stannard Baker, American Magazine, Following the Color Line (1908)

In the sixteen years from 1884 to 1900 the number of persons lynched in the United States was 2,516. Of these 2,080 were in the Southern states and 436 in the North 1,678 were Negroes and 801 were white men 2,465 were men and 51 were women. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia - the black belt states - are thus seen to have the worst records.

Every argument on lynching in the South gets back sooner or later to the question of rape. Ask any high-class citizen - the very highest - if he believes in lynching, and he will tell you roundly, "No". Ask him about lynching for rape, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he will instantly weaken.

Lynching, he says, is absolutely necessary to keep down this crime. You ask him why the law cannot be depended upon, and he replies: "It is too great an ordeal for the self-respecting white woman to go into court and accuse the Negro ravisher and withstand a public cross-examination. It is intolerable. No woman will do it. And, besides, the courts are uncertain. Lynching is the only remedy."

If the white man sets an example of non-obedience to law, of non-enforcement of law, and an example of non-obedience to law, of non-enforcement of law, and of unequal justice, what can be expected of the Negro? A criminal father is a poor preacher of homilies to a wayward son. The Negro sees a man, white or black, commit murder and go free, over and over again in all these lynching counties. Why should he fear to murder?


Ray Stannard Baker - History

Ray Stannard Baker , journalist, author, and biographer of Woodrow Wilson, was born in Lansing, Michigan on April 17, 1870 and died in Amherst, Massachusetts on July 12, 1946. After graduating from Michigan Agricultural College (later Michigan State) he briefly attended the University of Michigan Law school (1891) before launching a career as one of the leading journalists of his generation. After four years as reporter for the Chicago News-Record (1892-96), he joined the staff of McClure's Magazine , a leader in the "New Journalism" then transforming the national press. During the 190s he dreamed of writing the "Great American Novel," and published numerous stories for young people in the Youth's Companion, a magazine he himself enjoyed as a boy. But with McClure's colleagues Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, Baker soon gained a national reputation as one of the leading "muckrakers," the term Theodore Roosevelt applied to crusading journalists in 1906. That same year Baker published the first of a series of "adventures in contentment" under the pen name "David Grayson." Totaling nine volumes in all, the David Grayson adventures attracted millions of readers world-wide. Uneasy with the "muckraker" label, Baker joined several colleagues to found the American Magazine (1906). In later years, he abandoned the hard-hitting journalism of the McClure's years, but contined to chronicle the social and political life of the nation. In Following the Color Line (1908) and numerous articles during the 1910s, he was the first prominent journalist to focus on America's racial divide. After supporting President Theodore Roosevelt, Baker flirted briefly with socialism for several years before embracing the candidacy of Woodrow Wilson in 1912. Serving as Wilson's press secretary at Versailles, he eventually published fifteen volumes on Wilson and internationalism, including his 8 volume Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (1927-39), and advised on Darryl F. Zanuck's film Wilson (1944).


Ray Baker

Ray Stannard Baker (also known by his pen name David Grayson) was an American journalist, historian, biographer, and author.

In 1898 Baker joined the staff of McClure’s, a pioneer muckraking magazine, and quickly rose to prominence along with Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell. He also dabbled in fiction, writing children’s stories for the magazine Youth’s Companion and a 9-volume series of stories about rural living in America, the first of which was titled “Adventures in Contentment” (1910) under his pseudonym David Grayson, which reached millions of readers worldwide.

In 1907 dissatisfied with the muckraker label, Baker, Steffens, and Tarbell left McClure’s and founded The American Magazine. In 1908 after the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot got him involved, Baker published the book Following the Color Line: An Account of Negro Citizenship in the American Democracy, becoming the first prominent journalist to examine America’s racial divide it was extremely successful.

He followed up that work with numerous articles in the following decade.

In 1912, Baker supported the presidential candidacy of Woodrow Wilson, which led to a close relationship between the two men, and in 1918 Wilson sent Baker to Europe to study the war situation. During peace negotiations, Baker served as Wilson’s press secretary at Versailles. He eventually published 15 volumes about Wilson and internationalism, including the 6-volume The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1925-1927) with William Edward Dodd, and the 8-volume Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (1927–39), the last two volumes of which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1940. He served as an adviser on Darryl F. Zanuck’s 1944 film Wilson.

Baker wrote three autobiographies, Native American (1941) , American Chronicle (1945) and Turtles (1943)

A dormitory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is named in honor of Baker, using his pen name David Grayson. David Grayson Elementary School in Waterford, Michigan is also named in his honor using his pen name.


Baker, Joseph Stannard 1838 - 1912

land agent, soldier, b. Stafford, N.Y. He attended Oberlin (Ohio) College and the Univ. of Wisconsin. During the Civil War he served in the Union secret service and in the cavalry, rising to the rank of major. In 1864 he was captured and spent several months in Libby Prison, Richmond, Va. After the war, he taught school and worked in the Michigan state land office. In 1874 he moved to Wisconsin, settling in St. Croix Falls where he acted as land agent for Caleb Cushing&aposs extensive timber holdings. He built the first church and water works in the village. In his later years he became interested in forestry and made extensive experimental tree plantings near his home. He was the father of eight sons including the author, Ray Stannard Baker [David Grayson] (q.v.), and educators, Charles Fuller Baker and Hugh Potter Baker. St. Croix Falls, The Standard-Press, May 23, 1912 A. B. Easton, ed., Hist. of the St. Croix Valley (2 vols., Chicago, 1909) Wis. Mag. Hist., 28 R. S. Baker, Native Amer. (New York, 1941).

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Joseph Stannard Baker Papers for details.


Watch the video: History Bites: Ray Stannard Baker feat. presenter Nick Grabbe