KU KLUX KLAN - FIERY CROSS V S MLK PROTEST MARCH
Dee Finney's blog
start date July 20. 2011
Today\s date June 2. 2012
TOPIC: KIDNAPPING - 1925 NATIONAL FEDERATION - KU KLUX KLAN - CIVIL RIGHTS
6-2-12 - DREAM - I don't know who I was in this dream, clearly
not myself. I was a rather young, slim woman, wearing brown slacks and a
blouse, and I may have been a black woman. I discovered by reading
something I found at home, that I had been kidnapped by the National Federation
in 1925. (I keep wanting to say 1917.
I didn't know anything about the National Federation, so I went to the local
library and went up to a blonde woman in her 60's who was sitting at the desk
and told her, "I'm going to knock your socks off today." and smiled.
"I need to find a book about the National Federation . I was kidnapped by
them in 1925".
The woman didn't say a word, but went to an open file and pulled out a sheet
of paper that listed various organizations which was much shorter than I thought
there would be, and it merely said NF on it, which I assume it was
The woman never did say anything to me, and seeing that sheet of paper is the
last thing I saw before waking up.
Since I was born in 1938 - I had to have been someone else in this dream.
NOTE FROM DEE: I did a lot of research trying to figure out who this woman was, without any success, so I meditated to get more clues. In meditation I heard the words Ku Klux Klan and saw a frog, which is symbolic for jumping from one place to another.
I don't know exactly where this page is going to end up, but I'm starting with th e Ku Klux Klan in Indiana because taht is the first page that came up that fit the dream.
In 1925, the Indiana KKK was the largest state branch in the Klan's "Invisible Empire." The conviction in November of that year of D. C. Stephenson, the powerful grand dragon of the Indiana Klan, for the murder of Madge Oberholtzer led to a dramatic decline in the organization's membership and political influence. What began as a vicious rape on a night train from Indianapolis to Chicago ended with arrests of Indiana's governor and other high state officials.
On a hot July 4, 1923 in
Kokomo Indiana's Melfalfa Park, the new grand dragon addressed the
largest Klan rally ever held in the United States. Five years later, in
a somewhat fictionalized retelling of the story, the
Atlantic Monthly would report
that D. C. Stephenson climbed out of a
private airplane and told the assembled tens of thousands: "My
worthy subjects, citizens of the Invisible Empire, Klansmen all,
greetings! It grieves me to be late. The President of the United States
kept me unduly long counseling upon vital matters of state." The fact
that the Atlantic Monthly's
questionable version of events has so often been repeated is testament,
as Stephenson biographer William Lutholtz observed, to "bravado and
bluff, the incredible audacity, that formed the heart of Stephenson's
life." In fact, Stephenson's speech that day was entitled "Back to the
Constitution." He denounced political corruption, American imperialism
abroad, and called for an end to deficit spending. He ended his
hour-long, enthusiastically received talk with the cry, "Where there is
no vision, the people perish!" All in all, there was scarcely a phrase
in the speech that would embarrass a major party candidate today. There
were better places than a huge rally attended by media from several
states to deliver the KKK's anti-Catholic, anti-black, anti-Jewish
That night, Stephenson, in
his newly-won golden orange robe and hood, enjoyed the conclusion of the
"Konklave in Kokoma." A Klan parade, with robed high Klan officials on
horseback and a dozen floats wound its way through town. "Onward
Christian Soldiers" blared from a forty-piece marching band. When the
parade was over, the crowd moved to Foster Park and sung hymns such as
"The Old Rugged Cross" around a sixty-foot high fiery cross. Fireworks
streaked through the nighttime sky. Stephenson soaked it all in. He was,
he thought, soon destined to be the most powerful man in Indiana.
Stephenson did become a
man to be reckoned with in Indiana politics. (In fact, his reach
extended beyond the Hoosier state, as Stephenson served as king kleagle
of seven other states as well.) Within a few weeks of his installation
as grand dragon, Stephenson was entertaining politicians on his new
yacht. Among those who sailed Lake Erie on his yacht were a U. S.
senator, congressmen, judges, governors, and several state legislators.
In the 1924 elections, Stephenson helped build the Klan into a potent
political force. Candidates favored by the KKK--white Protestants
all--benefited from the door-to-door campaigning of Klan members, who
distributed printed slates of Klan-endorsed candidates with a wooden
clothespin attached to each. The perfect candidate, in Stephenson's
view, was nervous one who thought he needed the voters that the KKK
could bring out, and was willing to promise support for the Klan's
agenda in return for that vote. One such candidate, it turned out, was
Ed Jackson, the man who would become governor of Indiana.
While his political
influence grew, Stephenson's relationship with the KKK's Imperial Wizard
Hiram Evans (national head of the organization) soured. The growing feud
between the two men over finances and priorities led Stephenson to
resign as grand dragon in the fall of 1923, but by May 1924 he reclaimed
the title of grand dragon of a new Indiana Klan, largely independent of
the national organization. Stephenson's feelings for Evans are aptly
demonstrated by his description of the Klan's leader in a letter to a
friend: "The present national head is an ignorant, uneducated, uncouth
individual who picks his nose at the table and eats peas with his knife.
He has neither courage or culture." In a speech to Indiana Klan members,
Stephenson predicted great things for his state organization: "We are
going to Klux Indiana as she has never been Kluxed before!...And the
fiery cross is going to burn at every crossroads in Indiana, as long as
there is a white man left in the state!"
Rumors concerning a dark
side of D. C. Stephenson began to emerge. Time and time again, reports
surfaced of attempted rapes, sexual assaults, or inappropriate sexual
encounters--almost all after he had been drinking. Shortly after the
Kokomo knonvocation a woman told police that Stephenson attempted to
have sex with her in his car and that he "is a beast when he is drunk."
In Ohio, he plead guilty to indecent exposure after a deputy sheriff
caught him with his pants down next to a young woman in a parked
Cadillac on the side of a highway. In January 1924, Stephenson tried to
have forced sex with a manicurist sent to his hotel room, and punched
out a bell-boy who attempted to come to the woman's rescue. In the fall
of 1924, a young actress attending a party at Stephenson's home told
investigators that he had locked her in a room, knocked her down, bit
her, and "tried to force himself on me." By early summer of 1924, Hiram
Evans saw Stephenson's pattern of intoxication, biting, and attempted
rape as a means to rid the Klan of his nemesis for good. He proposed
trying Stephenson before a Klan tribunal on several charges, including
habitual drunkenness and demonstrating disrespect for virtuous
womanhood. In late June, the tribunal found him guilty on six charges,
called for his "banishment forever," and published a fifty page report
on his misdeeds. Stephenson responded by calling the banishment and the
allegations against him the shameful plot of the southern Klan.
Stephenson, taking a lower
profile in Indiana Klan activities, turned his attention in the fall of
1924 to getting Ed Jackson elected governor of Indiana. In November,
Jackson, a Republican, won the governorship by more than 125,000 votes.
With Indiana's U. S. Senator in failing health, Stephenson told friends
that he expected Governor Jackson might appoint him to be the Hoosier
state's new United States senator. The future for D.C. Stephenson looked
For Ed Jackson's
inauguration on January 12, 1925, event planner Stanley Hill recruited a
woman he was dating, a twenty-eight-year-old manager of a reading circle
Madge Oberholtzer, to help with name tags for the banquet hall. Hill
placed himself at the same table as Stephenson and during the dinner
Hill introduced Madge to the Klan leader. Later, when the orchestra
began to play, Stephenson asked Oberholtzer to dance. Over the next
couple of months, D.C. and Madge would see each other at another party
and dine together on at least a couple of occasions. Stephenson also
hired Madge to help write a book that he hoped the new legislature would
make required reading in Indiana public schools, a book on nutrition
call One Hundred Years of Health.
Stephenson succeeded in
pushing through House Bill 287 on March 9, 1925. The bill ordered that
public schools teach a course in diet and nutrition. Only one text could
meet the specific requirements established in H.B. 287: Stephenson's own
One Hundred Years of Health.
Sales of the book, which Madge Oberholtzer was busily writing, could net
Stephenson a small fortune. When not pushing his legislative schemes,
Stephenson entertained. He hosted parties that ranged from respectable
black-tie events to Roman orgies in which Stephenson, dressed as a
satyr, would lash naked women with a whip as they pranced around the
On March 15, Madge
returned to her home around 10 P.M. after a date. When she arrived, her
mother told her that D.C. Stephenson's secretary had called with an
important message while she was out, and that she should return the
call. Stephenson answered. He told Madge that he was leaving for Chicago
and had to see her about something "very important" before he left.
Stephenson told her to expect one of his bodyguards to stop by her house
shortly to escort her to his house. Madge, wearing a black velvet dress
and a coat, walked out the door into the late winter night with a man
she had never seen. His name, she would learn later, was Earl Gentry.
Stephenson had been
drinking. When Madge declined an invitation to drink, Stephenson and the
other men insisted. She drank three glasses of liquor and vomited.
Stephenson proposed that she join him and the other men on a trip to
Chicago. Later, in a dying declaration recorded by her lawyer, Madge
described what happened next:
Stephenson said to me, "I want you to go with me toAfter boarding the train at Union Station, Stephenson and Gentry led at once into a drawing room. Soon after the trained pulled out of Indianapolis, Stephenson grabbed the bottom of Madge's dress and pulled it over her head and she tried unsuccessfully to fight him away. Soon Stephenson stripped her naked and shoved her into the lower berth. He attacked her viciously. He chewed her all over her body; bit her neck and face; chewed her tongue; chewed her breasts until they bled and chewed her back, her legs, and her ankles.
In the early morning, the train pulled into the station at Hammond, Indiana. Gentry shook Madge awake and told her they were leaving the train. Stephenson was flourishing his revolver. Madge repeatedly begged the Klan leader to shoot her, but he put the gun away in his grip. The two men led Madge to the Indiana Hotel, where Stephenson registered for himself and wife under the name of Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Morgan. Once in room 416, Madge pleaded with Stephenson to send a telegram to her mother. Stephenson complied, but dictated the contents.
After a breakfast served in their room, Madge had recovered sufficiently to ask to be driven to a drug store so that she might purchase some rouge. While Stephenson's body guard "Shorty" waited outside in a car, Oberholtzer purchased a box of bichloride of mercury tablets and put them in her coat pocket. Once back at the hotel, Madge waited until Stephenson was asleep. She described what she did next: "I laid out eighteen of the bichloride of mercury tablets and at once took six of them; I only took six because they burnt me so." She laid down on the bed and soon became very ill, vomiting blood. Discovered reeling in pain, Madge admitted taking poison. An alarmed Stephenson first proposed taking her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped, but Madge refused, and the threat of her spilling the beans about the rape caused him to reconsider. Eventually, the men decided to load Madge into the back seat of an automobile and head back to Indianapolis.
Indiana Klan wedding photo
Madge made the journey back in
agony, screaming for a doctor or pain relief most of the way. She begged
Stephenson to leave her along the road, in the hope that some one would
stop and take care of her, but the car just sped on. Stephenson and
Gentry spent the road trip drinking, while "Shorty" drove. Stephenson,
according to Oberholtzer's account, did not seem overly concerned with
his plight, though he remarked, "This takes guts to do this Gentry. She
is dying." Stephenson predicted he would escape punishment and that "my
word is the law."
Upon reaching Indianapolis, they drove straight to Stephenson's house
only to find Madge's mother waiting by the front door. After "Shorty"
lied about Madge's whereabouts and Mrs. Oberholtzer left, the three men
carried Madge to a room above Stephenson's garage.
Madge's condition seemingly improved over night. About noon on Tuesday, March 17 (two days after the rape), a Stephenson bodyguard named Earl Klinck carried her back to her home, but only after she was warned several times to say that her injuries and suffering were the result of "an automobile accident." Stephenson, she said, told her, "You must forget this, what is done has been done. I am the law and the power." Klinck, after telling Eunice Shultz, a roomer in the Oberholtzer house, that Made had been hurt in a car accident, carried Madge into the house and upstairs and placed her on her bed. Leaving quickly, he told Shultz, "My name is Johnson from Kokomo and I must hurry."
Madge on Her Deathbed
Eunice Shultz found Madge pale and groaning on her bed. She bore bruises on her cheek, chest, and breast, stomach, legs, and ankles. The skin on her left breast was open. Madge opened her mouth and spoke: "Oh!, dear mother. Mrs. Shultz, I am dying." Doctor Kingsbury, summoned to the house by Schultz, determined Madge to be in a state of shock. Her body was cold and her pulse rapid. When asked her how she was injured, Madge first replied, "When I get better, I will tell you the whole story." Then, some minutes later, she told the story of the rape by Stephenson on a train and her ingesting of poison the next day. Kingsbury collected a urine sample which, after testing, showed evidence of acute kidney inflammation. Every day, for the next four weeks until her death, Dr. Kingsbury would visit and treat his patient.
On March 28, Dr. Kingsbury concluded
Oberholtzer had no chance for recovery. When he told his patient the bad
news, Madge took it well:
On March 28, Dr. Kingsbury concluded Oberholtzer had no chance for recovery. When he told his patient the bad news, Madge took it well:"That is all right doctor, I am ready to die. I understand you doctor. I believe you and I am ready to die." What Kingsbury could not tell Madge is exactly why she was dying, only that it seemed to be a combination of all that had happened to her, the shock, possible infection from the bites, loss of rest, and the action of the poison on her system and her lack of early treatment.
When Asa Smith, an
attorney and a friend of the Oberholtzer family, learned that Madge's
prospects were grim, he decided to take a statement for use in a
possible criminal trial involving Stephenson and other defendants. A
statement made in the belief of one's own imminent death is called "a
dying declaration" and is generally admissible in court, even though
obviously not subject to cross-examination. Oberholtzer told the
attorney and from the statements so made by her to him, he prepared and
had transcribed a dying statement, which was read to her and in which
she made corrections. Madge signed the statement, saying therein that
she had no hope of recovery. Two weeks later, on the morning of April
14, 1925, with her parents and a nurse by her side, Madge died.
Getting Ready for TrialIn its case, the defense strongly contested the prosecution suggestion that Madge's death resulted from the mercury tablets she voluntarily ingested. Dr. Orvill Smiley and Dr. J. D. Moschelle, both Indianapolis doctors who had treated cases of mercury poisoning, testified that in their opinions the cause of death was "bichloride of mercury," not an infection. Coroner Dr. Paul Robinson, disagreeing with the doctor who performed the autopsy, told jurors that the official verdict of his office on the cause of Madge's death was also mercury poisoning.
In the first days after the assault, when hope still existed for a full recovery by Madge, Asa Smith approached Stephenson concerning a monetary settlement that would provide some compensation for the Oberholtzers but spare the family the embarrassment of a criminal or civil trial. Smith and attorneys for Stephenson discussed a settlement in the neighborhood of $10,000, but negotiations broke off when word came of Madge's deteriorating condition.
Marion County prosecutor Will Remy prepared a warrant for Stephenson's arrest on kidnapping and assault charges on April 2. At his arraignment four days later, Stephenson was asked by a reporter for a comment on the case. "I refuse to discuss such trivial matters, " Stephenson replied. "How would you like to be fishing right now and watch a red darter spinning in front of a bass?" Pressed further, Stephenson harrumphed, "Nothing to it! I'll never be indicted!"
But attitudes in Indiana towards Stephenson were changing rapidly. Reports concerning the rape on the train appeared in newspapers throughout the state. Public indignation with Stephenson was grew by the day, reaching a fever pitch by the time of Madge's funeral. On that day, Judge James Collins announced that he was rejecting a defense motion to quash the indictment. Stephenson would face trial--and now it would be a murder trial.
In late April, the coroner's office released a report on the autopsy of Madge Oberholtzer. Based on a chemical analysis of Madge's internal organs, the report concluded that her "death was due to mercurial poisoning, self administered." The report complicated the prosecution's efforts as it could now be anticipated that the defense would contend that Stephenson's rape was not the proximate cause of her death and that therefore he could not be convicted of murder. If infections resulting from the rape were not the cause of death, prosecutor Remy might now have to prove that duress from the rape and kidnapping was so closely connected to Madge's decision to ingest the mercury tablets as to make it a foreseeable consequence of the rape--and that would be a difficult task.
Eight days after Stephenson pleaded "not guilty," defense attorney Eph Inman filed a motion for a change of venue, which was granted. The Stephenson trial was headed for Noblesville, Indiana and the courtroom of Judge Fred Hines. Also faces charges for the murder of Oberholtzer were Stephenson's companions on the notorious train trip, Earl Klinck and Earl Gentry.
The defense's first attack was aimed at Madge's dying declaration. In a hearing before Judge Hines, the defense sought to prove that Oberholtzer died of mercurial poisoning, not infection resulting from Stephenson's bites, and that she was not in a sound state of mind at the time she gave her dying declaration. Inman called doctors to the stand, each of which stated his opinion that the mercury tablets were the cause of death. Then he called attorney Asa Smith, who admitted that he--not Madge--wrote the dying declaration. Inman failed, however, to produce any evidence that Madge was not in full possession of her faculties at the time the declaration was prepared. Accepting defeat as inevitable, the defense withdrew its motion to exclude the declaration from the trial.
Meanwhile, news accounts of Oberholtzer's rape and death caused public opinion to swing rapidly against the Klan. Sentiment against Stephenson swung even more dramatically, thanks in part to the efforts of Imperial Wizard Evans, who saw the trial as a way of ridding himself of his trouble-making Klan rival.
Defense attorney Eph Inman and prosecutor Will Remy
The Prosecution Case
The trial of D.C. Stephenson, Earl Klinck, and Earl Gentry for the kidnapping and murder of Madge Oberholtzer opened on October 12 before Judge Will Sparks. (Sparks replaced Judge Hines, after Hines accepted the defense's motion for a new judge.) Only after a record 260 potential jurors were interviewed, and the judge's patience with the process finally exhausted, was a jury of twelve men finally seated. Opening arguments were presented on October 29. Charles Cox, for the prosecution, told jurors that the state's star witness, from the grave, would be Madge Oberholtzer:
Clean of soul, but with her bruised, mangled, poisoned and ravished body, standing by her grave's edge, with the shadowy wings of the dark angel of death over her, will tell you...the story of her entrapment, of her being drugged, kidnapped, assaulted, beaten, lacerated with beastly fangs, and finally, as the culmination of indignities and brutalities unheard of in a civilized community before, how she was forced by the loss of all that a good woman holds dear, to take the deadly poison that contributed to her untimely death.
A series of prosecution witnesses described events and Madge's condition in the days after Stephenson's assault. The state's first witness, Matilda Oberhotltzer, Madge's mother, testified that when her daughter was brought home "her breasts had open wounds all over." The boarder at the Oberholtzer's, Eunice Shutltz, testified next and identified defendant Earl Klinck as the man who claimed to be "Mr. Johnson from Kokomo" and that Madge had been "hurt in an automobile accident." Dr.John Kingsbury, the doctor who examined and treated Madge, testified that she told him "she expected and wanted to die." Kingsbury told jurors that a week or so later he came to the conclusion that Madge's condition was deteriorating and was hopeless. Kingsbury testified that the lack of prompt treatment in the first several hours after Madge took the poison most likely ended her chances of recovery. George Oberholtzer, Madge's father, testified next and reported that Madge "begged and begged" her abductors to get her to a doctor, but they refused.
Attorney Asa Smith, the family friend who prepared the dying declaration signed by Madge, presented the testimony that cleared the way for the introduction of Madge's account into evidence. Smith admitted that he wrote the declaration in his office, but testified that it was based on notes from his bedside conversation with the dying woman. The attorney said that he went over each line of the statement with Madge, making any corrections that she suggested. On cross-examination, defense attorney Eph Inman raised questions about the declaration, probing Smith about why he didn't know the name of the notary public who acknowledged Madge's signature and suggesting that the statement was really based more on Smith's imprecise memory than Madge's actual words. When Will Remy tried to enter the dying declaration into evidence, the defense objected on the ground that Madge's death resulted from her suicide, not the actions of any of the defendants. Judge Sparks, however, admitted the declaration and allowed Remy to read it to the jurors.
The next phase of the state's case consisted of a series of witnesses who placed Madge on the train with the other defendants, and then at the Hammond hotel. A black porter on the train testified that he heard Madge say to Stephenson, "Oh dear, put the gun up. I am afraid of it." A night clerk at the hotel testified that he had checked Stephenson and Oberholtzer into room 416 under the name "Mr. and Mrs. W. B. Morgan." A bellboy reported seeing bruises on Madge's cheeks.
Finally, the prosecution presented evidence that the actions of Stephenson and the other defendants led directly to Madge's death. Beatrice Spratley, Madge's nurse, told jurors that a laceration on Madge's left breast became infected and the infection was still visible at the time of her death. Dr. Virgil Moon, who performed the autopsy on Oberholtzer, testified that "the immediate cause of death was an infection carried through the blood stream, localizing in the lung and in the kidney." He expressed his opinion that but for the lacerations received during her assault, Madge would have recovered from her poisoning. Newspaper accounts trumpeted the medical testimony as a severe blow to the defense case.
The Defense Case
After presenting yet another doctor to testify that mercury--not lacerations--killed Madge, the defense called to the stand a witness, Cora Householder, who the defense planned to use to undermine the prosecution's suggestion that Oberholtzer was as pure as the driven snow. Householder would, if permitted, testify that Madge had been having an affair with her estranged husband. Judge Sparks cut the defense questioning off, sustaining a prosecution objection to Householder's testimony as irrelevant and inadmissible. The defense had better luck with dentist Vallery Ailstock, who told jurors he once had Madge ask him for a glass of gin in the company of Stephenson. E. B. Schultze, the wife of a local Klan organizer, testified that Stephenson and Madge had visited her house in November 1923 (two months before Madge said she first met Stephenson) and that Madge called Stephenson "dear" and "Stevie." Ralph Rigdon, a close political friend of Stephenson, provided the most surprising testimony, placing Madge and D. C. together in a hotel suite enjoying gin weeks before the alleged assault. In cross-examination, defense attorney's labeled Rigdon's testimony "a plain lie" and soon a shouting match between attorneys erupted that finally led to Judge Sparks cautioning, "Now gentlemen, ...if you can't conduct yourself properly on both sides, I am going to get somebody that will!" Following more testimony--and more heated exchanges--with Rigdon, the defense produced two more witnesses who also placed Madge and Stephenson together on occasions well before the ill-fated train trip to Hammond.
Summations and Verdict
In his three-hour-long summation, Will Remy told the crowed courtroom that the defendants "destoyed Madge's body, tried to destroy her soul" and over the course of the trial tried to "befoul her character." He called the testimony of various defense witnesses (part of Stephenson's "gang") who tried to tarnish Oberholtzer's reputation nothing but a "maze of lies and artifices." He told jurors they should convict the defendants of murder because their refusal to provide immediate care after Madge's poisoning "hastened her death."
For the defense, Ira Holmes argued that "suicide is not a crime in Indiana" and therefore the defendants cannot be considered accessories. He questioned the accuracy of Madge's dying declaration, telling jurors that the words in the document "originated in the mind of Asa Smith." As for the prosecution's claim of premeditation, Holmes argued that because Stephenson did not "force her to take poison."
Charles Cox, in the state's second summation, described Stephenson as "a sadist and moral degenerate" who "should be killed by the law." Let free, he warned jurors, these perverts would "commit other outrages." But, he told jurors, "You won't let them do it."
Closing next for the defense, Floyd Christian argued that Madge's death was a suicide for which his clients bore no criminal responsibility: "If a man went home and committed suicide because his banker refused to lend him money, you wouldn't hang the banker. It would be a plain case of suicide, as this is. Suicide can't be homicide."
Eph Inman, summing up next, claimed "there is some mysterious power in this state that is back of the persecution of this men." He argued that Madge had several opportunities to escape her "captors," such as when she was in the drug store buying mercury tablets. He said that because of her own actions--failure to flee or seek help, failure to immediately tell Stephenson that she ingested mercury--she, rather than the defendants, bore responsibility for her own death. Inman said that the defendants had already "suffered far too much" and that the jurors have a duty to make sure no "more harm comes to these men."
Finally, wrapping up for the state, Ralph Kane concluded his emotional speech by asking "whether there's a man in this community who would sign a verdict to acquit this hideous monster who preys on the virtuous young daughters of our state!"
On November 14, 1925, after four hours of deliberation, jurors filed into their courtroom to announce their verdicts: Stephenson was found guilty of second degree murder. Klinck and Gentry were acquitted. Stephenson, leaving the courtroom, told a reporter, "Hell, we've only begun to fight!" His attorney, Floyd Christian, added, "Of course we will appeal." One week later, having been sentenced to life, Stephenson heard the gates of Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Indiana slam shut behind him.
Stephenson counted on a pardon from his friend and political ally, Governor Ed Jackson. Political calculations for Jackson, however, were far different than they had been before the Oberholtzer assault. D. C. Stephenson was no longer a popular man in Indiana. No pardon came.
In July 1927, in revenge for not getting his expected pardon, Stephenson released to the press "little black boxes" containing the names and incriminating records of political leaders in Indiana who had been on the Klan payroll. The information led to the indictment of Governor Jackson and other public officials. The resulting publicity also led to a crackdown on the Klan and its influence in the state rapidly declined.
The Stephenson appeal was not decided by the Indiana Supreme Court until 1932. With three justices dissenting, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.
Stephenson was paroled in 1950, but arrested again just eight months later and sentenced to another ten-year term. In 1956, Stephenson was discharged from prison a second time. In 1961, in Independence, Missouri, Stephenson was arrested on charges on attempting to sexually molest a sixteen-year-old girl. The man who once said he "was the law in Indiana" died on June 28, 1966 in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Note: The best source for information concerning the D. C. Stephenson case is Grand Dragon: D. C. Stephenson and the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana by M. William Lutholtz (Purdue Univ. Press, 1991.)
THE FIERY CROSS - MEANIING
The Fiery cross is the English language term for a piece of wood, such as a baton, that North Europeans, e.g. Scotsmen and Scandinavians, used to send to rally people for things (assemblies) for defence or rebellion (if beacons were not appropriate).
In Scotland the "fiery cross", known as the Crann Tara was used as a declaration of war, which required all clan members to rally to the defence of the area. The practice is described in the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott. A small burning cross or charred piece of wood would be carried from town to town. The most recent known use there was in 1745, during the Jacobite Rising. Crann Tàra – “The gathering beam, a signal formally used on occasion of insult or impending danger, to summon a clan to arms. It was a piece of wood, half burnt and dipped in blood, in token of the revenge by fire and sword awaiting those clansmen who did not immediately answer the summons. It was passed from one permanently appointed messenger to another, and in this manner the alarm was spread across the largest districts in an incredibly short time. In 1745 the crann tàra traversed the wide district of Breadalbane, upwards of 30 miles in three hours.” (Dwelly, E. 1973: 264). , the best part of a century before the foundation of the KKK. Although many of the members of the KKK were descended from immigrants from Scotland, there is no evidence to suggest that their ancestors brought this tradition with them to America. The name Crann Tara was used for a Scottish Gaelic current affairs programme on Grampian Television (ITV).
The most recent use of the Fiery Cross in Scotland was not during the Forty-Five. In 1820 over 800 fighting men of Clan Grant was gathered, by the passing of the Fiery Cross, to come to the aid of their Clan Lord and his sister in the village of Elgin. See http://www.clangrant-us.org/history.htm
When an enemy had arrived, fiery crosses (Old Swedish: buþkafle (sg.)) were sent in all directions. In Sweden, they consisted of clubs, or just wooden chunks, and they were charred on one end and had a string attached to the other end, as a sign. In Norway, it was an arrow. Olaus Magnus (1555) relates that the one who did not bring the cross to the next village would be hanged and his homestead burnt down.
The objects were signed with runes or other marks in order to indicate the reason for the assembly (e.g. election of king at the Stone of Mora), and who had sent them. During the Middle Ages, using buþkaflar was the official method of assembling people, and they were only allowed to be carved by certain officials, e.g. governors and sheriffs.
They were especially efficient, however, when they were used to levy people against royal oppression and high taxes. After the great Dance of Dalarna uprising, there were strong checks placed on the use of fiery crosses.
In Sweden, the fiery crosses were standardized during the village reorganizations in 1742, and it was at the village level that they were frequently used. During the 19th and 20th centuries, more specific messages were attached to the clubs or inserted into a hollow space. Still in the early 20th century, there was a paragraph in Swedish law that stated that the fiery cross would be sent between the villages if there was a forest fire.
The Truth About The Fiery Cross
and it's relation to the Ku Klux Klan
Let's finally set the record straight on this
fiery cross controversy. I went to a Catholic grammar
school and Catholic high school. We studied the origins of the
fiery cross and its religious symbolism in class. Now here it is
contrary to anyone else's propaganda.
According to church doctrine the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, beheld a vision of a fiery cross in the sky on the eve of a battle. With the fiery cross vision in the sky were the words: "With this sign ye shall conquer." Constantine adopted the fiery cross as his symbol on his shield and won the battle. That's how it all got started and since then the fiery cross has been a religious symbol not only for the Catholic Church, but numerous Protestant churches as well. As a religious symbol these churches use the fiery cross in various ways.
Does it make any difference whether or not the cross is drawn or painted burning, or is actually lighted with fire? Have you ever stopped to think of just how many times God and fire are connected in the Bible? The Bible often uses fire as a symbol of God. In Deuteronomy 4:24 and in Hebrews 12:29, God is referred to as a consuming fire. In Malachi 3:2, the promised Messiah is referred to as a refiner's fire. In Mathew 3:11, John the Baptist speaks of Christ saying, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." In Exodus chapter three, God spoke to Moses out of a burning bush. In chapter 14 of Exodus, God came down as a pillar of fire. In Genesis chapter 19:24-25, Leviticus 10, Second Chronicles 7, and First Kings 18, Second Kings 2, God is again and again symbolized with fire, and fire gives light. Now the cross has been long established as the symbol of Christ and Christ is the Light of the world. The Gospel of John 1:4-5 states: "In Him (Christ) was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness grasped it not." Thus, this passage has been symbolized by illuminating a cross with fire at night.
So what's so hard to figure out about that? I
wish to point out here, that recently I have seen on TV
documentaries several deliberate distortions. I have seen the fiery
cross of Constantine's vision being changed to a vision of just a
cross, not a flaming or fiery one. I've recently seen the cross
being dropped all together and replaced with the cross keys of the
church. This is deliberate lying on the part of modern propagandists
for the sake of brain washing a gullible public with politically
correct rubbish. They are deliberately trying to change every symbol
of Christianity into a symbol of racist hate. The Christian religion
is being twisted and perverted by the powers of anti-Christ right
before our very eyes.
Now, how did the Ku Klux Klan get tied up with
all this? As I've said in other sections of this web page, the
original KKK did not use the fiery cross. In the 47 volumes that
make up the Ku Klux Report to Congress there is not one newspaper,
not one eye witness, not one ex-Klansman, not one surviving victim
who makes a reference to a fiery cross of any kind during the era of
the original KKK. The Klan - fiery cross "link" is the work of
fiction writer, Thomas Dixon, in his novel, "The Clansman". When
questioned years later as to why he did that, Dixon said that he put
the fiery cross into his Klan novel because his Uncle had told him
that on one occasion the Klan used a small fiery cross as a signal
light. This one use of a small fiery cross by a local Klan unit may
not have even happened! However, when D.W. Griffith made the Dixon
novel in to the epic motion picture, "The Birth of a Nation",
Griffith embellished the fictitious usage of a fiery cross by the
Klan. He knew a good movie prop when he saw one.
Then came Col. Simmons who revived the KKK in
1915. He was a former Methodist circuit minister and as you saw
above, the fiery cross is a Methodist religious symbol. After he saw
Birth of a Nation, he quickly incorporated the fiery cross as a
major ceremonial prop in his revived Klan. However, the use of fiery
crosses were quickly misinterpreted on one hand and on the other,
unauthorized use of fiery crosses by local units led to misuse and
then, abuse by renegade Klansmen and pranksters. The revival Klan
disbanded in 1944.
The Klan was revived again in 1946 and the fiery
cross was kept as a ceremonial prop. But during the violent 1960's
Civil Rights era renegade Klans and rabid rednecks truly abused the
fiery cross and did use it as an act of intimidation, terror, and
lit it in some cases as to make it a part of arson. The modern
media, with its beloved yellow journalism, lies, falsehoods, half
truths, and distortions (in other words, politically correct brain
washing) was always quick to run wild with such incidents for the
sake of its self serving sensationalism. (So what else is new?)
So now what? Well, recently various wannabe Klan
groups have held their imitation cross lightings against the orders
of the police who have cited various newly passed federal, state, or
local laws regarding such. They then found themselves on the losing
end in court room cases because these amateurs couldn't even defend
their use of the fiery cross by proving it a well established
religious symbol and thus protected under the First Amendment.
Again, establishment media was quick to carry on its anti-Christ
propaganda campaign and has all but demonized the ceremony and
defamed the symbolism.
But! All these pipsqueak Klans
claim to be the direct descendent Klan of the original (hence, true)
Ku Klux Klan So why, then, do they need to use the fiery cross at
all when the original Klan never used it? If these Klans were to
singularly model themselves after the revival Klan and bring back
all the ceremonies, degree work, and Klankraft of that Klan as a
great fraternal order, then I could see them still using the fiery
cross, in private or where public permission had been given (whether
that permission had to be obtained after a court battle or not). But
these wannabe Klans still consider themselves as a group of
regulators as was the original KKK. While the more extreme illegal
Klans actually consider themselves in rebellion against our
Constitutional Free Republic and seek to impose a dictatorship. To
regulate or purge our government of political prostitutes and New
World Order traitors is one thing. To advocate the destruction of
our Constitution and Freedom is another. But either way why do these
"Klans" want to burn a cross when they neither practice, nor even
understand its deep religious meaning? Ignorance, that's why. These
idiots are now starting to have swastika lightings at the same time
at some of their rallies. A pagan symbol being considered the same
are Christian symbol? Talk about a contradiction, how dumb can they
get? We don't call them illegal Klans for nothing. But
contradictions are their stock in trade. I've seen their web pages
and literature where they all claim to be a strictly legal, law
abiding, moral, Christian fraternal order. Yet, I've gone to their
rallies and have dealt with them in person. They break the law like
crazy. They are always losing major lawsuits or going to jail. They
live drunken, drug abusing immoral lives, and the last thing they
ever do is anything fraternal or Christian. They lie, they steal,
they slander and stab everyone in the back including themselves.
Then they wonder why no normal people want to join their little sham
A true copy, by order of the Great Blufustin, GSKKK
The Ku Klux Klan is not a church
never intended to be one!
The KKK is not a self declaring belief system. No
one is born a Klan
When the Klan was revived in 1915, Imperial
Wizard Simmons, again, wrote everything down. The rules,
regulations, ceremonies, activities, functions, structure and so on
were not only written down, but copyrighted and placed on public
record for all the world to see. (I refer you to the Kloran, Klan
Constitution, Klan in action booklet, Klansman's Manual, and all the
other defining books and ceremonies, called Klankraft, available
from us in our booklets section.) Imperial Wizards Simmons, Evans,
and Colescott made it plain and clear that the KKK was not a
religion, church, or political party. It was a Protestant Fraternal
When the Klan was revived in 1946, by Grand
Dragon Green (He did not take the title of Grand or Imperial Wizard
for technical reasons concerning the IRS and the Klan's prior
disbandment.), Green, too, established his Klan as a Fraternal
Order. And it was carried through as such right up to the 1990's.
Though it occasionally engaged in political activity and other
things, whenever a branch of the Klan established itself in a new
area, incorporated, or was chartered it always did so as a Fraternal
Order in the 20th century.
So, how did this "Klan as a church" nonsense come
about. It was the idea of wannabe wizard Ray Larsen (it's an alias
he uses, but I won't give his real name here). In the mid 1990's,
Imperial Wizard James Venable died and his National Knights of the
Ku Klux Klan (an authentic Klan organization), which had been fading
for years, disbanded. Ray Larsen was quick to claim the name of the
National Knights as the name for his own miniscule group of assorted
odd personalities. He then told me, at one of his rallies and by
phone call a few times, that he was thinking of declaring his Klan a
church. For the above stated reasons, I told him that that was an
absurd idea and that the original Klansmen would flip in their
graves if they heard of it. As usual, these upstarts don't listen to
common sense, nor do they follow the rules and established facts of
history. So he went off on his wild tangent and declared himself
"Reverend" Ray Larsen (who isn't honest enough with you to use his
real name), Imperial Wizard of the Church of the National Knights of
the KKK. The idea was not an act of zealous faith. It was just a
political ploy to attempt to gain better legal protection under the
Following in his tracks came the renegade Jeff Berry. Jeff Berry split off from the Liberty Knights of the KKK (who had, themselves, split off from the Templar Knights of the KKK) in the mid 1990's. Berry couldn't figure out what to name his new "Klan". He called me about it and I suggested the name "American Knights" which he liked and adopted for his own. (Keep in mind, this guy's going to save the whole white race, yet he couldn't even figure out what to call his own Klan and had to ask my help.) Shortly afterward, Berry took to Larsen's idea and declared himself, "Reverend" Jeff Berry, Imperial Wizard of the Church of the American Knights of the KKK. Since then a number of tag along "Klans" have done the same. But it is the dumbest thing they could do and it is a complete misuse of the Klan name and misinterpretation of the Klan itself. These Klans don't need enemies when they do such a good job of fouling things up themselves. (Kook Klutz Klowns.)
If anyone takes the time to look past the shabby
superficial lip service they pay to Christianity, you'll see nothing
religious or Christian about them at all. Ray Larsen openly
associates with, and has as speakers at his events, publicly known
illegal drug abusers, such as the many times convicted neo-nazi Ted
Dunn. "Reverend" Jeff on the other hand is presently serving a seven
year prison sentence for threatening a news reporter with a gun.
Prior to that, "Rev." Jeff was caught and prosecuted for cheating
senior citizens with his fly by night home repair business. He over
charged for work he did and charged others for work he did not do.
Way to go "Rev." Jeff. A man of God (???) cheating senior citizens.
To get himself out of the legal mess he agreed to become an informer
for the police. He provided the police with so much information it
resulted in 70 arrests. Now, he was not informing on Klan
organizations but drug abusers. In that respect he deserves a medal.
But, I live a clean life. I don't hang around with the drug using
crowd. If I even suspect it, I disassociate with any such
individuals because it is illegal and I am a law abiding citizen. It
is not a Christian life style. I couldn't even point to anyone and
be able to say I even suspect them of using illegal drugs. I have
always kept myself separate form all that.
I don't know what kind of low social life Jeff
Berry had, but how could a man of God be so steeped into the drug
underworld, and so trusted by them, as to be able
to provide enough information as to get 70 drug law breakers
arrested? Does all this sound like the work of a church to you? How
can they even call it a church when at most of their meetings all
they do is talk about hanging or shooting somebody? Before he went
to prison, Berry's property was shot at several times and since his
incarceration his church klan has faded.
The moral of all this is don't fly in the face of
God and mock God by declaring something a church when it is not.
Don't exploit religion for the sake of politics and don't claim
Godliness when you are engaged in criminal activity; unless you want
the wrath of God to come down on your head, too. Neither should you
claim to honor the memory of the true Klansmen of the past and then
mock their memory by distorting the Klans they founded so far out of
shape as to make them unrecognizable.
One final note. It is not my intended purpose to stir things up and make others look bad. But, these Klans are public organizations and their leaders are public figures. The public has the right to know the truth. Any Klan built on a foundation of lies is doomed to fail. Anyone wishing to affiliate with any Klan organization must take the time to know and understand the true principles, intentions, and purposes of the KKK. They must look past the mask of the leaders they, in fact, know nothing about. What is their past, it that their real name, what is their occupation and educational level? Are they just con men looking for easy money? Are they engaged in any real activity to attain their claimed goals? Look past the self serving propaganda before you get suckered into an illegal Klan that gets busted by the law for assorted criminal activities. Be warned, if you lie with dogs, you die with dogs.
comments about this fiery cross article should be sentn here: http://www.kkklan.com/fierycross.htm
Augustine Oberholtzer (November 10, 1896 – April 14, 1925) was a schoolteacher who worked in the city of Indianapolis, in the United States of America. She was kidnapped and raped repeatedly by D. C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan. She later died of a staph infection from the bite wounds Stepheson inflicted on her. It was at first thought she had died from self-inflicted poisoning, but prosecution in Stephenson's trial proved it had been an infection. In a deathbed statement, she vividly described Stephenson's assaults on her. Her testimony led to his conviction and the subsequent decline of the KKK in Indiana.
Madge Oberholtzer was born to German American parents in Clay City, Indiana. She grew up in Fulton County, Indiana. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, she taught in a state program for adult literacy. She lived with her parents in the Irvington area of Indianapolis.
In 1924, Oberholtzer attended a dinner at the Governor's mansion. She met David Curtiss Stephenson, who was instantly attracted to her. She dated Stephenson twice. On their second date, he admitted that he was Grand Dragon (state leader) of the Indiana Branch of the Ku Klux Klan. Oberholtzer immediately broke off the relationship.
On March 27, 1925, Stephenson called her and invited her to his home to discuss a job. When she arrived, he overpowered her and forced her to drink whiskey until she became sick and almost passed out. Two of his bodyguards carried her to his car, where she fainted. She awoke on Stephenson's private train on its way to Chicago. He raped her several times, mutilating her with vicious bites, until she again passed out.
In Hammond, Indiana, Oberholtzer convinced Stephenson to let her go to a drug store to purchase feminine hygiene items. Despite the presence of his bodyguards, she purchased mercuric chloride tablets, and she swallowed six of the potentially poisonous pills. Oberholtzer had earlier threatened Stephenson, saying, “The law will get their hands on you!” He laughed and replied, “I am the law in Indiana.” Stephenson's Klan connections gave him tremendous political power.
That night Oberholtzer began vomiting blood. When she had not recovered by the next day, Stephenson's bodyguards drove her home to Indianapolis. There they were approached by a boarder who asked what was going on. A bodyguard, hiding his face with his hat, said that Oberholtzer had been in a car accident.
Her parents immediately called a doctor, but there was little he could do to save her. She accused Stephenson in a deathbed statement on March 28. Madge Oberholtzer died on April 14, 1925 from a staph infection combined with kidney failure from mercury poisoning.
Stephenson was indicted on charges of rape and second-degree murder. At his trial, the doctor who had examined her testified that the injuries she received during her rape would be sufficient alone to kill her. He described her wounds as similar to having been "chewed by a cannibal."
Stephenson's defense was that Oberholtzer had committed suicide. The prosecution demonstrated Oberholtzer vomited so violently that prompt medical attention may have saved her. During closing statements, Stephenson was decried as a “destroyer of virtue and womanhood”. The court found him guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Stephenson's assault of Oberholtzer so outraged many members of the Klan that entire lodges left the organization. The scandal destroyed the KKK in Indiana. Within the following two years, the Indiana KKK lost more than 178,000 members, becoming virtually non-existent. Indiana and other states stepped up efforts to publicize Klan members (who had depended on secrecy to hide their activities) and prosecute infractions. By February 1928, Indiana Klan rosters had decreased dramatically from a peak of more than 250,000 members to approximately 4,000.
Stephenson was paroled on March 23, 1950, but violated parole by disappearing on or before September 25, 1950. On December 15, 1950, he was captured in Minneapolis. In 1951, he was directed to serve a further 10 years in prison. On December 22, 1956, Stephenson was paroled again on condition he leave Indiana and never return. In 1961, he was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a sixteen-year-old girl, but the charges were dropped on grounds of insufficient evidence. He died in 1966.
Madge Oberholtzer was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Indianapolis.
Actress Mel Harris portrayed Oberholtzer in the TV mini-series Cross of Fire (1989).
David Curtiss "Steve" Stephenson (21 August 1891 – 28 June 1966) was an American Grand Dragon (state leader) of the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. state of Indiana and 22 other Northern states. He is considered to have been one of the most successful Klan leaders up until his downfall after his conviction for murder. His trial and imprisonment contributed to the end of the second wave of Klan activity in the 1920s.
Stephenson was born in Houston, Texas, and moved with his family to Maysville, Oklahoma, where he worked as a printer's apprentice and was active in the Socialist Party. In 1920, he moved to Irvington, Indiana, where he became a salesman and joined the Democratic Party and the Ku Klux Klan. In that same year, he ran unsuccessfully for a Democratic Congressional nomination. In November 1922, Stephenson backed Hiram Wesley Evans in his attempt to unseat William J. Simmons as Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan; upon Evans' ascendancy, Stephenson was made Grand Dragon of Indiana and 22 other northern states.
Membership in the states for which he was Grand Dragon grew dramatically. In Indiana alone membership grew to nearly 250,000 or about one third of all white males in the state. Stephenson acquired great wealth and political power. In a speech to the 1923 Fourth of July gathering of the Ku Klux Klan in Kokomo, Indiana, Stephenson began, "My worthy subjects, citizens of the Invisible Empire, Klansmen all, greetings. It grieves me to be late. The President of the United States kept me unduly long counseling on matters of state. Only my plea that this is the time and the place of my coronation obtained for me surcease from his prayers for guidance." Encouraged by his success, in September 1923, Stephenson severed his ties with the existing national organization of the Ku Klux Klan, and formed a rival Ku Klux Klan. Stephenson changed his affiliation from the Democratic to the Republican Party. He notably supported Republican Edward L. Jackson when he ran (successfully) for governor in 1924.
Publicly a Prohibitionist and a defender of "Protestant womanhood," his spectacular 1925 trial for murder led to the downfall of the "Second Wave" of Klan activity. Stephenson was responsible for the abduction, forced intoxication, and rape of Madge Oberholtzer, his secretary (who ran a state program to combat illiteracy), all leading to her suicide attempt and eventual death. Among other atrocities, Stephenson had bitten her so many times that one man who saw her described her condition as having been “chewed by a cannibal.” These actions by Stephenson led to the downfall of the KKK, with membership falling from 5 million in 1925 dramatically to the KKK having practically no members in the subsequent years. The jury convicted Stephenson of second-degree murder on 14 November 1925, on its first ballot. Stephenson was sentenced to life in prison on 16 November 1925.
In vengeful response to his conviction and to the refusal of Governor Jackson to grant clemency or to commute his sentence, on 9 September 1927 Stephenson released lists of public officials who were or had been on the Klan payroll. This publicity and the state's crackdown on Klan activity sped up its decline by the end of the 1920s.
The aftermath was shocking, indictments were filed against Governor Ed Jackson, Marion County Republican chairman George V. "Cap" Coffin, and attorney Robert I. Marsh, charging them with conspiring to bribe former Governor Warren McCray. The mayor of Indianapolis, John Duvall, was convicted and sentenced to jail for 30 days (and barred from political service for four years). Some Republican commissioners of Marion County also resigned from their posts on charges of accepting bribes from the Klan and Stephenson.
On 7 January 1941, the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger reported that Democratic Governor Townsend was considering granting an early parole application by Stephenson; if so, this application was rejected.
Stephenson was paroled on 23 March 1950, but violated parole by disappearing on or before 25 September 1950. On 15 December 1950, he was captured in Minneapolis, and directed in 1951 to serve a further 10 years in prison. In 1953, he pleaded for release from prison, denying that he had ever been a leader of the Klan. On 22 December 1956, he was paroled again, on condition that he leave Indiana and never return. In 1961, he was arrested on charges of attempting to sexually assault a sixteen-year-old girl, and released after paying a $300 fine. The charges were later dropped on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Stephenson was infamous for having claimed "I am the law in Indiana." He died in Jonesborough, Tennessee, and was buried in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The Stephenson period has been somewhat overshadowed by more recent events in the history of the Klan, but references to Stephenson can nonetheless be found in recent popular culture. John Heard portrayed Stephenson in the television miniseries Cross of Fire (1989). In the Daniel Easterman novel K is for Killing he is portrayed as the sinister power behind the throne in an alternate history in which isolationist Senator Charles Lindbergh is elected President of the United States and not Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The predatory sexual behavior of Stephenson in real life was reflected in the novel, in which he was a politically savvy ally of Hitler, yet also clearly unstable.
Grand Wizard was the title given to the leader of the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan which existed from 1866 to 1871.
In 1915, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was created, initially as a fraternal organization. The highest-ranking leader of the latter organization was the Imperial Wizard. National officers were "Imperial" officers. State or "Realm" officers were "Grand" officers. A "Grand Dragon", for example, was the highest ranking Klansman in a given state.
Following World War II, dozens of people have assumed the "Wizard" title as leaders of the numerous, independent, Klan-oriented organizations that have existed since then, the majority of which lack historical significance.
This list excludes those of post-war, independent factions.
1619 The White Lion, a damaged ship with a cargo of about twenty African slaves, lands in the Virginia colony.The struggling colonists bartered with the ship's crew, exchanging food and materials in return for the ship's human cargo.The colonists originally had no modle for true slavery. The Africans joined poor White people in the colony as indentured servants − working for seven years to gain their freedom.
This "free" labor helped the colonies survive and prosper. As the value of this labor became obvious, true slavery developed and spread quickly.
The vast majority of slaves (acquired through tribal wars and kidnapping) were sold by African rulers, traders and a military aristocracy, who grew wealthy from the business. 1777 Vermont is the first state to abolish slavery. 1787 The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.Following the Constitutional Convention, a great debate took place throughout America over the Constitution that had been proposed.
The ratification process was completed in 1788, with the first persidential election held in 1789.
By the time of the Constitutional Convention, slavery was well established in the United States. In the census of 1790, there were slaves in nearly every state, with only Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine being exceptions. In the entire country 3.8 million people were counted, 700,000 of them, or 18%, were slaves.In South Carolina, 43% of the population were slaves. In Maryland 32 percent%, and in North Carolina 26%. Virginia had the largest slave population of almost 300,000, or 39% of its population.The Constitution has provisions protecting slavery − even though it does not contain the words "slave" or "slavery".
George Washington became a slave owner at age eleven. When his father died, he inherited 10 slaves and 500 acres of land. At age 22, he had a work force of about 36 slaves.
The slave population at Washington's Mt. Vernon plantation grew as more were purchased and slaves raised their own families. By 1799 there were 316 slaves living on the estate.
1792 The Atlantic slave trade was the enslavement and transportation, primarily of African people, to the colonies of the New World along the Atlantic coast and lasted from the 16th to the 19th centuries.In England, Portugal, and in some other parts of Europe, opposition developed against the slave trade. Supported by the Quakers, the opposition grew and began to organize protests against the trade. 1793 The Fugitive Slave Act guaranteed the right of a slaveholder to recover an escaped slave.The act did the following:
- established the legal mechanism by which escaped slaves could be seized in any state, brought before a magistrate and returned to their masters, giving states the right to demand a slave be returned.
- made it a crime to assist a fugitive or a slave in escaping, with prison and a fine for helping a fugitive but only a fine for helping a slave.
- made every escaped slave a fugitive for life (unless manumited by the owner), who could be recaptured at any time anywhere within the territory of the United States, along with any children subsequently born of enslaved mothers.
1797 John Adams becomes the second President of the United States.Adams built up the navy and was responsible for the four Alien and Sedition Acts.
- The Naturalization Act extended the duration of residence required for aliens to become citizens of the United States from five years to fourteen years.
- The Alien Friends Act authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." It was activated June 25, 1798, with a two year expiration date.
- The Alien Enemies Act authorized the president to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States of America. Enacted July 6, 1798, and providing no sunset provision, the act remains intact today.
- The Sedition Act made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or its officials. It was enacted July 14, 1798, with an expiration date of March 3, 1801 (the day before Adams' presidential term was to end).
Adams owned no slaves. He believed slavery was evil and a threat to the American democratic experiment. But it was his wife, Abigail Smith Adams, who was the true Civil Rights advocate.
She is known for her March 1776 letter to John and the Continental Congress, requesting that they, "...remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors..."
A notable incident occurred in Philadelphia in 1791, where a free black youth came to Abigail's house asking to be taught how to write.She placed the boy in a local evening school, though not without objections from a neighbor. Adams responded that he was "a Freeman as much as any of the young men and merely because his face is black, is he to be denied instruction? How is he to be qualified to procure a livelihood? ... I have not thought it any disgrace to myself to take him into my parlor and teach him both to read and write."
1800 Thomas Jefferson (Democrat-Republican) wins the presidential election.
Jefferson on slavery
Monticello was Jefferson's home and slave plantation. Throughout a period lasting seventy years, Jefferson owned over 600 slaves.
Jefferson actually paid a few of his trusted slaves in important positions. Fragmentary records indicate a rich spiritual life in the Monticello slave quarters, incorporating both Christian and African traditions. Although there is no record that Jefferson provided education, several Monticello slaves could read and write.
Thomas Jefferson's alleged relationship with Sally Hemings was the first presidential sex scandal and prompted a discussion that continues to this day.Jefferson was charged with having an affair with his slave, Sally Hemings, and in fact fathering her oldest child.NOTE: This is an extreme example of "white privilage". White males taking advantage of female slaves was much more common than anyone has ever admitted.
Jefferson denied the charges and remained president for another 7 years, however debate about the affair continued until 1998 when DNA testing proved that "some" Jefferson male "probably" fathered at least one of Hemings' six children.
1807 Britain banned the slave trade (but not slavery itself).The ban made it illegal for British ships to transport slaves. The British Navy immediately established a blockade off the African coast to enforce the ban, called the West Africa Squadron.Although the ban technically applied only to British ships, other countries supported of the ban and gave the Royal Navy the right to search any of their for slaves. A notable exception was the United States, which refused.When Britain abolished the slave trade, it not only had to contend with opposition from white slavers but also from African slave-trading classes who had become accustomed to wealth gained from selling slaves.
As long as there was a demand for slaves in America, their lucrative business continued.
1808 James Madison (Democrat-Republican) wins the presidential election.
Montpelier was Madison's home and tobacco plantation.
Madison acknowledged that slavery was a great evil, but continued to regard his relatively small number of enslaved laborers as property.
The United States outlawed the importing of new slaves on January 1.The U.S. Constitution, Article 1 Section 9 was written to protect the slave trade for twenty years after ratification."The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person."By Constitutional Law, no laws could be passed to end the slave trade before 1808.In exchange for a 20-year ban on restrictions on the Atlantic slave trade, southern delegates to the Constitution Convention agreed to remove a clause restricting the national government's power to enact laws requiring goods to be shipped on American vessels (benefiting northeastern shipbuilders and sailors).As soon as the ban expired, Congress passed an Act that technically abolished the intercontinental slave trade. However, the ban was not widely enforced, and many of the slave ships which escaped the British blockade of Africa were destined for the southern United States.When the African source of new slaves was cut off, slave holders became much more concerned with their slaves producing children. Many came to think of these children as a never-ending source of new slaves.
The Act prohibited the "importation of slaves into any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States", from and after the first day of January.The Act also regulated the coastwise slave trade (shiploads of slaves were transported from place to place on the waterways along the eastern coastal areas of North America).
1816 James Monroe (Democrat-Republican) wins the presidential election.When his father died in 1774, Monroe (as eldest surviving son) inherited his family's 500-acre tobacco plantation - and its slaves. Throughout his life, Monroe's relationships with slaves revealed a pattern of paternalistic racism.While he never acknowledged equal rights for the slave population, Monroe sought a gradual end to slavery and advocated re-settling freed slaves in the Carribean or in Africa.
Monroe was humane in the treatment of his slaves. He prevented slave families from being separated from one another, allowed certain slaves a degree of self-determination in work assignments, sought medical treatment for slaves who were ill, and saw that his slaves had access to the basics of food, clothing, and shelter.
The American School for the Deaf is founded in Hartford, Connecticut.This was the first school for disabled children anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. 1824 John Quincy Adams (Democrat-Republican) wins the presidential election.Adams was a leading opponent of Slave Power and argued that if a civil war ever broke out, the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers. Deeply troubled by slavery, Adams correctly predicted the break-up of the Union over the issue, though the bloody slave insurrections he foresaw never came to pass. 1828 Andrew Jackson (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
The Hermitage was Andrew Jackson's home and plantation.
The plantation eventually grew to 1,050 acres. The primary crop was cotton, grown by slaves. Jackson started with nine slaves in 1804. By 1820, he held as many as 44, and later up to 150 slaves. Throughout his lifetime Jackson may have owned a total of 300 slaves.
Jim Crow is born.His strange career began as a minstrel show caricature of a black man created by a white man, Thomas "Daddy" Rice, to amuse white audiences.
Blackface makeup was either a layer of burnt cork on a layer of coca butter or black grease paint.
In the early years exaggerated red lips were painted around their mouths, like those of today's circus clowns.
In later years, the lips were usually painted white. Costumes were gaudy combinations of formal wear − swallowtail coats, striped trousers, and large hats.After 1870, the popularity of the minstrel show declined rapidly. However minstrel show acts continued to be depicted in movies and on television well into the 1950s.
By the 1880s, Jim Crow had become synonymous with a system of racial laws and customs, "Jim Crow Laws", that enabled White society to legally and politically dominate Blacks.NOTE: Today, negative Black stereotypes are a key part of Black music videos that glorify gangsterism. In Rap music and videos, the minstrel-show plantation has been replaced by the "hood". While the setting has changed from an idyllic plantation to the mean streets of urban America, the process is the same: a Black culture is being marketed for White profit, with Black performers portraying racist stereotypes.
Performers claim that they represent "authentic" Black America. Critics (both Black and White) oppose the glorification of ugly caricatures and its effects on Black (and White) youth.
The "Petticoat Affair" began with the marriage of Jackson's secretary of war, John Henry Eaton, to recently widowed Margaret Timberlake, whose husband had committed suicide.The marriage proved a great scandal in American high society, with rumors that Eaton had been having an affair with Timberlake which led to her first husband's suicide.
Most of Jackson's cabinet turned against Eaton, but Jackson supported him, and the controversy led to such a conflict that almost Jackson's entire cabinet resigned over the issue.The scandal led to Jackson's vice president, John C. Calhoun, falling from favor (because of the social ostracism of Mrs. Eaton by Mrs. Calhoun) and being replaced by Martin Van Buren in Jackson's second election campaign.
Van Buren had been the only cabinet member to support the Eatons and thus had gained Jackson's favor.
Nathaniel "Nat" Turner was an American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, that resulted in 56 deaths among their victims, the largest number of white fatalities to occur in one uprising in the antebellum southern United States.For his actions, Turner was convicted, sentenced to death, and executed. In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence.
Many southern states passed laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.
1833 The American Anti-Slavery Society was established.Abolitionist sentiment can be traced back to Thomas Paine and the American Revolution. Harriet Tubman is perhaps the best known of all the Underground Railroad's "conductors".During a ten-year span she made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom. And, as she once proudly pointed out to Frederick Douglass, in all of her journeys she "never lost a single passenger."Benjamin Drew, a Boston abolitionist acting in cooperation with officers of the Canadian Anti-Slavery Society, visited various towns in Canada, interviewing scores of refugees from the slave states. 1836 Martin Van Buren (Democrat) wins the presidential election.He was born in the village of Kinderhook, New York, approximately 25 miles south of Albany. His father, Abraham van Buren was a farmer (the owner of six slaves) and a tavern-keeper in Kinderhook.
Van Buren received a basic education at a poorly lit schoolhouse in his native village and later studied Latin briefly at the Kinderhook Academy. His formal education ended before he reached 14, when he began studying law at the office of Francis Sylvester, a prominent Federalist attorney in Kinderhook. After six years under Sylvester, he spent a final year of apprenticeship in the New York City office of William P. Van Ness, a political lieutenant of Aaron Burr. Van Buren was admitted to the bar in 1803.
Van Buren was the first president to be born an American citizen − his predecessors having been born British subjects before the American Revolution. He was the first American "politician" − his only non-political job being that of a lawyer. He also was the first to use grassroots campaigning in a presidential campaign.
He served as a member of the state constitutional convention, where he opposed granting universal suffrage and tried to maintain property requirements for voting.
Van Buren sided with the Spanish Government in the case of the ship Amistad to return the kidnapped slaves.
To help secure Florida, Van Buren pursued the Second Seminole War, which had begun while Jackson was in office. The war, which would prove the costliest of the Indian Wars, was highly unpopular in the free states, where it was seen as an attempt to expand slave territory.
1840 William Henry Harrison (Whig) wins the presidential election.Harrison (February 9, 1773 − April 4, 1841) was: the first U.S. president to die in office, the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the United States Declaration of Independence. Harrison died on his thirty-second day in office of complications from a cold − the shortest tenure in United States presidential history.His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but that crisis ultimately resolved many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by the Constitution until passage of the 25th Amendment. 1844 James K. Polk (Democrat) wins the presidential race. T he 1844 campaign centered upon the annexation of Texas and the re-occupation of Oregon − both of which were "Manifest Destiny" issues that Polk supported.The territory now known as Texas was part of a disputed boundary between the United States and Mexico. The issue of annexing Texas raised not only the question of war with Mexico, but also the issue of whether Texas would be a free state or slave state.PPresident Polk added a vast area to the United States, but its acquisition precipitated a bitter quarrel between the North and the South over expansion of slavery.
The Oregon Territory was claimed by both the United States and Great Britain. Polk's campaign slogan of "Fifty-four Forty or Fight!" refers to the latitude coordinates of the Oregon Treaty disputed territory.
1848/ Zachary Taylor (Whig) wins the presidential electrion.Taylor was the first President never to have held a previous elected office and the last President to hold slaves while in office.
As president, he angered many Southerners by taking a moderate stance on the issue of slavery. He urged settlers in New Mexico and California to bypass the territorial stage and draft constitutions for statehood, setting the stage for the Compromise of 1850..
President Taylor died in office on July 9, 1850.
The first Women's Rights Convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York.
An estimated three hundred women and men attended the Convention, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Frederick Douglass The Perkins Institution, founded by Samuel Gridley Howe in Boston, Massachusetts, was the first residential institution for people with mental retardation.
After 2 days of discussion and debate, 68 women and 32 men sign a Declaration of Sentiments, which outlines grievances and sets the agenda for the women's rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions is adopted calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.
Over the next century, hundreds of thousands of developmentally disabled children and adults were institutionalized, many for the rest of their lives.
1852 Franklin Pierce (Democrat) wins the presidential election.The Democratic Convention is deadlocked. None of the four candidates, including James Buchanan and Stephen A. Douglas, were able to win enough votes to gain the presidential nomination. After 34 ballots, delegates from Virginia introduced Franklin Pierce's name in hopes of breaking the deadlock. The Convention quickly embraced the nomination, which Pierce quietly accepted.The election focused on few issues, for it was believed the Compromise of 1850 had settled the question of slavery. While Pierce favored the Compromise, it was his support of the Fugitive Slave Law (the most controversial part of the Compromise) that won him the South's votes, and an impressive electoral victory.In the South, fears were high that the western territories would enter the Union as "free" states, giving the North a political advantage. In the North, hatred against European immigrants flared as Pierce defended their rights under the Constitution.The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed settlers to choose whether or not to allow slavery, would shatter the nation's stability.Pierce stood by his party and supported the bill, believing it to be in the spirit of the Constitution. The result was a rush of both sides to settle in Kansas, where armed conflict soon erupted. Pierce was blamed for the bloodshed, which came to be known as Bleeding Kansas.
NOTE: The name Jayhawk comes from this historical era.
1856 James Buchanan (Democrat) wins the presidential election.In 1853 President Pierce selected Buchanan to be the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain. This overseas post allowed him to stay out of the domestic controversies regarding slavery, and to avoid the bitter arguments over the Kansas-Nebraska Act.While politicians at home were embroiled in controversy, Buchanan came to the Democratic National Convention untarnished by the domestic political controversy. Combined with his record of compromise and respect for the Southern states' positions on slavery, Buchanan became the nation's 15th President − the only bachelor to hold the nation's highest office.The nation was becoming more and more divided over the issues of slavery, and President Buchanan could not avoid the fallout. Soon after his inauguration, the Supreme Court addressed the Dred Scott case (see Timeline 1857), refusing to hear the case, but issuing a non-binding declaration that basically said the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional by forbidding slavery in new territories or states.The Court's statements set well with the slave states and angered the abolitionists. The nation continued to grow more divided.Although Buchanan had managed to stay out of the Kansas-Nebraska Act controversy when he was ambassador to Great Britain, he did not stay clear of it as President. The act provided for residents of Kansas to decide for themselves whether the state would be a "free" or a "slave" state, and both pro- and anti-slavery moved in to influence the vote.Buchanan backed the pro-slavery forces, and sent Congress a letter urging them to accept Kansas as a slave state. This drew the ire of fellow Democrat Stephen Douglas, who loudly criticized Buchanan. Kansas eventually entered the Union in 1861 as a free state, but Buchanan's image was becoming more tarnished.John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry added fuel to the fire, and Buchanan was unable to calm the nation as he continued to advocate that states decide the slavery issues themselves. Buchanan served only one term, and left office as the nation was headed toward Civil War. 1857
The Dred Scott Decision was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves (or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves) were not protected by the Constitution and could NEVER be U.S. citizens.The court also held that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories and that, because slaves were property and not citizens, they could not sue in court. 1858 The Lincoln-Douglas Debates were a series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for Senate in Illinois, and incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate.The main issue discussed in all seven debates was slavery − Lincoln basically against it and Douglas basically for it.
After losing the election, Lincoln edited the texts of all the debates and had them published in a book. The widespread coverage of the original debates, and the subsequent popularity of the book, led to Lincoln's nomination by the 1860 Republican National Convention in Chicago.
President Lincoln, Slaves, Emancipation, and Black Colonization
The Emancipation Proclamation - January 1, 1863
1859 The last recorded slave ship to land on American soil was the Clotilde, which illegally smuggled a number of Africans into the town of Mobile, Alabama.The Africans on board were sold as slaves. The last survivor of the voyage was Cudjoe Lewis who died in 1935. 1860 Abraham Lincoln (Republican) wins the presidential election.The issue of states' rights and slavery finally came to a head, splitting the dominant Democratic Party into Southern and Northern factions and bringing Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party to power without the support of a single Southern state.
Barely a month following Lincoln's election came declarations of secession by South Carolina and other states, which were rejected as illegal by the then-current President, Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln.
1864 The Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and Blind was authorized by the U.S. Congress to grant college degrees.This was the first college in the World established for people with disabilities. 1865 The Civil War ends. The 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, is ratified.
Mr. Lincoln and Freedom
June 19 − "Juneteenth"
President Lincoln is assassinated on April 14 - just six days after the end of the Civil War.
Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining renown for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing.
Douglass actively supported women's suffrage. Following the Civil War, he worked on behalf of equal rights for freedmen, and held multiple public offices. His classic autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, is one of the best known accounts of American slavery.
Black Codes were laws passed by Southern states to define the legal status of Blacks in society after the Civil War.The structural transformation of American society brought about by the Civil War dramatically outpaced the changes in Americans' racial attitudes.NOTE: In many ways, the promise of Emancipation would not begin to be legally recognized for 100 years − until the struggle for African American rights in the 1960s. 1867
The Credit Mobilier scandal was the first major corruption scandal after the Civil War.Several high-ranking Republican congressmen (all close supporters of soon to be President Ulysses S. Grant), were given and/or purchased at below market prices stock in the Credit Mobilier of America company, which was involved in the funding and construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.
The Congressmen then proceeded to grant a number of public subsidies and other gifts to the company to help line their own pockets. Future president James A. Garfield was also involved.
1868 In May, the Senate came within a single vote of taking the unprecedented step of removing a president from office.The impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson was ostensibly about a violation of the Tenure of Office Act. However, it was more about Johnson's policies toward Reconstruction and his vetoes of the Freedmen's Bureau Act. The trial was, above all else, a political trial.
Ulysses S. Grant (Republican) wins the presidential election.The popular vote was close, despite Grant benefiting from many advantages such as massive popularity in the North, freedmen voting in the South, and the disenfranchisement of many Southern whites.
Reconstruction was a hotly debated issue during the election.Some in the North wanted to carry out a Reconstruction policy which would emphasize peaceful reconciliation with the South.
Grant supported the plans of the Radical Republicans in Congress to punish the South. The Republican platform left the issue of Black Suffrage in the North to the States while emphasizing granting political rights to the freedmen as the basis for the foundation of Republican Parties in the conquered south.
The 14th Amendment, which requires equal protection under the law to all persons, is ratified.
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.The primary goal was to achieve voting rights (suffrage) for women by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution.
Black Friday, September 24, also known as the Fisk/Gould scandal, was a financial panic caused by two speculators' efforts to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange.During the Reconstruction Era, the U.S. issued a large amount of money that was backed by nothing but credit. After the war ended, people commonly believed that the government would buy back the "greenbacks" with gold.
President Grant realized what was happening and tried to counter their move by selling $4 million in government gold. When that gold hit the market, the price of gold plummeted within minutes. Investors scrambled to sell their holdings, and many of them were ruined.
1870 The 15th Amendment, banning racial discrimination in voting, is ratified. Poll Tax (see Timeline 1964) 1873 On March 3, Congress passed the Comstock Act.The statute defined contraceptives as obscene and illicit, making it a federal offense to disseminate birth control through the mail or across state lines. This statute was the first of its kind in the Western world, but at the time, the American public paid little attention to it.The driving force behind the original anti-birth control statutes was Anthony Comstock. A devout Christian, he was appalled by what he saw in the city's streets. It seemed to him that the town was teeming with prostitutes and pornography. Also offended by explicit advertisements for birth control devices, he soon identified the contraceptive industry as one of his targets. Comstock was certain that the availability of contraceptives alone promoted lust and lewdness in women.
New England residents lived under the most restrictive laws in the country. In Connecticut, using birth control was even prohibited by law. Married couples could be arrested for using birth control in the privacy of their own homes, and subjected to a one-year prison sentence.These laws remained unchallenged until birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger made it her mission to challenge them. (see Timeline 1916)
The Whiskey Ring scandal involved diversion of tax revenues in a conspiracy among government agents, politicians, whiskey distillers, and distributors.The Whiskey Ring began in St. Louis but spread to Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Peoria.
Before they were caught, a group of mostly Republican politicians were able to siphon off millions of dollars in federal liquor taxes.
1876 Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) wins the presidential election.Though he lost the popular vote, Hayes was elected President by just one electoral vote in the highly disputed election.As Northern opposition to the cost of Reconstruction grew, Hayes essentially ended Reconstruction by removing troops from the South. After the removal of the Federal troops, all Southern states soon returned to Democratic control, signaling the start of the Jim Crow South.Many historians consider this withdrawal of federal troops as a betrayal to African Americans. Without federal protection, African American voters faced discrimination and intimidation at the polls.
Under the Hayes administration "Jim Crow" laws spread around the country, closing the book on racial equality for another 100 years.
1880 James A. Garfield (Republican) wins the presidential election.
While not personally involved, Garfield had to deal with the Star Route Scandal during his six months as president.This scandal dealt with corruption in the postal service. Private organizations at the time were handling postal routes out west. They would give postal officials a low bid but when the officials would present these bids to Congress they would ask for higher payments. Obviously, they were profiting from this state of affairs.
Garfield dealt with this head on even though many members of his own party were benefiting from the corruption.
His presidency was cut short by assassination by Charles J. Guiteau while entering a railroad station in Washington D.C. on July 2, 1881. Following his death, Garfield was succeeded by Vice-President Chester A. Arthur. 1884
During the campaign, information was released that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child ten years before.
Cleveland admitted to having sexual relations with Maria Halpin (a white woman) in 1874.She later gave birth to an infant boy and named Cleveland as the child's father. He had agreed to name the child Oscar Folsom Cleveland after himself and his law partner, who, as it happened, could also have been the responsible party.
When the mother suffered a mental collapse, the child was adopted by a couple living in the western part of the state. Cleveland never again saw the child or the mother.
Chants of "Ma, ma, where's my pa? Off to the White House, ha ha ha!" became popular throughout the country, but it did not stop Cleveland from getting elected (and elected again in 1892).
Grover Cleveland (Gover Cleveland) wins the presidential election.Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885 − 1889 and 1893 − 1897).
Cleveland saw Reconstruction as a failed experiment, and was reluctant to use federal power to enforce the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights to African Americans.He initially appointed no Black Americans to government positions, but did allow Frederick Douglass to continue in his post as "recorder of deeds" in Washington, D.C. When Douglass later resigned, Cleveland appointed another black man to replace him.
Although he had condemned the "outrages" against Chinese immigrants, he believed that Chinese immigrants were unwilling to assimilate into white society. Secretary of State Bayard negotiated an extension to the Chinese Exclusion Act, and Cleveland lobbied the Congress to pass the Scott Act, which would prevent Chinese immigrants who left the United States from returning.
Cleveland viewed Native Americans as wards of the state, saying in his first inaugural address that "this guardianship involves, on our part, efforts for the improvement of their condition and enforcement of their rights."He encouraged the idea of cultural assimilation, pushing for the passage of the Dawes Act, which provided for distribution of Indian lands to individual members of tribes, rather than having them continued to be held in trust for the tribes by the federal government. Cleveland believed the Dawes Act would lift Native Americans out of poverty and encourage their assimilation into white society, but its ultimate effect was to weaken the tribal governments and allow individual Indians to sell land and keep the money.
1888 Benjamin Harrison (Republican) wins the presidential election.His administration is most remembered for economic legislation, including the McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Harrison endorsed the proposed Federal Elections Bill, but the bill was defeated in the Senate.This was to be the last civil rights legislation attempted by Congress until the 1920s. Following the failure to pass the bill, Harrison continued to speak in favor of African American civil rights in addresses to Congress.
Harrison went before Congress and declared, "...the frequent lynching of colored people is without the excuse...that the accused have an undo influence over courts and juries". While Harrison believed the Constitution did not permit him to end the practice of lynching, he did question the states' civil rights records, arguing that if states have the authority over civil rights, then "we have a right to ask whether they are at work upon it".
All black towns originated in Indian Territory after the Civil War when the former slaves of the Five Civilized Tribes settled together for mutual protection and economic security.When the Land Run of 1889 opened yet more "free" land to non-Indian settlement, African Americans from the Old South rushed to newly created Oklahoma − considering it a kind of "promise land". 1890 NOTE: This "Indian Wars event" became an important icon for the American Indian Movement (AIM). (see Timeline 1973)The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on December 29, near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Cankpe Opi Wakpala) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation.The women's suffrage movement began in Oklahoma Territory with the formation of the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
7th Cavalry Troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle - claiming he had paid a lot for it.
A scuffle over Black Coyote's rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the troops opening firing indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers.
The surviving Lakota fled. But the cavalry pursued and killed at least 150 men, women, and children - many of them unarmed.
Prohibitionist women wanted the vote so that they could be more effective in their temperance work.
1892 Grover Cleveland (Democrat) wins the presidential election.Shortly after Cleveland's second term began, the Panic of 1893 struck the stock market, and he soon faced an acute economic depression.After a lengthly debate in Congress, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was repealed, restoring the Treasury's gold reserves to safe levels. At the time the repeal seemed a minor setback to silverites, but it marked the beginning of the end of silver as a basis for American currency. 1893 Colorado is the first state to adopt an amendment granting women the right to vote.
- 1896 - Utah and Idaho
- 1910 - Washington State
- 1911 - California
- 1912 - Oregon, Kansas, and Arizona
- 1913 - Alaska and Illinois
- 1914 - Montana and Nevada
- 1917 - New York
- 1918 - Michigan, South Dakota, and OklahomaOklahoma women, calling themselves anti-suffragists or "antis," organized in opposition to women's suffrage in 1918 and established the Oklahoma Anti-Suffrage League.
"Antis" opposed suffrage primarily because of their belief in the "Cult of True Womanhood"."True Women" were to hold these four cardinal virtues: piety, purity, submission, and domesticity. They identified the home as the "proper sphere" for women, who were seen as better suited to parenting.
1895 Booker Taliaferro Washington was born into slavery to a white father and a slave mother in rural Virginia.
He received national prominence for his Atlanta Address of 1895, attracting the attention of politicians and the public as a popular spokesperson for African American citizens."The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing."Washington was criticized by the leaders of the new NAACP (1909), especially W. E. B. Du Bois, who demanded a stronger tone of protest for advancement of Civil Rights. Washington replied that confrontation would lead to disaster for the outnumbered Blacks, and that cooperation with supportive Whites was the only way to overcome pervasive racism in the long run. 1896 William McKinley (Republican) wins the presidential election.The 1896 election is often considered the beginning of the Progressive Era.McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist, in 1901, and succeeded by his Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
McKinley was the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected to that office.
He promoted pluralism among ethnic groups (smaller groups within a larger society maintain their unique cultural identities, and their values and practices are accepted by the wider culture).
McKinley demanded that Spain end its atrocities in Cuba, which were outraging public opinion. Spain resisted the interference and the Spanish-American War became inevitable in 1898. The war was fast and easy, as the weak Spanish fleets were sunk and both Cuba and the Philippines were captured in 90 days.At the peace conference, McKinley agreed to purchase the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, and set up a protectorate over Cuba.Hawaii would become the 50th U.S. state on August 21, 1959.
The Supreme Court approves the "separate but equal" segregation doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson.
Civil Rights Cases, 1883 - video
Plessy v. Ferguson - video
Remembering Jim Crow - American Radio Works audio programs
1897 The Colored Agricultural and Normal University (CANU), now Langston University, was established with HB 151.This was in response to the second Morrill Act in 1890 requiring states with land-grant colleges to either admit African-American students, or provide an alternative school for them to attend as a condition for continuing to receive federal funding. 1898 In November, during the state Democratic Party's white supremacy campaign, a race riot occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina.A white mob burned the offices of a black newspaper and killed at least twenty-five African Americans, then threw the elected Republican government of the city out of town and installed a white Democratic mayor and council in its place.
In August, the newspaper had published an editorial that suggested that:...white men are not any more particular in the matter of clandestine meetings with colored women than are white women with colored men. Meetings of this kind go on for some time until the woman's infatuation, or the man's boldness, bring attention to them, and the man is lynched for rape. Every Negro lynched is called a "big burly, black brute," when in fact many of those who have thus been dealt with had white men for their fathers, and were not only not "black" and "burly" but were sufficiently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love with them as is very well known to all...
1904 Theodore Roosevelt (Republican) wins the presidential election.Roosevelt attempted to move the Republican Party in the direction of Progressivism, including trust busting and increased regulation of businesses. Roosevelt coined the phrase "Square Deal" to describe his domestic agenda, emphasizing that the average citizen would get a fair shake under his policies.
Roosevelt was the force behind the completion of the Panama Canal. He negotiated an end to the Russo-Japanese War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt was the first American to win the Nobel Prize in any field.
In an 1894 article on immigration, Roosevelt said, "We must Americanize in every way, in speech, in political ideas and principles, and in their way of looking at relations between church and state. We welcome the German and the Irishman who becomes an American. We have no use for the German or Irishman who remains such. He must revere only our flag, not only must it come first, but no other flag should even come second."
In 1886 he said: "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth." He later became much more favorable.With regard to African Americans Roosevelt said, "I have not been able to think out any solution of the terrible problem offered by the presence of the Negro on this continent, but of one thing I am sure, and that is that inasmuch as he is here and can neither be killed nor driven away, the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is to treat each black man and each white man strictly on his merits as a man, giving him no more and no less that he shows himself worthy to have."
In 1907 eugenicists in many States started the forced sterilization of the sick, unemployed, poor, criminals, prostitutes, and the disabled. Roosevelt said in 1914, "I wish very much that the wrong people could be prevented entirely from breeding; and when the evil nature of these people is sufficiently flagrant, this should be done. Criminals should be sterilized and feeble-minded persons forbidden to leave offspring behind them." (see Timeline 1927)
1908 William Howard Taft (Republican) wins the presidential election.Taft is the only person to have served as President of the United States and Chief Justice of the United States.Taft was reluctant to use federal authority to enforce the 15th amendment, which guaranteed African Americans the right to vote.As a result, state governments were able to enforce voter registration requirements that prevented African Americans from voting.
Black lynching by Whites was common throughout the South, however, Taft did nothing to stop the practice. Taft publicly endorsed Booker T. Washington's program for uplifting the Black race, advising them to stay out of politics at the time. A supporter of free immigration, Taft vetoed a law passed by Congress that would have restricted admission to the U.S. by imposing a literacy test.
1909 The National Negro Committee convened in New York City (motivated by the Springfield Race Riot of 1908).This lead to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The NAACP in Oklahoma 1911 Mary Nelson and her Son, L.D. Nelson, were lynched on May 25, in Okemah, Oklahoma.They were accused of killing Deputy Sheriff George J. Loney to cover up an alleged crime. As consequences for their actions, both were brutally molested and hanged from a bridge outside Okemah - leading to Okemah's Night of Terror on June 23.
Lynching in Oklahoma
Ida Bell Wells - an African-American journalist, civil rights activist, and women's suffrage leader - is best known for her courageous and effective opposition to lynchings.
1912 Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
Wilson brought many white Southerners into his administration, and tolerated their expansion of segregation in federal agencies.When a delegation of blacks protested the discriminatory actions, Wilson told them "segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen".Wilson's second term centered on World War I. His idealistic internationalism, now referred to as "Wilsonianism", which calls for the United States to enter the world arena to fight for democracy, has been a contentious position in American foreign policy, serving as a model for "idealists" to emulate and "realists" to reject ever since.
New Mexico enters the union as an officially bilingual state, authorizing funds for voting in both Spanish and English, as well as for bilingual education. Article XII of the state constitution also prohibits segregation for children of "Spanish descent."At the state's constitutional convention six years earlier, Mexican American delegates mandated Spanish and English be used for all state business. 1915
President Wilson's scandal was a simple engagement. His first wife, Ellen Louise Axson, died in August of 1914.The following spring Wilson met Edith Galt and by May they were engaged.
This quick engagement was seen as scandalous at the time. Rumors began that Wilson had murdered his wife in order to marry Galt (although they had not met until after Ellen had died).
1916 The first successful change to the Comstock Laws came from the arrest of Margaret Sanger for opening the first birth control clinic in America.She was charged under the New York law against disseminating contraceptive information. On appeal, her conviction was reversed on the grounds that contraceptive devices could legally be promoted for the cure and prevention of disease. This was the first legal ruling to allow birth control to be used for therapeutic purposes. 1918 The Smith-Sears Veterans Rehabilitation Act provided for the promotion of vocational rehabilitation and return to civil employment of disabled persons discharged from U.S. military. 1919 Red Summer describes the race riots that occurred in more than 30 U.S. cities during the summer and fall.In the months following the end of WWI, thousands of American servicemen came home from Europe expecting to reclaim their pre-warjobs. However, during the war employers had come to rely on eastern European immigrants and Southern blacks to keep their factories and mills operating at maximum capacity.
Unemployed whites began blaming working Blacks for their hardships. In the nation's industrial cities, interracial tensions steadily increased until race riots erupted. The largest and most violent of these riots took place in Chicago. The violence claimed the lives of 38 Chicagoans: 23 Blacks and 15 Whites. Additionally, over 500 were injured and hundreds of families lost everything when their homes were torched by rioters.The ABB advocated armed defense against racist assaults and the creation of an independent black socialist commonwealth. It sought to unite Black radicals around the issues of racism, colonialism, black nationalism, and anti-capitalism and, through its merger of class and race consciousness, provided a gateway for Black radicals' entrance into the Communist movement in the early to mid 1920s.
While Warren G. Harding was running for president, his mistress, Carrie Phillips, took $20,000 in hush money from the GOP.Another mistress, Nan Britton, bore Harding's child in 1919 while he was a senator.
After Harding became president, he continued the affair with Nan Britton, sometimes in a small anteroom just off the Oval Office.
1920 Warren G. Harding (Republican) wins the presidential election.
The Teapot Dome Scandal was an unprecedented bribery scandal during the administration of United States President Warren G. Harding.Before the Watergate scandal (see Timeline 1972), it was regarded as the most "sensational" scandal in the history of U.S. politics.
The scandal was a key factor in posthumously destroying the public reputation of Harding, who was extremely popular at the time of his death (heart attack) in office in 1923.
On August 18th, the Tennessee General Assembly, by a one-vote margin, became the thirty-sixth state legislature to ratify the proposed amendment, thereby making it the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.The amendment prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's sex.
President Harding signed the Per Centum Act of 1921, severely reduced the amount of immigration into the United States to 3% of their represented population based on the 1910 census. The Act allowed unauthorized immigrants to be deported.The Ku Klux Klan had its highest membership during its revival in the 1920s, when it expanded membership into urban populations of the Midwest and South who were concerned about job competition and immigration.
Harding advocated civil rights for all Americans, including African Americans. He suggested appointing African Americans to federal positions and was in favor of a national anti-lynching bill.Harding supported Congressman Leonidas Dyer's federal anti-lynching bill, known as the Dyer Bill, which passed the House of Representatives but was defeated in the Senate by a filibuster.
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s.
Harlem became an African American neighborhood in the early 1900s and grew rapidly during WWI. The migration of laborers from Europe virtually ceased, while the war effort resulted in a massive demand for unskilled industrial labor.The Great Migration brought hundreds of thousands of African Americans to cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and New York City. 1921 The Tulsa race riot - Monday, May 30 to June 1, 1921 - destroyed the Greenwood District of Tulsa.Dick Rowland, an African American shoe shiner, and Sarah Page, a white elevator operator, set the stage for the tragedy. While it is still uncertain as to precisely what happened in the Drexel Building on May 30, the most common explanation is that Rowland stepped on Page's foot as he entered the elevator, causing her to scream.The next day, however, the Tulsa Tribune reported that Rowland, who had been picked up by police, had attempted to rape Page. By 7:30 p.m. hundreds of whites had gathered outside the Tulsa County Courthouse, demanding that the authorities hand over Dick Rowland for lynching, but the sheriff refused.
The Immigration Act of 1921 restricts the entry of southern and eastern Europeans.Agricultural businesses successfully blocked efforts to limit the immigration of Mexicans.
1923 The Rosewood Massacre began on New Year's Day when Fannie Taylor, a young white woman living in Sumner, Florida, claimed that a black man sexually assaulted her in her home.Spurred by these accusations, white men from nearby towns lynched Sam Carter, a Rosewood resident. When black citizens defended themselves against further attack, several hundred whites combed the countryside hunting for black people and burning almost every structure in Rosewood.
Although state and local authorities were aware of the violence, they made no arrests for the activities in Rosewood. The town was abandoned by black residents during the attacks. None ever returned.
1924 Calvin Coolidge (Republican) wins the presidential election.
Coolidge spoke out in favor of the civil rights of African Americans and Catholics.He appointed no known members of Ku Klux Klan to office − indeed the Klan lost most of its influence during his term.
Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which granted full U.S. citizenship to all American Indians, while permitting them to retain tribal land and cultural rights. However, the act was not clear whether the federal government or the tribal leaders retained tribal sovereignty. Coolidge repeatedly called for anti-lynching laws to be enacted, but most Congressional attempts to pass this legislation were filibustered by Southern Democrats.
On March 20, the Virginia General Assembly passed two laws based on concerns about engenics and race − the Racial Integrity Act and the Sterilization Act.The Racial Integrity Act required that a racial description of every person be recorded at birth and divided society into only two classifications: White and Colored.The Act defined race by the One-Drop Rule, defining as colored, persons with ANY African or Indian ancestry. It criminalized miscegenation, classifying marriage between a white person and a non-white person as a felony.The Sterilization Act provided for compulsory sterilization of persons deemed to be feebleminded, including the "insane, idiotic, imbecile, or epileptic".
This Act also included the "Pocahontas exception" − since many influential "First Families of Virginia" claimed descent from Pocahontas, linking them with the original Colonies, the legislature declared that a person could be considered white even if he or she had as much as one-sixteenth Indian ancestry (the great-great grandparent was full blood).
Scientists working independently in Japan (1924) and Austria (1927) devise the "Rhythm Method" of birth control.After figuring out that women are fertile approximately midway through the average menstrual cycle, they conclude that pregnancy can be avoided by abstaining from sex during that fertile period.
The discovery that the pituitary gland functions as a "remote control system in human reproduction" leads directly to the invention of the first pregnancy test in 1926.
1925 In its first national demonstration, the Ku Klux Klan marches on Washington, D.C.
Although Strom Thurmond's actions would not become public until after his death in 2003, his 78 year secret began in 1925.
He would run against Harry Truman as a segregationist "Dixiecrat" in 1948.
He would be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1954 and become the longest-serving Senator in U.S. history, turning 100 while still in office.
He would moderate his position on race, but always defend his early segregationist campaigns on the basis of states' rights in the context of Southern society at the time, never fully renouncing his early viewpoints.
After his death, it was revealed that he (at 22) and his family's Black housekeeper, Carrie Butler (at 16), had a daughter, Essie Mae, in 1925 whom Thurmond had supported financially from childhood into her adult years, but never publicly acknowledged.
1927 The Buck v. Bell Supreme Court decision ruled that forced sterilization of people with disabilities was NOT a violation of their constitutional rights.By the 1970s, over 60,000 disabled people were sterilized without their consent. Buck v. Bell HAS NEVER BEEN FORMALLY OVERTURNED.
The Supreme Court has even sited this case in two later decisions: Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942) and McLaughlin v. Florida (1964).
The "science" of Eugenics eventually fell out of favor with the exposure
of the Nazi eugenics program and human experimentation after WWII.
1928 Herbert Hoover (Republican) wins the presidential election.Hoover, a trained engineer, deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement, which held that government and the economy were riddled with inefficiency and waste, and could be improved by experts who could identify the problems and solve them.Hoover seldom mentioned civil rights while he was President.
When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck less than eight months after he took office, Hoover tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression with volunteer efforts, none of which produced economic recovery during his term.He believed that African Americans, and other races, could improve themselves with education and wanted the races assimilated into white culture.
Hoover attempted to appoint John J. Parker to the Supreme Court in 1930 to replace Edward Sanford. The NAACP claimed that Parker made many court decisions against African Americans and fought the nomination. The NAACP was successful in gaining the support of Senator William Borah and the nomination was defeated in the Senate.
First Lady Lou Hoover defied custom and invited an African American Republican, Oscar DePriest, a member in the House of Representatives, to dinner at the White House. Booker T. Washington was the last previous African American to have dined at the White House, with Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.
Charles Curtis, the nation's first Native American Vice President, was from the Kaw tribe of Kansas. Hoover's humanitarian and Quaker reputation, along with Curtis as a vice-president, gave special meaning to his Indian policies.His Quaker upbringing influenced his views that Native Americans needed to achieve economic self-sufficiency. As President, he appointed Charles J. Rhoads as commissioner of Indian affairs. Hoover supported Rhoads' commitment to Indian assimilation and sought to minimize the federal role in Indian affairs. His goal was to have Indians acting as individuals (not as tribes) and to assume the responsibilities of citizenship granted with the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat) wins the presidential election.In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada, Roosevelt contracted an illness diagnosed at the time as polio, which resulted in permanent paralysis from the waist down.For the rest of his life, Roosevelt refused to accept that he was permanently paralyzed, trying a wide range of therapies. After he became President, he helped to found the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (now known as the March of Dimes). His leadership in this organization is one reason he is commemorated on the American dime.The only American president elected to more than two terms, FDR forged a durable coalition that realigned American politics for decades.
Starting in his "First Hundred Days" in office, which began March 4, 1933, Roosevelt launched major legislation and a profusion of executive orders that gave form to the New Deal − an interlocking set of programs designed to produce relief (government jobs for the unemployed), recovery (of the economy), and reform (through regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation).New Deal legislation included the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which set up a national relief agency that employed two million family heads. However, even at the height of WPA employment in 1938, unemployment was still 12.5% according to figures from Michael Darby. The Social Security Act, established Social Security and promised economic security for the elderly, the poor and the sick. Senator Robert Wagner wrote the Wagner Act, which officially became the National Labor Relations Act. The act established the federal rights of workers to organize unions, to engage in collective bargaining, and to take part in strikes.Roosevelt kept his campaign promise to push for repeal of Prohibition. In April 1933, he issued an Executive Order redefining 3.2% alcohol as the maximum allowed. That order was preceded by Congressional action in the drafting and passage of the 21st Amendment, which was ratified later that year.
Roosevelt had affairs outside his marriage, including one with Eleanor's social secretary Lucy Mercer which began soon after she was hired in early 1914.When Eleanor discovered the affair 1918, she offered Franklin a divorce so that he could be with the woman he loved, but Lucy, being Catholic, could not bring herself to marry a divorced man with five children.
FDR promised never to see Lucy again. However, Franklin broke his promise. He and Lucy began seeing each other again in 1941 − and probably earlier. Lucy was even given the code name "Mrs. Johnson" by the Secret Service. Indeed, Lucy was with FDR on the day he died. Despite this, FDR's affair was not widely known until the 1960s.
1936 The Randolph-Sheppard Act mandated a priority to blind persons to operate vending facilities on Federal property.This meant that people with vision problems got chosen over anyone else who applied to run the booths in places like post offices, government buildings, and federal parks. Even though this was a limited opportunity for people with visual disabilities, it was the government's first attempt at affirmative action − special privileges given as compensation and help for people who have been deprived in other ways.
Today's affirmative action laws for minorities are based on ideas first used in the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
1940 The National Federation of the Blind was formed in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania by Jacobus Broek and others. They advocated for white cane laws, input by blind people for programs for blind clients and other reforms.The American Federation of the Physically Handicapped, founded by Paul Strachan, was the first cross-disability national political organization to urge an end to job discrimination, lobby for passage of legislation, call for a national Employ the Physically Handicapped Week and other initiatives. 1943 Los Angeles erupts in the Zoot Suit Riots. For 10 nights, American sailors cruise Mexican American neighborhoods in search of "zoot-suiters" − hip, young Mexican teens dressed in baggy pants and long-tailed coats.The sailors drag kids, some as young as 12 years old, out of movie theaters and cafes, tearing their clothes off and viciously beating them.NOTE: The public reaction to zoot suits was similar to today's public reaction to sagging. No other youth fashions have caused more negative reaction to a particular ethnic group. 1944
Howard Rusk began a rehabilitation program for disabled airmen at the U.S. Army Air Force Convalescent Center in Pawling, New York.Dubbed "Rusk's Folly" by the medical establishment, rehabilitation medicine slowly became a new medical specialty. 1945 Branch Rickey, General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, signed Jackie Robinson in October.After a year in the minor leagues with the Dodgers' top minor-league affiliate, the Montreal Royals of the International League, Robinson was called up to the Dodgers in 1947 - breaking the baseball color line. He endured epithets and death threats and got off to a slow start. However, his athleticism and skill earned him the first ever Rookie of the Year award, which is now named in his honor.Less well-known was Larry Doby, who signed with the Cleveland Indians that same year to become the American League's first African-American player. Doby, a more low-key figure than Robinson, suffered many of the same indignities as Robinson. Both men were ultimately elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the merits of their play. Due to their success, teams gradually integrated African-Americans on their rosters.
Harvard endocrinologist Fuller Albright publishes a report that will come to be known as "Albright's Prophecy."As part of an analysis of serious menstrual disorders, he writes that preventing ovulation prevents pregnancy − and explores the possibility of "birth control by hormone therapy."
1948 Harry S. Truman (Democrat) wins the presidential election.
A report by the Truman administration titled To Secure These Rights presented a detailed ten-point agenda of civil rights reforms.The president submitted a civil rights agenda to Congress that proposed creating several federal offices devoted to issues such as voting rights and fair employment practices. This provoked a storm of criticism from Southern Democrats, but Truman refused to compromise, saying: "My forebears were Confederates. . . . But my very stomach turned over when I had learned that Negro soldiers, just back from overseas, were being dumped out of Army trucks in Mississippi and beaten."The National Paraplegia Foundation, founded by members of the Paralyzed Veterans of America as the civilian arm of their growing movement, took a leading role in advocating for disability rights.In retirement however, Truman was less progressive on the issue. He described the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches as silly, stating that the marches would not "accomplish a darned thing."Instead of addressing civil rights on a case by case need, Truman wanted to address civil rights on a national level. Truman made three executive orders that eventually became a structure for future civil rights legislation.
Executive order 9980 made it illegal to discriminate against persons applying for civil service positions based on race.
The third executive order, in 1951, established the Committee on Government Contract Compliance (CGCC). This committee ensured that defense contractors to the armed forces could not discriminate against a person on account of race.
Rumors spread during Harry Truman's term of office that senior officials had received payments including deep freezers and fur coats in exchange for favors.The IRS began an investigation of the corruption that led to the resignation or firing of 166 IRS employees, many of whom were also looking at bribery charges from the Department of Justice. The attorney general even fired the special prosecutor for doing his job too well, though Truman in turn fired the attorney general.
Although Truman was largely uninvolved, there was one instance where his wife received a valuable deep freezer from a businessman who was then given priority by a Truman aide to fly to Europe days after World War II ended to buy perfumes for his business.
The scandal tainted Truman, and the aide was eventually tied to a number of gift-for-favor scandals.
(Information in this section primarily taken from Slavery in Colonial United States.)
1776–1783 American Revolution
1790–1810 Manumission of slaves
Early 19th century
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