From under the door-posts of the house of Negro bondage flow waters that come from the two different springs described in the opening paragraph. The humanitarian and religious impulses of conscience have struggled with those of economic cravings. Benjamin Lundy, the father of "gradual abolition," was a Ken-tuckian, as was Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipator. Thomas Jefferson, the great Virginian, commenting on slavery, said, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." 1 In the Tennessee Constitutional Convention of 1834, the delegates from the eastern counties contended for a provision for the emancipation of the slaves. At one time the setting free of slaves became so frequent in Virginia that the legislature placed barriers in the way.2 The Negro free populations of southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio bear testimony to the conscience of the masters who became actively convinced that slavery was wrong. Before the invention of the cotton gin, anti-slavery societies grew and flourished, not only in the more advanced eastern states, but in the then pioneer states. By 1792, there were abolition societies in all the states from Massachusetts to Virginia, and two years later the American Convention of Abolition Societies was formed at Philadelphia by nine of these societies.1 It was in one of these frontier communities that Owen Lovejoy laid down his life for his convictions against the system.
1Jefferson, Thomas, Notes on Virginia, writings edited by P. L. Ford, Vol. III, p. 267.
2 Brawley, B. G., work cited, pp. 63, 76.
American history would lose many of its illustrious names if its records omitted those who have spent fortune, given life, and become acquainted with grief, that the dispossessed children of color might be free and be admitted to the brotherhood. From William Penn, Garret Hendricks, and Benjamin Franklin, from Lord Oglethorpe, Roger Williams, and Cotton Mather, from John Woolman and Anthony Benzenet, from St. George Tucker of William and Mary College, Hezekiah Niles, editor of Niles's Register, Lorenzo Dow, the Methodist preacher, and Henry Clay, the statesman, down to Owen Lovejoy, John Brown, Charles Sumner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Samuel C. Armstrong, Bishop Capers, Bishop Atticus G. Haygood, Bishop Charles B. Galloway, Robert C. Ogden, James H. Dillard, and John J. Eagan, there has been an unbroken line of those who have given themselves to stop the mouths of the lions of prejudice and exploitation.
The present-day attitudes arising from conscience may best be expressed in the words of individuals and organizations mainly of white men and women, many of whom, North and South, have joined with Negroes in cooperative efforts to help America save its soul in racial relations. Resolutions of the Woman's Missionary Council, Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1913 deplored mob violence and stated "that, as women engaged in Christian social service for the full redemption of our social order, we do protest in the name of outraged justice, against the savagery of lynching." They called "upon lawmakers and enforcers of law and upon all who value justice and righteousness to recognize their duty to the law and to the criminal classes." 1
1 Brawley, B. G., A Social History of the American Negro, p. 60.
In August, 1920, at Blue Ridge, North Carolina, seventy white leaders in conference, representing all the larger church denominations working in the South, called "upon our fellow-Christians of both races throughout the South to unite in a sincere and immediate effort to solve our interracial problems with the spirit of Christ, according to the principles of the gospel and for the highest interest and benefit of all concerned".
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which organization was pioneered and is now supported by many conscientious white people, stated as its objective from the outset: "To uplift the colored men and women of this country by securing to them the full enjoyment of their rights as citizens, justice in all courts, and equality of opportunity everywhere. ... It has no other belief than that the best way to uplift the colored man is the best way to aid the white man to peace and social content".
The Georgia State Committee on Race Cooperation, composed of white women representing women's organizations of that state, said, in 1921: "We realize that the race question is one of the causes of lawlessness, strife, and unrest. Therefore, we propose to face it squarely, honestly, and without prejudice, that righteousness and justice may be secured for all the people." The women expressed their belief that "no falser appeal can be made to Southern manhood than that mob violence is necessary for the protection of womanhood; that the brutal practise of lynching and burning of human beings is an expression of chivalry." They declared themselves "for the protection of all womanhood of whatever race." Governor Dorsey of Georgia, in 1921, while citing instances of outrages upon Negroes in that state, said he believed that "the better element" of white people "of the whole state, who constitute the majority of our people, will condemn such conditions and take the steps necessary to correct them." Doctor Edwin Mims of Vanderbilt University, Secretary of the Law and Order League of Tennessee, reported in 1919 that public opinion in that state had been "crystallized against lynchings, riots, and all other forms of lawlessness".
1 Quoted in Hammond, In Black and White, p. 65-66.
However much Negroes and white people, North and South, may take exception to some points of President Harding's speech at Birmingham, Ala., October, 1921, it, nevertheless, marks a growing courage of conscience when such a speech by a president of the United States was given and received in the heart of the South. After arguing for educational, political, and economic equality for the Negro, President Harding declared, "Unless our democracy is a lie, you must stand for that equality." 1 The University Race Commission, composed of representatives from the State Universities of the South, has issued annually for five years open letters to the college students of the South. Each letter has dealt in a liberal way with some question of the hour. In 1922 the letter discussed "interracial cooperation," saying, in part: "No fact is more clearly established by history than that hatred and force only complicate race relations. The alternative to this is counsel and cooperation among men of character and good-will, and, above all, of intelligent and comprehensive knowledge of the racial problem".
In 1920 the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, officially representing thirty of the strongest Protestant denominations, set forth the conviction of that body in these words: "Racial understanding and cooperation furnish the only sure basis of race adjustment in a democracy. The root of the matter is the failure to recognize the Negro as a man. . . . Respect for Negro manhood and womanhood is the only basis for permanent racial peace. If we talk democracy, let us act democracy." In 1921 this same Council formed its Commission on the Church and Race Relations, "to assert the sufficiency of Christianity as the solution of race relations in America" and to promote constructive activities to that end.
1 Reported in the Literary Digest, Nov. 19, 1921, p. 7.