Jim Crow Guide: The Way it Was

by Stetson Kennedy 1959


Chapter II - White Mans Country

"We must keep this a White Man's country", the first of the Ideals of the Ku Klux Klan asserts. "Only by doing this can we be faithful to the foundations laid by our forefathers. This republic was established by white Men. It was established for White Men. Our forefathers never intended that it should fall into the hands of an inferior race. Every effort to wrest from White Men the management of its affairs in order to transfer it to the control of blacks or any other color, or to permit them to share in its control, is an invasion of our sacred Constitutional prerogatives and a violation of divinely established laws. "we would not rob the colored population of their rights, but we demand that they respect the rights of the White Race in whose country they are permitted to reside. When it comes to the point that they cannot and will not recognize and respect those rights, they must be reminded that this is a White Man's country!" Get the idea?

It is one which has come a long way in the U.S.A. Where it will go from here is still unsettled, but in the meantime this Guide has been designed to throw fight on the subject. The Klan, you might as well "We have come a Ion way, and are know, is fond of saying of itself: ''We have come a long way, and are going farther yet…''

Note that the resolve to make America a white man's country is attributed, not without reason, to our forefathers. We have just seen how the first phase of the threefold process of making the U.S.A. a white man's country has unfolded. The decision to expropriate, decimate and contain the native American Indian was taken as soon as it became evident that he would not submit to slavery. But the demand for slaves persisted, and soon began to find satisfaction through the importation and breeding of African Negroes.

Such equalitarian ideals as the pioneer settlers brought with them as had indeed impelled them-to the New World were generally reserved for their own kind, and did not interfere overmuch with their decidedly different attitude toward Indians and Negroes. Those who sanctioned the importation of Negroes tried to tell themselves that as chattel slaves the Negroes would have no more social significance than other forms of livestock. Even when numerous babies began to be born of white masters and Negro mothers, these too were indiscriminately herded into the slave flock.

And yet there were voices which spoke out, in American accents, in opposition to Negro slavery. In fact, the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, as penned by Thomas Jefferson, contained the following attack upon British King George:
"He has waged war against human nature itself, violating the most sacred Rights of Life and Liberty in the persons of distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in the transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. He has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain an execrable commerce, determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold."

That conception of America was not to come to birth at once, but only in blood three-quarters of a century later; for the indictment of slavery which Jefferson first wrote into the Declaration of Independence was, at the insistence of certain of the signatories, stricken. Invention of the cotton gin. and the rise of large plantations brought on an increase in the slave trade until the supply was deemed adequate.

White America's experiences in dealing with the Indian population now stood her in good stead-she was psychologically well prepared to compromise her political and religious precepts by not applying them to Negroes either.

The U.S. Constitution as adopted in 1,789-sanctioned slavery in several ways.
Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 provided that Indians were not to be counted in determining each state's quota of Representatives in Congress, and that each Negro slave was to be counted as three-fifths of a person.

Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 cast Uncle Sam in the role of slaveherder by providing that: ''No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.''

It remained for the U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision on the Dred Scott case in 1857, to lay down the law that no one of slave descent, free or not, could ever claim American citizenship, even though born in America.

Again, as upon the founding of the republic, voices were to be heard in accents unmistakably American, refusing to accept slavery, with its denial of the humanity of the Negro, as a lasting American institution.

Said Abraham Lincoln of the Supreme Court's ruling in the Dred Scott case:
"If the important decision ... had been before the Court more than once, and had there been affirmed and reaffirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, not to acquiesce in it as a precedent. But when, as is true, we find it wanting in all these claims to the public confidence, it is not resistance, it is not factious, it is not even disrespectful, to treat it as not having yet quite established a settled doctrine for the country."

Not only did Uncle Sam in his early years serve as runaway-slave-catcher; he even went so far as to solemnly swear that he would never interfere with the institution of slavery in so far as it existed within his boundaries. A joint resolution for an Amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress and signed by President James Buchanan in 1861, providing:
"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any state, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said state."
(Outbreak of the Civil war, that same year, precluded ratification of this Amendment by the states.)

While the evolution of the U.S.A. as a white man's country was thus progressing through liquidation of the Indian and enslavement of the Negro, something else was added to round out the picture. Negro slavery, associated with cotton culture, had been confined to the South and Southwest. Elsewhere in the country, the demand for cheap labor had led to encouragement of the immigration of poverty-stricken Europeans, Chinese and Japanese who were put to work building railroads, mining, etc. But so soon as the proprietors of such enterprises felt that the labor supply was adequate, they gave encouragement to such outcroppings of organized bigotry as the Natives Movement of the 184os and the Know-Nothing Movement, which thrived from 1853 to 186o. These groups not only opposed further immigration and those aliens already in the country, but, as time were basis of race and color (see Chapter 3, Americas Great Wall).

The Know-Nothings, members of a secret "Order of the Star Spangled Banner", got their name from the answer they invariably purposes of the Order: "I know nothing." Under gave when asked the tile slogans "Americans must rule America!" and "No papacy in the republic I" they opposed at the polls the Irish and German Catholic immigrants who had become a political force in a number of cities. Pitched battles were fought in the streets, and the Know-Nothings in electing a Know-Nothing Governor, legislature and Massachusetts and some other states, and threatened also to dominate New York. A national convention of Know-Nothings held in Philadelphia in 1856 formed an American Party, nominating for the Presidency former President Millard Fillmore, who accepted.

Abraham Lincoln, then an Illinois lawyer but already taking a profound interest in national affairs, wrote at the time:

''Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring 'all men are created equal'. We now practically read it 'all men are created equal except Negroes' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners and Catholics'. When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.''
In the course of the Civil War, which came after Lincoln entered the White House, his hand was long stayed from signing the Emancipation Proclamation by the knowledge that some of his troops were willing to fight to preserve the Union, but not to free the Negroes. Indeed many a Negro was lynched in the bloody anti-conscription which shook New York in 1863.
The Ku Klux Klan-the white-robed and hooded terrorist band which originated in the South in 1867 as a means of virtually reenslaving the Negroes-eventually fell heir to the varied hatreds which bad been fostered by the Know-Nothings in other parts of the country.
In becoming a hyper-nationalistic secret order based upon hatred of Jews, Catholics, Asians and all foreign-born as well as Negroes, the Van by the mid-1920s had expanded into a politically-potent super-government operating behind the scenes throughout the countryon the national, state and local levels. Its "Invisible Empire" encompassed 21148 states, and, with more than 8 million members, was in fact something of a government within a government.
America, as the Klan boasted, was "Kluxed".

In fact, this Guide can reveal for the first time that President Warren G. Harding was inducted into the Klan in a robed and masked ceremony conducted in the Green Room of the White House! After taking the oath to obey the edicts of the Imperial Wizard, the pres dent of the United States presented him with a War Department license plate for his limousine as a token of esteem.

It is with good reason, therefore, that this chapter opened with quotation from the Ideals of the KKK for the role played by the Klan in propagating the concept of America as a white man's country has been a prominent one.

If we turn back the pages of American history to that night in 191 when, on the windswept slope of Georgia's Stone Mountain beneath the light of a fiery cross, the Klan was revitalized, we can hear Imperial Wizard William Joseph Simmons proclaiming:

"The Anglo-Saxon is the type man of history. To him must yield the self-centered Hebrew, the cultured Greek, the virile Roman, and the mystic Oriental. The Psalmist must have had him in mind by poetic imagination when he struck his sounding harp and sang: '0 Lord Thou has made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet....’ An inevitable conflict between the white race and the colored race indicated by the present unrest. This conflict will be Armageddon unless the Anglo-Saxon, in unity with the Latin and Teutonic nations takes the leadership of the world and shows to all that it has and will hold the world mastery forever!"

Simmons' successor as Wizard, Hiram W. Evans, brought the theme forward when he wrote in 1937:

"The first essential to the success of any nation, and particularly of any democracy, is a national unity of mind. Its citizens must be one people ... they must have common instincts and racial and national purpose. It follows that any class, race, or group of people which is permanently unassimilable to the spirit and purpose of the nation ha no place in a democracy. The negro so far in the future as human vision can pierce, must always remain in a group unable to be a par of the American people. His racial inferiority has nothing to do with this fact; the unfitness applies equally to all alien races and justifies our attitude toward Chinese, Japanese, and Hindus. No amount of education can ever make a white man out of a man of any other color. It is a law on this earth that races never can exist together in complete peace and friendship and certainly never in a state of equality."

The Klan, of course, his not been alone in cultivating these fields, but it has been by far the most influential of the outspoken groups engaged in spreading the doctrine of white supremacy.

To cite but one other example: William Blanchard of Miami, Florida, leader of the White Front, put it this way in his official organ, Nation and Race:

"If one believes in history before effeminate and fallacious ideologies, the recognition of the superiority of the Nordic and the Nordicized world is immediate. A dangerous upsurge of democracy and self determination throughout the world of color is robbing the Western world of some of its power, but we have not yet lived to see the end of white supremacy."

If you believe such sentiments are confined to the leaders of terrorist groups you are very much mistaken; they often resound through the halls of Congress....

For example, Senator James 0. Eastland, now Chairman of the Senate Sub-committee on Internal Security inherited from McCarthy, has said on the floor of the Senate:
"I believe in white supremacy, and as long as I am in the Senate I expect to fight for white supremacy, because I can see that if the amalgamation of whites and Negroes in this country is permitted, there will be a mongrel race, and there will come to pass the identical condition under which Egypt, India, and other civilizations decayed. ... The cultural debit of the colored peoples to the white race is such as to make the preservation of the white race a chief aim of the colored, if these latter but understood their indebtedness. That the colored race should seek to 'kill the goose that lays the golden egg' is further proof that their inferiority, demonstrated so dearly in cultural attainments, extends to their reasoning processes in general. Asiatic exclusion and Negro repatriation are expressions of the eugenic ideal."

Don't get the idea that views such as these are confined to some lunatic fringe, for they are not. They are representative of an extant majority of white people in the South, and of many millions more outside the South. This is no mere accident, nor an indication of any innate bias, but the result of centuries of indoctrination. The Kloran of the K.K.K. for many years superseded the Constitution of the U.S.A. as the governing instrument of the Southern states in matters having to do with race relations and the status of Negroes as citizens and persons. And if you were to take the trouble to put to white persons elsewhere in the United States the question of the Klan: "Do you believe this should be a white man's country?" you would undoubtedly find very many responding in the affirmative, even though they may have never before thought of the question consciously. it has ever been thus, even before the founding of the republic.

This is a fact of interest not alone to the historian, but to everyone living in or passing through the U.S.A. The doctrine of white supremacy, transplanted to American soil by European colonists in a pristine state while European empire was yet young, has been kept alive in its original unsophisticated form, just like certain archaic Anglicism's which have long since passed out of existence in the British Isles, but which you can still find in the Appalachian Mountains of America. Ostensibly holding title to relatively limited colonial possessions of her own, America has not been compelled by the pressure of independence movements to refine the doctrine of white supremacy after the manner of European colony-holders.

You may or may not be one of them, but in the latter case you ought to know that there are those in the world who feel that the call of the Klansmen for "American participation in white control and regulation of the world of color" has by no means fallen upon deaf ears. In witness whereof, they point to certain evidence.

As a classic case in point, they cite the atomic bombing of open Japanese cities by America in World War U. No atomic bombs were dropped upon the white Germans, but in the bombing of Hiroshima alone 224,000 men, women, and children were wiped out. A decade later, the bombing was still claiming its weekly quota of casualties from among the ranks Of 30,000 remaining injured survivors.

Harry S. Truman, who as President of the U.S.A. and Commander in-Chief of its armed forces authorized the bombings, said on a television program in 1958 that he bad experienced "no qualms" in giving the order. When the city council of Hiroshima protested against this remark, Truman replied that the bombing would not have been necessary "had we not been shot in the back by Japan at Pearl Harbor". Whereupon the Hiroshima council asked why, if that were the case, a military target had not been chosen for retaliation, and added, "You committed the crime of the largest-scale massacre in man's history as revenge, and you are stiff trying to justify it. Such a reply reflects the mean, colonial-type sentiment of a conqueror against the conquered."

During World War 11, and in the Korean conflict afterwards, U.S. fighting men manifested a tendency to refer contemptuously and indiscriminately to all Asians-whether allies or enemies-as "gooks". In time this word became such a liability in psychological warfare that the Pentagon was obliged to frown upon its use.

More than a word was involved, however. It was in 1951 that the Stars-and-Bars of the Confederate States of America-the banner of race slavery-appeared beside the flags of the U.S.A. and United Nations in Korea. According to International News Service, Marine Sergeant Howard Arndt explained: I stuck that flag in there the moment I got here, and she's going to stay there until we take her down and put her up again in Seoul. The only reason the Yankee boys go along with that Confederate flag is that we've converted them to The Cause."
That Sergeant Arndt's viewpoint also existed in higher quarters was made evident by the recommendation of American military leaders in the Pacific theatre to pit "Asians against Asians".

Then came the speech of General Douglas MacArthur to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Denying that "if we defend Formosa we alienate continental Asia", MacArthur added:
"Those who speak thus do not understand the Orient. They do not grant that it is the pattern of Oriental psychology to respect and follow aggressive, resolute, and dynamic leadership."
In calling for MacArthur's dismissal, Labor Member of the British Parliament Woodrow Wyatt said in the Commons that the General had said in effect:

"Kick the Orientals in the face; they like it."

The cease-fire in Korea did not put an end to demonstrations of white "superiority". For instance, in 1957, Sergeant William S. Girard, an American soldier stationed in Japan, shot and - killed Mrs. Naka Sakai, mother of several children, while she was salvaging empty shell casings on a firing range. Girard baited her by tossing empty casings toward her, called out in Japanese for her to come get them, and then raised his rifle and shot her in the back. When Japanese courts claimed jurisdiction, many U.S. newspapers portrayed Girard as a "hero" and "martyr" and Congress sent a Committee to Japan to investigate.

"It was a childish smart-aleck trick and he should pay a penalty commensurate, but I do think it should be done by our own officials," concluded Chairman Omar Burlson of Texas.
The Japanese court set Girard free.

In the same spirit, in 1958 U.S. Captain Marvin Kemp, Major Thomas James, and Robert Weidensaul beat a small Korean boy for pilfering, nailed him in a box, and shipped him by helicopter to the demarcation line between South and North Korea. Under Army regulations the men might have been confined for three and a half years; actually they drew light fines and reprimands.

With that thumbnail sketch of how the ideology of white supremacy took root in the U.S.A. and grew, we can proceed to look into the various areas in which this doctrine has flourished.
First , however, a word of caution: Don't let yourself be lulled into a false sense of security by all the Press notices hailing recent court decisions against race segregation as ushering in the millennium in race relations. The American republic has often committed herself to the ideal of equality-and almost as often backslid to the theory and practice of inequality. This is not said to throw a wet blanket on any hopes and plans you may have, but simply to prepare you to cope with reality as you think best.

As you will see as you go along, this Guide does not presume to guide. It is intended as a flare to light up the scene, with highlights on the barbed-wire entanglements and Jim Crow segregation signs to be encountered along the way of life in the U.S.A.

In passing, perhaps you are wondering about the origin of the appellation "Jim Crow". It seems that it found currency toward the end of the last century, after a black-face (burnt cork) minstrel popularized a stage dance ditty, which went something like this:

I look about and jump about, and do just so; But every time I turn about, I jump Jim Crow!
Jim Crow, whose middle names are Segregation and Discrimination, is far from being dead yet. By reading this biography you can know just what to expect wherever you come across him.

This Guide appears at a time when those who believe in white supremacy-aided and abetted by those who champion it purely for mercenary reasons-are busy day and night stringing wire and tacking tip new signs, trying to mend the fences cut through by court mandates. Not only are the legalistic fences being mended and heightened (several hundred new race laws being enacted in the Southern states during the first several years following the Supreme Court's 1954 decision); even greater efforts are being made to strengthen the terrorist and psychological barriers.

A vast new program is well under way to indoctrinate Southern schoolchildren, and the nation at large, with the dogma of white supremacy. In the South, official and quasi-official propaganda seeks on the one hand to convince white children that they are superior, and, on the other hand (as in the Union of South Africa), to convince Negro children that they are inferior.

Censorship of advocacy of racial equality was indeed a common phenomenon in the South long before the courts were finally prevailed upon to rule against segregation. The Klan called upon its members to have their children report the names of teachers who spoke out against the Klan or "for the Negro and Jew".

Florida, while the political witch-hunt was at its peak, saw fit to insert into the state's non-communist "loyalty" oath (required of all public employees, including teachers) the questions: "Do you support the race segregation laws of this state? If not, why not?" Even Negro teachers have to reply affirmatively, or lose their jobs.

Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina adopted in recent years laws forbidding members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to teach in the public schools.

South Carolina has banned from public schools and libraries all books and magazines deemed "antagonistic to the traditions of South Carolina". Mississippi and Louisiana, in similar measures, have specifically banned as "anti-South" such conservative magazines as Time and Life. The book Southern Exposure, by Stetson Kennedy, containing a chapter entitled "Total Equality, and How to Get It", has been banned by the school authorities of Georgia and other Southern states.

The Armstrong Foundation, founded by a Texas oil multi-million- has been doling out large financial subsidies to military colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning on the condition that they pledge to teach the doctrine of white supremacy in perpetuity Some institutions, like Jackson Military College in Mississippi, have refused this offer, while others, like Emory University of Georgia, have accepted.

Mississippi, ever supreme among white supremacists, has established a State Sovereignty Commission to combat "all elements antagonistic to the state's way of life", earmarking a portion of a quarter-million-dollar appropriation to propagandize The Mississippi Way throughout the U.S.A.

Not content with all this, the White Citizens' Council of Mississippi has launched an intensive drive of its own to assure that white supremacy will be expressly taught in the public schools. Mrs. Sara McCorkle, inaugurating the campaign with a television program in 1958, complained that certain magazines, television programs, and religious periodicals have been giving school children false notions about racial equality. To counteract this, the Citizens' Council has offered a prize for the best school essay on "Racial Integrity". With the collaboration of school officials, Mrs. McCorkle said she was making an average of twelve lectures on white supremacy in school auditoriums each week. In addition, the Council was busily stocking Mississippi schools with such volumes as The Cult of Equality, by Stewart Landry, which says in part:

"Negroes are lazy. It is difficult to tell when they are lying and when they are telling the truth. They will steal chickens, food, and small sums of money. Negroes do not face difficulties or adversity with courage or determination. There is also a resemblance between a great ape and a pure-blooded Negro."


Continue on to Chapter 3