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Editorial Note: As the editors of the print collection of Chesnutt's essays and speeches note, "Chesnutt served as a collaborative author [of this piece], producing a draft modified by the Committee on Resolutions of the Cleveland Association of Colored Men. The final version of the resolutions was approved at a meeting held on 14 November 1920, presided over by Chesnutt" (Charles W. Chesnutt: Essays and Speeches, ed. Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., Robert C. Leitz, III, and Jesse S. Crisler [Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1999]: 466).


WHEREAS, During the recent political campaign, scurrilous and defamatory pamphlets, intended to stir up race prejudice and to excite public opinion against the colored people, and thereby to defeat the Republican State and National tickets and especially the colored candidates for the legislature, were printed and circulated throughout the State of Ohio; and

WHEREAS, These pamphlets, while failing of their principal purpose, the defeat of the State and National tickets, were successful, by their base appeal to race prejudice, in defeating Messrs. William R. Green and Samuel E. Woods for election to the State Legislature; and

WHEREAS, The statements contained in said pamphlets, when not lies, as many of them were so maliciously and brazenly distorted as to convey a false impression of the aims and hopes of the colored citizens in the recent election; and

WHEREAS, The pictures of Messrs. Green, Harry E. Davis and Woods printed on the face of one of said circulars were procured by fraud and indirection and were reproduced in such a manner as to constitute gross libels both in their intention and their effect; and

WHEREAS, A certain renegade Negro lent his name and his likeness to the preparation of said circular, for the purpose of slandering and injuring his race; and has since had the brazen effrontery to file a report with the Board of Elections, stating that he had spent some seventy odd dollars for the benefit of William R. Green, Harry E. Davis and Samuel E. Woods, when in fact many thousands of the pamphlets signed by him were circulated, by mail, the postage alone on which would be many times said amount; and

WHEREAS, Said circulars imposed upon the ignorance or credulity of many voters and by their vicious appeal to race prejudice and race hatred directly resulted in the defeat of two of the three candidates above referred to:

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved:

That we hereby voice our sorrow and indignation that such campaign methods should have been employed in the State of Ohio against citizens who have always been loyal to the nation and to the public interest; that while we should not have been surprised at the employment of such methods in the South, where they are traditional and to be looked for, we did not expect them in our own State, where we have always received until now fair political treatment, and where we felt that our rights were secure; and that we regret that any party or any group of scheming politicians should have sunk so low as to resort to such desperate measures to bolster up a hopeless cause; that while we regret that the Republican electorate of Cuyahoga County should have so far failed in justice and generosity as to have defeated Messrs. Green and Woods while electing all the other members of the Republican County ticket, yet at the same time we rejoice that the uterior[sic] motives controlling the preparation and circulation of the circulars referred to, namely, the defeat of the state and National Republican tickets, were defeated; that we thank the many thousand white voters who supported the full ticket and were not misled by the false and insidious statements that were circulated; and that we hope and believe that many of those that were so misled will, upon fuller information and reflection, regret their action.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,That we visit the weight of our displeasure and contempt upon Walter L. Brown, the putative author of the circular directed particularly against Messrs. Green, Davis and Woods, by branding him as a traitor to his race and to all the principles of decency and honor, and that we recommend to all good people that they ostracize him socially and personally, to the end that he and any others who may be tempted by offers of money or other reward, to engage in any such unworthy and despicable conduct, may know that they do so at the risk of social reprobation and punishment; and that a copy of this resolution be sent to every colored church, society, club and lodge, with the request that it be read in open meeting and that a copy be sent to The Gazette

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That while fully recognizing that it cannot affect the outcome of the recent election, yet as a matter of self-respect and in furtherance of truth and justice, we issue a statement to the public setting forth the attitude of the colored voters in regard to this matter in the following language:

To the Public!

The circulars distributed in the late political campaign with the view of inciting race hatred and prejudice to the end of defeating thereby the National and State Republican tickets, failed of their real purpose but were successful in securing the defeat of two of the three colored candidates on the Republican county ticket, by misleading the white voters as to the personality and character of the candidates and the aims and objects of the franchise and the election to the legislature of men of their race and their friends.

The circular bearing the alleged likenesses of Messrs. William R. Green, Harry E. Davis and Samuel E. Woods, purporting to have been written by a colored man who is so shameless as to sign his name thereto, was obviously concocted so as to convey the false impression that it was issued in the interest or upon the authority of the three candidates named, whereas in fact its purpose was to alienate from them the friendship and support of white people, especially of white women. The suggestion that the colored people want to or could "dominate" the city of Cleveland or the state of Ohio is absurd on the face of it, since they constitute, even with the so called "southern influx," but a very small fraction of the state's population.

The Beatty Bill to which reference is made, was not a campaign issue nor was it sponsored or advocated by either of the three candidates above named. It confers no larger rights than are already secured to all citizens by the civil rights law which has been on the statute books of Ohio for many years and has been uniformly upheld by the courts and the majority opinion. For the colored people or any other class to be satisfied with anything less than their lawful rights, would be to stultify themselves and make them unworthy the respect of decent people.

The appeal to race prejudice is dangerous to society and can be applied to the injury of any racial group or element of the population, and in the interest of democracy and good government, it should be sternly discouraged. If politicians learn that such methods are likely to be successful in securing votes, the merits of candidates or issues will be ignored, elections will be debased, and no group in the community will be safe from attacks.

We thank the many thousand white people who voted for Messrs. Green, Davis and Woods, including at least some Democrats who did so to repudiate the methods employed to defeat them.

We regret that enough of the Republican electorate of Cuyahoga County should have so far failed of justice and generosity as to defeat Messrs. Green and Woods, while electing all the other members of the Republican County ticket.

We regret that many of the white women voters of the city and county permitted themselves to be induced by slander and falsehood to do a cruel and unjust thing in this their first exercise of the full elective franchise.

We fully recognize that no action we may take can affect the outcome of the late election, and we issue this statement merely as a matter of self-respect and in furtherance of truth and justice.

"Truth crushed to earth, shall rise again, The eternal years of God are hers!" WELCOME T. BLUE, J. WALTER WILLS, HARRY C. SMITH, Committee on Resolutions.