"Gone Draft”

January 27, 1900


The Richmond Dispatch continues to support “Jim Crow Car” bill, but urges the presence of “colored women.”


“Gone Daft.”
The Richmond, Va., Dispatch had a recurrence of an attack of Negrophobia, in all respects as acute and as serious as that from which John E. Epps and the Richmond, Va., Times are suffering. It sees harm in every Negro and urges separation virtually upon every street corner.
In its issue of the 21st inst., under the caption of “The Senate and Separate Cars” it complains of the presence of the Negro, and under the caption of the “Servant Girl’s Problem,” it complains of her absences.
True to the propensities, it argues in favor of “bouncing” the colored men from the railways of the state as equals, and urges the clasping to its bosom the colored women in the dwellings of the commonwealth.
But what does consistency amount to when it comes in contact with rabid race prejudice? It must be evident to all who have sense enough “to ball a buzzard” that it is against the “genteel Negro” that this contest is waged Mr. John E. Epps and his patrons of the bar-rooms and gin-mills are uneasy about the intelligent, respectable, property owning, refined Negro of the commonwealth, and vainly imagine that the progress of an individual Negro can be stayed by the enactment of oppressive and humiliating legislation upon the statue books of Virginia.
As a result, Epps thinks he sees fame and re-election in the humiliation of the citizens of color.
But the Dispatch goes so far as to coerce the Senate of Virginia and to threaten the railroads of the state. It says:
“The theory of the bicameral form of the legislative branch of our government is that it is the province of the Senate to check hasty legislation, and thus give the people a chance to know their own minds. Should there be in the Senate any appreciable fight on the measure—and we do not anticipate that there will be—we would prefer to credit it to the influence of that theory, although in this instance the body would be proceeding on a false and mistaken assumption.”
And again:
“The action of the House in passing the bill was not hasty. It was a deliberate result, which events and conditions had for years been slowly and steadily conspiring to bring about. And that the overwhelming majority of the whites of Virginia—that is, the Democrats of Virginia—know fully their own minds in the premises, stands demonstrated beyond question by the tone on the subject of the Senate press, and of communications from every section of the commonwealth that have appeared in the Dispatch.”
So the wishes of only one class of people are to be considered. If this theory holds good, how long will it be before the wealthy will proceed upon the same line in dealing with the laboring classes or the laboring classes will pursue the same policy in dealing with the wealthy classes?
What consistent argument can be used to offset their reasoning if the majority of white people are to be permitted to ride rough-shod over the rights and privileges of either a white or a colored minority?
It proceeds to threaten the railroads in the following language:
“But if perchance—and we iterate that we would fain not take the suggestion seriously—friendship for the railroads is to-day a part in the Senate’s disposition of the bill, for the body to defeat the bill would prove a very poor way of showing friendship. Of all the States in the Union, Virginia has been one of the most liberal in dealing with railroads. This fact was admitted by Mr. M. E. Ingalls, president of the Chesapeake and Ohio, in an address he made at Williamsburg some months back. Should the separate car measure fail in the Senate and the people get it into their heads that the railroads were responsible for the failure, a day of reckoning will surely come.”
We think that we violate no confidence when we say that the opposition of the railroads to the “Jim Crow Car Bill” comes from no love of the Negro. It is plainly a business matter with them,--a question of expense, whether they should be made to haul empty passenger cars over the railroads of the state, in order to ponder to an insane race prejudice when there is absolutely no cause of excuse for it.
The feeling now existing in Virginia between the race is of the friendliest description, even in the face of the fact that every colored man in the state has been denied representation in the legislative halls of the commonwealth and while his rights and privileges are the subject of ribald jest, he is not permitted through his own representative to speak even in his own behalf. If this is not assassinating liberty, so far as our people are concerned, what is it?
You have robbed us of our wages, you have confiscated our property, you have abridged, curtailed, and eliminated our right to vote by illegal methods, and now you propose to quarantine us upon every railroad in the state at the expense of the companies operating them. This is your last offering to King Prejudice.
But all of your expedients will fail. You read history blindly, indeed if you fail to realize this fact.
God’s hand is everywhere manifest and the oppression of to-day upon a helpless, but confiding people will return to plague your children of tomorrow.
Let the Negro hating element, who desire the “Jim Crow Car Law,” defray the expense of operating the same and all objection to it will be withdrawn by railroad companies of Virginia.
As for the colored people of the state they will protest against it, and let the matter end there, knowing as they do that unconstitutional laws are crowded upon the statute books of every southern state and that appeals to higher authorities for the elimination are worse than useless.
The nation is drunk with race prejudice and its downfall will be steady and sure.
Up with your Negro scare-crow! On with your march to certain destruction!
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Lower Left Quadrant

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Elizabeth Lopez-Lopez


“"Gone Draft”,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed July 20, 2024, https://blackvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/116.