The coming of the Second World War had rescued not only the personal ambitions of Jimmy Byrnes but also those of the nation's almost thirteen million Negro citizens in 1941. Negro leaders, after years of frustration in the 1930s trying to secure passage of a federal antilynching law through a southern-dominated U. S. Senate and to end the whites-only primary in the South, saw an opportunity in the early 1940s to change tactics. The expansion of defense-related industries and the settling of large numbers of enfranchised Negroes in northern and border states promised to empower financially for the first time a politically important black working class and middle class there. And for the first time in the twentieth century, the Democratic party in its campaign platform of 1940 pledged to work for full civil liberties for black citizens.
Prior to the ascendancy of Franklin Roosevelt, those Negroes in the North who could vote usually had voted their best interests by voting the Republican ticket. In each party platform of a presidential election year since 1920, for example, the Republican party had consistently called for the speedy passage of a federal antilynching bill and for enforcement of the due process clauses of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to