Black Politics in the Taft Era
. . . the best friend that the Southern Negro can have is the Southern white man.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFR, 1908
. . . if the negroes want to vote for Roosevelt or a Democrat let them.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFR, 1912
BLIGHTED as the last years of the Roosevelt administration had been by the Brownsville affair, they were only the prelude to the downhill slide of the black politicos in the Taft administration. Even before Taft entered office, he took two steps that signaled a change of climate. He forced the resignation of William D. Crum, and he prepared the worst inaugural address since Reconstruction in reference to black political right. He removed most of the remaining black officeholders in the South and made only a few token appointments of blacks to federal offices in the North. By the time Washington cajoled and goaded Taft into a few appointments, it was too late to help the Republicans in the midterm elections. Washington helplessly watched the collapse of the little black political empire he had built, and yet he continued to work in the Taft camp for whatever he could gain or save.
Just after Taft had won the election of 1908, Walter Hines Page thought he saw a chance for some unofficial statesmanship by getting