Documents of American Prejudice: An Anthology of Writings on Race from Thomas Jefferson to David Duke

By S. T. Joshi | Go to book overview

56
Letter to
Sam H. Reading

BY SENATOR J. THOMAS HEFLIN

James Thomas Heflin ( 1869-1951) was a longtime U.S. representative ( 1905-20) and senator ( 1920-31) from Alabama. A white supremacist who was supported by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s while delivering anti- Catholic speeches throughout the country, Heflin joined with Klansmen and fundamentalist Protestants in a futile attempt to oppose the nomination of Alfred E. Smith as the Democratic candidate for president in 1928. In a letter written to a journalist, Sam H. Reading, on October 15, 1929, and read in the Senate on February 7, 1930, Heflin expresses violent opposition to the prospect of intermarriage between whites and African Americans.

MY DEAR SIR: In reply to your request I will say that I have read with a feeling of sadness and indignation the newspaper account of the humiliated and grief-stricken white father and mother in New York City who could get no assistance from either Governor Roosevelt or Mayor Walker or anyone else in authority in their effort to prevent the marriage of their daughter to a negro. The press reports tell us that the white father and mother wept freely when interviewed by the newspaper men and made no attempt to hide their tears and humiliation when New York officials issued a marriage license to a negro to marry their daughter. And this terrible thing has happened here in what we used to call the land of Anglo-Saxon rule and white supremacy. Shame on those in authority who will permit such a humiliating, disgraceful, and dangerous thing to happen in the United States. Where are the white men of self-respect, of

-331-

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