Boston Negro is Insulting to President; Ordered Out


Boston Negro is Insulting to President; Ordered Out


Unknown New Orleans newspaper




1914 December 12


Article describes meeting between William Trotter and President Wilson.


Library of Congress
Wilson Papers, Series 4, 152A Reel 231, Manuscript Division


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Trotter, William Monroe, 1872-1934


Althea Cupo
Maria Matlock




Digital copy acquired from federal archives by previous WWPL Archivist, Heidi Hackford.


Boston Negro Is Insulting to President; Ordered Out

Mr. Wilson Resents Conduct of Chairman of Massachusetts Delegation “Demanding Rights,” Not Charity.

Committee Told To Get New Head

Chief Executive Said He Had Not Been Spoken to in Such a Way Since Taking Office.

Washington, Dec. 12.- President Wilson, while receiving a delegation of negroes to-day who came to the white house to protest against segregating the races in government departments, objected to the tone adopted by their spokesman, W.M. Trotter, of Boston, and told the committee that if it called on him again it would have to find a new chairman. The president added he had not been addressed in such a manner since he entered the white house.

The delegation charged that Secretary McAdoo and Comptroller Williams, in the treasury, and Postmaster General Burleson had enforced segregation rules in their offices. President Wilson replied that he had investigated the question and he had been assured that there had not been any discrimination in the comforts and surroundings given to the negroes. He added he had been informed by officials that the segregation had been started to avoid friction between the races and not with the object of injuring the negroes. The president said that he was deeply interested in the negro race and was greatly admired its progress. He declared the thing to be sought by the negro people was complete independence of white people and that he felt the white race was willing to do everything possible to assist them.

Trotter and other members at once took issue with the president, declaring the negro people did not seek charity or assistance, but that they took the position that the negroes had equal rights with the whites and that those rights should be respected. They denied there had been any friction between the two races before segregation was begun.

President Wilson listened to what they had to say, and then told the delegation that Trotter was losing control of his temper and that he (the president) would not discuss the matter further with him.

After leaving the president’s private office Trotter, Maurice V. Spencer and others of the delegation declared their talk had been “thoroughly disappointing.”

They declared they would hold a mass meeting in Washington Sunday to discuss the question.

Mr. Wilson is understood to have told the committee the question was not a political one and that he would not take it up on political grounds.

Talk That Offended.

Trotter came to the white house with a prepared speech to which the president listened. It was after delivering this address, however, that Trotter made remarks in a tone which displeased President Wilson.

In the address Trotter reminded the president that the delegation called on Mr. Wilson a year ago, at which time he had promised to investigate the question.

“We stated,” said Trotter, “that there could be no freedom, no respect from others, and no equality of citizenship under segregation for races. For such placement of employees means a charge by the government of physical indecency or infection, or being a lower order of beings, or a subjection to the prejudice of other citizens, which constitutes inferiority of status.

“We stated that such segregation was a public humiliation and degradation entirely unmerited and far-reaching in its injurious effects. Now after the lapse of a year we have come back, having found that all the reforms of segregation of government employees of African extraction are still being practiced in the treasury and postoffice department buildings, and to a certain extent have spread into other government buildings.”

The delegation presented a resolution of the Massachusetts legislature and letters from several Massachusetts Democratic members of congress protesting against race segregation in federal government departments.

Original Format

Newspaper Article



Unknown New Orleans newspaper, “Boston Negro is Insulting to President; Ordered Out,” 1914 December 12, CS105, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.