US House of Representatives Hearings re: Riot at East St. Louis, Illinois


US House of Representatives Hearings re: Riot at East St. Louis, Illinois






1917 August 3


Hearings re: Riot at East St. Louis, Illinois


National Archives and Records Administration Library Balcony, Westside Y4.R86/I:Ea7, box #6285-1, DC. Location


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library








Washington, DC, August 3, 1917.

The committee met at 10.30 o'clock a. in., Hen. Edward W. Pou (chairman) presiding.

The following other members were present : Mr. Campbell, Mr. Foster, Mr. Garrett, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Kelly, Mr. Riordan, Mr. Schall, Mr. Snell, and Mr. Wood.

The committee had under consideration the following resolution:

[House Joint Resolution 118, Sixty-fifth Congress, first session.]

JOINT RESOLUTION Creating a joint committee from the membership of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on the Judiciary to investigate the causes that led to the murdering, the lynching, the burning, and the drowning of innocent citizens of the United States at East Saint Louis, Illinois, on July second, nineteen hundred and seventeen ; whether the Constitution and laws of the United States were violated ; and what legislation, if any, is needed to prevent like outrages in the State of Illinois and other States and Territories of the United States.

Whereas on the night of July second, and at the city of East Saint Louis, Illinois, a number of citizens of the United States were beaten, burned, shot, drowned, and hanged, resulting in the murdering of many of them, as well as the destruction of much property, by the mob of murderers ; and

Whereas it is evident that the constituted authorities of the State of Illinois, the county of Saint Clair, Illinois, and the city of East Saint Louis, Illinois, were either unable or miserably failed to protect life and property as aforesaid ; and

Whereas other like instances of murdering and lynching have occurred in the State of Illinois and other States of the United States, due either to the lack of law and order or the failure of its officials to do their sworn duty in the protection of life and property as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States: Therefore be it. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Judiciary Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives, through a joint subcommittee to consist of five Senators and five Representatives, who shall be selected by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively, be, and they hereby are, appointed to investigate the causes that led to said lynchings, the names of the parties who instigated and incited the mob, the names of the mob theft committed the crimes aforesaid, whether the State, county, and city authorities did their duty in endeavoring to protect life and property as aforesaid, whether any laws of the United States were violated, and what further laws, if any, are needed to prevent like lynchings in the State of Illinois and other States of the United States, with authority to sit during the recess of Congress and with power to summon witnesses, to administer oaths, and to require the various departments, officials, and other Government agencies, as well as State, county, and city officials, to furnish such information and render such assistance as may, in the judgment of the joint subcommittee, be deemed desirable; to appoint necessary experts, clerks, and stenographers, and to do whatever is necessary for a full and comprehensive investigation, study, and inquiry of the subject, and report to Congress on or before the second Monday in January, nineteen hundred and eighteen ; that the sum of $50,000, or so much thereof as is necessary to carry out the purposes of this resolution and to pay


the necessary expenses of the subcommittee and its members, is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated. Said appropriation shall be immediately available, and shall be paid out on the audit and order of the chairman or acting chairman of said subcommittee, which audit and order shall be conclusive and binding upon all departments as to the correctness of the accounts of such subcommittee.


Mr. DYER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I have asked you gentlemen to meet to consider this resolution, No. 118, because of the fact that I believe that something must be done so far as the situation is concerned with special reference to the city of East St. Louis, 111., and also as it affects the city of St. Louis, Mo., which is immediately across the river. Conditions which arose there and the things which happened, and with which you gentlemen are in a measure conversant, have caused hundreds and hundreds of these people to seek our side, the St. Louis (Mo.) side, of the river and they have to be escorted back and forth to and from their work on the St. Louis side with armed guards in order that they may not be assaulted.

The CHAIRMAN. Does that continue up to the present time?

Mr. DYER. That continues up to the present time.

The Government has important contracts with concerns in East St. Louis, 111., for the manufacture of certain things. These people are under contract with the Government to furnish these supplies, and the only way that they can do it is to send their armed guards across the river to the Missouri side to bring the people over and then escort them back after work is over. They dare not stay in East St. Louis, 111., on account of the conditions there.

Mr. KELLY. Are these strike breakers who escort them back and forth ?

Mr. DYER. No ; they are not strike breakers. Mr. Rodenberg, who is on the other side of the river, will probably verify what I have to say. Some time ago there was a strike on with the packing houses of St. Louis, Mo., and East St. Louis, 111., and probably some other concerns. The men who were working in these packing houses were foreigners, and with few exceptions none of them were citizens of the United States. They went on a strike.

My information was that it was not with reference to better wages or to better hours, but to some matter connected with some of the leaders of the union. At least, they went on a strike, and it made necessary the employment of others. The packing houses and other concerns where these men had been working who were on strike, sought labor elsewhere, and amongst the negroes of St. Louis, and other places, probably. These men went to work in these packing houses and have been working there in St. Louis and in East St. Louis. These men who were on a strike have been acting badly in St. Louis and in East St. Louis ever since that happened.

Mr. CAMPBELL. How long have the negroes been at work in the factories there?

Mr. DYER. I think probably nearly two years.

Mr. CAMPBELL. In place of the strikers ?


Mr. DYER. Yes; they have been at work there now for nearly two years.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Is this a two-year-old strike ?

Mr. DYER. These men went on a strike in these packing houses something like two years ago, and when they could not get the men back that they had had there, they put in the negroes in various departments, and they have been working there since, satisfactorily, so far as I know; and the conditions became such that in East St. Louis the things happened over there with which you gentlemen are conversant. I have visited out there and have interviewed a number of people, and talked with a number who saw the murders that were committed. One man in particular who spoke to me is now an officer in the United States Army Reserve Corps, Lieut. Arbuckle, who is here in Washington somewhere, he having come here to report to the Adjutant General.

At the time of these happenings he was not in the employ of the Government, but he was there on some business in East St. Louis. He said that he saw a part of this killing, and he saw them burning railway cars in yards, which were waiting for transport, filled with interstate commerce. He saw members of the militia of Illinois shoot negroes. He saw policemen of the city of East St. Louis shoot negroes. He saw this mob go to the homes of these negroes and nail boards up over the doors and windows and then set fire and burn them up. He saw them take little children out of the arms of their mothers and throw them into the fires and burn them up. He saw the most dastardly and most criminal outrages ever perpetrated in this country, and this is undisputed. And I have talked with others ; and my opinion is that over 500 people were killed on this occasion.

The CHAIRMAN. Practically all colored people?

Mr. DYER. All colored people, Mr. Chairman; and without charge of violating any law to justify it ; nothing at all ; and the only charge against them was that they were working in these places.

Mr. CAMPBELL. And had been for two years ?

Mr. DYER. And had been for some two years ; and these other men who were on a strike had not been able to get their places back.

The CHAIRMAN. Perhaps you would rather not answer this just at this time, but I would like to know if the State of Illinois has taken any action to punish these outrages, or has there been nothing done about those 500 people murdered in open daylight, in the presence, necessarily, of some witnesses? It seems to me that some action would have been started to punish the perpetrators.

Mr. DYER. If you will permit, I will ask Mr. Rodenberg to answer that question in a minute.

Mr. FOSTER. Before you proceed further, will you answer this? It was reported, and I do not know whether it was true or not, in the daily newspapers there were two outrages, I believe ?

Mr. RODENBERG. May 28 and July 30.

Mr. FOSTER. Yes. It was reported that the last outbreak was started first by the killing of a policeman.

Mr. RODENBERG. I think I can give you details very fully about that. I have it here.

Mr. FOSTER. I just wanted to inquire about that.


Mr. DYER. I have not in any way endeavored to embarrass the officials of the Government, if they were trying to do something in this matter. I took this matter up with the President, and on July 20 I received from him this letter, which I am permitted to read to you

Washington, July 28, 1917.

MY DEAR MR. DYER : I have your letter of yesterday with the accompanying papers which I take the liberty of returning.

The Attorney General and I have been giving a great deal of thought to the situation in East St. Louis, and the United States district attorney there, as well as special agents of the Department of Justice, have been at work gathering information to enable us to determine whether any Federal statute has been violated. Up to this time I am bound in candor to say that no facts have been presented to us which would justify Federal action, though it is conceivable that a condition which would justify it may develop.

I am informed that the attorney general of the State of Illinois has gone to East St. Louis to add his efforts to those of the officials of the county and city in pressing prosecutions under the State laws. The representatives of the Department of Justice are so far as possible lending aid to the State authorities in their efforts to restore tranquility and guard against further outbreaks.

I need not tell you how much anxiety the whole matter has given me. It is a very serious thing for the whole Nation that anything of the sort that happened in East St. Louis should be possible.

Cordially and sincerely, yours,


Hon. L. C. DYER,

House of Representatives.

I talked with the Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Fitts, who has been looking after this matter specially. He told me that so far he has not found any way, or that there is any jurisdiction, for the Federal officials to go into this matter. I spoke to him of this resolution and asked him what judgment he had touching it, and if he had any suggestions, or whether it would be improper, so far as the Department of Justice was concerned, to take it up. He said it would not, and that in his opinion this was the only thing that could be done, and that he thought possibly such an investigation might bring out facts that would justify the Government in taking some action in the matter.

Mr. FOSTER. Let me ask you this, if you will : Have you communicated with the governor of Illinois in reference to this matter to know what he has done ?

Mr. DYER. I have not.

Mr. FOSTER. I may want to file some communications from the governor of Illinois.

Mr. DYER. I will state, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, that I have here a number of letters from business men of East St. Louis, in different lines of business, and the sum and substance of all of these letters is to the effect of this, which I will read :

Regarding the recent trouble in our city, will state that in our opinion the matter is far from being settled ; in fact, believe only deferred because of the presence of the militia, and unless a drastic investigation is made there will be serious trouble in store for us. We urge a Federal investigation into the recent riot, and favor the bringing of Judge Landis to this city to make an investigation.

That is signed by the Pure Carbonic Co. I have similar letters of all these concerns.

With reference to Judge Landis, I am informed by Mr. Fitts, of the Department of Justice, that Judge Landis is not available for


assignment to East St. Louis, 111. Some other judge has been assigned there.

Mr. FOSTER. Do you know anything about the circumstances of his holding court there some time ago ?

Mr. DYER. I saw in the paper where he had been there. I make no request myself.

Mr. FOSTER. I know, but I thought possibly you had observed what he said at the time he held court there when he held court in place of Judge Wright, who was then sick and who I believe has since died.

Mr. DYER. He has since died. As I understand, there has been another assignment of Judge Humphrey, and Judge Landis could not be sent there. But that is a mere side issue.

Mr. Chairman, these colored women are here representing a colored organization of the United States; also petitioning you for an investigation for the purpose of trying to find some means and measures that will protect the lives of the people living and working and employed in East St. Louis.

Mr. FOSTER. Let me ask you this question before you finish: Do you know when the importation of colored people from the South commenced to East St. Louis, 111. ?

Mr. DYER. I do not.

Mr. FOSTER. You do not know anything about this; never saw anything about it in the paper?

Mr. DYER. I do not know. If I did see it brought up, I do not remember it now.

Mr. FOSTER. I did not know but what you, living right across the river, would have noticed it.

Mr. DYER. If I did, I did not pay any particular attention to it, and it has escaped my mind.

Mr. FOSTER. You do not know how many were carried in there ?

Mr. DYER. No, sir ; I do not know, really, anything about it.

Mr. FOSTER. You do not know the reasons why great numbers were brought to East St. Louis?

Mr. DYER. No, sir; I do not.

Mr. KELLY. What trouble was there before these two last outbreaks? Had there been any trouble in the two years before?

Mr. DYER. So far as East St. Louis is concerned I do not know; but over in St. Louis the packing houses have been having more or less trouble ever since they first put negroes in there. In fact, they had to employ men to guard and protect their plants and keep these men from injuring them and burning them.

Mr. FOSTER. I am trying to get this information because I know that was a horrible thing, and everybody recognizes it. and that that ought not to occur again ; but I would like to know whether you can tell the committee whether these colored people were imported from the South in order to take the places of strikers in East St. Louis, in large numbers, beginning, as you say, some time ago. There is not any question but what they were imported in there, I guess. Nobody denies that.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Is that any excuse? Even if they had been, that would justify the inhumanity of those murders?

Mr. FOSTER. No; not a bit. That does not give them any excuse for having killed or injured them.


The CHAIRMAN. Several colored people have written me denying the fact that this importation occurred immediately before this killing.

Mr. FOSTER. I am just trying to get the facts.

The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I know you want to get the facts.

Mr. FOSTER. I do not know that they did.

Mr. RIORDAN. One of these women is shaking her head. She probably knows something about that.

Mr. FOSTER. The reason I asked about that is because that shows a bad state of affairs, and that might be the reason it started. Now, it was reported, I think in the press, that there had been a great many of them taken into East St. Louis. I want to know whether that is so or not. I do not know. I am trying to get at the clashing that came up there between the two.

Mr. DYER. Mr. Rodenberg will tell you, when he addresses the committee, that the assault was not committed on anybody that had been imported immediately before. This lieutenant in the reserve corps, MT Arbuckle, who can be gotten easily because he is here in The Adjutant General's Department at the War Department, told me he went to the hospital when these people were there, immediately after the killing, and he talked with one colored man who had been burned very severely and was going to die, and he made a death-bed statement to him in which he said that he had worked over there continuously for the past 11 years for one concern, without losing hardly a day ; he never had been arrested in his life for anything ; and he was at home with his family when they came down there and set fire to his place and burned him and his family.

Mr. FOSTER. I guess there is no question that there was no distinction made in the affair.

Mr. DYER. One of these women here is a teacher at the Howard University. She went to St. Louis. This other lady went to East St. Louis in behalf of the Red Cross, to render assistance, and she went there to East St. Louis and saw where the property had been destroyed and burned, and she can tell you how near it was to the
Government buildings ; and the Red Cross building was burned, and she can tell you hundreds of instances of people who have talked with her and told her about these various matters. But first, before I ask them to address the committee, I will ask Mr. Rodenberg to say something.

Mr. GARRETT. Mr. Dyer, if you will pardon me just a moment before you conclude are you about to conclude?

Mr. DYER. Yes.

Mr. GARRETT. I want to hear your legal view upon the resolution, if I can, as to just what authority

Mr. DYER. I have here a copy of a resolution entitled " Public resolution 125, Sixty-fourth Congress, providing for a joint resolution creating a joint subcommittee from the membership of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce and the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce to investigate conditions relating to interstate and foreign commerce and the necessity for further legislation relating thereto and defining the powers and duties of such committee."

This resolution is drawn along the same lines as the resolution I have. It is a resolution to make certain investigations and to report


whether or not any laws have been violated and what is necessary for the further protection of interstate commerce, etc.

The CHAIRMAN. Suppose a condition exists which would make it dangerous for citizens to go and come from one State to another, would or would not that, in your judgment, be such an obstruction
of interstate commerce as would give Congress jurisdiction?

Mr. DYER. I think that is one of the very especial .reasons why something should be done, because in St. Louis we are in serious danger.

The CHAIRMAN. I understand you to say that these colored workers have now to be escorted backward and forward to and from their places of employment under an armed guard?

Mr. DYER. Yes.

Miss QUEEN. Yes, sir.

Mr. DYER. This lady was there and talked with a great many people.

Miss QUEEN. With the representatives of a number of companies.

Mr. DYER. She talked with a number of men employed there, and they told her the only way they could carry out their work under contracts for the Government was to send these men over to work under an armed guard to East St. Louis, and then have the guard go and wait on the other side and receive them and protect them at the end of their day's work.

Mr. Rodenberg, will you address the committee now ?


Mr. RODENBERG. I wish to say that I am very heartily in favor of this resolution, and I hope that this committee will take such action as will make possible the consideration of the resolution during this session. It is the unanimous wish of all of the decent, law-abiding citizens of East St. Louis that a Federal investigation of the riot
should be had. A few days ago I filed in Congress a set of resolutions adopted by a committee of 100 citizens, the leading men of the city manufacturers and merchants and professional men. The committee was organized shortly after the riot, for the protection of the city That resolution reads as follows: It is very short, and I would like to read it to you. [Reading:]

EAST ST. Louis, ILL., July 19, 1911

Whereas the recent disgraceful riots and disturbances in East St. Louis have done immeasurable damage to our city and our people and have brought humiliation and shame to the good citizens residing here; and

Whereas resolutions have been presented to the Senate of the United States and are under consideration there providing for a Federal investigation of the same, and there seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether such investigation should be by a Federal grand jury, the Department of Justice, of the United States, or by a joint committee of Congress : Now. therefore be it

Resolved by the Citizens Committee of One Hundred of East St. Louis, III., representing the law-abiding citizens of our community, that without in any way criticizing or impeding any local investigation now being conducted and with full indorsement of every such investigation that may result in determining the cause of the disturbances and the punishment of those responsible therefor, yet we heartily indorse the proposition of such a Federal inquiry both as to the causes and conditions leading to the disgraceful occurrences in our midst, as well as the remedies that may be adopted to prevent their recurrence : Be it further


Resolved, That we do not suggest or intimate to the Senate or Congress of the United States as to which method of inquiry should be adopted or as to how such investigation shall be conducted. We do, however, welcome and desire such an inquiry, under Federal authority and supervision, as will disclose the
causes, suggest the remedy, and give assurance to the country and to the world that such occurrences are a thing of the past, and that law and order will here-after prevail among us : And be it further

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the United States Senators from Illinois and to the Representative in Congress from this district, with the request that they present the same to the Senate and House of Representatives in order that the position of our law-abiding citizens may be fully understood.

C. E. POPE, Chairman.
N. C. MCLEAN, Secretary.

Mr. GARRETT. May I interrupt you just a moment, Mr. Rodenberg?


Mr. GARRETT. There is no question, is there, that the Department of Justice has tried to do its best in this matter?

Mr. RODENBERG. I was just going to speak about that. Immediately upon receipt of this resolution I called at the Department of Justice, and I found a very sincere desire upon the part of the department to assist us in investigating this riot. The matter was referred to Assistant Attorney General Fitts, and I had a long conference with him. Mr. Fitts expressed his desire to cooperate with us to the fullest extent and he was willing to do everything in his power. He was perplexed by the question, though, as to whether or not any phase of the riot presented a question that would be a proper subject of Federal judicial inquiry.

My idea was that the most effective investigation would be by a Federal court, and I especially requested that Judge Landis be assigned to conduct the investigation. About a year ago Judge Landis held court in East St. Louis, and he called the officials of the city government before him and took them to task for permitting open violation of the law. permitting saloons to run on Sunday and gambling joints, etc. He struck terror into a good many of the lawless element there, and I felt that the moral effect of the presence of Judge Landis and a Federal grand jury impaneled for that purpose would be most excellent. The Department of Justice went as far as it possibly could. They instructed the district attorney at East St. Louis to go to Lacrosse and have a consultation with Judge Landis, to get his views as to whether or not it was properly a subject of judicial inquiry. I have since been informed by Mr. Fitts that Judge Landis has some doubt as to the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice; that he thinks it is questionable as to whether or not, inasmuch as it is purely a violation of State law, it would be properly a subject of investigation by the Federal court authorities.

The CHAIRMAN. If the conditions are such that it is dangerous for men to go and come across the State line in the pursuit of their daily employment, is there any doubt in your mind that that would be a subject for such an investigation?

Mr. RODENBERG. There is no doubt in my mind; and that would no doubt develop, on a congressional investigation of this kind. If a congressional investigation were held, it would no doubt develop
a state of facts that would enable the Federal court to take hold. Now, since the State troops have been federalized and the National


Guard called into Federal service, we have only two companies there, and those are two companies of Regulars under command of Maj. Cavanaugh. I had a consultation with Secretary Baker, with a committee of citizens of East St. Louis headed by Maurice Joyce, who. I think, will be the next Federal judge in my district, and we
asked Secretary Baker to keep those two companies of Regulars in East St. Louis. They are there in close proximity to the plant of the aluminum company. We asked the Secretary to keep those two companies there and to give instructions to Maj. Cavanaugh to use his troops not only for the protection of plants that have Government contracts but also to preserve civil order in case it was necessary, and Mr. Baker very promptly told us that he would be very glad to do that, but that the governor would first have to make the request. I then telegraphed to the governor, and he wired back that he had requested Maj. Gen. Barry, who is in charge of the Federal troops out in Illinois, to so instruct Maj. Cavanaugh, and that Maj. Cavanaugh was to use the troops under his command to preserve civil order there until such time as the civil authorities could master the situation. This order has since been issued by Gen. Barry to Maj. Cavanaugh.

Now, the plain, unvarnished truth of the matter, as Mr. Joyce told Secretary Baker, is that civil government in East St. Louis completely collapsed at the time of the riot. The conditions there at the time beggar description. It is impossible for any human being to describe the ferocity oncl brutality of that mob. In out* case, for instance, a little 10-year-old boy, whose mother had been shot down, was running around sobbing and looking for his mother, and some members of the mob shot the boy, and before life had passed from his body they picked the little fellow up and threw him in the flames.

Another colored woman with a little 2-year-old baby in her arms was trying to protect the child, and they shot her and also shot the child, and threw them in the flames. The horror of that tragedy in East St. Louis can never be described. It weighted me down with a feeling of depression that I did not recover from for weeks.
The most sickening things I ever heard of were described in the letters that I received from home giving details of that attack.

Mr. SNELL. How large was that mob?

Mr. RODENBERG. The mob was composed of possibly 2.000 people. I want to tell you something about East St. Louis. In the first place, it is a large industrial center. It is a town of about 90,000
population. We are unfortunate in some respects. We have a magnificent location ; we have 26 railroads there, an unlimited supply of fuel and water, and every facility for manufacturing purposes. Our city is right across the river from St. Louis, Mo., and I want to call attention to some facts. Every vag and undesirable that is haled into the police courts of St. Louis and given hours to leave town comes across the river to East St. Louis. As a result our city has a larger proportion of the lawless, worthless element than most cities of our size. The city is financially bankrupt. Our total indebtedness has reached the constitutional limit, and we have a very inadequate police force. I think at the time of this riot we had something like 60 policemen in the entire city.

Mr. GARRETT. How large is East St. Louis?


Mr. RODENBERG. About 90,000 population. Now, since this has
taken place the manufacturers have gotten together, and they have
voluntarily raised a fund of $105,000. Under pressure of this committee of citizens the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners who were in charge at the time the riot took place have resigned, and three new commissioners have been appointed upon the suggestion of the Committee of One Hundred three leading citizens, very highgrade and reputable men. Since that time they have forced the resignation of the chief of police and night chief, and they have put a very prominent, strong, clear-headed, capable man in charge of the police department, Mr. Frank Keating. I believe you know
him, Dr. Foster.

Mr. FOSTER. Yes.

Mr. RODENBERG. You inquired a moment ago, Mr. Chairman, as to whether the local authorities were doing their duty.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Before you reach that, Mr. Rodenberg, may I ask you a question?


Mr. CAMPBELL. Mr. Dyer stated that members of the militia shot colored people and that policemen shot colored people,

Mr. RODENBERG. That is absolutely true. If you will bear with me a moment, perhaps I can give you a very clear statement of the events that led up to this riot.

In March of this year there was a strike inaugurated at the Aluminum Co. works. Bear in mind, here is something that I think the Government should be vitally interested in. The basic plant of the Aluminum Co. of America is located at East St. Louis. Their finishing plants are in Pittsburgh and in that section of the country, but the basic plant, where they first get the clay from which they extract the aluminum from which they make the aluminum utensils in this country, is located at East St. Louis. It is a plant that represents an investment, I suppose, of $10,000,000. Of course, you need aluminum in the construction of aeroplanes. You have got to have it. If this plant is not in operation you can not build your flying machines to be used in this war. The manager of this company, Mr. Fox, was assaulted; he was shot at while going to the works, and he has received letters within the last few days threatening that as soon as the troops are withdrawn they will burn down his plant. The packing houses have received the same sort of notices.

When this strike occurred in March the Aluminum Co. had large contracts on hand, and they very quickly acquiesced in the demands of the employees. As the result of that strike, the lowest wage paid for the most ordinary labor by the Aluminum Co. is $2.75 a day. That is the lowest wage paid by the Aluminum Co., $2.75 a day, for the most ordinary labor. Some of these colored men who work in the plants, who are good workmen, make as high as $4 and $5 a day ; but the lowest wage paid there, as I say, is $2.75 a day.

Shortly thereafter another strike was started by the employees. The Aluminum Co., it seems, runs what is known as an open shop; they pay the highest wages, but they refuse to accord official recognition to the union as a union ; and that was the grievance of the men. The company refused to recognize the union, and they went on strike ; and then in order to supply this labor the company began to


employ a great many of these colored men who had been coming into East St. Louis in large numbers.

There have been several reasons assigned for this influx of southern negroes. During the heat of the political campaign the charge was made that negroes were being imported and colonized for political purposes. There was not a scintilla of evidence to base that sort of charge on. As a matter of fact, the Department of Justice at that time investigated that fully and they found nothing to justify any such accusation.

Mr. FOSTER. May I ask you a question there?


Mr. FOSTER. I am trying to get information. I do not know about this except what I have heard. Did they import large numbers of negroes to take the places of these men?

Mr. RODENBERG. That is a question that I am not fully prepared to answer. The manufacturers Mr. Conway, of Armour & Co. ; Mr. Fox, of the Aluminum Co. ; and others made the statement under oath that there was no importation by reason of inducements to employment. They claim that the immigration to East St. Louis from the South was entirely voluntary ; that these "men had come up there attracted by the very fine wages being paid. As Mr. Dyer said, many of the employees that had been working in the factories were foreigners, and when the European war broke out many of the Hungarians, Roumanians, and Turks, and others of the various nationalities and perhaps every nationality under the sun is represented among the workmen in East St. Louis returned to Europe to fight in the war. Many of them returned voluntarily at the first outbreak of European hostilities. They went back in large numbers, and that left the manufacturing industries shorthanded. While I do not want to express an opinion on this, yet the large number of negroes that came to East St. Louis would make it appear that there had been a systematic effort to bring in colored help ; but I would not dispute the word of men like Mr. Fox and Mr. Conway. I do not believe they were responsible for induced immigration of southern negroes.

Mr. FOSTER. I will say that the: work was not done by them.

The CHAIRMAN. Is it not natural to suppose that if they were making such wages as that it would draw the labor there, just as the construction of these Army cantonments draws labor?

Mr. RODENBERG. Absolutely. This migration from the south to East St Louis has been going on for several years. As I say, there are 26 railroads coming into the city of East St. Louis, many from the South. There are the Cotton Belt Road, the Southern, the St. Louis & Iron Mountain, the Louisville & Nashville, and all those various roads center in East St. Louis. They have for years been employing colored laborers as freight handlers and trackmen. They were paying fair wages. Then these colored people realizing that they could make better wages than the railroads paid began to work for other people and to go into these big factories and get higher wages, and they would write back to their friends about it.

Mr. SNELL. Is there anything wrong if they did it ?

Mr. RODENBERG. I do not think so.

Mr. CAMPBELL. It can not be said, even if they had been imported the day before, that it would have justified these outrages.


Mr. FOSTER. Oh, no ; nobody would think so for a moment.

Mr. RODENBERG. I have gotten away from my story. That is what brought on this strike; colored people began to come in. It engendered a good deal of bitterness. Of course, there were some very undesirable and lawless colored people came in with the decent laborers. There was quite a good deal of crime in East St. Louis, much of which was committed by this lawless element of negroes. There were a number of cases of hold-ups and things of that kind. The great body of the colored people who came were law-abiding and were honestly trying to better their condition ; but as is natural under such circumstances, we also got a criminal element. It culminated on the 28th of May. A race riot started.

Mr. RIORDAN. How did that race riot on the 28th start?

Mr. RODENBERG. You know it is impossible to explain just how those things start. It struck all at once. They had a meeting of the city council. The mayor called the meeting at night, which of course was a serious mistake, and I think he recognizes that fact, himself, now. It was called at 8 o'clock at night, in the city auditorium. The representatives of the laboring people wanted to consult with the mayor and the city council to see if some measures could not be adopted to prevent a further influx of negroes into East St. Louis. They went there from 500 to 1,000 strong. There were some inflammatory and impassioned speeches made at that meeting, and as a result, when they left the auditorium they went down into a section about two blocks from the city hall where there were negro saloons, and began to attack them, and there were three or four 'colored people and several white people killed ; but they got the militia in there immediately and they suppressed that riot. However, I realized, and so did everybody, that the thing was only smoldering, and would break out with renewed fury.

On the evening of the first of July the whole trouble started, as I understand, in this way : A colored man got off a car at a transfer point in the heart of the city, and while waiting for his car several white men saw him, some seven or eight of them, and they walked over in a body and one of them knocked the colored man down, and several of them hit him, and finally one of this gang pulled out a revolver and shot him while he was lying on the sidewalk, but did not hit him in a vital part, and he got up and ran away.

In a few minutes another colored man came along, and he was given similar treatment and he ran away. These negroes who had been attacked ran down to the section of the city where the colored people live, and the story goes that they rang the church bell and assembled some 200 or 300 people, and they were armed.

The colored people say that that night, on Sunday night, in the early part of the evening, an automobile, a Ford car, loaded with four or five men, came through the negro section of the city and began firing into the houses. They were out joy riding, it seems. When this colored crowd assembled, armed, the police department was notified. The police sergeant, Mr. Samuel Coppedge, who happened to be a friend of mine and whose son is in the Navy and I had some trouble trying to locate the young man to notify him of his father's death together with three detectives, got into a Ford machine, all in citizens' clothing, although they were all detectives, and


Coppedge was a detective sergeant, and they went down to head off this mob of colored people, and they asked them to disperse and said they were officers of the law. The colored people claim that they thought they were the same men who had earlier in the evening shot into the houses, and in their excitement they shot into the car and killed Coppedge and wounded two of the other detectives, one of whom has since died. When the news of the death of Sergt. Coppedge, who was a popular and efficient officer, got to the police department the police force afforded no further protection of any kind to the colored people of East St. Louis. As a matter of fact, some members of the police department joined the rioters and helped shoot the negroes. Those are the facts.

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon of July 2 they had two companies of militia at East St. Louis. The militia, being under the orders of the civil authorities, soon caught the spirit of the situation, and the two companies of militia also did not turn a hand to restore law and order. They have now the man who was in charge

Mr. CAMPBELL. Where was the militia made up from?

Mr. RODENBERG. They were made up in the northern part of the State of Illinois. I do not know where they came from. The colonel in charge, Col. Tripp. is now under investigation and is facing a court-martial. An effort was made to have martial law declared at the time, but Col. Tripp said it was not necessary; that he could handle the situation. He took no adequate steps to handle it, however.

On Sunday I was at Atlantic City. Mr. Joseph Nester, the president of the O'Bear-Nester Glass Co., told me that one of the men employed by his company told him that he was shot by a militiaman. That was an honest, law-abiding, and reliable colored man who had worked for Mr. Nester for 30 years.

Mr. Maurice Joyce, who, as I said a moment ago, will probably be our next Federal judge, told me last week that when they started to attack a colored laboring man, whom he happened to know, he went forward and interceded, and the poor fellow ran for protection toward eight militiamen, and those militiamen turned their bayonets on the poor devil and made him run back into the mob, and the mob killed him, and they also threatened to kill Mr. Joyce for trying to interfere. I suppose I could talk for six hours detailing the situation.

Mr. FOSTER. What has the governor done in order to investigate that affair?

Mr. RODEXBERG. The governor is doing everything he can. The attorney general of Illinois is on the ground with a corps of assistants and has taken personal charge of the riot investigation. The grand jury of St. Clair County is now in session investigating it. The presiding judge, Judge Crow, who is an able and fearless man, has given instructions to the jury to make the most thorough investigation and to punish every man connected with it. They have returned a number of indictments. They have arrested three police officers who were directly implicated in the shooting. They had evidence that several of them had killed colored people.

Mr. FOSTER. The reason I asked you that is that I have a telegram from the governor in which he said he was making a thorough investigation.


Mr. RODENBERG. Yes ; they are doing that.

Mr. FOSTER. And that the courts would spare no man who was implicated in that outrage.

Mr. EODENBERG. Oh, yes; I think the State authorities are doing everything they possibly can.

Mr. FOSTER. I wondered how they were getting on with it. I thought you were in closer touch with it than I am.

Mr. RODENBERG. They are going on in the regular way getting their witnesses and then bringing them before the grand jury.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you any doubt, if an investigation is ordered, that where outrages were so publicly committed the result would be to at least mark some of the men who were engaged in this?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes, undoubtedly; but it is a peculiar thing. Although Mr. Joyce was born and reared in East St. Louis and he saw this mob of 2,000, he said that upon his word of honor he was unable to recognize any of those men. He never had seen them before, apparently. They were young fellows that had grown up there, whom he did not know ; a mob mostly of young fellows. Many of them are supposed to have come over from St. Louis.

Mr. GARRETT. Is it thought in East St. Louis that this riot was primarily racial, or is it purely a labor proposition, or is it a mixture of both?

Mr. RODENBERG. It is a mixture of both racial and economic.

Mr. HARRISON. What proportion of white people is there in East St. Louis?

Mr. RODENBERG. In East St. Louis, prior to this riot, I suppose there were probably 20,000 colored people and 70,000 white people.

Mr. HARRISON. Are there that many left there now ?

Mr. RODENBERG. Oh, no; I do not suppose there are more than 5,000 colored people there now. Many of the employees in the factories are living across the river and go to their work in East St. Louis under military escort.

Mr. FOSTER. Take it out there at Brooklyn, which is largely made up practically all colored people?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; it is a little village composed entirely of colored people.

Mr. FOSTER. Did they burn the houses there?


Mr. FOSTER. The houses they burned were down in town ?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; Brooklyn is not a part of East St. Louis. It is a separate municipality.

Mr. FOSTER. But they burned those sections where they lived down in the city?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; down in the south end.

Mr. FOSTER. That is where the trouble occurred?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; they burned 310 houses, and the Broadway Opera House ; and it was a misfortune that entailed an awful expense on the city. Under the law of Illinois the city is responsible for any damage caused by a mob, and the city will have approximately a million dollars to pay as the result of this mob action.

Mr. FOSTER. What action has been taken by the mayor? Is he enforcing the law in reference to closing saloons on Sundays and cleaning up those low dives?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; he is cooperating with this committee of 100 now.


I wanted to mention this fact. The manufacturers who employed there have voluntarily subscribed $105,000 to increase the police force. They will probably have a police department of over 100 men; and they expect to be in better shape in the future.

Mr. DYER. I see in the paper where there has been a couple of uses burned in the colored section in the last day or two.

Mr. RODENBERG. I do not think those fires were incendiary. I think is resolution can properly come under the policy you have adopted, a war measure, from the fact that the Aluminum company is cated there. We want it also because of the moral effect. There are people who will not talk when they go before a State grand jury, as most of you gentlemen know most of you are lawyers but they live a terror of a Federal inquiry. It strikes terror into the evil-doer, and I believe it will disclose facts that could not be gotten in any other way. I think it ought to be done. It would be appreciated our people. Every decent citizen wants it and is in full harmony with the spirit of this resolution.

Mr. HARRISON. Is there an investigation going on now?
Mr. RODENBERG. Oh, yes.

Mr. HARRISON. I mean the proceedings of which are being published, and that the public would know about ?

Mr. RODENBERG. The investigation now going on is before the State and jury and, of course, is secret.

Mr. GARRETT. I suppose careful thought has been given by you, Mr. Dyer, and the other gentlemen interested in the resolution, to the question of whether an investigation of this sort would be likely in any way to embarrass the processes of justice in the State, and whether there are any dangers of immunities growing out of any
investigation that might be held by Congressional committee ?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; that is a phase to be considered.

Mr. GARRETT. If that is so, that is a question which the committee making the investigation should consider very thoroughly.

Mr. RODENBERG. They will no doubt take that into consideration, am satisfied in my own mind that it is highly imperative that an investigation of this kind should be had.

Mr. HARRISON. I notice that you say you want this committee to investigate as to "what legislation, if any, is. needed to prevent like outrages in the State of Illinois and other States and Territories of the United States." What other States do you refer to?

Mr. RODENBERG. I would much prefer to confine the scope of this investigation right to the East St. Louis riots, and I believe Mr. Dyer now of the same opinion.

Mr. DYER. We want it to be simply as to East St. Louis.

Mr. FOSTER. This resolution should be rewritten and all these areas should be stricken but. I am not in favor of the resolution it is written.


Miss BURROUGHS. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, have come to you as the superintendent of the Department for the Suppression of Lynching and Mob Violence, a department under


the National Association of Colored Women. The association is composed of 100,000 women of our race. They have organized in every State in the Union. They represent the women who are working to improve the social conditions of our race in industrial conditions and religious conditions. The organization is now nearly 20 years old. These women have asked me to take charge of this matter of presenting to you an appeal to investigate the East St. Louis outrages, because we do not feel that the country is perfectly secure for our people if these outrages are permitted, and the persons who partake in them are permitted to go unpunished.

We are asking that the Federal Government will do this for us, and I bring before you this morning petitions from 35 States and from the District of Columbia. I have here over 7,000 petitions this morning, signed by American citizens of color, and by white citizens, who are extremely anxious that the Federal Government do something in this matter.

Mr. FOSTER. Were you at East St. Louis at any time during the riot?

Miss BURROUGHS. Not during the riot ; no, sir. Here are the petitions. [Producing papers.] They are fixed in packages of 50, and the persons have signed and written their addresses and dates of signature. They are all arranged according to the States from which they come, and I have been asked to give them to you. There are at least 100,000 of these petitions, and they are going to be sent to the Congress of the United States sent to Members of Congress with the hope that you will do something in this matter. These petitions are all in the same form.

The CHAIRMAN. Let one of them be put in the record at this point.
(One of the petitions referred to is here printed in full, as follows) :


I am an American citizen of full age and accountability and do here and now, over my own signature, most solemnly protest against the outrages perpetrated upon other American citizens in East St. Louis, 111.. July 2, 1917, and petition you to comply with the request made by Congressman L. C. Dyer in House Joint Resolution 118 as speedily as possible.


BELLEVUE, PA., July 28, 1917.

Miss BURROUGHS. We are asking this because we are very much afraid that if these outrages go unpunished it is going to simply embolden the lawless element of the country, and if we can allow these things to go on in our country without calling attention to the great moral evil we are going to feel it in more ways than one ; and we are asking it because we feel that if we are going to take part in the constructive work of our Government we should feel that we are perfectly safe to live and to labor and we do not feel that way now as American citizens. We feel that if we want to work in certain sections we might be permitted to work, but that we are at the mercy and at the whim of the lawless element, whether the lawless element is in our own race or any other race. We feel it because we do not feel that there has been a strong, vigorous protest against the outrages that have been perpetrated upon our people.


You will have noticed that since the East St. Louis riots riots have broken out in other places and that violence is growing and that it is directed toward negroes.

The CHAIRMAN. You mean in Pennsylvania?

Miss BURROUGHS. No; we have had trouble in little towns in Missouri. There has been rioting at Chester, Pa. But it was a little nearer East St. Louis than Chester. I wanted to go up to one of those little towns on a visit, on Sunday, but my friends said, " It is not safe for you to go up there," so I could not go. The people who are seeking work, the people who want to earn their bread, want to know whether the Federal Government is going to make America a safe place in which to live, and not only to live but to labor, and we want to do both ; but we are at the mercy of the Federal Government ; and I come this morning to ask you, in behalf of my people, what are you going to do about this matter?


Miss QUEEN. I am employed by the Howard University, and I am an interpreter in the American Red Cross. I am an interpreter and translator of Spanish, German, French, and Italian. I am also a member of the department of civilian relief of the American Red Cross and am usually sent out when there is disaster affecting negroes in the United States.

When this trouble occurred in East St. Louis and Mrs. Frank B. Hammard, president of the East St. Louis Chapter, called for help they thought it wise to send out one colored worker, and I was sent. I was sent out and given permission to carry on some investigations and make a report of it.

Before I go any further may I answer your question, please the question which you asked both Mr. Rodenberg and Mr. Dyer the question about the importation of negroes into East St. Louis.

Mr. FOSTER. The reason I asked that is that I saw it stated in the daily press.

Miss QUEEN. I saw that you were quite anxious about that.

Mr. FOSTER. And I wondered if that was a systematic importation.

Miss QUEEN. It seems that up to a couple of years ago there was a kind of work done around the stockyards and the ore yards which the skilled white worker would not do, so that they took in the unskilled Polack and Slav to do that kind of work, and when these foreign countries mobilized for war and these men went back to Europe, in order to keep their plants running, they had to get other unskilled labor, and they called on the unskilled labor of the South. I do not think it was done by the direct sending out of agents, but by employing as many southern negroes who lived in the North as possible and by encouraging those southern negroes to write to their friends and tell them how the conditions were they got them to come up, attracted by the wage ; but I do not think there was a systematic sending out of agents, and those negroes first came to take the places of these unskilled laborers. But those of you who have lived in the South know that the southern negro is frequently a mechanic, and when those men came up there they were easily able to fill in a number of other places.


Mr. FOSTER. I do not think there is any doubt that agents have been sending South to get the negroes up there.

Miss QUEEN. Yes. Of course, I can only answer as it was given to me when I was there.

Mr. FOSTER. The reason I asked that is that the press reports, back for a year, as Mr. Rodenberg will probably recall, have been mentioning charges of course, some of them political, and I do not know anything about that and I am not going to say anything about it that they had imported them systematically, to the number
of several thousands, as I think it was stated at one time ; some 6,000 or 8,000.

Mr. RODENBERG. They claimed 8,000.

Mr. FOSTER. Eight thousand into East St. Louis and Madison

Mr. CAMPBELL. What has that to do with it? That is no excuse for these riots.

Mr. FOSTER. Oh, no; that does not give any excuse for the outrages upon these people, none in the world ; but I wondered if, with a strike on there, they had been doing that.

The CHAIRMAN. Even if it were true it would not affect the jurisdiction of Congress to investigate the matter, and if there is any spirit of terrorism that prevents people from telling what they know, inducing them to speak.

Mr. CAMPBELL. It does not justify these inhuman murders.

Mr. FOSTER. Nobody is trying to justify them, Mr. Campbell. I
am trying to get the facts.

Miss QUEEN. In May the aluminum company workers declared a strike. I understand this w r as not a labor strike, but some money had been promised to what they call a walking delegate, and he was not paid this money, and so the strike was started. I do not know whether you understand what that means. I frankly admit that I do not; but that caused the strike. The aluminum ore factory was working day and night, never closing its doors, on Government contracts, so that it had to keep on going. The men who were in charge of the aluminum ore factory sent out for labor in any section, and there was a large response of negroes and a few foreigners. There were not many foreigners in the place by that time ; they had nearly all gone away. The union men held a" meeting in the city hall to protest against this, and because of that occurred the riot of May 28.

What happened on May 28 ? There was a meeting to be held.

There is a section of East St. Louis which is called the Denver Rise, and that section has long been known as a section where bad negroes live. As a matter of fact, a decent and respectable negro did not go over there very often, and very rarely did a white person go there, and at the going on of this union meeting an automobile
passed through the Denver Rise with five white men in it, dressed in civilian clothing, and they began firing promiscuously right and left into the various nouses, and by the time they had gotten through men clutched this and that, whatever they had in the way of weapons of defense, and they were ready then, and about that time Detective Sergt. Coppidge and Detective Dailey and three other white men came through the city, pursuing this first crowd in an automobile. I understand that there had not been an interval of 15 minutes since


the first automobile passed through. These detective officers were also in civilian clothing, and of course these bad men supposed it was the same crowd, and they fired upon them, instantly killing Sergt. Coppidge and wounding Dailey so that he died soon after; and when this automobile rushed into the street ; of course that
naturally started the mob, and when it reached the corner of Bond Avenue and Tenth Street, a colored man named Scott Clark was going into his house and they saw him. By that time a mob had collected, and they grabbed this man, Scott Clark, and said "Let's hang him " ; and somebody in the crowd said, " Let's drag him around a little," and so with a rope tied around his neck they dragged him around the street. A reporter of the Post-Dispatch rushed out and begged them to let this man go. He said, " Why, you do not even know him." He was told that unless he got out of the way, he himself in five minutes would be dead. It was 3 o'clock then, and for half an hour they tore around the street dragging the body of this man, Scott Clark, until they reached the corner of Broadway and Tenth Streets. There they strung him up. Col. Tripp rushed out in person and cut the man down. He was practically dead, and did that evening in St. Mary's hospital.

By that time the mob had gathered strength. It is impossible to estimate the numbers, because it was so organized that certain sections of it were sent to certain sections of the city, and so that it was never seen moving as one body. I have in my hands some photographs I was allowed to take under military escort as a member of the Red Cross. It was prohibited for people to take pictures, at first.

One of the cases that we had at Red Cross headquarters was a case of a little girl who had been in her home. She was 8 years old. The crowd asked where her mother was, and she did not tell them, she really not knowing, so the mob cut off one of her fingers on each hand and then went out. When they had gotten out, some
one in the mob said, " You didn't do enough in there," and they went back and amputated her left arm just below the elbow.

The CHAIRMAN. Did you see that?

Miss QUEEN. Yes; I saw her and talked with her. She is in charge of the Red Cross there. The aim of the mob was, first, to find out where negroes lived, and they started down by where a number of them live. It was a very clever mob, and they made very sure not to destroy any property owned by white people, so that when it came to a place where colored property was near white property, instead of burning the houses, they first of all barred up the windows so as to make sure of the tenants, and then an armed man stood at the back door and an armed man at the front door and fired through the windows. It was also a frugal mob, because after firing through the windows they went in and took out every useful piece of furniture, especially if they were large pieces, and carried them to the homes of the poorer whites. Some of the furniture has been found and taken back, but of course furniture is rather difficult to identify.

Mr. HARRISON. How many were in that mob?

Miss QUEEN. The mob was divided into groups, and I have heard persons estimate the mob at all the way from 50 to 1,500.

Mr. HARRISON. What was the character of the mob ?


Miss QUEEN. You mean the white men, etc.


Miss QUEEN. It seems to me, from what I have been able to get at from questioning and I have questioned practically every official there except the mayor, who will not receive anybody; because of political and moral conditions in East St. Louis it is not wise that a great part of that mob did not even belong in East St. Louis. A
great part of it came from around in different parts of the country. But so far as it could be recognized, they were what you would call hoodlums; and one thing I was very glad to find when I got there, that the women in that mob were the women of the underworld. When the mob could not control the riot they went down into the
underworld and let out those women, and they invented the most horrible forms of cruelty. Primarily among them was this: The women of the underworld divided into two groups, one at the corner of Broad Street and the other across at some distance, and then these women would go down and get a colored woman, and they would take her and entirely strip her and then make her run from one group to the other, at the same time firing at her feet until she dropped dead. At the municipal lodging house a woman came in, practically unclothed, for protection because some of them did escape from the mob.

As you know, on the morning of the riot the militia went to the homes of the colored people and took up whatever weapons they had, and the men were at work in the white-lead factories and the aluminum factory and the stock yards, and the women gave up what arms they had, and the people were unprotected; so that in the evening, seeing that this mob was getting the better of them, they rushed to the Eads Bridge, and some of the mob had preceded them there and fired upon them, and they would catch people and throw them bodily into the Mississippi River, and every day bodies are being given up from the Mississippi. So that then they started and went right for the municipal free bridge. I have here a picture of the people fleeing across that bridge. That is just a small portion of it [indicating photograph]. There is one that shows a larger number. They were fired upon until they reached that bridge ; but that bridge belongs to Missouri it is a free bridge and, of course, they were afraid to follow them across the bridge.

A school-teacher with whom I talked, and for whom we are providing as well as we can, lived in a very beautiful home there, and the mob was undecided whether it was the home of white people or colored people. The residents fled to the cellar. The mob discussed for a long time as to whether or not white or colored people lived in this house. Finally, deciding that white people lived in it, they went away, but having gone to the corner they must have gotten the information that colored people lived there, and they came back, and then they were discussing, and one of the men said, " I know there is good furniture in that house and I wouldn't burn it." They said, "We can not get them out, if there is anybody in there;" and this young woman told me that she and her mother spent an hour in the cellar trying to decide which would be the easier death, to run out and be shot down or to stay in and be burned to death. Fire is, of course, no respecter of races. They had set fire to this flat, which was occupied by colored school-teachers [indicating photograph]. The fire jumped


from that place and caught property which belonged to white people, and it fell with a crash. When this crash sounded it attracted the attention of this mob which was around the other school-teacher's house, and they rushed toward it, and thereupon the mother and grandmother and baby ran out at the back of the house and got inside the line of the militia. By that time Col. Trip had gotten as good control of the mob as he could without ammunition, which he says he had not, and they were rushed across into the city hall. Here is a picture of the people going into the city hall. Here is a library and there is an apartment house, and here is the municipal free bridge [indicating on photograph].

One of the women in the hospital told us when they came across to the municipal lodging house, which, as you know, is owned by the city of St. Louis, Mo., to house men who are out of work during the winter, and which had been closed for some time and was then closed, August Small, the mayor of the city, got there at 2 o'clock in
the morning. This started at 12 o'clock and they got there at 2 o'clock in the morning, and they could not get the place open, and finally Mayor Small said, " We have got to break the door open," and they did; and it is absolutely authentic that that building, which nominally held 5,000 people, had 10,000 people rushed in there during that first night, and two men committed suicide and one man went crazy and ran amuck, and 50 people developed smallpox.

The CHAIRMAN. I do not want to interrupt you, but I would like you to tell me what you know about these people going back and forth to work there.

Miss QUEEN. Yes. Mr. Hammard, who is the owner of the white- lead plant, told me that the people of his factories and others there said that they absolutely would not go back there to work, and they said that they must have protection, so that Mr. Hammard and others conferred with Maj. Tripp, and they gave them a guard;
and even to-day unless conditions have changed in the last 48 hours the armed guard appear at the Illinois end of the free bridge every morning and the laborers go across and are escorted into East St. Louis, into the very factories where they work, and in the evening these same armed guards meet them and escort them again
to the Illinois end of the bridge, and they go back home. There are two reasons for that. First of all, they could not sleep in East St. Louis, because all the property has been destroyed and there is nowhere to house them except in some few places where they have been sleeping, and the second reason is that they are really afraid
to stay there. Of course, no one can get any ammunition now. So that they are escorted back and forth each day.

The CHAIRMAN. That has continued up to 48 hours ago ?

Miss QUEEN. Yes. The city of St. Louis is in bad condition. It has forced these people upon them, and there is nowhere else to house them. Numbers of them are sleeping in cellars, in conditions where they might breed disease, and if they go back to the factories to work they will spread that disease, without regard to what might
happen to them personally.

Mr. FOSTER. You said a little while ago that this mob was made up, as I understood it, of these lower-class people that are in East St. Louis.


Miss QUEEN. I am quite sure of it; yes.

Mr. RODENBERG. Dr. Foster, the opinion of the best people there is that all the actual crime and killing was done by about 500 of those people.

Mr. FOSTER. Of this low element?

Mr. RODENBERG. And they claim that the highest number that they ever saw together in one of the mobs was about 2,000, and that the actual work of destruction and murder was done by about 500 people.

Miss QUEEN. Yes.

The CHAIRMAN. Have you any idea who the leaders of the mob were?

Mr. RODENBERG. Yes; they have quite a number of them there,

Mr. FOSTER. Is it your opinion that they will be able to find those people ?

Mr. RODENBERG. They will find some of them.

Mr. HARRISON. Were they foreigners generally?

Mr. RODENBERG. I do not know. I do not think so.

Miss QUEEN. The general opinion seems to be that they were not. Many of the foreigners had not even gone into the city. As one of the gentlemen said, East St. Louis seems to have been the dumping ground for criminals from lots of places, and it was really that class that rose up.

The manufacturers, even with all the negroes that have been brought in there and some of them even that work at skilled labor with all the employees they had, in order to get out their Government contracts had to work double shifts. For this, if for nothing else, they want this protection, because everyone knows that the threat is all around the city that as soon as the soldiers are removed they are going to start again.

Mr. KELLY. How many employees were there in the Aluminum Co. ?

Miss QUEEN. I think Mr. Hammard told me he had TOO.

Mr. RODENBERG. Mr. Hammard is the white-lead manufacturer?

Miss QUEEN. Yes; Mr. Hammard manufactures white lead.

Mr. KELLY. Do you know about the stockyards?

Miss QUEEN. I could not estimate, but I know that he said great numbers of them were in the stockyards. The point about the matter is this, that the larger number of those murdered were not men, but women and children. I know of an actual case where a mother in fleeing gave birth to twins. She was held by a mob of these women of the underworld, and a fire was built in front of her, and the babies were roasted right before her face. That woman is in the hospital. She lost her mind for a while.

The CHAIRMAN. How many of these people do you think were murdered in these riots?

Miss QUEEN. There are two reasons why you can not tell. You can not tell just how many were burned in the houses, and you can not estimate how many were thrown living or dead into the Mississippi River; and the undertakers were in the mob, and they backed their wagons up at the various corners and as fast as they
killed people they put them, in the undertakers' wagons, and they were put in rough pine boxes and buried in the potter's field without any identification.


I know of a case where a sexton received 16 bodies at one time, and he asked " Who are they ? " They said, " None of your business. Bury them."

The only way you can make any actual count of the dead is by the bodies actually seen. Women have come in screaming, saying their husbands were dead, and then it has been found through the Red Cross that those men are in California, employed there.

The CHAIRMAN. I did not know but you had arrived at some opinion of your own. I just wanted to know your estimate.

Miss QUEEN. At Red Cross headquarters the estimate is no more than 200 under any conditions.

Mr. DYER. I see that Congressman Denison received an estimate from a militiaman who was there and saw this that in his opinion the number was more than 500.

Mr. RODENBERG. I doubt whether it would reach as many as that.

Mr. RIORDAN. One of the papers recently said the number was 325.

Mr. HARRISON. Did your investigation reveal the fact that German agents had anything to do with it?

Miss QUEEN. No. I was very particular about that ; and, you see, being interpreter for these people and using the German language, I was able to get a good deal of information about that, and it was almost impossible for me to suspect any German influence unless Germans were in the labor unions but I mean German influence as
it is spoken of. I hardly think so. And you see this thing dated back to the riot of Maj 7 28, when they had a clear case about the other cause, and it was just a continuation of the same thing. Of course that may be brought out, but I think everyone is confident that that is not so.

You see, the city of East St. Louis, as I found out definitely, had very few police, and on the day of the riot was able to mobilize only about 60, including plain-clothes men. Those three members of the police force that were shot were in plain clothes. The militia that they had out there at first was composed of raw recruits. Some of those young men had hardly ever handled a gun and had seen no service, and they had been around the city fraternizing with the other young men of the city, and they hardly knew what the trouble was about.

Another thing, the city fire department answered a fire alarm and the mob rushed across and cut the hose and made it impossible to throw any water on the fire ; and a Catholic priest, who was severely beaten up, and one or two of the white women of the Red Cross have simply bombarded the city hall to get permission to get their witnesses because they say they know some of the people.

The only man they have actually taken is an ice man, who went into a house and said to a little girl, " Where are your father and mother? " He had delivered ice there for a long time. She said she did not know, and he threatened to shoot her, and the little girl said, " Why, ice man, you surely are not going to shoot me ; as many pieces of ice as you have given me, you surely are not going to shoot me now ? " and he was touched and went down and gave himself up.

The CHAIRMAN. There will be no difficulty in getting the names of persons who know about them?

Miss QUEEN. No: I can give you the statements and affidavits of every one of them, and you can write to these people.


Mr. HARRISON. According to the statement of a representative of one of the southern districts, hundreds of darkies had gone from that district, and after the riot citizens came to him and they sent
him some money to pay the way of these darkies back to Mississippi, those that wanted to go back, and when he got there he was not permitted to see them; they kept these men away from them. Do you know anything about that?

Miss QUEEN. Yes; I do. Three days after the riot occurred Mr. Roy Belling and Mr. James Mann, a nephew of Congressman Mann, and Mr. Crittenden, of Greenville, Miss., were seen in a hotel in East St. Louis. First of all they went to the alderman's office and asked permission to take the laborers back to Mississippi. They
were told that with the great supply of negroes coming in there, even yet they were not able to handle the Government contracts, and that they could not openly solicit, but that any man who wanted to go back was perfectly free, and there was nothing to prevent him. Mr. LeRoy Billing and Mr. Crittenden and Mr. Mann went to the Red Cross people and asked permission to be allowed to charter either a train or a flat boat to carry back to Greenville, Miss., as many as 1,000 negroes. Mr. Mann stated that they estimated that within the last several months 700 negroes were taken away from his town, which had only a population of 12,000. Permission was refused, and when the motion was made Mr. Crittenden, who was a member of the committee, seconded the motion.

Mr. Hubbard of the association which is handling the relief work said that the hospitals were overcrowded in St. Louis. The mob cut the electric wires, so that the surgeons had to work that night by flashes held in their hands ; and the extra labor has drained the city of St. Louis to the extent of $10,000 ; and they conceded that for the work of rehabilitation double that amount would be required. Of course, if these riots are not stopped, every time the Red Cross will be called on and there will be expense there.

Mr. DYER. I want to state, while you gentlemen are considering this resolution, that it is roughly drawn. I have not had much experience in matters of this kind. If you desire the resolution reintroduced, eliminating useless and unnecessary parts, I will be glad to do it. I will be glad to reintroduce it in any way that you gentlemen want it.

The CHAIRMAN. We will give this matter very early consideration.

(At 12 o'clock m. the committee adjourned.)

Original Format

Congressional Hearing




Unknown, “US House of Representatives Hearings re: Riot at East St. Louis, Illinois ,” 1917 August 3, TI00242, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.