Francis H. Warren to Woodrow Wilson


Francis H. Warren to Woodrow Wilson


Warren, Francis H.




1913 June 18


Letter to President Woodrow Wilson from Francis H. Warren of the Detroit branch of NAACP asking the President to assist in ending lynchings in the US.


US National Archives and Records Administration 230/06/41 file #158260 box #1276


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum




Althea Cupo
Maria Matlock




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


Hon. Woodrow Wilson,
President of United States,
Washington, D.C.

My Dear Sir:-

May 31st. I sent you a message from Battle Creek, Michigan, where I first learned of the mobbing of S. W. Green, Supreme Chancellor of the Colored Knights of Pythias, asking, in effect, that you appeal to the better nature of the American People in opposition to lynching, mob, and jim crow laws, the practice of which seems to be making savages of a large proportion of the people.

Supreme Chancellor Green was not "lynched" as was first reported, but the treatment he was accorded both by the mob and the Courts ought never to have disgraced the fair name of a sister State. Instead of purchasing a birth on his return from Jacksonville, Florida, to his home in New Orleans, Mr. Green bought the State-room where he would be separate and apart from other passengers. But the mob not only drove him out of his State-room, but haled him before a Court officer - a justice - and was made to leave $25 of his money there for an alleged violation of jim crow laws of Florida before he was permitted to proceed on his way in the jim crow section of a smoking car.

One of the incidents that turned me to Democracy was the brave manner that President Grover Cleveland turned to the South in his inaugural address in 1893 and admonished its people to correct the evil of lynch law and accord to all the equal protection of the Courts and legal procedure. No Republican President has ever been brave enough, if they believed lynching a real evil- to thus speak out against the miserable practice. Discrimination against colored people has grown in some parts of the country to that extent that life itself is becoming a real burden to that element of colored folks who possess refinement, education and some wealth and who understand the full meaning of real freedom.

In my boyhood days I have ridden in Southern jim crow cars, but I do not know how I could bear such a humility at this time in life. The Declaration of Independence was written by a Democrat, at a time when slavery seemed to have been a fixture in American Economic life, and in the full knowledge of what it meant to those in bondage. The Proclamation of Emancipation was written by a Democratic-Republican statesman of the same general character as Thomas Jefferson. Mr. Roosevelt, a convert from Democracy to the latter day Republican faith started in with the "open door of equal opportunity" doctrine and gained the greatest popular majority ever given a President up to 1904, but after election his high ideal fell at Brownsville.

I confidently look to you, President Wilson, possessed with a resolute bravery second to none in American history, to come to the rescue of a suffering people and renew our hope of fair and equal treatment, legally, industrially and civilly in this beautiful "home of the free". But as to American Negro, yet to be.

I am glad Mr. Green was spared his life by the Florida mob, Mr. President, and hope such instances of abuse of people proceeding upon the even tenure of their way in America will speedily cease.

With profound respect and highest personal regard, I am,
Your obedient servant,
Francis H. Warren.
Attorney & Chairman of Executive Committee of Detroit Branch, National Assn. for Advancement of Colored People.

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




Warren, Francis H., “Francis H. Warren to Woodrow Wilson,” 1913 June 18, L061813, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.