Louis G. Gregory to Woodrow Wilson


Louis G. Gregory to Woodrow Wilson


Gregory, Louis G.




1917 January 15


Requesting that Wilson speak out against lynching and urge equal enforcement of the laws in his inaugural address.


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


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library






779 Fairmont Street, N. W.,
Washington, D. C., January 15, 1917.

Hon. Woodrow Wilson,
President of the United States.
Mr. President:

I am but an humble citizen, but am still persuaded to point out to you, the occupant of an exalted station, a service you can render ten million or more of your fellow-citizens without injury to yourself or others.

Within the past three months, as an advocate of universal peace, I have visited the fourteen Southern States, meeting many of the leaders in thought and enterprise among the colored people. The unrest and agitation among them is unmistakable. This is in part due to economic conditions, but more largely to a sense of injustice and oppression on the part of others. The lynching of a colored farmer at Abbeville, S. C., a man who by thrift and virtue had amassed about $20,000, and the report lynching of even women and children in other communities, as well as other lawless tendencies, have caused both bitterness and alarm. I believe that if something is not done to change these conditions, a crisis is inevitable. It may come in such a form as to menace both races, for in "this gloomy, disastrous age, tragedy lurks wherever man hates man."

You can, Mr. President, in your forthcoming inaugural address, use the moral influence of your position in a most effective way. If you urge the equal enforcement of the laws, regardless of race and color, if you restate the right of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, you will be following precedents set by two of your Democratic predecessors, Thomas Jefferson and Grover Cleveland.

Would not such a declaration of principle make a profound impression in the South? The White South, because you are a Southerner, will be more impressed by what you say than by what any Northern man would say. The colored people of the Nation would then know that the President of the Nation is not their enemy. The whole people may be brought to realize that their true interests are interwoven, and that kindness, tolerance, and cooperation are the forces of life. May I humbly suggest that, in past ages, those statesmen who have given heart, hand, and voice to humanitarian ideals are remembered and cherished, while others are forgotten. Is it too much to ask that the humanitarian views which you so nobly feel and express for the struggling masses of Europe, be extended to millions of American citizens, who may be likewise passing through the valley of the shadow of death?

Humanity, under the superficial veils, is all one. If we admire the gems and precious stones, shall we not also admire the jewels of God? If the flowers in the garden, various in color, attract the eye, shall we not love also the variegated flowers in the Garden of God? As God's love is universal, man becomes God-like when he transcends the limits of caste and does a duty and service to all.

Therefore, I hope and pray, Mr. President, that God will confirm and assist you and render you victorious in the path of peace and good-will to men of all races, classes, and creeds.

Respectfully yours,

Louis G. Gregory

Original Format





Gregory, Louis G., “Louis G. Gregory to Woodrow Wilson,” 1917 January 15, LO11517, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.