Nick Chiles to A. Mitchell Palmer


Nick Chiles to A. Mitchell Palmer


Chiles, Nick




1919 November 18


Writing in regards to the execution of African Americans in Arkansas race riots


National Archives and Records Administration 230/06/41 file #158260 box #1284 NARA ID #10


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library






Hon. Attorney General Palmer,
Department of Justice,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir,

We wish to call your attention to the outrageous trial of Colored men, now in progress, at Helena, Philips County, Arkansas. These trials have been in progress during the past two weeks, and it would seem the trial judge and all the officers on behalf of the state are resorting to Kangaroo methods to secure convictions, which require only from seven to thirty minutes to try a man for his life. We wish to call your attention to Article six of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution, which is as follows,

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and District wherein the crime shall have been committed, which District shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his own behalf, and to have assistance of cousel for his defense"

This being true, we respectfully ask you to invoke the powers of the Department of Justice in this matter. If after careful investigation you find these accusations true, relative to the methods being resorted to in these cases, to take such action in the premises as you shall deem proper and ample to guarantee to them a fair trial. It is believed that part of the men who compose the jury were members of the mob that started the riot. Colored men are not drawn on Juries in Arkansas, therefor, these men could not be tried by men of their peers, as all southern whitemen believe them disqualified. Education, wealth and good citizenship count for naught when it comes to the colored race of that state. The low element of whites have resorted to this method of court procedure to not only rob the colored race of their rights but of their property. The organization there which is complained of was formed for the purpose of keeping the Cotton Growers Association from robbing the Colored Planters of their hard earnings.

All that our Society, the Kansas Defense Society, ask is fair play. We can not send Counsel there to defend them, because it would be worth their lives where the officers of the law are lax and make no pretense to give protection to their Colored Citizens.

We therefor respectfully request that your department take up the matter,

Respectfully submitted,

Nick Chiles
Editor of Topeka Plaindealer and
President of the Kansas Defense Society.

Original Format



Palmer, A. Mitchell (Alexander Mitchell), 1872-1936




Chiles, Nick, “Nick Chiles to A. Mitchell Palmer,” 1919 November 18, TI00161, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.