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African-American Democrats Speak Out Against U.S. Imperialism

In this statement during the 1900 presidential election, the Negro National Democratic League criticizes the Republican administration's expansionist foreign policy, and gives its endorsement to the Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan.

Negroes for Bryan and Stevenson.
The Negro National Democratic League, at its Recent Sixth Biennial Session in Kansas City, Mo., Issued the Following Address to the Public:
(Official Publication.)

We, the chosen representatives of the Negroes of the United States, who are opposed to the re-election of President William McKinley and the republican nominee for vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, in national convention assembled, appealing to the intelligence, good reason and sober judgment of the Negroes of the country, do declare and set forth the following:
(…)

President McKinley Denounced
The record of President McKinley's administration has but little, if anything, to commend it to the Negro, or upon which it can make any claim for his support. The administration at Washington is expressly opposed to the appointment of Negroes as commissioned officers in the army, though President McKinley on account of dauntless courage and heroic bravery reluctantly commissioned nine Negroes second lieutenants. He nevertheless at his earliest convenient time gave them the option of being mustered out or returning to their companies as privates, and as to emphasize his determination not to have the Negro placed on equal footing with the white soldier, refused to commission Negroes to office in the black regiments, enlisted for service in the Philippines, higher than that of captain, and this is but in keeping with President McKinley's advice to our race at Tuskegee, that "the Negro youth should not aspire to the unattainable."

Patriotism and Loyalty of the Negro
The glorious and untarnished record of the Negro soldiers, in all the wars of the country, has been a source of pride to the race, and it remains for Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, now candidate for vice president on the republican ticket, to first reflect upon the bravery and heroism, first to slander the men and the race to which they belong, who saved the day at El Caney, San Juan Hill, and gave to him the opportunity to pose as he does, as the hero of the land forces in the Spanish-American war.

Must Study the Issues
We respectfully invite the men of our race to an earnest consideration of the issues to be determined in this campaign.

We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and leans toward the destruction of government by the people themselves. We insist that the subjugation of any people is "criminal aggression" and is a pronounced departure from the first principles taught and declared by Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and all the great statesmen who have guided the country through as many dangers of the past. Whether the people who will be affected by such policy be or consider themselves Negroes, nor yet because the majority of them are black, is of but little moment. They are by nature entitled to liberty and freedom. We being an oppressed people, to use the words of Daniel O'Connell, should be "the loudest in our protestations against the oppression of others." It may be that our government can and will govern the people of the Philippines and Puerto Rico better than they can govern themselves; but with equal force can it be said that the white men of the south can govern the localities in which the Negro is a majority better than they can govern themselves, and if we are prepared to support an administration that is engaged in suppressing liberty and freedom in our so-called possessions, why not be consistent and cease to complain of the same thing being done in any part of our own land? A nation cannot oppress a people without the borders of the country without sooner or later introducing some such oppression within its borders. . . 

To the end that our country, its constitution and its government as established by the fathers be maintained, that the Declaration of Independence remain intact, that the constitution and its amendments be not construed away, that the Negro take his place among the people that compose our citizenship, thinking out the issues and acting upon them that high intelligence that characterizes the highest type of American citizenship, that the rights of the common people be given as much sober thought as the rights of capital, that a bond of friendship be welded between the Negro and the white men among whom he lives, thus insuring protection to life and property and the enjoyment of all the rights guaranteed in the constitution, that hypocrisy be defeated, we urge that our race support the democratic party in the coming election of that great commoner of the plain people, the tribune of the rights of man as against money  

William Jennings Bryan and Adlai E. Stevenson.

F. L. McGhee, Chairman, Committee on Address.
Geo. F. Taylor, President of the League.
W. T. Scott, Vice President.
Jas. A. Ross, Secretary.
A. E. Manning, Chairman, Executive Committee.
Julius F. Taylor.
Lawrence A. Newby.
Prof. H. R. Graham.
J. L. Edmonds.
C. J. Walker.
W. J. Johnson.
Dr. J. C. Williams.
Theodore Frye and
J. H. W. Howard.

Source | Negro National Democratic League, "Address to the Public," Chicago Broad-Ax, 21 July 1900.
Creator | Negro National Democratic League
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | Negro National Democratic League, “African-American Democrats Speak Out Against U.S. Imperialism,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed November 14, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1244.

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