Editor's Note: This
material gives further insight in the racist views of James K. Vardaman. The language here
TO the Officers of the Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages, of the State of Mississippi, Charged with the Enforcement of the Law.
To the Officers of the Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages, of the State of Mississippi, Charged with the Enforcement of the Law:
Never before in the history of this Commonwealth were its
white people confronted with so grave a problem as that which confronts
proved the negro's morals,
awakened within him an intelligent love of country, or cultivated an
up-lifting, passion-restraining self-respect. He is the barbarian still,
with a thin veneering of civilization, and the education afforded him by
the white man's money, over a period of forty years, seems only to have
increased his capacity for crime. In his educated condition, his
aspiration to rise in the world and stand on a dead level with the white
man socially and otherwise, manifests itself in beastly assaults upon
The situation is becoming desperate and something must be done.
While the average negro is inherently unmoral, the more vicious criminal among them is the Idler. There is nothing to fear from the patient, working negro. He is thinking about his work, rather than devoting his time to the excogitation of devilish schemes. He may not tell a white man, even if he knows of the whereabouts of the most depraved negro felon, because he thinks that the only unpardonable sin a negro can commit is to inform a white man of a crime committed by a negro against a white man. At the same time, this negro, though lie will shield a criminal of his own race, may himself be otherwise correct in his own life. And that is one of the greatest difficulties involved in this extraordinary situation.
What shall be done? The answer is simple. Let the law be enforced.
Let there begin at once in every community in the State of Mississippi a most vigorous campaign against the Vagrant -the vicious Idler and the Keeper of Dives of Infamy.
Let the rendevous of the Rapist, the Murderer, the Crapshooter, and the Blind Tiger, be closed!
In other words, enforce the law. The law of the land is ample, even in this emergency, if only rigidly enforced. And its enforcement is the only prophylactic for this social distemper.
Fail to enforce the law and the mob will usurp the function which you should perform, but which you have betrayed. There is no time for hesitation, for "he who dallies is a dastard, and he who doubts is- damned."
I am aware of the fact that the officers of the law, in the performance of their duty in this regard, will encounter opposition from some eminently respectable (?) gentlemen living in the cities, who have houses to rent, and others in the country
who will insist that "labor is
being driven from the State." But such specious arguments should be of no
avail with a white man--an officer, who has the welfare of his State at
heart. Let me insist that the officer treat such opposition as he would
any other class of criminals. For I hold that a man who for pecuniary
profit would imperil the fair name of woman, or the peace of the community
by renting a house to a person whose business he knows to be dangerous to
the peace and morals of that community, is himself a greater enemy to
society than his criminal tenant.