Editor's Note: This material gives further insight in the racist views of James K. Vardaman. The language here
is so inflammatory that this editor winces. After some thought it was decided to include
this in the website as this pamphlet is part of the historical record of Vardaman as Governor
.

 

     

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 them today.
   The great number of criminal negroes who are drifting into the cities and towns front the country, seeking a way to live without honest toil, have become a peril to the peace of the community and a menace to the safety of the white man's home.
   In the City of Jackson, within the very shadow of the State capitol, on one of the principal streets, a few days ago, an unoffending, chaste and honest young white woman was brutally ravished by a negro beast. The atrocity of the deed, coupled with the apparent reckless disregard of the probability of detection, startles the imagination, and evidences a spirit of dastardly daring and fiendish atrocity on the part of the perpetrator, which is calculated to send a thrill of horror through the hearts of every white man and woman in the State. It is more horrible still when we contemplate the fact that this crime was the culmination of a number of attempts made by negroes in the City of Jackson within the last thirty days.
   That which has occurred in the City of Jackson is liable to occur (if it has not already occurred) in every city, town, or rural neighborhood of the State. At one time it was thought that there was little danger of the commission of such crimes, in the cities and towns with police regulations, but the alarming frequency with which it has been committed in recent years has changed that thought, and shows that it is just as liable to occur in the heart of a city as in the sparsely settled rural districts.
   The stealthy manner which characterizes the conduct of the perpetrator of this crime resembles the movement of the tiger when pursuing his prey; the presence of the fiend is never known until the terrible deed has been accomplished, and the victim left bleeding and dying, with seldom a trace of the identity of her destroyer.
Forty years of freedom and free public education have not fulfilled the Eutopian dream of the negrophilist of the North, and the North-flavored vagarist of the South. It has not im-

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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 white women.
   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.
   Much has been said about "closing the door of hope in the face of the black man." Unless the officers of the law do their full duty in suppressing the increasing criminal tendency of the negro, it looks to me like the probability is that "the door of hope will be closed in the face of the white man."
   I want the law enforced. I want the negro protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty, the product of his labor and the pursuit of happiness. I want the mob spirit discouraged in every way. And the only way to do that, is to enforce vigorously the law against the Vagrants particularly, and all criminals, of both races. If this shall be done I feel safe in saying that crime among the negroes in the State of Mississippi for the year 1905 will decrease seventy-five per cent.

OFFICERS OF MISSISSIPPI: I expect you to do
    your duty. The peace and order of your respective
    communities have been committed to your
    keeping. Most of the crimes that have been
    committed by negroes upon white women are
    traceable to your neglect of duty.

   I have yet to learn of a single crime of rape being committed by a negro who made his living by honest toil, and had you done your duty in enforcing the law against vagrancy, the beast who blighted the life of that good woman might have been on the County farm, working on the streets, or locked in prison.
   Trusting that you may realize the gravity and importance of your position, your responsibility to society, and the necessity for the vigorous performance of your duty--that you may be strong enough in the face of any and all opposition to spurn any influence that would deter you from the performance of that duty, I am,

                             Cordially and sincerely,
                                                Jas. K. Vardaman.

 

Original Document