The Colonel's Southern Policy, August 7, 1912


The Colonel's Southern Policy

If Colonel Roosevelt honestly thought he would secure any considerable following in the South by drawing the color line so as to eliminate from his convention negro delegates from below Mason and Dixon's line, while welcoming colored men from the Northern States, he must be pretty well undeceived by this time. Not only has this curious division of the colored voters into Northern sheep and Southern goats excited the righteous indignation of many of his white supporters, while inflaming the negroes themselves to open wrath, but it also seems to have aroused much resentment in the South as an open bid for the favor of the white voters. The leading newspapers, without exception, condemn it, as an unworthy trick, which will fail utterly of its purpose. The effort to pose as a member of an old Southern family, in the hope of winning some Democratic support, is too transparent to deceive anybody.

Among the many scornful expressions of contempt for this political duplicity the following from The Charleston News and Courier may be taken as typical of Southern sentiment. Under the heading of "A Political Lizard" it says:

With morality and justice coming from his cuticle, Mr. Roosevelt announces that he will solve the color question in [illegible] politics by a lizard-like policy of change to suit conditions. He will be for the negro where the negro can help him. He will eliminate the negro in the South; he will [illegible] to him in the North. [He?] will be balance the scales of justice and trick the levers into harmony by shrewd manipulation of the pivots. It is a bold position to assume. Not bolder was the [shooting] of [Rosenthal?] within full sight of the police. Let not your right hand know what your left is doing, but have [illegible] pockets on both sides of your person.

Mr. Roosevelt seems to think that the intelligence of the South be as low as its resources were at the time he found it politic to insult the section and the section's leaders. He believes that the people down this way are very [gullible], very stupid, wholly lacking in [illegible]. Southern Democrats need not mingle with blacks in their own States, but when they get north they must receive Northern blacks as brothers. Geography is to be the test of political qualification. Isn't that clever? Why didn't anybody happen to think about it before?

Down South the lizard is considered a curious enough thing, but nobody pays very much attention to it. Youngsters sometimes watch its antics with delight, but grown men devote no time to it. Mr. Roosevelt as a political lizard will be more than a curiosity.

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