Typed Letter Signed as President, Colored Mens Suffrage League. Baltimore, Nov. 3, 1909. 2pp. To William F. Stone, Custom House, Baltimore
“Accept my congratulations for the defeat of the Amendment…a positive victory for the Republican Party. The great victory is due to your magnetic and wise leadership, and the people of the state, regardless of party affiliation or race, will always remember you for the great work you have done in this campaign. You opened the fight…and began organizing the forces which killed the Amendment yesterday, and buried it beyond the possibility of resurrection…”
A museum-quality document of one of the first successful African-American civil rights campaigns of the 20th century – defeating a proposed Maryland constitutional amendment that would have effectively prevented Blacks, almost all of them Republicans, from voting in Baltimore
The Democratic Party’s legal ploy was to require voters whose grandfathers were not US citizens before the Civil War to pass an impossible test that required memorizing 15 questions and answers to a quiz, including the full names of the President of the United States, one Justice of the US Supreme Court, the Governor of Maryland, a Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals and the Mayor of Baltimore. The authors of the amendment forgot that many white voters would also have been put to the test since their parents were immigrants who – like ex-slaves – were not American citizens before 1868. When election day came, the day before this letter was written, not only the “colored” voters, but also those of Irish, Italian, German, Russian and other European descent, turned out en masse to defeat it.
Baptist Rev. William Alexander was founder of the first Black newspaper in Baltimore and leader of the African-American community in that city, as was William Stone, a political appointee of the Taft Administration, who led Maryland’s Black Republicans.