Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today -100: July 27, 1911: Of good character, and unwanted lions

An amendment to the Georgia constitution is proposed establishing a “good character” qualification for the franchise, as determined by “respect for good womanhood.” Which seems to mean that a black man would have to have his character attested to by two white women (in person). According to the amendment’s author, Rep. J.J. Slade, “Circulars are being sent to negroes all over the State telling them to qualify for the ballot under the educational and property qualifications. I want to make it impossible for any one with a black or mulatto skin to vote in Georgia, no matter how much book learning he may possess. The protection of the white race demands that negroes be made positively and forever the political inferiors of the whites, as they are their social inferiors.” White men would also have to have white women attest to their character but, according to Slade, “Any good white man can get a good white woman to testify that she would trust him in the dark. If any white man can’t, the scoundrel should be disfranchised.” I’m pretty sure this amendment went nowhere.

A Coney Island amusement park, in a publicity stunt that could in no way have gone horribly, horribly wrong, sent a lion to Theodore Roosevelt’s office, with a letter saying “We are sending you a lioness we have no further use for.”

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