Digital History>eXplorations>Lynching>Anti-Lynching Legislation of the 1920s>William Borah's Letter to the Editor of The Boston Transcript


William Borah's Letter to the Editor of The Boston Transcript (June 8, 1922)

Source: William Borah Papers, Library of Congress

"My dear Mr. Editor, is it not apparent that the great problem which confronts us in constitutional government is that of a redistribution of power between the State and the national government – shall the national government be authorized to take over the police power of the State in whole, or in part? There is no dodging the question. If the people of this nation want to redistribute the powers of the government, let's face the question through a constitutional amendment and put an end to this constant pressure upon the constitution. For twenty years we have been compromising with our oath and passing child labor laws – all in vain. The child is not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal government. Do the people want to transfer unquestionably the power to Congress to deal with this subject – if so, let the insane be met openly and intelligently, and I trust with great deliberation. If we take the police power of the State to protect the child from the exploitation in industry, will it not also be found advantageous to give the Federal government the power to see that the child is properly educated? Will the State, which is incapable or unwilling to protect the child physically be fit, or willing, do you think to look after its mental and moral development. And if the State is unfit to protect the child, the coming citizen, from cruel and unusual hours of labor, will you still leave to the state the role right and power to protect the life of a citizen against the attacks of the mob? If you want to deal with the Federal government the power to reach the individuals who compose the mob? Is it not a vain and ineffective thing to try to deal with the subject by visiting punishment upon an officer alone?"

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