Digital History>eXplorations>Lynching>Anti-Lynching Legislation of the 1920s>Letter from Harding's Secretary to James Johnson

Letter from Warren Harding's Secretary to James Weldon Johnson (December 8, 1922)

Source: NAACP Papers, Library of Congress

… I can readily understand the disappointment of the colored people over the inability of the Senate to function in the consideration of the Dyer Anti-Lynching bill. I also feel that our colored citizens will justly place the responsibility for this where it belongs, to wit, upon the Democratic minority whose filibustering under the existing Senate rules would not only prevent the passing of the Anti-Lynching bill but in so doing defeat the entire legislative program for the session, appropriation bills included, to the benefit of no one but to the detriment of the entire country. As you know, the President recommended the Anti-Lynching bill to Congress. The Republican House passed it. The Republican Majority in the Senate has labored earnestly and sincerely, last summer and now, to bring about its enactment. The bill is blocked by the Democratic filibusters.

The fact is that the Senate operates under rules which render it important to do anything when a considerable minority sets out to block any decisive action by carrying on a determined filibuster.

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