...Chapter XXV

...How Colored Civilians Helped to Win


Their Co-operation in. All the. Liberty Loan Drives---The Negro and the Red Cross---In the United War Work Campaign---How the Negroes Bought War Savings Stamps---Special Contributions and Work of Colored Citizens---The "Committee of One Hundred" and Its Valuable Work.

Not halting at the cheerful giving of their man-power through volunteer enlistment and under the operation of the selective draft, the 12,000,000 American Negroes contributed with equal cheerfulness and promptness and liberality to the call of the Nation for their money-power. The total amount of money brought by Negroes to the country's relief through the sale of Liberty Bonds of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth issues, has not been carefully compiled, and may never be definitely known, because of the diffuse method by which the collections were made; but it is safe to say that the figures will run into many millions, representing untold sacrifices and a measure of patriotism unexcelled by any similar number of citizens of the American Republic.

To extend this good work the War Department and the Committee on Public Information, charged with preserving the morale of the great body of American citizens, and especially of groups known to have what they term "special grievances," decided that a vigorous campaign of education was necessary to instruct the Negro on the war aims of the Government, to secure at the hands of the race the full measure of co-operation which it was capable of giving. Early in May, 1918, therefore, a patriotic campaign was determined upon, and upon the recommendation of the author, the Committee on Public Information organized a "Committee of One Hundred," made up of strong, well-poised and thoroughly trained men, representing practically every organization of Negroes in the land, and having undisputed influence with all classes and conditions of the Negro race throughout the land. Bishops and ministers of all denominations, editors of every kind of publication, heads of every known fraternal organization, heads of educational institutions, prominent factors in all of the professions, industries and business agencies formed a part of this unique body of missionaries and messengers.

Zones of activity were worked out and men of varying qualifications were given assignments where they could do the most effective work for the cause at stake and to serve the United States Government in its hour of national emergency and need. These men, without exception, took hold of the work with a will, and their intensive campaign of education, driving home the war aims of the Government in a plain and straightforward fashion, had a powerful influence in inspiring a livelier patriotism throughout the race and encouraging them to engage whole-heartedly in the countless activities designed to help America to win the war. Specially equipped by nature and by experience for dealing with collective humanity, the Committee of One Hundred performed its duty well, and their labors were made more potent for good by the close relationship they were able to establish with the State Councils of Defense in the North, East, South and West, from which they derived much valuable data which enabled them to counteract the particular disadvantage to patriotic endeavor in each of the communities they were called upon to visit and evangelize.

The Fourth Loan Campaign

At the opening of each specific campaign inaugurated by the Secretary of the Treasury for the flotation of the big loans, running into billions---a denomination which had heretofore held for the Negro, as well as for the white people, a very vague meaning---some well-known member of the race invariably launched the "drive" with a formal address, outlining the necessity for the money asked for and pointing out to the Negro the significance of a victory over the Teutonic allies in its relation to his future, as an integral factor in the American body politic.

The Special Assistant Secretary of War was asked to launch the Fourth Liberty Loan Campaign among the colored citizens of the District of Columbia, and spoke at Howard Theatre, Washington, Saturday evening, October 29, 1918, as follows:

"This is as the President says, the people's war. It is not a white man's war. It is not a black man's war. It is a war of all the people under the Stars and Stripes for the preservation of human liberty throughout the world., Civilization is in peril, and the natural rights of mankind are menaced for all time by the unholy aggressions of the Imperial German Government. The triumph of autocracy means the destruction of the Temple of Freedom which our fathers helped in 1776 to erect, and. which their sons have sacrificed blood and treasure ever since to perpetuate. The failure of democracy in this mighty conflict will entail disaster upon humanity throughout generations beyond number.

"The American Negro is beginning to realize that if the American white man is enslaved by reason of this Republic's inability to rout the Hun in the present struggle, the ultimate result will be his own re-enslavement and the loss of all that he has gained since the Emancipation Proclamation. His fate is indissolubly bound up with the fate of the Republic, and he must join with it, loyally, whole-heartedly and to the finish, in every movement that will add strength to the American arms in the death-grapple with Germany. This common purpose must be contended for by a common brotherhood.

"Already, the Negro has responded promptly and cheerfully to the call for his man-power, and three times since the declaration of war against the Imperial German Government he has answered generously, readily and without stint to the call for his money-power.

"Now comes a fourth call for financial aid and it is not doubted that the 12,000,000 free. colored Americans, who wish to remain free, will again respond with the same or greater measure of liberality and enthusiasm that has characterized them when the previous demands were made.

"Appropriately, indeed,---in view of the onward march of General Pershing's Invincible Crusaders on France's western front, the Fourth Liberty Loan is styled "The Fighting Loan." Black men are among these Crusaders. We who must remain at home are in duty bound to lend the limit of our aid to those who have gone abroad to bare their breasts to shot and shell in defense of our flag and the sacred ideals for which it stands. We cannot do this in a more effective way than to offer our dollars to sustain the Government-the only Government we know---and its fighting men while they are braving death, to insure freedom and justice to all mankind. Even as they are making their bayonet fight in protection of the jewel of liberty, we can. make our DOLLARS fight. to gird up their loins for stronger efforts in trench and on field.

"We can ail rest assured that the response of the colored millions to the fourth call for financial aid will be in keeping with our public-spirited and intensely patriotic rallies of the past. The success of the Fourth. Liberty Loan should overtop all of its predecessors in the volume of subscriptions accredited to the Negro race everywhere, and this should be the absorbing mission of colored ministers, editors, teachers, merchants, lawyers, doctors and speakers and workers day by day and night by night until that objective is gained. 'He gives twice who gives quickly.' Let us buy bonds---and then buy more bonds!

"Every dollar loaned, every sacrifice made, every useful service performed will give to ourselves the rich consciousness of duty well done and will tend to win for the colored American everywhere the fullest measure of American opportunity."

This address was sent out by Mr. Frank R. Wilson , Director of Publicity for the United States Treasury Department, to all Directors of Publicity, as an appeal to be addressed to the colored people of the United States.

Secretary W. G. McAdoo, of the United States Treasury, made public acknowledgment of the whole-souled cooperation of the colored people throughout the country in connection with the Liberty Loan "drives."

War Savings Stamps Purchased by Negroes

Although it has not been possible to keep any accurate record of the amount of War Savings Stamps purchased by colored people throughout the country, the scattering reports and personal observations of individuals everywhere indicate that the total is very large. The stamps are purchased through so many and such widely-separated agencies that no accurate compilation by race or creedal groups can be attempted with any hope of success.

A typical instance of the aggressive work done by the War Stamps committees of the colored people is found in the District of Columbia, where during a drive of eight weeks among the children of the public schools, a sale averaging $800 per week was reported---this period covering the months of March and April, 1918. About the same time, the Washington Citizens' Committee on W. S. S., headed by Dr. W. A. Warfield and Dr. D. E. Wiseman, collected $52,000 through their own plan of campaign, in addition to the immense sums subscribed through the government departments and commercial houses where colored people were largely employed. It cannot be doubted that the Washington example was repeated many times over in the many communities all over the land where colored people are found in appreciable numbers.

Subscribers to the "Victory" Loan

The "Victory" issue of Liberty bonds found colored Americans ready to help the nation finish the job of winning the war, to help furnish funds to bring the boys back home, and to pay the cost connected with the establishment of freedom and democracy for the world.

Throughout the entire country colored organizations and colored leaders set in motion forces which brought from the colored people a response which again served to indicate the willingness of the Negro people to help bring the war to a close With the last of the drives for money to complete the financing of the cost of the war.

Mr. John W. Lewis, president of the industrial Savings Bank, Washington, estimates that the colored people of the District of Columbia purchased $2,200,000 Worth of the First, Second, Third and Fourth issues of Liberty bonds. He arrived at this total by checking up as far as was possible the amounts known to have been subscribed by colored men and women through the banks, the Federal departments, and business houses. The Fifth or "Victory Loan" was taken quite largely by Negroes in the Government service, and by persons in private employment as well. For the Fifth Liberty Loan the total subscribed for through his Industrial Savings Bank amounted to something more than $30,000, the investors being exclusively colored.

Help for the American Red Cross

Notwithstanding certain lack of information at the outset relative to the attitude of the authorities responsible for the management of the American Red Cross Society, the masses of the Negro people early came to realize the vast benefits accruing to them through the universal operations of this great agent of mercy and humanity, and in every community where the colored people constituted any large per cent of the population, they rallied to the standard of the Red Cross. They gave freely of their means, invariably at a large personal sacrifice, and strove earnestly, early and late through existing organizations or to perfect additional organizations for the furtherance of this movement.

In the "drive" of the American Red Cross for a relief fund of $100,000,000 in 1918, the colored citizens of the country contributed their proportionate share. In the churches, schools, theaters, and on the streets, colored speakers eloquently pointed out the duty of the race to give liberally to the fund and women and children daily took up collections in all kinds of public places, and with gratifying results.

Negroes in Councils of Defense

The State Councils Section of the Council of National Defense early recognized the importance of having the colored people organize under Councils of Defense as was true of other citizens of the republic. It was with this thought in mind that Mr. Arthur H. Fleming, Chief of the State Council, Section, addressed the letter following to the Southern State Councils of Defense with reference to this matter, since the great mass of the Negro population is to be found in the Southern section of our country:


February 23, 1918.

Subject: Organization of the Negroes.

To the Several Southern State Councils of Defense:

The Negro population can render valuable assistance in the present crisis. Their support of the Government depends largely on their clear understanding of the events which involved the United States in the war, and the purposes and principles which it is upholding. To this end we call to your attention a plan for the organization of Negroes based upon the most successful work for reaching them already accomplished by State Councils of Defense and State Divisions of the Woman's Committee in the South. We ask your opinion of this plan as to its wisdom both in general and in the light of the local conditions in your own State.

We hope that this matter will receive your thoughtful consideration and that you will advise us promptly as to your views.

Yours very truly,

Chief of Section.

The result of the plan referred to, was the successful organization of Negroes under the State Councils of Defense.

The Negro Press

An outstanding force that helped to win the war was the Negro press of the country. Aside from the effective work done by this aggressive element of power through the conference of Editors at Washington, which is referred to elsewhere, the press was an asset of incalculable value in pushing the war work among colored people by the regular publication of the bulletins of information the Special Assistant caused to be sent out from the War Department week after week, beginning shortly after the assumption of his duties. His mailing list embraced more than two hundred Negro journals and magazines, having a large circulation in practically every State in the Union, and reaching every class of the Negro millions, North, East, South and West, besides the Speakers' "Committee of One Hundred" and many newspaper correspondents, special writers, heads of schools and colleges and men of influence and standing in the strategic centers of the nation.

This service proved to be of the greatest possible assistance to those charged with the conduct of the war, as it won and held the confidence of the people, maintaining their morale and stimulating their patriotism at the crucial hour, when the nation needed the loyal and earnest cooperation of every element of its citizenship to assure victory to its cause. Our editors were conservative on all current questions, at no sacrifice of courage and absolute frankness in the upholding of principles. The author has always held to the belief that the only way to gain the united and cordial support of the people is to take them entirely into one's confidence and to throw upon the screen of action the full glare of publicity touching every plan, policy or achievement, withholding nothing that might lead to a suspicion that behind the veil of secrecy there might lurk something that could not stand the light of day.

The superb and generous support given to the war aims of the Government by the colored press was one d the most gratifying features of the trying conflict, and unstinted praise should be given the colored editors and publishers for their timely services and countless sacrifices, all cheerfully contributed in behalf of the nation's cause.

Helping to Save Food

The Food Administration, of which Mr. Herbert Hoover was Director, recognizing the importance of having the support of the large colored civilian population, gave attention to organizing then . Some work had been done among the Negroes through one of the divisions of the Educational Department of the Food Administration, and during the carrying out of the preliminary features of this program, A. U. Craig, a teacher of the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Washington, D. C., was for awhile in charge of the Negro Press Section of the Educational Division. About September 30, 1918, he gave up his work as director of that section, which was discontinued.

A colored Field Worker, Ernest T. Attwell, who for fifteen years or more had served as Business Agent of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Alabama, was made organizer, first for the State of Alabania, and afterwards for the Southern States. In September, 1918, his activities were enlarged and he was brought to Washington where from September, 1918, to January 1, 1919) he served as director of the activities of the colored people from the headquarters of the Food Administration organization.

Mr. Hoover's Appeal to the Negro

The campaign of the Food Administration among the colored people was opened by a strong appeal made by Director Herbert Hoover, who circulated an open letter to the 12,000,000 Negroes of the United States, asking for their cooperation as a unit every-where to help in general food conservation. The appeal indicated a deep appreciation of the potential value of cooperation on the part of this racial group, of which over 2,000,000 were engaged in agricultural pursuits, and, therefore, exerted a tremendous influence in solving the problem of raising food crops. Thousands of the race were also engaged in the domestic occupations, buying and dispensing provisions for the use of many families, serving as cooks, stewards, etc., for hotels, clubs, institutions and restaurants of every conceivable size and grade. This kind of service placed them largely in control of the food consumption in the homes, not only of their own people, but of other races as well. The program of Mr. Hoover contemplated the thorough organization of this important group by, first, naming a national director, in the person of Mr. Attwell, and then the appointment of Negro State Directors, county deputies, local food committees, and like agencies, taking in every class of helpers, with a view of mobilizing all forces for the purpose of stimulating propaganda work along the line of increased food production and the conservation of the supplies in hand. Mr. Hoover's appeal is reproduced in facsimile below.

for freedom

OUR Nation is engaged in a war for its very existence. To win this war we must save food, grow great crops of foodstuffs and substitute other foods for those most easily shipped to our associates in this war and our own soldiers in France, thousands of whom are men of your own race. The Food Administration realizes that the, Negro people of this Nation can be of the utmost help in food conservation and food production., Every Negro man, woman, and child can render a definite service by responding to the appeal and instructions of the Food Administration and its representatives. The Negroes have shown themselves loyal and responsive in every national crisis. Their greatest opportunity of the present day, to exercise this loyalty, is to help save and grow food. I am confident that they will respond to the suggestions of the Food Administration and thus prove again their patriotism for the winning of this war.

Herbert Hoover

One year of food conservation found a colored organization each of the following named States, with Negro directors as indicated: Alabama, J. H. Phillips; Arkansas, Milton W. Guy; Florid Nathan B. Young; Georgia, J. P. Davis, Illinois, Alexander L. Jackson; Indiana, F. B. Ransom; Iowa, Herbert R. Wright; Kentucky Phil H. Brown; Louisiana, J. Madison Vance; Maryland, C. C. Fitzgerald; North Carolina, James B. Dudley; Oklahoma, T. H. Wiseman; South Carolina, R. W. Westberry; Missouri, J. B. Coleman Tennessee, William J. Hale; Texas, E. J. Howard; West Virginia C. E. Mitchell; New York, E. P. Roberts.

The publicity system adopted by the Colored Section served to arouse the masses to the necessity for food conservation and production, to supply home needs and to replace the enormous amount of foodstuffs lost at sea on the way to the allied governments. Besides numerous news releases to the colored press a series of striking pamphlets were issued, notable among them being one bearing the admonition, "Don't Cut the Rope!" Illustrated lectures, moving pictures slides in the theaters, public cooking demonstrations, etc., formed a part of the publicity campaign so well carried out by Director Attwell.

The signing of the armistice did not cause the immediate discontinuance of the Food Administration, and the organization of food clubs went on as before. The Director of the Negro Section saw to it that every Negro home was reached with the propaganda of "keeping on in the good work." During "Conservation Week for World Relief," the first week in December, 1918, Mr. Attwell addressed large meetings in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, at which he pointed out the necessity for continued conservation of food, in view of the fact that contracts for the current year called for not less than twenty million tons of food products for European countries. In all respects the results flowing out of the activities of the Negro Section of the National Food Administration amply justified its creation and the unstinted praise which Director Hoover and other governmental agents so cheerfully bestowed upon it.

Chapter XXVI. Negro Labor in War Time

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