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­ 92 5 The Na­ tional Negro Lib­ erty Party and the De­ ba­ cle of the 1904 Elec­ tion It is an in­ sult to the Negro of the state of Il­ li­ nois and of the ­ United ­ States by plac­ ing such an ob­ jec­ tion­ able Negro at the head of such a move­ ment. It is now time for the Negro ­ papers to speak out, and show that Scott is put up for sale. God save us from them. Saint Louis Pal­ la­ dium, 16 July 1904 The prompt­ ness with which the negro can­ di­ date for the pres­ i­ dency was­ landed in the East St. Louis jail would in­ di­ cate that the “na­ tional lib­ erty” party is to have se­ vere fight­ ing from the first. Cedar Rap­ ids ­ Weekly Ga­ zette, 20 July 1904 Ob­ jec­ tion­ able Negro”? T. ­ Thomas For­ tune at the New York Globe had ­ called Scott a “heb­ e­ tu­ di­ nous crank” ­ twenty years ear­ lier, but that paled in com­ par­ i­ son to call­ ing some­ one ob­ jec­ tion­ able.1 In the heat of an ar­ gu­ ment in 1872, Rev­ er­ end ­ Shores had la­ beled him a “fiend” and had ques­ tioned his moral char­ ac­ ter.2 When Maud Rit­ ten­ house de­ scribed him as “the mean­ est man in town” in 1882, she was a teen­ ager, and her com­ ments were con­ tained in a diary that she ­ likely ­ thought would re­ main for­ ever pri­ vate.3 Suf­ fi­ cient oth­ ers, how­ ever, had con­ sid­ ered Scott a rea­ son­ able and like­ able per­ son; oth­ er­ wise, they would not have se­ lected him to so many high of­ fices. Nor would they have in­ vited him re­ peat­ edly to give ad­ dresses at Eman­ ci­ pa­ tion Day cel­ e­ bra­ tions. Oth­ ers may have con­ sid­ ered him vile, but no one had yet said that in print. Black news­ papers and their ed­ i­ tors ap­ par­ ently had been will­ ing to over­ look a life of pec­ ca­ dil­ loes so long as it ­ stayed hid­ den and per­ sonal and did lit­ tle dam­ age to the party. In 1904, how­ ever, it was a dif­ fer­ ent time; per­ sonal his­ to­ ries ­ really mat­ tered. There was also a strug­ gle ­ between “good” and a mys­ ter­ i­ ous and de­ vi­ ous “them,” the ul­ ti­ mate an­ tag­ o­ nists. The National Negro Liberty Party 93 The year 1904 ­ should have been ­ Scott’s most satis­ fy­ ing year and July his most grat­ ify­ ing month. Liv­ ing in Saint ­ Louis’s sis­ ter city of East Saint Louis, Scott was a tram ­ ride’s dis­ tance from the cen­ ter of the ­ American uni­ verse in 1904. The eyes of the na­ tion, es­ pe­ cially those in the Mid­ west, were ­ trained on Saint Louis, which was host­ ing a spec­ tac­ u­ lar ­ world’s fair and inter­ na­ tional ex­ hi­ bi­ tion. The fair, named the Loui­ siana Pur­ chase Ex­ po­ si­ tion, was to com­ memorate the hun­ dredth an­ ni­ ver­ sary of “Jefferson’s Folly,” the pur­ chase of the Loui­ siana Ter­ ri­ tory from ­ France, which dou­ bled the ­ nation’s size with the ­ stroke of a pen. The fair was to be open for vis­ i­ tors ­ between 30 April and 1 De­ cem­ ber. Rail­ roads that criss­ crossed the coun­ try of­ fered dis­ count fares to travel­ ers head­ ing to­ ward Saint Louis and its fair. Even a song, “Meet Me in Saint Louis, Louis,” was writ­ ten to stir the imag­ i­ na­ tion and draw the ­ crowds.4 Saint Louis was a major hub of rail­ road com­ mu­ ni­ ca­ tion and was large ­ enough to feed and ac­ com­ mo­ date the thou­ sands of out­ sid­ ers who would at­ tend the ­ fair’s sched­ uled ­ events. The na­ tional Dem­ o­ cratic Party would hold its con­ ven­ tion in Saint Louis, as would ­ scores of other as­ so­ ci­ a­ tions that would con­ vene and visit the fair at the same time. Fair or­ ga­ niz­ ers also ­ planned the “Games,” which they ­ billed as the Third Olym­ piad, to run ­ between 20...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299301835
Related ISBN
9780299301842
MARC Record
OCLC
892686692
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-09
Language
English
Open Access
No
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