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­ 104 6 Hard Land­ ing and Slow Re­ cov­ ery in Spring­ field [Scott:] I still had prin­ ci­ ples left and I did what I could for the party, which ­ sooner or later would have a black man in the white house with­ out wait­ ing for some white man to ask him in to sup­ per.1 With all the trou­ bles we had, the lib­ erty party got 65,000 votes in the elec­ tion and four or five hun­ dred right ­ around East St. Louis. I ain’t very mad now, ­ though, be­ cause I am here at Spring­ field, where I can find out about na­ tional af­ fairs, and when the time comes they had bet­ ter look out for me. There is going to be a rat­ tling of the dry bones among some of those East St. Louis nig­ gers when I get back to them. Marsh­ field Times, 19 Feb­ ru­ ary 1905 In 1905 Scott was ­ hardly at an age to em­ brace an op­ por­ tu­ nity to start over. Nor was he par­ tic­ u­ larly con­ cerned about being ac­ cu­ rate in his as­ sess­ ment of the ­ failed 1904 cam­ paign. The Negro Lib­ erty Party and ­ Taylor’s name were on no of­ fi­ cially sanc­ tioned bal­ lot, and it is doubt­ ful that Tay­ lor ob­ tained ­ sixty-five thou­ sand ­ write-in votes. Nor were there four hun­ dred or five hun­ dred votes cast for the ­ party’s con­ gres­ sional can­ di­ date near East Saint Louis. ­ Scott’s sal­ ary of $3 per day (ap­ prox­ i­ mately $75 in 2010 dol­ lars) as cus­ to­ dian at the state­ legislature’s Dem­ o­ cratic cloak­ room was ad­ e­ quate for the times but not ­ enough to ­ satisfy his am­ bi­ tion or keep him in his ac­ cus­ tomed style. That ap­ point­ ment, to last only for that leg­ is­ la­ tive ses­ sion, gave him rec­ og­ ni­ tion ­ within ­ Springfield’s black com­ mu­ nity and re­ entry into local Dem­ o­ cratic pol­ i­ tics, but any ­ chance that he might re­ cap­ ture a lead­ er­ ship role among black Demo­ crats at the na­ tional level had van­ ished as a re­ sult of his er­ ratic be­ hav­ ior in 1904, as had any op­ por­ tu­ nity for ob­ tain­ ing re­ venge. Cap­ tive in a small place with lim­ ited ideas, Scott ­ seemed obliv­ i­ ous to ­ changes in black lead­ er­ ship flow­ ing to the Ni­ ag­ ara Group after 1905, the Na­ tional As­ so­ ci­ a­ tion for the Ad­ vance­ ment of Col­ ored Peo­ ple after 1909, and fi­ nally to Hard Landing and Slow Recovery 105 the Na­ tional ­ League on Urban Con­ di­ tions among Ne­ groes after 1910. ­ Though white Demo­ crats in Spring­ field had ­ thrown him a mea­ ger life­ line and an op­ por­ tu­ nity to ­ change, he ­ seemed satis­ fied to fol­ low paths that led back to his old hab­ its of al­ ien­ a­ tion, in­ de­ pen­ dence, con­ fron­ ta­ tion, and ex­ ag­ ger­ a­ tion. Un­ able and un­ will­ ing to eval­ u­ ate and lower his ex­ pec­ ta­ tions of what could be ­ achieved, he could not re­ sist join­ ing or form­ ing yet an­ other ­ league. He com­ plained that he was “prop­ erty poor . . . with­ out suf­ fi­ cient cash to keep up his ­ rented ­ houses.”2 Scott ­ needed to focus on new circum­ stances, be­ cause the po­ lit­ i­ cal, eco­ nomic, and so­ cial ­ worlds he knew had ­ changed. Scott al­ ready was a news item and had been ar­ rested more than once for main­ tain­ ing a dis­ or­ derly house. ­ Within a sin­ gle year he had gone from pres­ i­ den­ tial can­ di­ date to cus­ to­ dian of a cloak­ room.­ Springfield’s news­ papers fol­ lowed him be­ cause he was news­ worthy; their read­ ers were inter­ ested in his au­ da­ cious ac­ tiv­ i­ ties. Once set­ tled in Spring­ field, Scott tem­ po­ rar­ ily aban­ doned his ties with Demo­ crats at the na­ tional level and ­ turned to busi­ nesses he knew best. Per­ haps he had lit­ tle ­ choice. ­ Within a few ­ months...


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