• Archive: President Of Tulane At Booker T. Washington Speech With Ex-Slave Owners

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    EDWIN ANDERSON ALDERMAN (1861-1931) was a noted educator and progressive reformer and president the University of North Carolina, Tulane University and the University of Virginia. He turned the University of Virginia into the southern center of the eugenics movement in the United States, spreading a culture of scientific racism and creating support for the state-sponsored sterilization for individuals considered genetically inferior.  Alderman was also a well-known orator and a close advisor to President Woodrow Wilson.


    Offering a fascinating archive of seven letters (some multi-page, five TLSs, two ALSs), two brochure and photograph written in 1902 to Albert Shaw, editor of the Review of Reviews, with superb content of important contemporary discussions including his witnessing and offering a first-hand account of a speech by the renowned Booker T. Washington and his observances of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Washington had given a speech on October 31, 1902 at Straight University, attended by many black educators as well as Alderman.


    On November 5th, 1902, Alderman writes:


    “I sent you a newspaper the other day containing the account of a very remarkable meeting here in New Orleans, at which Booker Washington spoke to his race, and at which I had something to say by way of introducing him. It was an unusual and unique gathering of some three thousand people, four hundred of whom were white men and women of the best classes. There was much nervousness about it in many quarters, most especially among the youth of both sexes – I mean by youth, people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one – but I have not heard in any public way, of one single hostile criticism.

    “The meeting was presided over by E.B. Kruttschnitt, an eminent lawyer and a nephew of Judah P. Benjamin.


    “I think great good will come of the meeting. It was especially commended and approved by men in middle life, and old men who had owned slaves.”


    On November 21st, 1902, Alderman writes to Shaw about the state of politics and President Theodore Roosevelt.  “...The mercantile and manufacturing interests have lost sympathy with democracy during Mr. Bryan’s regime. [A reference to William Jennings Bryan, who held a number of political positions, including secretary of state.] There is a general feeling of hope among democrats that they have a platform at last of tariff reduction and opposition to trusts. They await a leader to dignify and incarnate their cause.


    “The President has grown steadily, I believe, in public confidence. There is a growing feeling that the nation need have no fear about his impulsiveness. Indeed, he has recently loomed up a very cautious, far-seeking, determined man, who counts the chances before he takes risks. He is very much stronger than his party. There is some feeling against the President by those who wanted to build up a white republican party, in order to escape the odium of negro affiliation, but I do not see how the President could act in any other way than the way in which he has acted, without being grossly illogical.


    “...There is no question as to the general belief in the character, ability and high patriotic purposes of President Roosevelt. No man with any brains or heart doubts that, but the truth is the South is democratic in its fiber...It has the Jeffersonian tendency to repair to the body of the people and await their impulses. It is like a religion to them...The democratic party will always be the part of this people until it changes from agricultural to industrial conditions. They think more of personal freedom than they think of personal efficiency. They take more pride in a feeling of independence than they do a feeling of achievement...”


    Letters are in good to excellent condition. The TLSs are written on Tulane University stationary. One letter has ghost toning, possibly from storage. All the letters are very readable.  Brochures have some soiling.


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