The Corner

On Wilson’s Racism & The Right

A reader (and history professor) makes an excellent point:

I would contest the sentence about tacking to “Wilson’s right” in even stronger terms than yourself.  The best example is Wilson’s much maligned successor Warren Harding.  Harding appointed (or reappointed, if you will) blacks to federal posts and, most importantly, gave a striking civil rights address in Birmingham, Alabama in the fall of 1921, chastising Southerners for their racial policies.  He was roundly condemned by Southern senators for exacerbating the “race problem.”

For more detail, check out the Harding biographers on this.  I think John Dean’s bio talks about it, perhaps also Robert K. Murray.  You can also do a quick NYTimes search in Sept-Nov 1921 for Harding articles and his trip to the South.

And he certainly tacked to Wilson’s right on a host of issues.

And he released all of Wilson’s political prisoners, including E. V. Debbs. And  his “return to normalcy” — dubbed “fascist” by FDR — was certainly a stark move to the right, according to progressives, and a stark move toward sanity according to the rest of us.

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