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Letter to the President of the National Negro Business League Dr. Robert R. Moton

August 14, 1924

White House, Washington. Aug. 14, 1924.

My dear Dr. Moton: The approaching annual convention of the National Negro Business League is of particular interest and note, because it will mark the quarter centennial of this organization. In addressing to you for the convention my felicitations and good wishes on this occasion, I wish particularly to pay tribute to the league's founder and your distinguished predecessor, the late Booker T. Washington. His vision of the problems of the colored people was indeed that of a seer, and your league is one of the monuments to his life work.

Only a few weeks ago I had the pleasure, at the Commencement of Howard University, of reviewing briefly and inadequately the material evidence of the progress of the colored people. I shall not now recapitulate what was then said, but I wish to tell you of the deep impression that was made upon me by my studies of the negro race's achievements.

In the accumulation of wealth, establishment of material independence and the assumption of a full and honorable part in the economic life of the nation, it may fairly be said that the colored people themselves have already substantially solved these phases of their problem. If they will but go forward along the lines of their progress in recent decades, and under such leadership as your own and many others their excellent organizations are affording, their future would be well cared for.

That they will continue in this way of advancement can not be doubted by any one who knows their accomplishments heretofore. They will continue their efforts for educational progress and spiritual betterment, and just as they demonstrate their eagerness for such improvement they will find themselves enjoying a constantly greater and greater support and sympathy at the hands of the whole community.

As to the political status and future of the colored people I can not better present my views than by quoting from a letter which I wrote a few days ago to a correspondent who had sought to enlist my influence against having a colored man become a candidate for a Congressional nomination. In reply, among other things. I said:

"The suggestion of denying any measure of their full political rights to such a great group of our population as the colored people is one which, however it might be received in some quarters, could not possibly be permitted by one who feels his responsibility for living up to the traditions and maintaining the principles of the Republican Party. Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens without discrimination on account of race or color. I have taken my oath to support that Constitution. It is the source of your rights and my rights. I propose to regard it and administer it as the source of the rights of all the people, whatever their belief or race."

I stand on that statement, and believe it marks the line along which the colored people will advance to the full establishment of their rightful political status. Just as emancipation from slavery was granted by the immortal Lincoln, so is economic emancipation being splendidly wrought out by the colored people for themselves; so I believe their full political rights will be won through the Inevitable logic of their position and rightfulness of their claims.

Very truly yours,


Calvin Coolidge, Letter to the President of the National Negro Business League Dr. Robert R. Moton Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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