The South in the Saddle


W.E.B. Du Bois


February 1, 1914

Should I become President of the United States, they (the colored people) may count on me for absolute fair dealing and for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of their race in the United States.

These were Mr. Wilson’s words October 16, 1912. Why has the President failed to keep them?

It is not because he did not mean them. He did mean what he said. But Mr. Wilson is seeking to keep his party intact for carrying through certain legislation. That party in Congress consists to-day of 290 Representatives and 51 Senators, against an opposition of 127 Representatives and 45 Senators. Moreover, the President’s party of 341 includes 115 Senators and Representatives from former slave States.

If these 115 members withdrew their support Mr. Wilson’s party would be a minority of 226 votes against 287. For his policies, therefore, Mr. Wilson must have the solid South, and the solid South has but one political tenet: “Down with Niggers!”

But how is it that the solid South is numerically so strong in Congress? Because it represents not simply 16,000,000 white Southerners, but 8,000,000 disfranchised blacks. Thus the disfranchisement of blacks gives the Southern whites a club to beat them with.

Not only that, but it gives the Southern whites an abnormal advantage over the Northern voters. This is easy to prove:

In ten Southern States it took, in 1912, 1,110,034 votes to elect 94 Congressmen. In the rest of the United States it took 13,926,508 votes to elect 323 Congressmen. In other words, 43,116 ignorant and low-down Northerners and Westerners are necessary to elect a representative to Congress, but only 11,808 aristocratic and wise white Southerners are needed to seat a Negro hater in our highest legislature. No wonder the South is in the saddle when it wields four times the political power of the North!


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1914. “The South in the Saddle.” The Crisis 7 (4): 188.