Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 03:30:47 -0500 From: "Barry A. Popik" Subject: "Color Line" (part one--1874/75 NY Herald) The celebrations have begun for the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's "color line." Unfortunately, no one exactly knows what "color line" means! JUBA TO JIVE by Clarence Major and BLACK TALK by Geneva Smitherman both have "color scale," but no "color line." Huh? What?? No "color line"?? The Miner/Rawson American Heritage Dictionary of American Quotations has these on 419:6 and 421:2: In all the relations of life and death, we are met by the color line. ---FREDERICK DOUGLASS, speech, Convention of Colored Men, Louisville, Ky., Sept. 24, 1883 The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line. --W. E. B. DU BOIS, _To The Nations of the World_, speech, Pan-African conference, London, 1900 OED has: COLOUR-LINE (a) on seals or engravings, fine parallel lines indicating colour or tincture (b) esp. in U.S., the line of demarcation between the coloured and the white race. 1878 _N. Amer. Rev._ CXXVII 491 We shall soon cease to hear of a *color-line. That's the only citation! Stuart Berg Flexner's I Hear America Talking has this on page 54: _Color line_, 1875, the social distinction between Blacks and Whites, a Reconstruction term; _to draw the color line_, 1875; _to cross the color line_, 1880s. The following are from the New York Herald. (The other stuff I have are too much for this posting, and may follow later.) 11 September 1874, NY Herald, pg. 4, cols. 4-5. RELATIONS OF THE RACES./The Attempt to Get Rid of Negro Voters by Exile./ "THE COLOR LINE."/Tactics of the Whites to Intimidate the Blacks./CAUSES OF THE MASSACRES./Prejudice and Ignorance of the Southern Young Men./ATTITUDE OF THE FREEDMEN. (...) FIGHTING ON THE COLOR LINE. It is a peculiarity of the democracy of this section that they claim to be fighting their political battles "on the color line." The phrase is peculiar, but it is full of meaning, or like most phrases of the kind it betrays a purpose, An eminent Tennessee politician, who is not a radical, told me that he objects to acting with the democratic party because it is organized on the color line. Mr. Hewitt, the democratic candidate for Congress from this district, was nominated because he stands squarely on the color line. The phrase is often heard in the mouths of politicians, and it appears as a "catchword" in the newspapers. Its significance is not to be overlooked, especially at a time like this, when there is talk of a war of races in the South. Like the famous cross-bones and skull, it is a warning to those whom it most concerns and it is likely to prove most damaging by whom it was invented. But its full meaning is not conveyed to the mind by the words themselves. Anybody can see that it implies the organization of political parties on the basis of color, but it means more than this; its full significance is that the whites are to be forced on the one side and that even the negroes are to vote the other way at their peril. 5 June 1875, NY Herald. pg. 5, cols. 1-3. MISSISSIPPI./Political Factions in the State./FOLLY OF THE DEMOCRATS./Extremists and Corruptionists on Both Sides., by Charles Nordhoff. (...) THE COLOR LINE. It is a complaint, also, of the democrats, that thei opponents have, for corrupt purposes, maintained the color line in position. It is true that the Ames men cultivate the negro vote by base means; but it is also true that the democrats help them. 10 June 1875, NY Herald, pg. 4, cols. 4-5. MISSISSIPPI./The Partisan Bitterness Shown by Both Parties./The Negro as a Voter and a Citizen./ELECTION FRAUDS AND INTIMIDATION./Peace and Good Governemtn Necessary to Posperity., by Charles Nordhoff. (...)After the election a private circular was sent around to leading democratic business men, of which also I send you an original:-- (For Private Use.) "Stand to your colors." "Hew to the line." (...) OBJECT OF THE "WHITE LINERS." The main object of the "White Liners" is to demoralize the negro vote by depriving it, so far as possible, of white organizers. 19 June 1875, NY Herald, pg. 4, cols. 5-6. MISGOVERNMENT./The New Order of Things Accepted in the South./THE COLOR LINE DANGEROUS/Maintained by Continual Federal Interference., by Charles Nordhoff. (...) THE COLOR LINE A CALAMITY 5. The division of political parties on the race or color line has been a great calamity to the Southern States. It had its origin in the refusal of the Southern whites, after the war, to recognize the equal political rights of the blacks and their attempts, in state Legislatures, to pass laws hostile to them. This folly has been bitterly regretted by the wiser men in the South. A mississippian said to me,"It was a great blunder. We could have better afforded to educate and train the colored people and fit them for the duties of citizenship than to have them alienated from us."