Frances Willard House Museum and Archives
Center for Women's History and Leadership
1730 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201
Frances, A Temporizer1 2018-11-06T19:49:13-08:00 Frances Willard House Museum 396bd2bebf501b08ca215cf721fbba097eb2e1a2 30425 4 Editorial in the African-American newspaper The Cleveland Gazette condemning Frances Willard's attacks on Wells and accusing Willard of being a "temporizer" intent on placating southern whites plain 2018-11-08T20:01:03-08:00 The Cleveland Gazette, Volume 12 11-24-1894 November 24, 1894 02_03A.gif Frances Willard Ida B. Wells lynching race The Cleveland Gazette Frances Willard House Museum 396bd2bebf501b08ca215cf721fbba097eb2e1a2
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- 1 2018-11-06T19:49:13-08:00 Frances Willard House Museum 396bd2bebf501b08ca215cf721fbba097eb2e1a2 Frances, A Temporizer 1 Editorial in the African-American newspaper The Cleveland Gazette condemning Frances Willard's attacks on Wells and accusing Willard of being a "temporizer" intent on placating southern whites plain 2018-11-06T19:49:13-08:00 The Cleveland Gazette, Volume 12 2017-04-27T20:43:32+00:00 November 24, 1894 02_03B.gif Frances Willard Ida B. Wells lynching race The Cleveland Gazette Frances Willard House Museum 396bd2bebf501b08ca215cf721fbba097eb2e1a2
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- 1 media/truthtelling-header.gif 2018-11-09T16:40:20-08:00 Frances Willard House Museum 396bd2bebf501b08ca215cf721fbba097eb2e1a2 The WCTU and Lynching, 1894 Frances Willard House Museum 21 "A bright young colored woman, whose zeal for her race has...clouded her perception as to who were her friends and well-wishers." image_header 2019-02-01T21:23:48-08:00 11-1894 Frances Willard House Museum 396bd2bebf501b08ca215cf721fbba097eb2e1a2
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"She is simply endeavoring to do what is impossible--please the anti-lynch people and not displease the south." -Editors of the Cleveland Gazette, 1894
"Frances, A Temporizer"Frances Willard's comments at the WCTU's convention in 1894 drew scathing criticism from the editors of the Cleveland Gazette, the city's black newspaper. In the piece below, the editors accused Willard of trying to appease white Southerners in her statements about lynching. They also questioned Willard's account of the WCTU's policy toward its black members. Willard said that the WCTU allowed Southern chapters to be segregated. But what that really meant, the Gazette argued, was that it accepted the "drawing of a color line."
Their argument was prescient: only two years later, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that racial segregation was constitutional, as long as the separate facilities were of equal quality. That decision laid the legal and rhetorical foundation for decades of Jim Crow segregation--where in practice, of course, the separate facilities for black people were almost never equal.
This type of criticism from the black press made it more difficult for Willard to claim the credentials of an abolitionist and a "friend of the colored people," as she had cast herself throughout the conflict.
Another factor that made it more difficult for Willard to fall back on her abolitionist family history was the criticism of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). A formerly enslaved abolitionist, orator, writer, women's rights advocate, and social reformer, Douglass was internationally famous and respected. His opinion carried great weight not only among black Americans, but in the white reform community in the US and Great Britain. Friendly with Willard, Douglass was also a strong ally of Ida B. Wells and her anti-lynching campaign. He wrote introductions to many of her articles and pamphlets, helped raise funds for some of her lecture tours, and publicly endorsed her and her work.
While Douglass had praised Willard in the past, he criticized her in the thick of her conflict with Wells. The below excerpts are from the final pamphlet he wrote before his death in February of 1895, entitled Why is the Negro Lynched? In it, he quotes directly from Willard's 1890 interview in the New York Voice, which Wells had likely brought to his attention.
"Wrong Impressions"In response to this kind of criticism and the increasing pressure on Willard and the WCTU, Willard and Lady Henry Somerset sought to rally support for Willard from credible allies. They circulated this letter, apparently written by Somerset, defending Willard's reputation and character. It echoes Willard's earlier defense of herself as the child of abolitionists.
The letter was signed by a number of well-known reformers--including Frederick Douglass. Since he had been criticizing Willard, his choice to add his name is puzzling. Perhaps he felt that Willard's comments at the 1894 convention were sufficient apology, but we don't know for sure. He died only a few weeks after this letter was published.
The WCTU and Lynching, 1894
"A bright young colored woman, whose zeal for her race has...clouded her perception as to who were her friends and well-wishers."
The Annual ConventionAfter a summer of (for Willard) unwelcome press attention, Willard and Wells met for a second time at the WCTU's annual convention, held in November of 1894 in Cleveland, Ohio.
In her annual President's Address, Willard mentioned the controversy and criticized Wells. However, she also called for the convention to pass an anti-lynching resolution.
However, the actual resolution that the convention approved was quite different from the one she proposed:
So what happened? In a statement quoted by Florence Balgarnie in the below pamphlet, Massachusetts WCTU president Susan Fessenden gave her account.
[Waiting on this to be scanned but the gist is that Fessenden was in the resolutions committee, proposed an anti-lynching resolution similar to the one that had passed the previous year, there was an outcry from the Southern delegates, she left the meeting room, came back that afternoon and was told that something substantially similar had been passed, then got to the floor and realized that was not the case but it was too late to do anything.]
The Aftermath[this section could be made a new page if there's too much content on this one]
Wells took advantage of her other speaking engagements in Cleveland to respond to Willard's comments. The below excerpt is from an article about a speech she gave in a Cleveland AME Church the following week.
The city's black newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette, also took Wells's side.