Jane Addams et al. to Woodrow Wilson, August 26, 1913


The Chicago Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People


August 26, 1913.

To the President of the United States.

The Chicago Association for the Advancement of Colored People respectfully but urgently protest against the adoption or extension of a segregation policy in the treatment of United States civil service appointees. This protest is based upon the following grounds.

1. Segregation means discrimination against the negro employees and consequently less favorable conditions of work than those that have been enjoyed in the past, than will be continued to be enjoyed by white employees in the future.

It will not be denied that segregation on the railroads, on the street cars, in [theaters], restaurants, hotels or schools has meant in all instances inferior accommodations for negroes. There is no reason to believe that the methods employed at this time in this connection would be different.

2. This discrimination is wholly undeserved on account of ↑any↓ failure of duty on the part of the negro civil servants. They have, in fact, obtained their positions by complying with the requirements of the civil service laws and their presence in the government service means that they have met successfully the tests of competitive [page 2] examinations. Nor has any charge of offensive manner or unsuitable conduct been brought against them.

3. Such discrimination violates the principles of fair play and equal treatment. It humiliates a group of workers who are subject to handicaps of every sort in other relationships, to whom most avenues of employment are closed, who in spite of these difficulties have shown themselves competent and worthy.

4. Such discrimination will tend to lower the efficiency of the service.

a. The colored workers will be less contented.
b. The abler members of the group, resenting such unjustified humiliation will seek other kinds of employment.
c. The competition to which the white applicants will be subjected will be less severe, so that a lower grade of efficiency and service will be rendered by them.

Very respectfully yours,

Jane Addams
Thomas W. Allinson
C. E. Bentley
S. P. Breckinridge
E. O. Brown
Robert McMurdy