Hanover College Triangle on


March 11, 1916

Progressivism's ideals deeply permeated the collective psyche of the middle class by the year 1916. The reforms that the movement sought to accomplish could be seen in all forms of popular media including Hanover College's own newspaper, The Triangle. In March 1916, the front page of The Triangle featured an article on the problem of lynching in the South. This article does not go into the grisly details of these vigilante hate crimes or those directly affected by them. Instead it is a call to arms for the collegiate male to be at the forefront of ending this great social evil through education and understanding. This attitude is exemplary of the Progressive ideology, suggesting that the middle class, superior in understanding and morality, could change the deep seated racial problems of the South. This desire to change the racial attitudes that plagued the South was a vast improvement over the racial attitudes that were dominant at the time, yet they were overly optimistic and ignorant of the true intensity of the racial divide in the Jim Crow South. Just as the ideas and hopes expressed in the article are typical of Progressive ideology, so too is this optimism and overconfidence in the ability to cause great social change through what is essentially setting a good example. This article typifies the Progressive outlook; it seeks to change social problems using the power of supposedly superior middle class thinking without questioning the social situations of those beneath the gold of the gilded age. - John Bedan, '09

N.B. The text below is transcribed verbatim, including the occasional typographical error.

"A Collegiate Move on Lynching," Hanover College Triangle, 1 Mar. 1916 , 1.

Since the only way to put an end to the lynching-spirit "seems to be through a campaign of education," the Savanah News thinks the University Commission on Southern Race Questions is "tackling the evil in the right way." This Commission, composed of eleven representative Southern college professors, met recently at Durham, N.C., and at the close of their session issued a statement to the college men of the South on the subject of lynching. The college men are appealed to because in the Commission's opinion, they should be "in the front rank of those fighting for moral and social progress."

The Commission then quote the 1914 Taskegee figures on lynchings- which have, of course, been superseded as well as exceeded by the 1915 report , and conclude with this earnest plea:

"These are terrible facts, Is there no remedy? Have we not sufficient legal intelligence and machinery to take care of every case of crime committed? Must we fall back on the methods of the jungle? Civilization rests on obedience to law, which means the substitution of reason and deliberation for impulse, instinct and passions. It is easy and tempting to obey the latter, but to be governed by the former requires self-control, which comes from the interposition of thought between impulse and action. Herein lies the college man's opportunity to serve his fellows; to interpose deliberation between their impulses and actions, and iu that way control both.

"Society has a right to expect college men to help in molding opinion and shaping conduct in matters of this sort; is is their privilege and duty to cooperate with others in leading crusades against crime and mob rule and for law and legislation. The college man belongs in the front rank of those fighting for moral and social progress. For this reason, The University Commission make their first appeal to you, and urge you strongly to cooperate with the press, the pulpit, the bar, officers of the law, and all other agencies striving to eliminate this great evil, by speaking out boldly when speech is needed, and letting your influence be felt against it in decided, unmistakable measure and manner.

-Literary Digest

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