|To Ralph Slaughter 1
September 28, 1921.
Mr. R. E. Slaughter,
Chairman, Brotherhood of Railway Clerks,
Dear Sir and Brother:
Your letter of September 23 received and contents noted.
It is impossible for me to understand how you can defend an organization formed for the purposes declared by the Ku Klux Klan. You ask "why I desire to stir up dissension in the ranks of labor at this critical period in our history" because there may be members of unions in the Ku Klux Klan. It is for that very reason that I issue the warning. 2 There are too many self-constituted persecutors of labor to permit the opportunity to pass in condemning an invisible empire whose work is at night and behind masks and whose victims may sometimes be members of trade unions. The American Federation of Labor has contended that no person or combination of persons should be allowed to take the law in their own hands.
Permit me to repeat a closing paragraph in my statement published in the newspapers as follows:
"Every democratic force in our country, including the trade union movement, has something to fear from an organization pledged to an autocratic concept, working under the concealment of masks and under cover of night to carry out the decrees of those who have no authority to either define or execute punishments. There is no essential difference between mob rule and Ku Klux rule and labor is the foe of both."
Members of trade unions should not for a moment remain neutral when mob rule under the guise of an organization seeks to take control of the law in its own hands.
With best wishes and ensuring you of my desire to be helpful in any way within my power, I am,
President, American Federation of Labor.
TLpS, reel 270, vol. 283, p. 535, SG Letterbooks, DLC.