1. I am
not a communist and have never been one. The purpose of
the essay that I prepared was to record to the best of
my knowledge and ability the history and social
conditions of the Negro in Washington. I do not see how
the essay as a whole or in the specific section that
shocked Congressman Keefe can be considered communistic
or nazi-fascistic propaganda.
2. What Congressman
Keefe calls the "obvious spirit . . . which
indicated to me at least an attempt . . . to portray the
oppression of the Negro by the white race and thereby
stimulate a feeling of class hatred," has not been
obvious to the many reviewers and readers of both races
who have failed to mention the "class hatred. As
Congressman Keefe repeats in his speech, the Negro has
had to contend with "adverse circumstances." I
could hardly have written a historical account without
recording some of these "adverse
circumstances." But throughout the essay the fine
services of humanitarian white people were insisted
upon, and in the conclusion the point was explicitly
From the outset, white
humanitarians have protested his enslavement and
abuse, and farsighted statesmen have worked
toward his integration in the total pattern.
3. The reference to
George Washington Parke Custis was very incidental. It
was not made with intent to defame. As Congressman Keefe
is from a northern state, he is probably not familiar
with the large amount of literature that deals with
miscegenation in America, or with the stories handed
down by oral tradition, both among white people and
Negroes. Statements that represent the opinions
concerning miscegenation of well known southern white
writers are affixed to this memorandum. [Note: this list
was not found among these papers. That list may indeed
I wrote the sentence because I was convinced of its
accuracy. The relationship has long been a matter of
common belief among Negroes of Washington and among
certain white people. I had heard of it for years. My
historical source, however, was the article by E.
Delorus Preston [Journal of Negro History, Vol. XX (4),
I was confident of Mr. Preston's carefulness as a
research student; and the evidence as presented was
convincing. To enter into the demonstration of a moot
point of genealogy would be too long for our present
purposes, but I am as confident today as I was when I
wrote the sentence that the facts are as stated.
I certainly intended no slander. A white father's
caring for his Negro children was, according to my
research on the subject, not unknown but somewhat
unusual in those days. In my opinion it merits
commendation and was certainly written of in a spirit
opposite to "viciousness."
I certainly did not intend the sentence to
"destroy the character and reputation of . . . the
family and household of George and Martha Washington and
Robert E. Lee."
I am affixing a statement setting forth what I
considered proof of the relationship.
4. All of the efforts of the
staff of my office and of other workers on the Federal
Writers' Project have not been able to discover the
"tremendous evidence to the contrary in the
Congressional Library." Mr. Preston is not a
"young Negro student trained in Howard
University." He graduated from Howard University
over twenty years ago. He has since studied toward his
doctorate in history at Ohio State University, has
contributed to learned journals, and is now the dean of
a Negro college in Florida.
5. The fifth charge is
the only one that I consider true. I failed to reply to
Congressman Keefe's letter (1) probably of
procrastination due to a heavy schedule (2) because I
could add nothing tot he information already sent to him
on the case, information secured from this office.
Concerning the telephone calls, I am unable to
understand why I could not be reached, or why no record
was made of Congressman Keefe's telephoning.
I have written a letter to the Congressman
apologizing for my discourtesy in neglecting to reply to