After Dwight Eisenhower’s pick for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court usurped legislative power from Congress with the unconstitutional Brown vs Board of Education opinion, his Justice Department was ordered to make an example of Arkansas. The following is excerpted from the television and radio address given by Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus on 26 September 1957. Bernhard Thuersam
“Is Every Right Reserved to the States Now Lost?”
“My Fellow Citizens—
On Tuesday, September 24, while I was still absent from the State, attending the Southern Governors’ Conference at Sea Island, Georgia, the cleverly conceived plans of the Justice Department under Herbert Brownell for the military occupation of Arkansas were placed in execution. One thousand two hundred troops of the 101st Airborne Division were flown into the Jacksonville Air Base (near Little Rock) by air transport from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Immediately thereafter, these troops occupied, in force, the grounds of Central High School.
At the same time, the entire Arkansas National Guard and Air Guard were federalized, and are now part of the United States Army and the United States Air Force.
We are now an occupied territory.
Evidence of the naked force of the Federal Government is here apparent in these unsheathed bayonets in the backs of schoolgirls—in the backs of students—and in the bloody face of this railroad worker, who was bayoneted and then felled by the butt of a rifle in the hands of a sergeant of the United States 101st Airborne Division. This man, on private property, as a guest in a home two blocks from the school, has been hospitalized. Others have suffered bayonet wounds from the hands of the United States Army soldiers. Your New York papers also show the scenes.
Up until the time the injunction was issued against me by the imported federal judge, the peace had been kept in Little Rock by as few as 30 National Guardsmen. Not a blow was struck, no injury inflicted on any person, and no property damage sustained. Neither was it necessary to make wholesale arrests of Arkansas citizens. No bayonets were used, and the weapons of Guardsmen were never loaded.
This is quite a contrast to the present situation, when some 12,000 United States Army troops are on duty, mobilized or standing ready for use. It is in stark contrast also to the use of sharpened, naked bayonets on schoolgirls and other Arkansas citizens, the bludgeoning of others with rifle butts, and the wholesale arrests made by these United states military forces.
I wish to also point out that no violence broke out in the city until after the injunction was issued by the imported federal judge, and the Guard forces withdrawn.
It might be well to mention briefly the actions of this imported judge in the first three hearings: An injunction was issued by a State court, presided over by Chancery Judge Murray Reed, staying the execution date of the integration order, in order to preserve the peace. Judge Reed’s order was issued after taking sworn testimony in open court, with cross-examination of all witnesses. The first hearing in federal court, before the imported judge, lasted one hour and five minutes. No testimony whatsoever was taken. Only the argument of counsel was heard, after which the judge made his order, nullifying the order of the State court. The type-written order of the federal court was then distributed, which had already been drawn up and ready before the hearing was held.
The second hearing took a total of four minutes. No testimony was taken and the order—“integrate forthwith”—was issued. The third hearing consumed a total of 15 minutes. Some testimony was taken—you can judge how much—but the imported judge stated that no cross-examination was necessary and then his order was issued.
The total time consumed in all three hearings was one hour and 24 minutes, on litigation pertaining to a matter of such great import. Not only was the matter of integration-segregation involved, but also the matter of jurisdiction of State courts to maintain the peace, and the all-important matter of States rights, if there are any such rights remaining at this time.
During World War II, my division, the 35th Infantry, pushed up on the right of the Fourth Armored Division to relieve the 101st Airborne, and my division occupied the embattled city of Bastogne. Today, we find members of the famed division, which I helped to rescue, in Little Rock, Arkansas, bludgeoning innocent bystanders, with bayonets in the backs of schoolgirls, and the warm, red blood of American citizens staining the cold, naked unsheathed knives.
In the name of God, whom we all revere, in the name of liberty we hold so dear, in the name of decency, which we all cherish—what is happening in America? Is every right reserved to the States by the Federal Constitution now lost? Does the will of the people, that basic precept of democracy, no longer matter? Must the will of the majority now yield, under federal force, to the will of the minority regardless of the consequences?
If the answer to these questions are in the affirmative, then the basic principles of democracy are destroyed, and we no longer have a union of States under a republican form of government. If this be true—then the States are mere subdivisions of an all-powerful Federal Government, these subdivisions being nothing more than districts for the operation of federal agents and federal military forces—forces which operate without any regard for the rights of a sovereign State or its elected officials, and without due regard to personal and property rights.
In addition to the federal military forces, we have . . . in Arkansas a federal judge from a State a thousand miles away. He has no understanding whatsoever of the difficulties of our problems in the field of race relations. [He and a few dissatisfied citizens] . . . are the ones who have sought to advise the President’s “palace guard” about the Little Rock situation. They bear a heavy responsibility for the unhappy events of the past few days. Would it not have been better for the President’s advisers to listen to officials who have the people’s confidence, as shown by the greatest of all democratic processes, the free exercise of the franchise at the ballot box?
Still further, in Arkansas, literally swarms of FBI . . . Counterintelligence Corps and the Criminal Investigation Division [agents] have been combing the area for days. Teen-aged schoolgirls have been taken by the FBI and held incommunicado for hours of questioning while their frantic parents knew nothing of their whereabouts. To those who know the facts of the Little Rock situation, these combined actions on the part of the judicial, executive and military departments of the Federal Government, are “police state” methods in a form never before seen in America.
Prior to this time in Arkansas, the hand of fellowship and mutual self-respect has everywhere been extended between the races. Much progress has been made in this field, and in others pertaining to the progress of the State and the human welfare of all citizens. Under my administration, all transportation systems have been integrated, and without serious incidents. Six of the seven State-supported colleges now have Negro students. In the other, there were no applicants.
I was the first Democratic Governor of the South to place Negroes on the Democratic State Central Committee. Negroes also serve on the Republican Committee. Some years ago I was a member of the resolutions committee which recommended to the Democratic State Convention that the so-called white primary be abolished . . . Negroes have been appointed on boards and commissions during my administration, and have been appointed to administration positions never before held by members of their race. Eight public schools have been peacefully integrated during my administration, more than any other Southern State outside the Border areas.
I am not in this fight either as an ardent segregationist or an integrationist. My only child, a son, is now attending classes in a State-supported integrated college. This is more than can be said by any of the high officials of the National Administration, who are responsible for the military occupation of Arkansas.
There can be no question of the supremacy of the United States Army, when used against a defenseless State. I have been working and fighting for the right of my people to solve their problems peacefully. I shall continue relentlessly on this course. The Constitution, the traditions of our republic and the will of the people uphold me in this course. Our cause is just, and will ultimately prevail.
Today, the excuse for use of federal troops is said to be integration. Tomorrow, in any State, the excuse could be a labor dispute, or any number of things. The Supreme Court ruled that the President could not take over the steel industry, but they have taken over our schools in Little Rock.
I appreciate the upwards of 100,000 letters and telegrams, from every State in the union, which I have received, and which have ranged from 95 to 98 percent in support of my efforts to maintain the peace and good order of my own State. We have had no opportunity at all to answer any of them, but they are nonetheless appreciated. I know that the American people have had time to think, and to learn about the facts of this situation, they—in their good judgment—will rebuke the National Administration for the ill-advised and unwarranted use of federal troops. School attendance at bayonet point is not compatible with the American way of life.
I ask you: Is this the pledge that was made, that federal troops would not be used? And if this be patience, then the word has new meaning. Yet is was said here in Little Rock there was no imminence of disorder when I called out the Guard to keep the peace—all in contrast to what I said and what has transpired. My fellow citizens of Arkansas and of the nation, this cross we here must bear—but as the poet said, “Even this shall pass away.”
Good evening, God bless you fellow citizens.”
(US News & World Report, October 4th, 1957)