(May 29, 2017) Was California Governor Leland Stanford—founder of Stanford University—sufficiently racist to justify dropping his name from the university and destroying all publicly displayed memorials to him?
Consider Stanford’s remarks in his acceptance speech as the Republican Party’s gubernatorial candidate in 1859:
[T]he cause in which we are engaged is one of the greatest in which any can labor. It is the cause of the white man…I am in favor of free white American citizens. I prefer free white citizens to any other race. I prefer the white man to the negro as an inhabitant to our country. I believe its greatest good has been derived by having all of the country settled by free white men.
Readers who might question whether Stanford was speaking sincerely should note that the nominee goes on to say, “…I have not prepared any speech. I come here tonight without having framed in my own mind what I should say.”
Stanford’s chief reason for supporting the Republican Party was because the Party advocated a Transcontinental Railroad, for which Stanford’s Central Pacific would become a prime beneficiary. The nominee states in the same acceptance speech, “We are in flavor of the [transcontinental] Railroad…I am in for of the railroad and it is the policy of this state to favor that party which is likely to advance their interests.”
In a letter to a Sutter Creek lawyer during the campaign Stanford prefaced his conclusion that “Resistance to the aggressions of slavery is not the only idea of the Republican Party [because, more pertinently,]…the slave interest clashes with the great measures of the Railroad Bill [and] the Homestead Bill.”
About a month before President Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862, Governor Stanford wrote, “The Republican Party early appreciated the real character of the political issues before the people. Slavery was not the real issue…Our cause…is the maintenance of the Union.”
Although Stanford wrote at least once that he was an “uncompromising foe of human slavery” it was during the second year of the Civil War and before he wrote his opinion above that “slavery was not the real issue” of the War. If, however, Stanford is permitted to salvage his reputation and legacy by changing his mind on slavery, it should be noted that the tyranny of today’s zeitgeist declines to extend the same privilege to Jefferson Davis who told Yankee peace commissioners in July 1864, “We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for independence…” The reason that Stanford is allowed to save his reputation and Davis is not is because…well, that’s different, see?
If Stanford’s racism toward blacks is sufficiently repellant for today’s politically correct censors, the censors may also want to consider his racism toward Asian-Americans. In speaking as governor Stanford said:
“To my mind it is clear that [Chinese-American] settlement among us is to be discouraged by every legitimate means. Large numbers are already here, and unless we do something early to check their immigration, the question which of the two tides of immigration meeting upon the shores of the Pacific”—the Euro-American and the Asian—“shall be turned back, will be forced upon our consideration when far more difficult than now of disposal.”
Finally, if Stanford’s racism is insufficient to justify removing his name from the Palo Alto based university, politically correct zealots may wish to investigate the corruption and bribery that enable him, and his three partners, to advance the interests of the Central and Southern Pacific railroads…but that’s another story, and a good one.