"The Colonial War at Home"

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    The Colonial War at Home [1] The arrogant display of military force at the local level is supplemented by a Court system whose decisions regarding bail are often merely a convenient way of making the colonized hostage of the state. When a court sets bail at from $10,000 to $200,000 for an everyday wage earner or a youth whose family is on welfare, or an unemployed worker, that amounts to a declaration by the state that these "citizens" are really hostages of the state. The State power at the local level is expanding its arsenal of weapons and troop reserves all in the name of riot control. In New York City a Tactical Patrol Force organized in 1959 with seventy-five troops, now reportedly has 650. This is an elite corps sent into combat against the youth in the Puerto Rican ghetto in East Harlem for four nights last summer. A similar type unit had been used to keep the Negro Ghetto on East Side Detroit under surveillance during the summer of 1966 even though there
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    [2] had been no violent eruptions in that city. The City Councils in both Newark[, New Jersey] and Tampa[, Florida] have given approval to spend tens of thousands of dollars for "emergency shipments" of new weapons[.] These and other examples which could be cited, are a further extension of the pattern of domestic military build-up for which Jackson, Mississippi received some attention when its City Council bought an armored tank for use against non violent Civil Rights demonstrations a few years ago. The general enlargement of the arsenal of weapons is accompanied by an active build-up in the sixe of the police forces, often way out of proportion to any Civilian public-safety requirements. Why for instance, does liberal New York City, with a population two and a half times larger than Los Angeles have a police force six times larger?* There is also the matter of the kind of conservative ideology cultivated among the police, especially in the cities with large Negro or Spanish speaking populations. N.Y. Times July 20, 1967
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    [3] This is not a monolithic picture. There are un-doubtedly many decent men on the various police forces–men who have a good relationship with the people ion the communities and are a credit to their profession. We are concerned here with general patterns of governmental power which are developing in our country. The kind of racist campaign conducted by the police Benevolent Association to defeat the Civilian Review Board in New York and the brutal beatings given peace marchers by the Los Angeles police (June 23, 1967) during demonstrations against the war in Vietnam while President Johnson was speaking at a fund-raising banquet there, are significant cases in point. Despite certain concessions to Civil Rights and a number of important court decisions favorable to the defense of civil liberties, militarism and the military presence are rapidly becoming the main features of governmental power in American life. Whether expressed in the form of armed tactical units occupying the ghettos, a police mobilization to brutalize peace marchers or a massive
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    [4] military build-up in South east [sic] Asia, the economic, political, and psychological ascendancy of militarism is a primary factor shaping the character of natural life in our country today. In its ultimate expression, this development represents a serious totalitarian threat to Constitutional liberties[.] There are times when the contemporary spirit of a nation’s institution creeps through in the most unexpected places. At the World’s Fair in Montreal (Expo 67) the male guides at the U.S. pavilion were dressed in the uniform were dressed in the uniform of the various branches of the armed forces. The spirit of militarism is abroad in the land, stretching its corpse–like influence over the fabric of the Republic. This, at once, reflects and contributes to the fact that governmental conduct has sunk to the lowest level of barbarity, public deception, and dehumanization of any period since the blood bath[,] which over threw reconstruction in the last century. Frederick Douglass, in commenting on the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act and its impact once said "…the Mason
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    [5] and Dixon’s line has been obliterated, New York has become as Virginia and the power (of slavery) remains no longer mere state institution but is now an institution of the whole U.S…coextensive with the Star Spangled Banner." As in 1852, once again it is true today. The line between Mississippi and Michigan between Birmingham and Newark is rapidly being obliterated as the rise of the Military Establishment takes on special meaning. Policemanship as a style of government is no longer confined to the Southern way-of-life but is now becoming institutionalized on a national level. And the line between foreign and domestic policy is fading out as well, as militarism and the military prescence [sic] become coextensive with the Start Spangled Banner. The escalating of the war in Vietnam and the escalation of the military budget (which is one of the hidden purposes behind all such military adventures), quite aside from the senseless death toll and dishonor it has brought the nation have had
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    [6] as a net result the escalation of the economic and political power of the military establishment. This escalation, like the war itself has taken place ay a geometric rate during the recent four years of this administration. The economic power of the military is in that lion’s share of the National Budget earmarked under the euphemism "defense[.]" This military budget has been increased from $35 in 1963 to $70.3 in 1967-1968. This does not include appropriations for the space program/ The military budget of the U.S. is 20% larger than the military budget of Britain, the Soviet Union, France, and China combined even though the total population of these four countries adds up to five times the population of our country.* The political power of the military resides in the neo-Confederate Chairman of Key Committees in Congress, as well as in the key personalities in the executive branch of the government. [*] The Military Balance 1966-1967[,] pages 8-27[.] Published in London[.]
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    [7] These are the king-pins of the new Confederacy through whom the hawks in the Pentagon exercise their influence. Our present president has been the high-priest among them since his days as Senate Majority Leader. The manpower resources of the military establishment rest directly in the draft system, but also indirectly in the labor of the three and a half million workers, whose [paychecks] derive from employment in the factories and offices of companies contracting to engage in the production, transportation, and stockpiling of military hardware, napalm, and other weapons of mass destruction. It is the combination of manpower, recruited in the labor market at relatively high wages to manufacture military weapons and the manpower guaranteed by the forced labor of the draft system[,] which constitute the manpower pool made available to the military establishment. Serious defections in either of these areas of manpower resource by large numbers of people refusing as a matter of conscience to cooperate with militarism would be a major contribution toward keeping alive the tradition of civilian-controlled government in our country. Militarism and Industry–Victor Perlo, Economist
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    [8] Sensitive to this the draft has been hurriedly renewed for four years by Congress. The railroad workers strike, the first in twenty years, has been broken by the government, with public rationale that "one thousand box cars of ammunition must be sent to Vietnam each week." Such is the atmosphere created that auto workers, on strike against the Ford Motor Company are told by their leaders to cross their own picket lines in order to guarantee shipments of truck parts needed by the military for Vietnam. We are reminded that Mussolini and Italian Fascism came to power under the slogan "getting the trains running on time." The political analyst Robert Sherrill says "It was during the Johnson years that the most powerful man in Congress (L.B.J.) was given funds to perpetuate both the permanent diplomatic and military establishment not only funds but freedom by Congress to gain the overwhelming influence that they still have today and which it is likely will be taken from (over) them in normal fashion[.]" [On the left side margin] The accidental President–p.16 Grossman Publishers Inc. [New York, New York]
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    [9] This riotus conduct by the Armed Forces of the state, directed against the local civilian population is in the classic style of colonial rule and is today the most overt expression of the growing fascist pattern developing in the United States.
"The Colonial War at Home"
Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987
Handwritten essay by Septima P. Clark "regarding USA's growing militarism, in the Viet Nam war, in police forces and other manifestations."
Septima P. Clark Papers, ca. 1910-ca. 1990
Contributing Institution:
Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston
Media Type:
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Clark, Septima Poinsette, 1898-1987
Topical Subject:
African Americans--Civil rights, African Americans--Education, African Americans--History--20th century, African American women teachers
Shelving Locator:
AMN 1000 Box 03 Folder 21
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300 dpi, 24-bit depth, color, Fujitsu fi-7160, Archival masters are tiffs.
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Copyright © Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.
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