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Guinn v. United States

A Political Decision

Meanwhile, the 1912 presidential election was approaching. The Republican Taft was running against two candidates. Progressive Party candidate Theodore Roosevelt had excluded black people entirely from his strategy, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson was a Southerner. Taft suddenly saw good reason to appeal to black voters, and his Justice Department passed the word--any Oklahoma officials who did not let black people vote under the Grandfather clause would be prosecuted.

Oklahoma Governor Lee Cruce was furious. He insisted that the law be enforced. "I am tired of these cheap little partisan Deputy Marshals trying continually to interfere with the administration of laws in this state," he said. Cruce even threatened to arrest any federal agent who interfered with Oklahoma's elections.

Rumors spread, however, that federal authorities were also to arrest lawbreakers-that is, any election official who kept a black person from voting. In fact, U.S. Attorney Homer N. Boardman did go on to prosecute the chairman and the secretary of the Blaine County Election Board in a case that became known as United States v. Moseley, Guinn, Moseley. These two cases, along with a third case, Myers v. Anderson, together were known as the "Grandfather clause cases."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Guinn v. United States - Significance, Oklahoma's Grandfather Clause, A Political Decision, The Supreme Court Decides, Civil Rights And Wrongs