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Guide to the Earnest Sevier Cox Papers, 1821-1973

Collection Overview

The papers of Earnest Sevier Cox span the years 1821 to 1973, with the bulk dating from 1900 to 1964. The primary focus of the collection is Cox's advocacy for the separation of the races by the repatriation of blacks to Africa, which he actively pursued for over forty years. The Correspondence, Writings, Speeches, and Printed Material series most clearly reflect his interest in "separation not amalgamation." Figuring less prominently in the collection is his military service during World War I and his work as a real estate agent for the Laburnum Realty Corporation in Richmond, Va. His personal life is best represented in the correspondence he had with his family and in the Writings series.

As early as 1906, Cox held the belief that the Caucasian race was superior to the black race and that blacks should be kept in a segregated and unequal position. The year 1910 could be considered a turning point in Cox's life. By that time he had already tried several vocations. He had been a newspaper reporter, a teacher, and a minister, and had enrolled at the University of Chicago in graduate school, where he studied sociology. In 1910 he traveled to Africa to study the Negro under colonial rule; while there he broadened his interests to include a study of the amount of freedom that various European nations allowed their colonial subjects.

From 1910 until 1914, Cox traveled extensively in Africa and toured Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Panama, and South America. The unrest he became aware of among the races in South Africa is particularly reflected in the Clippings series. Cox was able to earn money on the trip by working in various mines and supplemented this income by occasional lectures and newspaper articles, some of which are also included in the Clippings series. After his return to the United States, he was asked to speak at various organizations particularly about his travels in Africa. Broadsides advertising these talks with titles like "1,800 Miles on Foot Through Darkest Africa" are included in the Speeches series.

It was the with the publication in 1923 of White America that he began to advocate the repatriation of blacks to Africa and to work with others to try to achieve it. Later editions of White America appeared in 1925, 1937, and 1966. Various drafts of this work can be found in the Writings series.

It is Cox's work with others to achieve repatriation that forms the crux of the collection. In his passion for the separation of the races and his belief in the superiority of the white race, he formed alliances with both white and black separatists. Viewpoints of both groups are included in the collection, chiefly in the Correspondence series. Among the black nationalists and associations represented are Marcus Garvey, Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), (ca. 1925 to 1939); Mittie Maude Lena Gordon, Peace Movement of Ethiopia (PME) , (ca. 1934 to 1958) ; and Benjamin Gibbons, Universal African Nationalist Movement, Inc. (UANM) , (ca. 1947 to 1963). Garvey, Gordon, and Gibbons are included in the Writings and Speeches of Others series as well.

The correspondence is particularly reflective of the unsuccessful efforts of Cox and others to get the repatriation bills of Senators Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi (ca. 1938 to 1947) and William Langer of North Dakota (ca. 1949 to 1959) passed into law. Both bills sought aid from the United States government to help blacks return to Africa. Senator Bilbo's bill was commonly referred to as the Greater Liberia Bill and was first introduced in 1939. Langer, who first introduced his bill in 1949, was to introduce the bill five more times before his death in 1959.

Cox was able to generate some publicity for the Langer bill in 1953. A hearing was held in June of that year before representatives of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Eight people appeared before the Committee, including Cox who spoke as a representative of the PME and as a spokesperson for repatriation. Cox published an article about the hearing, "I Witnessed a Miracle," in both a white racist and black nationalist magazine. The article appears in the Writings series.

Cox was also instrumental in getting the Virginia General Assembly to pass the Racial Integrity Law of 1924, which was designed in part to prevent the intermarriage of blacks and whites. John Powell, pianist-composer and a correspondent (ca. 1924 to 1954) of Cox, worked with him for its passage. Additionally Cox was involved with the passage of a resolution in 1936 by the Assembly which recommended that the U. S. Congress provide for the colonization of persons of African descent in Liberia or other places on the African continent.

One of the arguments Cox used to support the repatriation movement was to quote Abraham Lincoln, who he said promoted the separation and re-colonization of blacks. He published a pamphlet in 1938 with quotations from Lincoln to support this view entitled Lincoln's Negro Policy. This work is represented in the Writings series.

The U. S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. the Board of Education decision in 1954 made Cox a prophet in the minds of some whites. Almost overnight this decision helped create a multitude of right wing organizations whose primary purpose was to maintain the segregation of the races. Both the correspondence and printed material from this period are representative of this attitude. Much of the printed material provides graphic illustrations and strongly worded texts of the segregationist, anti-Supreme Court, anti-Semitic, and anti-Communist sentiments of the time, from a variety of right wing organizations.

Teutonic Unity was privately printed by Cox in 1951. The book purported to be a racial history covering the development of the Teutonic race from 2000 B.C. to the present. A copy of this work is located in the Writings series. In 1959, Cox was honored by fellow international racial separatists by being invited to speak at the First Annual Congress of the Northern League in Detmold, Germany. Although he was too ill to deliver the address himself, he was on the platform while English and German interpreters read it for him. Both his paper titled "Herman's Brother" and a printed program of the conference are included in the Speeches and Writings and Speeches of Others series respectively. The paper concerned the need for Teutonic peoples to maintain their bloodlines.

Cox continued writing until shortly before his death. One of the works, which is included in the Writings series, Black Belt Around the World, was published in 1963. It is an autobiographical work containing information about his travels from 1910 to 1914.

He was working on Lincoln's Negro Policy at the time of his death. It was to be a compilation of a number of his essays that had been published earlier. The work included an essay of the same title that is mentioned above. The work, which was completed by Drew L. Smith, was published in 1972, six years after Cox's death. Information about the completion and distribution of this work is included in the Edith Wood Nelson series.

Correspondents not previously mentioned but represented in the papers are listed below, along with the approximate dates of their correspondence: Wickliffe P. Draper, (ca. 1936 to 1949); Madison Grant, (ca. 1920 to 1936) ; S. A. Davis, (ca. 1925 to 1962) ; W. A. Plecker, (ca. 1924 to 1947); Willis A. Carto, (ca. 1955 to 1967); and Amy Jacques Garvey, widow of Marcus Garvey, (ca. 1926 to 1965).

Cox held onto his repatriation beliefs until his death. In a will dated December 15, 1965, four months before he died, he directed the executors of his estate to send any excess monies toward the "repatriation movement of American Negroes to Africa."

A doctoral dissertation has been written based in large part on the Cox papers. Titled Earnest Cox and Colonization: A White Racist's Response to Black Repatriation, 1923-1966, it was written by Ethel Wolfskill Hedlin and submitted to Duke University in 1974.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Earnest Sevier Cox papers, 1821-1973
Creator
Cox, Earnest Sevier, 1880-1966
Extent
16 Linear Feet, 13,000 Items
Repository
Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Language
English.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The status of the copyright interests in the Cox papers is unknown. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Chiefly correspondence between Cox and racial separatists. Also personal correspondence with his family, some relating to his travels and to his service in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, and 19th century letters concerning his relatives in Tennessee. Arranged chronologically.

Correspondence, 1837-1920
(6 folders)
Box 1
Correspondence, 1921-1925
(6 folders)
Box 2
Correspondence, 1926-1932
(6 folders)
Box 3
Correspondence, 1933-1938, Nay
(5 folders)
Box 4
Correspondence, 1938, June-1940
(5 folders)
Box 5
Correspondence, 1941-1947
(5 folders)
Box 6
Correspondence, 1948-1950, May
(6 folders)
Box 7
Correspondence, 1950, June-1951
(6 folders)
Box 8
Correspondence, 1952-1954, April
(6 folders)
Box 9
Correspondence, 1954, May-1955
(6 folders)
Box 10
Correspondence, 1956
(5 folders)
Box 11
Correspondence, 1957
(5 folders)
Box 12
Correspondence, 1958-1959
(6 folders)
Box 13
Correspondence, 1960-1963
(9 folders)
Box 14
Correspondence, 1964-1968 and undated
(5 folders)
Box 15

Includes deeds, contracts, wills, indentures, land surveys, and subpoenas, mostly dating from the 19th century and involving members of Cox's family who were located in Blount County, Tenn. Also several of Cox's wills, copyrights for several of his publications, and legal briefs relating to the arrest of black separatist Mittie M. L. Gordon, and other miscellaneous items. Arranged chronologically.

Legal Papers
Box 15

Includes receipts, some concerning the sale of Cox's publications. Also loose papers and two volumes, dating from the 19th century and relating to the sale of agricultural products and other miscellaneous items. Arranged chronologically.

Financial papers
Box 15

Cox's writings are divided into five subseries: Writings; Letters to the Editor; Poetry; Distribution Lists; and Miscellaneous Writings and Notes.

A - BI
Box 16
Black Belt Around the World Notes
(2 folders)
Box 16
Black Belt Around the World Incomplete Draft (n. d.)
(4 folders)
Box 16
Black Belt Around the World Draft - Intro. and Chapters I-II, 1956
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Draft - Chapters III-XII, 1956
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Draft - Chapters XIII-XV, 1956
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Intro. and Chapters I-VIII
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Chapters IX-XVII
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Intro. and Chapters I-IX
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Chapters X-XV
Box 17
Black Belt Around the World Galley Proof, Introduction
Box 18
Black Belt Around the World Galley Proof, Chapters V-VII
Box 18
Black Belt Around the World Galley Proof, Chapters VIII-X
Box 18
Black Belt Around the World Galley Proof, Chapters XI-XIII
Box 18
Black Belt Around the World Galley Proof, Chapters XIV-XV
Box 18
Black Belt Around the World Page Proof, Chapters I, V-VIII
Box 19
Black Belt Around the World Page Proof, Chapters IX-XII
Box 19
Black Belt Around the World Page Proof, Chapters XII-XV
Box 19
Black Belt Around the World Miscellaneous
Box 19
Blo - C
Box 19
F - J
Box 19
L - Lincoln
Box 20
Lincoln's Negro Policy
Box 20
Lincoln's Plan - P
Box 20
Race Determinism
Box 20
The Races of Mankind: A Review
Box 20
Raci - R
Box 20
S
Box 20
Teutonic Unity Draft, 1947
Box 20
Teutonic Unity Notes and Undated Draft Forward, Chapters I-VII
Box 20
Teutonic Unity Undated Draft, Chapters VIII-X, Appendices, Index
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Notes and Undated Draft, Chapters I-VI
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Undated Draft, Chapters VII-X, Appendices, bibliography, Notes
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Undated draft, Chapter X
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Galleys?
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Notes
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Miscellaneous
Box 21
Teutonic Unity Printed copy with Notes
Box 21
Th - Wha
Box 22
White America Undated Draft
Box 22
White America Chapters I-V
Box 22
White America Chapters VI-X
Box 22
White America Notes
(2 folders)
Box 22
White America Miscellaneous
Box 22
White P - W
Box 22
Letters to the Editor, 1938-1963, and undated
Box 23
Poetry, C-W and Untitled
Box 23
Distribution Lists for Publications
Box 23
Miscellaneous Writings and Notes 1948-1949
Box 23
Miscellaneous Writings and Notes
(5 folders)
Box 23
Miscellaneous Writings and Notes
(7 folders)
Box 24
Miscellaneous Writings and Notes
(3 folders)
Box 25

Divided into two subseries: Speeches and Miscellaneous Speeches.

Includes speeches he made before the Eugenics Research Association in 1936 and the paper "Herman's Brother," that was read before the Teutoburger Moot, Detmold, Germany in 1959, and other speeches arranged alphabetically by title;

B - F
Box 25
Herman's Brother
Box 25
R, and Miscellaneous

Includes a few broadsides and other items concerning his speeches about his travels in Africa which were made ca. 1916.

Box 25

Divided into two subseries Writings and Speeches and Bibliographies and Digests of Laws.

Divided into three subseries, Printed Materials, Book and Journal Advertisements, and Miscellaneous.

A - Ale
Box 26
Allen, Marilyn R.
Box 26
Alliance
Box 26
Allstorm, Oliver
Box 26
Am - American M
Box 26
American N - American S
Box 26
American W - Association F Association of Citizens' Councils
(2 folders)
Box 26
Association of L - Au
Box 26
B
Box 27
C - Christian N
Box 27
Christian Patriots Crusade
Box 27
Chu - Cir
Box 27
Cit - Com
Box 27
Con - Dan
Box 27
Davis, S.A.
Box 27
Day - E
Box 27
F - Fl
Box 28
Fo - For
Box 28
Forl - F
Box 28
Garvey, Marcus
Box 28
Ge - Ho
Box 28
Hu - J
Box 28
K - Keeping the Record Straight, 1957, Aug.
Box 28
Keeping the Record Straight, 1957, Sept. 1960, May
Box 28
Ki - La
Box 28
Le - Liberty A
Box 28
Liberty Lobby - Liberty Letter
Box 28
Lit - Man
Box 29
Mar - National A
Box 29
National Citizens Protective Association
Box 29
National Co - National U
Box 29
Nationalist - Northern E
Box 29
Northern League
Box 29
Northern World, 1957 - 1958, Spring
(2 folders)
Box 29
O - Pa
Box 30
Peace Movement of Ethiopia
Box 30
Per - P
Box 30
R - Ric
Box 30
Right
(2 folders)
Box 30
Ro - Se
Box 30
Si - Soc
Box 30
South African Observer, 1959 - 1962 May
(2 folders)
Box 30
South African Scope - S
Box 31
T
Box 31
United States. Congress
Box 31
Universal African Nationalist Movement
Box 31
Universal Negro Improvement Association
(2 folders)
Box 31
V - Vik
Box 31
Virginia B - G
Box 31
Virginia H - V
Box 31
Vol - Wea
Box 31
Western Destiny 1964, June - 1966, Feb.
(2 folders)
Box 31
Western V - White A
Box 32
White C - White S
Box 32
Williams Intelligence Summary
Box 32
Wo - Y
Box 32
Advertisements
Box 33
Miscellaneous Leaflets
Box 33
Miscellaneous Leaflets
Box 34

Clippings by Cox, Clippings About Cox, and the Scrapbook consist chiefly of articles relating to Cox's travels in Africa and his interest in the race issue. Also information about Marcus Garvey, the Virginia Racial Integrity Law of 1924, and other miscellaneous articles. Arranged chronologically within each subseries. Clippings General includes articles relating to South Africa and other countries in Africa; the Virginia Racial Integrity Law of 1924; repatriation efforts and leaders, among them Marcus Garvey, Theodore Bilbo, Benjamin Gibbons, and school integration efforts in the United States. Arranged chronologically.

Divided into four subseries: Clippings by Cox, Clippings about Cox, Scrapbook, and Clippings General.

Clippings By Earnest Sevier Cox, 1912-1962
Box 35
About Earnest Sevier Cox, 1913-1966 and undated
Box 35
Scrapbook, 1913
Box 35
General, 1905-1956
(9 folders)
Box 36
General, 1957-1967 and undated
(7 folders)
Box 37

Divided into three subseries, Realty Business, Military Papers, and Miscellaneous Papers.

Realty Business 1924-1964 and undated
Box 38
History of the Bordeaux Embarkation Camp Report on the System of Evacuation of Troops to the United States Employed at Base Section No.2 Bordeaux France
Box 38
Miscellaneous
Box 38

Includes photographs of Africa, some published in Black Belt Around the World; some from the World War I period, a few printed with captions; several of Cox; and others of his relatives and friends, including Mrs. Mittie M. L. Gordon and other officers in the Peace Movement of Ethiopia organization.

Africa
Box 39
World War I
Box 39
Cox, Earnest Sevier
Box 39
Miscellaneous
(2 folders)
Box 39

Chiefly correspondence relating to Cox's work Lincoln's Negro Policy, which was published posthumously in 1972, and other writings. Includes lists of people and institutions to whom Mrs. Nelson sent copies of Cox's works, most dating from the period after Cox's death. Also some correspondence from C. M. Tribble, the other co-executor of the Cox estate.

1962 - 1973 and undated
(2 folders)
Box 39

Indentures, printed material, military papers, broadsides, photographs

Oversize materials
Oversize Cabinet 1

Historical Note

DateEvent(s)
1880, Jan. 24Born near Louisville, Blount County, Tenn.
1899B.S. Roane College, Wheat, Tenn.
1900Received diploma from the Business Department of the Massey Practical Business College and School of Shorthand in Columbus, Ga.
1901Reporter for the Anadarko Record and Southwestern Progress in Anadarko, Okla.
1901Taught school in Verden, Okla.
1902Attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago
1903Enrolled at the Vanderbilt University Theological School in Nashville, Tenn.
1904-1905Preached at summer revival meetings in Tennessee and Kentucky
ca. 1907Lecturer with the Jamestown Exposition in Virginia, recounting the Battles of Bull Run in a cyclorama
1908University of Chicago reviewed Cox's previous studies and granted him the equivalent of a college degree at which time he officially undertook a program of graduate work
1909Worked at cycloramas in Chicago and Pittsburgh
1910Traveled to Africa and worked in the diamond mines in Kimberley, South Africa
1911-1914Traveled extensively in Africa, the Far East, the Philippines, Panama, and South America
ca. 1916Made speeches before various civic groups about his travels in Africa
1916Met Mississippi senator and segregationist James K. Vardaman, who secured him a part-time job in the Senate Folding Room where he prepared magazines for mailing
1917-1919Served in the U.S. Army with the American Expeditionary Forces at the Bordeaux Embarkation Camp in France
1920Moved to Richmond, Va.
1922-1958Real estate agent for the Laburnum Realty Corporation in Richmond, Va.
1923White America published (originally called Decay of Culture: A Study of the Negro in Civilization)
1923Began to spearhead a drive for more stringent laws governing racial intermixture in Virginia Pamphlet Let My People Go printed; it was dedicated to Marcus Garvey
1930s to 1950sLobbied Congress to pass the Greater Liberia and Langer bills, both advocating the repatriation of blacks to Africa
1936Spoke before the Eugenics Research Association in New York
1937Revised special edition of White America published and distributed free to U. S. Congressional members
1938Pamphlets Let My People Go and Lincoln's Negro Policy were distributed free to U.S. Congressional members
1951Work Teutonic Unity was privately printed and sent free to government officials and U. S. Congressional members in Washington, D.C.
1953Commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve
1953Published article I Witnessed A Miracle, that discussed the hearing on the Langer Bill before representatives of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
1955Published pamphlet Unending Hate denouncing the U. S. Supreme Court Brown vs. the Board of Education decision
1959Attended the Teutoburger Moot, held in Detmold, Germany, where his address Herman's Brother was delivered by English and German interpreters
1963Published autobiographical work Black Belt Around the World at the High Noon of Colonialism concerning travels between 1910 to 1914
1966Paperback edition of White America published
1966, Apr. 26Died in Richmond, Va. and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery
1972Lincoln's Negro Policy, a compilation of a number of Cox's essays, published posthumously

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], The Earnest Sevier Cox Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The papers of Earnest Sevier Cox, racial separatist, real estate agent, and military officer, were acquired by the Rubenstein Library through gifts and purchases between 1964 and 1981.

Processing Information

Processed by: Janie C. Morris

Completed July 29, 1988

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.