Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

July 18, 1946

To The President
Honorable Harry S. Truman
White House
Washington D.C.
Dear Mr. President:

I am now enclosing to you herewith clippings which I have taken out from the PM which tells how Southern policeman "gouged out both eyes" of a returned Negro veteran. This was done by means of their clubs.

Hence, I am taking the liberty to write to you, because I am myself a veteran. I served in the Spanish American War as a paymaster with the rank of Major. I was also commissioned as an instructor of recruits in the First World War. These recruits were stationed at the Georgia State College of which I was President. I was also during the First World War by designation of the Governor of Georgia and by permission of the U.S. Department, (State) allowed by the Secretary of War to visit the European War zone and write for the Historical Library of Georgia a story on the condition of colored troops i the First World War.

Today I have just received a certificate from the Secretary of Treasury commending me, as it says, "for distinguished services" in my efforts in selling War Bonds of the recent war...

Now Mr. President, I think it is a terrible disgrace to our beloved South and to the United States, that a returned veteran who has risked his life for the purpose of maintaining freedom in our country, is not permitted to travel in his own native country subject to decent treatment by the law officers of the land, without being beaten unmercifully and deprived of his eyes. I could hardly keep from shedding tears as I read this report.

I love the South. I was born there. I worked there 50 years as a teacher of young men, some of whom fought in all our wars from the Spanish American War down to the last war.

I understand that this matter has been reported to the Secretary of War and it is alleged that he has said there is no jurisdiction, because of the fact that the veteran had been discharged only a few days before the dastardly act. was committed by the police officers.

Hence, it seems to me that we are compelled to call upon the Chief Executive to instruct or request the Attorney General to look into this case so that justice may be meeted to those unfaithful officers whose duty it was to keep the peace and protect the citizens of our country.

Mr. President, I am not able to put this matter before you, even as I feel it. To "gouge out the eyesight" of a man who had used his eyes to safeguard the freedom of his country is surely a disgrace unheard of in any other country of the world.

May I hope that you will take cognizance of this matter at your earliest convenience.

Very truly yours,
Your humble servant
R.R. Wright, SR.