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On July 21st one hundred twenty two railroad shop workers called a nationwide strike to protest a severe cut in wages. Kansas Governor Allen a lifelong friend of white issued an order prohibiting the strikers from picketing over the state strikers pleaded with merchants to display large placards with the slogan We are for the strikers 100 percent. The placards offended Governor Allen. He felt that they heartened the strikers and justified them in their violence. I told him on the telephone that I was going to put a placard in my window not endorsing the strikers 100 percent but at least giving them encouragement for what they regarded as their rights. Bill if you do that I'll have to arrest you come and arrest me and we'll test this matter in the courts. I think your order restricts the liberty of utterance. White called Alan's order against the placards and infamous infraction of the right to free press and free speech. White then placed a placard in the Gazette window it said So long as the strikers maintain peace and use peaceful means in this community. The Gazette is for them
50 percent and every day that the strikers refrain from violence we shall add 1 percent more of approval the next day the state press was in import to get pictures of the poster. The incident my shroom into national attention are you going to let Governor Allen arrest you Mr. White. Is this the end of your wy decreasing as a percentage. Do you really think of 1 July 22nd White was arrested and released pending trial. The Emporia editor praised Governor Allen for a courageous and patriotic pursuit of the law. The Gazette does not agree with Governor Allen in the action which seems to suppress the fundamental right of free speech. But the difference in opinion about the wisdom of American citizenship while the courts are trying to get at the truth and the right should not prevent the Gazette nor all good citizens from upholding his hands and giving him the earnest support which loyalty requires the press in Kansas heavily criticized White for his stand in the strike letters for and against white support of labor
came into employees from all over the state. One protest came from Fred Atwood an old friend of the Gazette editor. I answered him and then it occurred to me that my answer to him would be my answer to everyone who differed with me. I took the carbon copy of my answer marked it for the editorial page and headed it to an anxious friend. To an anxious friend. A short powerful editorial. 344 succinct words on the freedom of speech. This was quite in writing at his best. The country recognized it and so did the critics. It won the Pulitzer Prize for the best editorial of one thousand twenty two. You tell me that laws above freedom of utterance. And I reply that you can have no wise laws nor free enforcement of wise laws unless there is a free expression of the wisdom of the people. And alas their folly with
it. But if there is freedom folly will die of its own poison and the wisdom will survive. You say that freedom of utterance is not for time of stress. And I reply with the sad truth that only in time of stress is freedom of utterance in danger. Peace is good. But if you are interested in peace through force and without free discussion. That is to say free utterance decently and in order. Your interest in justice is slight and peace without justice is tyranny. No matter how you may sugarcoated with expedients. This state today is more in danger from suppression learn from violence because in the end suppression leads to violence. Violence indeed is the child of suppression. Much to white chagrin the case against him was dropped and he was never brought to trial.
The Roaring Twenties who William Allen White the world have become a fragile egg shell about to crack open from the bizarre actions of society. The Teapot Dome scandal. Flappers. Florida real estate boom bathing beauty contest. Speakeasy an age of hate the great Red Scare outbreaks against the Jews the Cadillacs the negroes the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. If anyone had told me 10 years ago that our country would be what it is today I should have questioned his reason. Where in these glittering twenties are the hopes which I and my kind of held so high in the first two decades of the new century. Looking around me in the gathering role or of prosperity the only rising political force seems to be the dark bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan and other sinister forces of oppression to the free human
spirit seemed to be gathering across the seas. Where are our hopes and dreams of yesteryear. In Kansas the rise of the Klan continue to gain political control and many city and county governments including Emporia and lion County neither the Republican nor the Democratic nominees for governor would disavow clan support. This was shocking to a man who put his faith in open discussion for a debate a secret society based on violence was a danger to the republic. So on September 20th 1924 William Allen White the journalist gave way to William Allen White the politician. I want to be governor to free kens us from the disgrace of the Ku Klux Klan. The issue in Kansas this year is the client about. Everything else that I write it represents a small minority of the citizen ship and it's organized for purposes of terror directed
at honest law abiding citizens. Right right right. William Allan why didn't take his candidacy seriously. In fact he was a little careful that he might be elected. His real objective was to destroy the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas in campaign speeches and magazine articles. There goes that editor explain the anxieties that nourished Klan activity the great guns of the Western Front smashed so much more than the little French towns in the flesh and blood of the soldiers. The people counted on the faith of the world the ideals of the world the high hopes of the world. Amid the ruins they are all broken and sad. We should not be angry if the child minds about us show a strange perversity and a wicked bigotry which is bound to pass as humanity readjusts itself after the breakdown of civilization. His campaign speeches were often as colorful as is flaming red necktie.
The gag rule first came into the Republican Party last May. A flock of dragons kleagle Cyclops and Fury's came up to Wichita from Oklahoma City and called a meeting with some Kansas terror's Genie and Wang doodles. A few weeks later. The Cyclops Legal's wizards and will obsesses while UPS's begin parading in the Kansas pastures passing the word down to the shirttail Rangers that they were to go into the Kansas primaries and nominate one of the clans Joyce White's campaign received the attention he wanted. Even the New York Times and The London Daily News sent reporters to the Kansas primaries to follow white on the campaign trail with his flair for showmanship and lively humor. White was able to rouse the public against the Klan when the votes were counted. The sage from Emporia had placed third
but he received nearly 150000 endorsement. White had won a victory even in defeat. Never again did the Klan threaten to be a major political force in the north. As the 1920s bumped along white became more disenchanted with the Republican Party and its failure to enforce anti-trust laws that the progressives had worked so hard for in the 1800s. We are in an age of paternalism possibly benevolent paternalism but still paternalism. The age of striving toward fraternal ism has for the moment passed. Of course I can't function in this age. I feel that my show is over. The lights are on but the world wouldn't let white leave the stage of public opinion.
The Gazette was as widely read as many big city newspapers not only in America but also in Europe. So white worked on he wrote books about Wilson and Coolidge and articles about politics in America Kansas politics also continue to whet his interest and in one thousand twenty seven he brought Herbert Hoover to Emporia to address Kansas editors White's show was far from over. In 1929 William Allen White was frightened by the bullish speculation of his fellow Americans by their drunken optimism. Six months before the stock market crash the sage of Emporia cautioned the public if things go the way I think said we can't miss. We're all going to be rich rich rich. We just now I took to this point to say oh and she made a play and lying to you. You're already somewhat of mom today and regularly see eye to eye with the Asleep or awake. It's a surprise her step softly breathed lightly. Watch out this
condition can't go on forever and it didn't. In the Depression days of the 1930s white back Roosevelt's New Deal. But at election time he supported Republican presidential candidates. He was a renegade Republican who gave the back of his hand to party regimentation and artificial discipline. Yet when the chips were down he fell into line and supported the Grand Old Party. It was during the New Deal period that the dividing line between government and business became fuzzy at least from White's viewpoint in 1034 he outlined the problem to the public. Free speech a free press. The right of assemblage. These liberties wilt and wither as the owners of machinery control the courts and the police. Freedom disappears before the machine would Freedom Fries have more sturdily when politicians control the machine when the machine controls the politician.
I don't know. I put the question to you can liberty survive in the machine age. The years rolled by the status of WM out ny continued to grow. National magazines consistently wrote feature stories about him. Walter Johnson White's biographer wrote during the last 20 or 30 years of his life. White was the folk hero of many middle class people. Who seemed to offer a sense of security to a group whose values were in a state of flux. He appeared to be a rock of stability and America and a world that were undergoing epoch making changes. Many people saw him as successful mellow small town editor a justification for their type of civilization. Says Mr. Cole World War 2. William Allen White was now 72 years old. But in his vocabulary retirement was a word he used of association with other people not himself. To William out on white. There was only one way to live life
by participation and self activity. So he served as national chairman of the Committee to Defend America by aiding the allies. He guided Republicans in Kansas politics and in the time that was left. He began work on his auto biography. On his seventy fifth birthday in 1943 William Allen White was showered with affectionate messages from all over America. One wire came from President Roosevelt. I hope that during the next 25 years. He will be with me all the time instead of only three and one half years out of every four. I think that in a quarter of a century of white and Roosevelt might be able to bring the fall freedoms at least to this nation of Ahlers President Roosevelt's message vividly characterize the political vacillation that made William out on wide such an unpredictable personality.
He was a liberal who strayed often from accepted political paths and fell into line only at election time. From one day to the next no one knew Republicans or Democrats when a verbal bomb might explode from the Gazette's editorial page. Attacks were often mounted against men or ideas that William out in white had previously endorsed. But of writing from both sides of his band was a weakness of whites. It was also a source of his strength for he always made fun of his blunders and people loved him for it. It has been my life's handicap that I have always been able to see at least two sides to every question. I'm not being cock sure of my position. I have often lacked the passionate conviction that gives one the fantastic face necessary to move mountains. William Allen White climaxed is seventy fifth birthday by a visit to Washington and New York. N.Y.. How much good trip
goes. Why thank you oh thank you. This was to be one of William Allen White's last trips across the prairie through the Ohio Valley and over the Allegheny over the country whose heritage William Allen White had help for. For over 50 years. He had written thousands of words about the land and the people zipping by his train window. Sometimes the words were foolish. Often they were wise. But almost always they reflected the thoughts and mirrored the feelings of small town America. White tailored his writing style to fit the audience for his hometown reader. It could make a Sens roll over on its back and purr. Or for the nation he could make a sentence stand up and march with a shouting precision.
It's a lot better to run a paper in a country town than in a city. The small awning misses JT Alexander brought the Gazette a missive new PS and John C. would send over some homegrown star berries as big as a baby's fist. What's the use of talking about City. It's more fun to live in Imparja and be neighborly than it is to ride about the city on rubber tired carriages with copper colored drivers with a bank account that never needs red ink and a paper that circulates everywhere. Bring in your greeds and lovingkindness and let power and glory go hang. This was the provincial side of White's style of writing. But there was another side a philosophical side that gained its perception by meeting and knowing 10 American presidents from Benjamin Harrison to Franklin D Rose about a philosophical side that acquired its common sense maturity by
observing pursed hand epochal changes in America. The sage of Emporia earned his reputation by the way he recorded these changes. We may think waste can stand aloof. We tried that once. It won't work. War is a disease of civilization from which no country is amused when it breaks out. America's job is a world job. Youth should be radical. Youth should just demand a change in the world. You should not have to accept the old order if the world has to move on. But the old order should not be moved easily. There must be a clash. And if youth hasn't enough force or fire ever to produce the Clash The world grows stale and stagnant and sour and decay. You tell me that law is above freedom of utterance and I replied as a Jew can have no wise laws nor free enforcement of wise laws unless
there is free expression of the wisdom of the people. And alas their folly with it. But if there is freedom folly will die of its own poison and the wisdom will survive. On Kansas Day January twenty nine thousand nine hundred forty four. William Allen White died Kansas America and the free world mourned his death. They Toronto Globe and Mail stated his mark on the United States was greater than a William Randolph Hearst or a colonel McCormick's with his one million circulation in Chicago for Mr. White's career showed justice everywhere to be his concern from London. Harold Lasky wrote White seemed to me to be part of that America of which the supreme representatives were Jefferson and Lincoln. The America which is concerned first of all with the ordinary people and their lot in life. The America which is simple kindly and proud to think that a humble man can there become a significant man
William Allen White was the noble representative of the average American at his best. If I had devoted my life to writing I'd probably have been about where Booth Tarkington is now maybe Wow at that I think I've I've had as much fun as Booth Tarkington. I think I live about as much of my personality in the history and institutions as both. I don't regret that I came out of the cloister and have lived my life in my own way. Where you are. Where. My own master has been presented by the Department of radio television film station K and you know on the way home I don't y school of journalism of the University of
Kansas was written by James Mitchell under the supervision of Professor Richard Dyer McKenna and directed by Professor Bruce Linton the father of William out on wife was played by Professor James Hawes and the narrator was Professor are Edwin Brown. Other members of the cast and crew were advance students of broadcasting. This is when the University of Kansas radio television the film center of production. Where you are. On.
This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
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My own master
My Own Master
Producing Organization
University of Kansas
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
Documentary-drama commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of journalist William Allen White.
Media type
Producing Organization: KANU
Producing Organization: University of Kansas
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-Sp.4-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:20:59
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Chicago: “My own master; My Own Master,” 1968-10-28, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2024,
MLA: “My own master; My Own Master.” 1968-10-28. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 12, 2024. <>.
APA: My own master; My Own Master. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from