From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Mitchell, Stanley P. [National Civil Liberty Party]

(born: 1871  -  died: 1908) Rev. Stanley P. Mitchell, said to have been born in Kentucky, was a national civil rights activist at the turn of the century during the last decade of the 1800s and the first decade of the 1900s. He was editor and manager of the Southern Sentinel newspaper in Memphis, TN. He wrote editorials for other Negro newspapers throughout the U.S., encouraging Negroes to read and subscribe to Negro newspapers. In 1892, Mitchell was living in Fort Pickering, TN and owned a considerable amount of property. He was leading the effort to form anti-emigration societies in the South to discourage Negroes from moving West to deceptive dreams of Utopia.

By 1900, Mitchell was an evangelist living in Midway, KY, where he was also president of the National Educational Council of Midway. He caused a stir when he proposed that former enslaved people in Kentucky hold a reunion with their former enslavers along with a "darkey corn-shucking" as an auxiliary to the Confederate veteran's reunion in Louisville.

By 1901 Mitchell was living in Lexington, KY, where he was a proclaimed Democrat campaigning for Cloak Room Keeper of the Upper House of the Kentucky Legislature. However, he did not get the position. In 1902, Mitchell was one of the incorporators of the National Industrial Council, an organization that fought against the mobbing and lynching of Negroes and  discrimination based on race on passenger carriers such as trains and steamboats. They also fought voter disenfranchisement. The home office of the council was in Lexington, and there were 27 chapters in Mississippi.

Mitchell was also the founder and leader of the National Civil Liberty Party, with headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the campaign headquarters were in Chicago, IL. The party was formed in 1903 after Mitchell took a delegation of Negro men to Washington to meet with President Roosevelt to request pensions for the former enslaved who had served during the Civil War in a non-soldiering capacity, including, for example, laborers, bridge-builders, and forgers. The request was denied. Mitchell then called for a national organization of Negro men who would use their vote against members of the Republican Party, including President Roosevelt, who felt the "Negro had received enough from the government when he was set free." The Civil and Personal Liberty Leagues, led by Stanley P. Mitchell, formed the National Civil Liberty Party.

The first National Convention of the National Liberty Party [the word "Civil" was dropped] was to be held in Cincinnati, OH in 1903 but had to be postponedit was later held in the Douglas Hotel in St. Louis, MO on July 5 & 6, 1904 with 36 states represented. George E. Taylor accepted the party's U. S. Presidential nomination; Taylor, from Iowa, was president of the National Negro Democratic League. He was unsuccessful in his bid for President of the United States. In spite of the loss, Stanley P. Mitchell continued to be active on many fronts, including serving as president of the National Ex-Slave Congress, formed in 1903 with delegates from 34 states. By 1905, the organization name was changed to the Ex-Slave Encampment and National Freedman's Congress. The congress fought for reparations in the form of pensions for former enslaved Negro who were 40 years old or older.

Mrs. S. P. Mitchell, an evangelist, supported her husband in the ex-enslaved campaign by giving speeches and organizing chapters. She was editor of the Pioneer and National Journal newspapers.

In September 1903, Stanley Mitchell had been arrested in Georgia on the charge of swindling money from the ex-enslaved; supposedly, he had asked for the money in order to secure the passage of the Hanna Bill. There was no evidence to support the charges, so Mitchell was set free. The New York Times initially proclaimed Mitchell was a thief. At the same time, there were several Negro newspapers that claimed Mitchell had been framed by the Republican Party because of the popularity of the National Liberty Party among Negroes in the South. The Hanna Bill, introduced by Ohio Senator Mark Hanna, would have given a pension to former enslaved people, but the bill died in Congress.

Stanley Mitchell's popularity waned for a couple of years after he was accused of swindling; some of the Negro newspapers turned against him. But Mitchell continued his campaign for equal justice for Negroes. He opened a nursing home for former enslaved people in Memphis, TN. He was Chancellor of the Knights and Ladies of Industry of the U.S.; its main office was in Washington, D.C. Ads in Negro papers were used to solicit membership; they included a line stating that the organization would buy homes for its members.

By 1905, trouble came Mitchell's way again when he performed the marriage of a German man to a Jewish woman, and the Memphis community was outraged. In 1906, he resigned as editor of the Southern Sentinel and sold the newspaper to Mrs. Rachel T. Mitchell.

Stanley P. Mitchell died in 1908. His wife took over his duties as pastor and continued the search for heirs of former enslaved people and the campaign for equal justice for Negroes.

For more see "Stanley P. Mitchell," The Washington Bee, 9/3/1904, p. 1; "National Ex-Slave Congress," The Washington Bee, 7/4/1903, p. 8; "S. P. Mitchell set free," The New York Times, 9/8/1903, p. 8; "National Industrial Council," Colored American, p. 16; "Stanley P. Mitchell of exslave pension fame...," Freeman, 2/20/1904, p. 4; "Ex-Slave Encampment and National Freedman's Congress," Freeman, 5/20/1905, p. 2; "Pension for ex-slaves!" Plaindealer, 6/30/1905, p. 1; "Married by a Negro," Freeman, 8/5/1905, p. 5;  Stanley P. Mitchell in "Paragrahic News," Washington Bee, 3/24/1906, p. 1; "To check emigration: anti-Oklahoma societies to be organized," Langston City Herald, 1/16/1892, p. 1; "An Appeal," Freeman, 9/8/1900, p. 1; "Mrs. S. P. Mitchell," Colored American, 12/22/1900, p. 15; "ms of Interest," Freeman, 8/24/1901, p. 8; S. P. Mitchell, "The Negro newspapers the only powerful leaders left," Washington Bee, 4/19/1902, p. 1; "S. P. Mitchell...," Evening Post, 3/23/1900, p. 5; "Wants to be Cloak Keeper," The Mt. Sterling Advocate, 12/31/1901, p. 7; and G. E. Taylor, "The National Liberty Party's Appeal," The Independent, vol. 57, pp. 844-846 [available online at Google Book Search].

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Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Mitchell, Stanley P. [National Civil Liberty Party],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 19, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2444.

Last modified: 2022-10-14 16:21:08