The 1922 Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill: How They Voted

In the aftermath of World War I, racial violence spiked with numerous race riots occurring. These were from whites directed to blacks. One in St. Louis motivated Missouri Republican Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer to take up anti-lynching legislation as a cause. After the 1920 election seemed like a good time to do this. The major Republican Congressional leaders, such as Speaker of the House Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.) endorsed the bill as did President Warren G. Harding. One of the key movers was the NAACP’s James Weldon Johnson, whose lobbying was of great help in winning it passage in the House. Key backers in addition to Dyer included Majority Whip Frank Mondell (R-Wyo.), and Andrew Volstead (R-Minn.). The vote on January 26, 1922, was 230-120 (R 220-17; D 8-103; IR 1-0; S 1-0).

I have included DW-Nominate first dimension scores for this vote. I have found an error in the revitalized MC-Index that I am in the process of correcting for this session. These scores do not necessarily agree with MC-Index and are based on their lifetime service rather than just the 67th Congress. The higher the score, the more conservative they purportedly are. Republicans are in italics, and Meyer London of New York is a member of the Socialist Party.

Although House passage was won, Senate passage was stymied by a resistant South and a GOP that didn’t prioritize the legislation. It would take one hundred years for a federal anti-lynching law to be enacted.

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