February 1937

US and World Events plus Additional Resources


On February 25, 1937, a Federal Anti-Lynching Bill was introduced in the Senate by New York Senator Robert F. Wagner and Indiana Senator Frederick Van Nuys. The bill would provide punishment for any legal officer “whose negligence leads to lynching of a person entrusted to his custody.” There would also be a fine levied against any political subdivision “which fails to protect and give fair trial to those suspected of accused of a crime.”

Ultimately, the bill failed in the Senate when southern senators used the filibuster to push aside the legislation in favor of voting on emergency relief funds, one year later in February, 1938. At the time, Senator Wagner said the next step would be for “…some of us to speak to the country with the hope of arousing public sentiment, and, perhaps, public indignation, to the point where the Senators who favor the legislation will be persuaded that perhaps a better policy would be to impose closure and bring the matter to a vote.”

A version of the bill passed the House in April of 1937 with a vote of 277 to 120.