September 24, 1957 – Eisenhower Declares Mob Rule Cannot be Allowed to Override Decisions of the Courts

On this day in history, President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the nation about his decision to send troops under Federal authority to Little Rock, Arkansas in order to ensure the safe admission of blacks to schools, pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education (347 U.S. 483, 1954). In that decision, the Court declared that, as Eisenhower summarized, “separate public educational facilities for the races are inherently unequal and therefore compulsory school segregation laws are unconstitutional.”

However, in Little Rock, “[c]ertain misguided persons, many of them imported into Little Rock by agitators, have insisted upon defying the law and have sought to bring it into disrepute. The orders of the court have thus been frustrated.”

Arkansas National Guard troops and large crowd outside of Little Rock's Central High School, September 5, 1957

Arkansas National Guard troops and large crowd outside of Little Rock’s Central High School, September 5, 1957

Eisenhower declared:

The very basis of our individual fights and freedoms rests upon the certainty that the President and the Executive Branch of Government will support and insure the carrying out of the decisions of the Federal Courts, even, when necessary with all the means at the President’s command.

Unless the President did so, anarchy would result.

There would be no security for any except that which each one of us could provide for himself.

The interest of the nation in the proper fulfillment of the law’s requirements cannot yield to opposition and demonstrations by some few persons.

Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts.”

You can read the full text of his explanation of Executive Order 10730 “Providing Assistance for the Removal of an Obstruction of Justice Within the State of Arkansas” here. (It was published in the Federal Register at 22 F.R. 7628). You can watch Eisenhower’s address on video here:

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