The political party of The South has been synonymous with the Democrat Party since well before the start of the Civil War. Originally it represented the constitutional position of “states’ rights” – the sovereignty of the states over the authority of the federal government whose power was to be limited, with all other powers reserved to the states.
History has forgotten that the two political parties today, the Democrats and the Republicans, were once one in the same . . . The party was called the Democratic-Republican Party, and it was organized by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in 1791. The purpose of the Democratic-Republican Party was to stand in opposition against the Federalist Party in the country’s earliest elections. They supported states’ rights and voiced a strict interpretation of the newly ratified U.S. Constitution. The party was made up of rural Americans, supported by family-based agricultural interests, and the workers of society.
The Democratic-Republican party was fearful that the United States government might resort to a powerful centralized entity resembling the monarchy from which the country had just gained its independence. The general population of workers and farmers, increased the influence of the party throughout the 1790’s. They were afraid of the Federalist Party which was made up of the elite wealthy aristocrats of the Northeast, and which populated most of the urban areas. The Federalists wanted to create a national bank and concentrate all power in a centralized national government rather than relegate authority to state governments as describe in the U.S. Constitution.
As fate would have it, the persistence of the Democratic-Republicans paid off in 1801, when Thomas Jefferson was voted in as president, which ultimately lead to the demise of the Federalists. After the War of 1812, the Federalist Party lost most of its support and disbanded, leaving the Democratic-Republican Party without opposition, but that too would change, when there was no longer a need for a united political front against any major opponent.
1828 was the infancy period of the modern day Democrat Party led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Again it was made up of the working class which included farmers, urban laborers, and Irish Catholics, most of whom had come to America to start new lives. With the growth and concentration of wealth in the Northeast, the Democratic Party was not exactly popular in most New England states, but amassed great popularity in western New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the Southern states, and the growing western territory.
As the political interests of the country changed and became more defined, with an industrialized urban influence and an agrarian rural population, another new party soon evolved known as the Whig Party. This new party had access to more wealth than the Democrats, and thus more funding and influence. The Whigs strongly supported aristocracy, a national bank, international commerce, a strong centralized government, and programs which pushed to modernize American industry instead of family-based agriculture. It also became home to many who opted for the abolition of the abominable practice of slavery.
As the country expanded westward into the Northwest and Southwestern half of the continent, the Democratic Party supported the Mexican-American War and the expansion of farmland in the new western territories. They also opposed anti-immigration legislation and monopolies, but still supported slavery, even though the importation of slavery had ceased in 1807. The Democrats were much more popular than the Whig Party outside the major cities in terms of numbers, however in 1848 the Democrat candidate for president, General Lewis Cass, surprisingly lost the election to a Whig named General Zachary Taylor.
Though far smaller than the Democrats, the prevailing Whig Party victory was greatly influenced by the Free Soil Party of New York. The Free Soil Party was established for one reason—to oppose the expansion of slavery into the new western states. The Free Soil Party was made up of members from both the Whig Party and a number of members of the Democrat Party who felt that free men on free soil should remain free. Their influence extended to the rights of free men in many Midwest and northern states as well. The division of the Democrat Party over the slavery issue greatly contributed to the loss of the Democrat Party in the election.
In 1850, Congress passed what is known as the Compromise of 1850, which was a set of bills that attempted to prevent a civil war over slavery. The Constitution abolished U.S. participation in the international slave market in 1808, but it did not address the issue of interstate slave trading. By 1850, Washington City, which was known as the Federal capital (today, Washington D.C.) evolved as the largest slave market in North America. This fact was disturbing to abolitionists who wanted to end the slave trade and stop the practice of slavery.
While the Compromise did outlaw slavery in the Western states, it also included a bill called the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which demanded that slaves who ran away to northern states be returned to their “masters” in the South. Southerners demanded stricter enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which put teeth into the Fugitive Slave Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 4, Section 2). This clause stated, “No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”
An overwhelming majority of the slavery–proponent Southerners were Democrats, and in 1852, the Whig Party essentially disbanded, leaving weak opposition against the Democrats for that year’s election. Democrat Franklin Pierce was elected, followed by James Buchanan in 1856. Democrats however, who opposed slavery eventually began leaving the party, and joined those who were left-over from the Whig Party in the North to form the Republican Party in 1854.
By the election of 1860, the anti-slavery Republican Party had gained widespread popularity, and the election focused on the issue of slavery. The Republicans felt that the slaveholders and slavery-supporters had taken over the government, and that the pro-slavery Democrat Party was all that separated freedom from slavery and a continuation of the practice that created a great chasm that divided the country. It was the voice of the Republicans and the wrath of the voters which sent such a powerful message to the American public and led to the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president.
The election of Lincoln led to the Civil War. The Southern Democrats would simply not accept the end of slavery, nor the election of the anti-slavery president, and moved to secede from the Union. Some of the Northern Democrats sided with the states’ right to choose or reject slavery, and the Party divided into two groups, the War Democrats, who supported enforcement of the abolitionists policies, and the Copperheads, who opposed them. The Civil War ensued, and when the war came to an end in 1865, a period of reconstruction began with the congressional elections of 1866, where the so-called Radical Republicans won enough seats to have a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ended up controlling all reconstruction policies, which rather than heal the nation, inflamed deep seated anger throughout the South.
The Reconstruction policies lead to a much weakened Democrat Party, and in an attempt to distance themselves from their pro-slavery history, the Democratic Party tried, what they called, a “New Departure”, to downplay the war in hopes future generations would forget the slavery issue altogether, and they could regain power. They did garner a great deal of voter support from white Southerners who were very hostile toward the Republican Party and its corruption of city bosses, imperialism, and U.S. overseas expansion. They fought for and supported sound banking, railroad building, Civil Service Reform, and laissez-faire capitalism, much of which is associated with States Rights today.
Unfortunately for politicians, timing is everything so it seems. The country went into an economic depression in 1873, allowing the Democrats to win control of the House of Representative in the election of 1874, and regain political power in 1884, when Grover Cleveland was elected president. However, when the full force of the Panic of 1893 was felt across the country, the Republicans once again, took full control of the House, because the Panic was blamed on the Democrat policies that lead to the collapse of railroad over-building and under financing, and agricultural declines brought on by droughts experienced by Midwest farmers.
As a note: The Democrat Party was finding its way during the period of 1865 to 1890, and actually set the stage for the modern party of today, when Southern states enacted black codes to curb equal rights to former slaves which were won with the victory of the Union over the South. The black codes became the root from which the Democrat Party grew up to time of the Voting Rights Act of the Sixties, and while the federal government eventually overturned these codes, several years later many of these same states began passing Jim Crow laws. This essentially set the tone for adversarial black-white relations for the next one hundred years.
Once the Jim Crow Laws went into effect, the Democrat Party, with the aid of the states’ Supreme Courts, was able to continue their reign of injustice until the mid 1960’s. One must remember State Supreme Court Judges were appointed by the Governors of the states and virtually every Southern state was ruled by Democrats. The Democrats also controlled the legislatures as well. The Democrat’s distrust of how the freed Black slaves would affect the country’s elections simply kept Blacks from voting. Once the Black vote was silenced, nothing prevented the Democrats from passing laws requiring the separation of whites from “persons of color” in public transportation, schools, and nearly every public setting.
These laws restricted the economic and civil rights of African-Americans. All public places were segregated and tactics of intimidation eroded personal freedom that are almost unimaginable today. Among the tactics used, lynching was the most important terror technique used to put the fear of God to anyone decrying the unequal treatment of Blacks. The great majority of lynchings occurred in southern and border states where the resentment against blacks ran deepest. According to Tuskegee Institute data, 3,438 blacks were lynched between the years 1882 and 1951. Going back to 1877 and beyond 1951 the total is probably closer to 4000.
Between 1890 and 1910, the peak period of the white racist backlash, every southern and border state had disenfranchised the vast majority of blacks, who just a few years before for the first time were able to elect Blacks to Congress as well as local and state office. While hanging was the preferred use of terror by the Ku Klux Klan and other haters, many of the victims were shot, burned at the stake, tarred and feathered, castrated, beaten with clubs, and dismembered. In the mid-1800s, it wasn’t just Blacks that felt the hate of the racists. White equal rights sympathizers constituted the majority of victims who fell prey to the Democrat hatred, but that is seldom mentioned today.
The ten southern states (AL, AR, GA, FL, LA, MD, MS, NC, SC, TX) have been run by the Democrat Party with Democrat governors controlling the states’ highest office and Democrat majority in every legislature. Limiting the vote to white bigoted voters, the Democrats were able to win 307 elections to only 50 by the Republicans following Reconstruction. Unfortunately the Republican victories have only come since the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which is why the Democrats used every legislative weapon in the attempt to block its passage.
Try as they might, and even enabled by the liberal media, the Democrat Party cannot run from their complicity in slavery, their legislative enactment of the Jim Crow Laws, the Ku Klux Klan, the lynchings and terror of Blacks, and the racial hatred and bigotry, any more than they can run from their attempt today, to control Black America today. Through their use of government welfare and handouts, the Democrats are luring people of color to the New Government Plantation with the federal government as the overseer.