Response To: The Democratic Party Was Pro Slavery In The 19th Century
2016/12/27 by History News Network
Peter Cole is a historian of the twentieth-century United States, South Africa and comparative labor history. Dr. Cole is Professor of History at Western Illinois University. He is the author of Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive Era Philadelphia;and currently at work on a book entitled Dockworker Power: Race, Technology & Unions in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter
How Is The Democratic Party Different From The Republican Party
Democrats are generally considered liberal, while Republicans are seen as conservative. The Democratic Party typically supports a larger government role in economic issues, backing regulations and social welfare programs. The Republicans, however, typically want a smaller government that is less involved in the economy. This contrary view on the size of government is reflected in their positions on taxesDemocrats favour a progressive tax to finance governments expanded role, while Republicans support lower taxes for all. However, Republicans do support a large budget for the military, and they often aggressively pursue U.S. national security interests, even if that means acting unilaterally. Democrats, however, prefer multilateralism. On social issues, Democrats seek greater freedoms, while Republicans follow more traditional values, supporting government intervention in such matters. For example, Democrats generally back abortion rights, while Republicans dont. In terms of geography, Democrats typically dominate in large cities, while Republicans are especially popular in rural areas.
The Republican Party Becomes The Party Of Rich Northerners
All this while, economic issues were growing more important to Republican politicians. Even before the Civil War, the North was more industrialized than the South, as you can see from this map of railway lines. After it, this industrialization only intensified.
And during the war, the federal government grew a lot bigger and spent a lot more money and that meant people got rich, and owed their wealth to Republican politicians. The partys economic policies, Cox Richardson writes, “were creating a class of extremely wealthy men.”
Gradually, those wealthy financiers and industrialists took more and more of a leading role in the Republican Party. They disagreed on many issues, but their interests rather than the interests of black Southerners increasingly started to become the partys raison detre.
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Why Is The Democratic Party Associated With The Colour Blue
The idea of using colours to denote political parties was popularized by TV news broadcasts, which used colour-coded maps during presidential elections. However, there was no uniformity in colour choices, with different media outlets using different colours. Some followed the British tradition of using blue for conservatives and red for liberals . However, during the 2000 U.S. presidential electionand the lengthy battle to determine the winnerprominent news sources denoted Republicans as red and Democrats as blue, and these associations have persisted.
Whigs And The Slavery Issue: The Compromise Of 1850
A primary conflict between Democrats and Whigs revolved around Californias admission to the union as a free state, which would upset the sectional balance of power between free and slave states in Congress. The result was an arduous legislative battle between Southern and Northern representatives, with the South arguing that Congress and the states did not have the authority to legislate against the territorial expansion of slavery. Realizing that this sectional divide could split the country, Whigs and Democrats came to a compromise that they hoped would prevent secession. The ensuing Compromise of 1850 allowed California to be admitted as a free state, but strengthened the Fugitive Slave Law and made no provisions for how other territories could address the slavery issue.
The Whigs were unable to effectively address the slavery issue after 1850. Nearly all of their Southern members owned slaves, while the Northeastern Whigs were largely businessmen who sought national unity and a strong national market but cared little about the institution of slavery. There was no compromise that could keep the Whigs united, which contributed to the partys demise in the 1850s.
President Millard Fillmore: Millard Fillmore, the last Whig President.
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Republicans Lose Black Voters
For more than half a century after the Civil War, black voters held strong loyalties to the Republican Party. But those loyalties began to wane with the depression and the New Deal, and by the time race returned to the forefront of national politics in the 1950s, the number of black voters who;identified as Democrats was twice the number who identified as Republicans.
Still, considering that the South had been Democratic for so long, it did briefly seem that it was possible the Republican Party would discover its roots as the party of civil rights for black Americans. It was Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower who sent in federal troops to Arkansas to enforce the Supreme Courts decision to desegregate schools, after all.
But instead, it was a Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1964. Republicans gave the bill a good share of support in Congress, but the partys presidential nominee that year, Barry Goldwater, argued that it expanded government power too much.
As a result, Republicans went from losing black voters to losing them spectacularly. Ever since, it’s been common for 80 percent or even more of black voters to support Democrats.
Republican Voters Turn Against Their Partys Elites
The Tea Party movement, which sprang into existence in the early years of the Obama administration, was many things. It was partly about opposing Obamas economic policies foreclosure relief, tax increases, and health reform. It was partly about opposing immigration when Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson;interviewed Tea Party activists across the nation, they found that “immigration was always a central, and sometimes the central, concern” those activists expressed.
But the Tea Party also was a challenge to the Republican Party establishment. Several times, these groups helped power little-known far-right primary contenders to shocking primary wins over establishment Republican politicians deemed to be sellouts. Those candidates didnt always win office, but their successful primary bids certainly struck fear into the hearts of many other GOP incumbents, and made many of them more deferential to the concerns of conservative voters.
Furthermore, many Republican voters also came to believe, sometimes fairly and sometimes unfairly, that their partys national leaders tended to sell them out at every turn.
Talk radio and other conservative media outlets helped stoke this perception, and by May 2015 Republican voters were far more likely to say that their partys politicians were doing a poor job representing their views than Democratic voters were.
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The Origins Of The Republican Party
Trying times spawn new forces. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 divided the country at the 36° 30′ parallel between the pro-slavery, agrarian South and anti-slavery, industrial North, creating an uneasy peace which lasted for three decades. This peace was shattered in 1854 by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Settlers would decide if their state would be free or slave. Northern leaders such as Horace Greeley, Salmon Chase and Charles Sumner could not sit back and watch the flood of pro-slavery settlers cross the parallel. A new party was needed.
The gavel fell to open the party’s first nominating convention, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17, 1856, announcing the birth of the Republican Party as a unified political force.
The elections of 1854 saw the Republicans take Michigan and make advances in many states, but this election was dominated by the emergence of the short-lived American Party. By 1855, the Republican Party controlled a majority in the House of Representatives. The new party decided to hold an organizing convention in Pittsburgh in early 1856, leading up to the Philadelphia convention.
Presidency Of James K Polk
Foreign policy was a major issue in the 1840s as war threatened with Mexico over Texas and with Britain over Oregon. Democrats strongly supported Manifest Destiny and most Whigs strongly opposed it. The 1844 election was a showdown, with the Democrat James K. Polk narrowly defeating Whig Henry Clay on the Texas issue.
John Mack Faragher‘s analysis of the political polarization between the parties is:
Most Democrats were wholehearted supporters of expansion, whereas many Whigs were opposed. Whigs welcomed most of the changes wrought by industrialization but advocated strong government policies that would guide growth and development within the country’s existing boundaries; they feared that expansion raised a contentious issue the extension of slavery to the territories. On the other hand, many Democrats feared industrialization the Whigs welcomed. For many Democrats, the answer to the nation’s social ills was to continue to follow Thomas Jefferson‘s vision of establishing agriculture in the new territories in order to counterbalance industrialization.
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The Other Part Of The Story The Roosevelts And Progressives
It used to be that both parties had a liberal and progressive wing. Today, after Teddy leaving the Republican party to run as a progressive in 1912, things have changed. Today the Republicans dont have a prominent progressive wing.
Thus, not only did the solid conservative south switch, but the progressive republicans switched too .
Essentially, the;progressives overtook the Democratic Party, and Conservatives overtook the Republican Party, from the Civil War to the modern;era as each partys position on big government changed.
Another way to phrase this is that the conservative coalition and new deal coalition used to denote reaching across the aisle to form an inter-party coalition, now these terms;are essentially;emblematic of the modern Republican and Democratic parties respectively.
In sum, we;can say that;originally, both parties had progressive and conservative factions, and now they dont, but the details are a little more complex than that.
Furthermore, we should note, that while the KKK is emblematic of;extreme social conservatism, they;hardly represent the majority sentiment of either party in any era.
Below we explain the Democratic Party, its history, and the Solid South Switch that was part of;a 20th century reversal leading up to what;I call the Sixth Party Switch.
From white supremacy to Barack Obama: The history of the Democratic Party. This is a VOX video; it gives the gist. It is meant to;augment, but not replace the content of the page.
The Founding Fathers Disagree
Differing political views among U.S. Founding Fathers eventually sparked the forming of two factions. George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams thus formed The Federalists. They sought to ensure a strong government and central banking system with a national bank. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison instead advocated for a smaller and more decentralized government, and formed the Democratic-Republicans. Both the Democratic and the Republican Parties as we know them today are rooted in this early faction.
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Culture Conflict And Al Smith
At the 1924 Democratic National Convention, a resolution denouncing the Ku Klux Klan was introduced by Catholic and liberal forces allied with Al Smith and Oscar W. Underwood in order to embarrass the front-runner, William Gibbs McAdoo. After much debate, the resolution failed by a single vote. The KKK faded away soon after, but the deep split in the party over cultural issues, especially prohibition, facilitated Republican landslides in 1924 and 1928. However, Al Smith did build a strong Catholic base in the big cities in 1928 and Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s election as Governor of New York that year brought a new leader to center stage.
the myth of the Democratic Party masterfully re-created, a fresh awareness of the elemental differences between the parties, and ideology with which they might make sense of the two often senseless conflicts of the present, and a feeling for the importance of dynamic leadership. The book was a mirror for Democrats.
Demise Of The Whigs: 18521856
The election of 1852 marked the final collapse of the Whigs. The deaths of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster that year severely weakened the party, and the Compromise of 1850 fractured the Whigs along proslavery and antislavery lines.
In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which opened new western territories to slavery. Southern Whigs generally supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act, while Northern Whigs remained strongly opposed to the expansion of slavery into the territories. Most remaining Northern Whigs, including Abraham Lincoln, began to form factions that attacked the Act, appealing to widespread Northern outrage over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Other Whigs with xenophobic views joined the American Party.
President Andrew Jackson: President Andrew Jackson was hailed as the founder of the Democratic Party.
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Presidency Of Woodrow Wilson
Taking advantage of a deep split in the Republican Party, the Democrats took control of the House in 1910 and elected the intellectual reformer Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916. Wilson successfully led Congress to a series of progressive laws, including a reduced tariff, stronger antitrust laws, new programs for farmers, hours-and-pay benefits for railroad workers and the outlawing of child labor .
Wilson tolerated the segregation of the federal Civil Service by Southern cabinet members. Furthermore, bipartisan constitutional amendments for prohibition and women’s suffrage were passed in his second term. In effect, Wilson laid to rest the issues of tariffs, money and antitrust that had dominated politics for 40 years.
Wilson oversaw the U.S. role in World War I and helped write the Versailles Treaty, which included the League of Nations. However, in 1919 Wilson’s political skills faltered and suddenly everything turned sour. The Senate rejected Versailles and the League, a nationwide wave of violent, unsuccessful strikes and race riots caused unrest and Wilson’s health collapsed.
The Democrats lost by a landslide in 1920, doing especially poorly in the cities, where the German-Americans deserted the ticket; and the Irish Catholics, who dominated the party apparatus, were unable to garner traction for the party in this election cycle.
The State Of The Nation And The Modern Kkk; How To Pick A Party And Faction
Today, the socially liberal left-wing of our divided nation, the Democratic party, is a very different collection of factions;to the party;who housed the KKK or called themselves Confederate. The party of states rights and abolishing the central government is the Republicans. They, ironically, have been overtaken by the southern spirit of the Confederates, with many of their policies mirroring those of that faction. Although Teddy Progressives are long gone, this remains close to old nativist know-nothing and anti-communist and elitist anti-immigrant factions.
Ultimately, M.L.K. made a choice; Bernie Sanders made a choice, and they both made it for a reason. We know which party sprayed fire;hoses in Alabama; it was the same party who was marching. These two factions went head-to-head, and the progressive liberals were left standing.
Whether the;reason M.L.K. and Sanders fought for is found in the messages of Jefferson, Jackson, and W.J. Bryan, or found in FDRs revival of his cousins ideology, Im not sure.;One thing is sure. The party that waves the Confederate flag today is the Republican party although, as history shows us, a much is subject to change.
TIP: The point of the Civil War was a fight for Unity and against extremes. This was also the aim;of the World Wars. When one feels beaten down, it can be tempting to push back, but we must remember that America is a balanced and liberal nation. We dont need to wear kid gloves, but we do need to be united.
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Howard Dean And The Fifty
These debates were reflected in the 2005 campaign for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which Howard Dean won over the objections of many party insiders. Dean sought to move the Democratic strategy away from the establishment and bolster support for the party’s state organizations, even in red states .
When the 109th Congress convened, Harry Reid, the new Senate Minority Leader, tried to convince the Democratic Senators to vote more as a bloc on important issues and he forced the Republicans to abandon their push for privatization of Social Security.
With scandals involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff as well as Duke Cunningham, Tom DeLay, and Bob Taft, the Democrats used the slogan “Culture of corruption” against the Republicans during the 2006 campaign. Negative public opinion on the Iraq War, widespread dissatisfaction over the ballooning federal deficit and the inept handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster dragged down President Bush’s job approval ratings.
Southernization; Oh That Sounds Fun Wait It Isnt
From the 1960s to the 2000s a southernization of the Republican party occurs. Paired with Goldwater and;Hoover states rights conservatism and along;with old Anti-Communist ideology, it was enough to completely change the political parties.
From the late 1800s to the 2000s Republican progressives moved toward the Democratic Party and Southern Conservatives moved toward the Republican party. See;the New Deal Coalition and Conservative Coalition.
The grand result is that the David Dukes of the world today fly the Confederate Battle flag and vote Republican.
This story;is a major reason why the voter map looks the way it does.
Meanwhile, while we can still see Gores and Clintons, and sometimes even a Byrd, in the modern Democratic party, those Redeemer and Redeemed liberals made a conscious choice to ally with the dominate Progressive and Neoliberal factions in this cycle.
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