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Why Did Southern Democrats Become Republicans

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Understanding The Changes In Pre

Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?

To recap before moving on: In the late 1700s the American factions won their independence from Britain and formed a new country by compromising and coming together as Federalists and Anti-Federalists, in the early 1800s they found some unity under Jefferson as Democratic-Republicans, but from Jackson to the Civil War their differences pulled them apart with greater force than their commonalities united them together. The divisive new platforms of the parties create two polarized groups splitting America into Democrats/Confederates of the South and Republicans/the Union of the North by the start of the Civil War in 1861 under the Republican Lincoln;who ran on a platform which opposed the expansion of slavery.

To;understand how things went south so quickly, one has to understand how classical liberal positions can become socially conservative over time. The classical liberalism of Jefferson did not allow individual freedom for everyone, as it allowed for the freedom to own slaves and the freedom for states to be slave states. Thus, what was once progressive had become socially conservative over time, it was still technically liberal in the classical sense, just certainly not socially progressive but of course, let us not paint any party in any era with a broad brush, as both parties in any era are compromised of factions who agree only to varying extents.

Three Factions Of Modern Republicans To Oppose This

Although conservatism is complex, it is defined well as an opposition philosophy to liberalism. Through this lens, there is a type of conservatism that stands against for;brand;of liberalism. Modern American conservatism wants to conserve, which means not being progressive on a given issue and which by its nature is not conservative. Thus we get modern social conservatism which says no to social programs and federal power, except when it upholds conservative social values.;There is also a;more liberal version that;we call libertarianism. It is against all uses of state power for any reason and is a form of radical classical liberalism, combined with;traditional classical conservatism, which is willing to use federal power to keep order, but not inherently against social programs. These factions can be said to become;allies;the conservative coalition mentioned above, although the establishment of both parties tends to favor aspects of traditional classical conservatism.

TIP: When either party uses government power, they are traditional conservatives, when either party deregulates and lets the private market and individuals handle it, they are classically liberal. More than one ideology uses classical liberalism, and more than one uses classical conservatism, as all political ideologies grow out of these foundational ideologies.


Why Did The Democrats Lose The South Bringing New Data To An Old Debate

In 1960, all 22 U.S. Senators from the South were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Today, all but three are Republican.;For decades, historians and other researchers have debated what drove the exodus of white Southern voters from the Democratic Party. Were they turned away primarily by economic self-interest? Or did they abandon the party because they came to view it as too progressive on issues of racial equality?

One reason researchers have failed to find consensus on this central question of American political economy is that data limitations have hampered their efforts. To study views on civil rights, specifically, researchers need quality public polling data. Until recently, consistently worded survey questions on racial attitudesfrom both before and after the major Civil Rights victories of the 1960swere not widely available.

Fortunately, thats no longer the case thanks to the Roper Center at Cornell University, which has made available a wealth of Gallup polling data that pre-dates the Civil Rights movement.;

Below are some of the main findings and key points from the tudy.

The turning point for white southern Democrats can be narrowed down to the Spring of 1963.


White voters in the South left the Democratic Party at much higher rates than other white voters because of their racially conservative views.

Almost none of the political shift can be explained by income growth among white Southerners or voters positions on other policy issues.

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What Was The Difference Between Lincolns And Johnsons Reconstruction Plans

Johnsons plan wasnt as willing to give as much freedom to newly free slaves as Lincolns was. Johnson wanted to give the land back to the south unlike the RR. Johnsons plan gave less protection to freed slaves then the Radical Republicans plan. Unlike the 10% plan, the plan they had wanted to punish the south.

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Roosevelts reforms also brought tensions in the Democratic coalition to the surface, as the solidly Democratic South wasnt too thrilled with the expansion of unions or federal power generally. As the years went on, Southern Democrats increasingly made common cause with the Republican Party to try to block any further significant expansions of government or worker power.


“In 1947, confirming a new alliance that would recast American politics for the next two generations, Taft men began to work with wealthy southern Democrats who hated the New Deals civil rights legislation and taxes,” Cox Richardson writes. This new alliance was cemented with the Taft-Hartley bill, which permitted states to pass right-to-work laws preventing mandatory union membership among employees and many did.

Taft-Hartley “stopped labor dead in its tracks at a point where unions were large, growing, and confident in their economic and political power,” Rich Yeselson has written. You can see the eventual effects above pro-Democratic unions were effectively blocked from gaining a foothold in the South and interior West, and the absence of their power made those regions more promising for Republicans’ electoral prospects.

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The Parties Change Course

After the war, the Republican Party became more and more oriented towards economic growth, industry, and big business in Northern states, and in the beginning of the 20th;century it had reached a general status as a party for the more wealthy classes in society. Many Republicans therefore gained financial success in the prosperous 1920s until the stock market crashed in 1929 initiating the era of the Great Depression.

Now, many Americans blamed Republican President Herbert Hoover for the financial damages brought by the crisis. In 1932 the country therefore instead elected Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to be president.


The Democratic Party largely stayed in power until 1980, when Republican Ronald Reagan was elected as president. Reagans social conservative politics and emphasis on cutting taxes, preserving family values, and increasing military funding were important steps in defining the modern Republican Party platform.

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The Dixie Democrats seceding from the Democratic Party. The rump convention, called after the Democrats had attached President Trumans civil rights program to the party platform, placed Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Governor Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi in nomination.

Up until the post-World War II period, the partys hold on the region was so entrenched that Southern politicians usually couldnt get elected unless they were Democrats. But when President Harry S. Truman, a Democratic Southerner, introduced a pro-civil rights platform at the partys 1948 convention, a faction walked out.

These defectors, known as the Dixiecrats, held a separate convention in Birmingham, Alabama. There, they nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, a staunch opposer of civil rights, to run for president on their States Rights ticket. Although Thurmond lost the election to Truman, he still won over a million popular votes.

It was the first time since before the Civil War that the South was not solidly Democratic, Goldfield says. And that began the erosion of the southern influence in the Democratic party.


After that, the majority of the South still continued to vote Democratic because it thought of the Republican party as the party of Abraham Lincoln and Reconstruction. The big break didnt come until President Johnson, another Southern Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

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The Fifth Party System And The The New Deal And Conservative Coalitions

Now that we have clearly illustrated the above factions and ideologies, we can move on to the last round of changes which happened from roughly the 1930s, to WWII, to the 1960s, to the 1990s as the FDR supporting Progressive Social Liberal New Deal Coalition faced off against the Socially Conservative anti-New Deal Conservative Coalition .

From the 1930s to the 1990s, from Hoover to Goldwater, to Nixon, to Reagan, to Bush, the Conservative Coalition;drew southern solid southDixiecrat conservative Democrats out of the Democratic Party via their southern strategy. By the 1990s, this resulted in the modern American social conservative and sometimes classical liberal;Republican party. Likewise,;the New Deal coalition,;which opposed the conservative coalition, drew progressives into the Democratic Party and out of the Republican party under FDRs New Deal, LBJs Great Society program, and Clintons New Democrats. This resulted in;the modern American social liberal, and thus necessarily traditionally classically conservative in terms of authority;party during the same time.

Although the tension between these two factions starts in the 1930s with the New Deal, it comes to a boiling point over issues like States Rights, the Second Red Scare, and;Brown v. the Board of Education following WWII in the late 40s and 50s.


We have undertaken a new order of things; yet we progress to it under the framework and in the spirit and intent of the American Constitution. FDR

Why Did Parties Switch Platforms And Members

PragerU’s “Why Did the Democratic South Become Republican?” FACT CHECKED!

The common thread of each major switch, aside from war, was civil rights. Or maybe we could more fairly say, state-enforced social and economic justice versus individual liberty;as is illustrated by;the charts on this page.

Civil rights aside, since before the first party was formed, our founding fathers have fought each other tooth and nail over the direction of the country. The biggest issues have been:;big business versus small business, big government;versus small government , big government versus small government , whether or not to have;a central bank, and;how much;local and foreign credit and debt was the right amount.

We can see how some of the above;values are consistent for a given quadrant of the political sphere, but not for a specific party in a two party system or even a faction or member of a party at a given time!;We can also see how specific groups have shifted their interpretation of these things over time, and how some groups simply pay lip-service to the overarching ideals.

The;planks and platforms of each opposing group have;changed over time, as specific stances on these issues were taken, and as public opinion changed with the times.

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A Cross Section Of Black People

Nevertheless, a broad cross section of blacks made it to the Freedmens Conventions. There were many uniformed veterans of the Union army, who had fought against the Confederacy to win their peoples freedom. There were ministers, teachers, and tradesmen as well as plantation workers. The earliest conventions were dominated by free blacks , but as time went on an increasing number of former slaves took part. African Americans took considerable pride in the sight of black people meeting in such numbers, for such a serious purpose. Commenting on a convention held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in early 1865, a black newspaper editor, as quoted in Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, called it a great spectacle, and one which will be remembered for generations to come.

Among the most prominent black leaders at the conventions, some were Northern blacks who had come South to work as agents of the Freedmens Bureau , including Tunis G. Campbell and Martin R. Delany . South Carolina native Francis L. Cardozo had escaped slavery to become a minister in Connecticut. Leaders from among the ranks of the former slaves include such notable figures as Robert Smalls , whose bravery during the Civil War had made him famous, and Prince Rivers , a former coachman who had served as a sergeant in the Union army.

Progressive Era And The New Deal

As the 19th century drew to a close, the Republicans had been firmly established as the party of big business during the Gilded Age, while the Democratic Party strongly identified with rural agrarianism and conservative values.

But during the Progressive Era, which spanned the turn of the century, the Democrats saw a split between its conservative and more progressive members. As the Democratic nominee for president in 1896, William Jennings Bryan advocated for an expanded role of government in ensuring social justice. Though he lost, Bryans advocacy of bigger government would influence the Democratic ideology going forward.

Republicans again dominated national politics during the prosperous 1920s, but faltered after the stock market crash of 1929 and the onset of the Great Depression. In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first Democrat to win the White House since Woodrow Wilson.


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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.

A Faction Of The Democratic Party Started The Civil War

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Opponents of slavery extending further into America;founded the Republican Party. They elected President Abraham Lincoln in 1860, in response to escalating tensions around slavery after the Kansas-Nebraska;Bill of 1854threatened the balance of slave states to free states.


Southern states, primarily led by Democrats, initiated secession proceedings and launched the Civil War. But historians say the party is not to blame.

The short answer is that the Democratic Party did not start the Civil War, Hunter said. The war was initiated by Southern slaveholding states seceding from the United States.

Jon Grinspan , the;Smithsonians National Museum of American History;curator of political and military history, agreed.

A splinter of a splinter of a Democratic Party really contributed to the;secession and the coming of the war, he told USA TODAY. It would be wrong to say the Democratic Party started the Civil War. It would be right to say some Democrats really contributed to the start of the Civil War.

Grinspan pointed to the small group of Northern;Democrats;that fought for the Union as evidence that the Civil War was not Democrats versus;Republicans.

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A Response To The Claim Welfare Is Equatable To Slavery

In the 1850s, inequality in the Northern big government cities, northern immigration in the big cities , and African slavery in the small government south all existed side-by-side. and in ways, so it is today . Northern cities still favor bigger government, and they still have problems of racism and inequality, Rural South still favors small government . This does not make the North of today equatable to the slave economy of the South of yesterday however.

There is this idea that welfare is equatable to slavery in this respect, as in both cases a societal structure is providing basic essentials for a class of people . This argument, often presented in tandem with the claim the parties didnt switch/change is essentially a red herring that misses the nuances we describe on this page .

The southern conservatives who held slaves and fought for the Confederacy essentially switched out of the Democratic party starting in the 1960s, and even continuing to the modern day , in response to LBJs welfare programs . In other words, if the southern conservative had wanted to oppress a class of people with welfare, one would logically assume they wouldnt have switched out of the Democratic party over time in response to welfare programs.

Today it is a Southern Republican who flies to Confederate flag, today it is a Republican who champions small government in America. Yesterday, it was a Southern Democrat.

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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