Editor’s Note: Gina Marie was a history teacher with a B.S. in Social Studies and higher-ed credits at Columbia University. She worked in a top International Baccalaureate School with a focus on Sciences and Humanities. She taught the pre-IB program focused on preparing students for historical research using credible sources and assessing those sources for bias. Typically, the students she taught attended Ivy Universities and were among the top of their class.
Democrats and, more specifically, the left wing faction of the Party are demanding the removal of statues, the renaming of schools, food products and sports teams as a virtue-signaling effort to wipe America clean of its racist past. Moreover, the Democrat Party esteems itself as the party synonymous with civil rights, social justice, and racial equality. Collectively, we hear the rantings about systemic racism, but the truth be known, the Democrat Party has been the root cause of systemic racism since the Party’s inception. In fact, when the Democrat Party emerged in the 1820s with the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the Party embarked on a violent and racist path marred with the ill treatment of Native Americans, the all-out exclusion and discrimination of Chinese immigrants, the expansion of slavery, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and Jim Crow segregation. Today, the once racist underpinnings of the Democrat Party are now hidden and disguised by a new form of soft bigotry marked by low expectations and the promotion of victimhood culture that serves to stifle personal growth and pursuit of the American Dream.
When the Democrat Party emerged with the founder and presidency of Andrew Jackson, roughly 125,000 Native Americans lived peacefully on the southeastern lands of the United States; lands their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations. With the increasing demand for land to grow cotton in the South, Andrew Jackson vigorously promoted the Indian Removal Act, which called for the relocation of Native Americans from the South to the West regardless of its impact on affected tribes. Upon approval, the Act sparked the relocation of tens of thousands of Native American West to present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation, however, vehemently refused to move West, took their case to court, and won. When Democrat President Martin Van Buren took office in 1837, he settled Johnson’s battle with the Cherokee by sending troops to round them up, where they were imprisoned in internment camps and, then forcibly moved West, which resulted in the death of 4,000 Cherokee, now known as the Trail of Tears.
Following China’s 1852 crop failure, roughly 20,000 Chinese immigrants came to America looking for work. This influx of Chinese immigrants, who typically worked for lower wages when compared to white western settlers, resulted in mounting social and economic tensions over the immigration of Chinese immigrants into the American West. In response, Democrat Congressman Geary proposed what later became known as the Chinese Exclusion Act over Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes’ veto. While Republicans were committed to a platform of free immigration, Democrats advocated for the complete exclusion of Chinese immigrants. Nevertheless, Democrats passed a ban on Chinese immigration in 1882 and the Act was renewed several times until it was finally repealed in 1943 when the U.S. government sought to improve relations with China during World War II. The Act, among other requirements, forced Chinese residents to carry special documentation and those that failed to do so, were sentenced
to hard labor and deportation.
Sadly, the inhumane treatment of Native Americans and discrimination against Chinese immigrants was just the beginning of the Democrat Party’s morally bankrupt policies and cruel past. We all know the history of slavery, and with the rise of the Democrat Party, came a renewed pro-slavery commitment to promote and expand slavery in the newly acquired western territories. In fact, an earnest comparison of the Democrat and Republican Parties’ 1856 platforms exposes the immense differences of each parties’ position on racial equality. The Republican Party, founded in 1854 as an anti-slavery party, opposed the expansion of slavery in the West and advocated for the complete abolition of slavery. Democrats, on the other hand, admonished Republican efforts to interfere with the question of slavery and held steadfast to their goal to expand it. By the election of 1856, the division between North and South was clearly defined; the Republican’s anti-slavery stronghold in the North against the pro-slavery Democrats’ stronghold in the South.
Yet, the Democrats’ plan to preserve as well as expand the institution of slavery didn’t stop there. In the Supreme Court case known as the Dred Scott decision, the Democrats’ pro-slavery stance was further solidified. Dred Scott, who was a slave living in a free state, sued for his freedom with the help of Northern abolitionists. Unfortunately, Scott lost the case when seven Democrat justices held that slaves were property, not citizens, and could not sue. Of the nine justice Supreme Court, the two opposing justices that voted against the Court and in Scott’s favor were Republican.
When Democrat Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote that decision, he held that black Americans “had no rights which the white many was bound to respect” and that slaves were “so far inferior….that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit.” Taney’s language in that decision illustrates the prevailing sense of racial superiority and white supremacy widely held by the Democrat Party.
With the Dred Scott decision, the division between Republicans and Democrats over the slavery issue intensified. Republican abolitionists were outraged over the decision and viewed the Court’s ruling as a Democrat effort to expand slavery into the western territories. The Democrat Party and Democrat President James Buchanan himself, predictably, approved the Court’s decision under the guise that the Supreme Court nor Congress had the right to prohibit slavery. Buchanan, along with Southern Democrat leaders, also supported the idea of expanding slavery into Kansas by making Kansas a slave state. Invariably, such would provide greater Democrat represenation in the Senate and further the goal of expanding slavery into the West.
The issue over the expansion of slavery erupted in 1860 with the election of the first Republican President Abe Lincoln without a single vote from the South. Lincoln’s election immediately sparked the secession of the South and, ultimately, the Civil War. Despite the bloodshed and sacrifice of many Republican abolitionists who fought gallantly to give slaves their freedom, the end of the War in 1865, the assassination of Lincoln a few days later, and the resulting presidency of Democrat Andrew Johnson ushered in a new era of conflict during a period known as Reconstruction. President Johnson, along with Southern Democrats, were bent on returning the South to pre-Civil War conditions and did all in their power to undermine Republicans and prevent the extension of freedom and equality to former slaves.
For example, when the Republican Congress established the Freedman’s Bureau over President Johnson’s veto, it was an effort to help black Americans transition into freedom. Essentially, the Bureau provided services such as education for black children, oversight with labor contracts black Americans were being tricked into signing, and assistance to help locate family members that were separated during slavery. When the Republican Congress wanted to extend the term of the Freedman’s Bureau, once again, they were forced to pass the bill over Johnson’s veto. The clearly racist view of the Democrat Party can be found in the political cartoon below, where they depicted the agency as one that kept the “negro in idleness at the expense of the white man.”
It was this very claim of idleness that led Southern Democrats to pass vagrancy laws in their respective states aimed at arresting blacks for any form of vagrancy in an effort to exploit their labor. When a person was arrested and could not pay the fine imposed, they were imprisoned and forced to work off their sentence at a labor camp or on a plantation; often the plantation was owned by their former master. The issue of so-called “vagrancy” among black Americans could have been settled had the legislation introduced by Republicans, which called for giving former slaves “40 acres and a mule,” if it had not been defeated by Democrat President Johnson who led Democrats in their effort to oppose the bill. One issue that Republicans were able to gain some ground on was a bill to protect black voting rights, which was opposed by Democrats and passed by Republicans over Johnson’s veto. Among the most unsettling Southern Democrat efforts to suppress black Americans and promote white superiority were black codes. These codes, which were quite similar to that of slave codes, were laws enacted by each state to control black Americans and ensure they remained a source of cheap labor to be further exploited. Outraged over the Democrats’ passage of these codes, Republicans quickly sprung into action by signing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 into law, predictably, over Johnson’s veto. The Act served to guarantee African Americans the right to citizenship, due process, and equal protection under the law.
Concerned that Democrats could easily overturn the Act, Republicans wrote the 14th Amendment using the same language contained in the Act, ratified the Amendment and required the Southern states do the same as a condition of readmission into the Union. To guarantee blacks suffrage, Republicans passed the 15th Amendment, which held that no citizen could be denied the right to vote based on race, color, or previous servitude. As a result of the 15th Amendment, African Americans were included in the political process and such enabled a number of blacks to win various seats in offices, to include both houses in Congress. Most importantly, Republicans’ passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments had a far lasting impact, as both served to provide the constitutional basis for the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s to occur.
Despite Republicans’ inroads in guaranteeing black suffrage with the passage of the 15th Amendment, Democrats circumvented this progress when they used fraud, intimidation, and the terror of the Ku Klux Klan to prevent blacks from voting. To make it further impossible for blacks to vote, a number of voting restrictions were passed in the South by Democrats, specifically literacy tests and poll taxes (a tax paid to vote), to prevent black people from voting. As yet another barrier to maintaining white supremacy, Southern Democrats established the white primary, which were primary elections held in the Southern states in which only white voters were permitted to vote. They also passed laws and constitutions to create barriers to voter registration. Collectively, these barriers enabled Southern Democrats to establish a political monopoly that barred black Americans from participating in the political process.
At the same time, poll taxes and literacy tests posed a concern for Southern Democrats, as these voting requirements inadvertently barred poor whites who could no more pay the poll tax than they could pass a literacy test. Fearing that black Americans would unite with poor whites to overthrow Democrat elites from power, Democrats passed the Grandfather clause, which provided a needed loophole that granted any person whose grandfather voted in the 1860 election the right to vote. Clearly, this loophole allowed poor whites to vote, but banned black Americans because, in 1860, slaves did not have the right to vote. The Grandfather clause also served to reinforce the existing social order that placed poor whites above black Americans and promoted greater racism in and of itself. Those who attempted to upset this social order by advocating for civil rights for black Americans were often met with violence or death, as is the case with Republican Congressman Hinds who was assassinated by Democrats for his advocacy.
As a result of these combined efforts to strip black Americans of their rights and freedoms, the South was largely dominated by the whites of the Democrat party on both a state and Congressional level for many decades to come. Moreover, this white held power paved for what became known as the Southern Democrat bloc, whereby Southern Democrats gained seniority in Congress which enabled them to chair congressional committees and prevent the passage of legislation, namely civil rights legislation. “This is a White Man’s Country; Let White Men Rule,” was a slogan used at the 1868 Democrat National Convention. Nearly 13 years had passed since the Civil War ended and, yet, the language is a clear manifestation of just how Democrats continued to pedal their racist, white supremacist ideology in plain sight. More troubling is the fact that Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Civil War veteran and one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan, was a delegate at the DNC. But, this should come as no surprise, as the KKK was founded by Democrats and former Confederates to intimidate and terrorize black Americans. As a result of this intimidation, black Americans that exercised their right to vote, run for office, or serve on a jury were often the victims of violence and even death. Such was the case of a Black Republican civil rights leader who was killed for promoting black voting by a Democrat Party operative after repeated threats by Democrats. To protect black Americans and eliminate this threat of violence, Republicans passed the Enforcement Act to provide federal protection for black voters at the polls. Despite Republican efforts to control KKK with other laws aimed at ending the Klan’s activities, the organization remained a powerful, terrorist arm of the Democrat party aimed at restoring white supremacy by employing whatever means that were necessary.
Further efforts to prevent violent acts against African Americans were made when Republican President Ulysses Grant deployed troops in the South to establish a military presence. Republicans went a step further when they established the U.S. Department of Justice in an effort to safeguard civil rights for black Americans. Despite these efforts, Democrats enacted Jim Crow Laws to bring the South under white control in their respective states. These laws segregated blacks into a separate, but inherently unequal society. In response, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which made it a crime for an individual to deny “the full and equal enjoyment of any accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theatres and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color.” When the Supreme Court struck down the 1875 Act, ruling that Congress did not have the authority to prevent discrimination by private individuals, all hope had been lost.
Essentially, the ruling forced victims of racial discrimination to seek assistance from Southern Democrat-controlled states who had passed legislation that required racial segregation of schools and in most public places and these states weren’t about to do anything to reverse the laws they passed. In fact, segregation efforts actually increased when Southern Democrats passed state laws that required railroads to furnish separate railroad cars for black Americans. One such law passed, by Southern Democrats in New Orleans, required black passengers sit in Jim Crow cars or face a fine of $25 or 20 days in jail.
To combat this law, Republicans challenged its constitutionality in the State Supreme Court and, when the Court ruled that the law was unconstitutional, it was a great victory for civil rights advocates. In fact, the Court’s decision inspired Republican advocates to challenge an 1892 incident in which an African American passenger, Homer Plessy, refused to sit in the train car assigned for blacks. In this landmark, Supreme Court case, known as Plessy v. Ferguson, the Court held that constitutionality of racial segregation laws at public facilities didn’t violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment so long as the segregated facilities were equal; known as the “separate by equal doctrine.” This decision prevented challenges to Jim Crow laws in the South and allowed for racial segregation for decades to come. In fact, segregation would continue for well over a half a century when it was overturned with, yet, another landmark Supreme Court case, Brown vs. the Board of Education, where the Court ruled in 1954 that separate was inherently unequal.
It should come as no surprise that the only dissenting opinion in the Plessy decision was that of Justice John Marshall Harlan, a member of the Republican Party, who wrote, “I am of the opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberties of citizens, white and black, and hostile to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States.” Equally important is the fact that, had it not been for the Republican Congress who wrote the Fourteenth Amendment and required ratification in the Southern states, challenging the constitutionality of Jim Crow laws would not have been possible.
In incident after incident, Republicans consistently challenged Southern Democrats, while Northern Democrats did nothing. Even Republican President Teddy Roosevelt came to the defense of black Americans when he said, “there is but one safe rule…that is, to treat each man, whatever his color, his creed, or social position, with even-handed justice…Reward or punish the individual on his merits as an individual. Evil will surely come in the end to both races if we substitute for this…” Roosevelt, however, was one of few presidents in the twentieth century who stood for black equality. In fact, the 1900s ushered in another era of racial discrimination and Democrat President Woodrow Wilson and Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’ stand as no exception. Not only did President Woodrow Wilson segregate the U.S. Navy and Federal offices, FDR ignored numerous requests for a White House meeting by black civil rights leaders. When FDR finally did agree, he refused to make black leaders’ call for an anti-lynching bill a priority, as endorsing such legislation would upset the South’s racial order and would cost him votes among Southern Democrats in Congress; votes he needed to pass his New Deal Legislation. This anti-lynching legislation, which was intended to deem lynching as a federal crime, had met repeated resistance by Southern Democrats for decades. One such example is the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill of 1922, which was filibustered by the powerful Southern Democrat bloc mentioned previously.
The most glaring example of racism in the Democrat Party and, more specifically, FDR’s administration was when FDR knowingly and willing appointed a former member of the KKK, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court. Although FDR claimed he had no knowledge of Black’s membership in the Klan, Black admitted years later that FDR was fully aware that he was a member. Other examples of racism during FDR’s administration can be found in FDR’s New Deal itself, which has a clearly mixed record in terms of providing any benefit to black Americans. While the New Deal did provide some limited aid to the poor for both blacks and whites, racism played a key role when local authorities and community leaders did not extend this aid to blacks. For example, the Agricultural Adjustment Act offered cash to white landowners for leaving their lands fallow, but Democrat officials did not pass any Federal monies to black sharecroppers under this same Act.
During World War II, then general and future Republican President Dwight Eisenhower forbade racism in the armed forces when he made the decision to arm Black American soldiers with weapons. Further, Eisenhower ordered the desegregation of Washington D.C. public schools after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. The Board of Education decision. The Brown decision, which unanimously outlawed segregation of public schools, was a huge victory for racial equality but desegregation of America’s schools would not come that easy. When Southern Democrats in Congress voiced their opposition to the ruling by signing the “Southern Manifesto” in 1956, it marked a new beginning of Southern resistance to desegregation. As part of that resistance, Southern Democrat Governors refused to desegregate public schools in their state, and it was Republican President Eisenhower who sent in Federal troops to be sure they did. Such was the case when, in 1957, Democrat Governor Faubus used Arkansas’ National Guard to prevent nine black students, known as the Little Rock Nine, from attending Central High School in defiance of the federal order to desegregate Little Rock schools.
By executive order, President Eisenhower sent Federal troops to force Faubus to integrate Central High School and ordered Federal soldiers to escort black students into the school. By now, the Civil Rights movement had begun and was somewhat hastened in 1955 with the brutal murder of a 14 year old African American boy, Emmet Till, who was lynched in Mississippi after being accused of offending a white woman. His death, and the fact that the two white men who later admitted to committing the crime but were found not guilty, brought national attention to the racial injustice that plagued the Democrat-controlled South for far too long. Yet, with the coming of the Civil Rights movement, which spanned from 1954 to 1968, the Democrat stronghold in the South consistently resisted the movement. In fact, it was Republican President Eisenhower who proposed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, which were the first pieces of civil rights legislation passed since 1875, to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments and, thereby, guarantee black Americans’ right to vote.
Yet, passage of these Acts would not come easy, as both were met with fierce resistance by the Southern Democrat bloc. During months of hearings and debates, to include the longest filibuster to that point in the Senate’s history, Southern Democrats effectively stripped the Civil Rights Act of 1957 of any concrete federal means to enforce school desegregation or protect southern Black voting rights. Moreover, it was then Democrat Senator and future President Lyndon B. Johnson who played a key role in watering the Act down to make it nearly toothless. If it were not for Republicans who voted overwhelmingly to pass the bill, the most important accomplishments of the Act would not have been achieved; accomplishments that enabled the establishment of the Commission on Civil Rights, the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice, and ability of the U.S. Attorney General to prosecute individuals that obstructed a citizen’s right to vote. No sooner had the Act been passed, Southern Democrats demanded an amendment to ensure that anyone who violated the Act would be tried before an all-white Southern jury. It was Republican Vice President Richard Nixon whose deciding vote killed the passage of that amendment. It is important to point out that Vice President Nixon expanded civil rights when he chaired a committee that eliminated racial discrimination in employment practices of government contractors.
While some have celebrated the significance of the 1957 Act, historians have largely agreed with critics that the Act was ineffective and virtually unenforced. The Civil Rights Act of 1960, which was similarly weakened by Southern Democrats, was written to address some of the voids in the 1957 Civil Rights Act. “Southern Hacking,” as one has described it, resulted in more than a year long debate that ended with yet another civil rights act that failed to provide the means to enforce school desegregation and was convoluted by language that further weakened the bill. The Civil Rights Act of 1960, however benign, disappointing, and often dismissed as unimportant, at best, was a small step forward to address voter discrimination in thought but not in deed.
Another issue before Congress was the argument over literacy tests and poll taxes that had been passed in the South by Democrats in the decades before, but were dismissed by Democrats who claimed the extremely low number of registered black voters was due to the lack of qualified voters or that blacks had no interest in voting. In fact, during the subcommittee hearings for the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960, Southern Democrats used this argument to support their opposition to stronger voting protections. They claimed that poll taxes and literacy tests were mere mechanisms to ensure only qualified citizens, regardless of race, could vote. Often, in the instances that white voters did take a literacy test, they were asked distinctly different questions than black voters. Southern Democrats also dismissed the role of the Grandfather clause, which enabled many white voters to circumvent these tests. Moreover, when NAACP provided affidavits from those that had been denied the right to vote at these hearings, Southern Democrats refuted the validity of these affidavits.
Most shocking is the fact that many Southern Democrat legislators were often members of the KKK. In fact, as late as the 1960s, numerous Southern Democrat senators were klansman, to include Democrat Senator Robert Byrd who served in the Senate for 51 years and filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in an unsuccessful attempt to block the passage of the Act. Yet another member of the Klan was Democrat Governor George Wallace, who ran for president in 1968. Although these Southern Democrats were adamantly opposed to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon Johnson took an about face on the civil rights issue after having spent years as a key member of the Southern Democrat bloc who fought to prevent civil rights legislation. What led Johnson to make this about face? Winning the presidential election, why of course.
When Democrat President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, it put the issue of civil rights in Vice President Johnson’s hands who now became president as a result of that assassination. As a key member of the Southern Democrat block who had consistently blocked civil rights legislation, Johnson had one year to change his image or he stood to lose in the presidential election in 1964. When many blacks moved to Northern cities during much of the 20th century in what became known as The Great Migration, the black electorate emerged as a voting bloc and Johnson knew he needed the black vote to win. Moreover, mounting pressure during the Civil Rights movement and the fact Johnson’s opponent, Barry Goldwater, had a proven civil rights record, was a member of the NAACP and an avid supporter of desegregation forced Johnson to reconsider his stand. Collectively, these factors prompted Johnson to change his position on civil rights so he could win the presidency and be legitimately elected. To that end, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in July, just a few short months before the presidential election of 1964 and did so for purely self-serving reasons. For the first time, Johnson went against Southern Democrat obstructionists who predictably attempted to block the passage of the 1964 Act. Once again, it was Republicans who voted to get the Act passed over Democrat objections.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 put an end to Jim Crow segregation by prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, facilities and schools. The Act also created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to monitor employment discrimination and further enforced voting rights. Johnson’s backing of the Act proved successful when 94% of black Americans, who had long supported the Republican Party for their groundwork efforts on civil rights since the end of the Civil War, voted for Johnson which ensured his victory. Moreover, when Johnson signed that Act along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he cemented a political alliance between black Americans and the Democrat Party that continues to this day. However, celebrating these legislative triumphs and forging such an alliance makes it easy to overlook the fact that it was the Democrat Party who fought to expand slavery and denied black Americans their civil rights in the decades that followed. Clearly, with the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Johnson’s true intentions were revealed when he said, “I will have those n*ggers voting Democratic for 200 years.”
Yet, when Johnson announced his unconditional War on Poverty during his 1964 State of the Union Address that would provide welfare funding to the poor and minority communities, he sounded the death knell to the black community. Instead of investing in black businesses, job creation, and job training for the black community that would foster greater economic autonomy, Johnson set African Americans on a path of government dependency with welfare guidelines that served to break up the black family. In fact, when Johnson’s War on Poverty began in 1965, 25% of black women were the head of a single parent household. By 1985, that number soared to an astounding 68% and, today, black women as heads of household is a staggering 75%. Moreover, 90% of those on government assistance live at or below the poverty line. Nearly 60 years later and at the cost of over $22 trillion taxpayer dollars, Johnson’s welfare programs not only led to a cycle of generational dependency on Government assistance, it also encouraged a mindset that African Americans couldn’t achieve economic autonomy on their own. Had that $22 trillion been better invested in the black community, Johnson’s War on Poverty would not have been a dismal failure that it was. This failure calls to question the core philosophy of the Democrat Party; a philosophy that is based on bigger government, greater government dependence, and a vicious cycle of generational dependence.
The Democrat Party’s self-proclaimed stand that they are the party of social justice and racial equality is a false one. Not only did the Democrat Party fight to maintain and expand slavery, they worked to undermine Republican efforts to guarantee former slaves racial equality in the decades that followed their freedom. Collectively, the Democrats imposed law after law to cast African Americans into a group of second class citizens by instituting Jim Crow laws, preventing blacks from voting, stoking fear with the threat of violence by the KKK, and blocking every meaningful piece of civil rights legislation at every turn. Moreover, the more recent Democrat assertion of “white privilege” is embodied in the very racist, white supremacist Democrat South. Most disturbing is the sense of moral high ground the Democrats’ have emboldened themselves with as they pedal yet another but much more hidden form of racism marked by low expectations and victimhood that stifles personal achievement and promotes greater government dependence, which the Democrat Party thrives on.
Clearly, any call for systemic racism by Democrats is one made with blood on their hands. Without question, the Democrat Party is the party of true racism.