The Republican Party was formed largely on an anti-slavery platform. It emerged in 1854 to combat the expansion of slavery into American territories and new states. The theme was “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men,” with “Free Soil” referring to granting western land to farmers.
In 1865, the Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery.
In 1868, Republicans passed the Fourteenth Amendment granting citizenship to former slaves and equal protection under the law.
Under President Ulysses Grant (1868-1876), Republicans, backed by federal troops, sought to “Reconstruct” the South and enforce federal laws granting liberties to blacks. They formed “Union Leagues” and fought the Ku Klux Klan and other segregationist forces.
In 1872, the first seven black members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives were Republicans.
In 1873, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives at the federal level and formed “Redeemer” coalitions that gradually gained control over the state governments in the South.
In 1877, federal troops were removed from the Southern states and the era of Reconstruction ended. Democratic-controlled southern governments enacted segregation policies, called “Jim Crow Laws, which effectively disenfranchised blacks and segregated all aspects of society. “The region then became the Solid South, giving overwhelming majorities of its electoral votes and Congressional seats to the Democrats through 1964” (“History of the United States Republican Party,” Wikipedia).
“The timing of the agreement was prompted by the presidential election of 1876 between Democrat Samuel B. Tilden, governor of New York, and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, governor of Ohio. When the votes were counted, Tilden led Hayes by one vote in the Electoral College. But the Republicans accused the Democrats of voter fraud, saying they intimidated African-American voters in three Southern states, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina, and prevented them from voting, thus fraudulently handing the election to Tilden.
“Congress set up a bipartisan commission made up of five U.S. representatives, five senators and five Supreme Court justices, with a balance of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. They struck a deal: The Democrats agreed to allow Hayes to become president and to respect the political and civil rights of African-Americans if the Republicans would remove all remaining federal troops from Southern states. This effectively ended the era of Reconstruction in the South and consolidated Democratic control, which lasted until the mid-1960s, nearly a century.
“Hayes kept his side of the bargain and removed all federal troops from Southern states within two months of his inauguration. But Southern Democrats reneged on their part of the deal.
“With the federal presence gone, disenfranchisement of African-American voters in the South became widespread and Southern states passed segregationist laws governing virtually all aspects of society--called Jim Crow--that remained intact until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, passed during the administration of President Lyndon B.Johnson. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed a year later, finally codifying into law the promises made by Southern Democrats in the Compromise of 1877” (“The Compromise of 1877 Set the Stage for the Jim Crow Era,” ThoughtCo.com).
The following is excerpted a speech by Dinesh D’Souza, Stanford University, March 2019
The fascists [in Europe], for their part, were deriving and drawing ideas from the United States. This is not known, and I want to give a single example which I have dramatized in my movie The Death of a Nation. ...
Leading members of Nazi Germany, 1935, are in a room and they are drafting the so-called Nuremberg laws. These are the laws that make Jews into second class citizens, and they do three things: they segregate Jews into ghettos, they forbid intermarriage between Jews and other Germans, and they condone confiscation of Jewish property. In other words, state-sponsored discrimination against Jews. The Nazis are sitting there, and basically they are saying, ‘We want to make these laws, but there is no international precedent for them. Nobody has done this type of thing.’ Then one of the Nazis who had studied in the United States said, ‘Actually, gentlemen, you are wrong. Somebody has beaten us to the punch. The Democratic party in the United States has laws that do all of the three things that we want. The Jim Crow laws of the American south have segregation, anti-miscegenation laws outlawing intermarriage, and they condone state-sponsored discrimination. All we have to do is take the laws of the Democratic party, cross out the word Black, write in the word Jew, and we are home free.’ What am I saying here? I’m not saying that the Nazis got a parallel idea. I’m saying that actual Nazis had in their hands the blueprints of the Democratic laws and they used it to create the Nuremberg laws, and this fact has been completely suppressed in progressing historiography in the United States.
Now I said the Nazis were talking about the Democratic laws, and you might be thinking, ‘Democratic laws? Aren’t you talking about the southern laws?’ See, the Nazis actually knew something that we don’t know, namely, every segregation law in the United States, from the 1880s to the 1950s was passed by a Democratic legislature, signed by a Democratic governor, enforced by Democratic officials, and there is not a single exception to this rule. ... I want to pull back and say just a word about slavery. When I speak on campuses, it is not atypical to tell students that the Democratic party was the party of slavery, and I say it so matter of factly that the students are a little puzzled because they have always heard that slavery was done by the white man, or by America. And I say, Look, America didn’t do anything. Some Americans did it, and other Americans stopped them. We need to distinguish who did it, and who did it was the Democratic party in the north and the south. That’s the key. The whole idea of knocking Confederate monuments is essentially a strategic stage tactic to fool you into thinking that the slavery debate was north-south. But Abraham Lincoln knew better. When he identified the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the four bad guys of slavery, he mentioned Roger Taney, who wrote the Dred Scott decision. He was a southerner [Democrat] from Maryland. Then Lincoln mentions Franklin Pierce, the former President from New Hampshire, northern Democrat; James Buchanan from Pennsylvania, northern Democrat; and Stephen Douglas, Lincoln’s supreme antagonist, from Illinois, northern Democrat. So three of the four pro-slavery champions are northerners.
Inevitably when I tell students this, the following happens. Some professor ... stands up and says, ‘Mr. D’Souza, you are misleading the audience by pointing a finger of blame solely at one party, whereas we all know that there was plenty of blame to go around.’ Very interesting statement. First of all it retreats from the position that the Republicans are the bad guys. It now tries, sort of with a squid-like cloud of obfuscation, to spread the blame so broadly so that no one really knows what’s going on. So it is really important at this time to unfurl what I call ‘the crushing fact.’ It is the fact that settles the argument at one blow. This is the time for me to point out that in 1860, the year before the Civil War, no Republican owned a slave. Think about this for a moment. I’m not saying that no Republican leader owned a slave. I’m saying no Republican in the United States owned a slave. ... All you have to do is name one Republican who owned a slave, and I would have to take this back. And yet from the time I made this statement well over two years ago not a single valid counter-example has surfaced. Several months ago I got an email from a demographer at the University of Michigan who said, “Dinesh, I’ve been working this. I’ve got you. Ulysses S. Grant inherited a slave on his wife’s side.’ I said, Well, that is an impressive riposte. I need to point out to you that at the time this occurred, Ulysses S. Grant was a Democrat. He became a Republican later.
What am I getting at? We have a really strange phenomenon. If you look at what’s going on now, you have Democrats, on the left, pointing the finger of racism at the very people who fought racism from the beginning of this country’s history, while suppressing the fact that the actual racism came from their party. This is not just about slavery. The Democrats were the party of slavery, of segregation, of founding the Ku Klux Klan, of reviving the Ku Klux Klan, of racial terrorism, and of opposition to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The opposition to the civil rights act of 1964, the voting rights act of 1965, the fair housing bill of 1968 came mainly from the Democratic party, and that’s a fact.
Faced with this crushing history, we have a puzzle. First of all, the very guys who have poisoned the waters are now showing up pretending to be the water commissioner. They did it! They have never admitted it. They have never apologized for it. They haven’t paid one penny of restitution for it. And yet they presume to lecture the rest of us who are completely innocent on this score of being the real culprits. This is really funny. My wife, Debby, is Latina. Her father is Venezuelan, her mother Mexican, and we were at Dartmouth: an east Indian and Latina. And a bunch of white guys were screaming at us, ‘Racist!’ What is this, Saturday Night Live! And this is an Ivy League college.
I want to address one final point. This is a very important point for the Left. It is the idea that the two parties switched sides. ... The main thrust of the argument is that racist Dixiecrats (those who voted against the civil rights acts) all became Republicans. If true, this would vindicate the idea that the Democrats may have once been the bad guys but now the bad guys have sort of moved over. The beauty of this kind of statement is the fact that it is empirical. It’s not one of those, ‘Who’s to say what’s true?’ No, all you have to do is do a web search for ‘Dixiecrat’ and then you count how many of the racist Dixiecrats became Republican. The correct answer, which I will tell you now, is two. In the House, one guy Albert Watson, and in the Senate, one guy Strom Thurmond, and all the other racist Dixiecrats lived and died in the Democratic party. They are lionized to this day. There are buildings in Washington D.C. named after them. So this notion of a party switch is a big lie.
The racists stayed in the Democratic party. Their tactics shifted over the years. Where does this leave us today? Very sadly, some of these terrible things from history--bigotry, a fascist streak--we still have it in America. But where is it coming from? People say, ‘Trump’s the fascist. He hates democracy. He won’t tolerate dissent.’ I’m thinking, ‘If Trump is a fascist and he won’t tolerate dissent, how come you are dissenting? Trump is bashed on every platform every minute of the day. He is bashed on the Emmys. Broadway shows are interrupted to bash Trump. If this was Mussolini he would send a bunch of goons and beat those guys up and that would be the end of that. That’s how dictators actually behave. I saw Cher complaining that Trump beat her up on Twitter. on Twitter! That being said, there is a streak of bullying and intimidation and intolerance. I would argue that simple empirical evidence shows that it is coming from the Left.
The previous is excerpted a speech by Dinesh D’Souza, Stanford University, March 2019
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