The Origin Of Racial Tension In America (Part 2)

The Civil War

1860 – Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln ran on a platform that blasted the Dred Scott Decision with an intention to end slavery.
  • Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote which was a majority due to the fact four candidates were running for election – Nothern Democrats, Free-Soilers, Southern Democrats, and Republicans.
  • Lincoln won the presidency with 57 percent of the electoral college and not one Democratic electoral vote. (The ferry boat captain was right!).

Southern Democrats Start The Civil War

1861- Lincoln was sworn into office in March 1861.

  • Southern Democrats refused to accept the election of Abraham Lincoln and, led by South Carolina, formed the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter a month later and the Civil War was on.
  • I refer to the South as “Southern Democrats” because they were the only political party in the South at the time. It is important to understand that Southern Democrat/Slave owners/Confederacy are a redundancy of terms.
  • The Democrats declared war on the United States of America because America elected a Republican, Abraham Lincoln. Therefore, my contention that the Civil War was Democrats v Republicans.  Calling the Civil War, South vs North is a misleading statement. 
  • One of the basic principles of a healthy functioning America is the peaceful transfer governing authority from one administration to the next.
  • America had peacefully transferred the governing of one administration to the next from Washington until the Lincoln election when the Southern Democrats refused to accept his election and chose to resist his "Radical Republican" administration. The Democrats demonstrated their resistance when they attacked Fort Sumter and started the Civil War.
  • Although not directly stated by Lincoln, the Democrats knew his platform would lead to the end of slavery and they wanted “states’ rights” so they could continue their “peculiar institution."
  • It was well known that “peculiar institution” was a Southern euphemism for slavery. (I encourage the reader to Google search “peculiar institution.”)
  • Officially Lincoln fought to keep the Union together by any means.  He had to conceal his true intentions because he needed the support of the Northern Democrats to win the war.
  • So, Southern Democrats fought for “states’ rights” but the main “state right” they were concerned about was slavery. And the North fought to keep the Union together, but since the foundation of the Republican platform was anti-slavery it was a forgone conclusion Republicans were also fighting to free the slaves.

Post-Civil War America

1865 – A high percentage of Democrats in the South chose not to accept Lee’s surrender and instead chose to “resist” the Republican’s Civil War victory, which the South still refers to as the “War of Northern Aggression.”

  • John Wilkes Booth, a disgruntled Democrat, assassinated Lincoln shortly after Lee’s surrender.
  • Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, became president and vetoed any and all Republican Civil Rights legislation, which led to his Impeachment trial.
  • After a battle with the Democrats in Congress, the Republican Congress overruled Johnson’s veto of their Civil Rights legislation. This became the 13th Amendment and constitutionally banned slavery in the US. This reinforces my theory that the Civil War was really a war of philosophies - Republican v Democratic.
1865 – 1866- The Ku Klux Klan is founded in Pulaski, TN by a group of Confederate (Democratic) veterans to intimidate blacks and Southern White Republicans who moved to the South to help the former slaves adjust to freedom.

  • The Klan was not officially founded by the Democratic Party but it was openly considered the “military arm” of the Democratic Party.
  • The KKK demanded that blacks either vote Democrat or not vote at all. They employed destruction of property, assault, and murder, especially lynching, to achieve its aims and influence upcoming elections.
  • One report varifies 535 blacks were lynched in 1867 alone. White Republicans in the South were also targeted for intimidation, assault, and murder. Robert A. Gibson, “The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States, 1880-1950,

1868 – 1870 – The Republican Congress passed the 14th (equal rights for all) and 15th (right to vote for all citizens) Amendments over the opposition of the Democratic Party, guaranteeing civil rights and voting rights to ALL Americans, especially former slaves.

  • Not one Democrat voted for either of these amendments. Again, reinforcing my Republican vs Democratic Civil War theory.
  • In all, 16 African-Americans served in the U.S. Congress during Reconstruction; more than 600 more were elected to the state legislatures, and hundreds more held local offices across the South.” Each was a Republican.
1871 – The Republican Congress passed the Ku Klux Klan Act, authorizing President Ulysses S. Grant to use military force to suppress the KKK.

  • The military succeeded in suppressing the KKK but not before this racist organization fulfilled its primary goal – reestablishing white supremacy in the South – fulfilled through Democratic victories in state legislatures across the South in the 1870s.
  • By 1876, the entire South was once again under Democratic control by bypassing the federal government regulations and focusing on controlling state, county, and city political systems. Trelease, Allen (1971). White Terror: The Ku Klux Klan Conspiracy and Southern Reconstruction. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 387ff. ISBN0-8071-1953-9.

1896 – Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” doctrine.

  • Restrictive “Jim Crow” legislation and separate public accommodations based on race were encouraged after the Plessy decision.
  • This legislation allowed Southern Democrats to decide where blacks could eat, drink, sit, go to school, and even which bathroom they could use, etc. The Plessy ruling in effect set up two societies. One for whites and another for blacks.  Dr. David Pilgrim, Ferris State University Jim Crow Museum,
Another, lesser known, result of the Plessy v Ferguson decision was the expansion “White Primaries.”

Part #3 will explain how the “White Primaries” and Jim Crow Laws controlled the Southern vote through most of the 20th Century.


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