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When this generation thinks of racism and socioeconomic inequality, their thoughts immediately lean towards the Republican party. This actually could not be further from the truth. Historically, the Republicans have opposed racism and socioeconomic inequality. Truthfully, it was the Democrats that supported slavery, created the Ku Klux Klan, imposed Jim Crow laws, and fully backed segregation for over 100 years in the Southeastern United States. (Prager U) Technically, your history textbooks from middle and high school are full of lies when they discuss the history of the Democratic party. To add insult to injury, the media doesn't help much either. To further understand, we need to look back 46 years before the Civil War.
Founding in 1829 to 1865: Support of Slavery and Instigation of the Civil War
The origins of the Democrats are far from what is said in your old textbooks. Founded by Andrew Johnson and Martin Van Buren in 1829, the Democratic party was founded as a party that supported slavery and hate crimes towards racial minorities. (History) In stark contrast, the Republican party was founded in 1854 by Hannibal Hamlin as both an anti-slavery and pro-equality party. The primary goals of the Republican party were to stop the spread of slavery into the Western territories and nationwide abolition. (History) In the 1857 case of Dred Scott vs. Sanford, the Supreme Court ruled that slaves did not have the rights of citizens because they constituted property; the seven justices who ruled in favor of slavery were all Democrats, whereas the justices who opposed were both Republicans. (Cornell University) The slavery debate would later be resolved by a bloody Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865. The first Republican president during that war, Abraham Lincoln, signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law in 1865. It wasn't until the Civil War that the Democrats truly began to unleash their reign of terror across the Southeast.
1865 to 1965: Creation of the Ku Klux Klan and Opposition of the Civil Rights Act
Through domestic terrorism, newly freed slaves were given a false sense of second-class citizenship. One week after the Confederate Army surrendered, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The assassin was John Wilkes Booth, a member of the Democratic party. After Lincoln's assassination, Andrew Johnson, also a Democrat, assumed the presidency immediately. Johnson and the Democrats were consolidated in their oppositions to the Thirteenth Amendment, which freed slaves, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave African-Americans full citizenship; Johnson also opposed the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave blacks full voting rights. All three initiatives passed solely because of unified support from the Republican party. During Reconstruction, which lasted from 1865 to 1877, the remaining troops secured rights for the newly freed slaves. In return, hundreds of black men served in state legislatures as members of the Republican party. The Democratic party did not elect any black officials to Congress until 1935. It wasn't until 1877 that Democrats regained power in the Southeast; the Democrats imposed white supremacy with black codes, laws that restricted both property and business ownership rights. The Democrats also imposed literacy tests and poll taxes on black citizens. All of this was enforced by domestic terrorism at the hands of one of the most infamous organizations in American history. In 1865, the Ku Klux Klan was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee by Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Democrat. Woodrow Wilson, also a Democrat, shared many of the same supremacist views with the Klan; not only did Wilson reintroduce segregation at the federal level, but he also screened the racist propaganda film The Birth of a Nation at the White House. It was not until 1940 that blacks and minorities were given the right to serve in the military, under president Franklin D. Roosevelt, during World War II. Roosevelt was a Republican. (PBS) After the war, the Dixiecrats formed in 1948 in Birmingham, Alabama. The Dixiecrats strongly opposed many laws that had increased the rights of blacks; associated with the Democrats, the Dixiecrats were aligned with the Ku Klux Klan, as well as other terrorist groups that perpetrated public violence towards blacks. (Encyclopedia Britannica) Under John F. Kennedy, a Republican, the Civil Rights Act had passed through the Congress. Eighty percent of Republicans supported the bill, while 70 percent of Democrats strongly opposed. In fact, the Democrats filibustered for 75 days. For nearly two-and-a-half months, the Civil Rights Act was close to not passing, until the Republican party received more votes to end the filibuster. (United States Senate) In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas; coincidentally, Lee Harvey Oswald was a Democrat. (PBS) After Kennedy's assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, assumed the presidency from 1963 to 1969. Keep in mind that the last time a Republican president and a Democrat Vice President served simultaneously was in 1861, under the Lincoln administration. The Democratic party decided that it would be a great idea to gain the trust of the individuals it tried to suppress. After the Civil Rights Act passed nationwide, Johnson was reported to have allegedly said, "I'll have them ******* voting Democrat for 200 years." Lyndon B. Johnson's comments weren't the worst of their actions.
1965 to Present: Open Corruption and Blatant Hypocrisy
Long after the exit of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1969, the Democratic party is still shrouded in hypocrisy, racism, and corruption. Nearly fifty-five years after Johnson's infamous remarks, not much has really changed. During the 2016 presidential election, Democratic frontrunner and former First Lady Hillary Clinton found herself shrouded in multiple scandals; she was eventually under investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after losing to current president Donald Trump. While everyone was focused on what the president was going to tweet next, the FBI certainly had their hands full. Thousands of emails regarding the 2013 terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya found on a personal server in her bathroom, but that's really just the tip of the iceberg. (United States Department of Justice) To add insult to injury, rumors of Clinton's closet racism and affiliations with white supremacy groups began to surface; these allegations were confirmed to be true. Videos and photos of Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragons David Duke, Robert Byrd, and William Quigg pledging their support for Clinton only added to the scandal. Clinton and Duke have been close friends since the 1970s, which she has denied since the 1990s. Her affiliations with the Ku Klux Klan only further added to rumors she was a racist, despite falsely stating otherwise.(Newsweek; Snopes; The Telegraph) Although all of this may seem false, this is all too true.
In conclusion, the Democratic party is far from what it makes itself out to be. In all honesty, the Democrats have the same racist and hypocritical ideologies that they did in 1829. Did your history textbooks from junior high and high school lie to you? Unfortunately, the answer to that is "yes, indeed." The only thing we can do is learn from the past.