Thursday, February 10, 2011

Party Platforms and Black History Part V

Following the passage of Fugitive Slave Law and Kansas Nebraska Act some anti-slavery Democrats, along with other anti-slavery activists, formed a new party in 1854 – the Republican Party.

One of the founders of this new Republican Party was US Senator Charles Sumner. He promoted civil rights and desegregation of public schools.

In 1856 Sumner gave a two-day speech in the Senate against slavery, but he got carried away and mocked Andrew Butler, relative of Democrat Representative Preston Brooks, and vilified Stephen Douglas. Afterward, Brooks clubbed him down on the floor of the Senate with his cane and knocked him out, almost to the point of death. It took 3½ years before Sumner returned to the Senate and delivered another speech against slavery.

The South, however, declared Brooks a hero and made walking canes in his honor.

The 1856 Presidential elections pitted Republicans against Democrats for the first time. The Republican platform emphatically called for equality and civil rights for African Americans. The Democrat platform declared that abolitionists would lead to dangerous consequences and diminish happiness of the people.

In spite of being overtly pro-slavery, the Democrat Party won the presidency, and James Buchanan became president.

Soon, 1857, in the famous Dred Scott case, the Democratically controlled Supreme Court declared Blacks to be non persons, claiming they were property.

The unintended consequence of the Dred Scott decision was the Panic of 1857. Railroad builders had pushed westward because they were confident that it would be free. After the decision, east/west railroad bonds plummeted from the uncertainty that arose, causing the panic to spread throughout the Northern banking community.

In the1860 presidential election, the Republican platform condemned the Fugitive Slave Law and the Dred Scott decision. The Democratic platform, however, embraced both of these.

Republicans won the presidency, House and Senate for the first time. Southern Democrats, knowing that anti-slavery legislation was on its way, left Congress and took their states with them, forming a slaveholding ‘nation.’ Northern Democrats remained pro-slavery, but refused to secede.

The struggle between the North and South filled the next several years.

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At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Jim Rapp said...

An interesting piece. I'll be interested to follow along as you add to your "Black History". Your interpretation of events is different than my undrstanding in some cases but that is what History is, after all, an interpretation of the past. I hope you get a wide readership for your pieces.


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