Democrats claim that they have always supported equal rights for black Americans and that Republicans are racists who always oppose them.
Both claims are flat-out lies. From its founding in 1854, the Republican Party led the fight to end slavery and then eradicate the racist Jim Crow system that held blacks down right up to securing the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Democrats opposed the Republicans at every turn.
The spectacularly untruthful statement below was featured on Democrats.org until 2009. This actual screenshot is, to our knowledge, the only one in existence.
So, let’s take an honest look at the history of civil rights in America. On the legislative level, congressional Republicans proposed, and Democrats opposed, a series of Reconstruction-era laws intended to elevate blacks, in particular to force Southern states to enforce the Constitutional amendments extending full civil rights and voting rights to blacks. These included the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Reconstruction Act of 1867, the Enforcement Act of 1870, the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875.
In fact, Democrats consistently opposed legislative efforts to confer voting rights and other civil rights on blacks, including the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, and even the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
Here are the facts:
April 8, 1864
The 13th Amendment banning slavery passed the U.S. Senate 38 to 6, with 100% Republican support amid Democratic opposition.
January 31, 1865
The 13th Amendment banning slavery passed the U.S. House by a vote of 119 to 56 (with eight abstentions), with all 103 Republicans voting yes, along with 16 Democrats. Republican President Abraham Lincoln signed it, sent it on to the states, with final ratification on Dec. 18, 1865.
March 27, 1866
Democrat President Andrew Johnson vetoed a bill granting citizenship to blacks.
June 8, 1866
The U.S. Senate passed the Republicans’ 14th Amendment guaranteeing due process and equal protection of the law to all citizens. Nearly all Republicans voted yes and 100% of Democrats voted no.
June 13, 1866
The U.S. House passed the U.S. Senate’s version of the Republican-sponsored 14th Amendment by a vote of 120 to 32. All Republicans voted yes.
January 10, 1878
U.S. Senator Aaron Sargent (R-CA) introduced the Susan B. Anthony amendment for women’s suffrage. The Democrat-controlled Senate defeated it repeatedly before the election of a Republican House and Senate that guaranteed its approval in 1919.
February 8, 1894
The Democratic Congress and Democratic President Grover Cleveland joined to repeal the Republicans’ Enforcement Act, which had enabled blacks to vote.
May 6, 1960
Republican President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960, expanding protections for blacks in voting. In the House, the measure was approved by 89% of Republicans and 52% of Democrats. After a Democrat filibuster, the Senate approved it 71-18. No Republicans opposed. All 18 “no” votes were from Democrats.
A History of Shame
The Democratic Party’s militant arm following the Civil War was the Ku Klux Klan, of which prominent Democratic West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd was a high official, as was Hugo Black, a Democrat who became a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
For 88 years, Democrats in the South enforced a vicious Jim Crow system of outright discrimination against blacks, particularly measures aimed at preventing them from voting. They opposed Republican-sponsored civil rights legislation at the state and federal levels.
In 1964, a Republican U.S. Senate majority introduced and passed the Civil Rights Act despite a filibuster by Democratic senators.
Similarly, Republicans led the fight for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when 94 % of GOP lawmakers in the House voted for it, while 27% of Democrat House members opposed it.
Today, Democrats would like us to forget that they were the party of Jim Crow, the Klan and racists such as Woodrow Wilson, the globally-thinking progressive who, upon taking office as president, promptly segregated the U.S. Civil Service and instituted policies designed to discriminate against blacks and other minorities.
Democrats defended, tooth and nail, a plantation-style racial spoils system right up until 1964, and then converted it into a federal version, with welfare policies that destroyed the black family and institutionalized dependence on government. To this day, the party promotes destructive, addictive welfare policies that keep its constituents dependent.
For a more extensive, documented history of the Democratic Party’s historic opposition to civil rights for blacks, see “The Truth about Jim Crow.”