February being Black History month, we continue a review of the long relationship between the Republican Party and black Americans. In the previous two articles, we discussed the establishment of the Republican Party for the specific purpose of ending slavery, and the backlash from pro-slavery Democrats (including a slavery critic being beaten almost to death by a pro-slavery senator) which ultimate led to the commencement of the War Between the States.
We noted the 13th (ending slavery), 14th (extending rights to former slaves) and 15th (securing voting rights for blacks) Amendments, as well as the first Civil Rights Act (passed in 1866) all have a common thread…they were passed by Republicans and viciously opposed by Democrats. Democrat President Andrew Johnson would refuse to enforce the law, and a Democrat-appointed Supreme Court would later rule them unconstitutional. Over the next hundred years following the passage of these amendments and the Civil Rights Act, Democrats fought Republican efforts to secure equality for blacks at every turn, often by violent means.
When Republicans began impeachment proceedings against Democrat President Andrew Johnson, he famously declared “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government of white men!” It surely must have galled Johnson when, less than two months later, Pinckney Pinchback and James Harris attended the Republican National Convention, the first black men to ever serve as major party delegates. In the fall of that year, the Democrats announced the slogan for their national convention, “This is a white man’s country: Let white men rule”. It was roundly denounced by the Republican Party.