Friday, May 28, 2010

The Democratic Platform by David Barton

Even with the massive voter intimidation in Wade Hampton’s election, it was still so close that no winner emerged. After massive controversy, confusion, and finally court intervention, the Democrat Hampton was declared the winner and became governor, but only under extremely questionable circumstances. 163 In fact, the editorial cartoons in Harper’s following that election showed a triumphant Democrat standing over the bodies of slaughtered African American voters.

Considering the Klan-like support that Hampton received, it is no wonder that when he became the Democratic governor of the State, civil rights reforms in South Carolina came to a halt.

However, returning to General Hampton’s role at the Democratic National Convention of 1868, as a member of the Resolutions Committee, he inserted a clause in the Democratic platform declaring that the civil rights laws of the Congress were “unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void.” 166 In fact, throughout that platform Democrats lashed out against the Republican civil rights measures, demanding “the abolition of the Freedmen’s Bureau and all political instrumentalities designed to secure Negro supremacy.” That platform further complained: Instead of restoring the Union, it the Republican Party has – so far as in its power – dissolved it, and subjected ten States, in time of profound peace, to military despotism and Negro supremacy.

Clearly, the errant claims in this Democratic plank are ludicrous, for the years from 1865-1868 were marked not by “profound peace” but rather by profound violence, characterized by the rapid and expansive growth of the Klan and similar organizations perpetrating numerous deadly attacks against African Americans. The ten States that Democrats claim were “subjected to military despotism and Negro supremacy” were ten of the Democratic States that had seceded to form the slave-holding Confederate States of America, and the “despotism” to which they were subjected was nothing more than the requirements that they recognize the civil rights of African Americans. Ironically, Democrats were so accustomed to the suppression of black Americans that simply to give them equality was absurdly considered to be “Negro supremacy.” To Democrats in that day, equality for blacks – that is, making blacks and whites equal before the law – meant “Negro supremacy”!

The other featured portrait in the handbill of the 1868 national Democratic delegates was that of Rebel General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest had been a slave-trader from Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest Tennessee and was the Rebel General who conducted the massacre of black soldiers in the infamous bloody episode at Fort Pillow. After the black Union soldiers had surrendered, Forrest ordered them slaughtered on the spot, using some of the most barbaric and inhumane tortures and atrocities available, including nailing black soldiers to the sides of buildings and then burning down the buildings, drowning others, and even burying black soldiers alive. 169 After the War, General Nathan Bedford Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan 170 – and he was an honored leader at the Democratic National Convention of 1868! Given the composition of the Democratic Party, it is no wonder that not one of the Democrats in Congress voted for the 14th Amendment to secure civil rights for black Americans at the State level.