Friday, June 4, 2010

Southern Democracy by David Barton

Democrats understood how important it was to their survival to prevent blacks from voting. In fact, an illustration from that period showed an allegory of the Bible story of Samson, who lost his strength when his hair was cut. In that illustration, the woman – named “Southern Democracy” – has used her razor – called “the lost cause regained” – to southern democrats removed voting rights from African Americans democratic groups rejoicing over the loss of voting rights for African Americans Democratic leaders of that day, including General Nathan Bedford Barbecue” and that Democrats are burning various books in the foreground, including the Holy Bible. As this illustration confirmed, limiting black voting became cut the black Samson’s hair and cause him to lose his strength; and what is his hair – his strength? It is called “suffrage,” or voting. With the strength – or the vote – of black Americans removed, various democratic groups and leaders were rejoicing in the background: Confederates, the KKK, pro-slavery forces, and several famous Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the Klan. By the way, notice the phrase “The Democratic the major goal for southern Democrats.

Given the explicit federal voting protections that had been established by the 14th and 15th Amendments and the numerous federal civil rights laws, it was no easy task for Democrats to circumvent those protections. It required devious and cunning methods, and southern Democratic legislatures implemented almost a dozen separate devices to deprive blacks of political representation and to keep them from voting.

The first device was the poll tax, a fee paid by a voter before he could vote. The fee was high enough that most poor were unable to pay the tax and therefore was unable to vote; and while some southern whites were poor, nearly all southern blacks were poor, having just emerged from slavery and not yet having established an independent means of living. Democrats in Tennessee enacted a poll tax in 1870, as did Democrats in Delaware in 1873. In 1874, Texas proposed a poll tax right after Democrats reclaimed power from Republicans; in 1876, North Carolina enacted a poll tax; 315 and other Democratic States followed.

Literacy tests were the second means that Democrats used to disenfranchise blacks. Literacy tests required a voter to demonstrate a certain level of specific knowledge before he could vote. In some cases, the test was 20 pages long for blacks, and those administering the tests were white Democrats who nearly always ruled that blacks were illiterate. Don’t misunderstand: literacy tests were not about whether someone could read or write; this literacy tests often contained questions requiring knowledge of obscure and little-known facts. For example, in Alabama the test included questions such as, “Where do residential electors cast ballots for president?” or “Name the rights a person has after he has been indicted by a grand jury.” Ironically, Democrats steadfastly opposed sound education for blacks but then required that blacks have an above average education before they could vote! Clearly, these southern Democrats did not intend for blacks to vote.

The third device used to disenfranchise black Americans was “Grandfather” clauses. “Grandfather” clauses were laws passed by Democratic legislatures allowing only those individuals to vote whose father or grandfather had been registered to vote prior to the passage of the 15th Amendment. Since voting in the South for decades prior to that Amendment had been almost exclusively by whites, this law ensured that poor and illiterate whites could vote but not blacks.

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