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The U.S. Senate voted unanimously last week to adopt a resolution apologizing for slavery.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, lead sponsor of the resolution, said, “You wonder why we didn’t do it 100 years ago. It is important to have a collective response to a collective injustice.”
Only after decades of public education ignoring and distorting U.S. history can such a huge lie be said with a straight face.
Senator, you didn’t do it 100 years ago because 100 years ago you Democrats were enforcing Jim Crow segregation laws, poll taxes to keep blacks from voting, and riding around in sheets and pointy hats just in case blacks didn’t get the message.
You say “It’s important to have a collective response” because you want to bury the origins, purposes, and historical practices of your own party.
The worst part is, Republicans in the Senate let you get away with it.
Principled Republicans knowing their history would have authored a resolution reciting the facts that the Republican Party was formed, among other reasons, to oppose slavery and that the Republican Party and its first President Abraham Lincoln responded to Southern, Democrat-led secession with a successful war that preserved the union and freed the slaves.
After Lincoln’s assassination (by a Democrat), the Republican-led Congress (over the objections of the Democratic Party minority) amended the Constitution to confirm the liberation of the slaves (13th Amendment: slavery abolished), and the 14th Amendment (freed slaves are citizens equal to all citizens) and the 15th Amendment (right to vote guaranteed to freed slaves).
Southern Democrats spent the next 100 years trying to keep freed slaves down with segregation laws, poll taxes to deny the right to vote, and lynching to enforce the social order. The KKK was formed by a Democrat; no Republican has ever been a member of the KKK. This is the heritage of the Democratic Party.
In fact, the Democratic Party was formed in the first place to defend and expand slavery.
In 1840, the very first national nominating convention of the Democratic Party adopted a platform which read in part:
Resolved, That Congress has no power … to interfere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states … that all efforts by abolitionists … made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery … are calculated … to diminish the happiness of the people, and endanger the stability and permanency of the union.
Got that, Sen. Harkin? Your party was born defending slavery as necessary for the happiness of the people and threatening secession and war if slavery were challenged.
The same party platform language was used in 1844, 1848, 1852 and 1856. In 1860, the Democrat commitment to slavery took a harsher tone.
The Fugitive Slave Law was passed by Congress in 1850. This monstrous law provided that, since slaves were the personal property of their masters, runaway slaves must be returned to their owners. The law required all law enforcement officers to assist in the recapture of runaway slaves or risk a fine of $1,000 (about $100,000 in today’s dollars)!
The Republican Party was formed in the 1850s in part as a political reaction to this unjust law.
In their national convention of 1860, Democrats harshly responded to certain Northern (Republican) states that were passing state laws to evade the Fugitive Slave Law by adopting a plank in the Democratic Party Platform which read:
Resolved, That the enactments of the State Legislatures to defeat the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law, are hostile in character, subversive of the Constitution, and revolutionary in their effect.
Senator, your Democratic Party has much to be apologetic about on the slavery issue.
During the civil war, the Southern Democrats led the Confederacy out of the Union; Northern Democrats formed a separate party which opposed the war. The 1864 (Northern) Democratic Party platform adopted a “peace” plank which read in part:
… after four years of failure to restore the union by the experiment of war … justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand … a cessation of hostilities … to the end that … peace may be restored …
Here is the origin of today’s Democratic Party “Peace at any Price, Better Red than Dead, Why Can’t we all just get Along” foreign policy.
The war was started by Democrat secessionists, and just as President Lincoln was on the verge of victory, the Northern Democrats wanted to save the South and slavery with “peace talks”! Voters knew better in 1864 and re-elected Lincoln.
But the Democrats weren’t through. In 1868, Sen. Harkin’s party condemned the Republican Party in its party platform as the “Radical Party,” and condemned Reconstruction in these unforgettable words:
Instead of restoring the Union, it (the Radical Party) has dissolved it, and subjected ten states (the former Confederate states) … to military despotism and negro supremacy.
And, senator, don’t tell me this is all ancient history in a lame attempt to evade the true origins of your party.
As recently as 1964, when the Senate debated the Civil Rights Act, Southern Democrats (including Al Gore’s father) voted no. While Northern Democrats voted yes, their votes were not enough. The deciding votes to pass this landmark bill were provided by Sen. Everett Dirksen, R-Ill., and the Republicans.
Republicans should be proud of their heritage of liberation of the slaves and civil rights voting record.
It’s Harkin and the Democrats who should apologize and pay reparations.
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