A recent attempt to ban the Confederate Flag due to its association with slavery is akin to calling for a ban of the Donkey as a symbol of the Democrat Party and a ban on the the Islamic Crescent, as both of those institutions had also been involved in the enslavement of Africans.
Prior to the Civil War there were two major political parties in the United States:
- Democrats, who favored freedom of choice to own slaves
- Whigs, who tried to be a big tent party to stem the loss of members to the Know-Nothing Party
On Feb. 28, 1854, in Ripon, Wisconsin, anti-slavery activists met for the first time, then held their first state convention in Jackson, Michigan on July 6, 1854. This new political party took a stand against slavery. It also was against an effort in Utah to redefine marriage. The name of this new political party was “Republican.”
The chief plank of the original Republican Party platform was “to prohibit … those twin relics of barbarism: Polygamy and slavery.”
America was divided geographically between:
- Radical Republican North – which said slavery is wrong, end it now. This included abolitionist societies, the Underground Railroad, anti-slavery preachers and, unfortunately, the fringe John Brown who took guns and killed slave owners.
- Moderate Republican North, which said slavery is wrong, but the country should transition out of it slowly over time.
- Practical Neutral, which cared less about the value of human life, being more interested in jobs, wages, economy and tax-tariff issues.
- Moderate Democratic South, which said slavery may be wrong, but the country has to live with it. Though personally against slavery, they believed the right to own slaves should be protected, just made rare and few, and treat slaves humanely.
- Extreme Democratic South, which said slavery is good and should be expanded into Western states. They tried to justify it by twisting Scriptures, citing that Abraham owned slaves but ignoring Jesus’ teaching to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Extreme Democrats Speaker Howell Cobb and Senate President William King pushed through the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which put the slavery issue squarely in the face of the anti-slavery North, whereas before it had become an out-of-sight and out-of-mind issue occurring on Southern plantations.
The Fugitive Slave Law imposed severe penalties on those who aided escaped slaves with food or shelter in their passage to freedom in Michigan or Canada. It also made it a crime to interfere with the slave catchers’ recovery of runaway slaves.
A person could be held criminally liable, fined $1000 and imprisoned for six months if they failed to report a neighbor suspected of helping slaves.
The Fugitive Slave Law mandate intensified sectional animosity, provoking the Civil War by requiring citizens who are against slavery to violate their consciences and take part in it. It was one thing for Northerners to be apathetic toward pro-choice Democrats enslaving people in the South, but it was quite another thing for them to be forced by a federal mandate to dip their hands in the blood of the crime and participate in enforcing slavery.
Congress made the situation worse in 1854 by passing Democratic Sen. Stephen Douglas’ Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which let inhabitants in the territories have the freedom of choice to decide if they wanted to own slaves.
It prescribed “dividing the land into two territories, Kansas and Nebraska, and leaving the question of slavery to be decided by the settlers.” Instead of gradually diminishing, as many founders had hoped, slavery was now expanding.
On March 6. 1857, the Supreme Court, with 7 of the 9 justices being Democrats, rendered the Dred Scott decision. Hoping to settle the slavery issue once and for all, their efforts to avoid a civil war began one.
Dred Scott was a slave who had been taken by his master to Illinois and Wisconsin, but, as he was not allowed to learn to read, he was unaware that those territories forbade slavery.
When he returned to Missouri, Scott sued for freedom with the help of abolitionist friends, such as Henry Blow, a Republican congressman whose wife started the first kindergarten in the United States.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, appointed by Democrat President Jackson, rendered the decision that Dred Scott was not a citizen, but property that belonged to his owner, writing that slaves were: “so far inferior … that the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for their own benefit.”
Leaders rose up in churches, media and politics. Republican President Lincoln said, March 17, 1865: “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
Some states defied the federal government’s Fugitive Slave Law mandate by passing “personal liberty laws,” effectively nullifying it. Communities insisted on jury trials before alleged fugitive slaves could be taken away by federal authorities. Some juries refused to convict those indicted.
Other communities forbade local law enforcement officials from using their jails to hold the accused.
To settle the legality of President Lincoln’s proclamation, the 13th Amendment was passed officially ending slavery. Every Republican in the House (86) and Senate (30) voted for it, joined by a few Democrats in the Senate (4) and House (15).
The stand against slavery precluded Islam, which practiced slavery of Africans from the time of Mohammed. The number of Africans enslaved by Islam over its 14-century history by some calculation was over 180 million. Only by international pressure did Yemen and Saudi Arabia nominally end slavery in 1962, and as recently as 1980 for Mauritania.
“[T]o prohibit … those twin relics of barbarism: Polygamy and slavery” – Republican Party Platform, 1856
Republican President Abraham Lincoln signed the Anti-Bigamy/Polygamy Act of 1862. Those attempting to redefine marriage were denounced by Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, Dec. 4, 1871: “In Utah there still remains a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to civilization, to decency, and to the laws of the United States. … Neither polygamy nor any other violation of existing statutes will be permitted. … They will not be permitted to violate the laws under the cloak of religion.”
On Dec. 7, 1875, President Grant stated: “In nearly every annual message … I have called attention to the … scandalous condition of affairs existing in the Territory of Utah, and have asked for definite legislation to correct it. … That polygamy should exist in a free, enlightened, and Christian country, without the power to punish so flagrant a crime against decency and morality, seems preposterous. … As an institution polygamy should be banished from the land. … I deem of vital importance to … drive out licensed immorality, such as polygamy and the importation of women for illegitimate purposes.”
Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes stated, Dec. 1, 1879: “Polygamy is condemned as a crime by the laws of all civilized communities throughout the world.”
President Hayes stated Dec. 6, 1880: “The sanctity of marriage and the family relation are the cornerstone of our American society and civilization.”
Republican President James Garfield stated March 4, 1881: “The Mormon Church not only offends the moral sense of manhood by sanctioning polygamy, but prevents the administration of justice through ordinary instrumentalities of law. In my judgment it is the duty of Congress, while respecting to the uttermost the conscientious convictions and religious scruples of every citizen, to prohibit within its jurisdiction all criminal practices, especially of that class which destroy the family relations and endanger social order.”
Republican President Chester Arthur stated, Dec. 6, 1881: “For many years the Executive … has urged the necessity of stringent legislation for the suppression of polygamy … this odious crime, so revolting to the moral and religious sense of Christendom.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Morrison Waite, appointed by Republican Ulysses S. Grant, rendered the Murphy v. Ramsey, 1885, decision: “Every person who has a husband or wife living … and marries another … is guilty of polygamy, and shall be punished. … No legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth … than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.”
Preserving natural marriage between one man and one woman precludes Islam, which embraces both polygamy and child brides.
The comprehensive annotated “John Quincy Adams – A Bibliography,” compiled by Lynn H. Parsons (Westport, CT, 1993, p. 41, entry #194, Essay on Turks, 1827): “Mohammed poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy.”
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in “Summa contra Gentiles,” 1258: “Mohammed … seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us … and he gave free reign to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men.”
Winston Churchill wrote in “The (Nile) River War,” 1899: “In Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.”
Republican President Theodore Roosevelt stated to Congress, Jan. 30, 1905: “The institution of marriage is, of course, at the very foundation of our social organization, and all influences that affect that institution are of vital concern to the people of the whole country.”
With the call to ban symbols of past slavery, from the Confederate Flag to the Democrat Donkey to the Islamic Crescent, it may well be worth remembering the original plank of a Party dedicated: “to prohibit … those twin relics of barbarism: Polygamy and slavery.”
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