What the Democratic Party has most liked to say about itself—that it is
the party of the working man, the voice of the oppressed, the tribune of
the people—loses some of its strut in the light of a rather long list
of inconvenient facts, chiefly having to do with slavery and race. Such
facts as these: that the Democrats were the party that championed
chattel bondage, backed an expansionist war to expand slavery’s realm,
and corrupted the Supreme Court in order to open the western territories
to the cancer. The party’s Southern wing then led the nation into civil
war in defense of slavery while its Northern wing did its best to
stymie the administration of Abraham Lincoln, widely regarded by the
Democrats as an accidental, even illegitimate, president. Thereafter,
the party embraced Jim Crow as slavery’s next-best substitute, elected a
president who imposed segregation on the federal workforce, and
remained the chief opponent of racial equality in much of the United
States (though with important dissenters) up to the brink of the 1960s.
The wonder, however, is not that the Democratic Party survived its
six-decades-long infatuation with slavery and its century-long alliance
with segregation, but that the party repressed all memory of that
infatuation and that alliance so quickly—and made so successfully the
argument that it had never ever, in its heart of hearts, been slavery’s
best friend after all.
These are facts, historical facts, not schoolbook history, not Mr. Wells' history, but history nevertheless.
The greatest trick the Democrats ever pulled was switching their party's history with the Republicans.
Labels: Allen Guelzo quote