The Democratic Party: My Third and Current Paradigm (Part 3)

Parts 1 and 2, respectively: https://caucus99percent.com/content/democratic-party-my-third-and-curren... ; https://caucus99percent.com/content/democratic-party-my-third-and-curren...

By 1856, only two years after its formation, the Republican Party had run its first candidate for POTUS, John C. Frémont. Frémont lost the election, of course, but did carry eleven of the sixteen Northern states. In the election of 1858, only four years after formation of the Republican Party, Republicans won a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. By 1860, most of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if a Republican were elected President. Nonetheless, as we all know, in 1860, the Republican candidate for POTUS was the phenomenal Abraham Lincoln. He ran, not on abolition, but only on prohibiting slavery in the Territories, and won.

Since formation of the Republican Party, no new political party has enjoyed anything like that kind of momentum or success. However, the Republican Party was formed at a time when new political parties were not novel; undemocratic ballot access laws had not yet befouled state statute books; and running for President did not entail billions of dollars. Perhaps most significantly, the Republican Party had formed around a cause whose support had been increasing for two centuries. Despite all that plus a candidate as brilliant as Honest Abe, Lincoln may have been defeated if the Democrats had not split between Northern Democrats, represented by Senator Douglas, a proponent of popular sovereignty, and Southern Democrats, represented by pro-slavery incumbent Vice President, John C. Breckinridge.

As we now know only too well, election of Lincoln did lead to secession by almost all the slave states and then to the Civil War. In his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of Union troops, Lincoln issued an Executive Order on on September 22, 1862, to be effective January 1, 1863, entitled "Emancipation Proclamation." Although the Proclamation was more limited in scope than many today realize, its issuance and other actions of Lincoln (and of Democrats), led to (a) "Lincoln Republicans," among whom were African Americans, including Martin Luther King, Sr., and white abolitionists, and (b) Democrats, many of whom were pro-slavery. The many ghosts of this dichotomy continue to haunt U.S. politics, even though the Civil War amendments to the U.S. Constitution definitively resolved the abolition issue, at least de jure.

With Democratic pro-war Southerner Andrew Johnson as his running mate, Republican Lincoln was easily re-elected in 1864. "When Johnson was sworn in as vice president in March 1865, he gave a rambling speech, after which he secluded himself to avoid public ridicule." On April 15, 1865, Lincoln's assassination made Johnson President. (Why, yes, I could easily have omitted that dig. (-; )

Johnson, of course, had the "distinction" of being the first POTUS impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.

When Southern states returned many of their old leaders, and passed Black Codes to deprive the freedmen of many civil liberties, Congressional Republicans refused to seat legislators from those states and advanced legislation to overrule the Southern actions. Johnson vetoed their bills, and Congressional Republicans overrode him, setting a pattern for the remainder of his presidency.[2] Johnson opposed the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave citizenship to former slaves. In 1866, Johnson went on an unprecedented national tour promoting his executive policies, seeking to destroy his Republican opponents.[3]

As the conflict between the branches of government grew, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, restricting Johnson's ability to fire Cabinet officials. When he persisted in trying to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, he was impeached by the House of Representatives {by a vote of 126 to 47}, and narrowly avoided conviction in the Senate {by a single vote} and removal from office. After failing to win the 1868 Democratic presidential nomination, Johnson left office in 1869.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Johnson Johnson's overall conduct was odious, but a dictum in Myers v. United States, 272 US 52, 71 (1926), suggested that the Tenure of Office Act may well have been unconstitutional. (Adding something like that almost literally pains me. However, IMO, omitting it knowingly would be unethical.)

Impeachment being so extraordinary, I'll break out of chronological order to note that only three Presidents have had articles of impeachment against them reported to the House for consideration: Democrat Andrew Johnson, Republican Richard M. Nixon, and William Jefferson Clinton. Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress when Johnson was impeached and acquitted; Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress when Nixon resigned (after Senator Barry Goldwater told him that he had lost most of his Republican support in Congress); and Republicans controlled the House when Clinton was impeached. However, a Democratic Senate {brazenly?} acquitted Clinton of all charges, including perjury, although millions of people around the world had seen and/or heard Clinton commit perjury.In any event, the only two impeached Presidents in U.S. history have been Democrats.

(To your relief and mine, future posts in this series likely will not be as detailed as the first three parts: I hope to get to FDR's administration in the next part.)

1860 campaign song

A Currier and Ives illustration that is unlike their usual:

Too soon?

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detroitmechworks's picture

Three out of the Four Successfully assassinated Presidents were Republicans.

And the Only Dem tried to stop wars.

And as far as old timey music goes, hell I still like this tune, and people who call it racist just hate the Irish. Smile

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

@detroitmechworks

I never thought to categorize the victims of assassination by their Party. From Lincoln through Hoover, most Presidents were Republican. Is it a matter of odds that more Republican Presidents were assassinated, or does that, too, speak poorly of Democrats of a certain era? And how does the assassination of Presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy weigh in the mix.

What I have been thinking about is the degree to which people either rebel against or follow the political choice of their parents. In response to the first post in this series, Big Al mentioned that he had grown up in an apolitical home; and his stance is "a pox on both your houses. I, however, grew up with parents who never considered voting anything but Democratic. Inasmuch as the Republicans used to be the white hats, can I blame, say, john Wayne, born in 1907 or Jimmy Stewart, born in 1908, for choosing the Republican Party?

Again, I cannot envision myself ever voting Republican. However, my concept of white hats and black hats is being shaken.

BTW, I like the tune of your song choice. I'm sure I've heard it with different lyrics, but I can't say what those lyrics were. The obvious choice with Lincoln might be the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but I didn't want to be obvious--or stir any pots.

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detroitmechworks's picture

@HenryAWallace The tune was popularized in the South during the civil war as "The Bonnie Blue Flag".

From what I understand it was much more popular among the rank and file of both sides than the "Official" songs, and there were numerous versions of the lyrics for one side or another. IMHO, that makes it pretty American.

But hey, I just look at the typical marching tunes of soldiers, and notice that there are commonalities among the lyrics. This tune shares almost all of them for a LONG march. Lots of lyrics, easy to come up with new versions on the spot due to a simple rhyme scheme... it makes sense that it would be popular.

However, I may be mistaken, as I'm sure if I posted this at TOP there would be a lot of calls for me to examine my privilege for posting such a song.

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

@detroitmechworks

appreciate the disclosure. I've heard it with very cheerful lyrics praising Ireland, but otherwise apolitical. If it ever comes to me, I'll message you.

ETA: Kinda sucks that so many of us were so traumatized by other message boards.

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detroitmechworks's picture

@HenryAWallace

I love bringing up this game.

Once you get used to all the other players watching you for the slightest slip up... It's surprisingly good at teaching online mob mentality tactic evasion. Smile

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@detroitmechworks

instead of as a disorder. The black humor part of it is intriguing.

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detroitmechworks's picture

@HenryAWallace But there's various ways to play it. At its worst it's essentially 1984 Loony Toons. At it's best it's 1984... Most campaigns fall somewhere inbetween the the two. For a good feel on it check the 1d4chan page.

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zoebear's picture

As I mentioned earlier, while the North did have economic ties to the Slave Trade, they also had other growing industries as well. By the 1850's the South's economy was still being driven primarily by their land and their slaves. As the country grew, the North was moving ahead in crucial indices of economic development while South lagged behind (https://caucus99percent.com/comment/390793#comment-390793)

Economic prosperity for the South, therefore, depended on expansion of slavery and was inextricably linked to the fate of territories. When Lincoln ran on prohibiting slavery to extend into the territories, the South reacted to what they saw as a threat to their economy; they threatened to secede from the Union. It was not the first time the South threatened to secede . Throughout the 1840's and the 1850's issues surrounding "the peculiar institution" and how that fit into a growing Nation was "negotiated" between slave states and free states. The impetus that brought about "Popular Sovereignty" to the territories came after the South threatened to secede. A decade earlier when political tensions were rising after a new political party called the "free soilers" ran on free labor into the territories, the South again threatened to secede. Each time the untenable issue of expanding slavery into the territories was brought to the fore, the South threatened to leave the Union, and each time they did, the North appeased them through legislation.

By 1860, the appeasement ended. Abraham Lincoln became the Presidential candidate who ran on not extending slavery into the territories and was elected. For the South, and their economic future, it was a deal breaker

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

@zoebear

Part 2 thread have been so interesting! Much appreciated. Thank you.

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zoebear's picture

@HenryAWallace

As a history major who studied the American Civil War, I've had few chances to really discuss it at any length. This was fun Smile

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

@zoebear

information.

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Tony Wikrent's picture

@zoebear Zoebear - Do you agree with me that the Republican Party of today is in many respects a recreation of Confederate ideology and political methods?

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- Tony Wikrent
Nation Builder Books(nbbooks)
Mebane, NC 27302
2nbbooks@gmail.com

Cassiodorus's picture

You have Fremont spelled "Tremont."

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"Day-to-day life under crapitalism is so horrible and depressing." -- Sam Miller

@Cassiodorus

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gulfgal98's picture

While I have a great appreciation of local history, I was never much into reading about the history of our political parties. Now is as good a time as ever to learn more. Thank you for this series. It has been both a fascinating and educational experience for me. I look forward to your next installment.

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"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

@gulfgal98 @gulfgal98

series, until someone reacts, you don't necessarily know what is useful or interesting to anyone. I've known about the rather noble origins of the Republican Party for some time, but looking anew is shaking up some of my stereotypes of Republicans--and of Democrats.

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about the north profiting from slavery. Looking forward to your FDR chapter.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/wall-street-was-a-slave-m_b_1...

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@Snode

as I finish this reply. Wall Street and slavery. Wow. I feel as though the US is Lady MacBeth, wondering what she can do to cleanse herself of that damned stain. I think of the potential this continent had when Europeans began settling and what we all have done to it. Ah, well. No sense dwelling on the depressing past.

With the way FDR has been viewed, I expect to be ducking cyber rotten tomatoes when I finish that--and the JFK section, too. I expect the FDR discussion to be at least two parts.

ETA: I just read it. Sale and rental of slaves. The words alone horrify.

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