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The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
Jim Crow Stories
A National Struggle
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Jim Crow Stories

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Democratic Party - Founded: C.1792


The Democratic Party was formed in 1792, when supporters of Thomas Jefferson began using the name Republicans, or Jeffersonian Republicans, to emphasize its anti-aristocratic policies. It adopted its present name during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. In the 1840s and '50s, the party was in conflict over extending slavery to the Western territories. Southern Democrats insisted on protecting slavery in all the territories while many Northern Democrats resisted. The party split over the slavery issue in 1860 at its Presidential convention in Charleston, South Carolina.
Northern Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas as their candidate, and Southern Democrats adopted a pro-slavery platform and nominated John C. Breckinridge in an election campaign that would be won by Abraham Lincoln and the newly formed Republican Party. After the Civil War, most white Southerners opposed Radical Reconstruction and the Republican Party's support of black civil and political rights. Jackson
The Democratic Party identified itself as the "white man's party" and demonized the Republican Party as being "Negro dominated," even though whites were in control. Determined to re-capture the South, Southern Democrats "redeemed" state after state -- sometimes peacefully, other times by fraud and violence. By 1877, when Reconstruction was officially over, the Democratic Party controlled every Southern state. Capitol Building
Swearing in of president
The South remained a one-party region until the Civil Rights movement began in the 1960s. Northern Democrats, most of whom had prejudicial attitudes towards blacks, offered no challenge to the discriminatory policies of the Southern Democrats.

Then and Now: After the Civil War, the Democratic Party in the South was the party of white supremacy. Now, African Americans form the party's most loyal base of support. One of the consequences of the Democratic victories in the South was that many Southern Congressmen and Senators were almost automatically re-elected every election. Due to the importance of seniority in the U.S. Congress, Southerners were able to control most of the committees in both houses of Congress and kill any civil rights legislation. Even though Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a Democrat, and a relatively liberal president during the 1930s and '40s, he rarely challenged the powerfully entrenched Southern bloc. When the House passed a federal anti-lynching bill several times in the 1930s, Southern senators filibustered it to death.

-- Richard Wormser

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Portrait of Andrew Jackson; Did You Know ...


The Democratic Party is the world's oldest existing political party.
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Republican Party

Reconstruction

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