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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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Republican Party Founded:C.1854
Founding the Party in 1854, Republican leaders generally placed national interest above states' rights and were united in their opposition to slavery.


The Republican Party was officially formed in July 1854 in Jackson, Michigan when a group of men who belonged to various splinter parties met and adopted the name Republican. The name appealed to those who recalled Jeffersonian "republicanism" and generally placed the national interest above sectional interest and above states' rights. The party's founders totally opposed slavery. The platform adopted at the party's first national convention in 1856 rejected the Southern position that Congress had the right to recognize slavery in a territory. The Party maintained that Congress could abolish slavery in the territories and ought to do so.

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Black Republicans; Abraham Lincoln
Pictures of Republicans
In 1860 Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency as a Republican candidate. The prolonged agony of the Civil War, however, weakened Lincoln's prospects for re-election in 1864. To broaden his appeal he took pro-war Tennessee Democrat Andrew Johnson as his vice presidential candidate and went on to victory. After Lincoln's assassination, Johnson and the Republican Congress were at loggerheads over who would control Reconstruction. Johnson wanted to re-admit the Southern states back into the Union and allow them to define the status of blacks. Congress wanted the federal government to insure black rights. The Republicans won the battle for control of Reconstruction and passed the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, seeking to guarantee blacks the right to due process of law and the vote.

Then and Now: Between 1870 and 1935, all blacks elected to Congress were Republicans. As of October 2002, only one of the 37 African-American members of Congress is a Republican. The Republicans established military rule over the South until they met the terms and conditions that Congress set down for their re-admittance. Republican domination of the South seemed assured as nearly all blacks voted for the party. These votes were combined with those of some Southerners (called "scalawags" by white Democrats, a term that implied traitorous behavior) and transplanted Northerners (called "carpetbaggers" because of the kind of traveling bag they carried). The Republicans established a bi-racial coalition, with whites dominating. Blacks won hundreds of elected positions and were appointed to many administrative positions.

But white Southerners began to rally under the banner of white supremacy. They won some states peacefully by a large majority of votes, but in Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina Democrats used violence, fraud, intimidation and murder to win. Meanwhile, Northern Republicans were rapidly losing interest in the South; they had become the party of business interests. In the Compromise of 1877, Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes formally ended Reconstruction and left the race issue in the hands of the Southern Democrats. The reign of the Republican Party in the South, while alive in a few areas, was basically finished.

-- Richard Wormser

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Historical Documents
Resolution Proposing the 15th Amendment
See the handwritten resolution proposing the 15th Amendment to the Constitution during the session of the 40th U.S. Congress.
Related Pages
Reconstruction

14th Amendment

Democratic Party

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