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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The States' Rights Democratic Party (usually called the Dixiecrats) was a short-lived segregationist political party in the United States, active primarily in the South. After President Harry S. Truman ordered integration of the military in 1948 and other actions to address civil rights of African Americans, Southern conservative white politicians who objected to this course organized this party as a breakaway faction of the Democratic Party, determined to protect Southern states' rights to maintain racial segregation.[1]

Supporters assumed control of the state Democratic parties in part or in full in several Southern states. The Party opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in the face of possible federal intervention. Its members were referred to as "Dixiecrats", a portmanteau of "Dixie", referring to the Southern United States, and "Democrat".

The party did not run local or state candidates. After the 1948 election, its leaders generally returned to the Democratic Party.[2] The Dixiecrats had little short-run influence on politics, but they represented the weakening of the "Solid South." (This referred to the Democratic Party's total control of presidential elections in the South and most seats in Congress, largely through decades of disenfranchisement of blacks since the turn of the century. The latter had historically been aligned with the Republican Party before being excluded from politics in the region.)[3]

The term "Dixiecrat" has sometimes been used by Northern Democrats to refer to conservative Southern Democrats from the 1940s to the 1990s, regardless of any views expressed about white supremacy or segregation.[4]

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  • ✪ Democratic Convention AKA Truman At Democratic Convention (1948)
  • ✪ Dixiecrats Convention Southern States (1948)
  • ✪ The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party

Transcription

Once upon a time, every student of history – and that meant pretty much everyone with a high school education – knew this: The Democratic Party was the party of slavery and Jim Crow, and the Republican Party was the party of emancipation and racial integration. Democrats were the Confederacy; and Republicans were the Union. Jim Crow Democrats were dominant in the South; and socially tolerant Republicans were dominant in the North. But then, in the 1960s and 70s, everything supposedly flipped: suddenly the Republicans became the racists and the Democrats became the champions of civil rights. Fabricated by left-leaning academic elites and journalists, the story went like this: Republicans couldn't win a national election by appealing to the better nature of the country; they could only win by appealing to the worst. Attributed to Richard Nixon, the media's all-purpose bad guy, this came to be known as "The Southern Strategy." It was very simple. Win elections by winning the South. And to win the South, appeal to racists. So, the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, were to now be labeled the party of rednecks. But this story of the two parties switching identities is a myth. In fact, it's three myths wrapped into one false narrative. Let's take a brief look at each myth in turn. Myth Number One: In order to be competitive in the South, Republicans started to pander to white racists in the 1960s. Fact: Republicans actually became competitive in the South as early as 1928, when Republican Herbert Hoover won over 47 percent of the South's popular vote against Democrat Al Smith. In 1952, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower won the southern states of Tennessee, Florida and Virginia. And in 1956, he picked up Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, too. And that was after he supported the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools; and after he sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock Central High School to enforce integration. Myth Number Two: Southern Democrats, angry with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, switched parties. Fact: Of the 21 Democratic senators who opposed the Civil Rights Act, just one became a Republican. The other 20 continued to be elected as Democrats, or were replaced by other Democrats. On average, those 20 seats didn't go Republican for another two-and-a-half decades. Myth Number Three: Since the implementation of the Southern Strategy, the Republicans have dominated the South. Fact: Richard Nixon, the man who is often credited with creating the Southern Strategy, lost the Deep South in 1968. In contrast, Democrat Jimmy Carter nearly swept the region in 1976 - 12 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And in 1992, over 28 years later, Democrat Bill Clinton won Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia. The truth is, Republicans didn't hold a majority of southern congressional seats until 1994, 30 years after the Civil Rights Act. As Kevin Williamson writes at the National Review: "If southern rednecks ditched the Democrats because of a civil-rights law passed in 1964, it is strange that they waited until the late 1980s and early 1990s to do so. They say things move slower in the south -- but not t hat slow." So, what really happened? Why does the South now vote overwhelmingly Republican? Because the South itself has changed. Its values have changed. The racism that once defined it, doesn't anymore. Its values today are conservative ones: pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-small government. And here's the proof: Southern whites are far more likely to vote for a black conservative, like Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, than a white liberal. In short, history has moved on. Like other regions of the country, the South votes values, not skin color. The myth of the Southern Strategy is just the Democrats excuse for losing the South. And yet another way to smear Republicans with the label "racist". Don't buy it. I'm Carol Swain, professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, for Prager University.

Contents

Background

The states in dark red compose the Deep South today. Adjoining areas of East Texas, West Tennessee, and North Florida are also considered part of this subregion. Historically, each of these states were in the Confederate States of America.
The states in dark red compose the Deep South today. Adjoining areas of East Texas, West Tennessee, and North Florida are also considered part of this subregion. Historically, each of these states were in the Confederate States of America.
"Solid South": Arkansas voted Democratic in all 23 presidential elections from 1876 through 1964; other states were not quite as solid but generally supported Democrats for president.
"Solid South": Arkansas voted Democratic in all 23 presidential elections from 1876 through 1964; other states were not quite as solid but generally supported Democrats for president.

By the 1870s, conservative white voters of southern United States were heavily voting Democratic in national and presidential elections, and apart from minor pockets of Republican electoral strength in Appalachia plus Gillespie and Kendall Counties of central Texas, forming what was known as the "Solid South". Even in the last years of Reconstruction, Democrats used paramilitary insurgents and other activists to disrupt and intimidate Republican freedman voters, including attacks of leader and fraud at the polls. The electoral violence culminated in the Democrats regaining control of the state legislatures and passing new constitutions and laws from 1890 to 1908 to disenfranchise most blacks and many poor whites. They also imposed Jim Crow, a combination of legal and informal segregation acts that made blacks second-class citizens, confirming their lack of political power through most of the southern United States. The social and economic systems of the Solid South were based on this structure, although the white Democrats retained all the Congressional seats apportioned for the total population of their states.[5]

Three-time Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan opposed a highly controversial resolution at the 1924 Democratic National Convention condemning the Ku Klux Klan, expecting the organization would soon fold. Bryan disliked the Klan but never publicly attacked it.[6]

In the 1930s a realignment occurred courtesy of the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While many of the Democratic Party members in the southern United States had shifted toward favoring economic intervention,[citation needed] their own recognition of full civil rights for Black Americans was not yet incorporated within the New Deal agenda, as Southerners controlled many of the key positions of power within the U.S. Congress.

With the entry of the United States into the Second World War, Jim Crow was indirectly challenged as two million Black Americans would serve in the U.S. military during World War II, receiving equal pay while serving within segregated units, and becoming equally entitled to receive veterans' benefits from the United States government. Tens of thousands of black civilians at home were recruited in the labor-starved war industries across many urban centers in the country, mainly due to the promotion of Executive Order 8802, which required defense industries not to discriminate based on ethnicity or race.

Members of the Republican Party (nominating Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in 1944 and 1948), along with many Democrats from the northern and western states, supported civil rights legislation that the Deep South Democrats in Congress almost unanimously opposed.[7][8]

1948 presidential election

After Roosevelt died, the new president Harry Truman established a highly visible President's Committee on Civil Rights and issued Executive Order 9981 to end discrimination in the military in 1948. A group of Southern governors such as Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi met to consider the place of Southerners within the Democratic Party. After a tense meeting with DNC chairman and Truman confidant J. Howard McGrath, the Southern governors agreed to convene their own convention in Birmingham if Truman and civil rights supporters emerged victorious at the 1948 Democratic National Convention.[9] In July, the convention re-nominated Truman and adopted a plank proposed by Northern liberals led by Hubert Humphrey calling for civil rights; 35 southern delegates walked out. The move was on to remove Truman's name from the ballot in the southern United States. This political maneuvering required the organization of a new and distinct political party, which the Southern defectors from the Democratic Party chose to brand as the States' Rights Democratic Party.

Just days after the 1948 Democratic National Convention, the States' Rights Democrats held their own convention at Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama on July 17.[10] While several leaders from the Deep South such as Strom Thurmond and James Eastland attended, most major Southern Democrats did not attend the conference.[11] Among those absent were Georgia Senator Richard Russell, Jr., who had finished with the second most delegates in the Democratic presidential ballot.[11]

1948 electoral votes by state. The Dixiecrats carried Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, and received one additional electoral vote in Tennessee (colored in orange). States in blue voted for Democrats Harry S. Truman and Alben W. Barkley; those in red voted for Republicans Thomas E. Dewey and Earl Warren.
1948 electoral votes by state. The Dixiecrats carried Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina, and received one additional electoral vote in Tennessee (colored in orange). States in blue voted for Democrats Harry S. Truman and Alben W. Barkley; those in red voted for Republicans Thomas E. Dewey and Earl Warren.

Prior to their own States' Rights Democratic Party convention, it was not clear whether the Dixiecrats would seek to field their own candidate or simply try to prevent Southern electors from voting for Truman.[11] Many in the press predicted that if the Dixiecrats did nominate a ticket, Arkansas Governor Benjamin Travis Laney would be the presidential nominee and South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond or Mississippi Governor Fielding L. Wright would be the vice presidential nominee.[11] Laney traveled to Birmingham during the convention, but he ultimately decided that he did not want to join a third party and remained in his hotel during the convention.[11] Thurmond himself had doubts about a third-party bid, but party organizers convinced him to accept the party's nomination, with Fielding Wright as his running mate.[11] Wright's supporters had hoped that Wright would lead the ticket, but Wright deferred to Thurmond, who had greater national stature.[11] The selection of Thurmond received fairly positive reviews from the national press, as Thurmond had pursued relatively moderate policies on civil rights and did not employ the fiery rhetoric used by other segregationist leaders.[12]

The States' Rights Democrats did not formally declare themselves as being a new third party, but rather said that they were only "recommending" that state Democratic Parties vote for the Thurmond-Wright ticket.[11] The goal of the party was to win the 127 electoral votes of the Solid South in the hopes of throwing the election to the Representatives.[11] Once in the House, the Dixiecrats hoped to throw their support to whichever party would agree to their segregationist demands.[11] Even if the Republicans won an outright majority of electoral votes (as many expected in 1948), the Dixiecrats hoped that their third-party run would help the South retake its dominant position in the Democratic Party.[11] In implementing their strategy, the States' Rights Democrats faced a complicated set of state election laws, with different states having different processes for choosing presidential electors.[11] The States' Rights Democrats eventually succeeded in making the Thurmond-Wright ticket the official Democratic ticket in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.[13] In other states, they were forced to run as a third-party ticket.[13]

In numbers greater than the 6,000 that attended the first, the States' Rights Democrats held a boisterous second convention in Oklahoma City, on August 14, 1948,[14] where they adopted their party platform which stated:[15]

We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.

The platform went on to say:[15]

We call upon all Democrats and upon all other loyal Americans who are opposed to totalitarianism at home and abroad to unite with us in ignominiously defeating Harry S. Truman, Thomas E. Dewey and every other candidate for public office who would establish a Police Nation in the United States of America.

In Arkansas, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sid McMath vigorously supported Truman in speeches across the state, much to the consternation of the sitting governor, Benjamin Travis Laney, an ardent Thurmond supporter. Laney later used McMath's pro-Truman stance against him in the 1950 gubernatorial election, but McMath won re-election handily.

Efforts by States' Rights Democrats to paint other Truman loyalists as turncoats generally failed, although the seeds of discontent were planted which in years to come took their toll on Southern moderates.

On election day 1948, the Thurmond-Wright ticket carried the previously solid Democratic states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, receiving 1,169,021 popular votes and 39 electoral votes. Progressive Party nominee Henry A. Wallace drew off a nearly equal number of popular votes (1,157,172) from the Democrats' left wing, although he did not carry any states. The splits in the Democratic Party in the 1948 election had been expected to produce a victory by GOP nominee Dewey, but Truman defeated Dewey in an upset victory.

Subsequent elections

The States' Rights Democratic Party dissolved after the 1948 election, as Truman, the Democratic National Committee, and the New Deal Southern Democrats acted to ensure that the Dixiecrat movement would not return in the 1952 presidential election. Some Southern diehards, such as Leander Perez of Louisiana, attempted to keep it in existence in their districts.[16] Former Dixiecrats received some backlash at the 1952 Democratic National Convention, but all Southern delegations were seated after agreeing to a party loyalty pledge.[17] Moderate Alabama Senator John Sparkman was selected as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1952, helping to boost party loyalty in the South.[17]

Regardless of the power struggle within the Democratic Party concerning segregation policy, the South remained a strongly Democratic voting bloc for local, state, and federal Congressional elections, but increasingly not in presidential elections.

Presidential candidate performance

Year Pres. candidate / VP Popular votes Percentage Electoral votes
1948 Strom Thurmond / Fielding L. Wright 1,175,930 #3 2.4% 39

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Lemmon, Sarah McCulloh (December 1951). "The Ideology of the 'Dixiecrat' Movement". Social Forces. 30 (2): 162–71. doi:10.2307/2571628. JSTOR 2571628.
  2. ^ John F. Bibby and Louis Sandy Maisel, Two parties--or more?: the American party system (1998) p 35
  3. ^ Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932-1968 (2001) p. 238.
  4. ^ see [1]Harry Kreisler, "Institutional Change in the U.S. Congress: Conversation with Nelson W. Polsby...2002"
  5. ^ Perman (2009) part 4
  6. ^ Coletta, William Jennings Bryan 3:162, 177, 184; Kazin
  7. ^ Feldman, Glenn (August 2009). "Southern Disillusionment with the Democratic Party: Cultural Conformity and 'the Great Melding' of Racial and Economic Conservatism in Alabama during World War II". Journal of American Studies. 43 (2): 199–30. doi:10.1017/S0021875809990028.
  8. ^ Topping, Simon (2004). "'Never Argue with the Gallup Poll': Thomas Dewey, Civil Rights and the Election of 1948". Journal of American Studies. 38 (2): 179–98. doi:10.1017/S0021875804008400. JSTOR 27557513.
  9. ^ Donaldson, Gary (2000). Truman Defeats Dewey. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 118–122. Retrieved 8 October 2015.
  10. ^ Starr, J. Barton (1970). "Birmingham and the 'Dixiecrat' Convention of 1948". Alabama Historical Quarterly. 32 (1–2): 23–50.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Frederickson, Kari (14 January 2003). The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932-1968. University of North Carolina Press. pp. 135–142. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  12. ^ Frederickson, 143
  13. ^ a b Frederickson, 145-147
  14. ^ Kari Frederickson, The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932-1968 (2001) p. 133- 147.
  15. ^ a b "Platform of the States Rights Democratic Party, August 14, 1948". Political Party Platforms, Parties Receiving Electoral Votes: 1840-2004. The American Presidency Project. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  16. ^ Glen Jeansonne, Leander Perez: Boss of the Delta (Jackson, MS:University Press of Mississippi, 1977) pp. 185-189.
  17. ^ a b White, William S. (25 July 1952). "Democrats Vote Today; Southerners Seated; Truman Puts His Support Behind Stevenson". New York Times. Retrieved 8 October 2015.

Further reading

  • Bass, Jack, and Marilyn W. Thompson. Strom: The Complicated Personal and Political Life of Strom Thurmond (2006)
  • Black, Earl, and Merle Black. Politics and Society in the South (1989)
  • Buchanan, Scott. "The Dixiecrat Rebellion: Long-Term Partisan Implications in the Deep South" (2005). Politics and Policy 33(4):754-769.
  • Cohodas, Nadine. Strom Thurmond & the Politics of Southern Change (1995)
  • Frederickson, Kari. The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932–1968 (2001)
  • Karabell, Zachary. The Last Campaign: How Harry Truman Won the 1948 Election (2001)
  • Perman, Michael. Pursuit of Unity: A Political History of the American South (2009)

External links

This page was last edited on 11 September 2019, at 19:14
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