Every time I delve back into a reminiscent history lesson, I become more discouraged by the things I don’t know and/or didn’t remember. I’m struggling to wrap my head around this idea recently-found nugget that the Republican Party once stood for the abolishment of slavery. I’m not talking about the earlier Federalist vs. Republicans era where their Republican Party name was as vague and absurd as the Democratic-Republicans, the Federalist-Republicans, and the Federalists (who the F is who?). Oh, and they were quite fearful, at first, of that “Democratic” title because it had come to be linked to the mob rule mindset of the French Revolution but it was eventually tacked on.
No, that’s not the period I’m referring to. I’m talking more around the time of Honest Abe and the royal ass-fucking Dred Scott received in 1857. Poor bastard.
In the wake of the dying Whig Party (what was the obsession with weird names?), the Republican Party arose with a “primary demand…that slavery be excluded from all the territories”. In fact, the Republican Party nominated Good ol’ Abe as their 1860 presidential candidate—the platform of which “declared that slavery could spread no farther”. Of course 8 days after he was elected the confederates were a-hootin and a-hollerin, shot up a federal garrison and started the Civil War.
Why is this a shock? The ideologies of the two main parties have turned a full 180 degrees since then. The Republican Party used to stand for the compassionate side of the Divided Nation—antislavery free-soilers who distrusted bankers, cared little for commerce and manufacturing, etc. Even jumping back to the Hamilton/Jefferson period, Jefferson projected an eloquent democratic radicalism against Hamilton’s instinctive conservatism. Hint: Jefferson was the Republican…I might have consulted some sources to obtain such knowledge.
Also shocking, in 1862 virtually every democrat in Congress voted against eliminating slavery in the District of Columbia and prohibiting it in the territories. Much of this sentiment came from the poor and weary immigrants who feared a massive migration of newly-freed slaves would sweep up all their jobs. They shouldn’t have been so afraid, the blacks were only used for quick seasonal jobs and then discarded—like an ugly mistress before the bosses' friends caught them, how dirty, yuck!
Now if my memory serves me correctly, the horrors of “The Jungle” happened and then Nixon was elected and then Clinton played his saxophone and then some overestimated black guy told us what we already knew about George Dubbya. Somewhere in that short time frame, the country's conceptualization of the two parties switched. I guess my worry is that when you, sir, do invent your time machine, take caution not to run into the Democratic Party Headquarters donning your fanny-pack and “Had Enough” pin shouting “Free the slaves!” Get your shit straight. If I offended either party, conservatives, liberals, or modern-day confederates that still talk like Yosemite Sam, refer to the picture.