Setting The Record Straight: American History In Black And White, Part 4 – Democrats Blocked Equality: Voter Fraud, violence, discrimination, and segregation continued. Republicans fought for equal rights for Blacks and passed Civil Rights Bills, while Democrats blocked equality efforts using force and voter intimidation. Tune in to hear surprising truth about the quest for equality in America!
Air Date: 08/06/2020
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and politics! This is WallBuilders Live with David Barton and Rick Green. Thank you for joining us today! Visit us online at WallBuilders.com and WallBuildersLive.com. You’re going to want to do that today because we’re in the middle of a seven-part series, longest series we’ve ever done here on WallBuilders Live.
Today is part four. So if you missed the first three you’re going to want to go to WallBuilders.com and listen to those. You can also go to WallBuilders.com and see the DVD and the Book of this entire series. It’s called Setting the Record Straight, American History in Black and White.
Today is part four. If you missed the first three, again, visit the website. Let’s pick up right where we left off last time we were here on WallBuilders Live.
The Issue Of Southern Violence
Republicans had successfully passed almost two dozen civil rights laws and black American legislators often played significant roles in the debate surrounding the passage of such laws. One example involved a civil rights bill in 1871, a bill allowing the federal government to punish Klan violence.
During the debates on that bill, Representative Robert Brown Elliott of South Carolina addressed the issue of southern violence and delivered a compelling speech.
“The purpose of the Democratic Party of the South, as evidenced in the utterances of its recognized writings and leaders, exhibits the declared purpose to defeat the ballot with the bullet and other coercive means. I’ve presented a few manifold proves that supported the facts about the Klan. I have shown the declared purpose of the Ku Klux organization and I refer to the official records of nearly every Southern state during the past 10 months to show how that bloody purpose has been in part executed. This bill will tend, in some degree, to prevent its full achievement. I trust sir that this bill will pass quickly and be quickly enforced lest the Democratic Party of the South triumph through armed violence.”
Representative Joseph Hayne Rainey, another member from South Carolina, also delivered a powerful speech during the debates on that bill explaining why blacks are most often the targets of Klan violence.
The Speech Defining Why Blacks Are Targets To Klan Violence
“When we call to mind the fact that this Klan persecution is waged against men for the simple reason that they dare vote with the Republican Party. The question is sometimes asked, “Why do not the courts of law afford redress?” We answer, “Because the courts are in many instances under the control of Democrats who are wholly opposed to the impartial administration of law and equity. What benefit would result from an appeal to courts whose officers are secretly in sympathy with the very evil gets which we are striving?'”
“If the Negroes numbering one-eighth of these population of these United States would only cast their votes in the interest of the Democrats, all open measures of violence against them, would immediately be suspended and their rights as American citizens recognized. But I can only say that we love freedom more, vastly more than slavery. Consequently, we hope to keep clear of the Democrats.”
“I will also say that in the state of South Carolina, which I represent, there is no disturbance of an alarming character in any one of the counties in which the Republicans have a majority. The troubles are usually in those sections in which the Democrats have control. I say to the entire membership of the Democratic Party, that upon your hands rest the blood of the loyal men of the South. Disclaim it as you will, but the stain is there to prove your criminality before man and God.
“In the world in the day of retribution, which will surely come, I pity the man or party of men who would seek to ride into power over the dead body of a legitimate opponent. I can say for my people that we are fully determined to stand by the Republican Party and the government. We have resolved to be loyal and firm, and as Queen Esther said long ago, “If we perish, we perish.” I honestly hope this bill will pass.”
Segregation And Discrimination
That bill did pass, but only over the united opposition of Democrats. In fact, no Democrat, not a single one, neither from the North or the South supported the Civil Rights Bill to punish Klan violence. Four years later black Americans again played a significant role in the debates on a Civil Rights Bill. This time, the Civil Rights Bill of 1875 to prohibit segregation and racial discrimination.
Representative Richard Cain of South Carolina, a clergyman, a bishop of the AME Denomination, as well as a strong political leader, forcefully rebutted the Democratic arguments in favor of segregation and discrimination.
“I have sat in this house nearly nine months and I have listened to gentleman recognized as Democratic leaders attempting to demonstrate the inferiority of blacks, whom they have so long outraged, insulted, and condemned them because they have been helpless. And the Democratic gentleman from Virginia, calls into question the propriety of passing the Civil Rights Bill.”
“I can not agree with him. Why not pass the Civil Rights Bill? The Civil Rights Bill simply declares this, “That there shall be no discrimination between citizens of this land, so far as the laws of the land are concerned.””
“I can find no fault with that. The great living principle of the American government is that all men are free. We admit from every land, and every nationality, men to come here and under the folds of that noble flag repose in peace and protection. It because God Almighty made the face of the Negro black.”
“Democrats would deny him that right. Mr. Speaker, I regard the Civil Rights Bill as among the best measures that ever came before this Congress. Well, sir, it is at the very foundation of good government. I have no fear for the future, I have faith in this country. The great principles which underlie our government of liberty, of justice, of right will eventually prevail in this land and we shall enjoy equal rights under the law.”
“Let the laws of the country be just. Let the laws of the country be equitable. This is all we ask, and we shall take our chances under the laws of this land.
Place all citizens upon one broad platform. And if the Negro is not qualified, is not qualified to haul his role in this contest of life, then let him go down. All we ask of this country is to put no barriers between us, to lay no stumbling blocks in our way to give us freedom to accomplish our destiny. Do this, Sir, and we shall ask no more.”
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. In several decisions, over recent years the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that it is unconstitutional for the government to encourage religion.
Did our Founding Fathers agree with this? Consider the words of Henry Lawrence, a signer of the Constitution, and a president of Congress. Henry Lawrence declared, “I had the honor of being one who framed that Constitution, in order effectually to accomplish these great ends set forth in the Constitution. It is especially the duty of those who bear rule to promote and encourage respect for God and virtue and to discourage every degree of vice and immorality.”
Founding Father Henry Lawrence believed that the goals of the Constitution could not be fulfilled apart from a fear and a respect for God and that it was, therefore, the duty of government to encourage this among the people. For more information on God’s hand in American history. Contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
Robert Brown Elliott’s Speech
Despite these types of powerful speeches, Democrats continued their relentless attacks against the bill. In fact, immediately following one such Democratic tirade against the bill, Representative Robert Brown Elliott rose to respond. It was such a climactic moment that the artists of the day created illustrations depicting the verbal battle that occurred between this black Republican and Democrat Alexander Stephens who had been the vice president of the Confederacy and who was a leader of the Democratic arguments on the bill.
Elliott’s response was eloquent. “It is a matter of regret to me that it is necessary at this day that I should rise in the presence of an American Congress to advocate a bill which simply asserts equal rights and equal privileges for all classes of American citizens. Now we are told by the distinguished Mr. Stevens that Congress has no power to pass a civil rights law. Has not his judgment been warped by his long training in that school of politics? That will now destroy this government?”
“I am astonished that he should have been so grossly misled. He now offers his government, which he has done his utmost to destroy, a very poor return for its gracious and forgiving treatment to him, to come here to seek to continue by the assertion of doctrines of noxious to the true principles of our government. The burdens and oppression which rests upon five million of his countrymen, slaves who never fails to live earnest prayers for the success of this government. When Mr. Stevens was asking to break up the union of the states and to block the American Republic from the galaxy of Nations.”
“Sir, it is scarcely twelve years since he shocked the civilized world by announcing a government which rested on human slavery as its cornerstone. The progress of events has swept away that pseudo government that rested on greed, pride, and tyranny. The black race whom he then ruthlessly spurned and trampled on is here to meet him in debate and to demand the rights which are enjoyed by our former oppressors who vainly sought to overthrow a government which way they could not prostitute to the base uses of slavery.”
“Mr. Stevens you have learned much since 1861 but you are still a laggard and behind the times. Lend your influence to complete the proud structure of legislation which makes this nation worthy of the great Declaration of Independence, and you will have done that which will most nearly redeem your reputation.”
The Democratic Response
Elliott”s magnificent response did not convert Alexander Stephens or the other Democrats but it was so eloquent that it silenced them. In fact, the Democrats rebuttal against Elliott was so weak that the best they could do was to claim that the speech was not really his, that it was so brilliant that someone else must have written it. Surely a black American, such as Elliott, could not have created such a masterful speech.
That Democratic response against Eliott’s eloquence is reminiscent of an old lawyer’s adage. “When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When neither is on your side change the subject and question the motives of the opposition.”
Representative John Roy Lynch of Mississippi, enclosed in his speech on the same bill predicted what he believed would be the outcome of the vote. “In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I say to the Republican members of the House that the passage of this bill is expected by you. If any of our Democratic friends will vote for it, we will be agreeably surprised. But if Republicans should vote against it, we will be sorely disappointed. But I have no fears whatever in this respect.”
“Republicans have stood by the colored people of this country when it was more unpopular to do so than it is to pass this bill. You have fulfilled every promise thus far and I have no reason to believe that you will not fulfill this one.”
Abrupt Halt In Progress
That civil rights bill did pass, but regrettably, representative Lynch did not receive the surprise he had hoped for. It was exactly as he had suspected. While Republicans overwhelmingly supported the bill not a single one of the 114 Democrats in Congress voted for that Civil Rights Bill.
That Civil Rights Bill like the others was passed by Republicans over the strident and virtually unanimous opposition of Democrats. That 1875 Civil Rights Bill was the last of the almost two dozen civil rights bills passed by Republicans.
In fact, following the passage of that 1875 Bill it would be nearly 90 years before the next civil rights law was passed. Why did the rapid progress come to an abrupt halt after 1875 Because in 1876 Democrats gained control of the U.S. House for the first time since 1861.
Therefore, with the divided Congress, Democrats successfully blocked any further progress in the civil rights arena. Facing such strident and irrational Democrats obstructionist the enthusiasm for fighting in that arena soon wine civil rights momentum was lost.
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Altering Count At The Ballot Box
Not only did Democrats gain the U.S. House in 1876 but they were able to bring reconstruction to a close by having all federal troops withdrawn from the South, thus, removing the final protective barrier between black Americans and those Democrats aggressively seeking to violate their newfound civil rights.
That federal protection had been crucial to black Americans at that time. For as a Republican election official from Mississippi explained in 1868, “Could you explain the situation as regards protection?”
“The Rebels never needed protection. They’ve had it all the time. It’s only the Republicans, especially the Negro, who need protection.”
The reason for the 1876 withdrawal of federal troops from the South had been the presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden. 185 electoral votes had been needed to win the presidency. When the votes were counted Democrat Tilden had received 184 electoral votes and Republican Hayes had received 165.
Neither had received the necessary votes to win but there was a total of 20 disputed electoral votes that have not yet been counted. If a Republican has received all 20 of these votes. He would become president. If Democrat Tilden received even one of those votes he would become president.
The uncounted votes came from the three disputed southern states of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. And those three states dual election results have been reported. One tally in Florida showed Republicans had won. %he other tally showed Democrats and won. The same was true in South Carolina and Louisiana.
Why were the disputed results? Why were there two different tallies of votes? Because in each of those three states Democrats had been extremely active both in suppressing the black vote through violence and altering count at the ballot box.
Voter Fraud By Democrats
One political cartoon from that day depicted the type of violence that helped alter the count. A Democrat is inviting blacks to come vote but notice that inside an armed gunman sits waiting beside the ballot box to ensure that the black voter reached the “right” decision.
Consequently, many blacks did not even try to vote. Representative John Roy Lynch shortly after that presidential election personally experienced the same type of vote counting difficulties as had Rutherford B. Hayes.
Lynch explained that those difficulties had come from those Democrats whom he described as, “The ballot box stuffer and a shotgun holder of the South.” He had, therefore, declared, “I’ll say to you gentlemen that in my state the official return is an official fraud. When I ran for Congress in the 6th District of Mississippi in 1880 I know that there were not less than five thousand votes cast for me that were counted for the Democrat that ran against me.
Now, bear in mind, the official report gave him 5,000 of my votes. If these fraudulent votes for him are counted then you say to me, “We will only admit you on what the Democrats choose to give you.” Now I say that is wrong.”
Voter fraud by Democrats was indeed a problem in the South. In addition to changing the voting counts or intimidating voters, Harper’s Weekly showed another way the Southern Democrats were able to obtain additional votes.They simply took the names off cemetery headstones and then cast a fraudulent vote in the name of a dead voter.
Returning to the 1876 presidential election by keeping black Americans from voting in the disputed states and by altering the voting counts Democrats claimed that they had won those three states. However, the Republicans counted the suppressed African-American votes and ignored the fraudulent votes and they claimed that they had won those three states.
Since the Electoral College did not count any of the disputed votes, and since neither presidential candidate could win the election without them Congress was required to decide who would become president.
Congress convened a commission of 15 members to hear the issue. A commission composed of five members from the House five from the Senate and five from the Supreme Court Since the House was in Democratic control. Three of its five members were Democrats since the Senate was in Republican control. Three of its five members were Republicans. From the Supreme Court. Two of its five members were Republicans. Two were Democrats and one was an independent. Thus the commission was made up of seven Democrats seven Republicans and one Independent.
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The Great Compromise
The one Independent resigned from the Supreme Court and went home to become a state senator. Since the only remaining members of the Supreme Court were Republicans that departed member was replaced with the Republican meaning that the commission was composed of seven Democrats and eight Republicans.
The Commission investigated and determined that there had been voter suppression through the killing, injuring, and intimidation of black Americans by Democrats. The commission, therefore, by an eight to seven vote awarded the election to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes.
The Democratic House, however, refused to ratify the findings of the commission and the Democrats threatened to filibuster those findings. The result was America had no president. The election controversy continued for four months until a solution was proposed, a solution now called the Great Compromise.
The Democrats offered to ratify the Commission’s report but only if the last federal troops were withdrawn from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. If Republicans did not agree and if federal troops were not removed from those three states America would remain without a president.
The proposal was finally agreed to. Federal troops, therefore, left the three remaining states in which they had been stationed, thus officially ending reconstruction in the south. Rutherford B. Hayes became president.
Following the withdrawal of the last federal troops from that point forward, the South became known as the “Solid Democratic South.” Southern state legislatures were again solidly in the hands of Democrats and White supremacy in the South was re-established.
By the way, recall Representative Josiah Walls? It was during this same contested election in Florida that the Democrats had challenged his credentials for the second time and that the Democratically controlled House had sent him home. He had survived the first challenge when Republicans were in charge. But when sent home the second time with the state back in the hands of Democrats as a result of The Great Compromise, Wall”s was therefore defeated by white Democrats thus ending his congressional career.
Eventually, all remaining black legislators and the other Southern Democratic states were also defeated and removed from Congress. Democrats thus succeeded and barring southern Blacks from federal elective offices for an additional 70 years.
Returning to 1876 public debate began to focus on issues that have already been raised in earlier civil rights laws. Laws and issues that Democrats were now trying to reverse, issues such as education. For example, this piece entitled Politics and the School Question, attitude at the Republican and Democratic parties in 1876, examine the contrast positions of the two parties on the issue of education.
The Republicans had supported public education for all children regardless of race. But Democrats not only opposed public education for all children but in fact, strongly supported segregated education.
For example, this is a published and widely distributed pro-segregation speech by Democratic Congressman James Harper of North Carolina. Notice its title, “Separate Schools for Whites and Colored with Equal Advantages. Mixed Schools? Never.”
Similarly, in 1875 the Democratic Executive Committee of Ohio issued this piece of public education to, as they said, “expose the tricks of the Republican Executive Committee.” What were the so-called “dirty tricks” of Republicans to which Democrats objected? And what was intended to be an insult about Republicans?
“The only positive action of the Republican Party on the school question in Ohio is to destroy the system by requiring that whites and blacks be educated together.”
That’s all the time we have today folks. That was part four in a seven-part series called, Setting the Record Straight, American History in Black and White. It”s one of those popular programs David Barton has ever done. It”s incredibly powerful.
If you only heard today you’re just scratching the surface. You want to go to WallBuildersLive.com and you can listen to the first three parts in addition to what you heard today. Then we’re going to have the next three. It’s a total of seven. So we’ll have the next three parts over the next few days.
And then if you want to get the full DVD you can do that at WallBuilders.com. We will pick up right where we left off today when you join us next time on WallBuilders Live!