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The Party of Lincoln (1854-2016?): Additional Follow-Up Discussion (Part B)
Here's what we're trying to do.
We are trying to explain the rise of Donald J. Trump, billionaire real estate developer with no political or governmental experience, to the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.
In order to do this we are trying to put the Republican party itself into historical context.
We do this in answer to the sad, head-shaking American center-left who wonder, "Whatever happened to the Party of Lincoln?
We are exploring the issue, asking if the "Party of Lincoln," as such, ever existed.
Spoiler alert: No!
The Republican party of the nineteenth century was the abolitionist party. But I argue that its abolitionist energy was primarily drawn from what I call the abolitionist-deportation school of thought. This is the philosophy that saw as its end, not the integration of people of African descent into America's political, social, legal, and economic life---but rather the total evacuation of blacks.
In Part A I have already told you about the American Colonization Society (ACS), the group comprised of prominent white Americans dedicated to the task of shipping black people back to Africa. I told you it was established in 1816 and that the U.S. Congress itself appropriated $100,00 for its operations in 1819.
In Part A, I also told you about Fernando Wood, the Mayor of New York City, who recommended the city's secession, in the run-up to the Civil War, right after South Carolina broke off.
I also shared an insight from a legal historian, Dr. Paul Finkelman (Slavery & The Law). He expressed an aspect of the Southern rationale for maintaining slavery in the run-up to the American Civil War: there wasn't enough democracy to go around; and that any extension of democracy to blacks would mean a corresponding reduction to the rights of life, liberty, and happiness of white Americans.
I think now is a good time to interject some thoughts from the historian, Winthrop D. Jordan, concerning abolitionist sentiment. In one of his books published in 1968 he wrote:
"If there was one thread of development which showed how deeply Americans felt about Negroes, it was a campaign which developed in the 1790s, especially in Virginia for ridding the state (and the entire nation) of black men. Perhaps 'campaign' is too strong a term for the wishful proposals which were so obviously doomed to failure, but it was the enormity of the obstacles rather than any weakness in the wish that kept the early colonization movement from accomplishment" (1).
There was a near-universally held belief (and fear) that emancipation of the slaves would lead to increased racial intermixture (2).
Continuing with that theme of the fear of miscegenation, Jordan went on:
"Perhaps the real reason for this expectation (those other kinds of human 'reasons') lay in the hopes that the white men had invested in America. A darkened nation would present incontrovertible evidence that sheer animal sex was governing the American destiny and that the great experiment in the wilderness had failed to maintain the social and personal restraints which were the hallmarks and the very stuff of civilization. A blackened nation would mean that the basest of energies had guided the direction of the American experiment and that civilized man had turned beast in the forest. Retention of whiteness would be evidence of purity and of diligent nurture of the original body of the folk. Could a blackened people look back to Europe and say that they had faithfully performed their errand?" (3).
Sometimes individuals and groups of people are guided by things they don't even know they are being guided by. Its called the subconscious, folks!
The concern with preserving "the original body of the folk," was certainly reflected in subsequent immigration and naturalization policy.
"In its first words on the subject of citizenship," writes Ian F. Haney Lopez, "Congress in 1790 restricted naturalization to 'white persons.' Though the requirements for naturalization changed frequently thereafter, this racial prerequisite to citizenship endured for over a century and a half, remaining in force until 1952. From the earliest years of this country until just a generation ago, being a 'white person' was a condition for acquiring citizenship" (4).
That's naturalization, who could become a citizen. What about immigration, who was allowed to even come to the United States?
"Federal law restricted immigration to this country on the basis of race for nearly one hundred years, roughly from the Chinese exclusion laws of the 1880s until the end of the national origin quotas in 1965" (5).
Question: Why are you spending so much time on 'race' again?
Short Answer: Race is a big part of the "Party of Lincoln" fantasy, entertained by the American center-left, which I am seeking to undermine. Having undermined it, the rise of Trump will not seem like such a shock, because by then we will have conclusively shown---I hope---that the "Party of Lincoln" never existed.
Getting back to Winthrop D. Jordan on abolitionist sentiment...
"Most Americans must have shared in some measure this half conscious concern for retention of physiognomic identity," in Jordan's considered opinion. "As Patrick Henry put it, 'Our country will be peopled. The question is, shall it be with Europeans or with Africans?' Almost none of the antislavery people advocated intermarriage as a long-range solution to the problem of racial antipathy, and even the radical Charles Crawford suggested merely that Negroes ought to be allowed to marry white women without persecution" (6).
Still quoting... A New Hampshire author was sure that 'if the Negroes should remain among us, though fully franchised, they will not be treated upon terms of equality; and perhaps never rise to the rank which they deserve. Let them go, therefore, be formed into a state, and, in due time, have a voice in Congress. They will never be men, till they are treated like men; and they will never be citizens, till they feel themselves so' (7).
Jordan's comment on this: "What was striking in this proposal was that fervent equalitarianism led directly to Negro removal" (8).
Now, we might call this the most humane end of the abolitionist-deportation school of thought. Slightly less charitable, perhaps, was the sentiments expressed by one St. George Tucker of Williamsburg, Virginia, who wrote a book called A Dissertation on Slavery: With a Proposal for the General Abolition of it, in the State of Virginia (9).
Winthrop D. Jordan's assessment: "A general simultaneous emancipation was not to be countenanced. The habits of slavery had rendered Negroes unfit for freedom and white men incapable of treating freedmen as equals. Wholesale expulsion would be cruel and impractical, while permitting them to remain as freedmen would be throwing 'so many of the human race upon the earth without the means of subsistence'" (10).
In Tucker's own words: 'Though I am opposed to the banishment of the Negroes. I wish not to encourage their future residence among us. By denying the most valuable privileges which civil government affords us, I wish to render it their inclination and their interest to seek these privileges in some other climate' (11).
I move on without any comment, other than to ask you if the idea of "self-deportation" sounds at all familiar.
This brings us to another issue, the issue of slavery and how it was destroyed in North America.
If you were to ask a left labor historian about this, she might say somethiing like the following: Slavery had to be destroyed in order to open up economic opportunity for white working class males, who were largely shut out because they obviously could not compete with free slave labor.
First of all, I think the quickest and easiest way we can see this is by noting the tremendous pressure that the courts, state legislatures, and society at large put on the status of free blacks in the nineteenth century.
Historians John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr., describe the legal status of free blacks as "fairly high" during the colonial period; "strengthened somewhat" during the Revolutionary period (1776-1783); but after the American Revolution, they say, the status of free blacks "deteriorated until the distinction between free blacks and slaves was hardly discernible" (12).
Not only that, but any white person could come along and fraudulently claim that any free black was a runaway slave; and there was precious little the latter could do about it. Free blacks faced the constant danger of being kidnapped into slavery, as often happened. And the danger of free blacks being reduced to servitude by the courts was also great (13).
Several states like Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi required free blacks to be registered. Florida, Georgia, and several other states required free blacks to have white guardians. All Southern states required free blacks to have passes; and if one was caught without a certificate of freedom, he was presumed to be a slave (14).
In no Southern state could a free black move about as he wished. It was even dangerous to try this in some Northern commuities, lest he be thought to be a fugitive slave. In North Carolina, free blacks were barred from going beyond the county adjoining the one in which they resided. In 1793, free blacks were barred from even entering the state of Virginia. By 1835 most Southern and several Northern states had restricted or prohibited free black immigration (15).
Stay with me!
In Georgia, violators were fined $100, and when they couldn't pay---as expected--they were sold into slavery. There were laws against free blacks leaving the state for any period of time, say, from 60 to 90 days, and returning. Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and other states forbade free blacks from possessing or carrying firearms without a license (16). Presumably, whites did not need a license to possess or carry guns.
In 1835 the right to assembly had been taken away from almost all free blacks in the South. They could not hold church services without the presence of a licensed and respected white minister. Benevolent societies and similar organizations were not allowed to convene (17).
In Maryland free blacks could not have lyceums, lodges, fire companies, or literary, dramatic, social, moral, or charitable societies (18). In 1805 Maryland prohibited free blacks from selling corn, wheat, or tobacco without a license. In 1829 Georgia made it illegal for free blacks to be employed as typesetters. In 1831 North Carolina required all black traders and peddlers to be licensed. South Carolina forbade the employment of free blacks as clerks. A large number of states made it illegal for blacks to buy or sell alcoholic beverages (19).
Again, presumably, whites could sell corn, wheat, or tobacco in Maryland without a license. The point is this: The license requirement most likely proved to be a prohibitive expense for most free blacks, barring them from certain kinds of entrepreneurial activities.
In Georgia free blacks could not make purchases on credit without the permission of their white guardians. Every state required free blacks to work, and for their means to support to be visible. Pennsylvania (1725): The decree was that 'if any free Negroe, fit to work, shall neglect so to do and loiter and misspend his or her time... any two magistrates... are... impowered and required to bind out to service, such Negroe, from year to year, as to them may seem meet' (20).
New York set up a property qualification for free blacks who wanted to vote, of $250 and a residency requirement of three years. There was no extensive black voting anywhere after 1830 (21).
In Pensacola, Florida, despite their disenfranchisement, free blacks were expected to pay a tax of $2 for putting on "entertainments." In Baltimore (1859) and other places free blacks were expected to pay school taxes, even though their own children would not be allowed to attend the public schools. In general blacks were not allowed to serve in the militia, except as musicians or servants, with the exceptions of New York (1814) and Louisiana (1812) (22).
Some states actually required free blacks to post bonds as security against becoming public charges. Not only were the adult free blacks hired or bound out, their children were taken and placed in the custody of white persons. Illegitimate children, whose parents had violated some law or were without visible means of support, were apprenticed out to be taught a trade, and given moral instruction (23).
In Maryland: free blacks lost the right to vote in 1810. In Tennessee blacks lost the vote in 1834; in North Carolina it happened in 1835; In Pennsylvania 1838; and in Indiana voting was confined to white males in 1851. Free blacks could not testify against whites in trial; though slaves were allowed to testify against free blacks (24).
Now we come to the most egregious state provisions.
The slaveholding states made a provision allowing for free blacks to choose their masters and re-enslave themselves. Tennessee (1859) enacted a law to facilitate re-enslavement. Arkansas (1859) passed an act to remove free blacks and mulattoes by compelling those who remained at the end of the year, to choose their masters 'who must give bond not to allow such Negroes to act as free.' Texas (1858) enacted a similar law; and in 1859 and 1860, respectively, Louisiana and Maryland passed such legislation. Several other states seriously considered such statutes, but for various reasons, failed to enact them (25).
Here is the point.
Our left labor historian would be wrong about the imperative acting against the survival of slavery in the mainland of North America. As we have seen from the illustrations I have provided, above, despite the fact that the United States had outlawed the Atlantic slave trade in 1808---state legislatures, the courts, and society at large were working to increase the slave population by squeezing free blacks into servitude; and this was occurring as the state legislatures were carving out a protected zone for economic opportunities for free white males.
Therefore slaves and free blacks were never in "competition" for jobs with free whites.
As we are well over two thousand words, I'm going to shut this installment down and go right into Part C.
Thank you for reading!
1. Jordan, Winthrop D. White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro 1550-1812. 542
3. ibid, 543
4. Haney Lopez, Ian F. White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York University Press, 1996. 1
5. ibid, 37
6. Jordan, Winthrop D. White Over Black. 544
7. ibid, 548
9. ibid, 555 & 558
10. ibid, 558
12. Franklin, John Hope & Moss, Jr., Alfred A. From Slavery To Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. Sixth Edition. (paperback). Alfred A. Knopf, 1988. 139
18. ibid, 139-140
19. ibid, 140
21. ibid, 141
25. ibid, 142