A 153rd anniversary usually isn’t something that garners a lot of attention. The 13th Amendment, however, probably deserves to be mentioned every year.
The 13th is a little-discussed amendment these days, if just because abolishing slavery isn’t exactly a controversial topic. Anybody in modern-day America who talked about the reinstitution of slavery would be summarily dismissed as being beyond help.
It’s a fairly short piece of law, too: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,” the amendment reads.
It also gives Congress the power to enforce the law.
Now, the traditional anniversary of the end of slavery, at least in the African-American community, is Juneteenth — June 19, the date in 1865 when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger of the Union Army read the Emancipation Proclamation to slaves in Galveston, Texas.
However, when the 13th Amendment celebrated its 153rd birthday on Dec. 6, it didn’t get a whole lot of mention. And what definitely didn’t get mentioned is that it wouldn’t exist if Democrats had their way.
As Ourdocuments.gov notes, “The 13th Amendment was passed at the end of the Civil War before the Southern states had been restored to the Union and should have easily passed the Congress.
“Although the Senate passed it in April 1864, the House did not. At that point, Lincoln took an active role to ensure passage through Congress. He insisted that passage of the 13th Amendment be added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming presidential elections. His efforts met with success when the House passed the bill in January 1865 with a vote of 119–56.”
Indeed, it had to be ratified before the Southern states rejoined the union. The reason is that the Democrats considered Dixie their own personal fiefdom up until the late 1960s. Jim Crow laws, segregated schools, the KKK, massive resistance, eugenics — all of these things were brought to you by the Democratic Party and vigorously fought by the Republicans.
But, you say, what about the “great switch?” That’s when the Democrats supposedly became the party of racial justice, all put into motion to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Well, yes, about that. The bill couldn’t have passed without Republican support.
Even the U.K. Guardian, of all sources, notes that “80 percent of Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the bill. Less than 70 percent of Democrats did. Indeed, Minority Leader Republican Everett Dirksen led the fight to end the filibuster. Meanwhile, Democrats such as Richard Russell of Georgia and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina tried as hard as they could to sustain a filibuster.”
The vote was taken during the “Solid South” era, where almost every elected official below the Mason-Dixon was a Democrat. Only eight out of 102 representatives from the former Confederacy voted for the bill in the House and one of 22 voted for it in the Senate.
Yet, the fact that the South is now pretty solidly Republican always brings a tsking from Democrats, who constantly mistake the new South — the product of economic growth and migration — with the old South they provided over for so many years.
They lament the racism they so successfully fomented for years, as if their party played no role in it. They’ve washed their hands clean. As “penance,” they’ve taken on a different form of identity politics which doesn’t involve standing in the schoolhouse door but is every bit as pernicious.
That’s why the 13th Amendment ought to be celebrated a bit more, we think. Not only did it officially end slavery and passed without Democratic support, it had to be passed before the Southern Democrats could rejoin the Union, lest they continue one of the most evil practices in the history of this planet.
The Democrats have always been the party of oppression and identity politics, whether it be Dec. 6, 1865 or Dec. 6, 2018. If only America would remember that. The Democrats would certainly prefer you didn’t.
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