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How Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans Fought Against Democrats to Abolish Slavery

A picture of Abraham Lincoln representing the republican party
From Lincoln to the Civil Rights Movement: The Republican Party's legacy in the fight against slavery and discrimination

Dive into the fascinating history of the battle to end slavery in America, and discover the pivotal role that Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party played in this struggle. Learn how the Republican Party's foundations were grounded in the fight against slavery, and debunk the myths surrounding the Democrats' role in the abolition movement. This article will explore the complex historical context of the era and illuminate the true heroes who fought for freedom and equality.

The Birth of the Republican Party and its Anti-Slavery Stance

The origins of the Republican Party can be traced back to the 1850s, when the United States was grappling with the divisive issue of slavery. The party emerged from a coalition of anti-slavery activists, including former members of the Whig, Free Soil, and Democratic parties, who came together to oppose the spread of slavery into new territories.

The Origins of the Republican Party and its Anti-Slavery Agenda

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 in response to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed residents of new territories to decide whether to permit slavery within their borders. This act outraged anti-slavery activists, who believed it would lead to the expansion of the "peculiar institution." Consequently, they formed a new political party with the primary goal of opposing the spread of slavery and eventually abolishing it altogether.

Key Figures and Founding Principles

Several key figures played crucial roles in the formation and growth of the Republican Party. Some of the most prominent included:

  1. Abraham Lincoln - The future president started as a member of the Whig Party but joined the Republican Party due to his opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

  2. Charles Sumner - A vocal abolitionist and senator from Massachusetts, Sumner was a key figure in shaping the party's anti-slavery platform.

  3. William H. Seward - As a New York senator, Seward was another influential early Republican who fought against the spread of slavery.

The founding principles of the Republican Party were centered on opposition to the expansion of slavery, the preservation of the Union, and the promotion of free labor and economic development.

The Republican Party's Role in the Abolition Movement

The Republican Party quickly became the leading political force in the abolition movement. In the 1856 presidential election, Republican candidate John C. Fremont ran on an anti-slavery platform but lost to Democrat James Buchanan. However, the party's influence continued to grow, and in 1860, Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected president, setting the stage for the Civil War and the eventual end of slavery in America.

Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator

Lincoln's Early Political Career and Stance on Slavery

Abraham Lincoln began his political career in the Illinois state legislature as a member of the Whig Party. While he was not an outright abolitionist at the time, he opposed the spread of slavery and advocated for gradual emancipation. Lincoln's views on slavery evolved over time, and by the time he became president, he was committed to ending slavery in the United States.

The Emancipation Proclamation and its Impact on the Civil War

On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in Confederate-held territory were to be set free. While the proclamation did not immediately free any slaves, it changed the focus of the Civil War from preserving the Union to abolishing slavery. It also encouraged enslaved people in the South to flee to Union lines, weakening the Confederacy's labor force and bolstering the Union's cause.

Lincoln's Legacy in the Fight Against Slavery

Abraham Lincoln's role in ending slavery in the United States cannot be overstated. As president, he navigated the country through the Civil War, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and pushed for the passage of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery throughout the nation. Lincoln's leadership and dedication to the cause of freedom solidified his place in history as the Great Emancipator and a champion of human rights.

The Democrats' Resistance to Abolition

During the era of slavery and the Civil War, the Democratic Party's stance on the issue was markedly different from that of the Republican Party. While not all Democrats supported slavery, the party as a whole was generally resistant to abolition and, at times, actively opposed efforts to secure civil rights for Black Americans.

The Democratic Party's Support for Slavery and the Fugitive Slave Act

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the Democratic Party was the dominant political force in the South, where the economy was heavily reliant on slave labor. Consequently, many Democrats were supportive of maintaining and even expanding slavery. The Democratic Party backed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which required the return of escaped slaves to their owners and imposed heavy penalties on those who aided runaways. This legislation was deeply unpopular in the North, where it was seen as an infringement on states' rights and an affront to the abolitionist cause.

The Role of the Democratic Party in the Civil War

During the Civil War, the Democratic Party was divided between those who supported the Union and those who sympathized with the Confederacy. Some Northern Democrats, known as "Copperheads," were openly critical of President Lincoln and his efforts to abolish slavery. They advocated for a negotiated peace with the Confederacy, which would have likely preserved the institution of slavery.

In the South, many Democrats actively supported the Confederate cause and fought against the Union in the hopes of preserving their way of life, which was built on the exploitation of enslaved people.

The Post-War Era and the Democrats' Opposition to Civil Rights Legislation

Following the Civil War and the passage of the 13th Amendment, the Democratic Party continued to resist efforts to secure civil rights for Black Americans. During Reconstruction, Southern Democrats worked to undermine the progress made by newly freed slaves, implementing "Black Codes" to restrict their rights and suppress their political power.

In the decades that followed, Democrats in both the North and the South were often opposed to civil rights legislation, such as the 14th and 15th Amendments, which granted citizenship and voting rights to Black Americans. Southern Democrats also played a significant role in the establishment of Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation and perpetuated racial inequality.

The Turning Point: The Civil War and the Struggle for Freedom

The Civil War was a pivotal moment in American history, as it marked a turning point in the long and arduous struggle for freedom and equality. The Republican Party, with its anti-slavery platform, played a significant role in this conflict and the eventual abolition of slavery.

The Events Leading Up to the Civil War

Tensions between the North and the South had been mounting for decades due to economic, cultural, and political differences. Central to this divide was the issue of slavery. Abolitionists in the North sought to end the institution, while many in the South were intent on preserving it. Key events leading up to the Civil War included the Compromise of 1850, the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott decision, and John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. These events intensified sectional divisions and set the stage for the eventual conflict.

The Role of the Republican Party and its Anti-Slavery Platform during the War

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 as a coalition of anti-slavery activists, Free-Soilers, and ex-Whigs. The party's anti-slavery platform and the election of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, as president in 1860 served as a catalyst for the secession of Southern states and the onset of the Civil War. Throughout the conflict, the Republican Party remained committed to the abolition of slavery and worked to secure the passage of key legislation that would help bring this about, including the Homestead Act, the Morrill Land-Grant Act, and the Pacific Railway Act.

The Passage of the 13th Amendment and the End of Slavery in America

The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude throughout the United States, was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. This landmark piece of legislation marked the culmination of the Republican Party's efforts to put an end to the institution of slavery in America.

The Civil War and the Republican Party's unwavering commitment to the abolition of slavery transformed the nation, leading to the end of an abhorrent institution and the beginning of a long struggle for true equality and justice for all Americans.

The Enduring Legacy of the Republican Party's Fight Against Slavery

The Republican Party's early commitment to the abolition of slavery has left a lasting impact on American society and politics. The party's fight for civil rights and equality continued well into the 20th century, playing a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement and shaping the political landscape of modern America.

The Continued Fight for Civil Rights and Equality

In the decades following the Civil War, the Republican Party continued to champion the cause of civil rights for African Americans. During the Reconstruction Era, Republicans in Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which granted citizenship and equal protection under the law to all people born in the United States, regardless of race. They also played a key role in the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments, which granted African Americans equal protection under the law and the right to vote, respectively.

The Role of the Republican Party in the Civil Rights Movement

Although the Republican Party experienced a shift in its base and policy focus in the mid-20th century, it continued to play an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which established the Civil Rights Division in the Department of Justice and the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Additionally, a higher percentage of Republicans in Congress than Democrats voted in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were landmark pieces of legislation aimed at dismantling racial segregation and ensuring voting rights for African Americans.

The Lasting Impact of the Republican Party's Anti-Slavery Efforts on Modern American Politics

The Republican Party's early and continued commitment to the fight against slavery and for civil rights has left a lasting legacy in American politics. While the party's demographics and policy focus have evolved over time, its historical role in the abolition of slavery and the pursuit of civil rights remains a point of pride for many Republicans today. This legacy serves as a reminder of the importance of political activism in the ongoing struggle for equality and justice in the United States.

The story of the struggle against slavery in America is one that is often misunderstood and misrepresented. By exploring the true history of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, and the Democrats, we can gain a deeper understanding of the forces that shaped our nation and the heroes who fought for freedom and equality. Let us remember and honor their legacy as we continue to strive for a more just and inclusive society.

The Democratic Party's Continued Resistance to Equal Rights Leading into the Civil Rights Movement

The Democratic Party's stance on slavery and equal rights evolved considerably over time, with its early history marked by resistance to abolition and civil rights for African Americans. This resistance continued into the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement, before the party eventually shifted its stance to embrace progressive reforms aimed at ensuring racial equality.

The Democratic Party's Opposition to Reconstruction

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Democratic Party actively opposed the Reconstruction policies implemented by the Republican-controlled Congress. Many Democrats, particularly in the South, sought to maintain the pre-war social order and suppress the newly won rights of African Americans. Democratic politicians often supported the implementation of "Black Codes," which restricted the freedom and economic opportunities of former slaves, and vehemently opposed the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

The Rise of Jim Crow and Democratic Resistance to Civil Rights

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of the Jim Crow era, a period characterized by the systematic disenfranchisement and segregation of African Americans, particularly in the South. Democratic politicians in Southern states played a significant role in the creation and enforcement of these discriminatory policies. While some Democrats in the North supported civil rights, the party as a whole was largely divided on the issue, with many members prioritizing the maintenance of their political power over the pursuit of equal rights for African Americans.

The Democratic Party and the Early Civil Rights Movement

During the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-20th century, the Democratic Party remained divided on the issue of racial equality. Many Southern Democrats, also known as "Dixiecrats," actively opposed the desegregation of schools, public facilities, and housing, as well as measures aimed at securing voting rights for African Americans. Prominent Democratic politicians, such as Senators Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, were outspoken critics of desegregation and civil rights legislation.

The Shift Towards Progressive Reforms

Despite this early resistance, the Democratic Party experienced a significant shift in its stance on civil rights during the 1960s. Under the leadership of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, both Democrats, the party began to embrace progressive reforms aimed at dismantling racial segregation and ensuring equal rights for all citizens. The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which received support from Democratic lawmakers, marked a turning point in the party's history and its commitment to racial equality.

The Continued Divisive Tactics Used by the Democratic Party to Cause Divide in America Leading up to 2023

Although the Democratic Party has evolved significantly over the years, critics argue that it has continued to use divisive tactics that contribute to polarization and division within the United States. This section will explore some of the contentious strategies and issues that have defined the party's approach in recent decades, leading up to 2021.

Identity Politics and the Democratic Party

One divisive tactic often associated with the Democratic Party is the use of identity politics, which refers to the tendency to form political alliances based on shared social characteristics such as race, gender, and religion. Critics argue that by focusing on these aspects, the Democratic Party has inadvertently fostered a culture of division and resentment among various social groups. However, supporters of the party maintain that acknowledging and addressing the unique struggles faced by different communities is essential for achieving social justice and equality.

Polarizing Rhetoric and Partisanship

The Democratic Party has been criticized for contributing to the hyper-partisan atmosphere that has come to define American politics in recent years. Some Democratic politicians have been known to use strong, polarizing rhetoric to criticize their Republican counterparts, further deepening the divide between the two parties. This uncompromising approach to political discourse has made it increasingly difficult for lawmakers to find common ground and work together on bipartisan legislation.

Contentious Policy Positions

The Democratic Party's policy positions on certain issues have also been a source of division in the United States. For example, the party's support for stricter gun control measures, abortion rights, and progressive immigration policies has led to sharp disagreements with more conservative Americans. While some argue that these policy stances are necessary to protect the rights and well-being of citizens, others contend that they contribute to the growing ideological chasm between Americans.

The Role of the Media and Political Messaging

Finally, the Democratic Party's relationship with the mainstream media has been a point of contention for many Americans. Critics argue that biased reporting and selective coverage of news events have perpetuated a narrative that favors the Democratic Party and its policy positions, contributing to the polarization of the American public. Additionally, the use of social media and targeted political messaging by the Democratic Party has been criticized for promoting echo chambers and amplifying divisive rhetoric.

Take Action: Dive deeper into this history, share this article with friends and family, and engage in meaningful conversations about the role of political parties in shaping America's past and future. Together, we can learn from history and work towards a more equitable and just society.


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