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Over the years there has been a concerted effort, on behalf of many, to rewrite political history, especially when it comes to the Democrat Party. These rewrites, half-truths or urban legends misrepresent historical fact; and unfortunately have lead astray countless numbers of people through politically charged falsehoods. One such legend, which seeks to rewrite history, is that of the Dixiecrats. As the legend goes, those Dixiecrats who broke from the Democrat party in 1948 all joined the Republican Party (Click names to see the articles by Roland Martin and Clarence Page).

According to Page’s reconstruction of history, Goldwater votes against the 1964 Civil rights act; and it takes moderate republicans, led by Everett Dirksen, to ensure that the act becomes law over the obstruction of the Southern segregationists. What Page fails to mention, is that Goldwater and other conservatives supported the 1957 and 1960 Civil rights acts. He then goes on to say, “…many of those same conservative southern Democrats turned Republican. They helped form the core of the historic "Southern strategy," using racial resentments and states' rights arguments to rebuild the conservative movement after Goldwater's resounding defeat.” Unfortunately for Page, the historical record and pure logic don’t bear out this assumption.

The Dixiecrats

During the Philadelphia nominating convention of the Democrat Party in 1948 a number of disgruntled southern segregationist democrats stormed out in protest. They were upset about planks in the new platform that supported Civil Rights.[1]

They left to form a new Party called the State’s Rights Democratic Party also known as the Dixiecrats. Segregationist like George Wallace and other loyalists, although upset, did not bolt from the party; but instead supported another candidate against Harry Truman. According to Kari Frederickson, the goal for the Dixiecrats “was to win the 127 electoral-college votes of the southern states, which would prevent either Republican Party nominee Thomas Dewy or Democrat Harry Truman from winning the 266 electoral votes necessary for election. Under this scenario, the contest would be decided by the House of Representatives, where southern states held 11 of the 48 votes, as each state would get only one vote if no candidate received a majority of electors' ballots. In a House election, Dixiecrats believed that southern Democrats would be able to deadlock the election until one of the parties had agreed to drop its civil rights plank.”[2]

Notably, this stated aim is apparent in the third plank of the Dixiecrat’s platform which states, “We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totalitarian, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions.”[3]

What is even more telling, and speaks directly to the incredulous nature of this urban legend, is the fact that the Dixiecrats rejected the Civil rights platforms of not one, but both parties. Republicans had always supported civil rights since their inception (see GOP party platform here). What was new is that the Democrats, led by Harry Truman, were publicly taking a stand for Civil rights (see Democrat Party Platform here). The ‘totalitarian, centralized bureaucratic government”, according to the Dixiecrats, was the federal government’s enforcement of the 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. With both parties, now, standing for Civil rights the segregationist had no party to go to. Thus, they started their own with the idea of causing a stalemate, which they hoped to break, once both parties relinquished their pro-civil rights planks.

Which way did they go?

The strategy of the State’s Rights Democratic Party failed. Truman was elected and civil rights moved forward with support from both Republicans and Democrats. This begs an answer to the question: So where did the Dixiecrats go? Contrary to legend, it makes no sense for them to join with the Republican Party whose history is replete with civil rights achievements. The answer is, they returned to the Democrat party and rejoined others such as George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Lester Maddox, and Ross Barnett. Interestingly, of the 26 known Dixiecrats (5 governors and 21 senators) only three ever became republicans: Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Mills E. Godwind, Jr. The segregationists in the Senate, on the other hand, would return to their party and fight against the Civil Rights acts of 1957, 1960 and 1964. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower proffered the first two Acts.

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Dr. Wallace is the founder and Publisher of Freedom's Journal Magazine. He has been in publishing for over 15 years and in ministry over 30 years. He holds a PhD in Biblical studies and is an ordained minister. He also serves as the CEO of Wallace Multimedia Group, LLC, the parent company of this magazine. He is married to Jennifer Wallace and they have two sons Eric and Greg.
  • disqus_MHw7a2dXsU

    A list of the Dixiecrats:

    Hill and Sparkman of Alabama
    Fulbright and McClellan of Arkansas
    Holland and Smathers of Florida
    Russell and Talmadge of Georgia
    Ellender and Long of Louisiana
    Eastland and Stennis of Mississippi
    Ervin and Jordan of North Carolina
    Johnston and Thurmond* of South Carolina
    Gore Sr. and Walters of Tennessee
    H. Byrd and Robertson of Virginia
    R. Byrd of West Virginia

    Of these, only one (Strom Thurmond) became a republican. Only a bigot steeped in ignorance could possibly claim “white conservatives left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP”.

    And let’s not forget that the last senator who was a KKK member was… Robert Byrd, the democrat from West Virginia. This disgusting person is still lionized by democrats.

  • Eric M. Wallace

    Why do you insist on equating conservatives with racists or segregationist? Woodrow Wilson was a progressive but also a segregationist.
    Requiring people to show ID’s when they vote is not voter suppression no more than requiring a drivers license is driver suppression. Maybe showing an ID to get into a building is access suppression? How about getting on an airplane is that flyer suppression? This is stupid and you ought to be ashamed to even mention it.
    The very idea that the GOP would take on racist attitudes and policies after the Dixiecrats crashed and burned is really incredulous. Republicans helped past the Civil rights act and Voting rights act. I wish you guys would read a book and stop listening to the haters at MSNBC. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  • deanrd

    This is BS. Look at what’s happening in Arizona. Look at the voter suppression. I’m old. I lived through that time. White conservatives left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP. Even in some states, the KKK (which started with southern Democrats) have said they disbanded because Republicans have adopted their policies. And it’s not Democratic Governors who declare “Conservative History Month”.

  • Mike

    Robert Byrd was a Kleagle in the KKK.he faithfully represented the Democratic Party in the Senate until his death while still in office in 2010

  • Mike

    Strom Thurmond was a Democrat when he ran for president

  • Mike

    The Clinton’s honored James William Fulbright with a 7 foot tall lifetime achievement award in 2002

  • Mike

    Martin Luther King Jr and his family and friends also leaned Republican as did most blacks in the 50′s and 60′s

  • Mike

    Al Gore Sr voted against the 1964 civil rights act,Al Gore Jr lied and said his daddy did vote for the 1964 civil rights act

  • Mike

    Bill Clinton’s mentor William Fulbright was a KKK and segregation supporter

  • Michael Foley

    Fantastic article Dr. Wallace. Thank you for what is the most thorough recounting of the actual history that I have seen. Far too many are being fed this myth.

  • frobert

    Strom Thurmond was never a member of the KKK, in fact he turned his back on the party of racism and embraced the party of equality. He even put people of color on his staff and even recommended colored judges to the bench. Robert Byrd on the other hand was a member of the Klan, and remained racist for his entire life.

  • zep93

    I’ll take your deal, puke… Will your mommy let you drive to Indiana to meet???

  • Arthur D Leigh

    So you can’t or won’t answer the question and your solution is to threaten me with violence? And you call me backward? There are no words for you stupidity.

  • dougpow

    BLACKS STILL LIVE ON THE PLANTATION.

    SADLY AT TIMES I WONDER IF I’M WRONG FOR EVEN CONCERNING MYSELF WITH ANY BLACK CONCERN.

    WHY SHOULD I?

    BLACKS SEEM TO DO NOTHING TO HELP THEM SELVES.

    BLACKS DON’T HAVE ENOUGH SENSE APPARENTLY TO REALIZE THE VERY PARTY ….A PARTY WITH A NAME THAT HAS NEVER CHANGED….IS THE PARTY THEY VOTE FOR AND HAS DONE NOTHING FOR THEM.

    THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WHICH HAS GAVE THEM THE FOOTING THEY NEED TO PROVE THEMSELVES IS THE VERY PARTY THEY VOTE AGAINST.

    WHY SHOULD I CARE IF BLACKS ARE IMPOVERISHED……..I BARELY DO ANY MORE…..

    “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

    ENJOY YOURSELVES THE NEXT TIME YOU VOTE AND STAB US CONSERVATIVE TEA PARTY MEMBERS IN THE BACK……..BLACKS….JUST REMEMBER….. DON’T STAB YOUR LIBERAL DEMOCRATS IN THE BACK BECAUSE THEY WILL MAKE YOU SUFFER…….
    WHO SAID THAT….I SAID THAT.

  • jyoungblood

    We favor doesnt mean We mandate it. I would vote for a Republican that said those things because as a conservative I do not need a law or constitutional amendment to tell me to do what is right.

 

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