The Ku Klux Klan was formed primarily as a way to intimidate black Republicans and Republicans in general so that they would not vote. They went farther than just standing outside of voting locations and looking threatening. Eugene Smalley writes in A Brief History of the Republican Party “A secret organization sprang up as if by magic in all parts of the South, whose members were exclusively white men, hostile to the new order of things, and sworn to accomplish the destruction of negro rule. This organization was called the Ku-Klux Klan. Its ostensible purpose at first was to keep the blacks in order and prevent them from committing small depredations upon the property of the whites, but its real motives were essentially political…They murdered many of the negro leaders, and in pursuance of their scheme for overawing the colored population took thousands of poor blacks out of their cabins at night and brutally flogged them. In some neighborhoods scarcely a colored man escaped a visitation from these terrible midnight riders. The negroes were invariably required to promise not to vote the Republican ticket, and threatened with death if they broke their promises. In some cases, the Ku-Klux Klan assaulted Republican officials in their houses or offices or upon the public roads; in others they attacked the meetings of negros and dispersed them. Their action took almost every form of lawlessness, and was adopted with the single purpose ofbreaking down the authority of the Republican State and local governments, and preparing the way for a Democratic victory at the elections. The Ku-Klux Klan order and its variations extended throughout the entire South” Harper’s Weekly reported on March 30,1867 that the KKK even went so far as to attack a Republican convention in New Orleans eight months earlier, killing and injuring many, and further proving the political motivation behind the organization, to harm the Republican Party.
It wasn’t until the mid 20th century with the election of Harry Truman as President that some Democrats started going against the majority of their party to support civil rights for racial minorities. Richard Wormser of PBS writes, “Harry Truman astonished everyone by suddenly supporting civil rights. Truman had been outraged at the murder and assaults on dozens of black veterans of World War II. Although he once held strong racial biases — he had used the [‘n’ word] freely in his speech — in 1947 he decided to make civil rights a national issue. He authorized a fifteen-man committee on Civil Rights to recommend new legislation to protect people from discrimination.” Many southern Democrats were not on board with Truman’s bold stand though. February 8, 1948’s Sarasota Herald reported “The South’s governors adopted a resolution condemning President Truman’s civil rights program…[Missouri] Governor [Fielding] Wright called on the conference to stand for ‘white supremacy’ against President Truman…Wright said he wanted to defeat President Truman’s program of civil rights for Negroes by opposition within the Democratic Party. ‘However, he said, ‘if all other recourse is unavailable, I stand ready as a loyal adherent to the true aims of the party’s time-honored traditions to take other and more positive action.”
The history doesn’t lie and is there for anyone to see. The Ku-Klux Klan and affiliated organizations were one in the same with the Democratic Party. There is documented history even up to and including the 20th century of white supremacists having a prominent role in the party. Yet somehow the Democratic Party is seen as the party of civil rights while Republicans are supposedly oppressive to minorities. In many ways, this is a Twilight Zone world in which we now live.