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Race Baiting Takes Center Stage in the
1864 Presidential Election
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Republicans counter the ridiculous charge that Lincoln favored African Americans over white Americans. Instead, they use many individual instances to assert an equally absurd claim of a long history of Democratic support of African American rights.

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. Broadside. Democratic Catechism of Negro Equality. Philadelphia, Pa., July 4, 1863., 6½ x 9 in.

Inventory #22807       Price: $1,500

Complete Transcript


            Who said that all men are created equal? Thomas Jefferson, the Father of Democracy.

            Who gave the negroes the right of suffrage in New York; The Democratic party.

            Who presided over the convention which gave this privilege to negroes? Martin Van Buren, a Democrat.

            Who married a negro woman, and by her had mulatto children? Richard M. Johnson, a good Democrat.

            Who elected Richard M. Johnson Vice President of the United States? The Democratic party.

            If President Van Buren had died, and Richard M. Johnson had become President; who would have become the Democratic mistress of the White House? This same negro woman

            Who made the negro a citizen of the State of Maine? The Democratic party.

            Who enacted a similar law in Massachusetts? The Democratic party.

            Who gave the negro a right to vote in New Hampshire? The Democratic party.

            Who permitted every colored person owning $250 in New York to become a voter? A General Assembly, purely Democratic.

            Who repealed the laws of Ohio which required negroes to give bonds and security before settling in that State?  The Democratic party.

            Who made mulattoes legal voters in Ohio? The Supreme Court of which Rueben Wood was Chief Justice.

            What became of Rueben Wood? The Democratic party elected him governor three times, and he is still a leader of the Democratic party.

            Who helped give free negroes the right to vote in Tennessee under her Constitution of 1796? General Jackson.

            Was General Jackson a good Democrat? He generally passed as such.

            Who with the above facts, and many others, staring them in the face, are continually whining about “negro suffrage” and negro equality? The Democratic party.

            Who voted against the White Soldier voting in Penn’a in 1864? The Democratic party.

            All these things were done by Democrats, and yet they deny being in favor of negro equality, and charge it upon the Republicans—just like the thief who cries “stop thief” the loudest.

N.B. –Send your Democratic friend one of these Valuable Documents. Sold Wholesale and Retail at Johnson’s, No. 18 North Tenth Street, Philadelphia, Pa. See his Political Songs.

Historical Background

Arguments over white supremacy found fertile ground during the 1864 presidential election.  Lincoln expected to lose the contest and faced challenges from “Copperhead” Peace Democrats who sought an immediate end to the war. They encouraged Union soldiers to desert, Confederate P.O.W.’s to escape, and met with Confederate agents. With the backing of important newspapers such as the Chicago Times and the New York Journal of Commerce, Copperheads relentlessly sought to influence public opinion against the war. In the middle of the Civil War and after Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, it was easy for to attack Lincoln on racial grounds. Anti-Lincoln propaganda accused him of untoward preference for African Americans at the expense of whites, and election literature suggested miscegenation, despoiling the Union to free slaves, or being of African descent himself.

Both Democrats and Republicans played the race card in 1864. In this case, Republican propagandists try to turn the tables on Democratic arguments, laying out a sardonic case that the Democrats were the actual party fighting for African American civil rights. The author of this broadside lists the many laws and examples of racial progress presented by the Democratic party—from voting rights, to state citizenship, to the possibility of a black First Lady. However, the absurd charges did not stick. “The consistently racist policies of Pennsylvania’s Democrats” writes Gary Nash, “made them largely immune to broadsides of this kind.”

There are several minor variants of this broadside that differ in headline font and some occasional internal capitalization. The most significant difference can be found on the examples held in collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Library of Congress: Both are dated July 4, 1863, just under the title.

Richard Mentor Johnson (1781 – 1850) of Kentucky was Martin Van Buren’s Vice President. He was elected by the Senate after the Virginia Electoral College delegation refused to vote for him because his common-law wife was a mixed-race slave named Julia Chinn, with whom he had two daughters. Unlike other Kentucky gentlemen in similar circumstances, Johnson made no attempts to hide his relationship and openly acknowledged both it and their two their children, who he provided with education and land. When he was absent from his Kentucky estate, Chinn had control of business.


Minor foxing, else very good.


Martin Manning and Clarence Wyatt, Encyclopedia of Media and Propaganda in Wartime America, Volume 1. (Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC-CLIO, 2011)

Gary Nash, First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 2002) p. 251.

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