Frederick Douglass, the most important African American in the 19th century, was loyal to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln’s day, even when it turned disloyal to him. I wonder how he would feel about today’s Grand Old Party?
“I knew that however bad the Republican party was, the Democratic party was much worse,” he wrote in his third autobiography, published in 1881.
How things have changed. The party of Lincoln was the progressive party of its day. While the Democratic Party was, as Douglass, an escaped slave who rose to be a leading abolitionist journalist and Lincoln confidant, described it, “the party of reaction and the chosen party of the old master class.”
Today, in one of history’s biggest ironies, resistance to measures intended to secure the hard-won victories of the Civil War and civil rights movement are coming from the GOP, even against measures that past Republicans made possible.