Skip to comments.The Dixiecrats - Would We Have Been Better Off Had Thurmond Won in 1948?
Posted on 12/13/2002 8:10:28 AM PST by Wallace T.
May 11, 1949
370 Central Park West
New York 25, N.Y.
States Rights Democrats
The New York Times this morning carried a report which, if true, is just about the best political news of the year. Indeed, it may be the most significant development since the advent of the New Deal.
Although a New Yorker born and bred, I was a staunch supporter of the Thurmond movement; a good friend of mine headed the Columbia Students for Thurmond, which I believe was the only such collegiate movement north of the Mason-Dixon line.
My support, however, was not extremely enthusiastic, because, although I agreed wholeheartedly with the platform and Thurmonds campaign speeches, I felt that it was keyed too much to purely Southern interests. Sure, the Civil Tyranny program must be combatted, but what about the myriad invasions of states rights in other fields by the power-hungry Washington bureaucracy? In other words, while you always claimed that yours was a national movement, by talking only of the Civil Tyranny program you threw away any attraction to Northern and Western voters.
I have always felt that it is imperative for the States Rights movement to establish itself on a nation-wide scale. Obviously, we are now living in a one-party system, a party of Socialists in fact if not in name, and only courageous Southern Democrats in Congress have so far blocked their program. But as far as Presidential elections go, the Republicans are through the Socialist Administration has too much power to bribe voters with wild promises. If things go on as they are, it is only a question of a few years for the socialist program to go through and destroy this land of liberty.
Therefore it is essential to form a new party, of States Righters, consisting of Southern Democrats and real Republicans (omitting the me-too Republicans) to launch a dynamic offensive against National Socialism in this country before it is too late. I am greatly elated over your new platform because I believe it points in that direction.
Would you please send me a copy of your new platform and constitution? Do you plan to start a newspaper of nation-wide circulation? This would be of great help in establishing a national States Rights movement.
I would like to add that, as an economist, I enthusiastically support your proposals on national debt and taxes in fact, taken all and all, from the news reports I would say that your new platform is one of the best in American history. Indeed, it is one of the finest political statements in America since Calhouns Exposition.
It could grow into a mighty movement if you have the will and vision. There are millions of Americans throughout the country, Republicans and Democrats, who would flock to your banner. They are weary of being led by the nose by New Deal politicians of both parties they are tired of being deprived of their votes because there is no anti-socialist and pro-liberty party to which they can turn.
You, gentlemen, can be a means of succor for these millions - and not only these, but America itself. National Socialism has always meant poverty, tyranny, and war. America is slipping down the road and has already gone far; it must be restored to the right path if the great dream of our forefathers of a nation dedicated to liberty is not to vanish from the earth. Yours can be that mission.
Murray N. Rothbard
Murray N. Rothbard (19261995), the founder of modern libertarianism and the dean of the Austrian School of economics, was the author of The Ethics of Liberty and For a New Liberty and many other books and articles. He was also academic vice president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the Center for Libertarian Studies, and the editor with Lew Rockwell of The Rothbard-Rockwell Report.
Copyright © 2002 by the Ludwig von Mises Institute
Murray Rothbard Archives
I am no fan of Trent Lott; he has proven to be an ineffective Majority Leader. Yet he is being skewered by GOPers and neo-conservatives for what in essence is a thoughtcrime, and not for his weakness as a leader. Lott is being hounded because he may harbor fond memories of the pre-Civil Rights South. Lott should be removed for his poor leadership. However, the usually sound conservative leaders, such as Cal Thomas, Peggy Noonan, George Will, etc., calling for his resignation at this hour only feed the appetite of the liberal media - Democrat axis.
De iure segregation imposed by state and local governments was an unjust use of government power, but so are the civil rights laws passed in 1964 and thereafter. If it is wrong to force a bus company to provide separate accomodations for blacks in 1952, it is also wring to force a homeowner to sell his home to a person he does not want to sell it to in 2002. Both types of law violate property rights and freedom of association.
Furthermore, the Federal civil rights laws, insofar as they apply to the private sector, are un-Constitutional. Inasmuch as the 14th Amendment (assuming it is a validly ratified Constitutional amendment, which it is not!) extends the Bill of Rights to the states, blacks should have received equal treatment in public schools, municipally owned transit, etc. That they did not, in spite of the Plessy v. Ferguson "separate but equal" doctrine issued by the Supreme Court in 1896, is a matter of record. Perhaps the Federal government was justified in compelling the states to treat all citizens equally. But this is a matter entirely different than the Federal government saying to a businessman that you must hire blacks, Hispanics, women, et. al. The Bill of Rights applies to the actions and decisions of government, e,g,, Congress shall pass no law...
Today's so-called conservatives, for the most part, praise the Federal integration laws that their putative forebears, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, opposed 40 years earlier. Indeed, some neo-conservatives have attempted to morph 1960s era liberal icons John Kennedy, a dissolute playboy, and Martin Luther King, an associate of Communists, into conservative heroes. Even more shocking, the Bush Administration will not denounce affirmative action, a racist policy as egregious as the anti-Jewish quotas at Ivy League universities before World War II.
There was much evil and violence in the segregated South, although the occurrence of illegal lynchings had dropped from over 200 a year around 1900 to less than 10 per year in the 1940s. Even with the high figure of 200 per year, I dare say black on black crime accounts for more deaths per year in Washington, D.C. alone in any given year, not to mention Detroit, Chicago, or New York. If many small towns posted a slogan "N______, don't let the sun set on your back" 70-80 years ago, it is also true that no one, of any race, dares venture out at night in Harlem, South Central Los Angeles, or Anacostia. If black schools in the South before 1954 suffered from poor facilities, overcrowding, and a lack of textbooks, minority schools in all regions after 1970 have often been plagued with rampant drugs, gangs, and violence, plus (when they can teach) instructors who promote hatred of whites, disparage traditional American values and encourage political correctness, to the exclusion of the traditional 3 Rs.
The only thing that Rothbard was wrong on is the timetable of America's slippage into socialism. He was too pessimistic. However, the threat of intrusive government is even more real in 2002 than it was in 1949. True conservatives need to recognize Thurmond's opposition to President Truman's reelection bid in 1948 as an act of courage and not as the folly of a racist.
The 'conservative' Democrats you speak of were also against anti-lynching laws -- definitely not a record to be proud of given that blacks who were lynched in the South often turned out to be ex-servicemen who had honorably served our country. These same 'conservative' Democrats were also against laws that would have outlawed various Jim Crow schemes such as poll taxes that were enacted in the South specifically to prevent blacks from being able to vote
And Thurmond would have let Macarthur do what he wanted in Korea, Nuke the ChiComs, and we wouldn't be worrying about China & North Korea now.
I especially disagree with your juxtaposing conditions today with those in the segregated south toegther with the suggestion things were better in the 'good old days'; there is a fundamental difference you ignore: the problems of segregation were deliberate and the product of ill will, whereas the most that can be said of the problems of the inner city and failing schools is that they reflect a failure of will rather than ill will. The political courage to tackle the problems of crime and poor schools headon is lacking, but those problems are not the result of anyone intentionally trying to make any Americans legally inferior.
The question is: what are the Constitutionally justified powers of the Federal government? There are many social ills, racism being one of them; it is wrong to use Federal power to correct these evils if the Federal government is not empowered to do so. There are Constitutional means of correcting ills. In the case of the poll tax you cited, the 24th Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1962, prohibiting a poll tax in Federal elections.
Granted, some Southern Democrats, like Theodore Bilbo, were likely motivated by racism and not by true concern for states rights and adherence to the Constitution. Yet despite legitimate questioning of motive, the Dixiecrats and like-minded Republicans like Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater were correct in pointing out that the Federal government has no authority, except in the territories or on Federal lands, to prohibit murder. It would be better that conservatives return to their limited government and pro-Constitution roots rather than attempt to hold the socialistic political positions of Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey and call it conservatism.
As for the difference between ill will and a failure of will, I would submit that a victim of either condition has been wronged. In either case, Federal governmental remedies should be applied only when Constitutionally warranted.
Which is why he deserves no leadership position.
If that makes me a neocon, so be it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.