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[Detail] Soldier and Two Women.

African Americans and the Republican Party

African Americans finally gained suffrage through the Fifteenth Amendment in 1869. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Aftrican-American vote went to the Republican Party. A search on Republican provides a number of examples of and explanations for this loyalty. In 1892, the African-American press in Ohio supported Republican candidates running for local, state, and national offices.  Editorials called on readers to remember that Republicans had championed a number of Reconstruction policies.  In his essay, "The Negro in the Present Campaign," Frederick Douglass argued against splitting the African-American vote between the two political parties:

In view of the great issues involved and of the dangers impending, it is sad to think that in this campaign any Negro may so act as to endanger the lives and liberties of his brothers in the South, and to also injure in the North the good name of his race. Such would certainly be the case should any support be given by him to the Democratic party--the party which has always endeavored to degrade his race-and should he refuse to support the Republican party--the party which has always endeavored to improve the conditions of his existence.

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The Negro in the Present Campaign

This sentiment is also reflected in William Stewart's chronicle of the Democratic Party's mistreatment of African Americans in his 1899 "Address to the Afro-Americans of Ohio," and in the Colored American Republican Text Book, which touted the achievements of Republican President William McKinley's first term in office:

Colored men of intelligence and character have been selected from every section of the country to fill positions of trust and profit under the Administration . . . Indeed, while it is a fact of great significance that the President has within nineteen months appointed fully twice as many Negroes as any previous Administration, developments are now being so shaped by him . . . that the number of Negro officeholders will be increased fourfold.  Not only this, but the constitutional rights of the Negro will continue to be sacredly regarded and his future in the new possessions will be surrounded by every guarantee calculated.

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Colored American Republican Text Book

The Colored American Republican Text Book also presents a visual argument in illustrations depicting the distinction between what it's like for African Americans to vote in Republican and Democratic states. 

Similar themes appeared in political cartoons such as the 1904 Cleveland Journal's "Real Chore," the 1908 Cleveland Journal's, "Never Swap Horses While Crossing A Stream," and the 1916 Cleveland Advocate's "This is the "Bread-Line" of Normal Democratic Times."

  • How do the preceding speeches and publications portray the two political parties? Are these characterizations accurate?
  • How do the Journal and Advocate's cartoons differ from the illustrations in the Colored American Republican Text Book? Are these cartoons and illustrations effective?
  • What is the value of conveying an argument visually?